Moral Intelligence 2.0
By Doug Lennick and Fred Kiel
Prentice Hall, 2011
List price: $25.99
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A prominent telecommunications firm. A software provider. A utility company. A cable television provider. What did these firms all have in common?
Each of them saw leaders retired, gone or charged after a variety of problems such as inflated stock prices, overstated earnings, accounting problems and conspiracy. Firms don’t have to be troubled financial giants like Bear Stearns or Goldman Sachs to have serious issues with morality at their core, according to authors Doug Lennick and Fred Kiel.
In Moral Intelligence 2.0, Lennick and Kiel urge company leaders to learn from others’ mistakes and build greater “moral intelligence” in firms, strengthening four elements—integrity, responsibility, compassion and forgiveness—as a bulwark against the kind of problems that devastated these businesses.
The book covers three areas:
- What is moral intelligence?
- How can people develop moral skills and use them in business to make decisions?
- What does moral leadership look like, and how can company leaders strengthen and demonstrate moral skills?
The authors cover how people develop an individual moral sense and how varied cultures tend to come to the same basic conclusions about what is moral and right. They look at how the brain chooses between competing drives to behave in different ways and how humans, they say, “are biologically wired to be moral.”
A chapter on the idea of an individual moral compass guides readers in examining their personal values, life goals and the behaviors that make values, beliefs and goals daily realities.
The section on developing moral skills uses examples from interviews with business leaders, who talk about the real-world application of Lennick and Kiel’s principles for moral leadership—responsibility, integrity, compassion and forgiveness. Readers get examples of how businesspeople have honored confidences, admitted mistakes and failures, and let the past go.
The book helps readers learn techniques for making moral decisions. Exercises teach how to recognize a situation’s problems, reflect on how to interpret the situation, reframe the problem, and respond with a decision that is consistent with moral values and goals. Self-awareness and recognition of one’s own biases can be learned, and leaders particularly need this awareness, the authors say. A section on “the moral leader” advises top managers about how to use the spotlight and the power they already possess to take true moral leadership of their companies. Leaders of large organizations get special attention and advice, as do entrepreneurs in small organizations.