Executive Leadership

As a sideman in countless acts before hitting it big, guitar god Jimi
Hendrix was so unassuming that he could pester blues masters like
Albert King about how they bent the guitar strings to produce a certain
sound. The stars gladly shared trade secrets, never guessing how fast
Hendrix would surpass them.

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Grab an edge in negotiations by sneaking a peek at your opponent’s desk.

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A recent McKinsey study of the world’s most profitable megacorporations
finds that their achievements are made possible by some shared
leadership outlooks and practices.

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The way basketball player Nancy Lieberman tells it, her first visit to
a tennis “workout” for Martina Navratilova went something like this:
Hit a few balls, talk to a few people, hit a few lobs, go home. Lieberman could see that the tennis star lacked mental toughness and self-discipline. But with the right approach, Lieberman thought, Navratilova could become the greatest player ever.

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What should you do when one of your most trusted people produces
substandard results on an important project or initiative? Before you
start playing the “blame game,” take these steps:

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Winston Churchill, Great Britain’s prime minister during World War II,
never gave pep talks. Even when the tide turned in the Allies’ favor,
Churchill warned about the dangers ahead.

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When recent graduates enter any job, many of them will view it as an extension of school. Result: They have beliefs and expectations about working life that you, as their leader, need to retool.

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Marvin Bower turned down an offer from billionaire Howard Hughes
because he didn’t think the eccentric businessman would listen to him.
In fact, walking away from money is precisely what helped build Bower’s
premier consulting firm, McKinsey & Co., from the time he joined
its founder in 1933. Why? Bower always used three guiding principles:

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If you’re aware that you’re not perfect and think you might like some
help with that, bless you. That’s where an executive coach comes in. Such was the case for Deborah Coleman, who took the helm of Merix Corp., a maker of advanced electronics, in 1994.

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If your organization operates in a fast-changing industry, you face a
challenge within a challenge: The internal innovations you create must
jive with wider external changes … some of which are still unknown. Are you flying blind? Not really, because you can still innovate in a flexible way.

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