Author Fred Kiel advocates for self-awareness and and the development of strong moral character traits among leaders in business throughout his book Return on Character. Kiel spends time explaining the ways in which leaders with strong values, who truly care about the people they work with and providing real value for the people they serve, bring more to the companies they lead and help their companies find greater growth. His research showed that workforces become more engaged, customers view the companies from better perspectives, and leadership teams are more effective when they are guided by self awareness and a drive to make the best moral decisions possible for their teams. In the book Kiel addresses the transformation to become a leader with strong moral character and he explains the challenges with our self-transformations.
“In any event, personal change is, by definition, personal. Changing the habits that shape your character is an act that penetrates to the very core of who you are as a person. Such change isn’t quick or easy, but it’s well worth the time and attention you’ll invest in it. Developing the character of strong, principled leadership helps you in every aspect of your life: decision making, relationships, goal setting, conflict resolution, life and career satisfaction, and so much more. Of course, it also involves hard work.”
In this quote Kiel is addressing the idea of applying self-awareness to your current situation to help drive the change that you want to see to become a better leader. It is never easy to begin a process of self-reflection and to truly understand what parts of yourself are working well and what parts are in conflict with the goals you want to achieve, but it is crucial to growth as a leader. Kiel explains in his book that those leaders who his research identified as the strongest moral leaders had a well developed understanding of their past and the events in their past which shaped them. Working through the difficult process of understanding what impacted our lives to push us to where we currently are does not have a specific road map. The journey is individual and personal. It is also a process that develops over time and, as we strengthen our self-reflection muscles, becomes more specific. The way we see the events in our life will change over time. As we grow and become better at reflecting on our lives, we will begin to reach places where we better understand not just our actions, but the actions of others and why we feel the way we do about them.
By driving through this process and constantly focusing on self-awareness and self-reflection it is possible to become a moral leader. We can reach a place where we are fully understanding of ourselves, our reactions, and emotions, and we can use that to better connect with those around us. Our decision making will be more complete as we can better empathize with those around us and view the world through more perspectives.