Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Moral Leader

Harvard Business School Professor Sandra J. Sucher uses literature to illustrate points in her class on The Moral Leader. An interview excerpt:

A third story that resonates deeply with the moral challenges business leaders face is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is about an English butler, Stevens, and the decisions he makes while in service to his master, Lord Darlington, between the First and the Second World Wars. Stevens acts on a very stringent moral code that requires him to put the interests of his master before every other consideration. The novel is an exploration of the nature and limits of loyalty. A student once said, "That book hit me like a bullet between the eyes. I could see myself doing exactly what Stevens did—subordinating everything to my career and my bosses' interests. It was terrifying." Loyalty is something that we come to expect as leaders. Understanding what loyalty can look like from a subordinate's point of view is illuminating, helping us understand the choices that we ask our subordinates to make and the costs that loyalty may impose.

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