business memo


Fall 2011
30 Points


Assigned: Week 13
Due: Friday of Week 14

To be turned in as hard copy on ONE PAGE.


The assignment:

A recent article in BusinessWeek included a series of prescriptions for modern day corporate leaders by Bruce Weinstein, PhD. One of Dr. Weinstein’s most provocative statements was:

Most of us were taught that we should treat people the way we’d like to be treated ourselves. However, too many business leaders have failed to take this seriously. Instead, the guideline seems to be, "Get all you can by any means necessary." Look at credit-card companies that charge exorbitant interest rates, changing customers’ fees without telling them why. These companies defend such practices on the grounds that they will lose their competitive edge if they don’t play hardball. This kind of leadership is shortsighted, unfair, and ultimately bad for business.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, has said that one of the key elements of being a good business leader is the capacity to tell the hard truths. "Leaders struggle with this problem all the time," says Dr. David Thomas of the Harvard Business School. "From a leadership point of view, you always want to move toward telling the hard truths and helping people cope with the realities of change. But as a manager, you might be more inclined to minimize the complexity of a situation so things can run smoothly for as long as possible. It’s often a judgment call."

Memo #5 invites you to look at this business problem in the context of the organization with which you have the greatest familiarity – the Chico State College of Business. How does, or rather how should, a professor at a College of Business deal with this problem? Should a professor tell students the hard truth or should he or she smooth things over as Dr. Thomas suggests. In essence, should professors treat students as they themselves would want to be treated?

To make this assignment even more specific, this memo is to be directed to the “CEO” of your class – me. In other words — keeping the above problem in mind — can you come up with specific suggestions as to how I can improve this course? Please note, writing to your CEO is obviously a tricky and delicate business. Too much “honesty” might result in alienation; too little might label you as a “brown-nose”, someone who only tells the boss what he or she wants to hear; neither obviously is desirable. (For further definitions of “brown-nose”, please see

To help make your point, I invite you to include a reference to a specific article on the Web, but please note, unlike in Memos #2 and #4, an attachment is not a requirement. It’s up to you as to how you will tackle the issue. If you think your words alone will suffice then so be it. If you want to include a reference to another source, then in my opinion so much the better. The choice is yours. Good luck!

Note: Memo is one page; an attachment, if you use it is extra and does not count toward the one page.


According to the arguments of Wheatley, people do not exist as individuals but in paths of relationships that they form. This shows that one cannot live an isolated life but has to create relationships with others in order to gain more from them. The implications of this perspective can be explained in terms of skills, dispositions, and attitudes that managers must develop (Wheatley, 2007). Leaders are not born but are nurtured and there are different ways through which a leader or a manager learns how to lead. In this case, by working in a group one gets to learn from others different ways of leading or managing organization. This concurs with the ideas of Wheatley in that a lot of skills are gained in relationships. Good managers are those who use participatory leadership styles whereby they learn from the employees. In this case they are in a position to develop attitudes like caring, generosity, and cooperation (Wheatley, 2007).