Return on Character, with Dr. Fred Kiel

On this week’s episode of The Innovation Engine podcast we look at how the character of a company’s leaders impacts business results. We discuss the results of an in-depth research study on the factors that influence business success and why character impacts a company’s bottom line more than you might think.

Dr. Fred Kiel joins us on this episode of the podcast to discuss those topics and more. Dr. Kiel is the author of Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win, which was published in April of this year by the Harvard Business Review Press. Return on Character is based on a research study of 84 CEOs at companies in a wide range of industries.

Dr. Kiel is the co-founder and a principal of KRW International, a consulting firm committed to raising society’s standards for great leadership by combining skills and character to drive results. He is an active ambassador for improving business success by starting with improving leadership. Return on Character summarizes his seven years of research into connecting the character of a company’s CEO with the company’s return on assets.

Episode Highlights

Among the highlights of this week’s episode are:

  • We talk about the 4 cornerstone traits of character when it comes to corporate leadership: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion
  • Dr. Kiel discusses the 2 types of CEOs their research uncovered – Virtuoso CEOs and Self-Focused CEOs – and why Virtuoso CEOs drive better results for their business
  • Why character isn’t a “fixed” trait and the 6 step process listeners can use to change their habits and their character

Listen to the Episode

Interested in hearing more? Tune in to the full episode via the SoundCloud embed below:

Show Notes


Will Sherlin

Will Sherlin

Senior Manager of Digital Marketing

Will Sherlin is the Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at 3Pillar Global. He oversees the 3Pillar website and other web properties, hosts 3Pillar’s ‘Innovation Engine’ podcast, and manages 3Pillar’s social media accounts. Prior to its acquisition by 3Pillar, Will was an Account Manager at PointAbout, a DC-based mobile app boutique that specialized in developing iPhone and iPad apps. He holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina.

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