Executive Leadership

Soon after Steve Cannon became president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA in 2012, he launched an ambitious, long-term initiative to upgrade customer service, stating, “This is going to be my legacy.”

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You cannot lead an anxious workforce by making them even more worried. If you warn employees about the possibility of a recession or discuss other doomsday scenarios, you risk driving them to despair. On the other hand, relentless cheerleading amid shrinking profits won’t enhance your credibility and will have limited impact if people sense more pain in the near term.

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In the cosmetics business, the push for new products never ends. Consumers clamor for breakthroughs. As CEO of Sephora Americas, Calvin McDonald has made innovation a top priority. In March 2016, he launched the Sephora Innovation Lab. Based in San Francisco, the lab enables the French-owned cosmetics chain to conduct research with the help of outside partners. The goal is to create a space where employees can collaborate and test ideas without fear of failure.

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A new Gallup poll reveals that millennials want a “holistic relationship” with their supervisors. Meaning they want the boss to ask about their weekends.

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Entrepreneur Michael Alden says the key to success is often just 5% more: putting in 5% more time and effort, giving 5% more to employees or being 5% more efficient.

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Developing and executing a digital strategy is too important to delegate or outsource. According to the 2015 Global Digital IQ survey, three-quarters of chief executive officers—76%—now believe they champion digital technologies. As recently as 2013, only 57% of executives surveyed said their CEO championed digital, before rising to 73% last year.

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Believe it or not, certain “leaders” actually say this stuff. Steer clear of anything like it, even milder variants.

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“Whether they want to admit it or not, leaders generally only do one or two things really well. The best leaders surround themselves with great people to do the rest and get out of their way.”

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Looking to build trust with your team? Start with an experiment. Commit to going 90 days without complaining, criticizing or condemning. And if you’re really serious about creating a more trustworthy culture, enlist your senior executive team to join you in this 90-day challenge.

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If you ask people to list the traits of effective leaders, many would assume that it pays to be helpful, compassionate, generous and trusting. But those characteristics could also describe frail, weak-willed leaders. Pleasant personalities do not necessarily make great leaders.

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