Executive Leadership

Sandy Stash was handed an assignment from hell: Atlantic Richfield Co.
sent her to Butte, Mont., to manage the cleanup of the nation’s biggest
Superfund site, reduce the company’s liability and try to calm
everybody’s nerves.

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Dennis Donovan describes his style of leadership as being an agent for
change. When he joined Home Depot as an executive vice president, his
goal was to put a human resources person in every store.

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Most of us have had bosses so insecure that they could never let their employees succeed. Jack Winter was such a guy. Fresh out of college, he found himself in
Miami Beach on a venerable staff of comedy writers because TV celebrity
Jackie Gleason had picked some of his material. As it turned out,
Winter didn’t understand Gleason’s humor. What’s worse, Gleason turned
out to be a tyrant. Luckily for us, we can use his memories to become
better leaders. Some of Winter’s wonders:

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A personal symbol can help you stay centered during tough times. Some real-world examples:

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You start to think that you have to be perfect to be a leader. You have
to set perfect goals, make perfect speeches, arrive at perfect
decisions and motivate people perfectly. Not so. Even the greatest leaders have flaws. Sometimes very big flaws. Consider E. B. White, the legendary editor of The New Yorker.

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An organization that rewards people lavishly for mediocre work might
have a happy work force … but probably an unexceptional one, too.

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Management fads make employees cynical, says coach and consultant Wolf
Rinke. They feel used and even abused. Eventually, they develop thick
skins so they can stay sane while playing the “Let’s pretend” game
during management’s next fad onslaught. To stop the insanity, Rinke points to research showing that four basic,
“somewhat nonsexy” practices lead organizations to outperform their
peers:

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Here’s some advice to aspiring leaders from Jodi Solomon, president of a speakers bureau in Boston:

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How effectively are you conveying the image that you strive to build as
a leader? To find out, perform this simple test over the next workday:

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To former Pepsi executive Michael Feiner, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,”
written in 1837 by Hans Christian Andersen, is the greatest leadership
story ever told. You know the story. An emperor acts like a fool because his subjects
are too cowed to tell him the truth: that he’s been hoodwinked into
wearing invisible “clothes.” So, are your people telling you the truth? Here are some reasons why they might not be, and what you can do about it:

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