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Leadership for Difficult Times

In this video, former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy offers up her short list of “must do’s” for leaders in times of difficulty. She ought to know --- Mulcahy got the company back on firm ground after a failed leadership transition. Difficult times “test the caliber and character of leadership,” she says, adding that the organization’s reputation must be protected at all costs, because “it’s easy to lose; tough to restore.”

Her leadership “must do’s” include:

  • transparency
  • consistency of message over time
  • making sure your words and actions are aligned
  • focus on mission and organizational fundamentals
  • resiliency and believing success can be accomplished
  • stepping up to the plate quickly when trouble arises – don’t sweep it under the rug

Knowing she couldn’t turn Xerox around by herself, Mulcahy said she was “ruthless about asking for help.” And she got it. But she might not have been so fortunate had she not built and maintained her credibility from her “must do” list.

Mulcahy’s advice works equally well for cultural nonprofit leaders.


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