The Courageous Few

Courage is leadership’s essential ingredient, and we clearly suffer from a leadership deficit these days. So we celebrate this year’s courageous few: the 10 rare leaders who did the right thing.

10. William Donaldson
      Former chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission

This Republican repeatedly sided with the SEC’s two Democrats in 3-2 votes in favor of tougher rules on business and increased investor protection. Donaldson hung tough through blistering attacks from business and his own party, doing what was right — not what was politically expedient.


9. Judith Miller
    Reporter, The New York Times

Miller was jailed for refusing to betray a confidential source for a story she never wrote on the outing of a CIA agent. She remained uncowed. “If journalists cannot be trusted to guarantee confidentiality,” she told federal judge Thomas Hogan, “there cannot be a free press.”

8. U.S. Air Force Col. Eileen Collins
    Mission commander, Discovery

In the first launch since the shuttle Columbia disintegrated two years ago, the stakes couldn’t be higher. As Collins leads the Discovery team into the firmament, the future of human space exploration may hang in the balance.

7. Laura Zubulake
    Former sales director, UBS Warburg

Zubulake was a top-ranked executive for Europe’s largest bank, but she was passed over for a plum promotion and her new boss steered the best accounts to male colleagues. When she complained, she was fired. But she wasn’t finished. She sued UBS for sex discrimination, and after a three-year trial, she was awarded $29 million in damages — one of the largest discrimination awards ever to a single plaintiff.


6. Nicholas Ciarelli
    Editor and publisher of the Web site Think Secret

Ciarelli’s posts of insider news about Apple prompted the notoriously secretive computer maker to file a lawsuit accusing him of misappropriating trade secrets. Claiming First Amendment protection, Ciarelli, a student at Harvard University, continues to scoop Apple’s zealously guarded product rollouts despite Apple’s ham-fisted attempt at intimidation.

5. David Duffield
    Founder and former CEO, PeopleSoft

When PeopleSoft lost its bitter battle against Oracle’s hostile takeover, Duffield offered $10,000 of his own money to each pink-slipped employee making less than $150,000. His decision to help out jobless workers stands in stark contrast to the many chiefs who grab the golden parachute and merely wave good-bye.

4. Hannah Jones
    Vice president of corporate responsibility, Nike

Last April, Jones released a warts-and-all report chronicling not just problems in Nike’s manufacturing operations — evidence of child labor and sexual harassment — but the regions where they occurred. The report made Nike’s supply chain transparent. That’s a first. Now it’s up to the rest of the industry to follow.


3. Michael Capellas
    President and CEO, MCI

Capellas faced the aftershocks of an $11 billion accounting fraud when he took the helm at MCI, formerly known as WorldCom. He hired MCI’s first ethics officer, launched an anonymous hotline for employees to report code-of-conduct violations, and led MCI out of bankruptcy. An outfit once synonymous with scandal just might become an exemplar of corporate virtue.

2. Ed Zander
    Chairman and CEO, Motorola

In just 18 quick months, this maverick moved decisively to spin off Motorola’s faltering semiconductor unit and bet the tech giant’s future on innovative design. He rushed the sleek Razr phone into production, which helped make 2004 Moto’s best year ever. Better yet: Zander dared to make the stodgy, engineering-driven enterprise cool again.

1. Peter Rost
    Vice president of marketing, Pfizer

Rost boldly broke ranks with his employer when he publicly called for legislation allowing for the import of lower-priced medicines from Canada and elsewhere — a practice the drug industry bitterly opposes. Pfizer’s response was to shoot itself in the brain as well as the foot, by isolating Rost from his direct reports and issuing a tepid bit of PR spin: “Dr. Rost has no qualifications to speak on importation.”