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Your Leadership Legacy

What will your legacy be? In the age of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and tablets–of endless emails and ceaseless connecting–how rare it is to stop and think about that question. How rare it is to stick to the long game and not get caught up in short-termism. How rare it is to look to the far horizon, instead of the incessant barrage of immediate distractions and concerns. We all hunger for meaning and significance in our lives, but we leave them out of our daily diet. After a while, we starve for them. The quest for legacy can be found in

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Suicide by Quarter–Leading for the Short-Term

Have you ever: Told one of your line managers to “do whatever it takes to make your numbers this quarter”? Pulled sales from next quarter to make this quarter’s numbers? Cut into critical R&D funds to hit Wall Street forecasts? Asked the CFO to lower the reserves for future expenses to help earnings this quarter? Taken an excessive restructuring charge, knowing that you could siphon some of the excess charges from balance sheet accounts into future earnings when you really need them? If so, you are committing suicide by quarter.   Unsustainable and Untenable These all-too-frequent actions are unsustainable. They

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In Memoriam: Stephen R. Covey

One of the great icons of our time, Stephen R. Covey, passed away this week. This giant of an intellect with the soul of a child cannot be replaced. His insights into the nature of people, his wisdom, his writing, his speaking, his work and service, his example, his integrity, and his just-plain common sense helped millions of people around the globe become better people and better leaders. It’s an astonishing legacy. Covey’s call for “principle-centered leadership” was prescient for what our world so sorely needs today. We are confident that his family, colleagues, and others will carry on the

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The End of Leadership?

Barbara Kellerman and Jim O’Toole, two leadership experts we respect, are ticked off about the failures in leadership we witness virtually every day. (See “Mad About Leadership” in Strategy+Business, June 2012). Think of all the leadership-related scandals recently: Recent Leadership Hall of Shame Barclays Bear Stearns BP Countrywide Financial Galleon Group GlaxoSmithKline Goldman Sachs Johnson & Johnson Lehman Brothers MF Global Penn State Walmart Yahoo! It’s a long list—and getting longer with a disturbing frequency. Think also of the problems and mishaps we’ve seen from Wall Street mavens, K Street lobbyists, feckless regulators, subprime companies, credit ratings agencies, and more.

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Choose Your Friends and Colleagues Wisely

Rajat Gupta’s storybook life has taken a dark turn. An orphan from Kolkata, India, Gupta moved to the U.S. to attend Harvard Business School on a scholarship. He ascended to the top (Managing Director) of McKinsey, one of the world’s most prestigious consulting companies, and advised the world’s elite. After retiring, he joined the boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, and American Airlines’ parent company. Soon he may be in prison. A jury found him guilty of conspiracy and securities fraud for leaking insider information—boardroom secrets—to his new friend and colleague, Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire hedge fund manager (now

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How Great Leaders Maintain Exceptional Focus

One of the cruel ironies of our time is that with such incredible access to information, many leaders are drowning in data and bogging down in complexity. They drink through a fire hose of reports, analytics, blogs, and tweets. Mobile devices blessedly update and painfully distract. At some point, the choices become debilitating, especially with the clamor for near-instant responses to just about everything. For leaders, it is one of the mega-challenges of our time. This challenge is also a great opportunity. For those up to the task, it can be a powerful source of competitive advantage, one that comes

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Leadership and the Quest for Excellence

Getting results is one of the preeminent tasks of leadership. “The world is not interested in the storms you encountered,” says Norman Augustine, “but in whether or not you brought the ship in safely.” Perhaps he took his cue from Winston Churchill. When asked about the Allies’ aim in World War II, he replied: “I can answer in one word. It is victory.”   Exemplars of Excellence Exemplars can be found in different domains. We associate excellence in brand management with Procter & Gamble. Among hospitals the standard of excellence is set at places like Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts General, and

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A Call for Better Leadership

Is it just us, or are we bombarded by negative news? Scandals. Failures of leadership. Fed up with bad leadership? We are. Concerned about the state of the world? Us too. But we remain optimistic nature nonetheless. We have an abundance mentality, not a scarcity worldview. (Check out Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, a good read.) We believe we don’t have to re-slice the same-sized pie. With the right leadership, we can make the pie bigger and better for everyone.   A New Leadership Approach But it will take a new

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