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What matters today, in Business and Management?

Two weeks ago, we published a blog about the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, and The Management Pocketblog had one of our best weeks ever in terms of readers.

Time Magazine 2012 100 Most Influential People in the WorldCuriously, in the same week (our blogs are usually written one to two weeks ahead), Time Magazine published their 2012 special edition: ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World’.  Warren Buffett is there (on page 71) with an appreciation written by… President Obama!

The quality of many of their nominations is attested by the quality of the people who have written about them – often far better known, than their subjects.  So I thought it an informative exercise to trawl the articles in the section headed ‘Moguls’ for indications of what passes for influential, these days.

Please note, that I don’t endorse the individuals, nor attest to their doing what is claimed of them.  I merely note that what is claimed of them as an important achievement tells us something of what is valued in business and management today.

1: See the way the world is going

The Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg is praised for her understanding of the impact of social media on society.  Like it or loathe it, that has to be correct: how can you pretend to any credibility in a senior role without at least engaging with the discussions and understanding the beast?

2: A Commitment to the Arts

Both Chen Lihua, philanthropist and owner of Fu Wah International Group, and Walmart heir, Alice Walton, are praised as collectors and patrons of the arts.  We aren’t all that fortunate that we can give away fortunes to pursue these passions but, while we live in societies with freely or cheaply available national and local galleries and museums, we have no excuse for not broadening our perspectives with a deeper appreciation of the beauty and insights of other cultures and our own.

3: Do it with Grace

Daniel Ek founded Spotify. If that name means nothing but you do enjoy music, then you need to take a look.  He is praised for ‘doing what he loves, doing it well and giving away all the credit.’  Wow!  That would make an epitaph I’d be proud of.  Having studied many people that the world considers wise, these are all components of a commonly-recurring philosophy.

4: Contribution

The new CEO of IBM is, for the first time, a woman: Virginia Rommety.  She is praised as an advocate of corporate responsibility – particularly in the fields of education, job creation and small local businesses.  What do you do or advocate for within your organisation that gives it a more robust place in its community?

5: Faith in yourself

Sara Blakely is a billionaire who founded an underwear business with $5,000.  No one had the confidence to invest in her business, but she trusted her gut: or should I say ‘she trusted her judgement about America’s attitudes to their guts’?

6: Discipline and Calm

The cult of personality and the tyrant-leader are powerful clichés, but I doubt either can deliver powerful results – at least, not sustainably.  New Apple CEO Tim Cook is praised for his calmness, his thoughtfulness, his ethical behaviour and his personal discipline.  Score 1 point for wisdom

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