With today's managers under enormous pressure to produce results, the guru trade is growing. "Anything - an idea, a tool, a word - that can keep them ahead of the pack is fair game," says Stuart Crainer, author of The Ultimate Book of Business Gurus. "Gurus provide neatly packaged solutions or responses to managerial problems. The ones who succeed are adept at packaging and presentation. They virtually all have an overdeveloped eye for publicity." Crainer believes the popularity of management gurus is unlikely to wane anytime soon. As long as companies troll for answers, they'll listen to their consultants. "Practical application of most business ideas is a rarity," he explains. "Management is a magpie science, picking up pieces of wisdom from all over the place, and managers are natural magpies, picking up pearls of wisdom where they find them."

Just like the philosophers of old, today's gurus have their own individual management bent, their own following, their own claims to fame. If you're wondering who's that consultant stepping out of the limo in front of HQ - and want a peek at the philosophy you'll soon be hearing - here's a guide to the likely suspects.

  • Image about Harvard Business School
Born: 1925
Pedigree: Professor, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California
Education: PhD, economics and social science, MIT
Speaking Fee: Rarely accepts speaking engagements
Shtick: Leadership, leadership, leadership
Bio: Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California and founding chairman of USC's Leadership Institute, Bennis has written 27 books, including On Becoming a Leader (which was translated into 22 languages). Although Bennis has never craved the limelight, the advisor to four U.S. presidents has emerged as an intellectual heavyweight. His books examine the qualities that make a great executive; vision, purpose, and a point of view are all central themes. But he also points out that managers must recognize their limitations and focus on only the most essential tasks.