Natural-born leader

On the football field he's a superstar coach, but in business school classrooms Jim Harbaugh is an MBA MVP.

Leaders from the boardroom to the battlefield can steal a page from Harbaugh's playbook, experts say, because the fiery head coach of the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers displays universal leadership traits that work equally well off the field.

San Francisco 49ers Arrive In New Orleans 1.27.13


"There are different styles and approaches to managing different situations and different types of people," said Chester Spell, who teaches organization and management at San Jose State University. "But showing people that you care and understanding the work and getting out of the way are qualities of most good leaders."

At Santa Clara University, leadership professor Barry Posner uses Harbaugh as an example for his MBA students of the kind of leader who uses his intensity to fire up those around him and isn't afraid to make tough decisions — whether it's sticking with troubled place-kicker David Akers or replacing quarterback Alex Smith with the untested Colin Kaepernick.

"The stuff we're teaching about leadership isn't just about sports," Posner said. "It applies in families, it happens in volunteer organizations."

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