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Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature [Hardcover]

Our Price $ 29.75  
Retail Value $ 35.00  
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Item Number 411677  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   221
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.39" Width: 6.47" Height: 0.91"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 17, 2006
Publisher   Harvard Business School Press
ISBN  1591399688  
EAN  9781591399681  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Through rich analysis of the main characters in The Death of aSalesman, The Secret Sharer, The Last Tycoon, and other stories, Badaracco addresses complex issues leaders face, such as thesoundness of their vision, their readiness to take on responsibility, thedepth of their compassion, and their ability to manage success

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More About Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr.

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! 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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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Most Refreshing And Powerful Book On Character And Leadership In Years  Aug 10, 2008
This outstanding book is an outgrowth of Saturday morning discussions author and Harvard professor, Joseph Badaracco, Jr, had with CEOs (Chief Executive Officers). From these sessions, Badaracco learned that serious fiction opens doors to a world rarely seen and can help leaders confront important and challenging questions. Serious fiction allows discussants to see character tested, reshaped, strengthened, or weakened. They can watch and identify with leaders as they think, worry, hope, hesitate, commit, exult, regret, and retreat. Once they are drawn in and have put on the shoes of the main characters in the fiction, they can share their own (compare and contrast) experiences.

Badaracco has organized the book around eight critical questions leaders must confront and answer for themselves. He then uses a work of serious fiction as a springboard for discussion. Each chapter closes with the author's commentary on each of the "Questions of Character" raised in the discussion and a final reflection. Eg. Chapter, "What is Sound Reflection;" serious fiction used, "Antigone;" Questions raised and addressed, "Can I shift perspective?" " Is my reflection messy enough?" "Am I encouraging real dialogue?" and "Have my analysis and judgment evolved?"

The eight critical questions addressed and corresponding work of fiction used are:

1. Do I have a good dream? - "The Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller
2. How flexible is my moral code? - "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe 3. Are my role models unsettling? - "Blessed Assurance" by Allan Gurganus
4. Do I really care? - "The Love of the Last Tycoon" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. Am I ready to take responsibility? - "The Secret Sharer" by Joseph Conrad
6. Can I resist the flow of success? - "I Come as Thief" by Louis Auchincloss
7. How well do I combine principles and pragmatism? - "A Man for All Seasons" by Robert Bolt
8. What is sound reflection? - "Antigone" by Sophocles

This is the most refreshing book on leadership I have read in many years. Badaracco, by taking serious works of fiction, treating them as case studies, and examining them in-depth, has also stimulated my interest in serious fiction as a tool for personal and professional growth.

In "Questions of Character," Badaracco provides an innovative and effective format for readers to learn - about leadership and about themselves. This is one of the two most important books (the other is "Living into Leadership" by McCoy) on character and leadership I have ever read. "Questions of Character" is a must read for those interested in leadership and will particularly appeal to those already in leadership roles.

an excellent approach to this subject  Mar 28, 2008
I am often working as trainer for preparing experienced project managers to pass the PMP exam successfully. Many participants are asking me about the best ethic for project managers. This book is able to open your eyes and your heart for understanding the broad spectrum of questions which everybody not only project managers has to answer for herself. Mr. Badaraco illuminates this subject by looking to leaders starting with the famous story of the death of salesman and ending up with the ancient greek hero Antigone. I have read this book within a few hours without big interrupts and now I am reading it the second time.
Ranks up there along with "Profiles in Courage."  Jan 7, 2007
For those working in large bureaucracies and/or as senior members of corporations, this book will demonstrate the TRUE characteristics of what makes up a "LEADER." A must read for anyone planning for senior management positions. However, not applicable in those corporations that are more interested in questionable, enormous salaries and bonuses, and perhaps specious operations as so many corporations have demonstrated in the past several years.
Good Leaders Are Not Born, But Made Through Effortless Morals.  Sep 11, 2006
To become a successful leader, you must start with an open mind and listen to those you trust. Then, you make your own decisions. What is right for one may not be the situation for you. You must be able to dream and to hold to your dreams. That is most important, as the dreams tell us what is happening in our subconscious mind. It's hard, but you have to be able to accept criticism and grow from the hurtful comments of others. A great rule of thumb when someone does something intentionally to harm you or your psyche is to "consider the source," and go from there. If you value that person and his opinion, it might be choice to try his advice; if not, smile and say "thank you."

Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," was a failure to himself and his family because he embraced "a corrupt version of the American dream which defines success as money, status and celebrity. Like that conman in "Born Yesterday," written by Garson Kanin. Both plays were written in the 1940s and showed capitalism at its worst.

A good moral code is basically a set of values and principles which guide one's behavior. To be perfect, it should be based on religious training of a lifetime starting with the Ten Commandments of the Bible. Jesus led an exemplary life for his time and place. Today's world is filled with evil. New Orleans, deemed the most sinful city (along with Las Vegas), felt God's wrath with Katrina. The Bible promised we would not be destroyed by floods in the story of Noah and the Ark. Knoxville is teetering on the brink of being almost as sinful with so much emphasis on liquor. It, too, is in store for some form of God's wrath -- in what form, I'm not sure. But I predict that the walls will come crumbling down on Gay Street someday. A moral compass is useful for questions of right and wrong.

The hardest choices rise to the top because the questions which could have been solved with simple rules are delegated to others. Such is our city government, as the mayor isn't facile enough to follow through on his promises to the common folk. This is a town of "studies and plans" going on for years, with no follow through. It takes outsiders to come in and corrupt the whole town. Drinking, drugging, carousing on the downtown streets openly by people who were not born here will be the downfall of a town, not the city it could have been. I have never been good at judging character; thus, I have been let down by some I trusted. But then, I am not a leader; nor a follower be -- I tend to take the road least taken. I believe in causes and was told recently that I came home for a reason. Whether I succeed or fail is still up in the air, and I have made an impact -- something I could never have achieved had I stayed here all of my life. We see in the photographs of the Civil War how Abraham Lincoln changed from the confident President to one of toil and pain etched "ever deeper" in his face. He cared deeply and the price he paid was high.

Professor of Business Ethics, Badaracco uses fiction and literature by Joseph Conrad, John Updike, Joseph Heller, F. Scott Fitzgerald (he and Zelda were as immoral as anyone, products of their time), Tom Wolfe (not the one who said, "You can't go home again." But he was right!) and Sophocles' ANTIGONE. He should have also used Atticus in 'To Kill A Mockingbird.'
One the best leadership books I have ever read  Jun 15, 2006
This will become a classic leadership / management book. I have read hundreds of books on management, but none illustrate the real challenges of assuming leadership of an organization than this collection of stories from literature. I highly recommend this book to any student of management or leadership.

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