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For the Eager Student

  • Jan 31, 2000
Among the many books which examine "America's best business leaders", this is one of the best-written and most informative. Part I consists of three chapters: What Makes Business Leaders Great, Evaluating Today's Business Leaders, and Methodology: A Closer Look at the Numbers. The authors then proceed to 50 "Profiles" in Part II, beginning (in alphabetical order) with Mike Armstrong (AT&T) and concluding with Jack Welch (GE). Part III consists of three chapters: The 51st Business Leader: Peter Drucker, Doing the Right Things Right: A New Definition of Business Success, and Common Traits: A Prescription for Success in Business. The reader is then provided with three Appendices to supplement and enrich the material which precedes them. So much for the book's organization.

There are several reasons why I rate this book so highly. First, as previously indicated, it is exceptionally well-written. Also, each of the 50 "Profiles" probes deeply into the specific talents and skills of its subject. Biographical information and quotations supplement the authors' own analyses. Moreover, each "Profile" illustrates a key point. For example, the discussion of Bill Steere (Pfizer) illuminates the implications of his assertion that "Fads come. Fads go. We concentrate on what we do best." In the "Profile" of him, Jack Welch observes "I don't think anyone appreciates the value of informal." Obviously, Welch does. I also was very impressed by the quality of the content of Part III. The discussion of Peter Drucker is among the most insightful I have ever read. The authors redefine "business success in the next chapter and then review the "common traits" of the 50 great business leaders they have analyzed. For those who are eager to learn, the "lessons" identified and then discussed by Neff and Citrin are invaluable.

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Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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What does it really take to run a successful company today? Thomas Neff and James Citrin, U.S. chairman and managing director, respectively, of the Spencer Stuart executive-search firm, offer revealing answers inLessons from the Top: The Search for America's Best Business Leaders. In 50 short but perceptive profiles, they identify and analyze the men and women who drive today's most successful corporations. As might be expected, the authors lean heavily on well-known CEOs such as Steve Case of America Online, Michael Dell of Dell Computer, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks. But they also look at a number who don't get the same publicity, including Fannie Mae's Frank Raines, the Gap's Don Fisher, and Autodesk's Carol Bartz. The result is a broad but surprisingly consistent palette of personalities and philosophies that in a concluding section Neff and Citrin highlight by synthesizing into 10 common traits (passion, intelligence, communication skill, high energy, controlled ego, inner peace, a defining background, strong family life, positive attitude, and a focus on "doing the right things right") and six core principles (live with integrity, develop a winning strategy, build a great management team, inspire employees, create a flexible organization, and implement relevant systems). This book is for managers and anyone else looking for the patterns of success, both in and out of business.--Howard Rothman
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ISBN-10: 0385493436
ISBN-13: 978-0385493437
Author: Thomas J. Neff
Publisher: Doubleday Business

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