Wharton’s Dean Writes New Book on “Crisis Leaders”

"Crisis leaders" are what will bring companies out of unforeseen challenges and into success, according to a new book authored by Wharton School Dean Erika James.

James' book, "The Prepared Leader: Emerge from Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before," is about learning from crises and leading despite uncertainty — which James says she has personal experience with. Both she and her co-author, Lynn Perry Wooten, the President of Simmons University, started their roles in July 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, they both had to navigate scholarship, academic life, and determining when classes would resume in person.

James said that to make it through this challenging period, she relied on the expert advice of those around her. Additionally, as the world began opening up, James said that she began reconsidering the strategic focus of Wharton by utilizing and leveraging technology and upgrading systems.

The book also covers other leaders and how they navigated the pandemic. There are profiles on National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver, Burger King Chief Executive Officer (CEO) José Cil, and Crown Media Family Networks President and CEO Wonya Lucas. The book also covers executive decision making and mistakes commonly made by the C-suite during times of stress. It also gives details on creating and putting into effect leadership teams during crisis times and how the input of others can help guide even the strongest and most self-reliant of leaders.

"As we started to learn more how to navigate in this new world, I was able to have much more of a strategic focus on the school again and really highlight where I saw Wharton going into the future," James told The Daily Pennsylvanian. "We were able to write this book and also live out what we were writing about."