More fund managers are looking to make money by judging investments on executives' leadership skills rather than on the specific details of the companies they're running. Investors arrange meetings with CEOs, hoping to spot trustworthy, rational leaders capable of looking beyond the current quarter to make long-term plans for the health of their company. "You're not looking to become buddies," says one fund manager. "You're just trying to get a feel for the quality of a person."

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