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Will you rather choose your new leader from a homegrown talent pool or bring in an outsider? The examples of the U.S. presidents throw helpful light on this issue.

Auteur(s) : Gautam Mukunda

Éditeur : Harvard Business Review Press

Date de parution : 2012

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The author of this book began with the following question: In transitional periods, should we choose from a carefully selected and cultivated home-grown leadership pool or take the risk of bringing in an outsider? The first choice ensures that there will be few surprises, good or bad. The second choice seems riskier if things don’t work out, but also may possibly be more rewarding in terms of added value and potential innovation.

To compare these two hypotheses, the author studied the careers and achievements of U.S. presidents. Many of these men had similar career paths in terms of their education and positions occupied, while some were much more atypical. He draws the following conclusion: leaders with atypical backgrounds and personalities tend to make a distinctive impression, but may also be catastrophic!  In periods of intense crisis, when audacious, risky and unpopular choices must be made, atypical candidates may excel where more standard leaders would tend to be more hesitant and moderate. The author consequently demystifies Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, who was crowned “Leader of the 20th Century” by Forbes Magazine. According to Mukanda, given GE’s situation, any other home-grown leader would probably have made the same choices and obtained the same results—a conclusion which certainly invites modesty!

An enthralling book with many examples drawn from the history of the United States and various multinationals.



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