Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

Tag Archives: corporate culture

Helping People Soar

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by Bob Vanourek In 1981 I joined Monarch Marking Systems as their president. This subsidiary of Pitney Bowes was the leader in price-marking equipment used by retailers. But scannable bar codes had just come out, so price-marking equipment might become obsolete. I was stoked by this strategic challenge! Monarch had wisely reinvented itself as a bar code printer company and had just introduced a clunky machine the size of a small desk. It was a disaster. The next logical step was to develop a tabletop version, but Monarch’s visionary VP of Research & Development, Bud Klein, suggested we develop the world’s first hand-held bar code printer. The development cycle for such a leapfrog product was three years. Bud proposed we radically empower a cross-functional team of volunteers to launch this   …Continue Reading


Culture Building Workshop

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Culture-Building Workshop By Bob Vanourek  “I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game.” Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM in Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance  Most leaders know the importance of culture but have little first-hand experience with how to develop a healthy, trusting, high-performance culture. Culture evolves over time. It is formed, most simply said, by “how we do things here.” Culture can and should be overtly addressed by the leadership of an organization. The culture of an organization is the legacy of its leadership. This outline of a half-day, culture-building workshop for a senior leadership team will move you well down that important road of building the healthy, trusting, high-performance culture you desire for   …Continue Reading


Why Boards Should Pay Attention to Corporate Culture

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“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” Lou Gerstner, former IBM CEO   Most boards think “culture” is the soft, fuzzy stuff that some CEO’s or HR leaders may pay attention to. These boards are sadly wrong. A high-performing, ethical culture can be a great source of competitive advantage. An organization’s culture is “how we do things here”—how people behave in their relationships. Business is a set of relationships, and healthy relationships are built in trust. Organizations with a toxic culture pay a heavy price in lost revenue, damaged reputation, lawsuits, and more. By contrast, organizations with a high-performance, trust-based culture (e.g., Southwest Airlines, Zappos.com, and Patagonia) enjoy a self-reinforcing, virtuous cycle with their stakeholders. They build trust and employees unleash more of their talents and   …Continue Reading


CEO Tip: Trust Your Board As Your Ally

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  Some CEO’s and boards have close, trusting partnerships that serve them and their firms extremely well. They are, in my experience, the minority. Most CEO’s I have met see the board as a group they need to “manage,” a dinner and meeting they need to prepare for, taking preciously valuable time away from running the business, which is the CEO’s real job. To many CEO’s, the board is tolerated, professionally and courteously of course, but a group relatively uninformed about how hard it is to really run the business. The time spent preparing for board meetings is huge. Staff reports prepared; rehearsals of PowerPoint presentations; after-meeting meetings to decipher what the board now wants and what to do to get ready for the next session. What’s the solution? A   …Continue Reading


Put Trust on Your Daily Docket  

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Let’s assume that as a CEO or board leader you want your firm to be viewed as trustworthy by its stakeholders. You realize a more trusting set of relationships between people will be useful, perhaps even a breakthrough to improved performance. Great. But this is a field where you don’t have expertise. You have been bred in the battles of line and staff assignments where results had to be achieved, new ideas implemented, and problems resolved fast. Building organizational trust is a strange, new endeavor. What can you do? Give them some books to read? Hire a consultant to conduct some workshops? Tell everyone you’ll put “trustworthiness” into the performance appraisals? That will get their attention, but it may not help much. Fortunately, unlike ethics, or values, trust is a   …Continue Reading


Blame Boards For Excessive CEO Pay and Perks

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Compensation levels for CEO’s and C-suite execs took off like a rocket starting in the 1980’s. It was caused by the dual whammy of Milton Friedman’s “maximize shareholder value” maxim and the advent of the “leveraged buyout” focus from private equity firms. I should know because I participated in those phenomena as a CEO. The stock options I was granted during those years far exceeded the norms of option grants in prior decades as boards tried to “align” management’s financial interests with those of shareholders. There is nothing inherently wrong in private equity, stock options, in divesting unproductive assets, or delayering bloated companies. Those undertakings are a healthy part of marketplace adjustments, as long as they are done ethically and respectfully. But the C-suite financial gains that boards approved to,   …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


Culture as a Competitive Advantage

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“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM How can your organization gain a sustainable competitive advantage? Technological breakthrough? Killer patents? Brilliant strategy? Protected regulatory position? We suggest another, perhaps even more powerful, way: create a high-performance culture of character Create a culture intent on building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization, much like the mythical Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table enjoyed. Technologies become obsolete; patents expire; regulations will change. A High-Performance Culture of Character We think of organizational culture as “how we do things here”—how people behave. Culture forms over time and drives what happens when the authorities are not present. It sets the tone for the organization, and the norms for what is acceptable behavior from people in   …Continue Reading


Leadership, Pushes, and Poetry

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“Come to the edge,” he said. 
 “We are afraid,” they said. 
 “Come to the edge,” he said. 
 They came to the edge, 
 He pushed them and they flew. 
 ― Guilliame Apollinaire, French poet How much should a leader push colleagues when they are afraid? Apollinaire’s lines above signal that a leader sometimes has to push people off the edge for them to discover they can fly. While a romantic notion, we take a different view. Certainly, leadership is often about moving out of a comfort zone. Management is good at driving efficiency in your existing place, even when people should be running for the hills. Leadership is about inspiring people to move to a whole new and better place, even if they are reluctant to   …Continue Reading


Your Most Dangerous Employees

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iStock Photo   There are four types of employees in your organization: leaders followers objectors mutterers Which are the most dangerous? It’s not the leaders. Every organization needs a variety of leaders, even though they make mistakes. And every organization needs loyal, dedicated followers. Even the objectors are valuable. They raise concerns openly about a course of action, constructively challenging the direction, or wondering if this action fits with the shared values of the organization. The most dangerous employee is the mutterer, the one who remains silent during discussions, expressing no viewpoints, but then afterwards snidely remarking to colleagues, “Can you believe what they are doing now? What a crock. Here we go again.” This old story about mutterers has insight for us as leaders. Some might argue the toxic   …Continue Reading


Is Your Organization Out of Alignment? 2 Checklists

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Are you working more but enjoying it less? Stressed out? Overloaded? Does it feel like things are slipping out of control? These conditions are becoming “the new normal” for leaders today; they also indicate that your organization is out of alignment: People are working at cross-purposes Turf wars break out between departments Everyone is criticizing or blaming everyone else People seem resigned to the chaos Many check out mentally How can you tell if your organization is out of alignment? Here are two checklists with the key indicators. Answer Yes or No to the questions on the checklist that best describes the circumstances of your organization. Checklist 1: Organizations in a Downward Spiral Your profitability is lagging your peers and prior years. Your revenue growth is lagging your peers and   …Continue Reading


The Three Most Important Things Leaders Can Say to Their Teams

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Disengaged employees are a growing problem for many organizations today. People lack commitment, can be cynical mutterers, and even saboteurs of company initiatives. How can you as a team or organizational leader motivate better performance, even breakthroughs? The answer has many components, from creating a high-performance culture of character with clear goals and empowered followers to many other leadership approaches. We believe there are some things you should say (if you sincerely believe them) to your team members that will go a long way to increasing their confidence and performance. Here are the three most important things you can say: “I believe in you.” Sometimes even good team members lack confidence, or don’t know where they stand. They may question their own judgment, or doubt they have the requisite experience,   …Continue Reading


The Ten T’s of Trustworthy Leadership

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Guest Blog by Barbara Kimmel #1 Trustworthy leadership – A culture of trust cannot exist with an untrustworthy leader. Trustworthy behavior must start at the top and flow down through every person in an organization. Trust should not be confused with compliance. Being “legal” is not synonymous with being trustworthy. #2 Transformation – Productivity and exceptional execution begin when the CEO and leadership team synthesize a set of values and goals that are shared, accepted, and adopted by all stakeholders. #3 Tools – There are many trust tools leaders can use to build trust with their stakeholders, running the gamut from metrics and assessments to online surveys. #4 Treatment – The Golden Rule says to “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Leaders who extend trust to stakeholders are   …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


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