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Executive Leadership

According to a paper by researchers at the University of Georgia and Penn State, CEOs matter to their companies to a greater degree than ever before.

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Here are Disney/ABC Television group president Anne Sweeney’s three rules for being a great leader.

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After Charalambos Vlachoutsicos advised a private equity fund to invest in a Romanian flour mill, the real challenge began. Suspicious of the mill’s new owners, the Romanian employees worried they’d be laid off. Heeding a Romanian friend’s advice, Vlachoutsicos embraced transparency.

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Even though Atul Gawande is at the top of his profession—he’s a leading surgeon, journalist and winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant—he knows he’s capable of improving his professional performance. That’s why he hired a coach.

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In October 2008, Fred Tomczyk spent his first month as TD Ameritrade’s CEO under fire. He found himself running the financial services firm amid a punishing global economic crisis. He decided to overhaul the firm’s business model.

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Do more five-minute favors … Learn three lessons from the CEO of Warby Parker … Reverse the odds with a bold act.

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It’s been a tricky first few months as General Motors’ new CEO for Mary Barra, who is faced this week with testifying before a Congressional committee investigating GM’s controversial handling of a recall of vehicles that many believe came way too late.

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The 20th century guru of self-help, Dale Carnegie, followed his own recipe for success, becoming a crisp speaker, confronting fear and learning what people want. Here’s how he put it:

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No one thinks of Applebee’s, the restaurant chain, as a purveyor of fine dining. So Julia Stewart, CEO of parent company Dine Equity, sees Applebee’s for what it is.

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Leaders cannot talk their way out of a deteriorating business. To reverse course, take bold steps. Bob Flexon became Dynegy’s CEO in July 2011; four months later, the energy company filed for bankruptcy. To boost morale, Flexon unveiled a series of dramatic changes.

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