Are you too charismatic to run a company? | How to lead like a Jesuit | Twinkies are indestructible, say brand's new owners
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March 22, 2013
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SmartBrief on Leadership

Leading Edge
Are you too charismatic to run a company?
Charisma isn't necessarily a desirable trait in a boss, write Christian Stadler and Davis Dyer. In the long run, the best-performing companies tend to be those run not by exciting visionaries but by leaders who practice "intelligent conservatism" -- listening, learning from staff and thoroughly knowing the organization, they write. "[T]he problem with charisma is that you can persuade just about anyone to do anything -- even when it's crazy," Margaret Heffernan writes. MIT Sloan Management Review (subscription required) (Spring 2013), CBS MoneyWatch (3/21)
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How to lead like a Jesuit
Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit religious order, had a few tricks up his sleeve, writes seminarian-turned-JP Morgan exec Chris Lowney. One of the saint's best ideas was his notion of the "examen" -- "a mental pit-stop" during which Jesuits are encouraged to pause, take stock of their day and refocus on their broader goals. "Popes, Jesuits, and JP Morgan executives have lots on their plates each day. We might cope better with our 21st [century] challenges by adopting a best practice from a 16th century saint," Lowney asserts. Harvard Business Review online/HBR Blog Network (3/19)
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Strategic Management
Twinkies are indestructible, say brand's new owners
Private-equity company Metropoulos & Co. has snapped up Hostess' snack-cake business, and Daren and Evan Metropoulos will be tasked with reviving the Twinkies brand. That shouldn't be difficult, says Daren, since brands such as Twinkies are more or less indestructible. "These brands, no matter how badly they've been mismanaged, cannot be killed over time. They just need a fresh perspective," he says. (3/21)
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Lessons from history's business feuds
Business rivalries make for compelling stories -- including Thomas Edison's decision to electrocute an elephant to illustrate the dangers of alternating-current technologies and Nike's signing of Michael Jordan in a bid to upstage Reebok. Such tales also hold important lessons for today's leaders, writes Geoff Colvin. "[T]hink of these dramas as guilt-free pleasures. Then, well prepared for the task, go forth and pulverize your rivals," he writes. CNNMoney/Fortune (3/21)
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Innovation and Creativity
Innovation plus sustainability also equal better risk management
Trailblazing companies including SodaStream, General Electric and IBM have coupled the concepts of innovation and sustainability to create strong products and growing marketshare, writes Scott Showalter. Another benefit is that this process is a good risk-management tool. Such an investment, he writes, "comes along with an increased identification of risks and reduced costs." AICPA Insights (3/20)
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The Global Perspective
A story of the world's richest woman
Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart is the world's richest woman, having made billions exporting iron ore. Still, her brash, bullying management style and her clumsy handling of the media makes her one of the most controversial subjects around. Still, no one can deny her success. "Is she an heiress? Inarguably. And yet she has, by hard work and guile and historic luck, multiplied the value of the business she inherited several hundred times over," William Finnegan writes. The New Yorker (free content) (3/25)
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Engage. Innovate. Discuss.
Be flexible instead of being the hero
In an uncertain world, there's no place for "heroic" corporate leaders determined to fight the tide, writes Jane Perdue, and it's better to adapt to the situations you find yourself in. "Flexible leaders are both strong and vulnerable, provide both structure and managed chaos, and value hard and soft skills equally," Perdue writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (3/21)
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Daily Diversion
Wright brothers weren't first in flight, says aviation bible
North Carolina could lose its "first in flight" bragging rights after aviation bible Jane's All the World's Aircraft announced that it now believes Gustave Whitehead, a Connecticut-based German immigrant, made the world's first powered flight. An amateur historian uncovered photographic evidence suggesting that Whitehead flew as early as August 1901 -- two years before the Wright brothers' historic flight. National Public Radio (3/19)
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Twenty-first century leaders might benefit from thinking of themselves as being in the center of a web rather than on top of a pyramid."
-- Ben Dattner, a New York University adjunct professor, as quoted in SmartBlog on Leadership
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