In his book Return on Character author Fred Kiel addresses ways in which a business leader’s strong moral character can boost the bottom line for the company they work for, and how their strong moral character can have a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of the employees working for them. Part of the way that strong character can translate into a more engaged and fulfilled workforce and a better bottom line is through an organizational structure which supports the employees of the company, and helps them do their best work with the ethos of their virtuoso CEO. A strong structure can help guide a company by allowing everyone involved to act in a morally defined manner, helping everyone do better work. Kiel sets up the idea that a great business structure depends on a strong moral ethos developed by the leadership team and the CEO:
“Even an ideal structure offers no guarantee that the dynamics will be positive, harmonious, and energized. As the ROC [Return on Character] data revealed, this is where the character habits of the executive team come into play.”
Kiel is explaining that an efficient organizational structure within the business is not enough for great business success. His argument is that CEOs need to develop moral habits and characteristics that help build people up by treating them as more than just extra hands on deck. When the CEO is able to truly live through this idea and create and shape a leadership team that can spread this idea, then everyone within the company will be taken care of, and they will feel as though they work in an environment where people truly care about them and want to help them do their best work.
The opposite end of this scale would be a self focused CEO who displays character habits of a dog-eat-dog, success hungry individual. This type of character will show that what is most important is personal growth, even at the expensive of others. They likely will not develop strong leadership teams that can put the interests and goals of employees at the same level of importance as their own. As a result, employees feel disconnected and have no reason to demonstrate strong moral habits within their own work.
By voicing, living up to, and building a leadership team that is focused on strong moral goals, a CEO can create a structure in which all actors of the company are able to make positive moral decisions and feel encouraged to do their best work. The strong moral values of the company will be reflected beyond the work space and into the world in which the company provides value to those with whom they serve. Reinforcing this structure and maintaining it requires more than just a keen eye for efficiency, and requires a true respect for human beings.