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What Makes A Leader?

Retired Exec Tells What Makes A Leader
by Jeannie Kever
The Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX)

When Robert J. Danzig looked around at corporate America and as the top executive with Hearst Newspapers, he moved through that world daily he saw management. Not necessarily bad management, but perhaps a bit too much of it.

It seemed  many of our institutions, as well as our people, had become excessively managed, he said. It seemed we had blunted the role of leadership.

Talking about it with his pal one evening, he suggested that someone should write a book on the subject.

He said, Well, why don’t you do that?

Danzig sat down that evening and thought about the qualities of the leaders he had met since entering the business world as a 16-year-old office boy at the Albany Times Union in upstate New York. By the end of the evening, he had come up with nine principles he believes are key to leadership, the basis of his recently published book, The Leader Within You.

Danzig recently retired from his post as vice president of the Hearst Corp., which owns the Houston Chronicle, and general manager of the company’s newspaper group. He said his book isn’t aimed solely at people gunning for a career in management.

As I got into the project, thinking on it, meditating on it, I thought this is not about running business more effectively. This is about living life more effectively.

In his book, Danzig illustrates the principles with short profiles of several people who demonstrate each strength: Ted Turner for inspiration, Lee Iacocca for perseverance, Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher for energy and enthusiasm. The other five principles are quality, innovation, passion, character and charisma.

Unlike management skills, which can be learned, leadership traits are inherent, Danzig said in a recent telephone interview.

I really believe these powers are in every person, said Danzig, who will be in Houston today for a book signing. They don’t need to be learned. They need to be discovered, nurtured and mastered.