Friday, March 10, 2006

Leadership Paradigm

In my last post I gave an overview on the study about leadership perception . In a book written by Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria which is due out next month they dwell about what are the elements of this alloy we call "leadership"?

Mayo and Nohria identified 1,000 great chief executives and company founders of the 20th century; they then surveyed 7,000 business executives, asking them to evaluate and rank the original list of 1,000. Out of this, they produced a ranking of the top 100 business leaders of all time.

All Business masters had more than their fair share of what Mayo and Nohria call "contextual intelligence." That is, they possessed an acute sensitivity to the social, political, technological, and demographic contexts that came to define their eras. And they adapted their enterprises to best respond to those forces. Their outsized success at sensing opportunities and capitalizing on them had a dual effect: Just as the times profoundly influenced these business masters, they, in turn, profoundly influenced their times.

Nohria shows that there is more than one path to becoming a great leader. In fact, there are three.

1. The Entrepreneurial Leader: C.W. Post

"At the turn of the last century, C.W. Post was an itinerant salesman who traveled through Michigan, which was the Silicon Valley of its time. It was the epicenter of more than 300 car companies, which spawned scores more companies. Entrepreneurship was in the air. Post didn't directly exploit these technologies, but he did sense a gathering of forces that created the possibility for a new business opportunity.

2. The Leader as Manager: Louis B. Neumiller

"Whereas entrepreneurs are company creators and charismatic leaders are agents of change, managers are value maximizers -- they make the most out of something that already exists. Such is the case with Louis B. Neumiller, who rose through the ranks of Caterpillar and became its chief executive in 1941.

3. The Charismatic Leader: Lee Iacocca

"Our fascination with the CEO as a celebrity leader dates back to Lee Iacocca. He captured the moment because he saw and seized on a series of secular changes that crept up almost unnoticeably.

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