Profiles in Leadership
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After more than two years of testing a Doritos-flavored taco shell, Taco Bell still had not signed a contract to partner with the company that made Doritos. So as the date neared for a major launch, CEO Greg Creed invited Frito-Lay’s CEO to a meeting where they forged a handshake deal. Creed’s eagerness to forge ahead without an official contract paid off.
Today, many people see Bill Gates as a globetrotting humanitarian. But in the 1980s, he was a headstrong entrepreneur. An incident involving company co-founder Paul Allen, a race to catch a flight, and an ill-advised attempt to spontaneously learn jetway mechanics demonstrates what made him so effective.
In 1991, Jerry Sternin headed to Vietnam. His goal: to fight child malnutrition in poor villages. Sternin isolated the few people who were modeling problem-solving behavior when most were following negative patterns. He thus discovered what the “positive deviants” did to produce such superior results.
During Alyson Pitman Giles' 13 years at the helm of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, N.H., the hospital’s finances reversed course. By the time she left in 2012, its operating margin exceeded $3 million. But her success did not come without turmoil.
The Associated Press placed Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the top 10 athletes of the 20th century. "The formula for success is simple," she said. "Practice and concentration, then more practice and more concentration."
Pressed to the limits by his workload, Stephen Shapiro analyzed all the activities on his plate and found only a small percentage of them truly mattered. Within two weeks, he had reduced his weekly work hours from 110 to 20. What can be learned from this speaker and consultant's example?
"We’re in an industry with 115% annual turnover," says Brian Fielkow, president and CEO of Jetco Delivery. "Our raw number is about one-third of that." How does he craft a culture than resonates with employees?
Whitey Herzog, winner of a World Series as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, understood one of the most overlooked aspects of leadership: Make the best of what you’ve got.
Employees need to trust you as their leader if they’re going to outperform as a team. They must believe you’ll put their interests ahead of your own. But how do you communicate you'll do just that? The director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, provides an example.
Wayne Goldberg knows the hotel business. He's president and CEO of La Quinta Holdings, a Texas-based chain with roughly 7,000 employees. "I make it clear when speaking to our hourly employees that I’ve been an hourly employee," he says. "I’ve been a maintenance person, I’ve worked in the laundry. There isn’t a job I haven’t done."
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