The Feedback

Last week, we asked what it means to have good character—and whether it can be taught.  Many readers wrote in with their thoughts.

Reader Ryan cited integrity as the fundamental building block of character—and said that, yes, it can be taught:

I teach a course in Leadership at the US Air Force Academy, and values, ethics, and character are integral to not only this institution, but our profession (of arms) as well. Integrity is the foundation for effective leadership.

We spend much of our time teaching and analyzing “honorable living.” I often remind my cadets of how the public’s trust in our uniformed service members is directly related to our nation’s freedom and capacity to do good things around the world.

This view meshes comfortably with what reader Greg Zerovnik had to say:[EXPAND More]

As Director of Business Programs at Touro University Worldwide, I require a course in Professional Ethics as part of the core requirements in our online MBA program. I believe the elements of character and morality can, in fact, be taught. Indeed, that is part of every child’s upbringing, whether the education is by parent or peer and whether what is learned is adaptive or maladaptive.

Reader Dennis Howard offered the following definition of character, teachable or not:

To me, it means that all of one’s actions must be consistent with one’s own thoughtful, deeply held beliefs. Short-term actions must be consistent with long-term vision. “Unintended consequences” are a lame excuse for the failure to think things through before taking action.

And Renee Hendrickson appreciated that Peter Drucker valued character and focused on the big picture—but wondered whether anyone else is doing the same:

There are a lot of business “advisors” out there today, but Drucker seems to be the only one that really encompasses the whole of business. His common sense is “old school,” and I wonder where as a society we lost that.[/EXPAND]