Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

Category Archives: Values

Set No More Than Six Personal Values

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Set No More Than Six Personal Values   Photo credit: iStock     “Values tell you what to do when you don’t know what to do.”   -Tom McCoy, executive vice president and general counsel for CH2M HILL     Your personal values are essential. They set your moral compass. They guide your behavior when you are under the stresses of life. Most people have not clearly articulated their personal values, and we strongly encourage you to do so.   Recently, someone contacted us with questions about developing her personal values. She had difficulty selecting three to six values, as we recommend, and further wondered if it is advisable to have separate personal values versus work values.   Yes, most people have more than three to six values that are   …Continue Reading


The Ethical Challenges Faced by Leaders

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  Image credit: Public Domain  “Divorced from ethics, leadership is reduced to management and politics to mere technique.” -James MacGregor Burns We all face ethical challenges and dilemmas, and all the more so if we lead. Think how you would act in the following scenarios: You give the cashier a $10 bill, and she gives you change for a $20. You realize it in the parking lot. Do you trudge back and give her the money? You incur some personal charges on a business trip. Do you fudge some expenses to help cover these costs? Do you overestimate your charitable contributions on your tax form to minimize your reported profit and taxes. Your boss asks you to cover for him with some false excuse while he is absent from work   …Continue Reading


Rationalizations that Derail Leadership

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“The softest pillow is a clear conscience.” Narayana Murthy, Co-founder and former CEO, Infosys   Our ability to rationalize our behavior is astonishing. And dangerous. Basically, we all have a good sense of what’s right or wrong, but we have an inherent ability to talk ourselves into believing that something that’s wrong is really okay. We’re all good at this self-deception, especially when under pressure. Leadership is a moral activity. When done well, it raises people up and brings out their best. Successful ends do not justify unethical means. The journey and the destination must both be based on moral principles if we are to enlist people to follow us willingly from their hearts. Of course we can’t change human nature, and some people are of weak character, easily seduced   …Continue Reading


The Role of Values for Leaders & Organizations

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 Our colleague in leadership,  Harvey Kaufman, edited down one of his longer pieces on alignment so that we might share some of his wisdom and insight here.   A few years ago, I attended a Corporate Social Responsibility conference.  As you might expect (although I didn’t) a major focus of the conference was how to market social responsibility efforts to attract business.  The case for simply “doing good” as a reflection of an organization’s core values was absent from our discussions.  This made me think about the role of values in organizations and why it is important for companies to practice their values in day-to-day interactions with employees and customers.   While there were companies who employed them effectively earlier, core values emerged as an organizational mainstay in the 1970s.  They followed the social   …Continue Reading


Learning to Trust Your Judgment

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iStock Photo  “…with good judgment, little else matters; without good judgment, nothing else matters.” Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis, leadership authors Leadership requires judgment. A leader judges what’s right or wrong, what’s ethical or not. A leader judges when to flex between the hard edge of leadership (steel) and the soft edge (velvet). A leader judges how a subordinate is performing, whether to give someone a second chance, whether a candidate has character and will fit with the organization’s culture. A leader judges how high to set goals. Leaders judge. How do we know when to trust our own judgment? Some might feel they are not smart enough, or creative enough, to judge. Some say we have to judge after analyzing all the facts. Some say we have to rely on   …Continue Reading


Your Leadership Mindset

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  iStock Photo   What is your leadership mindset? What are your self-conceptions and beliefs that drive your behavior as a leader? In many cases, these are unknown because they operate beneath the level of our conscious awareness. Yet they are crucially important because they affect the way we approach people, situations, opportunities, and risks. In short, our mindset is an essential factor in the quality of our leadership, yet we often operate in the dark about how and why. Enter Carol Dweck and her path-breaking research on mindsets. Dweck is a professor at Stanford University who studies motivation, personality, and development. According to Dweck, her “work bridges developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, and examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior.”   …Continue Reading


Is Your Organization Falling Short on Values?

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Image: iStock Photo Recently, we heard about a law firm whose partners, after operating for a while, decided to draft a list of the firm’s values. As part of that process, the partners discussed their own personal values: their core beliefs and principles, and what they valued most. During that exercise, it soon became clear that “family” was at or near the top of the list for every single partner. Unfortunately, as with many other law firms, their enterprise involved long hours, lots of travel, stress, pressure, weekend work, emergency calls, being constantly on-call, and all the usual trappings of high-powered people in the midst of their years of productivity and success. The price of that success, for all the partners, was an incredible amount of time away from their   …Continue Reading


“Take This Job and Shove It”? Not So Fast

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Some of you are stuck in a toxic firm or with a terrible boss. But before you say, “Take this job and shove it” (to quote the old song), let’s run through a pre-flight checklist before flying the coop. #1 Live Lean. If you don’t have your dream job in your dream company, you should have six to twelve months of cash in the bank to cover your living expenses. (Your retirement funds should be off limits.) If you don’t have that cash available, you have to “live lean” until you do. If that means postponing that beach trip or driving your beat-up old car a few more years, so be it. There are few things worse than  not being able to leave a bad job because you can’t afford   …Continue Reading


The Three Most Important Questions About Your Leadership

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Here are three critical questions to ask yourself before you undertake the responsibility of leading other people: What is the difference between “the leader” and “leadership”? Why do you want to lead? Whom do you serve? Let’s discuss each one. What is the difference between “the leader” and “leadership”? “The leader” is the historical leadership model that has led us astray so often. It focuses on the skills, attributes, and qualities of the “the leader.” It tells us what each of us must do to become a leader: be more decisive, have a vision, know the answers, demonstrate charisma, and more. There is much value here, but it causes trouble when it locks in the assumption there can only be one leader. Of course, having multiple leaders on the same   …Continue Reading


Unleash Your Latent Leader

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Too many people disempower themselves with comments like “If only they would …“ Or “I’m only a (fill in the blank with ‘engineer,’ or ‘salesman,’ or ‘clerk’).” Too many people self-select out of leadership. (See our blog on “The Biggest Barrier to Leadership.”) What if Alice Paul (who fought for women’s rights), or Rosa Parks, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi said the same? Or countless others who had no positional authority but decided to lead anyway? “Leadership is your choice, not your title.” -Stephen R. Covey Those waiting for someone else to lead are missing a wonderful opportunity. Great leadership is a group performance which ebbs and flows among many leaders even within the hierarchy of an organization. To quote John Michael Montgomery’s song,   …Continue Reading


High Performance Begins with Shared Values

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“When aligned around shared values and united in a common mission, ordinary people accomplish extraordinary results.”  –Ken Blanchard, leadership author   Managers today have a daunting job. With their downsized staff, often depending on people over whom they have no authority, they are expected to produce better results than last year, all on a reduced budget. How do high-performance organizations achieve their extraordinary results? Of course, many elements come into play (from alignment and execution to innovation and business models), but a critical element is that such organizations function as dynamic teams, with many leaders operating as stewards throughout the organization (and loyal followers as well). The leadership in these organizations ebbs and flows within the hierarchy that exists, with the boss sometimes calling the shots, but more often letting others lead,   …Continue Reading


Moral Leadership: Not Just For The Pulpit

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Guest Blog by Dr. Daniel Sweeney Most responsible students of leadership recognize the importance of organizational leadership, strategic leadership, project leadership, and other types of leadership in business organizations. But moral leadership in the workplace? That seems a bit ethereal. I would suggest moral leadership is at the core of all leadership. Moral leadership is about the stuff that is not written down anywhere. It might even not be talked about openly among the executives of the organization. Moral leadership is not about policy; it’s not about compliance; it’s not about mission statements or values statements–but it impacts all these. Moral leadership is important when people have to deal with situations no one ever expected to arise. Moral leadership is “doing the right thing” in public based on one’s personal   …Continue Reading


Classroom Chaos? Try Shared Values

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 Image Source: http://romeoandjulietdebate.wikispaces.com Especially at the start of a new school year, classrooms can be chaotic with students testing the limits of a teacher’s authority and not wanting to be constrained again after summer’s freedom. Some highly effective teachers have borrowed a page from the playbook of high-performance teams in other kinds of organizations by eliciting the shared values of their students. These shared values become the behavioral norms of the class and enlist positive peer pressure to supplement the teacher’s authority. This “peer reinforcement” is important because traditional authority loses its effectiveness when enforced too often. Shared values are the principles and beliefs that class members deem to be most important. They will guide the class’s behavior, even when the teacher is not there. They are not rules or   …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


Love as a Leadership Imperative, or What’s Love Got to Do With It?

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Guest Blog by Chief Karl Bauer We study, teach and write about how to become better leaders.  We espouse collaborative visioning, champion the empowerment of subordinates and challenge each other to harness collective wisdom when setting organizational goals.  We call upon leaders to provide clear direction, cultivate a climate of support and work tirelessly to create opportunity for others.  Whether in academia or on the assembly line, it seems the aforementioned principles weave their way into every leadership dialogue, as well they should. So, what’s love got to do with it? We tend to avoid talking about love as a leadership principle, let alone as an imperative.  The concept of love may arise in the context of deeply enjoying one’s chosen profession or organization, but we tend to not talk   …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


The Missing Links in Goal-Setting (How to Rock Your Goals)

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Much has been written about the power of setting goals. Unfortunately, almost all of the advice about effective goal-setting falls short on a few key factors. More on that soon. First, some clarifications. Goals are what you hope to achieve. According to a popular mnemonic, goals should be “SMART”: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. We also recommend using “stretch goals” or “big, hairy, audacious goals” (BHAGs, to employ a term from authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in a Harvard Business Review article) Most of the above is by now fairly well known (though often botched in practice). Here is what is missing: 1)   linking goals to a higher purpose and vision 2)   setting goals for each major stakeholder 3)   then prioritizing them As we wrote in Triple Crown   …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


Ethical Pitfalls—You Will Be Tested

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Photo: iStock   No matter where you work or live, when it comes to ethics one thing is clear: you will be tested. Ethical pitfalls are all around us. Often you stumble upon them suddenly. Your ethics are tested most when you are under duress (with stress, pressure, or fear). Here is a partial list of what you’re up against: If you work in the world of business… Are you under pressure to withhold damaging information? Lowballing estimates in order to increase the chances of getting an order? “Cooking the books” to deceive analysts or investors? Paying bribes in markets where that is common or expected, reasoning that you must “pay to play”? Pulling sales from the next quarter to meet your targets for this one? Posing as a customer   …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


Big Questions for New Graduates

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  New Graduates, Congratulations on your big achievement. The exams are now over, the assignments all in. As you celebrate and revel in the memories of achievements, experiences, and friendships, we advise that you also pause to reflect on some important questions. Many of you have made a big decision about what comes next—often in the form of a job or further schooling that signals a career direction. So here’s the question: Why? Why did you choose that? Where will it take you? How does it fit with your values and aspirations for who you will be and what you will do with your life? Does it fill you with a sense of purpose? Does it provide you with opportunities to learn and serve? Will you get to work with   …Continue Reading