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Archive: CEOs

What makes a 'Best Workplace'? (Hint: It has to do with women)

Perhaps the secret sauce of a truly inclusive workplace isn't overly complex. Best companies find ways to "join up" with employees' lifestyle realities, rather than just tolerating them. What's more, they know that what can be especially positive for underrepresented groups tends to be good for everyone.

By Selena Rezvani | January 21, 2011; 04:54 PM ET | Comments (1)

The U.S. auto revivers: Alan Mulally and Ed Whitacre

The two of them deserve enormous credit for restoring America's automobile industry, just when it appeared that American-owned auto companies were a thing of the past. They are doing it "the old-fashioned way": not with short-term moves and...

By Bill George | December 22, 2010; 04:24 PM ET | Comments (7)

Four ways to evaluate such a big decision

There is one area in which leaders cannot reverse: integrity. You can change policy, but you cannot compromise principle. As straightforward as this seems, all too often we have seen...

By John Baldoni | November 22, 2010; 07:47 PM ET | Comments (3)

'Rapid' turnarounds can be years in the making

The fundamentals of our economy and the talent of our people are strong, but it is our debt and entitlement programs that stall our recovery and long-term profitability as a nation. As with GM, rapid turnaround can come, but it will take hard choices and the courage to reset programs like social security and Medicare...

By Robert Goodwin | November 19, 2010; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

How to save a company from demise

If culture is, as Terry Deal states, "the way we do things around here;" then corporate leadership must question the underlying assumptions that drive the behaviors of those within the company. Many assumptions are unconscious and have a dramatic effect on operations; surfacing them is critical to a company's ability to change. An integrated approach to leadership means...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | November 17, 2010; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (1)

The 'mechanics' of leadership

Remember when Rick Wagoner flew by private jet to DC to ask for a bailout? GM's executives ignored the seemingly obvious cost-cutting measure of reducing executive pay--something Toyota enacted without government instruction. A sense of "just" compensation--legitimate or not--prevents both union leaders and executives from making the obvious decision to cut costs...

By Coro Fellows | November 16, 2010; 12:34 AM ET | Comments (1)

Too big to U-turn

A company is asking for trouble when it becomes so big, when its profits are so great, that it believes it can do no wrong. GM's woes are the woes of a company that stopped scanning the landscape to see how the industry could be changing, a company that stuck to the same old formula for success and neglected true innovation, a company that forgot that what worked yesterday won't necessarily work today...

By Yash Gupta | November 15, 2010; 03:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

Laud the White House, not Woodward Ave

A mess as big as GM's could not have been fixed this quickly without the U.S bankruptcy code that allowed GM to wipe out its debt and the millions of dollars infused into the restructured company by the Obama Administration. This took guts and calm at a time when there was no good economic news and vigorous political opposition...

By Kathryn Kolbert | November 15, 2010; 01:18 PM ET | Comments (5)

Fighting gender fatigue

At a time when companies are looking for any unturned stone to improve their financials, it seems like idiocy not to leverage women. Study after study documents that companies with more gender-balanced leadership teams see better financial results. And yet even in this economy, we find ourselves at a standstill. If the inclusion argument was not enough of a reason to increase women's proportion, I thought surely the business case would get CEOs' attention.

By Selena Rezvani | October 29, 2010; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (24)

Smart leaders compromise

It is so disheartening to see compromise being dragged through the mud of what purports to be political discourse. Politicians desperate for cash and voters roundly criticize compromise as somehow being a tool of deceit and an indication of lack of spine. When in reality, compromise is not only a sign of intelligence; it is a sign of...

By John Baldoni | October 26, 2010; 09:53 AM ET | Comments (2)

Go against the grain

As much as we admire leaders for exerting leadership against the odds, there are times when a leader who goes against the grain is doomed to failure. We see this happening often with CEOs. They are so eager to put their stamp on the organization (which is good) that they do not give the organization time to digest new directives (which is not good). So here are...

By John Baldoni | October 12, 2010; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mark Zuckerberg needs to own it (and "it" is not what you think)

would feel pretty bad if I were Mark Zuckerberg. But then, if I were Mark Zuckerberg, I would look at my life, my business, and my net worth, and I would probably shrug it off (and maybe drop $100 million on the Newark Public Schools). But should he shrug it off, especially as the leader of a company which thrives off networks that purport...

By Paul Schmitz | October 8, 2010; 06:26 PM ET | Comments (2)

Zuckerberg's on his way

Facebook's popularity has often spoken for itself. But as Facebook grows beyond 500 million global users, readies one of the most hotly anticipated IPOs in recent memory, and finds itself the subject of a controversial new film, that all must change. Zuckerberg's stakeholder community has grown exponentially-and he is about to be more dependent on it than ever before. With investors...

By Robert Goodwin | October 7, 2010; 11:48 AM ET | Comments (1)

Game is good, but sometimes you can win without it

More generally, chief executive officers do not face the same "outside game" requirements as, say, political leaders. CEOs sell a product, while politicians are the product. Campaigning is inherently linked to a candidate's image because voters...

By Coro Fellows | October 7, 2010; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (1)

Matching 'outside game' to 'inside self'

Our culture still tends to equate extroversion with leadership and introversion with followership. The former is perceived as active (good), and the latter as passive (bad). Much too frequently, a quiet demeanor and reflective deliberation are not seen as leadership behaviors; while verbal, outgoing, decisive action is. I find it irresponsible to attempt to coerce someone who is being authentic into an acceptable, conventional role or societal stereotype of...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | October 6, 2010; 02:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Zuckerberg's expensive lesson

Who wants to take on such an undertaking when there are not enough hours in the day to manage a company, build a market and deliver on the organization's promise to customers, employees and shareholders? (One can almost hear executives of different stripes and spots asking themselves this under their breath.) But this is not the relevant question. The key question is: which leader can afford not to develop a good outside game? And at this moment in history, the answer is...

By Nancy Koehn | October 6, 2010; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

First, investors look at the purse

t would be nice if the leaders of every corporation, large or small, could be described as Engaging, Believable, Inclusive, Transparent, Decent and Articulate. But that's not what the acronym "EBITDA" stands for. Rather it means "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization," a rough measure...

By Paul R. Portney | October 4, 2010; 10:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

He'll figure it out

Would having a better outside image be a positive for Mark Zuckerberg? Of course. Good PR is always better than bad PR. On the other hand Mark has, at a very young age, figured out how to...

By Marshall Goldsmith | October 4, 2010; 02:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

It's refreshing that Zuckerberg focuses on 'inside game'

It is true that the CEO represents the corporate brand, so attention must be paid to appearances and image as the "marketer in chief." But this must be balanced with "inside game," working diligently for shareholders and stakeholders to whom...

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | October 4, 2010; 01:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

Power: Face it, you need it

Leaders are preoccupied with power because power is an essential component of leadership. So noted the late John Gardner, founder of Common Cause and cabinet secretary in the Lyndon Johnson administration. Getting things done--particularly through and with others--requires influence skills. And, in order to lead both organizational change and effective execution, you need to cultivate the leadership capacity to get your way.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | September 23, 2010; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Leaders beget leaders

Call it "distributed leadership" or another term of academic jargon, it's the critical attribute that has real leaders empowering their subordinates and colleagues to make critical decisions for the organization.

By Ken Adelman | September 22, 2010; 04:22 PM ET | Comments (1)

What successful decentralized leadership looks like

Leadership does not belong solely to people with titles or even big reputations. Leaders come in all persuasions and personalities. A denominator common to leaders is a willingness...

By John Baldoni | September 21, 2010; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

Get ahead of the crowd

We still need strong leaders, but we need to them to be responsive to change as well as willing to delegate control in order...

By John Baldoni | September 14, 2010; 11:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

Tactical flexibility, Reagan-style

Ronald Reagan set the leadership model here - no, not on "prostitution and casual sex," but on remaining firm on strategic goals yet loose on interim measures. Reagan's strategic goals were clear and remarkably consistent. His final address as president in January 1989 featured...

By Ken Adelman | September 7, 2010; 01:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

Craigslist changed policy, not principles

Craiglists's policies put a premium on free expression. That is fine, but when it has been shown that some users of Craigslist have abused that privilege and using it to purvey and procure sex services, management is within its rights to change the policy. It can put limits on free expression...

By John Baldoni | September 7, 2010; 12:17 PM ET | Comments (0)

Adopting principles for profit is weak leadership

In today's economy, we all too often see corporations and leaders using principled arguments when they are convenient and when they are profitable. The question of the essence of leadership, in this case, boils down to how transparent and consistent Craig Newmark has been about the issues of...

By Doug Guthrie | September 7, 2010; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Leaders must justify the value of their principles

Leaders need core principles, carefully arrived at, clearly articulated, maintained steadfastly even in the face of challenges. Otherwise, others will simply be confused by their actions and the reasons for them. But anyone who believes that core values are...

By Howard Gardner | September 7, 2010; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Voluntary standards not the same as mandatory law

Leaders have significant freedom of action in determining whether voluntary standards apply in all cases or require some modification.They have far less freedom in responding to the dictates of law.

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | September 7, 2010; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (1)

Confusing leadership and values

I believe that this question confuses 'leadership' and 'values'. Different people can have different values and still demonstrate leadership. If Craig Newmark wants to take a stand and be a leader in the fight for free expression, free markets and an open internet...

By Marshall Goldsmith | September 7, 2010; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

Newmark fighting for free speech, upholding the law

In this instance, Craig Newmark and his colleagues are doing the right thing in trying to stick by their ideals. That's because from everything I've read, the law is quite clear: publishers of advertising content are not responsible for...

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | September 7, 2010; 08:42 AM ET | Comments (3)

Falling back on the same old song

A leader needs a compass to guide the way through the uncertainty that always comes with tough decisions. Malcom X reminds us that "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." But falling back on the same map for every question that comes up is...

By Donald Kettl | September 7, 2010; 08:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Craigslist founder saw the writing on the wall

The art of leadership is knowing when to stick to your guns and when to accommodate other views. Newmark saw the handwriting on the wall. He was not willing to risk sacrificing the franchise on the altar of freedom to advertise the forced sexual exploitation of young women.

By Marty Linsky | September 7, 2010; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Evangelical and elite: Four approaches to power

We found four kinds of evangelicals in the corner offices of major U.S. institutions--the pragmatic, the heroic, the circumspect, and the brazen.

By D. Michael Lindsay | August 30, 2010; 01:04 PM ET | Comments (28)

Hurd shouldn't get a golden parachute

Companies can attract the leaders they want, and the public will feel a lot more kindly toward the company that does not reward negligent executives with golden parachutes. In the end of the day, it is rebuilding the public's trust and respect in the corporations that will be golden not the parachutes.

By Peter Hart | August 13, 2010; 08:52 AM ET | Comments (1)

No choice but to remove Hurd

As much as they may have wished to retain him it is impossible to see how they could have done so without severely undercutting his ability to lead and the corporation's reputation.

By Slade Gorton | August 10, 2010; 04:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

Undermining the 'HP Way'

The HP values have been undermined and frayed by some of the leaders who followed Bill and Dave. Mark Hurd promised to revitalize the HP Way. His actions, hiding expenses to engage in a questionable relationship that does not pass the smell test, undermine the trust essential for a company's sustainable success.

By Michael Maccoby | August 10, 2010; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (2)

Board acted 'admirably' to remove Mark Hurd

The one thing a board must preserve is the good reputation and trust in a company. A responsible board would never squander the good name of the Company. In the end, the HP board chose the Company's character over the CEO's competence.

By Katherine Tyler Scott | August 10, 2010; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mark Hurd exits speaks for itself

The speed and manner of Hurd's resignation increases the likelihood that working for HP will continue to mean something special. Redeeming that likelihood is the challenge for the next leadership, thousands of supporting employees, and, especially, the Board.

By Howard Gardner | August 9, 2010; 05:16 PM ET | Comments (5)

HP needs a leader who is a role model

Leadership is about being a role model for the entire organization; it's about leading your people with character, compassion, competence, and constancy of purpose. On this score, Hurd has come up empty, even if the abuse was only "modest."

By Yash Gupta | August 9, 2010; 05:05 PM ET | Comments (2)

HP resignation: A breach of trust

Words are cheap. Clever public relations professionals can fashion prose that makes their companies seem not only prosperous and profitable but also as pure as the driven snow. While there may seem little harm in such statements, the problem is that so few of us, either inside or outside the company, believe it

By John Baldoni | August 9, 2010; 03:45 PM ET | Comments (3)

Don't let a few bad apples spoil the bunch

CEO heroes exist all around us. Somehow America has forgotten that our vibrant economy, the mass majority of our jobs, and the products we use every day are a result of strong business leadership.

By Amy M. Wilkinson | July 28, 2010; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (3)

Heroes and villians have always been there

Great leaders, and terrible leaders have been with us throughout our history. Some things never change.

By Marshall Goldsmith | July 28, 2010; 09:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

Neither heroes nor villians

CEOs are human beings who have a very big job, and who, in order to do that job well, need and deserve the support of their leadership team, their board, their family, and a host of other stakeholders. They do not need to be put on a pedestal.

By Erika James | July 27, 2010; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (7)

CEOs get booed when they lose too

Soon, we hope, a handful of CEOs will begin to invest and to hire and we'll have heroes again, however briefly.

By Slade Gorton | July 27, 2010; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Out with the hero label, in with a lunch bucket attitude

Leadership, like character, is what you do when the choices are hard. When things are booming, it can be fun to grow the business, introducing new products and services, hiring new employees, and reaping strong profits. Tough times mean facilities closings, layoffs, and bearish earnings.

By John Baldoni | July 27, 2010; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (2)

Taking a tip from Johnson & Johnson

While many CEOs and corporate boards are evaluated by their quarterly returns they have a deeper responsibility to create and protect enduring value.

By Robert Goodwin | June 18, 2010; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (1)

Transcript: Ford CEO on the 'liberating clarity' of his mission

"The more that you have a servant perspective or a servant attitude then the more inclusion you have, the more respect for other people's ideas you'll seek to understand before you seek to be understood and the power of people pulling together."

By On Leadership video transcripts | March 17, 2010; 05:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Transcript: Ford CEO on making errors visible

"So I said in my nicest way, 'Is there anything that's not going very well here, when we've lost 14 billion dollars?'"

By On Leadership video transcripts | March 17, 2010; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Transparency Is Overrated

Secrecy and paranoia seem to have served Apple, its customers, and its shareholders well over the years.

By Marty Linsky | June 23, 2009; 01:52 PM ET | Comments (2)

Jobs Acted Properly

In the case of Steve Jobs and his medical problems, greater transparency could have had an extremely negative impact. Why make a somber medical announcement and risk upsetting the apple cart?

By Yash Gupta | June 23, 2009; 01:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Stick in the Eye

Steve Job's handling of his personal health issues are a stick in the eye of trust and make him look like he is the head of a private Valley start-up, not a major public corporation.

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | June 23, 2009; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (0)

Nothing to Learn Here, Move Along

If you are not Steve Jobs, and you attempt to act like you think Steve Jobs acts, you will not get Steve Jobs' results.

By Alan M. Webber | June 23, 2009; 09:29 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Productive Narcissist

Who would want to follow a leader who is often insulting to his subordinates? Some people would and do, because Jobs creates great products that change people's lives.

By Michael Maccoby | June 23, 2009; 09:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

Putting the "I" in "iPhone"

Isn't it ironic that one of the early mavens of transparency, with his lap tops, iPhone and iPod, has been himself one of the least transparent leaders, especially about his own medical problems?

By Warren Bennis | June 23, 2009; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (2)

Revolving Around the Sun

CEOs have a right to privacy, of course, but when a CEO's identity is so closely intertwined with that of the company he or she leads, the "disclosure threshold" is different.

By Paul R. Portney | June 23, 2009; 09:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Time for Answers

No exception should be made that undermines the health of the company that Steve Jobs has led so brilliantly; stockholders deserve a relatively quick answer on Jobs' health.

By Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.) | June 22, 2009; 03:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Personal Issue

The question is whether one's health is a personal issue or an essential open data point in the corporate world. There is no textbook answer, and we should respect his decision.

By John H. Cochran, MD | June 22, 2009; 03:04 PM ET | Comments (1)

Trust the Art, Not the Artist

Marvel at his products, applaud his feel for design, wonder at his capacity to cast such a large shadow over so many industries. But don't think you'll do better as a leader by acting more like Apple's leader.

By William C. Taylor | June 22, 2009; 02:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

Michael Walsh's Example

The role model of how to handle an illness serious enough to concern the Street is the late Michael Walsh, who had an inoperable brain tumor when CEO of Tenneco in the early 1990s.

By Noel M. Tichy | June 22, 2009; 01:31 PM ET | Comments (1)

A Sense of Exceptionalism?

Steve Jobs and his board had a strategic decision to make about his health, his privacy and his leadership. That is why we create leadership teams and boards: to make the tough calls.

By Andy Stern | June 22, 2009; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (1)

Regrettable But Acceptable

Though regrettable, Steve Jobs' silence about his recent illnesses is not a venal violation of the principles of leadership.

By Howard Gardner | June 22, 2009; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

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