Douglas Conant was hired as CEO of Campbell Soup Company when the company was struggling to meet stakeholder expectations. Within a few short years, he led the company to deliver superior financial performance, world-class employee engagement, and become a recognized leader in corporate social responsibility.

Conant credits a significant part of that success to an epiphany he had early in his career about being his authentic self at work. In the following excerpt from his forthcoming book, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights (Wiley, March 2020), Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup and founder of ConantLeadership, shares his take on why CEOs can’t become world-class leaders without being anchored in the fundamentals of their craft—the craft of leading people.

Grant Achatz is one of the most innovative chefs working today. A trip to his renowned restaurant, Alinea in Chicago, is half experimental theater, half fine-dining experience; it’s white tablecloth refinement and childlike wonder in equal measure. One of Achatz’s most dazzling signature dishes is an edible helium balloon, which elicits oohs and aahs from charmed patrons as it floats above them.

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