Posted by: Bill von Achen | October 28, 2009

Four Styles of Leadership

Business gurus from Jim Collins and Peter Drucker to Marshall Goldsmith and even Donald Trump all have views about what constitutes a great leader. Now, Forbes Magazine publisher Rich Karlgaard weighs in with his own view of leadership styles.

Writing in the November 2nd issue, Karlgaard writes that there is no single leadership ‘secret,’ and that there are at least four separate leadership styles to consider.

Visionary–Examples include Steve Jobs of Apple, John Mackey of Whole Foods, and Helmut Panke, the former chairman of BMW, for whom “vision, product integrity and brand will alway be one and the same.”

Empathetic–Examples include Bill Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard, and Herb Kelleher and Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines, who “roll up their sleeves and inspire (people) by walking the floors and listening to (employees’) concerns.”

Humble Servitude–Examples include Rob Walton, son of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, who says that it’s the job of leaders to “listen to customers, listen to customers, listen to customers.”

Moral/Ethical–Examples include companies like S.C. Johnson, Deere & Company, American Express and Starbucks, all of whom do well by doing good.

In the end, Karlgaard suggests that “if there is any secret to leadership, it is ‘fit.’ Leadership style must fit the leader, and it must fit the organization.”

You can read Karlgaard’s complete column at

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