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The Power of Great Partnerships


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What's inside?

Would Bill Gates be content being Steve Ballmer? Would Bush (W) want to be Cheney? That’s the co-leader query: Could you leave your ego at the door to become part (if only the number two part) of a ruling pair.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Although the business press likes nothing more than the rise and fall of mighty corporate monarchs, authors David A. Heenan and Warren Bennis (co-leaders themselves, clearly) contend that today’s most important management trend is the movement toward collaborative leadership. While it’s become common wisdom that the lightening-fast pace of contemporary business demands more flexible command structures than traditional corporate hierarchies can provide, the cult of personality still dominates public perception. Heenan and Bennis present compelling theory as a basis for their co-leadership model, and reinforce their thinking with a string of examples of executive dynamic duos, like Gates/Ballmer, Grove/Barrett and Merrill/Smith. The case histories are not used to blindly buttress the authors’ point, however. The bloody Eisner/Ovitz debacle at Disney is presented in gruesome detail, an apt illustration of the danger of ego in a collaborative age. recommends this book as required reading for any corporate executive.


Collaborative Genius

The old corporate monotheism is finally giving way to a more realistic view that acknowledges leaders not as organizational gods but as the first among many contributors. In fact, a study of the lives and philosophies of co-leaders demonstrates clearly that the genius of our age is truly collaborative. Co-leadership is the only way to get things done in quickly evolving markets and fast-changing organizations. The term "co-leadership" is not a fuzzy-minded buzzword. It is, instead, the label for an effective strategy you can use to exploit the strengths of your company.

These conclusions about co-leadership are based on a five-year study of political and corporate co-leaders. The study led to in-depth profiles of the relationships between various co-leaders, including Chrysler Chairman Bob Eaton and his co-leader Bob Lutz, Microsoft kingpins Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Intel managers Andy Grove and Craig Barrett, Merrill Lynch managers Charlie Merrill and Win Smith, North Carolina coaches Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, and Stanford University coaches Tara VanDerveer and Amy Tucker.

Other profiles focus on political co-leaders, such as Al...

About the Authors

David A. Heenan is a trustee of the estate of James Campbell, one of the nation’s largest landowners, with assets valued at more than $2 billion. A former senior executive with Citicorp and Jardine Matheson, Heenan has served on the faculties of the Wharton School and the Columbia Graduate School of Business. He is the author of The New Corporate Frontier and The Reunited States of America. Warren Bennis is Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California and a consultant to multinational companies and governments. Bennis is the author of more than a dozen books, including the bestsellers Leaders and On Becoming a Leader. His insights have fundamentally shaped the way we think about leaders today.

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