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Are You Like Carly?

The February 11, 2005 edition of The Wall Street Journal featured an op-ed piece by Rich Kargaard, publisher of Forbes magazine and author of Life 2.0, titled "Carly Fiorina's Seven Deadly Sins." Hewlett-Packard's board ousted Fiorina from her job as CEO after five-and-a-half years of lackluster performance. Kargaard offered his explanation for Carly's firing in the form of a list of seven mistakes she made during her tenure. Number six: "Not tolerating strength in others."

In early January, HP's board told Fiorina she needed to share power and mapped out a plan allocating additional responsiblities to three executives, all of whom would still report to Carly. Like many , Carly sealed her fate by resisting the notion of empowering others. Writes Kargaard, "Gates has Steve Ballmer. Michael Dell has Kevin Rollins. Larry Ellison has Jeff Henley. Carly had no one like that."

Giving away authority is a personal challenge, even at the highest corporate levels. It involves sharing influence, prestige, and praise, and may require confronting your personal insecurities about losing power. But leadership requires the courage to surround yourself with employees who are potentially better at certain jobs than you are. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to have faith in your abilities to train and motivate others. Once you trust yourself, empowering your employees in easy.

Ralph Nader said that "a basic function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." That's why values-based leaders Freely Give Away Their Authority, abandon their concerns about status, and recognize empowering others as its own reward.
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