Tofu and the Changing Nature of Leadership

It’s been fun to chart the high-growth, low-pitch success of Taiwanese computer maker Acer. In contrast to the clamorous competition usually associated with computer sales, Acer has quietly gone about its business and is now nipping at the heels of Dell to become the world’s second-biggest notebook seller.

A good share of the credit can be attributed to Gianfranco Lanci, the understated yet upbeat company president who has become the first non-Asian ever to hold such high rank among Taiwan’s technology titans. The son of an Italian construction worker, Lanci is an anomaly compared to the razzle-dazzle of most fast-moving high-tech execs. Yet, as Forbes Asia pointed out last year, Lanci, operating out of a foreign culture where he barely speaks the language, has found success by winning over Acer’s 5,300 employees because he “beams humility” and “treasures relationships.”

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