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Moral Intelligence and Leadership Success


The role of leadership has become quite broad in the contemporary business environment. At present, they not only perform planning, motivate employees, and execute control but also set moral and ethical guidelines on the organizational level. The book by Lennick and Kiel examines the domain of moral intelligence as applied to contemporary leadership. The purpose of this paper is to review and analyze this comprehensive resource.

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The authors of the book provide examples and explanations to prove that the link between moral intelligence and business performance has become strong (Lennick & Kiel, 2011). They have come up with guidelines to ensure the reader can measure and apply moral intelligence in their company. Interestingly, the book provides insights not only into the aspects of organizational success but also into the reasons for the recent financial crisis. According to Lennick and Kiel (2011), failed moral leadership is the main cause of it. They thoroughly examine various examples as applied to business and governmental organizations.

The writers have applied a systematic approach to ensure the reader can follow the main ideas of the book. In particular, they have determined the main principles of moral intelligence, which are “integrity, responsibility, compassion, and forgiveness” (Lennick & Kiel, 2011, p. 23). They also demonstrate behavioral competencies associated with these four tenets. Further on, the authors dwell upon the dependence between the moral intelligence of individuals throughout an organization and sustainable company performance.

They support this idea with examples and case studies to prove that the four principles of emotional competence result in employee retention, creativity, and mutual trust between the leadership and the workforce (Lennick & Kiel, 2011). In addition, the book offers a plan to evaluate the different aspects of moral intelligence within organizations of any scale and provides tips on how to improve them to achieve better performance and greater sustainability.

Further Details

The book reveals certain moral obligations that all individuals should have. In particular, all people should strive for not doing any harm to other individuals and creating short-term and long-term values. The four principles proposed by the authors are developed from these tenets. According to the book, “the most effective leaders hold to a common set of principles and consistently use those principles to guide their day-to-day actions (Lennick & Kiel, 2011, p. 36). Therefore, any person should rely on the values that are recognized as universal and company leadership should employ the same ethical behavior, which they exhibit in their personal relationships.

It is assumed that the four fundamental principles promoted in the book can be applied to almost any business context. As stated by the authors, integrity is one of the main characteristics of a person with a high level of emotional intelligence (Lennick & Kiel, 2011). Such people act in accordance with their values and beliefs notwithstanding the setting or circumstances. This principle is directly linked with responsibility for the actions committed by either employer or employee.

In addition, compassion is another value promoted by the authors. They believe that a concern for feelings of other people is essential for building respect inside organizations and creating a positive atmosphere at the workplace (Lennick & Kiel, 2011). In its turn, compassion is directly linked with forgiveness, and it implies the acceptance of mistakes made by leaders and employees. If someone makes a mistake and recognizes it, it is essential to treat them with compassion and forgiveness since it is the best way to build moral capacity inside the organization.

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Although the principles and values discussed in the book are quite universal, it can be assumed that they are rather idealistic. The authors believe that corporate morality is the key to sustainable performance and organizational success (Lennick & Kiel, 2011). Nevertheless, the book ignores the fact that consumer behavior does not always correlate with these patterns. That is, consumers would still resort to the services or buy goods from companies, which exhibited moral dysfunction. If the organizational values of a company do not coincide with the client’s personal standards, it does not mean that they will reject the services of this provider. These arguments allow assuming that the core idea of the book can be questioned and business success is possible in organizations with lower levels of morale.

Moral intelligence is of paramount importance for creating a positive atmosphere and environment within a company (Lennick & Kiel, 2011). Yet, leaders can be charismatic when their cognitive intelligence is high, and this does not imply the presence of the moral aspect in their activities. In addition, the way the principles are observed depends on the cultural background of each particular individual and their personal beliefs.

One of the examples from the book can serve as evidence to this statement. The authors prove that the principles may be broken by providing the story of a Dutch Jewish family and the girl named Anne Frank. They were saved from Nazis “by a former employee of Anne Frank’s father” (Lennick & Kiel, 2011, p. 104). When this person acted dishonestly for the greater good, they undermined their integrity. Therefore, the application of the four principles is conditional, and it depends on the circumstances and personal beliefs of an individual.


It can be concluded that the book by Lennick and Kiel is an insightful source of information on moral intelligence. It explains the way the employment of fundamental values can transform any organization and help achieve sustainable performance. Nevertheless, the text should not be regarded as a step-by-step instruction to achieve business success but rather as a guide, which can help companies boost employee morale and retain their workforce.


Lennick, D., & Kiel, F. (2011). Moral intelligence 2.0: Enhancing business performance and leadership success in turbulent times (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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