Warren Buffett's workdays no longer include dealing with much of the minutiae of running Berkshire Hathaway. In place of conducting interviews and managing teams, he makes big picture decisions and spends 80 percent of his time reading. But what the legendary investor looks for in quality employees still speaks volumes.
"You look for three things: You look for intelligence, you look for energy and you look for integrity," he told Nebraska Business magazine, an alumni publication for Buffett's alma mater, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's College of Business Administration, in a 2001 interview.
Out of these three traits, Buffett says it's most important to cultivate integrity.
"Every business student you have has the requisite intelligence and requisite energy," he says. "Integrity is not hard-wired into your DNA."
Integrity — honesty, virtue and morality — can make or break you in the professional world. And, if you choose not to make it a priority, you risk getting stuck with a reputation for deceit.
"A student [of college age] can pretty much decide what kind a person they are going to be at 60," Buffett says. "If they don't have integrity [now], they never will. The chains of habit are sometimes too heavy to be broken. Students can forge their own chains."
Buffett's formula for finding a strong role model is simple: "Just pick a person to admire and ask why you admire them. Usually it is because they are generous, decent, kind people, and those are the kind of people to emulate."
Workplace experts back up Buffett's claim. Finding a mentor can help you gain momentum in both your career and your professional life. Mentors also help you build resilience, increase productivity and learn to think critically.
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