Meeting The Ethical Challenge Of Leadership: Casting Light Or Shadow Book Reviews Example

Type of paper: Book Review

Topic: Ethics, Leadership, Literature, Books, Light, Leader, Meeting, Town

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/10/27


A critical book review serves to look at a deeper and more significance of a book rather than not only what the book is about. As such, a precise critical book review must expressproductively the message or theme of the particular book in focus.As a practice, this is done in an actually more analytical mode of reading and often warily methodical. This is done so as to enable the reviewer gather two strands of accurate, logicalimpression coupled with asolid, personal reaction in pointing out what the book entails. Besides that, it presents a formidable point of view that attempts to discern whatever the book’s content might mean to a reader.
Thus, it is in light of the above that this critical book review is relevant in reference to the book, Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow by Craig Johnson. This is to resent the book’s themes, concepts and the relatable critiques as pertaining to the book. Noteworthy, this critical book review will assume the format of book cover analysis (surface value exploration) and a consequent content scrutiny.

Book Cover

Right from the cover of the Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow, it is straight-forward to notice the book’s message. This is in respect to the following. 1) The title. The book’s title, Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow is a somewhat reflection of the dominant message inherent in the book. This includes the suitableintrinsic worths that are ideally expected of a leader in whatever a scenario he or she is in.
2) The Chess factor on the cover. This is quite an importantexploit in respect to the book. This is because the game of chess is conclusively associated with the thinkers and astute decision makers in any organizational setting. As such, the game is related to the leaders of a society in general.
3) The two dominant coloration on the book cover are also connotative in the presentation of the book, Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow. These are the black and white colours. Ideally, they seem to be symbolic to the two incompatible virtues of leadership, shadow and light respectively. Accordingly; the two standpoints are the antagonistic representatives employed by the author of this book.

This phase of the critical book review forms the largest chunk. Most important to note is the fact that this is the phase in which the book, Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow’s major themes, concepts and critique will be manifest. Likewise, this phase will adopt the chronological flow of ideas in the critical book review as presented in the book’s logical structure.
First and foremost is the Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow’s leading portion, Part 1: The Shadow side of leadership (Johnson, 2011). The pertinent characteristics that the author has highlighted and explored deeper in relation to a leader are really a factor to consider. These characteristics are totally appropriatein adducing the classification of a leader’s shadow and light.
They will be even more suitable in shaping a budding leader andguiding an existent leader in his or her leadership roles. Thus; it goes without saying that it is by virtues that a leader can effectively know whether he or she is good or not. This is certainly in attention to the actions which the particular leader may be expected to undertake and even having undertaken. Categorically, the characteristicsin the cases presented pinpoint the ethical and unethical actions that undeniably define either the shadows or the light of a leader. Likewise, they set the standards that can serve as the canons of a sound, ethical leadership(Johnson, 2011).
The shadow casters, are another element that vividly play out in the first part of the book, Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow. The governingtheme behind their exposure is to make leaders aware of the precise elements that serve to diminish their ethical behaviours in discharging their leadership roles.
Secondly is Part Two: Looking inward(Johnson, 2011).Perfectly, this part exposes a leader’s character and even the mannerisms that he or she can adopt to counter evil in the course of discharging the leadership role ethically. The shaping up of leadership values as presented in the book are explicit to the successful discharge of the role.
The examples presented in the book soundly solidify the merits as exemplified in the previous part of the book (part one) that are expected of a leader’s ethical behavior. In addition to the above, they accentuate the ideals that will guarantee more of a leader’s light than shadow. These are in respect to such traits as humility, kindness, trustworthy, honesty and fairness among others.
The third part, which is the Ethical standards and strategies is undeniably the most substantialportion of the book, Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow(Johnson, 2011).The themes presented in this part really seem to take into account the fact that ethical leadership in whatever time or situation, is core and must be cultured in a person. The presented general ethical perspectives within the book are a sure restatement of the dogmatic expectations evidenced universally. As such, they must be put into practice without second thoughts.
The normative ethical theories that are presented in the book seem to compound cultivation and integration of ethical leadership as expected in the general ethical perspectives. For both learning purposes and precise practice of the ethical standards and strategies, the normative theories as highlighted in the book meaningfully assist as a valid guide(Johnson, 2011). Their presentation with the applicable examples can attest to this statement.
Nevertheless, the ethical decision-making formats are a momentousaccomplishment worth deliberating on to emphasize on ethically-sound leadership. Their stagingwithin the book will really serve to gain more understanding of this principle of leadership and ensure more tactfulness in enforcing it in the daily leadership challenges.
Finally, is the part four: shaping ethical contexts(Johnson, 2011).Normally, this iscertainly achallenging undertaking by the leadership to those who follow them. Importantly, ethics in any organization and the society at large is not on the leadership alone but also other members. Hence, the book gives a systematic impression on the leadership’s strategic role of nurturing and cultivating ethics within their spheres of influence.
The exactnessin building an effective, ethical small group by the leaders will act as a pointer to their ability to ensure it lasts longer(Johnson, 2011).This is a viable recipe for subsequent and massive creation of an ethical organizational climate. All these are underscored in the book,Meeting the Ethical Challenge of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow. Finally, the book presents clear-cut structures with case examples to warrant meeting of the ethical challenges of cultural diversity. This is cognizant of the fact that with variances in cultures, ethics is often an overridingchallenge.


Demonstration of ethical behavior, especially by most persons whether professionals or not, is often a daunting act. This is in consideration of the fact that leaders frequently find themselves in most circumstances that require them to make decisions. Such decisions are habitually rational, though they can also be irrational. As such, their personal attributes routinely define their ethical behaviours depending on the situation(s) at hand.
Hence; this part attempts to presents my personal point of view of this issue in reference to some persons who exhibited ethical behaviour in their lines of duty.
First, was my friend’s brother who happened to be a police officer charged with the duty of manning highway patrol. He often received insults from many motorists, whom he charged with breaking the traffic laws of the state for refusing their bribe offers. This went on for along time until one day he decided that this was really too much for him to bear. In response to that, he tendered his resignation letter to his immediate supervisor. Much to his surprise, his pronouncement to quit the police department of the state was declined and instead he received a promotion to that effect.
Indisputably, this is a case in point that demonstrates ethical behaviour in the sense of honesty and decline to take bribes. Nonetheless, an essentialelementsurfaces in his life, which is the promotion. This is as a result of his honest service in the police department of the state that is repeatedly ridiculed for bribe-taking. Arguably; his honesty was the sole motivator for the police department to consider his promotion that seemed to be premised on trust he acquired.
Second scenario was a Mayor of a certain local town within a country in Asia. It was reported that he drew upthe town’s code of ethics and pledged to abide by themstrictly. Most of them pertained to administration of service within the local authority and a time came for him to put his decision into a firm action. Some public appointments were made within the town hall’s administrative wing in a skewed manner, thereby favoring persons associated with some of the prominent local politicians within the town hall. This led to a string of public complaints and the matter was brought to his attention prior to the confirmation of the appointees. He boldly rejected the drawn list despite the fact that it had been prepared by some of his closest political allies.
The decision to disallow the lopsided public appointments into the town hall’s administrative wing endeared him more political foes but gained him a significant positive public nod. Demonstrably; he chose to stand by his town’s code of ethics that precluded crooked public appointments within the town hall. This was an act of courage, fairness, and overall positivity in decision-making of a leader with regard to the set mechanisms that guide societal perspectives. Nonetheless, it exposed a pronounced level of laxity in ethical conduct on the part of some of the prominent local politicians despite their consent to the town’s code of ethics that were in place.
Third, is a former high school principal from my neighbourhood.He headed a highly reputable institution of learning that was renowned for authoritariandiscipline and academic excellence. Armed with strict adherence to these, he earned earth-shattering respect from many people especially from the academic circles. A situation arose in his school, whereby a group of students were implicated in a drug abuse syndicate. Interestingly, two of them were directly related to him. One was his son and the other, his nephew.
He discharged the school rules and regulations without exhibiting favor of any sort to any of the students. He expelled the whole group of students, his son and nephew included. This was after grilling the students and confirming that they were actually party to the clique. Much honor and questions can then be citedin respect to his resolutionto expel even his closest relatives. As such, lack of favoritism, honesty and discipline are sound lessons that are manifested in his action. Therefore, ethical behaviour that is commendable requires a non-partisan approach to issues at all times and this case was not an exception.
Finally, was the immediate former deputy chief executive officer of a certain wood milling plant in Tropical Africa.He introduced a comprehensive compensation plan for victims of accidents incurred in their course of duty to the wood milling plant. At first, most of the corporation’s management was against his idea and the idea even faced an obstruction when it was presented to the company’s board of directors. Nonetheless, the shareholders consented to the notion and this helped settle quite a number of legal suitsthat the company was facing in the courts of law.
The lasting impression of this notion was the increased job satisfaction among most of the employees and a validatedrespect for the victims’ families. Moreover, those families whose members had lost their lives in their lines of duty were also taken into account and restored a sense of mutual respect on the part of the corporation’s management and its worthy employees.
In conclusion, ethical behaviours define people’s ethical standards and their organizations as a whole. This is preferably mirrored in the above instances and indeed, I find them admirable in the long run.


Johnson, C.E. (2011) Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow.4th Ed. NY: SAGE Publications.

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