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Put Down The Business Books: The Classic Mold Of Leadership Has Changed

What makes a good leader? Hint: It's not what you've been told.

Editor's Note: This story contains one of our 10 Best Business Lessons of 2013. For the full list, click here.

Jess Lee, Cofounder and CEO Polyvore, the popular fashion website named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies in 2012, doesn't fit the mold of business leaders born from business books and hollywood films.

But in today's day and age, that doesn't matter.

Jess Lee

"I wish I'd known that there are a lot of different molds for leadership," she says. "There's sort of this classic idea of a leader who is very extroverted, super charismatic."

"I think that mold's changed a lot as we've started to see a lot more engineering and product people lead tech companies," she adds. "We're seeing a lot of more introverted personalities—and I wish I'd known earlier that even though I didn't fit the classic mold that it would still be possible."

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  • Janet

    What a refreshing viewpoint. For too long the subject of Leadership has been entrenched in the Managerialism that is suffocating the way many organisation are run now. The production of books on Leadership has become the industry to the detriment of that which is being produced. Time to get rid of Managerialism and and this obsession with styles of Leadership. Just get on with the actual job of producing or providing a service and let leading projects be subservient to that.

  • Anthony Reardon

    It is true the media has stereotyped leadership in certain ways, and depending on the books you read you will also find the predominant assumptions. However, I should also point out that different styles of leadership are well documented in industry literature going back several decades at least. The field of occupational psychology, for instance, has been unusually well funded for the sake of mitigating the risks of corporate decision-making. The problem might actually be "not" picking up enough business books.

  • Vanz73

    Anthony nailed it. Business leadership styles are well documented for the CEO position. Popular media is the culprit on the imagery of extroverted and charismatic leaders as THE pathway.