Business Leaders on the Silver Screen

Robert Redford, center, stars in the 1972 film "The Candidate" This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. Thanksgiving is Hollywood's Holiday, when the cinema capital of the world releases its very best films as close to the end of the year as possible. And for two very good reasons. The first is obvious: There's just so much turkey or family you can eat or take, so what else is there to do? The second is more serious, recency: getting the best nominees released as close as possible to the Academy Awards' votes for the year's best films. In…

For Business Leaders (and MBAs), Character Counts

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. Robert J. Thomas and I met in early fall of 1999 determined to write a book about how generational differences could impact leadership behavior. Would successful young leaders, 30 years old–raised after the Depression and World War II–hold divergent attitudes and values that would distinguish them from successful leaders 40 to 60 years older? The next three years were an odyssey full of fun, frustration, and surprises: identifying and interviewing terrific leaders in these two age groups who were willing to spend hours with us, videotaping included. We did pretty well…

Harvard's Bill George: A Model of 21st Century Leadership

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. Last Saturday morning, Aug. 26, I called my old friend Bill George for two reasons, mainly to wish him a happy birthday on his 70th–I was two weeks early–and to discuss an unlikely article in that morning's Financial Times, "The Mind Business." It reported that some of the "west's biggest companies are embracing eastern spirituality as a path to bigger profits." Among them, General Mills (GIS), Google (GOOG), First Direct, Target (TGT), Aetna (AET), plus many Silicon Valley firms such as Facebook (FB), Twitter, and LinkedIn (LNKD) that share ideas on…

Mastering the Context

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. The Miller Analogies Test (MAT) has always intrigued me. It aims to measure analytic reasoning based on connecting two extreme and partial analogies. So the MAT question of today is: What do Plato (b. 428 BCE) and "Professor" Harold Hill, (b. 1957 in Meredith Wilson's Broadway hit, The Music Man) have in common? Class? … Class? … The envelope, please: "Ah, contextual intelligence!" Plato believed philosophers were the best rulers of the ship of state. "A pilot," he said, "must of necessity pay attention to the seasons, the heavens, the…