Executive Leadership

Most people never heard of Gary Kelly until one of his planes slid off
the runway at Chicago’s Midway Airport in December. But Kelly has been
cleaning up after crashes for a while. For Kelly, leadership means getting the team behind you.

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Kelly Slater’s older brother used to turn everything into a contest,
and he always made sure Kelly lost. That, coupled with their drunken
father and angry mother, forged Kelly Slater into a fierce competitor
and a wild man on a surfboard.

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Sure, you want a hard-charging successor to continue your work. But you also want someone who leads with compassion and loyalty to
someone other than himself. You don’t want a narcissist succeeding you. Run your protégé through this gantlet to see how he scores on the narcissist scale.

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What are the most common foibles that cause promising leaders to fail? These are the traps that can bring you down:

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It often happens that a leader’s early life tells volumes about his
character. Here’s a story from U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., about
his first job at a grocery store in Stotesbury, W.Va., a mining town
where he’d worked his way up to meat cutter in 1935.

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You’ve probably heard of “Occam’s Razor,” the maxim that says you
should heed the simplest answer to a difficult question. But who is or
was Occam and why should you care?

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Ritz-Carlton President and COO Simon Cooper has a simple way of helping his people develop their leadership abilities. When someone has an idea and says “We can do it,” Cooper allows that
person to lead the process, provided that he or she can develop a
workable strategy.

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After he’d already served as governor of New York, published more than
a dozen books, served two terms as president of the United States and
won the Nobel Peace Prize, Theodore Roosevelt said these words about
leadership:

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Ping Fu’s first 23 years were marked by imprisonment and torture in
China, first as a child and later for dutifully researching, as
assigned, the country’s epidemic of infanticide. Locked for days alone
in utter darkness, she hoped her execution would be quick. Instead, officials exiled her to America.

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When he spoke at the opening of his 1964 trial, Nelson Mandela never
denied that he planned sabotage against the white South African
government. In fact, he painstakingly explained his rationale for
violence, having concluded that peaceful means to gaining civil rights
for blacks were not working.

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