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Executive Leadership

When you hear about great leaders and the passions that fuel their ambition, you might despair of ever feeling that intense about your work.

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Through his fables, Aesop, a Phrygian slave who lived in the sixth century B.C., taught important lessons about behavior. One of his best:

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The father of Total Quality Management and Six Sigma, Joe Juran, became a guru of industry because he saw what nobody else did: the high cost of product defects. One thing Juran didn’t see that everybody else did: his own arrogance.

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“Wisdom is the daughter of experience,” wrote Leonardo da Vinci (1492-1519), possibly the most brilliant artist and thinker who ever lived. Luckily, da Vinci left us his instructions on converting experience into wisdom:

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The U.S. president known as a fierce fighter, Indian hater and hothead—Andrew Jackson—actually used wallpaper to help him lead the country. Wallpaper?

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While trading pelts in Newfoundland, a young Clarence Birdseye noticed the way Inuit Indians froze fish by laying them on the ice, where they froze almost instantly. He also noted that the cooked fish remained tender and flaky—almost as good as fresh.

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At age 15, Billie Jean King (then, Billie Jean Moffitt) and her classmates were assigned to write a scene from their futures. Here’s what she turned in:

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Formula One Grand Prix drivers, like successful executives, have the passion to reach the top of their professions. Yet, even within this elite group, only a tiny percentage take the winner’s stand.

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Parallels between climbing a mountain and leading your organization to the top abound. Here’s one: Before you reach the summit, you have to pass through an intensely competitive “death zone.”

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When a legal crisis erupts, your organization will rely heavily on an attorney.

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