Executive Leadership

Conventional wisdom holds that most leaders were “C” students. If
that’s true, then they should pay attention to what the “A” students
are saying.

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Without benefit of education or connections, Clarence Avant used
mentors to climb to the top of the pop music business … and then became
a mentor himself.

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Baby boomers knew Frank Perdue by his advertising slogan: “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.” The guy even looked like a chicken. Frank Perdue really believed his chickens were better than anybody else’s. And he made sure they were.

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A third-year law student at the College of William & Mary,
25-year-old Anne Sommers is shaping up as a force to be reckoned with.

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Even top women executives still face inequities that can lead to missed
opportunities. Likely as not, these slights are unintended, but
exclusion from “the club” remains one of the harshest penalties for a
leader. Take Theragenics CEO Christine Jacobs. She’s left out of the loop when
male board members adjourn to the men’s room, where they continue to
talk business. “It’s life,” says Jacobs. But women execs can make life fairer with these strategies:

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Davy Crockett—an amazing hunter and scout who became a judge, colonel,
state legislator, U.S. congressman, character and wag—exuded leadership
in his own, homespun way.

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An employee’s death can leave your people tumbling through grief, denial, confusion, rage, guilt, shock and more. Grief Steps author Brook Noel observes that people don’t know what to say or do when a co-worker dies.

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Charles Schwab brought his brokerage firm back from the brink of
disaster by delivering a simple message to his customers: “This
investing thing is hard … but we’re here to help.”

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Some leaders have only one dimension, that one thing making them great. Others distinguish themselves by excelling in various forums. Among the second type: Agnes Varis, owner and chief executive of a
generic drug company but also a political activist, arts patron and
mentor.

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In an era of loudmouth celebrities and overpaid suits, the remembrance
of a decent man seems almost retro. Wellington Mara, who became
co-owner of the New York Giants football team at age 14 and guided the
team from the early days of the National Football League until his
death last year, was one of those old-fashioned leaders.

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