Profiles in Leadership

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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.

Nike once found itself in a defensive position, scrutinized for social injustices. By 2011, though, it had completely turned things around, receiving top recognition for sustainability reporting. Stewarding the company through its global sustainability strategies is ­Hannah Jones.

It’s important to evaluate what sort of business relationships you’re in, so you know how to invest in each person, says LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. If you help others and make introductions because it’s the right thing to do, you’ll “expand your universe of possibilities.”
Despite the challenges of a global recession, massive recalls and a devastating disaster that all but halted production, Akio Toyoda has “re-­energized” the company, say ex­­perts familiar with Toyota. Here’s how Akio is turning things around.
Jim McNerney didn’t win the competition to succeed Jack Welch at General Electric in 2001, but he has proven a star as CEO at Boeing. McNerney wants Boeing to lead in pushing regulators to curb the industry’s environmental impact.
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