Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

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The Triple Crown of Leadership

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  The sports world is abuzz with excitement. We may have our first Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed captured what has been called “the most elusive championship” in all of sports. California Chrome is poised to accomplish this incredible feat on June 7 if he can win at Belmont Park. This unlikely horse, bred in California for only $10,000 with a 77-year-old trainer, has won his last six races. Since 1875, only eleven thoroughbreds have won the Triple Crown, including such iconic names as War Admiral, Whirlaway, Citation, Seattle Slew, and of course, perhaps the best of them all, Secretariat. Pictured above, Secretariat won the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, in 1973 by a world-record 31 lengths in a time that has yet to   …Continue Reading


What’s Different About Leading Startups?

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Interview with Stephen Von Rump Co-Founder and CEO, Giraff Technologies Leaders Speak Series  Stephen Von Rump is Co-Founder and CEO of Giraff Technologies AB. Giraff brings people together in the care of those living at home (e.g., the elderly). Giraff allows you to virtually enter a home from your computer via the Internet and conduct a natural visit by moving a robotic device with a video screen. You can move freely about the home simply by moving your mouse, and interact with the people there via videoconferencing. Those in the home don’t have to do anything. Von Rump has extensive consulting experience in startup and turnaround organizations, and has also held various R&D assignments at MCI and AT&T Bell Laboratories. He has served as the CEO of Be Here Corporation, Metreos   …Continue Reading


The Job of a Lifetime: Leading an Incredible Transformation

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Interview with Nancy Tuor Former Group President CH2M Hill Leaders Speak Series  CH2M HILL, founded in 1946, is a global provider of consulting, design, construction, and operations services for corporations and governments. Headquartered near Denver, the employee-owned company has revenue of over $6 billion and employs over 30,000 people worldwide. CH2M Hill manages large, complex projects around the world such as reconstruction efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, relocation of American military bases in Korea, expansion of the Panama Canal, and projects for the London Olympics. In 2013, the firm was named by Fortune as one of the “100 Best Companies To Work For” for the sixth time and was named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by Ethisphere Institute for the fifth time. In 2005, leaders from CH2M Hill successfully closed the Rocky Flats   …Continue Reading


Value and Values

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Interview with Chip Baird Founder and Managing Director, North Castle Partners Leaders Speak Series North Castle Partners is a leading private equity firm headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, committed to creating extraordinary value for its companies, employees, investors, and communities.  Charles (Chip) Baird, Jr., North Castle’s Managing Director, founded the firm in 1997. From 1989 to 1997, Baird served as a Managing Director of AEA Investors LLC. From 1978 to 1989, Baird was Executive Vice President at Bain & Company, an international consulting firm. From 1975 to 1977, he worked at The First Boston Corporation. Chip received an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Here are excerpts of our interview with Chip Baird for Triple Crown Leadership: What is North Castle Partners’ approach to private equity? Baird: North   …Continue Reading


The Legacy of Leadership

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What will your leadership legacy be?  Some will argue that the only real leadership legacy is the results you achieve.  But are results all that matter? Too many leaders today get caught up in the game and pursue results at all costs, or look the other way when results are achieved illegally or unethically. How results are achieved matters greatly.  Others may argue that the leader’s vision is what counts most. Yes, vision is critical, but vision without execution is futile.  What about strategy? Yes, strategy is important too, but in today’s world, how many strategies survive more than just a few years before becoming obsolete?  A strong argument can be made that the legacy of leadership is the leadership team one leaves behind: the quality, character, and competencies of   …Continue Reading


What’s So Hard About Ethics?

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Why are ethical breakdowns in organizations so common? Why do so many good people make bad decisions?  Look at the “wall of shame” of organizations abusing trust recently: AIG, Barclays, Bear Stearns, BP, Countrywide Financial, Galleon Group, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, Johnson & Johnson, Lehman Brothers, MF Global, Standard Chartered, Walmart, and many more.  It’s not just business, by the way. Look at the doping scandal in cycling (and baseball). Look at Penn State University, the Boy Scouts, and the Catholic Church. Look at governments around the world, from India and Italy to China, Russia, and Venezuela. And there is no shortage of scandals in Washington, D.C.  Look back a little and witness the stock options backdating scandal, then a little further to Arthur Anderson, Enron, MCI Worldcom, Global Crossing,   …Continue Reading


Vanguard’s Values-Based Visionary

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Interview with John Bogle Founder and Former Chairman and CEO, The Vanguard Group Leaders Speak Series The Vanguard Group is an investment company with over $2.0 trillion in assets, offering mutual funds and other financial products and services. The investors who place money in the funds own Vanguard. Based on his undergraduate thesis at Princeton, founder and former chairman John (Jack) Bogle is credited with the creation of the first index fund and driving costs down in the mutual fund industry. Mr. Bogle founded Vanguard in 1975 and served as chairman and CEO of Vanguard until 1996, and senior chairman until 2000. He is now President of the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. In 2004, TIME named Mr. Bogle as one of the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people, and Institutional Investor presented him   …Continue Reading


Values-Based Leadership with an Indomitable Will

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 Interview with Tom McCoy Former Executive Vice President, AMD Leaders Speak Series  Founded in 1969, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE: AMD), or AMD, is a Fortune 500, multinational, semiconductor company and the second largest global supplier of microprocessors behind Intel.  Thomas M. McCoy joined AMD in 1995 as general counsel and secretary, later also serving as the Chief Administrative Officer. When we interviewed him, he was the Executive Vice President of legal, corporate, and public affairs, which also included strategy. McCoy is now a partner in the global law firm of O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., where he chairs the Integrated Legal Strategies practice, counseling clients in high-profile and crisis management situations. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics   …Continue Reading


What Makes Mayo Clinic Great

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Interview with Drs. Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman Authors of Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic Leaders Speak Series Mayo Clinic, founded in 1864, is a global leader in health care delivery, research, and education. With its four main hospitals and additional affiliated hospitals and clinics, Mayo serves more than a million patients annually with revenue of over $8 billion. For over twenty years, Mayo hospitals have earned top rankings from U.S. News & World Report. The Clinic has placed on Fortune’s prestigious “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the past nine years.  Drs. Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman wrote Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside One of the World’s Most Admired Service Organizations. Dr. Berry is Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Mays Business School, at Texas A&M University. He   …Continue Reading


The Leader’s Worst Enemy: Ego

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Of all the leadership traps, none is more fatal than ego. When others around you are whispering how wonderful you are, how fortunate the group is to be led by you, then even the strongest of wills can break. Or, if you are so insecure that you must feed your own ego, then your leadership will fail. People will intuitively sense you are in it for yourself, not them.  Greek myth celebrates the Oracle at Delphi, a powerful city-state around 1600 BCE, where entrances to various temples had inscriptions over their entrances, such as “Know thyself” and “Nothing in excess.” Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, celebrated the “golden mean,” the desirable middle between two extremes. Courage, for example, is the virtue between the two extremes of recklessness and cowardice.  So it   …Continue Reading


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


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


Walmart Corruption Rampant

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The New York Times broke another story on December 17 on the corruption at Walmart de Mexico and the unwillingness of senior leaders at their Bentonville HQ to pursue the allegations. Reporters David Barstow and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed dozens of witnesses to corroborate their allegations. Their findings allege that in one cited case (among 19 across Mexico) Walmart executives were not just paying off officials to expedite approvals that would have come anyway but were engaged in falsifying documents, circumventing laws, bribing officials throughout the country, and even excavating land with protected artifacts and treasures, all to get a store open before the holiday rush in 2004. When senior executives at Walmart’s HQ were alerted to the facts, they shut down the investigation   …Continue Reading


Creating a Great Place to Work

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Interview with Mary Ann Tocio President and COO, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Leaders Speak Series Founded in 1986, Bright Horizons Family Solutions is a leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, early education, and work/life solutions. Conducting business in North America, Europe, and India, the privately held company has created employer-sponsored child care and early education programs for more than 850 clients, including more than 130 of the Fortune 500. Bright Horizons has consistently been the only child care organization named to the “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” list by FORTUNE magazine. Here are excerpts of our interview with Mary Ann Tocio, President and COO of Bright Horizons, for Triple Crown Leadership: Tell us about the company’s background and founding. Tocio: Bright Horizons was founded by Roger Brown and   …Continue Reading


Leading a World-Class Institution

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Interview with Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman President, Princeton University  Leaders Speak Series  Founded in 1746, Princeton University is consistently ranked as one of the finest institutions of higher education in the world. An honor-system school, the university’s informal motto is “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” Distinguished alumni, students, and university leaders range from James Madison to Woodrow Wilson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, Jimmy Stewart, Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, Meg Whitman, Ben Bernanke, Michelle Obama, and many others. Princeton is associated with 36 Nobel Laureates, 19 National Medal of Science winners, seven National Humanities Medal winners, and three current Supreme Court Associate Justices (Alito, Kagan, and Sotomayor). Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman, a Canadian-born molecular biologist, is the 19th president of Princeton, the first   …Continue Reading


It Takes Teamwork, Trust, & Values to Win

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Leadership insights from John Krol Former chairman and CEO, DuPont Leaders Speak Series E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, commonly referred to as DuPont, is one of the world’s largest chemical companies. It was founded in 1802, and its stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. John Krol joined DuPont in 1963 as a chemist and rose through the ranks to be its chairman and CEO. He has been active on many corporate and nonprofit boards, including Tyco International (for which we interviewed him for Triple Crown Leadership). In that interview, Krol also shared insights on his leadership challenges at DuPont. Here are excerpts: Krol: Back in the 1980s, the world changed for DuPont because of globalization. We were very slow to move. DuPont was based   …Continue Reading


Turnaround Priority: Establishing Psychological Stability

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For turnarounds to work, leaders must establish psychological stability in the organization. Too many turnaround leaders focus only on financial stability and neglect this critical element.  In the turmoil of a turnaround, many people are demoralized, afraid, or angry. Some feel misled or on the verge of panic. Logo-inscribed ball caps stay in the closet. Some people bail quickly while others are out looking for new jobs.  The turnaround leader must establish not only financial stability but also psychological stability. People need to be unfrozen, empowered to work on critical projects with confidence.  At a successful turnaround Bob led, where the extreme negative cash flow flipped to healthy positive in a few years, he began to establish psychological stability through an all-day senior staff meeting early in the turnaround. Here   …Continue Reading


Why Tyco Threw Out Its Entire Board

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Interview with John Krol and Ed BreenTyco International Leaders Speak Series John Krol was elected to Tyco’s board in 2002 and served as lead director until 2008. He is the former chairman and CEO of DuPont. Edward Breen was chairman and CEO of Tyco from 2002 until September 2012, when the company separated into three public companies. Breen is currently non-executive chairman of the Tyco board. Prior to joining Tyco, Breen was president and COO of Motorola. Krol and Breen took over the leadership of Tyco International after its former CEO and CFO were jailed. The company, once a Wall Street darling, had fallen into an abyss. We interviewed them about their early leadership moves at Tyco for Triple Crown Leadership: What were the priorities when you arrived at Tyco?   …Continue Reading


Values and Culture Key to Success

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Interview with Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos Leaders Speak Series  Tony Hsieh is CEO of online retailer Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, a #1 New York Times best-seller. You can also find him on Twitter (@Zappos) and working with community leaders in Las Vegas to rejuvenate the city. Here are excerpts of our interview with him for Triple Crown Leadership. How would you describe the organization’s leadership approach? Hsieh: We have a strong belief that in order for employees to want to stay with the company long-term they need to be continually learning and developing both personally and professionally. We have a team here called the “pipeline team.” The vision for them is that almost everyone that we hire will be entry-level. We will   …Continue Reading


Leadership for Bold Social Impact

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Interview with Bill Shore Co-Founder and CEO, Share Our Strength Leaders Speak Series  Share Our Strength began in the basement of a row house on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in 1984, in response to the famine then raging in Ethiopia. Brother and sister Bill Shore and Debbie Shore started the nonprofit organization with the belief that everyone has a strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, and that in these shared strengths lie sustainable solutions. Today, the organization is dedicated to ending childhood hunger in the U.S. by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need every day. Here are edited excerpts of our interview with Bill Shore for Triple Crown Leadership. How would you describe the organization’s leadership approach? Bill Shore: We lead by inspiring   …Continue Reading


How to Make Good Leadership Decisions

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From Lance Armstrong to David Petraeus, how can leaders make so many bone-headed decisions? Leaders need an easy-to-use, bulletproof test for their decision-making. We offer one here. Bob recently attended sessions at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, where Stanford Professor Joseph Grundfest led some fascinating dialogue. We extrapolated the model that follows from that interaction. It is simple, memorable, and powerful: 1. Is it legal?2. Is it ethical?3. Is it smart? Is It Legal? The minimum threshold for all decisions is “Is it legal?” Too many leaders rationalize illegal behavior: • “The chances of getting caught are so small.”• “I’m smart enough to get away with it.”• “Everybody’s doing it.”• “I deserve it.”• “It really isn’t hurting anybody.” Of course, if you are caught, you’ll wonder later how you   …Continue Reading


Adaptable Leadership

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  Interview with Mike Critelli Former CEO and Chairman, Pitney Bowes Leaders Speak Series  Mike Critelli was the CEO of Pitney Bowes (PB) from 1994 until 2007, continuing afterwards as Executive Chairman until 2008. (Check out Mike’s blog: “Open Mike.”) PB, a leading provider of customer communication technologies, was one of the eleven companies identified by Jim Collins as “great” in Good to Great based on its financial performance. PB has also been a perennial award winner in many categories, from one of the top 200 companies for U.S. patents issued every year to a wide array of awards in leadership, technology, diversity, health, environment, and more. Here are excerpts from our interview with him for Triple Crown Leadership, our roadmap for building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization. What were some   …Continue Reading


How to Build a Culture of Character

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  Culture is simply “how we do things here,” a set of beliefs and habits that influence how people behave. Culture forms over time and determines what happens when authorities are not present, setting the tone for the organization and the norms for acceptable behavior. Lou Gerstner, after his spectacular turnaround of IBM, wrote, “…culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.”   Every organization has a culture, explicit or implicit. Explicit is better because it means the leaders understand the importance of culture and are paying attention to it. A healthy culture doesn’t guarantee success, but it provides the foundation for building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization. We call this a culture of character. How can leaders build a culture of character? Here are four   …Continue Reading


Do What’s Right

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Interview with Four-Star General Jack Chain Former Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command Leaders Speak Series The Strategic Air Command (SAC) was responsible for America’s land-based strategic bombers and nuclear, intercontinental ballistic missiles from 1946 to 1992. General Jack Chain was Commander-in-Chief of SAC from 1986 to 1991. Here are excerpts of our interview with him for Triple Crown Leadership, our roadmap for building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization: What was your approach to leadership when you took command of SAC? Chain: The day after I was sworn in I invited all the officers and senior sergeants on the base in for a beer, told them who I was, my background, what I expected from them, and what they could expect from me. Then I went out to all 52 bases in   …Continue Reading


Translating Mission & Values into Results

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Interview with Bill George Harvard Business School Professor and  Former CEO, Medtronic Leaders Speak Series  Bill George was the COO, then CEO and Chairman, of Medtronic from 1989 through 2002, the years when annual revenue increased an average 18% and earnings increased 22%. A host of innovative products were introduced during this time, and the price-to-earnings ratio of Medtronic’s stock went from 11 to 45. But the Medtronic story goes beyond growth and earnings, demonstrating how to build an excellent, ethical, and enduring company. George is the author of Authentic Leadership, True North (co-authored with Peter Sims), Finding Your True North, and Seven Lessons for Leading in a Crisis. He currently teaches at the Harvard Business School. Here are edited excerpts of our interview with him for Triple Crown Leadership. How would you   …Continue Reading


Interview with Bob Hatcher, MidCountry Financial

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  “Building a Values-Based Company” Interview with Bob Hatcher President and CEO, MidCountry Financial Corporation Leaders Speak Series  MidCountry Financial Corporation is a financial services holding company. Over the past ten years, it has acquired several financial companies, some of them troubled, blending them into a new, values-based organization. We interviewed Bob Hatcher, its founder, president, and chairman. Please tell us about MidCountry Financial Corporation. Hatcher: We have about 315,000 customers and 1,200 team-members, operating in 19 states. We’re a group of community banks and finance companies, taking retail deposits and providing retail loans, mortgages, consumer loans, and small-business loans. Total assets are $1.4 billion. One of our operations, Pioneer Services, which provides financial services to the military, has been named twice as a “best place to work” small business. Our banks get rave   …Continue Reading


Interview with Kit Crawford, Clif Bar

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“Sustainable Leadership”Interview with Kit CrawfordCo-Owner and Co-CEO, Clif Bar & CompanyLeaders Speak Series Clif Bar & Company is a privately held, family- and employee- owned company, creating nutritious and organic food for people-on-the-go. It has achieved double-digit annual revenue growth and won a long list of employment, diversity, and sustainability awards, including making Inc.’s list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. and Forbes’ “breakaway brands,” in both cases for multiple years. We interviewed Kit Crawford, Co-Owner and Co-CEO with her husband, Gary Erickson, of Clif Bar & Company, about leadership at the company and its commitment to sustainability. Here are excerpts from our interview with Crawford. How would you describe Clif Bar’s leadership approach? Crawford: Our approach to leadership is about staying true to our values as a company   …Continue Reading


Interview with Daniel Wallach, Greensburg GreenTown

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“Rebuilding Green after a Tornado” Interview with Daniel Wallach Executive Director, Greensburg GreenTown “Leaders Speak Series” A few years ago, a devastating tornado destroyed Greensburg, a small town in Kansas. Remarkably, the town bounced back and created a model for the world for building a “green community.” One national expert called it “the greenest city in America.” For our book, Triple Crown Leadership, we interviewed one of the leaders of the initiative, Daniel Wallach (founder and executive director of Greensburg GreenTown). Here are excerpts of that interview. What led you to your current work at Greensburg GreenTown? Daniel Wallach: A series of severe tornadoes hit this part of Kansas. Greensburg, which is 35 miles south of where I live, was destroyed. Over 90 percent of the town was wiped out,   …Continue Reading


The Values Imperative

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                The power of living and leading in accordance with our values is extraordinary. Values are an essential foundation for our quality of life and leadership. When we take time to discover our core values and have the courage to honor and fight for them, our lives are richer and our contributions deeper. How to do so? Begin by asking probing questions: What are my convictions about what is good and worthy? What do I believe in? What will I fight for in my life and work? Answering these questions helps you clarify your personal values. Without knowing your values, how can you live and lead by them? For an example of the power of values in practice, take integrity, a common personal   …Continue Reading


Culture: The Entrepreneur’s Blind Spot

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Startups are thrilling. It’s hard to beat the excitement of launching an innovative new venture. The excitement is palpable, and it leads to a kind of euphoria in the venture’s culture. But too often that initial euphoria descends into culture deflation, like the air leaking out of a tire. First it slows you down. Eventually it brings you to a stop. The magic disappears. We’ve seen it in startups, and it ain’t pretty. But it is avoidable. Though a strong organizational culture is critical in startups, it is a blind spot for most entrepreneurs. Many founders take culture for granted, letting it emerge and evolve haphazardly. They dive into the day-to-day struggles of venture-building and putting out fires. Meanwhile, they don’t notice as the culture slowly fades into a pale   …Continue Reading