Three traits of success Featured

3:19pm EDT February 18, 2011
Tom Nies Tom Nies

It is generally agreed that to succeed in business or any other collective pursuit, there must be the ability to attract and retain the “best and brightest” people. But really, this is just the beginning. In my experience, I’ve found that there are three core value traits that can help organizations to optimize the performance of their “best and brightest.”

These same three value traits surface over and over, year after year. They are: character, competence and commitment.

It requires character to act with fidelity on one’s beliefs. It requires competence to achieve goals. It requires commitment to persevere to a successful conclusion. These core values drive productivity and produce profitability and sustainability for one’s company, its staff, its customers and its investors.

How best to describe these core value traits at the corporate level?


One must be able to demonstrate ethical integrity, an emphasis on seeking solutions not casting blame, an open environment where honest communications are encouraged and honest differences of opinion are allowed, and a commitment to managing on the basis of sound principles. Doing the “right thing” in a professional manner is a demand all must make of themselves.


It is also important that you find people who have an entrepreneurial spirit and relentlessly seek to innovate within bureaucratic structures. You must also find people who have creativity, decisiveness, initiative for self-growth, leadership ability that encourages small work groups and a continuous seeking of the optimal balance between flexibility and control. A truly disciplined organization continues to learn and consistently applies the best methods to achieve goals and the fulfillment of the idea that competency is a key competency.


It is also crucial that the people of your company have commitment to one’s group, one’s company and to one’s fellow colleagues. They must have a missionary zeal in representing the company and its products, responsibility and personal empowerment. They must encourage people to grow and empower them to do so. You also want people who promise to do what has been asked, pledge to provide whatever assistance is required to meet a shared commitment and perseverance in one’s beliefs.

Essential minimums

To be successful, people and organizations must act with character, competence and commitment in a harmoniously orchestrated environment that energizes all and synergizes everything. As an employee or employer, these core value traits are essential minimums. But, they are only minimums.

Studies consistently show that among the three most highly regarded leadership traits are those of honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. Leaders who cannot be trusted cannot lead. So, besides the ideals of character, competence and commitment of an organization’s staff and leadership, the firm’s leaders must also be people who are honest, trustworthy and have a sense of integrity.

It is this sense of integrity that integrates all other desirable characteristics into an authentic and harmonious entity, which is a mark of all consistently successful organizations.

Thomas M. Nies is the founder and CEO of Cincom Systems Inc. Since its founding in 1968, Cincom has matured into one of the largest international, independent software companies in the world. Cincom’s client base spans communications, financial services, education, government, manufacturing, retail, health care and insurance. Read more about Nies at