It’s a word that has been on my mind recently. It’s an interesting one. It means “the quality or state of agreeing or corresponding.”
In geometry, congruent is “coinciding at all points when superimposed.”
In other words, do all the elements of a picture align when you put them together? Do they match up?
Being congruent is important. I know there are a lot of people who subscribe to the belief that you can have one persona at home, one at work, and one at church.
But looking at that belief logically, the situation described above could be taken from a psychiatric diagnostic manual as evidence of a personality disorder.
I just don’t agree with that philosophy. Character matters and all of your actions define you . . . not just the ones when you put on your Sunday face.
It matters in our personal life and it matters in our business.
In a world that tries to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator, where there are no absolutes, where one thing is not necessarily better than the other and everything is relative, many have lost the ability to discern between truth and a lie and between good and bad simply because they refuse to acknowledge that there is a difference between the two to begin with.
That is a problem. If you don’t know how to discern between the truth and a lie and how to apply standards, you are at the mercy of every con that comes along.
How can you decide who to put your trust in, who to confide in, or who should advise you if you have no idea whether or not the person is worthy of that trust?
The first step in developing good judgment and discernment is to recognize that there is a standard that we should aspire to and that some actions do have a higher value and are more desirable than others.
It’s not a crapshoot. People show us who they are every day. To tell whether or not the persona someone is presenting is the truth or a façade, look at whether their words and actions are congruent.
Do they match up? Does every area of their life tell the same story about who they are as a person?
Congruence in Business
The divorce of character and accountability from many areas of business is disturbing and, in my opinion, a large factor in the decay of the business landscape and the economy as a whole. Cutting corners in exchange for short term gains and petty deceptions that build into widespread corruption of corporate culture aren’t isolated incidents.
What we are experiencing now in our current financial crisis is the bitter fruit of those actions as a consequence.
Starting From a Firm Foundation
Just as it is important for us to have standards of behavior in our personal life, it is also important to set standards of practice for a successful business.
The core of that starts with a company mission. Why are you in business? What value does your company bring to your industry, to your community, to your employees, and to your customers?
How does your company make a difference?
When you can answer that question, then the rest will fall into place. It will be a guide for what services and markets to go into. It will help in decisions on which vendors and suppliers to use. It will illuminate the best hires. Your marketing message will fall into place.
Because when you start with a firm foundation and keep your focus on that, it is easy to be congruent in every other area.
Lead by Example
While you can create reams of policy manuals the most effective way to inculcate a strong corporate culture is leading by example.
Don’t expect employees to treat customers with respect if you don’t treat them with respect. If you want your employees to be good representatives of your company, start by being a good one yourself.
You can’t get upset about a questionable comment they made on their Facebook profile if you have a habit of getting drunk at a local restaurant after work every Friday night. Don’t expect honesty from your employees and then go home and cheat on your spouse.
It comes back to congruence.
When you have a small business, for better or worse, you are the face of your company and the one that will have the most impact.
Lead by example and demonstrate the character that you want your business to be known for.