Beyond the Build


Character Counts

I was talking with our CFO this week about analytics, technical knowledge and soft skills, and we both decided a close partner to these should be “character.” It’s something we look for when we hire folks, and also something we try to figure out with prospective customers when talking about a new project. We ask ourselves, “When faced with tough decisions or situations, how are people going to act, either in our company or with organizations near us?

Coincidentally, I read an article a couple of weeks ago that Fortune selected Theo Epstein, General Manager of the Chicago Cubs, as the #1 world leader in 2017. He took a different approach to recruiting Cubs talent in his first year on the job, as he started out to build a championship team. As I recall, he wanted players who responded well to adversity both on and off the field. He gave his scouts specific direction to focus on these qualities, in addition to using analytics to continue to find the best players with specific skills needed to round out the team. I would say this worked.

The idea is simple: Chemistry is just as important as skill in the sports world. I would argue the same for business. Mistakes cause doubt and cracks from within, and it takes a person of character to keep the trend from spiraling into a losing season. To me, the fundamentals of good character, mixed with the right technical skill set, makes for good chemistry. This is a winning combination in anybody’s playbook.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.