Executive Leadership

When we joined a highly placed financial exec for lunch at the company cafeteria recently, we learned a leadership lesson when she asked a friendly cashier, “So, what’s on people’s minds today?”

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Pythagoras of Samos, who lived in the sixth century B.C., is best remembered for his pioneering studies of the geometry of triangles. He is less well known for his three-part assessment of people, based on his observations of the people who came to Athens to watch the Olympic games.

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When Eckhard Cordes took over Mercedes-Benz, he put off all interviews with the press, so he could engage in hard analysis before announcing his sales objectives.

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The best player in any game—business, sports or war, to name a few—will have a firm strategy in place from the outset for the last stages of a product, contest or battle.

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Since winning office two years ago, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has shown what it takes to turn crisis into opportunity.

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Leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith’s mother taught first grade in Kentucky. In her mind, everybody was a first-grader. Whenever Goldsmith’s father made a grammatical error, she would dish out a stern look and snap: “Bill! Bill!”

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You can have all the “vision” in the world, but, unless you can execute your ideas, you’re sunk.

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Early on, Neil Armstrong didn’t want to be an astronaut. From a young age, he wanted to design aircraft. He took up flying later because he thought a designer should know how planes work. He became a “stick-and-rudder man.”

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As a graduate student at the University of Chicago in 1970, Michael Powell opened a used bookstore after borrowing $3,000. He built shelves, started selling and kept increasing inventory, expanding the shop and adding employees. He repaid the loan.

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Whether negotiating a deal or arguing your point, it’s much more effective to emphasize whatever you have in common with your opponent than the differences.

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