Business

Making a super boss: Is this what the best business leader would look like?

Updated 0234 GMT (1034 HKT) November 3, 2014
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Super boss infograohic for route to the top Super boss infograohic for route to the top
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CNN's Route to the Top asked a number of leadership experts which CEOs and business leaders they thought embodied the essential qualities needed to be the best boss. With Warren Buffet's head for business and Jack Ma's honesty, is this what the ultimate super boss would look like?
Design: Jason Kwok/CNN Text: Sophie Brown
Jason Kwok / CNN
Vision: Sung-Joo Kim, MCM
Korean fashion entrepreneur Sung-Joo Kim has the kind of vision and ability to inspire that we come to expect from great leaders, says Linda Hill author and professor in business administration at the Harvard Business School. Kim resurrected the German luxury handbag label, creating a brand with reported annual sales of $500 million in 2013.
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Understanding : Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway
Buffet is famous for his values-based leadership style, says James Adonis, an Australian leadership consultant. The CEO of Berkshire Hathaway seeks to understand his employees' personality traits, motivations, and ambitions, and assign roles that are in alignment with those values. This creates "phenomenal amounts of employee engagement and loyalty," he says.
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Honesty: Jack Ma
When he relinquished his post as Alibaba's CEO last year, Ma sent a candid email to staff explaining his decision. "That he said to his employees, 'look my successor might be struggling so please support him,' I think is quite admirable," says Adonis. Knowing when to let others take a business and scale it up, as leadership author Andrew St George suggest Ma has done, is also another trait of a great leader.
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A nose for business: Stuart Rose, former CEO, Marks & Spencer
"He knew the retail industry backwards and had a fantastic applied intelligence. He could explain at AGMs why any garment was good or food was a great idea,"says author and academic Andrew St George." Not having that sense for a business can get a company in trouble."
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Supportiveness: Howard Schultz, Starbucks
The CEO of Starbucks began offering health insurance for part-time employees as well as full-time staff in the U.S. as early as 1988. According to James Adonis, it was a smart way for Schultz to show his support for part-timers, who are often excluded from benefits, decision-making, and training program.
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Inclusiveness: Ed Catmull, Pixar
"No studio has been as success as Pixar has been, and it's because of how carefully Ed and his colleagues have gone about building a sense of community in their organization," says Linda Hill.
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Energy: Bill McDermott, SAP
"He has an insane ability to whip large or small crowds into an electrifying frenzy," says Nina Simosko, leadership blogger and lead for Nike's technology strategy. "When Bill speaks you feel compelled to listen and instantly get drawn in."
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Agility: Jack Welch, former CEO GE
Leaders have to remain flexible to learning and roll with the punches, says Nigel Nicholson, author and professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School. He see Jack Welch is a prime example of a boss who understood the principle of changing with the times. He reinvented his company on more than one occasion and recognized he had to keep evolving his leadership model.
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Heart and gut instinct: Roland Paanakker, CIO Levi Strauss & Co.
Roland cares about the people in his organization and relies on his own gut feel when operating his organizations," Nina Simosko. "He likes to be with the teams, opting for an open office environment at Nike versus one with four walls and a door. He leads from within rather than from above."
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