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Behind the Story: A Reporter's Notebook

As the corporate management reporter in the Money section at USA TODAY there is one theme that runs throughout my coverage: leadership. Most people, including "followers" such as myself, have experi- enced a variety of bosses and have strong opinions about what makes a good leader. Therefore, I think most people are interested in leadership even if they have little or no aspiration of becoming leaders themselves. When President Reagan died it seemed only natural to examine his leadership style and skills and try to answer why he is likely going down in history as one of the nation's most influential leaders. Del Jones Reporter, Money

This isn't the first time I've tackled the leadership issue using a somewhat similar approach. In 2003, I interviewed the authors of the Leadership Lessons of Attila the Hun, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Patton and other similar books. I had them speak in the voice of the historical leaders and did a Q&A, having Churchill and oth-

ers answer such questions as: "How do you motivate peo- ple who aren't performing at their potential?" I also wrote a (hopefully) humorous story on the Leadership Lessons of Saddam Hussein. Lesson No. One: Don't shoot the messenger.

As part of my job I've interviewed many chief executive officers of major corporations. They say the book on their nightstand is often historical. They seem to learn a lot read- ing about leaders of the past and how they succeeded or failed to rally the troops. That's what I attempted to offer readers when writing about the leadership lessons of Reagan. The difference is that it comes in the concise USA TODAY style that summarizes in a few inches what others write books about.

Del Jones is the corporate management reporter for the Money section. He's been with USA TODAY since 1992 and has written more than 200 cover stories. Previously he reported business and sports for The El Paso Times and The Santa Fe New Mexican, both Gannett newspapers (USA TODAY's parent company). He holds a journalism degree from the University of New Mexico and an MBA University of Texas-El Paso. He is married and has two teenage children.

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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