Harry Kraemer Jr. occupies a world of complexity and close calls, nuances and competing interests. It’s a good thing he’s in academia and not politics.
A professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Kraemer has insight into the minds of CEOs because he had that role at Baxter International from 1999 to 2004, which capped a more than 20-year career at the company. But he exudes more enthusiasm and pride about his teaching career at Kellogg, where he concentrates on value-based leadership and where students once named him professor of the year.
Imagine that — he hooked the MBA crowd with talk of nonmonetary “values.” What might those be? To Kraemer, they are rooted in character, open-mindedness and respect for others. They are not “values” as the word is often used today in a partisan, liberal-versus-conservative sense. He wrote a book about four principles of value-based leadership, which he describes as self-reflection, or the ability to assess yourself; balance, considering different perspectives; true self-confidence, being OK with who you are; and humility, never forgetting where you came from.
So what is this ex-CEO’s view of companies bounding in and out of Chicago, with headquarters exits raising doubts about the region’s economic attractiveness? What did he think about the city’s marketing agents last week asking companies to take sides in culture wars? Move your business here, was the pitch from World Business Chicago, co-signed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, because your employees will enjoy broad abortion rights. Does that fit with how CEOs approach where to move or expand?
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