Profiles in Leadership

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After flying 61 combat missions in World War II and winning military honors, Robert McDermott didn’t bask in the glow of his military heroics. Instead, he helped build the Air Force Academy into a model of military education and then shifted to the private sector to become CEO of USAA.
Mark Leslie ran two firms before becoming chairman and CEO of Veritas Soft­­ware in 1990. He knew from experience that when senior executives make deci­­sions based on shared information with their employees, it decreases office politics and helps everyone buy into the company’s strategy.
Two concerns keep Skanska CEO Mike McNally up at night. He worries that one of the company’s 50,000 employees around the world might act unethically. He also frets about the risk of accidents and injuries.
Early in his career, John Allison knew he possessed strong math and analytical skills. But the young banker wanted to do more than crunch numbers, so he developed as a leader. He became BB&T’s CEO in 1989 and served in that role for nearly 20 years.
On June 2, 1944, all the pieces were in place for the largest amphibious assault in world history. Planning for D-Day fell to Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. The only unknown? The weather. How did he make one of the most consequential decisions in history?
Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada, has plunged into the world of social media. He uses Twitter to forge relationships with consumers and build the ING brand. Follow his lead in doing social media with three simple guidelines.
Thanks to Mike Duke’s detail-mindedness with data and scheduling, Lee Scott thinks his successor as Walmart CEO is a better manager than he was himself. “Mike is not only a good leader but a really good manager,” Scott says.

Jeno Francesco Paulucci always did what he thought was right. The food magnate once walked out of a $40 million deal with Reynolds Tobacco because he thought its executives were arrogant. He hired “unemployable” ex-convicts and people with disabilities because he thought they deserved a chance. Nobody’s special, he would say. “We’re all the same. Just because you have a little more money doesn’t make you any better.”

R.A. Dickey’s career was failing. A pitcher in the major leagues, he struggled on the mound. To compensate for a ligament problem in his pitching arm, he was in the midst of reinventing his pitching style. Not only did he reinvent his pitch, he made it something unique—the knuckleball.

Chief executive Dan Akerson is making progress in steering GM toward a common vision and chipping away at the old bureaucracy. Here’s how Akerson is trying to turn things around.

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