What makes a great business leader?

Question: What makes a great business leader?

 

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Right. You know, when you think about great business leaders, there's sort of an inherent question about how we're defining a great business leader and what that really means, because there are sort of two types, right. There is often the founder or at least the visionary, someone who is sort of a pied piper, Steve Jobs, where people really follow him wherever he goes. And then there are people who are great managers of other people. That doesn’t mean that they're visionaries. I'm not sure you would say that Jeff Immelt for example of General Electric is a great visionary.

He didn’t create GE and he might have a vision for where GE should go. But nobody would tell you that he is a Steve Jobs of the conglomerate world. But he is arguably a great manager of people in that he is able to inspire people and to figure out where all the chess pieces should go. And that's a great skill and that makes Jeff Immelt a business leader. But on the other hand, it also makes Steve Jobs a business leader.

And I'm not sure that Steve Jobs necessarily is a great people person. I'm not sure that he sits around and figures out how to inspire everybody around him per se, even though he clearly has a great following. But he's a great product guy and so you sort of have to divide the question. There are people who are these visionaries and great product people. And then there are great managers that sort of oftentimes, are partners by the way, of these great visionaries, because every great visionary often needs a partner. So I don't know what, anyway-

 

Question: Who are the great business leaders of today?

 

Andrew Ross Sorkin: I'll probably get in trouble for giving you this answer, given that he wants to kill the New York Times or at least that's what he says he wants to do, which is Rupert Murdock. Rupert Murdock over time is proving himself to be a great business leader and probably more important a great business visionary in that he has been able to see around corners and see businesses that didn’t exist before. The idea that Fox was not a television network when I was a child and is now you know, everywhere and is not just a channel but a news channel and a business channel. And now he owns the Journal and has film products and satellite businesses around the world. You know, I think it's hard to say he's not one of them.

 

Recorded on: June 3, 2008

 

Managing and inspiring people, says Sorkin.

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