Executive Leadership

Back in 1949, psychologist George Kingsley Zipf discovered the
“Principle of Least Effort”: Most people, most of the time, are turned
back by modest hurdles that they could overcome with only a little
effort. Donald Trump consciously applies Zipf’s Principle (also known as “Ziff ’s Principle”) by negotiating in ways that take advantage of the other side’s laziness. Here’s how:

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Meet Mike Iaconelli. Not your everyday bass-fishing champion, “Ike” is
from New Jersey, not somewhere in the South, and he listens to rap
music, not Country. Even though Iaconelli has won only the 2003
Bassmaster Classic and an assortment of other prizes and sponsorships,
he threatens to become the Tiger Woods of fishing and blast the sport
beyond its staid, rural roots. Here’s what makes Ike a leader:

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Roger Hendrix, now a management consultant in Salt Lake City, served as
mission president of a Mormon enclave in Chile in the early 1990s. He
oversaw several hundred missionaries, mostly young men. Here are some communication lessons Hendrix learned:

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If you want your people to feel accountable for results, you’ve got to measure their performance. One solution: Establish a performance contract with each person.

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You’ve heard it before: If you’ve never failed, you’ve never really
succeeded. Some of the most accomplished leaders have endured
spectacular flameouts. So, deal with failure and move on.
Heed these do’s and don’ts:

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Craig Newmark describes himself as a formerly overpaid software
engineer who grew up wearing a plastic pocket protector and thick,
black glasses taped together. One decade ago, he started an e-mail list
of fun events in San Francisco. Craigslist grew and grew. Now, it has 7.6 million users in nearly 100
cities. But early on, Newmark stamped it with his personal code: Don’t
be greedy. Here are three of the conscious decisions that helped make Craigslist what it is today:

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The ancient Romans built a magnificent city over a swamp because they
envisioned a powerful, stable society and had the craftsmanship and
discipline to make it happen. The plan’s sheer scale reveals the
Romans’ larger-than-life ambitions. Use this three-part approach to make sure you’ve got enough “oomph!” behind your mission.

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The landowners of Celtic Ireland elected their kings based on merit. Cormac MacAirt—known for peace, prosperity and justice during his reign
as a high king in the third century— was reputed to have written books
on criminal law and history as well as a famous manual for leaders.

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Creativity. It’s a fairly new buzzword in business. Now comes research
from Harvard business professor Teresa Amabile to debunk the myths
about it. For the past eight years, she’s run a diary study of hundreds
of managers “to look at creativity in the wild.” Amabile has uncovered these myths:

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The best doesn’t come along too often, but the worst, the mediocre and
the merely OK show up all the time. Thus, recognizing when to say “No”
is more valuable than knowing when to say “Yes.” Eliminate poor choices
quickly, and you save everybody’s time.

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