By Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.
Harvard Business School Press, $26.95
I am often but not always ambivalently unsure and indecisive about books that emanate from the leafy comfort of Harvard Business School. Most are of a certain quality that blends high intent with readability and practicality, making for a rewarding read. I have no such mixed emotions about Questions of Character. It is a work of beauty and grace.
Joseph L. Badaracco presents eight essays on different literary works that shed light on a series of character challenges of people in leadership roles. Each essay highlights one kind of ethical question or another, and with works such as Death of A Salesman, Antigone, I Come as a Thief and A Man for All Seasons on the list, you get more than your garden variety of dilemmas, conundrums, paradoxes and the occasional mystery.
This is a work of great care, written by a man who cares about the ways people live their business lives. As he writes later in the book "external comparisons ask us who has reached the finish line first. In contrast, the questions of character focus on the starting line. There we find other individuals like ourselves, each with particular talents, commitments, faults and cares."
I am aware of no other work like this one in the business genre. Take time out to care more about what really matters and bring this one home.