Michael Useem

LEADERSHIP REQUIRES a strategic vision and a sense of mission. It requires an ability to excite and to execute. It requires unflinching determination, impeccable character, and a commitment to common cause over private gain. But it also requires an exceptional capacity to make good and timely decisions.1

Consider, for example, the final days of investment bank Bear Stearns. During two weeks in March, 2008, its chief executive, his counterpart at J.P. Morgan Chase, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary took critical decisions that had enormous impact on the bank’s 13,500 employees, hundreds of clients, and even world financial markets.

Bear Stearns’s chief executive, Alan Schwartz, believed ...

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