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May 28, 2001—Your Tee or Mine

What Is Leadership?  We are just finishing off this year's Annual Report on Annual Reports. The most striking thing about the current batch is what's missing from most of the reports: You won't find a lot about how to deal with an economy that is falling off a cliff, or about other aspects of risk management. Even with the rush of new faces in the executive suite, you'll see precious little about the specific, new challenges of management or the entirely new mindset required for agile leadership. In fact, the answer to most problems seems to be more of the same: How can we do better what we were doing yesterday? How can we go back to fundamentals (i.e. yesterday)?

The Global Difference.  In our role as advisors, we are--for starters--saying that you can't bring a Middletown, America perspective to a global job. In this vein, we are instructed by Robert Theleen, Chairman of ChinaVest, the oldest and most prestigious venture capital firm (www.chinavest.com) in China and the Greater China business community. "Bill," he smiles, "I know that I have a real entrepreneurial leader on my hands who will make things happen if he has to pause when I ask him the big question. That is, when I ask him how things are at home, he stammers a bit before answering. You see, he has four or five homes around the world, and he does not quite know where home is anymore." The new leader is so global that he is from everywhere.

Talk a Good Game.  Last we chatted about the new language of international commerce--golf. We recommend that leaders of any stripe be able to talk a good golf game, even if they can't play. It's yet another hallmark of a global leader.  To this end, you will want to read the hilarious new book by William Geist, formerly the New York Times' best feature writer, now a devilishly funny voice for the networks. In Fore! Play, he tells you about his misadventures in the BGA (the Bad Golfers Association) and other dead ends in his year long effort to sort of learn golf.

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