Return on Character Book Summary - Return on Character Book explained in key points

Return on Character summary

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Return on Character by Fred Kiel explores the link between a leader's character and their organization's success. It provides valuable insights and practical advice on how to develop and leverage character for long-term business performance.

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    Return on Character
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    Understanding Leadership Character

    In Return on Character by Fred Kiel, we delve into the intricate world of leadership and character. Kiel begins by taking us through the concept of character and its importance in leadership. He argues that character is not a fixed trait, but rather a set of habits that can be developed over time through conscious effort and practice.

    He also introduces the four key character habits that he believes are essential for effective leadership. These include integrity (the ability to keep your word and behave in an ethical manner), responsibility (taking ownership of one's actions and their consequences), forgiveness (the ability to let go of past wrongs and move forward), and compassion (demonstrating care and concern for others).

    The Research on Leadership Character

    To support his argument, Kiel presents the findings of an extensive research study conducted by his organization, KRW International. The study involved in-depth interviews and surveys with over 100 CEOs and their employees. The objective was to understand the relationship between a leader's character and the performance of their organization.

    Surprisingly, the results showed a strong correlation between a leader's character habits and the financial performance of their company. In organizations led by executives with high character ratings, the return on assets (ROA) was nearly five times higher than those led by low-character CEOs. These findings provide compelling evidence for the tangible impact of character on business outcomes.

    The Impact of Leadership Character

    Building on this empirical evidence, Kiel explores the specific ways in which a leader's character influences their organization. He argues that leaders with strong character habits create a positive work environment characterized by trust, transparency, and accountability. This, in turn, fosters employee engagement and productivity, leading to improved business performance.

    Conversely, leaders with weak character habits can have a detrimental impact on their organizations. Their lack of integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion can lead to a toxic work culture, low employee morale, and ultimately, poor business results. Kiel emphasizes that it's not just the leader's character that matters, but also the character of the entire leadership team.

    Developing Leadership Character

    Having established the significance of leadership character, Kiel then turns his attention to the practical aspects of character development. He provides a framework for leaders to assess their current character habits and identify areas for improvement. The goal is to develop a strong character that aligns with the four key habits of integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion.

    Furthermore, Kiel emphasizes the role of self-awareness and feedback in the process of character development. He suggests seeking honest feedback from colleagues, employees, and even family members to gain a clear understanding of one's character strengths and weaknesses. Armed with this insight, leaders can then work towards cultivating positive character habits.

    Implementing Character-Driven Leadership

    In the final section of Return on Character, Kiel discusses the practical implications of character-driven leadership. He provides guidance on how leaders can embed character into their organization's culture and decision-making processes. This involves setting clear expectations around character, incorporating character assessments into leadership development programs, and holding leaders accountable for their character habits.

    In conclusion, Return on Character presents a compelling case for the importance of leadership character in driving organizational success. By focusing on developing and nurturing positive character habits, leaders can create a culture of trust, engagement, and high performance within their organizations.

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    What is Return on Character about?

    Return on Character by Fred Kiel explores the impact of a leader's character on organizational success. Through extensive research and real-life examples, the book demonstrates how traits such as integrity, empathy, and accountability can drive better business results. It offers valuable insights for both current and aspiring leaders who want to make a positive difference in their organizations.

    Return on Character Review

    Return on Character (2015) explores the correlation between strong moral principles and business success, offering valuable insights for individuals and organizations alike. Here's why this book stands out:
    • Highlighting how character-driven leaders outperform their peers, it showcases the importance of integrity and trust in driving results.
    • By presenting compelling case studies and data, the book provides a clear roadmap for integrating character into leadership practices.
    • Its exploration of ethical leadership and its impact on the bottom line ensures the content remains engaging and relevant throughout.

    Who should read Return on Character?

    • Leaders and executives looking to understand the impact of character on organizational success

    • Professionals seeking to develop their own character and leadership skills

    • Individuals interested in the intersection of business, ethics, and personal growth

    About the Author

    Fred Kiel is a renowned author and expert in the field of leadership and character. With a background in both psychology and business, Kiel has dedicated his career to studying the impact of character on leadership effectiveness. In his book Return on Character, Kiel presents compelling research that demonstrates the correlation between a leader's character and the success of their organization. Through his work, Kiel challenges traditional views on leadership and provides valuable insights into the importance of integrity, empathy, and other character traits in driving business performance.

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    Return on Character FAQs 

    What is the main message of Return on Character?

    The main message of Return on Character is the impact of leadership character on business success.

    How long does it take to read Return on Character?

    Return on Character takes a few hours to read, while the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Return on Character a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Return on Character is worth reading as it highlights how character influences organizational outcomes.

    Who is the author of Return on Character?

    The author of Return on Character is Fred Kiel.

    What to read after Return on Character?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Return on Character, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Inspired by Marty Cagan
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