An Oscar-winning director whose films bring in billions, James Cameron is known for exacting top performances from talent. His rules for leading:
• Motivate with a sense of exploration. For Cameron, innovation is a tool for uniting his team. “We’re doing extraordinary things that outsiders would not even understand,” he says.
• Fire you? Hardly a chance. Cameron rarely fires people. Instead, he tests their endurance for long hours, hard tasks and harsh criticism. Survivors turn in the best work of their careers.
• Lead from the trenches. He may have a talented crew of 3,000, but Cameron is the first to try a new challenge and the last to quit at the end of the day.
• Hire people people. His closest associates are there to recognize when a tired crew needs a pep talk or when a wounded artist’s ego needs soothing.
— Adapted from “Firing Is Too Merciful: How James Cameron Leads,” Rebecca Keegan, Harvard Business Review’s The Conversation blog.