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Liz Claiborne CEO rides out the storm

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Managing in a protracted turnaround “has been brutal,” says William L. McComb, CEO of Liz Claiborne. Under his command, the women’s clothier has posted seven consecutive quarterly losses. Yet his board of directors stands by him.

He suggests these strategies for working with a board in tough times:

Abandon your ego. Directors won’t approve everything you suggest.

Raise their level of engagement on strategy and execution. McComb consults often with fellow directors and shares decision-making with them.

Be creative about tapping their experiences and strengths.

Challenge processes. Turnarounds require a fresh approach.

Communicate as much as your board wants. McComb inaugurated a twice-a-month board letter. “I pour out my heart” about profitability, merchandising plans, would-be partnerships and other topics, he says.

--Adapted from "Claiborne CEO Hangs On," Joann S. Lublin, The Wall Street Journal.

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