Profiles in Leadership

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Actor Michael J. Fox, 30 years old when he began dealing with Parkinson’s disease, has now written three best-selling books and raised $285 million for Parkinson’s research as well as continuing his acting career. His life offers three ways to continue leading despite adversity.

Comedian Drew Carey, part owner of the Seattle Sounders soccer team, has a novel idea: Let fans vote on management. He got the idea from Spanish teams whose fans vote on key members of the club’s front office.
When David Cote took the reins at Honeywell in 2002, the company was still reeling from a series of unfortunate events. Having trained under GE’s Jack Welch, Cote began the task of forming a new Honeywell culture.

“I have a theory that burnout is about resentment,” Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer says. “And you beat it by knowing what it is you’re giving up that makes you resentful. I tell people: Find your rhythm."

Knowing, beyond a doubt, what customers want requires a zealous commitment to metrics. And no one commits better than Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Here’s what a “culture of metrics” has allowed Bezos to do as a leader.

Do you rely on your “golden gut” when making decisions? Or do you believe that other people in your organization have expertise or opinions that can help make your decisions better? Greg Burrill, owner and founder of home-builders WGB Homes, is in the second camp.

Peter Diamandis, who runs the X Prize Foundation, believes we’re on the cusp of a “world of abundance.” As he sees it, “abundance” is about creating a life of possibility. And he views the biggest, most foreboding topics­—water scarcity, climate change, population explosion—in terms of that possibility.

When Jeffrey Hayzlett took over as Kodak’s chief marketing officer, he didn’t know much about the founding father of the company, George Eastman. What he learned gradually, by raiding the archives and reading everything that Eastman had written, was that Eastman had been a change agent.

Smithfield Foods, a pork-packing plant, experienced the Great Recession like everyone else. “I thought the hole we were digging was so deep we should go into the swimming pool business,” says CEO Larry Pope. Here’s how Pope turned things around.

Gain a competitive advantage by keeping things simple. That’s the lesson of Mohawk Industries CEO Jeff Lorberbaum, who starts with plain speaking, without buzzwords or complicated jargon.

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