Situational Leadership

Leadership at the Winter Games

April 12, 2010

In some ways, David Atkins was under more pressure than anybody at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and he’s not even an athlete. As executive producer of the opening ceremony, Atkins had a tough act to follow: the 2008 Olympic ceremonies in China. Yet he succeeded with a budget 30% less by using less manpower and relying on tech-driven illusion.

Just do it: Why Nike boss kept Tiger

April 12, 2010

If you believe Nike president Charlie Denson, sticking with Tiger Woods as a Nike product endorser has more to do with Woods’ reputation as a golfer than as a philanderer. “A lot of people seem to overlook that very, very important component of the relationship with the athlete,” says Denson. “If we’re going to create the greatest product in the world, it’s the greatest athletes in the world [who] are going to confirm that.”

Bottom-line leadership: Slow and steady–best approach?

March 19, 2010

Jerry Galison struck gold twice—not by great new ideas or luck alone but because of careful setup and follow-through. Galison/Mudpuppy hit the Inc. 500, an index for fast-growing businesses, in 1989 and the Inc. 5000 two decades later.

Waste Management’s undercover CEO

March 12, 2010

Since taking over operations at Waste Management six years ago, President and Chief Operations Officer Larry O’Donnell has kept profits moving up. So why on earth would he agree to take part in a reality TV show that has CEOs spy on their employees? Why risk it?

Meeting the PayPal challenge

March 12, 2010

Entrepreneur Shvat Shaked, who parlayed his training as a former Israeli intelligence soldier into co-founding a cyber security firm, had the chutzpah to accept a dare from PayPal’s president that he and his handful of technicians could do a better job at detecting online fraud than thousands of PayPal engineers. Not much later, PayPal bought Shaked’s firm for $169 million …

Finding talent in nooks & crannies

March 12, 2010

Looking at a list of where the past 25 Americans to win the Nobel Prize in medicine earned their undergraduate degrees, you’d expect to see Harvard, MIT and Stanford. You wouldn’t expect to see Gettysburg College …

Steve Jobs focuses on a few good ideas

March 12, 2010

Apple Inc. is a $30 billion company, yet it offers fewer than 30 major products. The company’s incredible revenue-to-product-line ratio is due largely to one factor: Steve Jobs’ focus. “I’m actually as proud of … the things we haven’t done as the things we have done,” says Jobs.

Customer service when hell freezes over

March 12, 2010

During a lull between monster snowstorms on the East Coast in February, with snowplow operators already in their ninth shift of 12 hours on, 12 hours off, we witnessed a breathtaking performance of how not to lead. It came during a delivery of snow shovels and ice melt to a neighborhood hardware store in Virginia:

Liz Claiborne CEO rides out the storm

December 11, 2009

Managing in a protracted turnaround “has been brutal,” says William L. McComb, CEO of Liz Claiborne. Under his command, the women’s clothier has posted seven consecutive quarterly losses. Yet his board of directors stands by him. He suggests these strategies for working with a board in tough times:

What’s your organization’s outward strategic plan?

December 11, 2009

A strategic communications plan can help your organization quit examining its navel and get out into the world of your customers and fans. Here are a few questions that will help you find the right message and best words for your plan: