Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

Category Archives: Head and Heart

Interviewing for Emotional Intelligence

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  In our award-winning book, Triple Crown Leadership, we reveal five advanced leadership practices for building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization. The first of these is to recruit, develop, and promote people for both “head and heart.” Head involves the education, knowledge, skills, technical competence, and experience necessary for the work. Heart involves integrity, emotional intelligence, and fit with the desired culture of the organization. Some leaders struggle with how to probe for heart qualities in interviews. In chapter 2 of Triple Crown Leadership, we list some questions that can be used to discover heart qualities in candidates. They are also available here: Interviewing for Heart. Recently, Harvey Deutschendorf, an emotional intelligence expert, author, and speaker, published a good article in Fast Company on “7 Interview Questions for Measuring   …Continue Reading


The Triple Crown Takes Head and Heart

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Teams that win the Triple Crown of Horseracing exhibit more than just technical skill and “head” smarts. They also possess a certain quality of “heart”. Recruiting, developing, and rewarding personnel for head and heart is the first practice of Triple Crown Leadership. Most organizations focus on knowledge, skills, and experience—“head” issues. Triple crown leaders, by contrast, recruit for those plus personal character, emotional intelligence, passion, and “fit” with the organization’s culture—people with both “head” and “heart.” In honor of the possible Triple Crown victory at the Belmont Stakes this year—which would be the first such win in 36 years—we share an encore presentation of some of our prior reflections on the Triple Crown of Horseracing and the parallel value of head and heart in the pursuit of Triple Crown Leadership.   …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


Cross-Sector Leaders need to be Triple Crown Leaders

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This guest blog is written by Paul Thallner, an independent leadership and organizational development consultant. Imagine that you are an incredible and gifted athlete, and you become a fantastic baseball player. Then, because you like a challenge, you decide—after a decade of high performance in baseball—to switch to cycling. Think about it: what would you need in order to be effective as a cyclist when you’ve spent all your time playing baseball? In the world of work, transitions like that are happening all the time, and are becoming more common. A September 2013 Harvard Business Review article, “Triple Strength Leadership,” highlighted the growing trend and need for leaders who can “engage and collaborate across the private, public and social sectors.” Authors Matt Thomas and Nick Lovegrove, point to organizations –   …Continue Reading


Leading with Heart and Head

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 By Cristina Gair “A good heart and a good head are always a formidable combination.” Nelson Mandela — In Remembrance, 1918-2013 Students of leadership should immerse themselves in the study of leaders who embody the values and actions they want to see in the world. In college, I started studying Nelson Mandela as an inspiring leader and teacher, and I have been enamored ever since. Mandela was about love, justice, equality, education, and care for others, your community, and the global community. My heart hurts as my head remembers his lessons for leadership and life. Mandela understood the importance of the integration of heart and head. This alignment of heart and head gave him the insight to lead his country despite 10, 000 days spent in prison. In his words:   …Continue Reading


Four Steps to Mastering a Stressful Day

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Guest Blog by Brandon Lee As leaders, we have stressful days that can undermine our leadership if we let them. I have learned that how I handle the stress is the one thing I can actually control.  Here are four steps I use: 1. Mental Break.  I take a walk or read something that is not related to work.  The point is to remove myself from a stressful situation, because experience tells me that emotional decisions are never good decisions.  Just knowing that I can take a short break and that the world will not implode if I don’t act immediately gives me freedom.   2. Talk to a “Go-To” Person.  I have a small group of people who have agreed to be my “Go-To” people when I need it.  My call to   …Continue Reading


Ethical Decision-Making: Simple Tests

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Photo: iStock   When it comes to ethical challenges, we are all tested at some point. Leaders are tested most when they are under duress. Many leaders are ill-equipped to navigate the ethical minefields awaiting them in the swirl of fast-changing competitive markets and new technologies. Drawing insights from terrific books like Ethics (for the Real World), by Ronald Howard and Clinton Korver, and Courage: The Backbone of Leadership, by Gus Lee with Diane Elliott-Lee, here are some examples of simple tests that leaders can take before making ethical decisions:  Mirror Test. Imagine making the decision and then look at yourself in the mirror. How do you feel? What do you see in your eyes? Does it trigger alarm bells, violate your principles, or summon a guilty conscience? Front Page Test. Imagine   …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


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


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


More Leadership Half-Truths

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  Many leaders operate from half-truths or outright misconceptions about leadership. Here are more examples, adding to our prior post, “10 Leadership Myths and Half-Truths.”      Half-Truth: Leaders Hire the Most Competent People Yes, leaders hire for competencies and skills, but equally important is to hire and promote people with character, emotional intelligence, and cultural fit. We call it head and heart. Lynn Easterling, Senior Director, Worldwide Operations, Legal Services at Cisco, told us, “I can teach the hard skills, but I can’t teach good character or good relational skills.”  Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet said, “I look for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is high energy level. But if you don’t have the first, the other   …Continue Reading


How to Develop Other Leaders

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Great leadership is a group performance, with leaders developing loyal followers and unleashing other leaders. Everyone has the potential to lead well, and everyone will have to lead at some point–in the office, at home, or in their community. In this age of budget cuts, how can leaders develop other leaders?   Leadership is best learned through practice. Here are some ideas: • Rotate meeting leadership periodically among members of your team, with you supporting–and afterwards coaching–the meeting leader. (Must you be in control of every meeting?) • Assign people on your staff to represent your department at inter-departmental meetings, reporting back on activities. Seek feedback from peers at that meeting and then coach your colleague. (Must you be at every inter-departmental meeting?) • Pair people from different areas and   …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


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


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


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 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


Your Ego Is Not Your Amigo

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Why do you want to lead? All too often, the answer has breadcrumbs back to ego. The drivers may be disguised in other terms such as recognition, status, power, money, or competitiveness. But it ultimately comes back to ego. Bob recalls an executive who worked with Washington politicians. The executive described the mentality he observed all too often as, not just wanting to defeat an opponent, but to destroy him, burn the body, and then salt the earth over the ashes so the opponent could never rise again. Frightening. Looking at this, psychologists might find some underlying insecurity or inferiority complex, driving some people to extremes. Often, they resort to cutting ethical corners, believing such actions are necessary to get ahead. The ability of the human mind to rationalize its   …Continue Reading


Lance Armstrong Still Racing from the Truth

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 Lance Armstrong was “gaming the system”–exploiting the rules for personal gain. This is so disappointing because Armstrong was one of the most celebrated athletes in the world, with seven consecutive Tour de France championships. Armstrong is also a celebrity cancer survivor and philanthropist. He established the influential Livestrong Foundation, with its popular yellow bracelets, “changing the way the world fights cancer.” The Foundation has raised over $500 million since inception. Good work, indeed. While allegations of blood doping dogged competitors, Armstrong adamantly denied wrongdoing. He proudly proclaimed he had passed hundreds of drug tests. Then everything changed. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency published a 202-page report, detailing overwhelming evidence that Armstrong was doping and encouraging others to dope. Armstrong denies the report’s allegations, but Bill Strickland, editor-at-large of Bicycling magazine, noted   …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


Whistleblowers–Reframing Their Role

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Whistleblowers play an important role in divulging ethical breaches, but we must reframe their role in order to preserve the ethical imperative in organizations. Unethical behavior is rampant nowadays. We see it across the board. We see it in business (e.g., Walmart bribery scandal, LIBOR scandal, Peregrine scandal, and many more); in universities (Harvard, Penn State, Emory, and more); in nonprofits (Boy Scouts, Three Cups of Tea, United Way, and more); and in sports (even catching Lance Armstrong recently). Many governments have passed whistleblowing statutes but usually through a patchwork of laws that sometimes conflict. Even worse, the whistleblower is often viewed as a traitor in the organization—and sometimes subject to retaliation. What’s more, there is a stigma here. Think about “tattle tales,” for example—a real putdown on the playground.   …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


Leadership from the Whole Stable–Secretariat’s Legacy Renewed

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Secretariat was robbed. In 1973, the thoroughbred known as “Big Red” had won the Triple Crown in spectacular fashion, setting the Kentucky Derby record and demolishing the Belmont Stakes record with a time that is still the world record today, winning by an astonishing thirty-one lengths. But Secretariat’s legacy was marred by a clock malfunction at the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness. Big Red beat Sham in that race, but his time was a full second short of the Preakness record. But something was amiss, and controversy swirled immediately. Two clockers for the Daily Racing Form had separately timed the race much faster–indeed, at a record-setting pace. The Maryland Racing Commission agreed that the automatic timer had probably malfunctioned and lowered the race time by three-fifths of   …Continue Reading


Faces Behind the Gold

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Hats off to the Olympic champions. Competitors like Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas, and Michael Phelps inspire us. They reawaken our dreams. We admire their talent, dedication, and sheer grit. We revel with them in their gold. But let’s look deeper to the faces behind the gold—all the people who made it possible for these champions to stand atop the podium. We tend to focus only on the athlete. It’s hero fixation. In thoroughbred racing, we focus only on the horse (as opposed to the jockey, trainer, owner, and whole racing team). In business, only the CEO. But across all these domains, excellence is a group performance. Excellence is a group performance. The Lightning Bolt. Usain Bolt, the electric and transcendent Jamaican sprinter, is a textbook example of succeeding on talent   …Continue Reading


The End of Leadership?

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Barbara Kellerman and Jim O’Toole, two leadership experts we respect, are ticked off about the failures in leadership we witness virtually every day. (See “Mad About Leadership” in Strategy+Business, June 2012). Think of all the leadership-related scandals recently:   Recent Leadership Hall of Shame Barclays Bear Stearns BP Countrywide Financial Galleon Group GlaxoSmithKline Goldman Sachs Johnson & Johnson Lehman Brothers MF Global Penn State Walmart Yahoo!   It’s a long list—and getting longer with a disturbing frequency. Think also of the problems and mishaps we’ve seen from Wall Street mavens, K Street lobbyists, feckless regulators, subprime companies, credit ratings agencies, and more. Atrocious. Kellerman’s new book, The End of Leadership, takes the “leadership industry” (organizations seeking to grow leaders) to task for failures to develop leaders who avoid these blowups.   …Continue Reading