Strategic Leadership

If you call them, will they come?

June 14, 2010
Robert Bruner, dean of the University of Virginia’s business school, offers these answers on what it takes for leaders to draw followers: moral authority, a credible plan—and the loudest megaphone.

How good leaders face up to adversity

June 14, 2010

After years of studying growth companies, author Keith McFarland noticed that the best ones experienced “a period of pronounced difficulty.” How companies respond to adversity may determine winners and losers, he decided. Superior leaders don’t focus solely on getting through tough times. Instead, they ask fundamental questions, listen and face facts.

Offer them emotional guidance

May 17, 2010
The day after friends, colleagues and family members died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, Mark Loehr asked his people to come to the office. Not to work, but to share their thoughts and feelings about what had happened and what they should do about it. In a crisis, people look to leaders for emotional guidance.

Speakers to grads: Go forth and fail

May 14, 2010

’Tis the season for commencement addresses. Last year brought a batch of good ones, often on how failure can lead to success. Example: J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, told Harvard grads that seven years after her own graduation, she had “failed on an epic scale … You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

Amazon asks the right questions

May 14, 2010

The success of Amazon points to the importance of building a business with the capability to transform itself. Shorter business life cycles are one reason organizations must focus on transformation. The challenge for leaders, says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is not to know all the answers, but to ask the right questions.

Turnaround tactics involve everyone

May 14, 2010

DaVita was a company on the verge of bankruptcy when CEO Kent Thiry took charge. In 10 years’ time, he led a great turnaround that took the business from a market capitalization of $200 million to more than $6 billion today. A few tactics Thiry used to turn around the organization:

How indecision killed the troops

May 14, 2010

All along, Gen. Ambrose Burnside had supported an unorthodox plan: Dig a long tunnel, load it with dynamite and blow a hole in the Confederate lines defending Petersburg, Va., a vital rail hub. But a last-minute change from above threw Burnside into a funk, and he made a leadership error that cost the Union a speedy end to the Civil War and relieved Burnside of his command.

Ed Asner’s rookie leader mistake

April 12, 2010
When actor Ed Asner was swept into office as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) on the promise of helping merge with two sister unions, he made a rookie leader’s mistake that opponents of the merger used to scuttle the alliance. He failed to realize that when he spoke in public, he was presumed to be speaking as president of the guild, not for himself.

10 quotes to recharge your batteries

April 12, 2010

Everybody knows that leaders are optimists. Here are nine quotations and a little story for when your glass drops to the halfway mark. For starters: “The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious of the rose.” — Kahlil Gibran

Tips from India’s CEOs

April 12, 2010

Western CEOs could learn a thing or two from their Indian counterparts, say the authors of new research on the difference between Indian and Western bosses. Among the most salient lessons: Lead with a sense of social purpose; invest in employees; act as a role model.