The question I asked him seemed to make the planet stop spinning. It certainly brought our conversation to a momentary halt...
I was speaking on the phone with a company president who was describing a potential hire for his sales team. He told me of the man’s background and accomplishments. He mentioned that there was a good track record for garnering new business. The president went on to say that he had known the man personally for several years but they had never worked together.
The purpose of his call to me was to get my opinion as to whether the man should be considered for employment. I listened as all of the pluses were listed, while also hearing the president's concerns and fears.
A question came to mind. I don’t know that I’ve ever asked it before, to be honest, but it came out of me before I could stop it from crossing my lips:
I asked, “Is he a man of integrity?”
Integrity. Character. When I hear words like this, I associate them with words like, “Vintage,” “Old-school,” and even, “Capt. America” (A couple of lines from his last two movies brought that on).
At the advice of a woman that I deeply admire and respect (a woman of great integrity and character*), I read and am now rereading, "Integrity" by Henry Cloud. In time, it will be underlined and highlighted and dogeared and quoted numerous times. It’s just that good.
In the book, the author gives the analogy that we are all boats and asks us to consider if those who are behind us—those in our wake—are waterskiing or drowning. It is a challenging read, not because it uses big words or is written in Latin, but rather because it holds up a mirror and demands that the reader look into it with honest eyes.
It is said that character is what you do when no one else is looking. Integrity, as defined by Dr. Cloud, is “The courage to meet the demands of reality.” What we look for in salespeople is personality and hustle and communicative aptitude and business savvy. Each represents a building block that, put together, creates success. But the foundation on which to build comes down to Integrity and Character.
After a pregnant pause, the company president who called me said, “What a fascinating question. What a terrific question. I am happy to say that, yes, I know him to be a man of Integrity.” And with that, he thanked me and hung up, presumably in possession of the answer he sought.
I sat in thought for a few minutes, then pushed back from my desk and went to find a certain book to reread yet again.Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at NAPL. His training programs can drive the sales of print reps and selling owners. Check out his Sales Resources page and contact him at (781) 934-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org*
Shouldn’t it be our goal to hope that this same statement can be made about us by others? My friend's name is Dee Ann Boyd and she is an Executive Coach in New York City. Her husband pastors a church on the Upper East Side and they are amongst my dearest friends. He, too, is a man of Integrity and Character...Though I wish he would work on his long irons so that we could fare better in the member-guest tournament we participate in each year.