Authors: Doug Lenick and Fed Kiel
October 10, 2007
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What does it take to be a great leader? Doug Lennick, author of Moral Intelligence, tells us that it takes being in tuned with our moral compass. Your moral compass consists of moral intelligence, the ability to know the right thing to do, and moral competence, having the ability to do the right thing. In the heart of this book Lennick points out that there are four principle values to maintaining a balanced moral compass: integrity, responsibility, compassion, and forgiveness. This book successfully instructs leaders on the importance of being in tuned with their moral compass and what the positive and negative aspects of following or not following it are. After reading this book one could determine that these lessons can be applied not only to ones professional life but also to their personal life as well.
This book does not just portray the thoughts and ideas of one person. Lennick and his co-author, Fred Kiel, performed extensive research on the topics of management and leadership before writing this book. They interviewed executives and top leaders of highly successful companies to test their theories of the importance to having a balanced moral compass. Interviewees discussed what negative effects occurred not only to their companies but also to the morale of the employees when they did not follow their moral compass. John Simmons (pseudonym) realized his moral compass was misaligned when he was confronted by his fellow business partners regarding his rigid behavior at a meeting. After much reflection he determined why he was treating those that were for his ideas as if they were his enemies. This is a great representation of how everyone needs to take time each day to ensure nothing is in the way of keeping their personal values, goals, and actions inline.
The first of the four principles in the book is integrity. The best way to describe integrity is “truthfulness” to ones self and others. Integrity is “acting consistently with principles, values, and beliefs” and is the primary moral competency. Integrity does not only involve telling the truth, it also means standing up for what you believe in no matter what the consequence may be. If one does not have integrity then they probably lack moral competency as well. This book provides an excellent example of a company president who decided it was more important for her to be upfront and truthful with her managers instead of hoping for a turn around that would possibly never happen. Cindy Carlson, former president of Capital Professional Advisors, told her managers that the company was likely not to make it to its third year and she would not blame them if they left. Because she put her own job in jeopardy be telling the truth, all of her managers respected this and stayed. The manager’s trust in her also helped with receiving buy-in from the other employees. What better way for the authors to prove the importance of integrity than with a true success story. Lennick proved the topic of integrity best by stating that “[a]cting with integrity means that you accept the risks that come with taking a principled stand because the moral consequences of looking the other way are unacceptable.” This is such a powerful statement showing leaders that you have to fight for what you believe in; being submissive for something you know is morally wrong should not be an option.
“The buck stops here,” as President Harry Truman was famous for saying, represents the competency of responsibility. Lennick says that...