Leadership Archives - Kathy Varol


The creative power of an alter ego

There’s a certain alchemy that happens behind the bar. As a bartender, I found myself donning an alter ego . Usually content to listen and observe in social settings, as a bartender the bar became my stage, dispensing not just drinks but conversation and camaraderie. This role gave me permission …

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Leadership in crisis

Leaders are accountable just like anyone else. They don’t just snap their fingers to make things happen however they see fit. They are beholden to their board. They are beholden to their shareholders. There are rules that they must follow, no matter the situation, even in a time of crisis. …

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Let’s discuss empathy and authenticity

I was reading a business book last week. One chapter covered 5 different leadership styles. The author mentioned that each of us will feel more natural with certain leadership styles and less natural with others, but ultimately it’s important to learn each style. This enables a leader to be more …

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The best way to crush psychological safety

“We’re cutting 60% of the workforce in one month.” That message was delivered to a friend during a company town hall meeting. Each person sitting there suddenly knew it was more likely that they wouldn’t have a job in the near future. Fast forward 1 month. “Arrive at 8:00 am …

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How to execute a business turnaround

I joined adidas in May 2013. In retrospect, it was the worst time to join the company. Growth for the brand had plateaued. We were balancing on a cliff, and about to take a nose dive. The corporate atmosphere went from comfortable complacency to active discomfort. As sales plummeted so …

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Business failure or leadership failure?

If a company cannot provide its employees a living wage, then it’s a clear market indicator that company should not be in business. I do mean living wage. Not minimum wage or the lowest wage someone will accept, but a living wage which is defined as the minimum income necessary …

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When strategy and execution eat breakfast together

Creating a successful business strategy (including a successful ESG strategy) requires articulating an inspiring vision, a discerning identification of priorities, a relentless focus once priorities are identified, and systems thinking in setting ambitious targets. This work requires the ability to seamlessly shift focus between the forest (vision) and the trees …

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Let’s talk about executive pay

It’s easy to blindly follow the way things have been done without stopping to consider if it’s the best way to do things. If the standard approach is in line with our values, or the way we want the world to operate. Let’s take a minute to consider executive pay …

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The leadership lesson from “Schweddy Balls”

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” This is the credo of my guest Doug Conant, whose focus on people, workplace trust, and purposeful leadership steered Nabisco, Campbell’s, and Avon through trying times. He is also the author of two bestselling books, and founder of …

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The power of “no”

“No” is a powerful word that isn’t used enough. It can take so much courage to use it because it’s an invitation for someone to see you more clearly. To see how you’re different from them. To understand what you like and don’t like. To see your boundaries and get …

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