Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

Monthly Archives: January 2013

Transforming a University

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Interview with Dan Ritchie Former Chancellor, University of Denver Leaders Speak Series  Dan Ritchie was the Chancellor of the University of Denver (known locally as DU) from 1989 through mid-2005, a particularly challenging time. Prior to that post, Ritchie was an executive at MCA-Universal and then CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting before taking up ranching in Colorado. Ritchie is currently the Chairman and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Chairman Emeritus of DU. In the 1980s, DU was in crisis, borrowing money to make payroll with over $60 million in deferred maintenance on buildings. Ritchie enlisted cable television pioneer Bill Daniels, a leading proponent of values-based leadership, for financial support. Daniels donated $11 million as a challenge grant, asking the business school to incorporate business ethics into its core   …Continue Reading


Leaders Own Up

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What do Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o have in common?  They didn’t own up; they tried to cover up.  In case you missed it, Manti Te’o is the All-American, star linebacker on Notre Dame’s football team, who was in the running this past year for the Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious award. Over an extended period, Te’o spoke of many heart-warming and heart-wrenching things in his life, including the death of his grandmother and a relationship he had with a girlfriend who was in a car accident, then suffered from leukemia and ultimately died, inspiring Te’o to more tackles on the field.  Problem was, the “girlfriend” didn’t exist.  Notre Dame carries the story that Te’o was the victim of a cruel hoax,   …Continue Reading


10 Leadership Myths and Half-Truths

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Many leaders operate from half-truths or outright misconceptions about leadership, often leading to major mistakes. Here are examples. LEADERSHIP MYTHS Myth 1: Leaders Are Born, Not Made Many people believe that leaders are born, not made. We disagree. Some people may have more natural intelligence, be more outgoing, have innate speaking skills, or whatever, and these may be helpful in leadership. But leadership skills can be learned, not in the old lecture-take-notes model, but through experience, dialogue, role modeling, feedback, coaching, mentoring, and more. Leadership is learned, not an innate trait of the gifted few.  Myth 2: Leaders Tell Others What to Do Many workers, especially younger ones today, don’t want to be told what to do. Give them a goal and a context in which to achieve it (like some shared   …Continue Reading


Leadership Myth: Leaders are in Control

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Managers use their skills in stable environments. Leaders use their talents in the murky unknown, acknowledging control is an illusion, and having confidence in the team that, together, they will find a way through the chaos. Leaders courageously venture with colleagues into the unknown.  


Leadership Myth: Leaders Take Care of All Their People

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Some people want too much without putting in honest effort. They need to be challenged to step up. Some people just don’t fit an organization’s culture, or are toxic to others. They must become casualties. For those who remain, leaders, indeed, sacrifice themselves for them. Leaders serve those on the same quest.  


Leadership Myth: Leaders Are Rare

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Leaders are all around in families, schools, small businesses, nonprofits, fire stations, and town councils. Great leadership is indeed rare, but it is because many people disempower themselves, play the victim, or wait for some superhero to come to their rescue. Like the tramps in Beckett’s play, Godot never comes. It’s up to us, each of us, here and now, to follow at times, and to lead at opportune moments. Leaders are everywhere.  


Leadership Myth: Leaders Meet People’s Expectations

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It would be nice to think leaders can always satisfy their constituents, but that is Hollywood. Leaders face reality, and not all stakeholders or followers are going to be happy all the time. Tradeoffs must be made; sometimes you sacrifice the long-term to stay alive; sometimes you tell investors to be patient while some long-term investments are made. Leaders adjust expectations to what truly can be achieved.  


Leadership Half-Truth: Leadership is Lonely

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In a crisis, when an unpopular decision needs to be made, leadership can be lonely. Advice is taken, input solicited, but an unpopular decision can be lonely. Most of the time, however, good leaders are deeply connected with their constituents, honoring and respecting each other, constructively arguing, and forging an actionable consensus that many people execute. Leaders are deeply connected with people.  


Leadership Half-Truth: Leaders Protect Their Power

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Indeed, there are times of political turmoil when leaders must protect their power. Leadership is a contact sport, not for their faint of heart, nor those with a thin skin. But most of the time, leaders empower others, sharing their power with other leaders. Leaders often give away their power.    


Leadership Half-Truth: Leaders Have Authority

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Many leaders, indeed, have authority or position power. But leadership can be exercised by anyone in an organization, even those without authority. Gandhi had no position authority, nor did Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, or even Martin Luther King, Jr. In their careers, Bob and Gregg have seen great leadership from many colleagues. Anyone can lead.  


Leadership Myth: Leaders Tell Others What to Do

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Many workers, especially younger ones today, don’t want to be told what to do. Give them a goal and a context in which to achieve it (like some shared values to guide their behavior), and turn them loose. Respect their autonomy; check in now and then; remove roadblocks; and coach them on some difficulties. But don’t tell them what to do. Leaders elicit the greatness in others.    


Leadership Half-Truth: Leaders Have Followers

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Yes, leaders have followers, but a more important dimension of great leadership is to unleash the leadership in others. In today’s complex world, no single leader can do it all, or has all the answers, even with loyal and committed followers. Leaders enlist followers and unleash other leaders.  


Leadership Myth: Leaders Are Born, Not Made

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Many people believe that leaders are born, not made. We disagree. Some people may have more natural intelligence, be more outgoing, have innate speaking skills, or whatever, and these may be helpful in leadership. But leadership skills can be learned, not in the old lecture-take-notes model, but through experience, dialogue, role modeling, feedback, coaching, mentoring, and more. Leadership is learned, not an innate trait of the gifted few.  


A Tireless Focus on Excellence

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Interview with Steven Rothstein President, Perkins School for the Blind Leaders Speak Series  Founded in 1829, Perkins School for the Blind operates in more than sixty countries with revenue of over $50 million. It offers free audio, Braille and large print books, and hundreds of newspapers by phone. The operations are complex, including a school, early intervention program, library, teacher training initiatives, publishing house, manufacturing division, technology division, and special services for the elderly. Marty Linsky, who teaches leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, described Perkins and its President, Steven Rothstein, to us: “Rothstein took an organization that had barely left the 19th century and turned it into the signature organization in the world in services to the blind. He is in my managerial hall of fame. He has completely   …Continue Reading