Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

Tag Archives: Culture

52 Trust-Building Ideas

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Want 52 great ideas for how to build trust in your organization? The annual Edelman survey reveals that less than 20% of business and government leaders are trusted to tell the truth, or that they make moral and ethical decisions. See their 2013 data below. Survey Respondents Distrust Our Leaders Such lack of trust is devastating. Trust Across America–Trust Around the World asked their worldwide experts for their ideas on trust building and designed a powerful wall poster: “52 Ideas that You Can Implement to Build Trust” Contributors include such luminaries as Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Doug Conant, Stephen M. R. Covey, Bill George, and many more. (I’m proud to have three ideas listed.) This wall poster sells for $7, but I’ll send a pdf of it   …Continue Reading


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


The Dangers of Toxic Micro-Cultures

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Image credit: Painting by Leah Saulnier www.paintingmaniac.com   Does your organization have some toxic micro-cultures? If so, you ignore them at your peril. Much is written these days about the importance of culture in boosting an organization’s success. Strategy is important, as are talent, business models, innovation, and more. But culture, “how we do things here,” as we like to define it, can be the trump card, because it permeates everything in an organization. Culture is what people do when the boss is not around. Wise leaders craft the culture purposefully and make the desired behaviors explicit and clear. Culture can have a big impact on whether people act ethically, honorably, and responsibly. For example, when direct supervisors were observed to behave unethically: 42% of employees felt pressure to behave   …Continue Reading


Special Leadership Responsibilities of Boards

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  Boards have special leadership responsibilities to ensure their organizations are trustworthy. If their firms are not trustworthy, they will suffer at the hands of regulators, customers, employees, and shareholders. But surely boards are consumed with the important duties of corporate governance, strategy, risk management, compliance, executive compensation, and succession. Can we realistically expect boards to take on something as ethereal as trust? Yes, we must. Boards cannot discharge their fiduciary duties without attention to the trustworthiness of their organization. Decades ago, the vast majority of an organization’s assets were tangible, such as cash, equipment, and buildings. Today, intangible assets, including brand and reputation, often predominate. Boards have a fiduciary obligation to protect these intangibles, which can be tarnished with the pressing of a cell phone’s video camera, or a posting   …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


Leadership in a Horizontal World

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Guest Blog by Charles H. Green   Leadership’s not what it used to be. There used to be leaders, and followers. Leaders were the few, the chosen. They were charismatic, insightful, inspiring. They seemed to be born (and then maybe tuned up), rather than made. High performers were the audience for leadership development programs, which targeted the select, high-potential few. Those few would get promoted into “positions of leadership,” where they were in charge of large groups of resources: both people and financial. And from those positions, they would “lead” the vast number of others, the followers. Of course, it’s not exactly like that now. As Dorothy said to Toto in The Wizard of Oz: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Nowadays, it’s easy to see that the old leadership was   …Continue Reading


Diversity and Cultural Fit

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Some leaders make a case for diversity; others call for “cultural fit,” implying to some that organizations should hire those who are the “same” as those already in the organization. Are these views compatible? Our good friend and leadership colleague, Bob Whipple (a.k.a. The Trust Ambassador), wrote an excellent blog, Challenge “Samers,” from which we excerpt below: I often hear a phrase coming from the lips of hiring managers that makes me cringe. “We want to hire someone who will fit into our group.”  …  I think this is a big mistake. It is often the maverick, or even the outcast among a group of people, who comes up with the genius solutions to problems, or creates entirely new streams of income. When we seek to have everyone “fit in,”   …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


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


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


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 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


10 Steps to a High-Performance Culture

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“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 Chairman and CEO, IBM, and author, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? (2002)   How can leaders build a high-performance culture? Culture is powerful. Culture has a huge influence on what people do on a day-to-day basis, especially when the boss isn’t around. Avoiding all the fancy definitions, we define culture simply as “how we do things around here.” Do we slack off when the boss is gone? Do we “just ship it” to make the numbers, even if the quality is suspect? Do we mutter behind people’s backs when they are not in the room? Or are we respectful, honest, engaged, and committed, working hard to serve   …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 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


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


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


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


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


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 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


Unhappy at Work? Check Before You Step in It

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“The grass always looks greener beyond your cow pies.”  -(We made that up.)  Tempted to switch organizations? Bigger responsibilities, title, pay? Before you make the move, find out what the culture really is. Unless, of course, you’re a serial job switcher only interested in how fast you can become a VP. This blog is not for you. Good luck. (You’ll need it.) Culture matters. Culture is simply how people behave in an organization. Lou Gerstner, after his spectacular turnaround of IBM, wrote:   “…culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.”   According to a recent Booz & Company global study: “Culture matters, enormously. Studies have shown again and again that there may be no more critical source of business success or failure than a company’s culture.” So   …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