Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

Tag 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


A Treasure of Wisdom

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 “A Treasure of Wisdom” By Bob Vanourek   Every now and then, I have a chance to read a book a colleague has written and want to tell others about it. Such it is with Frank Sonnenberg’s Follow Your Conscience: Make a Difference in Your Life and the Lives of Others.   Frank is an award-winning author and a consultant who works in the areas of leadership, character, values, and personal responsibility. I met Frank electronically through my association with Trust Across America–Trust Around the World.   This book is a real gem and is rich with sage advice. I have many pages dog-eared and passages highlighted. Frank covers topics like the power of kindness, forgiveness, and believing; the magic of giving; the most important things to teach your children;   …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


A New, Overarching Goal for Boards

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One of the painful results of boards embracing the goal to “maximize shareholder value” is shown in the Edelman Trust Barometer: Only 53% of respondents trust business Only 18% of the general population trust business leaders to tell the truth The overarching goal for corporate boards should not be to maximize shareholder value. Instead, boards should set as their primary objective to: Build an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization. Excellent means achieving extraordinary results for customers, employees, and shareholders. Ethical means achieving those results the right way, with integrity, not cutting ethical corners. Enduring means achieving those results sustainably, being conscious of the firm’s impact on the planet, and acting responsibly to ensure precious resources are not wasted. Enduring also means acting sustainably inside the firm, not burning people out, nor   …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


Generations in the Workplace

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“Why can’t we just all get along?” -Oft quoted lament As Boomers stay in the workplace longer, the Gen Xers move up to management positions, and the Millennials progress into the world of work, it can seem there are insurmountable generational conflicts. But the truth is that different generations in the workplace can develop rich, innovative breakthroughs if they focus less on their differences and more on what they share. The differences have been heralded by many. Boomers (birth dates after WW II): Sense of duty; longtime employment commitment; family values; uncomfortable expressing feelings; not tech savvy. Gen Xers (birth dates early 1960s to early 1980s): Want involvement and participation; like autonomy; less formal; tech savvy; loose schedules. Millennials (birth dates from the early 1980s): Social networkers; see no limits;   …Continue Reading


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


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


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


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


The End of Hierarchy?

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The buzz has been big since articles on Zappos’ movement toward a “holacracy” were publicized. A “holacracy” is a system of governance based on self-organizing teams rather than hierarchical authority. See “Zappos New Badass Culture” and “Zappos Says Goodbye to Bosses”. In a holacracy there are no job titles or managers. Employees have “roles” in circles with “links” to other circles. Each circle governs itself. Stanford professor Bob Sutton recently published a contrary view that “Hierarchy is Good”, citing the natural emergence in all groups of status and power differences among the members. Harvard’s Bill George countered with “the hierarchical model just doesn’t work anymore”. Maybe a holacracy is the “next big thing.” But let’s first consider our options. Cisco famously constructed a complex, overlapping series of internal boards and   …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


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


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


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


Life’s Leadership Lessons in Lots of L’s (Over 100, Just for Fun)

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By Bob Vanourek Leaders aren’t loners, nor are they letter-perfect, lily-white, lazy, lordly, or loud-mouthed.  Leaders don’t lie, loot the limelight, feel locked by conventional limits, pay lip service to things, leer, or lecture people. Leaders often share lunch at the local eatery with colleagues, listening deeply and looking carefully. Leaders set a lodestar that inspires people to follow. Leaders break logjams, lightening the load on others. Leaders are both logical and emotional at the appropriate time. Leaders are loyal and engender loyalty in others. Leaders respect the law and are level-headed. Leaders lend a hand to others and know when to let go, leaving the unessential behind. Leaders lay aside resources for the inevitable lousy days, living lean in the meantime. Leaders are lifelong learners,  drawing lessons from experience   …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


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


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


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


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


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


Do What’s Right

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Interview with Four-Star General Jack Chain Former Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command Leaders Speak Series The Strategic Air Command (SAC) was responsible for America’s land-based strategic bombers and nuclear, intercontinental ballistic missiles from 1946 to 1992. General Jack Chain was Commander-in-Chief of SAC from 1986 to 1991. Here are excerpts of our interview with him for Triple Crown Leadership, our roadmap for building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization: What was your approach to leadership when you took command of SAC? Chain: The day after I was sworn in I invited all the officers and senior sergeants on the base in for a beer, told them who I was, my background, what I expected from them, and what they could expect from me. Then I went out to all 52 bases in   …Continue Reading