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Executive Leadership

In fighting a war, U.S. generals apply the following strategies, which will serve you well, too, when things simply must not go wrong:

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Oracle founder and chief executive Larry Ellison is a classic narcissistic leader, reminiscent of both the robber barons of the 19th century, who created industries in their own image, and Genghis Khan, who said: “It is not sufficient that I succeed. Everyone else must fail.”

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If you think leaders never make mistakes, consider these stories:

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Team and project managers often need to depend on people other than direct reports. That means they have none of the usual levers—salary, bonus, promotion, etc.—to control behavior.

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Polar explorer Roald Amundsen’s most important quality? He was willing to learn.

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While observing a well-respected CEO on the job recently, we noticed that he toggled between two distinct modes of using his time:

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Today, products have to be more than functional and reliable. They’ve got to be exceptional, with style built right in. So says Seth Godin, marketing savant and proponent of the “purple cow”: the product that stands out from the rest.

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You’ll probably never need courage to do your work, at least the kind of courage required against physical threats like torture or gunfire. Still, understanding courage can help you become a better leader.

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What you may not know is that each Barbie for President doll comes with a leadership tip sheet ginned up by the White House Project, a group encouraging women to run for public office.

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Ram Charan earned an MBA from Harvard, went on to teach management there and has served as a consultant to dozens of high-powered CEOs.

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