Harvard Business Review

The ways chief executive officers lead

The ways chief executive officers lead

Through analyzing interviews with 160 chief executives around the world, the authors identified five approaches to leadership, each with a singular focus: strategy, people, expertise, controls, or change.

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The ways chief executive officers lead

The full version of this article is available on Harvard Business Online (subscription required).

The Idea in Brief

Are you a new or aspiring CEO? Unfortunately,there’s no school for chief executives— only the school of experience. And you won’t be allowed many mistakes: Close to 50% of all CEOs are replaced within five years.

How to beat those odds? Develop an explicit philosophy about how you can best add value to your company. Your philosophy determines which corporate areas receive most of your attention (strategic planning? R&D? recruiting?) and how you spend each day. It also influences the kinds of people and behaviors you value, including which decisions you make personally and which you delegate. Your most effective leadership approach may not be the one that best suits your personality—but it is the one that best meets your company’s needs.

For instance, Richard Rosenberg, chairman of BankAmerica, spends the bulk of his time designing strict controls that help his company navigate in a highly regulated environment.

By contrast, Gillette CEO Al Zeien ensures consistent execution of corporate goals in his geographically dispersed enterprise by personally conducting 800 performance reviews annually.

No leadership approach can guarantee your success. But when you consciously select the most appropriate approach for your company, you provide the clarity, consistency, and commitment essential for leadership.

Read the full article on Harvard Business Online.

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