Identifying Real Leaders

According to Melvin Sorcher and James Brant, some of the attributes that seem like the best indicators of leadership potential should, in fact, be warning signs.

Team players and those who excel operationally, for instance, often make better seconds-in-command, the authors say in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review. And great public speakers sometimes lack the subtle one-on-one persuasive powers that a top leader needs. And are those shows of raw ambition really more about ego than leadership talent?

Sorcher and Brant promote the idea of identifying leaders by using a carefully crafted series of questions to probe a wide range of leadership criteria, including such "soft" attributes as personal integrity, that are difficult to assess. "Without such information," HBR says, "senior management will remain vulnerable to misidentifying leadership talent, and the wrong people will continue to make their way up the corporate ladder."

CEOs on Security

According to Strategy+Business, a Booz Allen Hamilton survey of Fortune 1000 CEOs conducted during the last two months of 2001 found that most CEOs have heightened security concerns that they expect to affect internal operations.

"Although awareness of security issues has risen overall, we believe that a new approach to corporate security has to be internalized at the CEO level," the report said.

"Seventy-two CEOs from firms with more than $1 billion in annual revenues responded to the Booz Allen survey, which examined how the September terrorist attacks, the anthrax mailings, and their aftershocks had affected their view of security at their own firms, their organizations' operations, and their companies' relationships with federal and local government authorities.

"The survey suggests that CEOs are paying closest attention to internal operations. More than three-quarters of the executives interviewed express increased concern for such day-to-day activities as mail processing, travel, and protection of employees. Eighty-six percent of CEOs express heightened apprehension about mail processing, and 85 percent have similar worries about travel. Risk assessment, employee morale, and protection of offices and infrastructure are also among their top concerns."

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at