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Co-Leaders: The Power of Great Partnerships Hardcover – February 8, 1999
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Behind each good CEO, head coach, and general, there's a number-two person who is supremely capable and yet either shuns the spotlight or is willing to wait patiently for his or her turn. Heenan and Bennis take a thorough look at the contributions of these number twos, finding brilliance and dogged determination--qualities the financial press traditionally finds only in bosses--but also the humility and loyalty necessary to remain second banana.
Although the authors refer to almost every professional marriage you can think of--from Abbott and Costello to the short-lived duo of Ovitz and Eisner--the heart of the book focuses on 11 genuine successes in the annals of number-twodom.
The chapter on Al Gore contains an interesting dissection of the role of the VP in American politics. A chapter called "Cyberstars" talks about how Intel's Craig Barrett and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer have contributed to the spectacular success of those companies. (Interesting tidbit: Ballmer once beat Bill Gates in a math competition when both were undergraduates at Harvard.) Bill Guthridge, an assistant basketball coach at the University of North Carolina who served under Dean Smith for 30 years before succeeding him, gets his due in a chapter that ably explains what an assistant coach actually does: it's a tough gig.
The point of the book is that all these fascinating lieutenants represent an argument for a newish type of power-sharing management. It's a strong argument, but it seems dependent on brilliant adjutants, and one senses there may not really be enough of those to go around. --Lou Schuler
"At a time when CEOs and celebrities are synonymous, Co-Leaders offers riveting stories about the quiet powers behind the glaring spotlight of success. Heenan and Bennis, co-leaders themselves, give us an advanced look into the new management style for the Next Millennium."--Kenneth Blanchard and Spenser Johnson, co-authors, The One Minute Manager
"Co-Leaders taps into an area of management yet untouched by other authors....[It] eloquently describes what these "back-up" leaders look like and convincingly makes the case for why every great organization needs one."--Jerry Porras, co-author, Built to Last
"At a time when CEOs and celebrities are synonymous, Co-Leaders offers riveting stories about the quiet powers behind the glaring spotlight of success. David Heenan and Warren Bennis, Co-Leaders themselves, give us an advanced look into the new management style for the Next Millennium." --Ken Blanchard and Spenser Johnson, co-authors, The One Minute Manager
"Building an enduringly great organization requires more than just a visionary CEO. An outstanding co-leader is necessary also. Heenan and Bennis' persuasive argument for the importance of second-in-command and their in-depth descriptions of successful 'back-up' leaders make Co-Leaders a superlative read." --Jerry Porras, Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior and Change, Stanford University, and co-author, Built to Last
"Co-Leaders is a compelling primer on establishing a co-leadership culture and managing in the New Millennium." --Steve Case, co-founder, Chairman and CEO, America Online, Inc.
"Through their fascinating stories of great co-leaders, Dave Heenan and Warren Bennis remind us that you don't have to be captain of the team to find success. Important reading for aspiring leaders." --Brent Scowcroft, President, The Scowcroft Group and former National Security Advisor to President Bush
"Dave Heenan and Warren Bennis have done a masterful job of capturing just how important collaboration and teamwork are...Must reading for every executive." --Ed Villani, President and CEO, Scudder Kemper Investments, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book correctly points out that many leaders don't want (or cannot tolerate) having a powerful second-in-command. A COO is often a position created by the board to assist in a transition to picking a new CEO. If the old CEO can sabotage the COO, the old CEO may get to keep the job longer than planned. So what could be co-leadership often doesn't get off the ground. In fact, the COO job is often a dead-end for the inhabitant.
The advantage of the teams, when they work, is that much more can be accomplished by dividing tasks and by challenging each other's thinking so that better ideas are created and more mistakes avoided. The authors feel that every organization should have co-leaders. Frankly, that's unlikely to happen.
The book nicely summarizes 10 lessons for how co-leaders should operate and another 10 lessons for creating a co-leader environment. Most of these will seem like common sense to you, but they are worth considering.
My own research on CEOs shows that the number of roles they are expected to excel in continues to grow. On the other hand, those who are most successful year in and year out as CEOs usually have no co-leaders. They tend to operate with a top management team that more broadly shares the responsibilities and challenges. It would be interesting to put some quantitative measures on the co-leader concept to see how it performs compared to the alternatives.
The main benefit I got from the book was learning more about people who have toiled out of the limelight before becoming CEOs (and who made important contributions as COOs) like Craig Barrett at Intel and Steve Ballmer at Microsoft.
If you are thinking about having a COO or taking a COO job, this book is a must read!
The last pages of "advice" are so obvious as to be worthless. Some obvious things need to be stated at times, not these.