by Joseph Badaracco (2006)
Badaracco is the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School. The author draws on his experience teaching MBA students and uses eight selections from serious fiction to encourage leaders to explore in depth what it really means to “know thyself.”
The stories in the book include Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, and Sophocles’s Antigone. Each of the eight discussions is preceded by a key question and then by Professor Badaracco’s thumbnail outline of the story and its protagonist. The eight key questions, such as “Do I have a good dream?” and “How flexible is my moral code?” are backed up by subsidiary questions, as the author, in Socratic fashion, rejects easy, superficial responses. He is critical, for example, of the metaphor of the moral compass, arguing that it is useful only for dealing with questions of right and wrong.
YLD Key Leadership Takeaway: Decide something! – Making difficult leadership decisions seldom turns out to be an easy Yes or No pathway. Many, if not most, leadership challenges demand a choice between two “rights” or, worse still, between two “wrongs.” Understanding the tool of critical thinking and self-reflection can help you make the difficult decisions for the better good of the team.