Fred Kiel addresses leadership throughout his book Return on Character and he constantly relates leadership and decision making back to our character development. Kiel focuses on self-awareness and the ability humans have to recognize their decision making and their environment and to grow and change within those frameworks. Kiel writes, “We aren’t born great leaders, after all; we become great leaders by training ourselves to think and act accordingly.” In this quote he is directly explaining the importance of reflection along our journey to ensure that we are growing in the right direction to help us become great leaders.
Kiel’s quote reminds me of Colin Write’s book Act Accordingly and a post I wrote last September. In my post regarding acting accordingly I wrote about the importance of self-awareness and recognizing why we make the decisions we make. That careful consideration requires a dose of self-awareness to help us see not just why we make decisions by why we think the way we do about decisions and how those decisions fit into a framework that we create to explain who we are.
When we focus on leadership we must develop a way of thinking about our actions that is in accord with the vision we have for ourselves. If we lack self-awareness then the vision we have for ourselves will not be aligned with what we ultimately want to achieve. This means we could be bogged down in self-interest and that we may be more focused on our own success than the success of those arounds us, diminishing the quality of our leadership. Thinking critically of our actions as a leader will help us create habits based on integrity that can guide us and those who are around us to maximize our moral character, building it into our decision making framework. We can continually grow into this role through practice, and our actions can actually help others learn to develop into leaders of high character as well.