As I put the finishing touches to the 2nd draft of my management book (ideas on what I do with it next gratefully received !) I’ve been thinking more than usual about leadership. Good leaders, bad leaders. New leaders, experienced leaders. Strong leadership, weak leadership.

Recently the media has been full of case studies as corporations swap, lose, hire and show off their CEOs.

More than anything the ones who I think deserve the most credit are the decisive decision makers. The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Magazine this week had a powerful feature on Burberry CEO, Angela Ahredts. In particular her very fast reaction to the economic downturn, she was ahead of the pack in cutting cost but not damaging equity. The success of Burberry today vindicates her action.

A leader has only a narrow window to make real change and come to judgement about investments which are a drain on the business and talent which has had its day. Alan Mulally the CEO & President of Ford Motor Company would be a good example here. He’s brought that Detroit stalwart back from the brink.

And, only this week Nokia (full disclosure, I work for a wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia), brought in fresh talent into the corner office in the shape of Stephen Elop erstwhile of Microsoft.

No matter the size of the organisation the buck really does stop with the CEO. He or she must understand the product, the customer, the staff. They must be the source of inspiration and drive. They must be both popular and unpopular. They must keep their distance and get into the trenches depending on the situation.

Who would be a CEO ?

Every single one of us I guess if we had the chance.

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