“When the economy is doing well, you tend to meet leaders who are people-oriented, persuasive, and sensitive. When the economy dips, the leaders in greatest demand are those who are tough, exacting, and able to make the really difficult calls that can affect large numbers of people (like laying off thousands of workers).”
This is the observation of Umesh Ramakrishnan in the introduction to his book There’s No Elevator to the Top. Umesh is a headhunter with CTPartners and to do research for this book he traveled the world to interview top executives from major companies like Charles Schwab, Lenovo, JC Penney, PepsiCo, Infosys, Aetna, Cadbury-Schweppes, NCR, BT, and Singapore Telecom.
Ramakrishnan wasn’t searching for the “secret” to executive success, but instead wanted to dig below the surface to find out how these men and women ended up in the corner office so that he could provide this insight to those that are on their way up. His questions for CEO’s included: What do you know now that you wished you had known 20 years ago? What was your greatest accomplishment? Where did you get your inspiration? What is the difference between a great executive and a mediocre one? What are some of the things you found in the C-suite that you did not expect but which made you feel happy about being there? How do you manage to keep your marriage intact as you flit around the globe seven days a week?
The answers are many times surprising and always informative. Whether you’re headed for the C-suite, or looking for someone to fill the top post in your company, this book provides insight into the kind of character that’s needed to lead. Ramakrishnan also hosts a blog where top leaders comment on the issues of the day.
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