Defining moments when managers must choose between right and right

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defining moments when managers must choose between right and right

Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.

Defining moments, according to Badaracco, occur when managers face business problems that trigger difficult, deeply personal questions. In deciding how to act, managers reveal their inner values, test their commitment to those values, and ultimately shape their characters. Badaracco builds a framework for approaching these dilemmas around three cases of increasing complexity, reflecting the escalating responsibilities managers face as they advance in their careers. The first story presents a young man whose choice will affect him only as an individual; the second, a department head, whose decision will influence his organization; the third, a corporate executive, whose actions will have much larger, societal ramifications. To guide the decision-making process, Badaracco draws on the insights of four philosophers--Aristotle, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and James--because they offer practical rather than theoretical advice. He thus bridges the gap between classroom philosophy and corporate pragmatism. The result is a flexible framework that managers can draw on to resolve issues of conflicting responsibility in practical ways.
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Published 19.12.2018

Defining Moment

Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose between Right and Right

Badaracco L. In deciding how to act, managers reveal their inner values, test their commitment to those values, and ultimately shape their characters. Badaracco builds a framework for approaching these dilemmas around three cases of increasing complexity, reflecting the escalating responsibilities managers face as they advance in their careers. The first story presents a young man whose choice will affect him only as an individual; the second, a department head, whose decision will influence his organization; the third, a corporate executive, whose actions will have much larger, societal ramifications. To guide the decision-making process, Badaracco draws on the insights of four philosophers--Aristotle, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and James--because they offer practical rather than theoretical advice.

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Difficult questions like these are often matters of right versus right, not right versus wrong. Sometimes, a manager faces a tough problem and must choose between two ways of resolving it. Each alternative is the right thing to do, but there is no way to do both. There are three basic types of right-versus-right problems: those that raise questions about personal integrity and moral identity; conflicts between responsibilities for others and important personal values; and, perhaps the most challenging, those involving responsibilities that a company shares with other groups in society. Most companies are now enmeshed in networks of ongoing relationships. Strategic alliances link organizations with their customers and suppliers, and even competitors.

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