Profiles in Leadership

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Legendary business journalist Marshall Loeb spent decades interviewing the greatest leaders of American business. Along the way, he defined these steps to effective leadership ...

From his childhood on the White Earth reservation in Minnesota through his career in baseball, Charles Albert Bender developed various pitches (maybe even the game’s first slider) and a reputation for dependability in the clutch. Bender never let anyone see him sweat ...

 

Legendary Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham developed her tough leadership style during battles that almost sank the newspaper in the 1970s. Plagued almost daily by printers’ and pressmen’s slowdown tactics and bullying tactics from their unions, Graham worried nightly whether the next day’s paper would get out on time.

Carl Sagan’s passion for the universe was so huge that the moment Johnny Carson saw him on a Dick Cavett special, he wanted the scientist booked on The Tonight Show. Sagan delivered “a cosmological crash course,” explaining the connection between the history of the universe and the development of life on earth.

Andy Grove’s story is so popular because he has the one quality all leaders need: He can turn on a dime. Grove—the genius behind Intel—did it in 1957, when Hungary’s Soviet-controlled border opened for a moment and he plunged through to escape to America. Grove set aside everything he knew and leapt into the unknown ...

Everybody is happy to tell you about the importance of following your passion. Few let it lead their lives. A good example is Phoebe Snetsinger, the first person to see 8,400 species of birds, becoming a hero among birders while battling cancer.

After a diagnosis, patients at the Mayo Clinic meet with a team of specialists who help them understand what’s happening so they can decide about treatment together, says president and CEO Denis Cortese. This kind of teamwork is the stock-in-trade of Cortese, who won last year’s top leadership award from the National Center for Healthcare Leadership.

Who are we to argue with the assertion that America’s greatest leader was its first? It’s all true: George Washington ran two major start-ups—the army and the presidency—in addition to his farm and other businesses. Not to mention the Constitutional Convention, which he chaired. In a nutshell, here’s how Washington worked.

When he started out, John Mackey just wanted to make a living selling wholesome food. But the founder of Whole Foods Market had been on a quest for some meaning and purpose in life, and Mackey found them in what he calls becoming a “conscious capitalist”—that is, focusing on purpose rather than profit.

The chief purveyor of hip-hop culture saw opportunity everywhere, even in the earliest days of rap. “You’d be happy to work with somebody,” he says, “but nobody wanted to work with you.” Since then, Simmons has made millions launching businesses nobody else believed in across media, fashion and banking, all catering to an underserved market.

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