Which Virtues & Character Strengths Drive Workplace Success?

By Kelsey Boudin
Executive Director, Strength Solutions

Workplace success can seem obscure. Its metrics and meaning are different to everyone – some who prize productivity first, or customer satisfaction, or simply getting along. But the path to get there doesn’t have to be so vague. The character strengths and virtues we together bring into the workplace drive success across all areas. 

The Virtues Project™ allows us to step back and reflect on the virtues. Which ones do you and your team members possess, individually and collectively? Which ones do you and your team need to work on? (And, yes, it’s good to be different, because strengths have this awesome tendency to complement one another.)

Let’s Check Out Some Virtues That Nurture Workplace Success & Harmony

We’ve highlighted some virtues here that are seen most commonly from happy and successful people and happy and successful work environments. Let’s see if they resonate with you.


“Embracing life on its own terms. Acceptance allows us to bend without breaking in the face of tests.”

In the workplace, there’s a lot we may simply have to accept. That product failure happened. That customer left a bad review. We must know that sometimes it just doesn’t work out. What matters is how we rebound and adjust. 


“A sense of wonder and reverence for the harmony, color and loveliness of the world. Calling on our creativity to add to the beauty in the world.”

An appreciation for beauty inspires the most creative people in the world – and not just artists. These may be your graphic designers or those who simply have a knack for delivering outside-the-box solutions. There’s beauty in processes, plans, pathways and production. 


“Working together for a common goal, calling on the different gifts each of us has to offer.”

This goes without saying: your team won’t accomplish anything without being a team. The organization’s mission and vision goes nowhere if its components – the people tasked with strategizing and executing the mission and vision  – aren’t helping each other along.


“Commitment to something we care about deeply. Wholehearted service to our life’s purpose.”

What’s the plan? And devotion is more than making sure you and your team are sticking to it. You can’t force commitment. You can’t force people to care. But nurturing an environment where your team truly understands the meaning of their work effectively builds fidelity to the mission.


“The ability to put ourselves in another’s place, with compassion and understanding.”

We’d like to think we become more empathetic as adults. But it’s harder than we think to consistently think of others. Empathy allows us to understand why and how others act as they do in personal and professional environments.


“Loyalty to our beliefs, regardless of what happens. Being true to the people we love.”

Faithfulness is beyond devotion to our beliefs and people with whom we live or work most closely. In professional environments, it solidifies the “why” behind what we do. It provides meaning to good work. 


“Freely expressing thankfulness and appreciation to others and for the gifts of life.”

Although we might not feel it at times, our work experiences, relationships, objectives and goals are a gift. Good and bad. Some of the most successful people share a common bond: gratitude. They’re grateful for the paths they trek, their successes and failures, and people they meet along the way.


“Being truthful, sincere, open and genuine. The confidence to be ourselves.”

Honesty means more than just telling the truth. It’s being truthful with ourselves, acknowledging the good and bad in ourselves and genuinely (and gently) assessing that in others. In being open and sincere, we inspire trust in ourselves and others to do or say the right thing.


“Daring to be original. Using creativity to bring something new into the world.”

We often hear and see the word “initiative” being used in place of “assertiveness,”  essentially “taking the bull by the horns.” Used correctly, the root of the word is to “initiate” something – to be bold and courageous in creation.


“An inner wellspring of peace and happiness. Enjoying the richness of life. Finding humor, even in the midst of hard times.”

A happy workplace environment is a productive workplace environment. You must create a space for your team to enjoy the opportunity each day to make an impact. But just as importantly, they must still find that peace, happiness and optimism during trying times that inevitably face every organization.    


“Unwavering faithfulness and commitment to people and ideas we care about, through good times and bad.”

The last thing you need is a team going through the motions each day for a paycheck. We understand, a job is a job for some. But your organization can easily nurture commitment to the mission through an ongoing dialog the emphasizes the importance and appreciation of individual contributions.


“Living reflectively and meaningfully, with conscious awareness of our actions, our words and our thoughts.”

You also don’t need drones, mindlessly slogging through the workday without purpose. Team members must feel the meaning driving their actions, allowing them to move with consciousness. 


“Having high moral standards. Doing the right thing. Keeping faith with our true value as spiritual beings.”

We all strive to live by a strong moral compass. When faced with decisions affecting the team, we’d like to think we’d always side with the collective benefit versus the individual. In reality, those choices aren’t always easy. With regard for individual spirituality, you must also foster an environment that values – and rewards – strong moral decision-making.


“A positive, cheerful outlook. Nothing can destroy our hope.”

Your team will face tough times. Seeing it through – finding the light at the end of the tunnel – can only happen when team members aren’t just hopeful in a positive outcome, but also confident it can be achieved.


“Waiting peacefully. Quiet hope and faith that things will turn out right.”

The business world, unfortunately, is not one of instant gratification. Sometimes waiting for that positive result can be aggravatingly slow. Achieving workplace success can take many months, quarters and even years. Is your team prepared to set progress in motion and faithfully await the fruits of their labor?


“Being dependable. Being a promise keeper. Taking responsibility with trustworthiness.”

This isn’t just showing up and doing the job, although soft skills like that are vital to the success of any organization. Each team member must be dependable in meeting deliverables and diligently following through on responsibilities – daily to annually.  


“The willingness to give up what is important to us for what we know is more important. Giving our all for our beliefs. Making our life a sacred offering.”

We’re aware of the sentiment in many workplaces today. Folks are being asked to sacrifice too much for too little reward in return. Employees don’t have to sacrifice their lives and dignity for the job. But in an environment that fosters personal investment and devotion to the organizational mission, your team may be inspired to go that extra mile. 


“An attitude of gratitude for living, learning, loving and being. Generosity in expressing appreciation. Focusing on the blessings in our lives.”

In the right environment, team members appreciate opportunity. Not just for the chance to earn a living or move up a hierarchical ladder, but to contribute to a mission and vision greater than themselves. The continuing dialog in your workplace should emphasize helping others and improving lives through your service or product. 


“Being insightful in our perceptions of ideas and feelings. Listening with compassion and accuracy to others’ feelings.”

How well does your staff truly understand one another? (How well do you understand them? And how well do they understand you as leader?) Workplace success requires not only compassion after mistakes and oversights, but more importantly insight as to how others think and function.


“Having a discerning mind, based on experience and mindfulness. Making wise decisions based on our deepest intuition.”

It doesn’t necessarily have to come from experience alone. We’ve seen teenagers intuitively understand work in a team environment, prioritizing skills and interests toward a collective goal. Nurture an environment that prizes and gives a voice to minds that know what must be done.


“Fervent enthusiasm for what we believe to be important. Living by a strong sense of the value of life and faith.”

The most productive workplaces, not coincidentally, operate with loads of enthusiasm. You want your team members to come to work excited for the tasks ahead, confident they’ll succeed, and faithful in the results of their efforts. 

Let’s Build an Environment for Workplace Success Through the Virtues

Which of these virtues do you and your team need to work on? Take note, and then write down a goal. Make sure the goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

An example: “I will focus on the virtue of understanding by listening with compassion and accuracy to others’ feelings by having at least three interactions in the workplace each day.”

We’ve seen the power of these strategies successfully applied through professional development training in many distinct workplace environments. The Virtues Project™ supports organizations and individuals building positive, inclusive environments. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Strength Solutions also works to provide scholarships to related programs at partner agencies like Beat City Music.

We’re always accepting additional training opportunities. If you are interested in booking training for yourself or your organization, please contact kelsey@strengthsolutions.org or call (585) 307-7389.

which virtues drive workplace success?
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