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Profiles in Leadership

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“The only thing that’s worse than ‘bad’ is ‘boring,’” critiques Sydney Brenner, a founder of molecular biology who shared a Nobel Prize for his achievements in 2002. At age 84, he keeps traveling the world, opening up new fields of research and stimulating ideas. Here's how.

Even in his youth, Ulysses S. Grant picked his battles. Arriving at West Point to study, he decided against arguing with the adjutant about his own name (actually Hiram Ulysses) and accepted the name given to him in a mix-up, realizing it would serve him better than the initials H.U.G.

Emily Roebling was a working mother ahead of her time. Her father-in-law—a serious, humorless, severe man—was the visionary who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. Enlisted into service after her father-in-law was killed and her husband injured, she eventually was considered the bridge’s chief engineer. It took 14 years and the pretense that her husband was still in charge. Here's how she defied naysayers who called the bridge a “wild experiment.”

What do you do after you've already created the world’s largest social network? Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes saw a community of people wanting to help victims of natural disasters. His vision—call it Philanthropy 2.0—was to speed the pace of positive global change. So he created an online conduit for people to identify social causes and build relationships.

Cartoon creator and producer Chuck Jones credits his success to a lack of constant supervision early on and his father’s string of business failures. Every time his father launched a business, he’d print new stationery and pencils. Using his cast-offs, Jones drew and drew. Here are his six success tips.

Though big can be beautiful, the Kraft Foods behemoth was too weighed down by its centralized structure to be nimble or responsive. So in 2007, Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld initiated a rewiring of the organization to put more power in the hands of business units. She managed to get the entire executive team — even those that did not fully support the idea — to own the team's decision. How did she get such solid alignment?

Lee Iacocca's book “Where have all the leaders gone?” came out in 2007, but his “Nine C’s of Leadership,” are more relevant today than ever. The former president of Ford and Chrysler warns leaders to tell the truth, even when painful. "When you spin, people stop listening."

It pays to give more than lip service to the Web 2.0 trend, with its emphasis on trust and openness. Just look at Cisco Systems. All decisions at Cisco used to be made by the top 10 people in the company, says CEO John Chambers. Today, he is spreading the company’s leadership and decision-making far wider than before.

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