Leadership-related news in March seemed to disprove the old adage “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” It was definitely an interesting month.
At one end of the spectrum, Barron’s released their annual list of the top 30 CEOs, celebrating leaders they believe effectively combine the often elusive mix of passion, commitment, creativity, and entrepreneurial drive. The list featured lots of familiar names like Warren Buffett and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, but also included some lesser-known leaders like Jeffery H. Boyd of Priceline.com, Joseph Papa of Perrigo, and Olivia Lum of Singapore-based Hyflux, and some notable turnovers from prior lists, like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Gordon Nixon of Canada’s Royal Bank.
But what happens after the glitter from this award and others like it fades? Ulrike Melmendier and Geoffrey Tate tackle this topic in “Superstar CEOs,” finding “the drastic increase in the quantity and prominence of CEO awards over the past two decades and, more generally, the celebrity culture permeating the business world has clear consequences for shareholders: increased status distorts CEO behavior and affects firm performance.” (An earlier working paper is available free of charge; the final version, which was subsequently published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, can be accessed by CFA members through EBSCO)
On the other end of the leadership news spectrum, the MF Global debacle continues with four executives testifying last week before a U.S. Congressional subcommittee. What happened in the seven days leading up to one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history? Read Vincent Ryan’s account in CFO to get the blow-by-blow of MF Global’s final week. Communication and information sharing between the various arms of the company and its subsidiaries seems to have been a critical missing link. What if MF Global leaders had instead been more forthcoming, transparent, and encouraged a culture of information sharing leading up to and during the crisis?
And somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is the question of who will ultimately succeed Robert Zoellick as leader of the World Bank. Whether or not you agree with Obama’s nomination or the long-standing arrangement of having an American in that position, the challenges issued by the emerging nations and the candidates they’ve put forward seem to signal that the World Bank and its leadership will soon have to adapt to a new balance of power in the global economy.
Here are some other highlights and tidbits you may have missed in March:
- We all know charisma contributes greatly to leadership, but how can you develop “leadership charisma”? Brian Evje’s Inc. article provides some practical tips and insights.
- Thomson Reuters’s Breakingviewsinterview with icon Carl Icahn reveals some interesting insights, including why CEOs should stop playing golf.
- Just how important is succession planning? Read this Forbes story by Susan Tardanicoto learn valuable lessons from the tragedy that befell Scandinavian shipping company Wilh. Whilhemsen and how they recovered from the loss of their entire management team.
- Rohit Bhargava posits five things leaders can learn from Deepak Chopra in his Ragan.com blog post.
- Rounding out the “leadership lessons” theme for this month, a final don’t miss is James Rosebush’s Harvard Business Review blog post, “Why Great Leaders Are in Short Supply.”
For more news and trends, visit the Leadership, Management, and Communication Skills Community of Practice.