In this FastCompany article, Harvard Business School professors Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria have unearthed an immutable attribute that's shared by all of the giants of business:
They had an innate ability to read the forces that shaped the times in which they lived -- and to seize on the resulting opportunities.
Their expanded scope has resulted in a groundbreaking book on business leadership, to be published next month by Harvard Business School Press: In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century.
In the new book, Nohria identified three prototypical leadership types -- the entrepreneurial leader, the leader as manager, and the charismatic leader -- and showed how each used their contextual intelligence to thrive in their times. "Leaders and those who aspire to lead benefit from having a sense of history," he says. "Not because history repeats itself. History's real value is that it allows you to imagine what's possible."
BOTTOMLINE: "In each of these dimensions, there are very important changes afoot. They will coalesce and create opportunities for entrepreneurial leaders to launch new businesses, for managers to maximize the value of existing businesses, and for leaders of change to rescue businesses that have fallen into decline. The one thing that we know for certain is that context is vitally important; it will shape the opportunities in these new times."