Hail to the CEO
The Failure of George W. Bush and the Cult of Moral Leadership
by James Hoopes
December 2007, 144pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-34784-9
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-0-313-34785-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Hail to the CEO—a breakthrough book on leadership, business ethics, and the place of George W. Bush in the history of our time—explains how Bush’s failed presidency reflects not just on him but on the business culture that created him.

An unethical and undemocratic cult of business leadership seems to hold sway over the minds of President George W. Bush and many other leaders in our society. According to ethics and leadership expert James Hoopes, this cult claims that leadership is attained and exercised through morality. But by instilling false pride and moral egotism in executives, the leadership cult intensifies the tendency of power to corrupt. For the first time, Hail to the CEO pulls back the curtain on the cult of moral leadership, revealing its dangers while showing readers how to lead with greater integrity and competence. What’s more, it will help all citizens better guard their freedom against corrupt, ruinous decisions and the leaders who make them.

The notion of leaders as moral exemplars began in business schools and is increasingly influential in the rest of society. Bush, a veteran of corporate life, is our first president to hold the degree Master of Business Administration. As a result of his business education and business experience, he has carried the leadership cult into the White House—with disastrous results. Many others have deplored Bush’s incompetence and moral arrogance. Hail to the CEO is the first book to explain that his failures—from faith-based initiatives to the unconstitutional war on terror—reflect not just on him but on the business culture that created him. Moreover, Hail to the CEO challenges many of the assumptions underlying today’s conventional wisdom on leadership. It will show leaders, for example, that it is morally dangerous to manage by values rather than manage for values. Hail to the CEO offers a new model of leadership in which moral influence is earned, not used, by managing as competently and justly as possible. More important, by reminding citizens of the democratic principle that leaders may be moral menaces as well as moral exemplars, Hail to the CEO will help protect freedom.


"In this short of tightly argued work, Hoopes presents a clear thesis: George W. Bush has misunderstood and misused his moral authority as president....Hoopes argues that a misguided moral superiority animates decision making in the Bush White House, blinding them to the perils of abusing power....Highly recommended. General readers and all undergraduates."—Choice, July 1, 2008

"Hoopes, a Babson professor, takes the position that the prevailing cult of moral leadership is at least partially to blame for Bush's mistakes....Harvard's 1970s b-school curriculum would have emphasized a CEO's duty to lead through moral influence, Hoopes believes....Hoopes spends the rest of the book addressing those questions--though many of his readers will already have strong opinions about the answers."—BizEd, August 1, 2008

"In this short but highly incisive book, business historian Jim Hoopes explains why contemporary America's cult of moral leadership, as exercised by corporate CEOs as well as politicians and presidents, is such a problematic idea. Hoopes is an expert guide to the ethical borderland that links management and morality, which is why his explanation for the occasional successes and the vast failures of President George W. Bush is so fresh and revealing."—Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in 20th Century America.

"Jim Hoopes' inspired idea has been to approach George W. Bush as an archetypal corporate boss of the Enron era whose insistent claims to moral leadership are betrayed by a conduct of affairs which is both incompetent and morally flawed. An original and important book."—Simon Head, Senior Fellow, Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, UK

"Now here is a truly subversive book. Hoopes identifies a cult that has insidiously taken over in both politics and business. This is the cult of moral leadership--the illusion that our leaders have risen to their rank because of their moral character and that their decisions should be guided by their values. This cult is dangerous to democracy because it enjoins us to trust those in power. Hoopes reminds us of a deeper, hard-earned wisdom--that power corrupts and that democracy therefore requires checks and balances rather than obedience. Using Pres. Bush and various business leaders as compelling counter-examples, Hoopes make the case that truly moral leadership is too humble and too knowledgeable to claim a mantle of morality. Its legitimacy comes not from its proclaimed values, but from its honesty and competency."—Paul S. Adler, Prof. of Management and Organization University of Southern California
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