Executive Leadership

K’ang-hsi, who ruled China from 1661 to 1722, was a formidable leader
who held direct authority over courts, infrastructure, military defense
and nearly everything else in his immense empire. Yet, when it came to judging whether his ministers were doing their jobs, he applied just one yardstick:

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Even if you lack formal authority, you can still practice what business
professor and researcher Robert E. Kelly calls “small-L leadership” by
bringing people together to complete a job.

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Can’t follow what the younger members of your staff are talking about? Here’s a quick sampling of business buzzwords:

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It remains to be seen whether rap superstar Jay-Z will succeed in his
leap to president of Def Jam Recordings, but young leaders can take a
few ideas from his first year on the job.

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As decisions become more critical, the temptation to waffle becomes
greater. So, even previously decisive leaders begin to refer decisions
to other people or allow problems to resolve themselves. Use these strategies to stay decisive:

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In a crisis, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice remains almost serene.

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Use these “attitude guidelines” to focus yourself on the job:

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When conflict erupts among your people, it’s often sparked—believe it or not—by a clash of social identities. These strategies may help:

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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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