Meet the new cartographers of the corporate jungle. James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith, consultants for the executive search company Spencer Stuart, spent three years surveying some 1.2 million executives, looking for the traits and methods that compose the essence of leadership, good and bad. The result is The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction (Crown Publishing Group), a book worth reading despite its frequent lapses into windy biz-jargon.

Examining the careers of diverse leaders such as former IBM head Lou Gerstner, Senator Elizabeth Dole, Bill Burke of the Weather Channel Companies, and Jim Head of Turner Broadcasting, the authors drive a final nail into the coffin of the hard-charging, egomaniacal, rule-busting CEO of yesterday. Over the long haul, the honchos they tag as “pirates” and “mercenaries” don’t wear well; the best top dogs are “good citizens” and “benevolent leaders” who thrive by helping subordinates succeed.

At first blush, some of the authors’ patterns seem well — duh! — obvious. (“Understand the value of you.” “Find the right fit.” Okay.) But they have a wealth of anecdotes and examples to shore up the generalities. Wherever you stand on the corporate ladder, The 5 Patterns offers insight and inspiration from many who not only made it to the top, but rose without betraying their ideals or trampling their colleagues.