How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Frances Hesselbein's life in leadership

November 9, 2011: 12:18 PM ET

When Frances Hesselbein was CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, she believed that "only the best is good enough for those who serve girls." Her philosophy drove a turnaround of that struggling organization and led to friendships with CEOs like Alan Mulally of Ford (F) and management master Peter Drucker.

Hesselbein met Drucker at New York's University Club in 1981--an encounter that turned out to be life-changing. After leading the Scouts for 13 years, she headed Drucker's Leader to Leader Institute, wrote books to spread his word, and traveled tirelessly to strengthen social sectors around the globe.

Hesselbein sat down with me in her Manhattan office to share her best leadership tips and anecdotes from a long life well lived. (She's 96!) You can read her advice here. By the way, she's still energetically promoting ethical leadership. Hesselbein recently visited students at West Point with Mulally. "There is just one reason that we are placed on this Earth. That reason is to love and be loved -- in that order," she told the students. Says Mulally: "To be with Frances, to talk about leadership, and continuously improve our contribution and our service is just very inspiring to me."

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