Yes, we know. We love Peggy Olson too. Watching her creative talent and personal life blossom has been one of the major delights of Mad Men, the hit AMC show about ad executives in the 1960s. Market research guru Dr. Faye Miller has been a brainy breath of fresh air in this, the fourth season of the show. And whose heart doesn’t beat faster at the sight of the lonely goddess of the secretarial pool, Mrs. Joan Harris?

But when it comes to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the Madison Avenue startup whose fortunes we have been following this season, the buck stops at the desks of five men and five men alone. Perhaps the company would have done better with at least one of those women at the helm, but such a thing was almost unknown in pre-feminist 1965.

So with the season finale approaching this Sunday, and the startup’s very existence hanging in the balance, let us grade the leadership skills of the five guys who steered the company to this point: senior partners Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper and Don Draper, and junior partners Lane Pryce and Pete Campbell.

ROGER STERLING JR., Senior Partner, Head of Accounts

The best that can be said of Roger’s work this year is that he managed to avoid having a third heart attack. It wasn’t entirely his fault that the company lost Lucky Strike, which accounted for more than two-thirds of its billings. But Roger committed a grave leadership sin when he decided to keep the bad news to himself, let the other partners learn about it via the Mad Ave grapevine -- then lied about flying down to Raleigh to patch things up.

Roger has been distracted and petulant, focused more on his memoirs and his disastrous affair with Joan than the account which was, so far as we can tell, his sole responsibility. Let’s not even mention the racist outburst that nearly scuppered the company’s chance at the Honda account. Had he not been so entitled, he might have seen that American Tobacco was bound to consolidate its accounts over at BBDO someday. The most damning judgment on Roger came from his old partner Bert: “You didn’t take yourself seriously, so neither did they.”

LESSON: No matter how bad the news is, share it with your fellow leaders. They can handle it better than you alone.

BERTRAM COOPER, Senior Partner

At the well-established Sterling Cooper, Bert projected a magnificent, aloof air of experienced leadership, which soothed clients and anxious employees alike. At the scrappy startup Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Bert seemed lost and befuddled -- a shoeless King Lear wandering the corridors, constantly cranky for want of an office.

Bert’s obsession with all things Japanese helped the company navigate the rituals of the Honda meetings, and he managed a poetic obit for Miss Blenkenship, the secretary who was “born in a barn” and died at her desk on the 37th floor: “she was an astronaut!” But we can’t forgive Bert for walking out on the company in its darkest hour. Even if his parting shot about Don were true -- “we’ve created a monster!” -- a true man would have at least stuck around to help with the firings. Then again, according to Roger’s memoirs, Bert is literally less of a man than we knew.

LESSON: Lead or get out of the way, old timer.

DONALD FRANCIS DRAPER, Senior Partner, Creative

What can we say about Don, the giant of intuitive advertising, the Lothario who barely has to lift a finger? This year saw Don walk right up to the abyss of alcoholism -- and pull back at the last minute. He won a Clio for a floor wax ad that spoke to his inner child, and started to learn some respect for the woman he should have shared the award with, Peggy. He also got dragged into an unnecessary rivalry with an unknown who wanted to be his equal, Ted Cheough, and drunkenly stole a slogan for Life cereal from a talentless youth he was then forced to hire. He grudgingly allowed himself to become the subject of a Wall Street Journal profile, but also cost the agency millions in Defense Department money out of fear that his secret identity would be exposed.

But this mixed record was overshadowed by the unilateral action Don took in the wake of the Lucky Strike debacle: a full page ad in the New York Times declaring that his startup would no longer take tobacco advertising. On the one hand, it was a neat display of perceptual jujitsu -- on the other, his partners were right to be outraged that they weren’t consulted. As persuasive as he is, he could well have won their assent, and stopped Bert from leaving the company, were he not so insistent on playing the lone wolf. After all, his anti-tobacco ad closely mirrored the real-life stance of a famous contemporary ad man, Emerson Foote.

LESSON: Even lone wolves need to be team players sometimes.

LANE PRYCE, Junior Partner, CFO

A steady hand on the financial tiller, Lane spent much of the year reminding his partners that leaning so much on Lucky Strike was an untenable business position. (Roger would have done well to listen). He lost some of his stuffed-shirt sensibilities during a New Year’s rampage with Don, but then rebelled a little too quickly against his upper-crust British image. His attempt to reinvent himself as a playboy led to a beating from his overbearing father, which in turn led him to depart for London to retrieve his family -- and to be absent when the company’s moment of crisis arrived.

LESSON: It’s not necessarily a bad idea for a leader to try to fit in and loosen up, but do it too fast and your work-life balance could end up in turmoil.

PETER DYCKMAN CAMPBELL Junior Partner, Accounts

We never thought we’d say this about Pete, an ambitious, greasy little toerag who spent the first three seasons incompetently philandering and finagling, but he’s starting to grow on us. This year has seen a massive maturing on the part of the startup’s youngest partner, and it isn’t just because he became a daddy. Pete has practically turned “taking one for the team” into an art form. Asked to ditch the Defense Department contract by a panicky Don, he blamed himself and never let on, even in the face of a tirade from Roger. Forced to ditch his father-in-law’s Clearasil account because of a client conflict, he managed to receive extra accounts in return. Machiavellian, to be sure, but at least he is now competently Machiavellian. Now if he can just loosen up a little and stop pulling rank so much, Pete Campbell might actually make it through the rest of the tumultuous 1960s with his dignity intact.

LESSON: You’re never too young, evil or incompetent to start growing into a leadership role.

PETER DYCKMAN CAMPBELL Junior Partner, Accounts