Sample Book Review Paper on Leadership in Business and Society: Review of DVDs


The paper will discuss the leadership and fellowship issues that emerge from the DVDs of the Enron and the 13 days of the Cuban missile crisis.  Leadership is an important element in promoting the integration and collaboration of society. The DVD exposes learners to important issues relating to leadership in business and the entire society.  For instance, the Enron DVD examines the fall of Enron due to the unethical practices by the leaders in the company.  While, the 13days DVD indicates how President R. Kennedy was able to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy provides informed judgment and decisions as well as listened to his advisors before making the decisions. Thus, the two DVDs offer diverse leadership perspectives in business and society.  It also highlights the relevant leadership theories associated with each of the DVDs.

 “Thirteen Days” DVD Film

Thirteen days is a DVD inspired by the happenings of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was useful in exposing the leadership issues faced by President R. Kennedy in resolving the leadership crisis. The DVD makers focus on imposing leadership issues and responsibility to the various characters.  It also inspires the audience to understand the Cuban Missile Crisis because it comprised of significant lessons on public leadership. The 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis exposes some of the bad and good leadership practices in the society.  The Cuban missile crisis posed serious threats of the safety of the United States due to its location to Cuba (Avolio J & Yammarino 2013).  According to the DVD, R. Kennedy, the president of the United States used different approaches to deal with the problems and threats posed by the missile crisis. However, he faced with time constraint towards adverse situations in the Florida, which was close to Cuba. During the crisis, the president was concerned to the situation of worsening situation.

Amidst the concerns, R. Kennedy received information that an unarmed American plan had been shot down while conducting surveys over Cuba.  This put more pressure on the president from the military who wanted to respond through fire. They argued that the U.S government has to respond by fire to retaliate and show its supremacy.  Political advisors also argued that the Soviet Union who was responsible had violated the UN Charter to escalate the social-political tensions. The shooting down of the plane was more pressuring to the President, as the fly over Cuba could not be stopped they were the only source of information on the construction of missile bases in Cuba. The situation posed a serious threat of the overall security of the United States. The president was faced with the dilemma of starting war, which could end at time soon. In spite of all, the U.S government was determined to eliminate the bases.

Some of the bad leadership examples in the Thirteen Days DVD include the high tensions between the President and the uninformed military advisers. The advisers did not have adequate information on the situation on the ground (Gini & Green, 2014). Thus, in most instances, they misadvised the President to go for war.  For instance, the chiefs of staff had universally agreed on recommending bombing Cuba and then proceeding with an invasion. They also tried to convince Kennedy from his decision to postpone direct military action in order to allow for peaceful withdrawal of the nuclear missiles.

The DVD indicates that the military leaders were trying hard to leave Kennedy with no choice for him to go for war. This indicates practices of bad leadership from the generals who misconceived their sense of duty. On the other hand, President Kennedy indicated good leadership by leaving other options for resolving the Cuban missile crisis. He mainly wanted to convince the Soviet Premier Khrushchev to consider peaceful withdrawal. This is an example of a leader who had respect for human dignity and international law.

Another example of good leadership shown in the DVD of Thirteen days was the continued demand for high intelligence and informed judgment from the president. President Kennedy pushed the political advisers to obtain more evidence and intelligence on the progress of the assembling of missile in Cuba. Most importantly, he was very calm and patient towards making his decisions. Even though the military generals put more pressure, President R. Kennedy was cool on his judgment and decisions.  In spite of all, Kennedy administration was criticized for being militaristic and provocative. During his leadership, nuclear capability was the main national strength. The imbalance with the Soviet Union was huge. The U.S policy was normally known as “massive retaliation.

The leadership model of R. Kennedy aligns to the principles and guidelines of authentic leadership theory. The authentic leadership theory emphasizes on positive leadership model, which insists on openness and honesty as well as supporting ethical and high integrity within the society.  From the DVD, President Kennedy was keen to negotiate with Soviet Premier to resolve the Cuban Missile crisis peacefully (Daft 2014). However, most of his advisors were autocrats who believed in threats and ruthless actions to resolve the conflict.  In spite of Kennedy’s militaristic policy, his leadership judgment strongly aligns to the authentic leadership model. Since, he focused on doing the right thing irrespective of the increased pressure from his court to invade the Russians.

Enron DVD Film

The Enron DVD film examines the events, which engulfed the Enron corporate scandals in 2000. Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001. The collapse of Enron is mainly due to the unethical practices by the company’s executives. The ethical shortcomings of the leaders at Enron are highly emphasized in the DVD. The executives are blamed of deceit, moral failure and excess privilege among ethical concerns. Since, ethics is an important element of leadership in the business society. Therefore, the Enron DVD shows the bad leadership practices at Enron which lead to the collapse of Enron.

The moral failure of the top leaders at Enron is an example of bad leadership practices.  The events leading to the filing of bankruptcy at Enron shows the greed and lack of morals. For instance, failed investments in oversea investments and dubious limited partnerships were numerous.  The dubious partnerships supported illegal runs by company insiders who were developed to keep the company off debt in its balance sheet and help in keeping the share price high.  However, when the company’s stock price began to fall, the company was not able to support its obligations.  The DVD also shows other charges associated with the dubious partnerships including the borrowing of loans without the intention to pay, avoiding federal taxes, the manipulation of federal energy policy, collusion with analysts to project false reputation for the company’s financial health and claiming that profits for long-term projects would lead to the loss of money. Enron is also accused of bribing foreign government officials in India, Ghana and other nations to secure contracts.

Apart from the financial issues, the Enron DVD raises the concerns of political conspiracy, as the company was one of the largest contributors to the presidential campaign of President George Bush. Lay was one of the first persons to start supporting deregulation.  The deregulation entailed the process of reducing the government’s regulation of the markets and industry to allow more freedom for the industries (Gini & Green 2014). The deregulation campaign would help the Merger with Enron to operate in gas and pipeline networks without much government regulations. Enron was aiming to take advantage of the deregulation to make more money. This examines the opportunist leadership rot aimed at defrauding innocent investors.

Additionally, Both Lay and Skilling were responsible for the abuse of power.  In the company, the position of vice chair could be described as “ejector seat” as any person who appeared to threaten Lay was removed from the option.  Skilling also eliminated any corporate rivals and continually intimidated the lower level employees.   In certain periods, the managers were not concerned about the operation of the business.  The board members of the company also failed in providing proper oversight and did not challenge the management decisions.  The members in the board were selected by the CEO Lay and always supported his ideas (Carroll & Buchholtz 2014). From the DVD film, there are few examples of good leadership practices at Enron. The only good leadership practices were the increased investments in corporate social responsibility and government support.  Enron Inc funded various community projects as well as gave taxes to the government. Despite of this, Enron’s financial fraud and misrepresentation costed the government increases tax revenues and the investors.

Excess privilege given out to the management of Enron was another issue in the leadership and management of the company. Lay was misusing the funds of the company to finance his lavish life. For instance, he gave $2 million for decorating his new home in Houston.  Lay also borrowed $75 million from the company and repaid using his stock.  Her also cried in a show claiming that they were broke in spite owning property worth over $30 million. The workers of Enron also enjoyed lavish benefits including free tax rides and refreshments among others. The excess privilege offered to the management was detrimental to the success of the company. This is an example of bad leadership whereby the company CEO did not focus on the right priorities to enhance the financial performance of the company.

The leaders of Enron were also responsible for the manipulation of information to protect the interests of the public. All the executives and the board member argue that they were unaware of the degree of the off books partnerships established. Most specifically, the board members had waived the conflict of interest clause, which was in the company’s code of ethics. The code of ethics would have prevented the formation of illegal and troublesome partnerships (Daft 2014). The employees of the company were keen to follow the top leaders including they helped in hiding expenses and deceiving energy regulators. Thus, the DVD examines that the fall of Enron was characterized by deceit castrated by the top executives in the company.

The unethical leadership practices at Enron lead to the destruction of the corporate culture of the company. The employees were only encouraged to create commodity products, which were fraudulent and illegal. The authoritarian leadership model fits to the model of leadership at Enron (Moore 2012). Only the top leaders had the authority and power to make all decisions. All the employees were required to follow all the instructions given by the top leaders. If they failed to comply, they were fired immediately.  The authoritarian leadership approach is not a good leadership as it limits the ability of the employees to work diligently.


 Both the 13 days and Enron DVD films are useful in understanding the significant leadership issues in the society. Each DVD offers an analysis of the bad and good leadership practices. In 13days DVD, it shows that R. Kennedy’s leadership was claim and positive. He listened to him military and political advisers before making any decisions relating to the war.  Most importantly, it indicates that Kennedy valued openness and honesty. Through Kennedy’s judgment, he was able to make informed decisions to tackle the Cuban Missile Crisis. On the other hand, the Enron DVD shows that the top executives at Enron were unethical and did not respect the ethics of business.  The CEO, Lay was authoritarian and did like any person who challenged him. He required all the employees to follow his directives.  For instance, he required the accountants to manipulate the balance sheets to portray the false financial health of the company. This led to the long-term collapse of the company due to the failure to integrate morals and ethics in the leadership of the company.

 References List

Avolio, B  J & Yammarino, F J (Eds.) 2013. Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead (Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing, New York.

Carroll, A & Buchholtz, A 2014, Business and society: Ethics, sustainability, and stakeholder management, Cengage Learning, Boston.

Daft, R 2014, The leadership experience, Cengage Learning, Boston.

Gini, A & Green, R M 2014, Three critical characteristics of leadership: character, stewardship, experience. Business and Society Review, 119(4), 435-446.

Moore, L L 2012, Worldly leadership through local knowledge: discovering voices of Emirati women business leaders. Worldly Leadership: Alternative Wisdoms for a Complex World, 171-191.