Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature

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Overview


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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Named one of the Best Leadership Books of All Time - Inc. Magazine (inc.com)
New York Times
...an 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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591399681
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2006
  • Pages: 221
  • Sales rank: 287,803
  • 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.
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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
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