Executive Leadership

In his latest book, Why Decisions Fail,
scholar Paul C. Nutt analyzes 15 disastrous courses of action, from
Ford’s defense of the flammable Pinto to Disney’s ill-advised theme
park in France. In every one, leaders made clearly identifiable
mistakes that the rest of us can avoid.

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If you’re in the habit of glossing over problems to help things run
smoothly, check out these cases of how telling the hard truth paid off:

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Generations ago, they were called commandos or rangers. Today, they’re
called “special ops.” Throughout history, special ops units have adhered to the philosophy of
daring to do the impossible to achieve the extraordinary. How do you employ special ops? Apply the six principles of special ops:

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If you’ve ever caught yourself saying— a bit defensively—“I was just
being honest,” rest assured that you’re not the only person to have
offended a colleague, customer or staff member with your candor. But effective leaders smooth out the rough edges of their candor, with these techniques:

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People at varying levels of authority had to make many decisions as
Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast.
Unfortunately, too many opted to follow the chain of command instead of
doing what had to be done.

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Barbara Corcoran overcame poverty and a series of setbacks to become
one of the most powerful real estate brokers in America, heading New
York-based the Corcoran Group. Corcoran says she excels at failure and does her best in a crisis. Examples:

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If, as the old adages go, 90 percent of success is just showing up, and
80 percent of leadership is caring about your people, Dr. Alan Manevitz, a psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital,
is a successful leader.


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If you want to keep the respect and affection of the people you lead,
stay alert to the signs that you’re becoming a high-maintenance boss:

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Mike Kelley lives on the island paradise of Maui, where he headed after
only a year of college on the mainland. He started by selling tanning
lotion by the pool. Now, he owns several companies that provide
recreation for tourists, as well as business and concierge services for
hotels. Kelley’s story proves that, to lead, you often have to take a leap of faith. Here’s how it happened:

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Golden opportunities are rare in business. They’re also hard to predict because they arise from random, unconnected events. That’s why practicing active waiting makes sense. Here’s what we mean:

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