Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

Category Archives: Enduring

Tips for New Graduates about Leading and Living

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Image: iStock With this cap and gown season upon us, here are some thoughts for new graduates as they transition from school to work or other pursuits. 1. Avoid making choices for the wrong reasons. You are probably under a lot of pressure, both self-imposed and externally thrust upon you. As you look at various work opportunities, even in this challenging job market, consider not only external motivations such as income and status but also internal motivations such as meaning, values, and fulfillment. You will spend lots of time at work, so work hard to find a good fit for you (not for others). 2. There will be a day of reckoning for the choices you make. With time, a job often leads to a series of promotions, or other   …Continue Reading


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


Three Responsibilities of Great Leadership

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Great leadership has many responsibilities: Safeguarding your colleagues Serving your stakeholders Making tough decisions Planning for succession And much more However, certain responsibilities are critically important and do not get the time and attention they deserve. Here are three. 1) Commit to the triple crown quest of building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization. The primary message of Triple Crown Leadership is this: make building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization the overarching priority of your organization. Excellent means achieving exceptional results that have significant, positive impacts on stakeholders: customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, and communities. Ethical means acting with integrity, even when it’s costly or hard, always paying attention to how the results are achieved. Enduring means standing the test of time and operating sustainability when it comes to people and   …Continue Reading


The Scourge of Short-Termism

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 “The future whispers while the present shouts.” Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President One of the great scourges of our age is “short-termism.” A staggering 78 percent of the managers surveyed in a large-scale study of CFOs and CEOs admit to sacrificing long-term value to achieve smoother earnings. In July 2011, former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) chair Sheila Bair wrote: “The common thread running through all the causes of our economic tumult is a pervasive and persistent insistence on favoring the short term over the long term, impulse over patience.”  Our 2012 blog, “Suicide By Quarter—Leading for the Short-Term,” indicated the investor base in corporations is not homogeneous. We have day traders who live by daily stock fluctuations, but there is a growing body of investors—notably including “impact investors”—who want excellent,   …Continue Reading


Top 10 Triple Crown Leadership Blogs

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 Our book, Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, just turned one year old! In celebration of this happy event, we are sending out a special edition newsletter featuring our top ten blogs over the past year.      TOP 10 LEADERSHIP BLOGS: 1: The Glorification of BusyWe’re all busy. There’s nothing wrong with hard work. Here’s the problem: glorifying busy. Busy is the new sexy. The viral Internet meme—“stop the glorification of busy”—has hit a nerve with people far and wide lately. …Continue Reading 2: Are Leaders Born or Made?Many people believe that leaders are born, not made. We disagree. We believe leadership skills can be learned through experience, dialogue, role modeling, feedback, coaching, mentoring, and more.  …Continue Reading 3: 10 Leadership Myths and Half-TruthsMany leaders operate from half-truths or outright misconceptions about leadership, often   …Continue Reading


Synthesis: A Critical Leadership Skill

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”-Leonardo Da Vinci Leaders today are swamped with information 24/7. The complexity can be overwhelming. Yet leaders are supposed to rally colleagues with insightful analyses of problems and plans for how to succeed. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. spoke about the importance of getting to the “simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Such simplicity accelerates speed and drives change. How can leaders today get to that simplicity? This challenge is one of synthesis. Synthesis creatively fuses multiple elements, often from different areas, into something new and memorable. Synthesis is not a summary. Synthesis takes A + B + C, and then derives D, where D encompasses the essence of A, B, and C but also adds something new that resonates deeply with people. O.J Simpson’s attorney,   …Continue Reading


What to Do If You Work For a Jerk

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  So your boss is a jerk.  What to do? Of course, how to approach it depends on the severity of the situation, but here are some tips: 1. Go Lean. You may have to make a change, so you need money in the bank. That’s not tapping into your 401k or IRA. You need six to twelve months of basic living expenses in a liquid account. Cut down on discretionary expenses (lunches and dinners out, subscriptions, etc.) and delay new purchases (new tablet, TV, etc.). There are few things worse than having to stay in a toxic situation because you can’t afford to leave. (Note that many people use this as an excuse to avoid dealing with tough issues, even though they could make it work.) By going lean,   …Continue Reading


Is Your Organization Headed for a Breakdown?

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Is your organization or team headed for a breakdown? Organizations emit warning signs before breaking down, but the financial signals, such as revenue declines, shrinking margins, and deteriorating working capital ratios, are lagging indicators. Leading indicators are much more important because you can address them before the financials go south. Using our triple-crown framework, here are 20 indicators of organizational breakdowns: Focusing too much on strategy shifts instead of accountability for results Creeping complacency Cutting ethical corners when the pressure is on  Not building ethics into day-to-day processes and decisions Falling prey to short-termism Neglecting integrity, cultural fit, and emotional intelligence in talent selection and promotions Failing to invest adequately in developing leaders with character Not seeking input from everybody in the organization regarding purpose, values, vision Failing to inculcate   …Continue Reading


Tilts: Short- vs. Long-Term?

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Some people wonder whether triple crown leadership requires giving equal priority to “excellent,” “ethical,” and “enduring” considerations.   Many ask, “Don’t we have to sometimes tilt toward the short-term results just to survive, thereby, sacrificing the long-term?” Others may wonder, “In my business everyone is cutting ethical corners. How do we survive?” Of course, sometimes temporary “tilts” are required between the “three Es.” Sometimes short-term considerations must take precedence in order to save the organization. Heavy criticism may follow, but it will be moot if the organization goes out of business. At other times, the reverse is needed: leaders must be willing to dampen expectations for short-term results to make the critical, long-term investments needed. In each case, it is essential to be transparent, explaining to all stakeholders the rationale   …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


Sorry, Tiger, Winning Does Not Take Care of Everything

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The latest online ad from Nike shows a photo of Tiger Woods with the text, “Winning takes care of everything.” The phrase has long been used by Woods, and he recently regained his #1 ranking in golf after suffering through headlines in 2010 about his extramarital affairs.  Woods’ behavior and infidelity were appalling, but our focus here is not on whether his current win streak redeems him. Some will forgive and forget; others will not.  Our point is that the message of “winning takes care of everything” is both wrong and dangerous. It fits in a long strain of similar quotations, including one of the most common sports sayings: “Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing.”  Nike dropped biker Lance Armstrong from its sponsorship lineup after the doping scandal.   …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


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


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


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


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


A Vision of Great Leadership

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Interview with Ursula Burns Chairman and CEO, Xerox Leaders Speak Series  Ursula M. Burns is chairman and CEO of Xerox. With sales approaching $23 billion, Xerox (NYSE: XRX) is the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management.  Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern and then worked her way up to the top. Alongside then-CEO Anne Mulcahy, Burns worked to restructure Xerox through its turnaround.  Burns became CEO in 2009. Today, she leads the 140,000 people of Xerox who serve clients in more than 160 countries. Burns is also a board director of the American Express Corporation and provides leadership counsel to the National Academy Foundation, MIT, and the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Burns vice chair of the President’s Export   …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


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


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


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


Interview with Dr. Andres Alonso

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“Turning Around a School System” Interview with Dr. Andres Alonso CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools Leaders Speak Series We interviewed Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, about his approach to leadership and the unique challenges of running a complex and large school system with multiple challenges and constituencies. During his tenure, Baltimore City students have reached their highest outcomes in state exams, across all categories of students, and City Schools posted its best-ever dropout and graduation rates. Previously, Dr. Alonso was Deputy Chancellor and Chief of Staff for Teaching and Learning at the New York City Department of Education. Before that, he taught emotionally disturbed special education adolescents and English language learners in Newark. Here are excerpts of our interview with Dr. Alonso. What was the context   …Continue Reading


Interview with Dr. Dan Sweeney

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“Breakdowns and Trans-Generational Culture” Interview with Dr. Dan Sweeney, Director, Institute for Enterprise Ethics, University of Denver Leaders Speak Series   Why do so many organizations break down? In recent years, some major corporations have had breakdowns and made significant mis-steps (e.g., BP, Johnson & Johnson, and Toyota). We interviewed Dr. Dan Sweeney, Director of the Institute for Enterprise Ethics at the University of Denver, to get his insights into what happened. This is the first in a new series—the Leaders Speak Series—in which we interview leaders about pressing topics. BP made some bold pronouncements about sustainability and corporate responsibility but then ran into major problems with the infamous Gulf oil spill in 2010. What happened? Dr. Sweeney: There is often a wide divide between what is said in the   …Continue Reading


The Legacy of Jim Burke

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(Note: Bob and Gregg Vanourek co-authored this blog with By Dr. Dan Sweeney, Director of the Institute for Enterprise Ethics at the University of Denver) Few corporate executives have provided as powerful a role model as James E. Burke, former CEO and Chairman of Johnson & Johnson. He worked at J&J for 40 years and died on September 28, 2012 at the age of 87. We will miss his presence, showing us the way, and encouraging us to be better than we thought we could be. Jim Burke’s leadership produced an extraordinary company. During Burke’s tenure as CEO and Chairman, J&J’s revenue and market capitalization tripled, and its profits quintupled. His crisis management during the famous Tylenol recall, and his performance as a genuine steward of the J&J “Credo” demonstrated his   …Continue Reading