Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature

Hardcover (Print)
Rent from
(Save 75%)
Est. Return Date: 02/27/2015
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $14.16
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 59%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (19) from $14.16   
  • New (10) from $21.09   
  • Used (9) from $14.16   


The hardest tests for leaders challenge their character as much as their skills, and a growing body of research shows that the self-knowledge gained from such tests is critical to leaders’ success.

In Questions of Character, Joseph L. Badaracco outlines eight fundamental challenges that test a leader’s character, and proposes exploring them through the lens of literature. Badaracco argues that serious fiction provides us with memorable characters facing compelling challenges similar to those that confront business leaders. Through rich analysis of the main characters in The Death of a Salesman, The Secret Sharer, The Last Tycoon, and other stories, Badaracco addresses complex issues leaders face, such as the soundness of their vision, their readiness to take on responsibility, the depth of their compassion, and their ability to manage success.

Presenting classic leadership dilemmas in a novel and valuable light, Questions of Character helps leaders and aspiring leaders prepare for the opportunities and tests before them.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Named one of the Best Leadership Books of All Time - Inc. Magazine (
New York Times intriguing…clever idea executed well.
Library Journal
The syllabuses for the business ethics classes taught by Badaracco (Harvard Business Sch.; Leading Quietly) read more like courses in the humanities than traditional business school curricula. In this work, Badaracco shares insights from eight classics that he explores in his MBA and executive education courses. These selections range from Sophocles' Antigone to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. For each work, Badaracco raises a question that illuminates an important aspect of character and allows readers to engage in what can become for them self-critiques related mainly to executive leadership. Although we can't get inside the minds of leaders in the workplace to learn what makes them tick, in reading literature, we become intimately involved in the characters' lives as we digest their hopes, thoughts, decisions, actions, strengths, and flaws and learn what makes or breaks them. This literary angle will be appreciated in academic and larger public library business collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591399681
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2006
  • Pages: 221
  • Sales rank: 168,475
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph L. Badaracco Jr. is the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School and the author of several books, including Leading Quietly and Defining Moments, both published by HBS Press.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Do I have a good dream? : Death of a salesman by Arthur Miller 1
2 How flexible is my moral code? : Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe 31
3 Are my role models unsettling? : "Blessed assurance" by Allen Gurganus 53
4 Do I really care? : The love of the last tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald 75
5 Am I ready to take responsibility? : "The secret sharer" by Joseph Conrad 99
6 Can I resist the flow of success? : I come as a thief by Louis Auchincloss 119
7 How well do I combine principles and pragmatism? : A man for all seasons by Robert Bolt 139
8 What is sound reflection? : Antigone by Sophocles 163
9 Judging character 189
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)