By and About Leaders: 1/27/15

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I think that one of the best ways to learn leadership isn’t studying “leadership” at all. Instead, study individual leaders in their natural habitat and decide what they do that you want to try. Articles by and about leaders and interviews with them are mini-case studies that show you an actual leader in a real situation.

That’s why, every week, I bring you a selection of post about individual leaders. This week I’m pointing you to pieces by and about Melvin J. Gordon, Mary Barra, Lindsey Vonn, Marc Benioff, and Mitch Rothschild.

From Stephanie Strom: Melvin J. Gordon, Who Ran Tootsie Roll Industries, Dies at 95

“Mr. Gordon expanded the product line, buying brands like Charleston Chew and Junior Mints, and running the company with an iron grip.”

From Mary Barra: The First 90 Days in a New Job

“I’ve been fortunate to spend my entire career with one company, General Motors, which has never failed to challenge me or offer opportunities for growth. And yet, within GM, I’ve held more than a dozen different positions in everything from engineering and manufacturing to communications and human resources. The take away, for me, is that whether you spend your career working for one company or 20, you need to hone your ability to start strong in each new position you hold. Here are five things I focus on whenever I start a new assignment.”

From Caroline McMillan Portillo: When skiing phenom Lindsey Vonn won her 63rd World Cup race Monday, she broke a 35-year record — and upped her business game

“When Lindsey Vonn won her 63 rd World Cup race on Monday, she shattered a 35-year record and became the winningest female World Cup skier in the history of the sport. She also boosted her business game. Here are three ways 30-year-old Vonn has parlayed her success on the slopes into the world of business:”

From Adam Lashinsky: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on where big tech is headed

“In two interviews conducted in January—first at a dinner hosted by Fortune during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and then a few days later at his San Francisco home—Benioff opened up about a variety of topics, including how data science will affect everyone’s business, where his ideas come from, why security should be companies’ top priority (above even customer-service software), and how he is working with Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella. Edited excerpts:”

From Adam Bryant: Mitch Rothschild of Vitals: Pushing Beyond Comfort Zones

“I’m Jewish, and a lot of my friends’ parents were Holocaust survivors, and I would hear their stories about their incredible resourcefulness to survive. That had a big impact on me, and made me think a lot about resilience and training myself to be able to flex that muscle.”

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