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Follow The Leader

Evaluating four leadership role models

The minute you hire your first employee, you become a leader. But if your last leadership experience was Boy Scout camp 15 years ago, you may be clueless about inspiring your team. Fortunately, there are plenty of experts to advise you. We assessed four role models:

THE SAMURAI: "An executive must respect employee opinions and feedback even if they do not agree with his own views. Employees' empowerment and performance is directly related to the respect they feel." (The Code of the Executive, by Don Schmincke, Plume, $10.95,

PLUS: Everyone feels good, and you might learn something.

MINUS: You might have to listen to a lot of stupid opinions.

THE FENG SHUI MASTER: "[Place your office] as far as possible from the entrance to the building. When there are many desks in one office, the person seated farthest from the entrance of the room will be the one with the most power." (Feng Shui at Work, by Kirsten M. Lagatree, Villard Books, $13.95,

PLUS: It's easy--and you'll get plenty of exercise walking to your desk.

MINUS: Like carrying a rabbit's foot, it can't hurt, but will it really help? C'mon, folks!

THE GENERAL: "Always [look and act] the part of the confident commander. Employees want to take direction from someone they consider infallible." (Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare, by Alan Axelrod, Prentice Hall Press, $16,

PLUS: Faking confidence is easier than feeling confident and often gets the same results.

MINUS: If you've failed a lie-detector test, this isn't the approach for you. Actors make the best leaders, right?

THE JERK: "Start yelling at people. Start small, with your secretary and lower-level life forms that can't strike back. Move on to yelling at people in meetings, yelling on phones, on the street, in elevators." (What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness, by Stanley Bing, HarperBusiness, $21,

PLUS: Unleashing your aggressions just might feel great.

MINUS: You're unhappy, everyone's unhappy. You'll end up lonelier and more despised than Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve (if your employees don't poison you first).

This story appears in the April 2000 issue of Startups. Subscribe »