Why Virtues?

Virtues are the underlying aspects of our character that drive successful performance. The process of developing and building upon the 22 personal virtues identified and quantified by Peirce Group offers individuals and organizations a proven path to creating a higher-performing business culture of character and long-term growth.

Typically, organizational development professionals and leadership experts have relied upon a range of assessment techniques designed to measure psychological constructs such as personality, attitudes, cognitive abilities, and competencies (e.g., performance reviews and 360’s) to measure the qualities of individuals and to facilitate their learning and development process. However, while these assessment strategies have proven valuable and effective in measuring the specific psychological construct they are designed to measure, they all have significant limitations in their ability to aid people to develop themselves and improve their performance.

Peirce Group offers individuals and organizations a proven path to creating a higher-performing business culture of character and long-term growth.

Research has shown that even if you provide a person an outstanding assessment, followed by good feedback, thorough coaching and a good development "plan," only 20% will actually accomplish their developmental objectives. Further, only 5% will continue to learn and develop themselves after the initial learning objective is completed.

These frustrating results have left many organizations and people with the feeling that something important is missing from the process. In many cases, development professionals have gone as far as giving up on the 80% "non-learners" and investing only in developing the 20% who do learn. At Peirce Group we believe we can and must do better.

What can Virtues do for you and Your Organization?

Our experience with our clients has shown us that what really drives people to develop and be outstanding performers in work, as well as life in general, is their heart/spirit. Much has been said about "ethics" in business, "emotional intelligence", "spiritual intelligence" and "spirit at work."

However, when it comes to creating a concrete definition of these concepts, we are often left with vague concepts to which we can pay lip-service, but cannot act upon concretely. We believe that our newly-developed focus upon character and virtues clears the fog around the key issues and provides a concrete, and astonishingly obvious set of constructs that zero-in directly on what ultimately makes successful, balanced individuals perform at higher levels in the workplace. Specifically, we work toward:

Promoting Sustainable Success – Character and virtues are not just "nice" terms that relate to "nice" people. They are the fundamental building blocks and foundation for success. By developing virtues, people and organizations will increase their effectiveness in generating challenging goals, achieving results, and improving teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills in a way that is sustainable and does not compromise personal values and integrity. Further, virtues are the foundation upon which a person’s other capabilities, such as leadership, communication and sales effectiveness, can be further developed and more fully expressed.

Creating a Culture of Service – Character and virtues help individuals move beyond their personal needs and desires and develop a sense of service to the team, organization, customers, and society. When organizations focus on virtues development, people more effectively communicate with each other, are more willing to share ideas and resources, are more likely to share knowledge, and more likely to develop virtues and skills in others.

Increasing Engagement – One of the greatest benefits of developing virtues is that they relate directly to intrinsic rewards. It feels good to develop virtues and to live and work according to the high standards virtues set. People with strong virtues tend to feel more in control of their lives, they are living consistent with their values, and they are acting with purpose and in service to their community. These "intrinsic" rewards are much stronger than "extrinsic" rewards (such as pay, benefits, etc.) and lead to stronger engagement of people in their jobs and personal lives.

Peirce Group has identified 22 personal virtues that are critical to success in the workplace. Our unique model shows how each virtue interacts with the other aspects of a person’s character to build a happy, optimistic, balanced individual who will be successful in the workplace.

Happiness, Success and Balance: Getting Your "House" in Order

Why Virtues - Phase 1Building and developing teams of "happy," "successful," and "well-balanced" people can be compared to building a house. In building a house, a specific process with specific steps must be followed. The first of these steps is to create a strong foundation. In a house, the foundation is made of basic materials, such as stone and concrete, that provide a strong, stable and durable platform that will support the rest of the house. In people, this foundation is Integrity. Integrity is composed of foundation virtues that, when strong, support all other virtues such as:

  • Truthfulness
  • Respect for Others
  • Humility
  • Adherence – the ability to follow the accepted rules of an organization.

It should be noted that just as with the foundation of a house, Integrity might not be the most exciting part of a person character. In fact, it may be hidden and go mostly unnoticed. Whoever looks at a house and says “nice basement”? However, it is also critically important, and without it, nothing else can be built.

Once a stable foundation is established, the "superstructure" can be built. In a house, the superstructure consists of beams, rafters, braces, etc. In happy, effective and balanced people, the superstructure consists of all the other virtues. There are a vast number of possible "superstructure" virtues. However, Peirce Group has identified 18 that are particularly important to success in business. These 18 virtues can be broken down into four categories:

Phase 2
  1. Vision - the ability to think creatively, see opportunities, understand the competitive marketplace and to create new and effective solutions. Related virtues: Creativity, Moderation, and Reflection.
  2. Drive - the ability to make tough decisions, make oneself heard and hold fast to one's values.
  3. Related virtues: Purposefulness/Confidence/Courage,
    Justice, and Honor
  4. Responsibility - the ability to be productive, get things done, create and complete project plans, and accomplish tasks. Related virtues: Orderliness/Organization, Excellence, Dependability, Focused Determination, and Self-discipline.
  5. Influence - the ability to excite others, gain unity within the group, and bring positive energy to the team.Related virtues: Compassion, Positive Spirit, Politeness/Sociability, Service, Trust, Unity, Flexibility.

Strength in these virtues is very important. However, it is also important to maintain balance.

Different situations may call for different virtues at different times. For example, it may be important for a person to demonstrate strength in virtues in the “Drive” dimension, such as Purposefulness/Confidence/Courage and Justice, in order to affect positive change in an organization. However, the situation may also require a person to temper this drive with “Influence” such as demonstrating the virtues of Compassion, Politeness/Sociability, and Positive Spirit, in order to communicate the need for change and to gain buy-in from others. Otherwise, a leader may seem abrasive, insensitive and out of touch and may struggle gaining full commitment and engagement from others. Similarly, a leader may demonstrate strong “Vision” and create great strategic plans and innovations but must also demonstrate strength in “Responsibility” and put the strategic and innovative thinking into action.

There are many scenarios where strength in one dimension must be balanced by another. What is important is for people to know their strengths and weaknesses, to know when and imbalance may occur and how to develop and call upon their weaker virtues when needed.

After building a strong foundation and superstructure, the exterior elements, the part people can actually see and interacts with the outside world, can finally be built. These elements both enclose and protect the structural elements hidden within. With a house, these include the walls, roof, siding, decorations, and other visible aspects. In people terms, these external elements are what traditional assessments measure:

Phase 3
  1. Cognitive Abilities. The ability to compute information about the world, understand it and figure things out
  2. Personality. How people interact with the world and the people within it
  3. Skills/Cognitive abilities.The information we have learned that enables us to do things in the world
  4. Attitudes. what we think about people, organizations, their environment and anything else in the outside world.

We recognize that these external elements are important to our success. In addition to being the tools that we use to interact and perform in the outside world, they protect and nurture our virtues within. However, one’s ability to develop these elements is dependent on the strength and balance of the virtues superstructure that our model provides.

For example, if you conduct training on project management, but the people taking the training are weak on the virtues of self-discipline, dependability and orderliness, the likelihood of developing good project managers, no matter how good the training is, will be low. Like attaching siding to weak beams, it just won’t stick. The virtues must first be firmly in place before the skill can be attached.

Virtues are fundamental to the development of a person’s character. Strength and balance in virtues help people lead successful and purposeful lives that provide tremendous rewards, both intrinsic and extrinsic. However, as the famous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said:

"Virtue is a state of war, and to live in it, we must always combat with ourselves."

Virtues will easily deteriorate without constant diligence to protect and develop them. To sacrifice anywhere in this model, if you let your skills deteriorate, if you let your intelligence idle, if you let your virtues weaken, or worst of all, if you sacrifice your integrity, catastrophe can happen. Promising careers have been scuttled, multi-billion dollar businesses have disappeared and people’s lives have been ruined because they allowed their integrity to crack, their virtues to falter, and everything else to collapse. Don’t let this happen to you!

Next Steps

Contact Peirce Group today to discover for yourself how powerful our character and virtues concepts can be when applied to measuring and developing the people in your organization.