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The Power of One

Amazing what impact a single individual can make on a company with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees. In this month’s issue, FC highlights a great story about Starbucks and how Chairman Howard Schultz continues to redefine their business. His impact on the company (and for most of us in the java-drinking world, our lives) is huge!

Amazing what impact a single individual can make on a company with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees. In this month’s issue, FC highlights a great story about Starbucks and how Chairman Howard Schultz continues to redefine their business. His impact on the company (and for most of us in the java-drinking world, our lives) is huge!

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Much of the same can be said for others that were the “Power of One” such as Jack Welch (GE), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Ted Turner (Turner Broadcasting), Roberto Goizueta (Coca-Cola) and Ray Kroc (McDonalds). They were all leaders that changed the world in the way we know and live in it.

Beyond that “Power of One” commonality, how they made their enormous contributions is through outstanding decisions. What decision styles are they?

In my recent book, The 5 Paths to Persuasion, we chronicled several of these executives and sorted them out by the process each uses to make tough decisions. Here is a quick summary of the 5 decision styles:

  • Charismatics gravitate towards big ideas and rely on others for the details.
  • Thinkers focus on the methods used to arrive at decisions, and rely heavily on data to weigh the pro and con of every option.
  • Skeptics trust only a select few individuals and any decision must fit into their view of the world.
  • Followers rely heavily on their own background and experience to avert risk.
  • Controllers take control of every detail in the process and only make decisions when outside influences force them.

You can find successful examples of the “Power of One” in every decision style. Examples of each, in order from above, are Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Bob Nardelli (The Home Depot) and George Steinbrenner (NY Yankees). You may not like them, but you do have to respect their results.

To demonstrate the “Power of One” in my consulting engagements, I often ask the executive team if Arthur Andersen would still be around today had they announced that Lee Iacocca [or, insert your favorite executive here] was stepping in to run them once their problems came out publicly? The answer is always YES. (And some even pony up their own CEO as a possible savior!)

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The Power of One. Who is your favorite Executive in today’s business world? What decision style are they? Why would you want to work for them?