What Kind of Leader Are You?

by Rand Manasse

The greatest business leaders in history are people you do not know by name.


It’s strange, but the real test of great leadership in companies is a leader’s ability to make sure the company is successful long after the leader is gone. So many times a leader at a company makes it about them. That is the mark of a company that will likely struggle.


An example of a company leader that focuses their own success instead of what’s best for the company in the long run is Lee Iacocca. As you may recall, Iacocca is famous for his involvement in the comeback bailout of Chrysler as well as developing some iconic vehicles while at Ford. Over time, though, Iacocca’s ego took away from the success of the company’s he was involved with. He remains recognized as a famous CEO yet he failed to build in value to his companies and they struggled when he was gone.  Were their future struggles a result of his leadership style, which lacked greatness?


Great leaders are driven to be part of success for the corporation. To them, it’s not about how much their CEO bonus is compared to the other CEOs. To great leaders it is about the success of the company because it is the company that lives on long after the leader’s time has passed.


As the CEO of your company it is time to analyze your leadership ability. It can be difficult to look at your company as something other than yourself. If you have been the sole person responsible for the company’s success up to a point it’s likely that there is room for the company to grow. It might be time to focus on the long term  growth of the company because for your company to move from good to great, the focus needs to shift from  the well-being of the yourself to the well-being of the company. Remember the key to success may be planning for  succession and the  ability to prosper includes planning for prosperity


One of the greatest corporate leaders of all time was David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard. He always focused on the corporation instead of his own personal gain. He wanted to make sure the company lived on and prospered. That is exactly what happened. Success was engrained in every corner of the company and it remains one of the most successful companies today despite a few setbacks along the way. His contribution to building a company of value was more important then his own gain as he was quotes on saying Set out to build a company and make a contribution, not an empire and a fortune”


Steve Jobs, perhaps the most dynamic CEO of the last 10 years, was a fan of Packard’s. In the Steve Jobs biography it was written that Jobs wanted Apple to be a successful corporation beyond his own life. Time will tell if that will happen. Jobs was such a strong presence in Apple that it might be difficult to separate the two. Jobs’ other company, Pixar, perhaps has more of a chance of continued success as a result of his lesser involvement in that company. His influence certainly has had an impact on the company, but his leadership was more about creating a company that would succeed no matter who was leading.


Leadership is about making the company and brand the product. It’s much better to build a clock than it is to simply tell time. As things change in the world great companies adapt to the change. That’s a sign of great leadership.


Are you a great leader for your company?

As always, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you need help in building value into your business, please contact me at 914.741.5200 or rmanasse@referencesystems.com.

To your success!


Imaged Credit: Hamad Saber

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