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Betov, Alexander
Szillat, Patrick
Year of Publication: 
[Journal:] Journal of Contemporary Economic and Business Issues [ISSN:] 1857-9108 [Volume:] 3 [Year:] 2016 [Issue:] 1 [Pages:] 33-60
Purpose - Against the background of current leadership theory, this research paper analyses and compares the leadership approaches of two outstanding leaders: Daniel Vasella, chairman of the leading Swiss pharmaceutical organization Novartis and Ricardo Semler, owner of the Brazilian conglomerate Semco. In contrast to many rather abstract, unpractical and pointlessly theoretical papers on leadership this analysis provides a more applied view of leadership by means of the life history approach delivering insight into both leaders' development and leader personality. Methodology/approach - First, this paper locates the ideas and practices associated with the term 'leadership' as a concept through theories that have developed over time and shows how the practices of leading can be derived and understood through chosen theories. Based on this, the specific characteristics and career paths of both leaders are presented and compared so that a final analysis of their leadership approach can be done. The paper is based on secondary sources such as peer-reviewed business journals and literature on leadership. Information about both leaders and their approach to leadership is gathered mainly from published interviews with them. Additional information on Semler is taken from his autobiography. Conclusions - It is difficult to identify an 'essence' of leadership, whether that takes the form of personality characteristics or traits, charisma, the ability to transform people or organizations or a brain function. All presented theories of leadership seem to have their raison d'ĂȘtre. Both Vasella and Semler apply a combination of different attitudes and behaviours that characterize their leadership style containing elements of transformational, charismatic, ethical, servant and authentic onal leadership.
life history
leader personality
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