- Lucas Jackson/Reuters
As the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink is responsible for a massive $5.1 trillion in assets under management, making him one of the most influential people in global finance.
In a new interview with Bloomberg Markets, Fink said that he had never mimicked someone’s leadership style but that his two biggest influences were Lee Kuan Yew, the late founder of modern Singapore, and Phil Jackson, one of the winningest NBA coaches in history who is now the New York Knicks’ president.
Fink explained his picks: “In 1965, Lee Kuan Yew took this mosquito-infested port that the English and then the Malays ravaged, and look at that society today – Singapore is really impressive,” he said. As for Jackson: “It’s one thing to have some hedonistic phenoms who have this extraordinary year and win the championship. Jackson’s done it 11 times. To do that every year, rallying athletes to play as a team, to me that’s leadership.”
We’ve broken down the basics of both Lee’s and Jackson’s leadership philosophies to get a better idea of what Fink admires.
Lee Kuan Kew valued discipline and freedom of opportunity
- Ron Case/Getty Images
Singapore elected Lee its prime minister in 1959, six years before it gained its independence from Malaysia. In three decades, Lee led Singapore from a small port at the tip of Malaysia into one of the world’s top nations by gross domestic product – an innovative, global financial hub.
Harvard political scientist Graham T. Allison and his coauthors interviewed Lee for the book “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World,” and in a CNN tribute to Lee after his death in 2015, Allison highlighted five aspects of his leadership style:
• Results take precedence over ideals.
• Leaders must put the good of their people over their own interests.
• Success comes from the fierce competition that arises when equal opportunity is guaranteed.
• It is necessary to remain disciplined without being strictly tied to the demands of an ideology.
• A great leader is brave, resilient, and emotionally stable.
Phil Jackson trusts himself and his players
During his career as an NBA head coach from 1989 to 2011 (with a couple of very brief breaks), Jackson won an unprecedented 11 championship titles.
As the head coach of the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson was able to bring out the best from two of the greatest players in history, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and fostered teamwork among players with massive egos.
• Leaders who are able to adapt to new teams and still excel do so because they are at peace with themselves and trust the intuition they’ve developed.
• Leaders must be authentic in order to gain the respect of their team.
• Great leaders do not impose their will on their people. Success comes from inspiring them to change themselves.
• It is impossible to fundamentally change someone. A leader needs to find a role for an individual that would allow them to thrive, and therefore contribute most to the team.