South-Western - Management  
Are you a Good Leader?
Topic Leadership
Key Words leader, leadership, CEO, financial decisions, ethics, responsibility, product
BCRC A193002266
News Story

In an age that is spiraling into economic disaster, perhaps it’s time to look at the decisions that landed us in this financial mess. The hardcore attitudes that helped create the current dismantling of the U.S. economy obviously didn’t work. In their place we need a new type of thinking by the nation’s business leaders, new philosophies and mindsets that may help us see our way out of this crisis.
What will work in today’s business climate?  Leaders might start by going for that pay cut, declining that bonus, and putting themselves on par with their employees. They might start by focusing less on the bottom line and more on fair play and honest talk.
The article suggests a number of guidelines for mid-level leaders (investment bankers, entrepreneurs, C-level executives, and anyone who makes decisions that affect the financial status of others):

  • Avoid double standards
  • Know your product   
  • Forget about winning at all costs
  • Tell the truth
  • Prevent harm
  • Don’t exploit
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes
  • Focus on people, not profits
  • Be kind
  • Remember that you are not your career
  1. Review the elements of the “new way of thinking” mentioned in the article. Is this really new thinking, or old-fashioned good business sense? Compare this philosophy of leadership to the leadership standards of past generations.  
  1. What types of leadership styles are reflected in the rules and tactics listed in the article?  
  1. What traits make someone a good leader?  
  1. The article points out the need to know your product. What steps can leaders take to accomplish this in today’s corporate climate?    
  1. The article says good leaders know that “if they don’t regulate their businesses themselves, someone else will.” In today’s world, this “someone else” is often a government agency. Name some regulatory agencies, and give an example of a real-life business situation that needed regulation. 
  1. The article cautions against making a promise you can’t keep, and mentions the Dr. Pepper issue. Give an example of a business that has found itself in this position in recent years.  

“Are you a good leader?” Business Week Online, Feb 2, 2009 pNA.

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