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Corporate Leadership

October 24th, 2003 · No Comments

The Economist has a survey of corporate leadership. From the introduction:

The task of a corporate leader has never been more demanding. This is partly because of changing corporate structures. Big companies often operate in many countries or product markets, and joint ventures, outsourcing and alliances add further complexity. Layers of middle management have gone, so that more divisions report directly to the person at the top. The pace of innovation is quicker, new technologies have to be applied faster and product life-cycles have become shorter.

Corporate leaders are struggling to keep up momentum in their businesses when economic activity is sluggish. They also need time to spend with the people they lead: for more and more businesses, the abilities of a relatively small number of people are thought to be the key to success, and retaining and developing their talents is vital. Swamped with e-mails (which some of them answer themselves), voicemails and demands for appearances on breakfast television and at grand dinners, many corporate leaders find it harder and harder to make time to think.

In addition, for anyone in charge of a large quoted company, the level of outside scrutinywhether by government, consumer groups, the press or the financial marketsis far beyond anything a corporate leader would have been subjected to in the past.

This survey will concentrate mainly on leaders at the top of the corporate tree. It will look at the forces that shape them, at the way they are chosen, and at what happens when they fail. It will argue that having a grand vision is often less important than getting things done. But because these leaders set the ethical tone in their business, they can play a big part in helping to regain the public trust that has been lost in recent years. Capitalism depends on trust, so this is a truly important job.

From one of the articles comes a list of ten commandments to run a company well (wish it were that simple!):

1. A sound ethical compass
2. The ability to take unpleasant decisions
3. Clarity and focus
4. Ambition
5. Effective communications skills
6. The ability to judge people
7. A knack for developing talent
8. Emotional self-confidence
9. Adaptability
10. Charm

Tags: Management

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