The Making of a Manager

Each manager has a special character and management style. But most share strongly similar ways of perceiving themselves and their organizations.

The lists of "top managers" appearing in the press usually contain the same names: the men and women leading the biggest companies or who get the most coverage. We wanted to do something different.

Our list isn't affected by mentions in the media. Most people have never even heard of the man at the top of TheMarker's list: Jacob Harpaz hasn't granted a single interview in his 17 years leading Iscar.

TheMarker list of the top 14 managers in Israel was shaped by four criteria.

? The manager had to be on the job for at least 10 years (we made few exceptions because of unusual circumstances.) Many on our list have been CEOs for 20 years and more. The last two years have demonstrated that even superstars who fly high when the going's good can lose their allure when the times turn rough. Ten years and up is long enough to ensure that a given company's performance is real and sustainable, and that it's the manager who's responsible for the firm's prosperity.

? Significant value creation. Most of the people on our list created true value for shareholders during the last 10 years.

? Beating the market: Most of our managers generated inflation-adjusted returns greater than 10% a year, beating both the market and their sector. The companies they ran tripled or more in value in the space of a decade.

? Their companies became market leaders, creating breakthroughs and sometimes redefining their market.

How do they do it? What are their management secrets, the methods that led them to excel? What corporate culture creates value over time, leaving the rivals in the dust?

Talking with top managers shows they have much in common. They are tireless working machines who hardly ever gear down. Their main hobby is work. They are emotionally tied to their companies and colleagues. Of themselves they demand consistency, determination and hard work. They serve as personal examples.

They don't rely on charisma or luck: They know the details. If the company is a retailer, they know how to sell. If it's a manufacturer, they understand production and engineering.

Their biggest secret is teamwork. Almost all have a tightly-knit management team that's together for the long term. They stamp out the slightest sign of politics, favoritism or signs that something other than the enterprise's greater good is top priority. They only hire managers who fully suit the company's corporate culture and can work in teams. They don't necessarily seek out the best people, but the best for their organization.

People who jump into a job for a few years and move on aren't generally managing the company, they're managing their careers. Only consistency over the long haul can create an entity that outperforms.

Some of the people on our list own the controlling interest in these companies, some are "hired help," but in those cases, they have good relations with the owners and enjoy utter trust. These top managers "grew up" inside the companies they run, rising over the years. They weren't brought in from the outside. This list isn't the place to find somebody to run your company.

And finally, they are people people. Most are emotionally intelligent and often maintain social ties with the other managers. Some view social interaction as key to a company's success.

Harpaz may not give interviews, but one can gain impressions. And following are insights from Dita Bronicki of geothermal power empire Ormat.