Executive Leadership

Choose the most reliable job applicants by passing over any who bad-mouth previous employers or bosses.

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Survive your biggest setbacks by thinking like Thomas Edison.

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By 1810, Napoleon’s occupation of Spain had deteriorated into what he would call his “Spanish ulcer.” With help from England and Portugal, local insurgents resisted more
than 300,000 French soldiers occupying Spain. The rebels managed to
force a French retreat and occupy the hills controlling the roads to
Seville and Cordoba. The division charged down this road in the high sierra, headed straight
for a band of French soldiers commanded by a truly remarkable officer: Capt. Cyr Billot.

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When Jim Copeland served as CEO of Deloitte & Touche, now part of
an international professional services firm, the people he worked with
respected him for his trustworthiness. Why?

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J.K. Rowling’s boyfriend was moving to Manchester and wanted her to
move, too. During her train trip back to London after a weekend spent
looking for an apartment, the character of Harry Potter simply popped
into her head. There was a glitch, however. Rowling didn’t have a writing utensil.

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It’s so easy to lose sight of customers that even good organizations do
it all the time. But a technique called LEO might help you stay a
little closer to them. LEO stands for:

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Jimmy Doolittle, one of the great aviation pioneers and a wildly
successful air racer himself, saw the need— and the market—for bigger,
safer planes in the 1930s. So, he tried to convince Shell Oil Co. to produce a standard,
higher-octane fuel for larger planes, which were still in the design
phase. “But Jimmy, this country is in a deep depression,” said Alex Fraser,
vice president of Shell. “You want to spend millions of dollars on a
product with no guarantee of a market.” Doolittle stuck by his guns.

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Robert Hopkins, a pilot and photographer during World War II, could
have settled for being one of many photographers assigned in 1945 to
the Yalta conference in the Crimea, where the three main Allied leaders
would shape the postwar world. Instead, being crowded out of prime shots by some 30 Russian
photographers led the young Hopkins to assert his leadership skills.

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In 1820, about 70 percent of the U.S. population lived and worked on
farms. Then came Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper and
modern agriculture. So, how did McCormick change the face of agriculture in America?

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Studying the great things that other organizations are doing is good. But identifying and spreading internal best practices is an even better way to achieve great results in your organization.

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