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.