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Executive Leadership

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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Sometimes, you just have to manufacture an opportunity … even when it’s sitting right there in front of you. That’s the story of Michele Hoskins, a single mother of three who had read that the 1980s was to be the “decade of the woman” and knew she wanted to strike out on her own but didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. She had to look it up in the dictionary.

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Lack of candor can destroy your credibility. Perfect example: When former NFL player Pat Tillman died under fire in Afghanistan, his fellow soldiers knew almost immediately that they’d killed him by mistake. But in a stupid attempt to look good, the Army shushed its soldiers and told Tillman’s family that he’d died while storming a hill, shouting orders to his Rangers.

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Procter & Gamble Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley tells a tale of getting down to core issues when a valuable employee wants to leave. It happened when Lafley once resigned from P&G. His boss, Steve Donovan, tore up the letter of resignation. “Go home,” Donovan told Lafley.

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