Lessons from the Top: The Search for America's Best Business Leaders

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Currency/Doubleday, 1999 - Business & Economics - 432 pages
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In the bestselling tradition of In Search of Excellence, a fascinating and authoritative selection of the most successful business leaders in America--and the strategies, methods, and motivational tools they use to help make their companies great.

"I don't expect anyone to be perfect," says Mike Armstrong, CEO of a reinvigorated AT&T. "It's not human nature. What I do expect is that they will take risks, correct mistakes, and learn from both." This is only one of the hundreds of comments and insights behind some of the most successful business minds in American industry.

In Lessons from the Top, Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin--the U.S. Chairman and a Managing Director of the renowned executive search firm Spencer Stuart--set out to identify the most successful business leaders in America, based on the most exacting standards imaginable. Then, in an extraordinary series of what amounts to master classes, the authors sit down with each of the fifty executives to discuss the long-term strategies, key accomplishments, guiding beliefs, and career milestones that have helped to make their organizations among the best-run companies in the world.

Lou Gerstner of IBM underscores the necessity of adapting to change. "We are constantly challenging what we do--building a culture of restless self-renewal." Ray Gilmartin of Merck discusses, among other things, the critical role of leadership. "My job is really to set the overall strategic direction of the company, to ensure that we are organized to carry out that strategy, and that we have the right management processes in place. I need to create an environment where everyone in the organization can achieve their full potential so that our company does."

What makes a business leader great? This is one of the burning questions in companies and boardrooms across America. An even more compelling question: Are there things each of us can learn from these leaders that we can apply to our own lives? Not surprisingly, there is no single answer to copy or formula to follow in order to excel in business.

In fact, the leaders selected in Lessons from the Top are wildly different in their personalities, their paths to the top, and the industries they work in. But perhaps the best way to learn how to excel is by studying the strategies and thinking of the wide range of leaders who have proved themselves the best in their industries.

Of course, any list of the best business leaders in America would include such recognizable CEOs as Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Lou Gerstner, and Andy Grove. But the list the authors have so exhaustively researched and selected--with the help of the Gallup Organization and the analytical tools of investment advisors Lazard Frères--includes many names that are far less familiar--extraordinarily successful CEOs such as pharmaceutical industry leader Bill Steere of Pfizer, advertising executive Shelly Lazarus of Ogilvy & Mather, Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco International, and Frank Raines of Fannie Mae.

In the final section of the book, the authors distill the surprising number of  qualities and characteristics that these extraordinarily accomplished individuals share, to offer lessons to help us in our own lives and careers.

A groundbreaking book on business and success, Lessons from the Top should be required reading by leaders--and future leaders--everywhere.

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Lessons from the top: the search for America's best business leaders

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Chair and communications director, respectively, of Spencer Stuart, a leading executive search firm, Ness and Citrin have selected 50 leaders from the private sector (e.g., Bill Gates, Jack Welch, and ... Read full review

Contents

The Search for the Best Business Leaders in America
1
Evaluating Todays Business Leaders
11
A Closer Look at the Numbers
17
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About the author (1999)

Thomas J. Neff is Chairman of Spencer Stuart U.S. Hailed by The Wall Street Journal as "The No. 1 Brand Name in CEO Searches," he has been profiled on the cover of Business Week and in the Money & Business section of The New York Times.

James M. Citrin is Managing Director of Spencer Stuart's Global Communications and Media Practice. He has authored articles in The New York Times and has appeared on CNBC and CNN.

The authors live in Connecticut.

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