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Executive Leadership

People who work with former Secretary of State Colin Powell report that he’s a perfect gentleman who’s always polite, attentive and civil. Yet, he also drives people crazy with his laser-like focus on excellence. Powell himself admits that trait when he says: “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.”

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Judo lies at the heart of Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s leadership. That’s because the sport required dogged self-discipline from a boy with a troubled childhood who went on to become a U.S. senator.

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Psychologist Abraham Maslow organized human needs onto a pyramid, with the most basic needs on the bottom and the most highly evolved on the top. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from bottom to top:

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It sounds so easy: Expect high performance and you won’t be disappointed. Expect so-so performance and that’s what you’ll get. Reality is more difficult to nail down. Start with these three practices to define what you mean by higher performance, lay out how you expect your people to attain it and inspire them to go for it:

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Chase your fears out into the open and pick them off, one by one.

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Leaders can develop tunnel vision about performance, so it’s important not to lose sight of your role in conveying the meaning of your organization. Here’s how your job helps people make sense of their own jobs beyond their paychecks:

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Want to win? It’s simple. Besides talent and laser-beam desire, you need something that racing great Bobby Rahal sees in champions: a chip on the shoulder that says: “You don’t think I can do it? Come out and take a shot at me.” Danica Patrick has that.

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“Exactly what’s keeping us from moving ahead?” That’s the most productive question you can ask a team. To use the question effectively, try these techniques:

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If you like to understand your own world through a parallel universe, the new management book Kingdomality divides the leaders of a mythical medieval kingdom into four main personality types, all of which are vital to running the place. The four:

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Arguably the most inspiring coach of all time, Vince Lombardi turned the also-ran Green Bay Packers into a football dynasty. Fortunately, Lombardi was not shy about expressing his leadership philosophy, which comes across strong and clear in these quotes:

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