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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Top-rated CEOs have similar traits

THE MARCH 24 edition of Barron’s featured a list of the world’s 30 best chief executive officers.

Barron’s compiles the annual list by surveying investors and analysts, studying financial and stock market performances, and relying on its staffers’ own knowledge of the leaders.

While the CEOs have different attributes, there are some commonalities that unite them. Here are some of the leadership traits mentioned more than once:

They practice conservative leadership but are ready to pounce when opportunities present themselves. They also think long-term.

They’re modest publicly and don’t make flashy moves, but they’re inwardly driven and are tough businessmen.

They’re vigilant about eliminating wasteful spending but don’t hesitate to invest in their businesses.

They think like owners rather than managers. In many cases, they own large stakes in the business.

They’re innovative and unafraid to make bold changes if things aren’t working.

While investors need to look for more than just great leadership when picking stocks, it’s certainly a huge bonus if a topnotch leader is heading a company. Warren Buffett frequently counsels to "bet on the jockey" when making investments.

Without further ado, here are Barron’s top 30 CEOs, listed alphabetically:

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, Research in Motion

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

John Chambers, Cisco Systems

Kenneth Chenault, American Express

Richard Clark, Merck

Charlie Ergen, Dish Network

Laurence Fink, BlackRock

Lew Frankfort, Coach

Fred Goodwin, Royal Bank of Scotland Group

Hugh Grant, Monsanto

Mark Hurd, Hewlett-Packard

Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo

Steven Jobs, Apple

Henning Kagermann, SAP

A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble

Robert Lane, Deere & Co.

Terry Leahy, Tesco

Jack Ma, Alibaba Group

Fujio Mitarai, Canon

Lakshmi Mittal, AccelorMittal

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Holdings

Samuel Palmisano, IBM

Frank Riboud, Group Danone

Peter Rose, Expeditors International

James J. Schiro, Zurich Financial Services

Bob Simpson, XTO Energy

James Sinegal, Costco

Fred Smith, FedEx

Ratan Tata, Tata Sons.