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Executive Leadership

The hard part of leading a creative team is deflecting ideas that are unrealistic, undeveloped or “not ready for prime time.” Take these critical steps:

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When the late Tim Russert was a teenager, his father— known in his Buffalo, N.Y., neighborhood as Big Russ—got him a summer job as a garbage collector. Here’s what Russert learned from his old man: “That everybody has a job to do and a contribution to make, and that no matter how small that job may seem in the larger scheme of things, if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.” Here’s what leaders can take from Big Russ:

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eBay CEO and President Meg Whitman has five pieces of excellent advice for you. They happen to be the best advice ever given to her.

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Illinois Budget Director John Filan was appointed in 2003 to whack back the state’s $5 billion budget shortfall, and he’s done it without raising broad-based taxes. Instead, he shrank the number of state agencies by nearly a third, from 66 to 46, holding the number of state employees at 1970s levels. The operational cost of government has gone down, while education grants have gone up, and the state consolidated 22 data centers to five.

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In an annual review of 2004′s dumbest moments in business, these fine leaders came out on top:

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Leaders have tremendous power to inspire and encourage, but some techniques actually undermine performance. Here’s Samuel Spitalli’s list of 10 no-nos:

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Jim Collins studied 11 high-performing companies while writing his best-seller, Good to Great. He observed that great leaders boil down complex issues into action steps by asking these three questions:

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Apply these two gems of negotiating wisdom from a classic source:

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Even liberals may come to regard the late William Rehnquist as one of the best U.S. Supreme Court chief justices of the century. Reasons: His moderation and efficiency, his fairness and good nature helped him get along with ideological opponents.

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Brush up business-theory basics—from Gantt Charts to Maslow’s Hierarchy.

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