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When she first stepped into a leadership position, Anne Berkowitch, co-founder and CEO of social-networking company SelectMinds, believed she should be like a military general.

She thought, “You have to be visible. People have to know that you’re in charge.”

Now, she says, she envisions the way you steer a boat. “If you think about how you steer a boat, it’s always from the back,” she says, “and I’ve moved toward the back of the boat.”

Her approach is critical to recruiting and leading A players. She treats them as mini-CEOs, sharing with them her vision of where she wants the company to go, then allowing them to bring all their expertise to the task at hand.

“You can’t be too far in the back of the boat,” she says. “But I think it’s really important that each member of my team feel that they’re on the front lines of their own area, and I’m pushing them more and more into stuff they don’t necessarily know how to do.”

— Adapted from “Learn to Lead From the Back of the Boat,” Adam Bryant, The New York Times.


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