All Articles Leadership Inspiration Use the Character Triangle to inspire your team

Use the Character Triangle to inspire your team

5 min read


Lorne Rubis is president and CEO of Ryzex, a global provider of mobile-technology solutions. As a general manager, facilitator and consultant, his career has focused on driving organizational change and performance improvement. Rubis has had executive leadership roles in startups, small and midsize companies, and Fortune 500 firms, both domestic and international.

What is the Character Triangle?

Our character is exclusively ours, and it distinguishes us as individuals. We define it by how we think, what we do and the choices we make. The Character Triangle describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values to apply in our daily thoughts and actions: Be accountable. Be respectful. Be abundant.

Living with character and applying the Character Triangle is a belief and action system. While each of the values specified in the triangle is important in its own right, the most powerful application comes by connecting the values as a system every day, making it a habit.

The triangle, however, is no quick fix. Like developing any good habit, it is a process to be practiced — a never-ending belief system that gets continuously tested, strengthened, shaken, adjusted and buttressed by the day-to-day challenges of living and working in this turbulent world.

Accountability: Accountability starts with the word “self.” When we approach every situation we experience in life by first asking what we personally can do about it and how, we begin to understand the concept of self-accountability. The ideas associated with “blame” and “victim” has little, if any, place in the self-accountable framework.

This is a tricky concept to fully accept and grasp for many of us. We need to ask ourselves daily how often we feel compelled to blame ourselves or others for our condition and circumstances.

Respect: None of us work or live in a vacuum; our successes or failures are all built on the strength of our relationships. And relationships run on respect. To be true to the root of respect, one has to continuously look at one’s self with openness and understanding. The point is to examine the way we treat ourselves first, and then how we treat others.

Most of us want to be listened to with understanding, treated with courtesy, and recognized for our contributions. Do we do that with ourselves? Then, how much do we do this with others in every interaction? Again, this value can be deceptively oversimplified. I will challenge us on how true we are to this value.

Abundance: Abundant people do not have to take anything away from anyone else to be successful. It is literally fun to work with people who are abundance-focused. They may be competitive but rather than merely to beat someone, the essence of their drive is to advance something.

In fact, abundant people relish others’ successes and achievements. They also focus on the resources available and finding what they need to get results. Generosity of spirit and the belief that giving leads to getting is part of their makeup.

So how can leaders apply the Character Triangle to inspire their team?

Defining and then living the values of the Character Triangle is inspiring at one level because the values support learning and development focused work environment. It is amazing to observe what happens when blame is viewed as unproductive, people feel listened to, and generosity and care become the norm in the workplace.

When the boss acts that way, it becomes over time, a “pay it backward and forward” way of working. Additionally, the following are a few programmatic ways leaders can inspire others by applying the Character Triangle.

1. Use a recognition process.
At Ryzex, people are encouraged to recognize teammates when they apply the essence of the Character Triangle at work by describing the value demonstrated and positive impact on others in a written way on an “ACE.” Literally thousands of ACES are exchanged between team members annually. Both the nominee and nominator find it inspiring and rewarding to be recognized. People display ACES in full view around their workplace.

2. Blog about stories reinforcing the Character Triangle in action.
Stories that are rich in example and meaning are great ways to model and inspire action. At Ryzex I write a CEO blog that reinforces personal experience and the values of accountability, respect and abundance.

I encouraged people to get to know other teammates more (respect), so I interviewed one of our technical supervisors who was a Vietnamese refugee. As a 19-year-old, he captained a leaky ship filled with Vietnamese women and children across typhoon- and shark-infested waters to the safety of a refugee camp in Malaysia. It was a riveting story that few in the company knew. I then tagged others to be guest bloggers, each one writing something personal about a teammate. The process continues. It is invigorating and builds understanding, to learn more about each of the people in the company.

The above are just two small examples of how leaders can use the Character Triangle to inspire others. Live it, practice it, implement sincere programs to reinforce it, and I guarantee that you will “rev” up your team. You will be an inspiration … and so will your teammates.