Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moral Intelligence

Authors:     Doug Lennick, Fred Kiel
Published:  2007
Publisher:   Wharton School Publishing
Paperback: 336 pages

Buy it at Flipkart
This book is in three parts.
Part One introduces the concept of moral intelligence.
The authors define moral intelligence as, "the mental capacity to determine how universal human principles should be applied to our values, goals , and actions."
While interviewing several successful business leaders they found that all these leaders had a moral compass - a set of deeply held beliefs and values. Hence they argue that "strong moral skills are not only an essential element of successful leadership, but are also a business advantage."  Authors believe that everyone is inherently moral, however many of us need to discover and understand our moral compass and the role it plays in their being an effective leader. Our goals and behavior should be aligned to our moral compass. A technique to identify the components of our moral compass, goals and behaviors is outlined. This is followed by an introduction to the  three essential qualities - moral intelligence, moral competence and emotional competence - which keep our moral compass, goals and behaviors aligned.

Part Two is about developing the moral skills.
There are four universal principles which the authors have found to be the key for effective leadership - Integrity, Responsibility, Compassion, Forgiveness.

There is a set of moral competencies associated with each principle as described below:
  1. Integrity: Acting consistently with principles, values and beliefs; Telling the truth; Standing up for what is right; Keeping promises.
  2. Responsibility: Taking responsibility for personal choices; Admitting mistakes and failures. Embracing responsibility for serving others.
  3. Compassion: Actively caring about others.
  4. Forgiveness: Letting go of one's own mistakes; Letting go of others' mistakes.
All these moral competencies are discussed at length along with concrete real-life examples encountered in business situations. 
In addition the emotional competencies - Self-Awareness, Personal Effectiveness, Interpersonal Effectiveness etc. - that help us in maintaining alignment of moral compass, goals and beliefs are also discussed.

In Part Three, the authors focus on the strategies which leaders use to create morally smart organization be it a large organization or an entrepreneurial set up. They firmly believe that the principles of leadership effectiveness - Integrity, Responsibility, Compassion and Forgiveness - are applicable to organizational effectiveness as well. 
In addition for entrepreneurial set ups they lay out the following Five Maxims of Moral Entrepreneurship:
  1. Build a business that helps others. If your product or service doesn't make the world a better place, why bother?
  2. Choose your partners wisely.
  3. Hold on tight to your core values.
  4. Surround yourself with employees who share your values.
  5. Put your people-and your organization-first.
The Epilogue which talks about becoming a global moral leader. It also provides an update on the conditions of the companies and leaders who demonstrated the devastating financial consequences of moral stupidities and  also those who displayed a high degree of moral intelligence in pursuit of their companies' success.

The Appendices of the book consist of  very useful survey called Moral Competency Inventory (MCI) survey, which will help you identify your moral strengths and weaknesses. Guidelines on strengthening your moral skills are also provided. The MCI survey can also be taken free online at

A landmark book in which the authors have put forward convincing arguments that business and ethics do go well together. It is a moral science lesson for the business leaders. A MUST READ !

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