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Building Leadership Character

Building Leadership Character

April 2018 | 288 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Extending beyond traditional leadership books to offer readers a path for developing their own character, this compelling new text uses a storytelling approach and real-world cases to explore different dimensions of leadership character. With a clear, student-friendly writing style, bestselling author Amy Newman deftly captures various approaches in which corporations and people respond to situations in difficult times and learn from mistakes. Using real companies and situations, each chapter examines a leadership character dimension such as accountability, integrity, authenticity, and courage. Readers will learn to develop their own character, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills as they engage with assessments, reflection opportunities, and exercises.

Chapter 1. Leadership Character in Context
Chapter Overview

Leaders Choose Character

Leadership Theories Have Evolved

Dimensions Focus Our Efforts to Develop Character

Leadership Character Has Organizational and Personal Benefits

Judgment Contributes to Ethical Decision Making

Corporate Failures Teach Us About Character—and About Ourselves

Learning From Corporate Failures

Respecting and Learning From Failure



Chapter 2. Learning Character Lessons From Failure
Chapter Overview

Failure Is Critical to Success

People Fear Failure Because of the Pain

Learning From Failure Builds Character

Leaders Adopt a Learning Orientation

Forward-Looking Organizations Value Failure

Self-Reflection Helps Us Learn From Failure

Reflection Prepares Us Intellectually

Practicing Mindfulness Prepares Us Emotionally

Taking Care of Our Bodies Prepares Us Physically



Chapter 3. Vulnerability: Risking Exposure
Chapter Overview

Volkswagen’s “Clean Diesel” Dupes Customers

Vulnerability Means Risking Exposure

Vulnerability Builds Connection

Apologizing Is Good for Business

Connection Is Built or Destroyed on Social Media



Chapter 4. Authenticity: Living as Yourself
Chapter Overview

General Motors Delays Recalls

Authentic Leaders Are True to Themselves

Authenticity Doesn’t Mean Being Rigid or Morally Correct

Authentic Leaders Bring Their Whole Selves to Work

Self-Awareness and Self-Acceptance Help Us Feel Comfortable in Our Own Skin

We Want to Connect With Real People on Social Media



Chapter 5. Integrity: Being Consistent and Whole
Chapter Overview

FIFA Leaders Disappoint Athletes and Fans Around the World

Leaders of Integrity Are Consistent and Whole

Behavioral Integrity Is Good for Business

Trust in Organizations Is Eroding

Leaders Who Model Integrity, Trust, and Transparency Cultivate Trust

Leaders With Integrity Tell the Truth

Investors Seek and Demonstrate Integrity



Chapter 6. Accountability: Responding to Others
Chapter Overview

Wells Fargo Sets Unrealistic Sales Goals for Employees

Responsibility and Accountability Definitions Are Complementary

Leaders Avoid Accountability by Shifting Blame

Incentives and Regulations Ensure Some Accountability

Leaders Foster a Culture of Accountability

Accountable Leaders Admit and Forgive Mistakes

External Leaders Step in When Boards Fail

Whistleblowers Demand Accountability

Companies Improve Their Accountability



Chapter 7. Courage: Standing Up
Chapter Overview

Samsung Botches a Recall

Courageous Leaders Fight for Worthy Goals

Taking Measured Risks Improves Outcomes

Courage Means Facing Our Fears

Public, Unpopular Decisions Take Courage

Courageous Leaders Tackle Different Conversations

Radical Candor and Radical Transparency Are Two Ways Leaders Demonstrate Courage

Self-Righteousness Needs to Be Controlled



Chapter 8. Humility: Learning From Others
Chapter Overview

Constituencies Question Uber’s Ethics

Humble Leaders Recognize Their Own Limitations

Humility as a Management Strength

Humble Leaders Make Space for Others

Assessments Teach Us About Humility

Leading With Humility Requires Perspective

Humble Leaders Seek Feedback

Curiosity Is Associated With Intellectual Humility

Two Chefs Illustrate Humility



Chapter 9. Compassion: Caring for Others and Ourselves
Chapter Overview

SeaWorld Fails to Respond to the Movie Blackfish

Compassion Alleviates Suffering

Responding With Compassion Involves Four Steps

Compassion Benefits People and Organizations

Compassionate Leaders Respond With Small Gestures, Comfort, and Empathy

Communication About a Suicide Offers a Model of Compassion

Self-Compassion and Gratitude Ease Suffering



Company Index
Subject Index
About the Author


Instructor Teaching Site

A password-protected Instructor Resources include
s author-created instructor’s manual with teaching notes, additional assignments, and additional examples as well as author-created PowerPoint slides.

“I believe this book would be a very good fit for a graduate level ethical leadership course.” 

Robert Waris
University of Missouri-Kansas City

“This text would be great in an MBA course once basic core knowledge is understood. I would recommend this book if your class is smaller and you are able to have discussions regarding these topics. This text could be used as supplemental material in a higher-level leadership course to bring in practical examples.” 

Victoria McKee
University of Central Oklahoma

“A practice-based book focused on leadership character.” 

Xia Zhao
California State University, Dominguez Hills

“A book that takes recent examples from organizations and examines how leaders leveraged or missed opportunities to demonstrate key characteristics that make a leader great.” 

Abigail Charpentier

“I would describe it as a strong, leadership behavior based case study tool to enhance the leadership exploration….” 

Christine R. Day
Eastern Michigan University

“As you are aware, there has been a lucrative market for books and manuals on to fulfil the demands of organizations, and training and academic institutions. To get to the ‘jewel’, sometimes requires that you wade through a lot of mediocre ones. This notwithstanding, there are some excellent recent books on leadership and I believe this book falls into that category.” 

Robert M. Yawson
Quinnipiac University
Key features


  • Each chapter examines one dimension of leadership character to help readers work towards becoming a responsible leader.
  • Real-world cases follow the steps of leaders of major companies, including SeaWorld, Wells Fargo, the NFL, Uber, and Volkswagen, as they respond to crises.
  • End-of-chapter exercises encourage self-development and skill building, while reflection questions, role-playing scenarios, and unique application exercises encourage critical thinking and work well for teamwork or individual completion. 
  • Annotated Company examples provide real company communications from leaders in a variety of industries to illustrate character dimensions.
  • Definitions, academic literature, and practitioner advice provide theoretical grounding and offer practical considerations for deep understanding of each character dimension.
  • Focus on learning from failure encourages students to adopt a learning orientation and to learn from their own failures.

For instructors

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