The implications of our findings extend well beyond the executive suite and into every aspect of business operation and performance, and beyond. We offer ideas, insights, and a new approach to leadership behavior for people working at any level, within organizations of size or makeup:
- For people in leadership roles, this book will help you improve your effectiveness. Who you are as a person is just as important to your organization’s success as your business and leadership skills; we outline some concrete methods for boosting your character habits and performance.
- Members of the board selecting the next CEO will find this book particularly helpful in learning how to avoid critical errors. A mistake in judgment about the character of a CEO candidate is one of the most costly errors a board can make.
- Chief talent officers responsible for supplying the company’s leadership pipeline with high-potential future leaders can learn how to identify hidden talent in the organization—those who already possess well-developed character habits and beliefs.
- Frontline workers can use the insights and techniques here to assess and boost their own character and workplace perfor- mance as a first step in advancing in the organization. Or they can use the ideas and metrics to identify where their current employer falls on the Character Curve to determine whether their leadership might be driving the company toward ongoing success or dragging it down.
At KRW, we have been working with organizational leadership for nearly three decades; I am convinced there are countless people in leadership roles who wish for an aspirational vision to guide their life. Many will think that the claims resulting from the ROC research are idealistic, a luxury not allowed by the harsh world that demands “maximum return to investors.” To date, there has been no useful leadership model that combines a sense of duty to create value with a desire to leave the world a better place. The leaders of large and small businesses and nonprofit organizations have the potential for tremen- dous influence and positive impact on the world, and many wish to exert it—but they lack a playbook.
In his groundbreaking work, Good to Great: Why Some Com- panies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Jim Collins describes his own version of Virtuoso leadership in what he calls the Level 5 leader, someone who “builds enduring greatness through a paradox- ical blend of personal humility and professional will.”2 Collins tells us that, while he believes many individuals with the potential to be Level 5 leaders exist in our world, they’re difficult to spot, because their humility prevents them from taking credit for the positive results of their superb leadership. He says, “Our research exposed Level 5 as a key component inside the black box of what it takes to shift a com- pany from good to great. Yet inside that black box is yet another black box—namely, the inner development of a person to Level 5.”
Our research has gone a long way toward supplying a tool for identifying such high-value leaders and mapping this second black box— their inner development. The practices and techniques here provide the playbook. Wherever I go, I’m struck by the hunger people have for a meaningful shift in our national attitude toward the importance of integrity, responsibility, compassion, and forgiveness in leadership— the same hunger that brought you to this work.