Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature

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9781591399681: Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature
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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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About 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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Badaracco, an academic specializing in business ethics, presents eight fundamental challenges that test a leader's character and proposes exploring them through literary works. His stories include Death of a Salesman, Antigone, and Sir Thomas More's dealings with Henry VIII, which allow the readers to examine their own characters by reflecting upon the actions of notable leaders. His questions include testing the moral compass of individual leaders, who their role models are, and their dedication and commitment to their mission; he explores the emotional and psychological strength needed to actually take command of a situation; and he focuses upon the never-ending challenges for successful leaders. Badaracco contends that, "serious literature offers a view from the inside. It lets us watch leaders as they think, worry, hope, hesitate, commit, exult, regret, and reflect. We see their characters tested, reshaped, strengthened, or weakened." Although using literature to teach character lessons is not a new convention, this is an excellent book and offers important insight for today's leaders and aspiring leaders. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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