Subject: Leadership qualities
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 12:55:26 -0500

I don't know if this can be found online, but a friend of mine just
sent a copy of an article called "Level 5 Leadership" from the January
Harvard Business Review.  The article focusses on one of the more
surprising findings of a 5 year study on what characteristics lead to
companies that had been underperforming turning around, performing well
and then keeping that performance for a long time.  They, not very
surprisingly, found that leadership was key.  But the key type of
leader is not one they would have expected to see.

The study started by looking for companies that had underperformed the
economy for 15 years or more, that hit a transition point, and then
proceeded in the next 15 years to generate a cumulative return at least
triple the general economy even though their industry as a whole did
not perform similarly.  They came up with 11 examples.  For each one
they selected a comparison company that was a direct competitor in the
same industry, and proceeded to do their research.

In all 11 cases the CEO shared a number of unusual personality traits.
For instance they are inherently humble people.  Whenever possible
they assign credit to others, and if no others are obvious they will
attribute the success to luck.  However when things go poorly they
always hold themselves responsible and try to find how they can

I found the descriptions interesting because I suspect that at least
some of the traits do not just hold for great CEOs (though thinking
about that aspect of the study may be of interest to some people
here), but also apply to many other disciplines.  Leaders of open
source projects.  Programmers.  Etc.

The study has also produced a full book, "Good to Great", by Jim
Collins which I have not yet read.  However if it is as stimulating
as the article then I am looking forward to reading it.

So consider this a "heads up" for something that many of you might
be interested in reading and thinking about.