Triple Crown Leadership

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The Power of Empathy in Leadership

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These days, we ask much of our leaders. Organizations and governments are under great pressures to perform, and these days leaders are responsible for crisis management during a pandemic with its attendant economic destruction and social and emotional anxiety. More and more we are realizing that empathy is a powerful aspect of leading well. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from their frame of reference (i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another person’s position). Researchers have identified several types of empathy: Cognitive empathy is the capacity to understand someone’s mental state. Emotional empathy is the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental states, including a concern for others when they are suffering. Somatic empathy is a physical reaction in   …Continue Reading


The Importance of Integrity in Leadership

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Leadership involves so many difficult challenges and exceptional behaviors and mindsets. These days, we ask much of our leaders. When I ask workers to quickly name the qualities that arise in their minds when they hear the word “leader,” I am instantly assaulted by a barrage of words: vision, charisma, confidence, clarity, responsibility, results, judgment, emotional intelligence, coach, and much more. What is the most important aspect of leadership? Have you thought about that? In my view, the most important aspect of leadership is integrity, because everything else leaders do flows from it (or its absence), followed by the courage to uphold it. Warren Bennis, the late scholar and author widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership, once wrote, “Integrity is the most important characteristic of a leader, and one   …Continue Reading


The Importance of Trust in Leadership

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There are many ways to think about leadership. For some, as we have seen, it is about control or power. For others, it is about achievement or recognition. For others, thankfully, it is about people and service, along with higher purpose and positive impact. Since leadership by definition involves a relationship between leaders and followers—and, more precisely, an influence relationship—it begs the question of trust. One may be able to command, control, or deceive at some point or for some time, but for an enduring relationship of constrictive influence, trust must be present. Trust is a firm belief in the reliability or truth of someone. This takes us into the deep and rich territory of character, credibility, ethics, honesty, integrity, morality, and values—all of which are essential underpinnings and necessary prerequisites of   …Continue Reading


The Importance of Credibility in Leadership

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Credibility: the quality of being worthy of belief and trust Credibility, which flows from character and competence, is one of the most essential aspects of leadership. High credibility is a tremendous asset for leaders seeking to achieve exceptional performance and positive impacts. Low credibility is devastating. Credible leaders are straight with people, even about hard topics. They walk the talk and practice what they preach. They do what they say they will do and follow through on promises. Think about what you have wanted from your leaders, parents, teachers, and coaches over the years. Think of the impact that credible leaders have had on your life. Think of the kind of leader you would want your children or best friend to work for. Leadership scholars James Kouzes and Barry Posner,   …Continue Reading


The Root Cause of Ethical Failings (and Our Political Dysfunction)

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Scandals. Fraud. Abuse of power. Greed. Corruption. Tax evasion. Coverups. Once rare occurrences, coming back to haunt us every decade or so, these are now front and center in our daily lives and our daily news cycle. We see them in government, in business, and even in nonprofits and some religious organizations. It seems as if we are in a race to the bottom. While these challenges and failings have always been with us, we are not particularly well equipped to deal with them, in part because we fail to understand their root causes—and to hack away at them. Enter Professor Kenneth Goodpaster and what he calls the “three symptoms of ethical hazard”:* 1. Fixation: obsession with an overarching goal. For example, Enron executives were a group of hyper-ambitious overachievers   …Continue Reading


The Most Important Questions for Leaders

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Leading others well can be a great challenge. It requires courage, judgment, wisdom, emotional intelligence, integrity, and much more. Leadership excellence comes with experience, but it begins with intentionality and commitment. Here are the most important (four) questions to help ground your leadership in a powerful foundation, whether you are a new leader learning the ropes or a seasoned leader looking to upgrade or renew. 1. Why are you leading? Is it for prestige? The title? Money? Power? Perquisites? Is it to prove something, or impress others? In truth, several of these may be drivers for you, but the key issue is whether you have found a deeper why. Being a leader does not require being a saint absent normal human influences and motivations, but leading well requires clarity of purpose and   …Continue Reading


The Keys to Great Meetings

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by Bob Vanourek Photo credit: iStock One of the mind-numbing miseries of organizational work is the time spent in meetings. Atlassian, an Australian enterprise software company, provides the following estimates from various sources: Most employees attend 62 meetings/month (staggering) and half the meetings are considered time wasted Regarding the average meeting attendee: 91% have daydreamed during meetings 39% have slept during meetings 45% felt overwhelmed by the number of meetings attended 73% did other work during meetings 47% felt that meetings were their #1 time wasters at the office I’m sure you have felt the tedious waste of time and money as some pointless meetings drone on with people off on tangents while others are tuned out. I’ve had more than my fair share of miserable meetings too, so here   …Continue Reading


CHRO–Become Your Organization’s Chief Culture Officer

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Today’s Human Resources (HR) leader has a wonderful opportunity to make an important strategic contribution: Become your organization’s Chief Culture Officer. If your CEO already acts as the Chief Culture Officer, great. Then you can be his or her Chief Culture Execution Officer. But most CHROs aren’t that fortunate, and you may need some ammunition to persuade the CEO that focusing on building culture can be a source of competitive advantage: Researchers have found a “strong relationship between constructive organizational cultures and financial performance.” (Source: Eric Sanders and Robert Cooke, “Financial Returns from Organizational Culture Improvement: Translating ‘Soft’ Changes into ‘Hard’ Dollars,” Human Synergistics White Paper, 2011.) According to a Booz & Company report, “Culture matters, enormously. Studies have shown again and again that there may be no more critical   …Continue Reading


Leading without Authority

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Leadership is a complicated subject. Most everyone recognizes good leadership, but there are many varying definitions of leadership, as well as many different versions of what constitutes good leadership. Unfortunately, most examples of good leadership also cite people who are in positions of authority. Such authority gives people hierarchical power to enforce their views, or entices people under the authority leader to just acquiesce to the leader’s initiatives. But what happens when you are in an organization where you don’t have authority? How do you lead from below to people above you in the hierarchy? How do you lead among your peers with no authority over them either? As most good leaders have learned, before you can presume to lead others, you must first lead yourself well. If you don’t   …Continue Reading


Personal Resilience and Self-Care in Hard Times

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In times of great upheaval and uncertainty, we struggle to find ways to thrive despite the challenges. Much of this comes down to self-talk, self-regulation, and self-leadership—navigating our reactions to external events and ensuring that our inner voice does not undermine us amidst the difficulties. The toll of the pandemic is massive, from disease, suffering, death, and mourning to unemployment, financial stress, disruptions, and restrictions. The effects on our quality of life and inner state can be more profound than we realize. Stress, pressure, and fear—for ourselves and our loved ones—exact their price in insidious ways. But we humans are strong and adaptable, with amazing capabilities—both individually and collectively. Two of our most precious assets in times like these are personal resilience and self-care. Resilience. What is resilience? Tony Schwartz,   …Continue Reading


Leading in a Crisis

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Today, we are all being tested greatly, and so it is with our leaders. Individuals, organizations, and systems are all under strain, with some facing overload. Here are several keys to leading well in a crisis. Radical Focus. When you are in a crisis, your immediate priority is survival. Crises require take fierce discipline in personal and organizational time management. Leaders should expect to use more “steel” (hard-edged leadership) than “velvet” (soft-edged) at the outset. In a crisis, leaders must mercilessly cast aside all manner of ideas and projects—some with real merit—to ensure a tight focus on one or two key priorities needed for survival. Other priorities must wait. Even with this radical focus, leaders should look beyond the current storm, seeking creative ways to position the organization or group   …Continue Reading


The Perils of Climbing Mode in Our Career

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In our culture today, it is easy to assume that the proper frame for going about our working life is to pursue “climbing mode” as early and aggressively as possible. When I say “climbing mode,” I mean striving to move up the ladder of success, focusing on achievement and advancement. For many, this notion is so ensconced in our culture that it is invisible, unconscious, and wholly taken for granted. But is it right? Is it helpful or harmful when it comes to living a good life and crafting good work? The assumption of course is that it is right and helpful, that by focusing on “climbing mode” one will build a financial foundation that will lead to success, freedom, and happiness. No doubt there can be great value in   …Continue Reading


Ten Keys to Self-Leadership

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We face a barrage of challenges these days: rapid change, a barrage of demands on our attention, tension between work and home, and more. There is one meta-skill that shapes how we respond to all these challenges: self-leadership. Without it, we cannot sustain ourselves for long. Leading self may be obvious, but it is far from easy. We neglect it at our peril. The task of leading self is the task of a lifetime. Here are ten keys to self-leadership: … To read the full blog on Gregg Vanourek’s web site, click here. To get Gregg’s manifesto on how to avoid the Common Traps of Living and free book chapters from Gregg’s books, check out his Free Guide.


The Essence of Entrepreneurship

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Entrepreneurs today have a powerful hold on the collective imagination. Look around and notice the many inspiring examples of entrepreneurs in action. But much of what we think we know about entrepreneurship is wrong. What is the essence of entrepreneurship? It turns out that the word “entrepreneurship” has a fascinating history that is actually useful to understanding its essence. Let’s take a quick tour of that history, but starting in the present and working backward. Elaine Rideout of North Carolina State University defines entrepreneurs as those who “creatively initiate, evaluate, and organize to exploit wealth creating business opportunities under conditions of uncertainty.” Her definition packs a lot of punch and includes many of the things we typically think of when reflecting on entrepreneurs. Richard P. Rumelt of UCLA in 1987   …Continue Reading


How to Change Your Organizational Culture

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Most leaders understand that organizational culture is important. But many struggle with how to change and improve their culture. For too many leaders, culture is too ethereal, too hard to measure, too intangible. So, they muddle along with speeches, slogans, or projects, but their organizational culture refuses to budge. That’s unfortunate because your ideal culture can be created. Culture is the legacy of leadership. In our book, Triple Crown Leadership, we defined organizational culture simply as “how we do things here”—how people behave. We said, “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 to the group. Culture is a powerful force in determining how an organization operates.” Lou Gerstner, after   …Continue Reading


Is Your Business Stuck in Zombieland?

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by Bob Vanourek “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Attributed to Albert Einstein U.S. government statistics tell us that about half of all new businesses will be gone within five years. Of course, some businesses become successful, often within a few years. These are the models all entrepreneurs hope to emulate. My guess is these stars are likely less than 10% of all new businesses. If I’m right in my conservative guess, about 40% of all new businesses may be stuck in what I’ll call “Zombieland.” Zombieland businesses are half alive and half dead. Their owners and managers often work crazy hours, sometimes milking their life savings and retirement accounts to keep them afloat, even re-mortgaging their homes and signing personal bank-loan   …Continue Reading


To Lead Well

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A poem by Bob Vanourek Summarizing Great Leadership “To Lead Well” by Bob Vanourek I’ll start within, Cultivating quality character, Acting with integrity, Listening with my heart, Composed amid chaos, A soul flooding forth with love. I’ll reach out, Caring and connecting, Serving, Engendering trust, Building relationships, Unleashing others who soar. I’ll step up, Saying “Yes,” Choosing wisely, Embracing change, Striving for what’s right, Pursuing our dreams. I’ll leave a legacy, A team of partners, Companions with courage and character, Leading and following, Creators of worthy deeds, Together undaunted. I wrote this poem at the urging of son, Gregg, who thought it would be a fitting close for my latest book, Leadership Wisdom: Lessons from Poetry, Prose, and Curious Verse. The poem traces the themes of the major sections of   …Continue Reading


Does Your Business Need an Advisory Board?

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“I was not sure where I was going … But you saw further and clearer than I, … to a place I had never dreamed of …” -Thomas Merton The sad reality is that most businesses fail. The quoted failure rates vary, but they are all dismal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says, “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.”  Many other businesses underperform pitiably. The primary reasons most businesses fail have been summarized this way: •    Poor leadership, management, planning, location, financial or asset management, partners, or •    Lack of focus, capital, customer focus, differentiation, succession, and more Most of these reasons can be traced back to the CEO. He or she lacked the perspectives, insights,   …Continue Reading


10 Keys to Self-Leadership

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  We face a barrage of challenges these days: astonishing technological change, intense competition, a barrage of demands on our attention, tension between work and home, and more. There is one meta-skill that shapes how we respond to all these challenges: self-leadership. Without it, we cannot sustain ourselves for long. Leading self may be obvious, but it is far from easy. We neglect it at our peril. The task of leading self is the task of a lifetime. Here are ten keys to self-leadership: 1. Healthy Habits. Leadership is hard work: psychologically, emotionally, and even physically. Leading can be exhilarating and taxing at the same time. It can grind us down if we let it. When we are leading self well, we develop an energizing rhythm of self-care. It includes   …Continue Reading


The Trust Imperative

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By Bob Vanourek Building trust is an imperative to creating a better world. Through my work advocating ethical and values-based leadership, I sometimes see eyes glaze over. “Whose values?” people wonder. “How do you define what’s ethical?” “Can we really act morally in this rough-and-tumble world?” Fair questions from people trying to survive in a tough, competitive environment. While many of us struggle with what ethics and values mean, almost everyone understands trust. Why? Because we experience it daily in good or bad forms at home and work. We trust our spouse, our children, our colleagues; or we don’t. We have seen and experienced the warm feelings of a trusting relationship; or felt the heartbreak and loss of trust broken. An organization to which I belong, Trust Across America–Trust Around   …Continue Reading


Ethical Leadership–Your Game Changer

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by Bob Vanourek Embracing ethical leadership can be a game changer in your life, as it was for me. But just what is ethical leadership? And how does ethical leadership differ from ordinary leadership and management? Management involves planning, budgeting, and administering. Management watches the bottom line of the organization, focusing on, for example, profitability for a business. Management has a problem-solving focus, organizing groups, staffing them, and largely directing and controlling people, often defining boundaries for people. In management, relationships are based on one’s position power, title, and authority. Management is task-oriented, often telling people what to do or not do. The work is transactional: “You do this for me, and I’ll do that for you.” Management aligns people through policies, procedures, and systems using good “head skills” and   …Continue Reading


The Keys to Success

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What are the keys to success? I pondered this question when asked to speak at the recent GlenX Success Summit in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. My task was to define the X Factor that, combined with IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional intelligence), would lead to success, happiness, fulfillment, and achieving one’s best self. A tall order. IQ is traditionally one’s inherent intelligence level, but Gregg and I went further in Triple Crown Leadership, citing the “head” qualities that we discovered in our research, including interviews with leaders in 61 organizations in 11 countries. The “head” qualities are raw intelligence, knowledge, skills, and competence. Now take these raw materials and set them ablaze with the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice that Malcom Gladwell famously described in The Outliers. (Deliberate practice is   …Continue Reading


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


New Website and Book Release

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In conjunction with announcing his newest book, Bob has launched a new website. If you are interested in following Bob’s work, sign up here: http://www.bobvanourek.com Bob’s newest book, Leadership Wisdom: Lessons from Poetry, Prose, and Curious Verse, will be released by Motivational Press on May 3, 2016. The book is a compendium of timeless, inspiring wisdom on leadership from the sages of literature and outstanding leaders written over the centuries right up to the present day. Bob has selected over 70 poems, prose, or speech passages, each with an insightful leadership message. He combines these pearls with engaging commentary from his own vast leadership experience and closes each entry with practical applications that each reader can use immediately. You will hear from an astonishing array of poets, presidents, activists, soldiers,   …Continue Reading


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


Boards and Trust

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by Bob Vanourek Higher trust in organizations leads to higher retention, cooperation, innovation, and pride. Higher trust enhances the speed at which organizations work because the fear created in low trust organizations is minimized. Higher trust leads to better results for all stakeholders from customers to employees and shareholders. Therefore, higher trust needs to be on the agenda of boards of directors. Yes, I know they’re busy with risk mitigation, regulatory compliance, governance, financial oversight, and more. But if the board does not insist on a high-performance culture built on trust with all stakeholders, then that board is abdicating their fundamental fiduciary responsibility. For several years, I have been working with Trust Across America – Trust Around the World (TAA – TAW) on how organizations can increase trust within their   …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


A Leadership Lightning Bolt

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by Bob Vanourek Early in my leadership quest to “find a better way to lead,” I had the wonderful pleasure to work for Jan and Olga Erteszak, Polish immigrants who had fled the Nazis in Europe and then founded a ladies’ lingerie company in Los Angeles. The Olga Company was the creative leader in this industry, designing and producing fashionable lingerie, sleepwear, and loungewear. I learned so much about creativity from Jan and Olga because we literally practiced creativity in meetings. What fun as we stretched our imaginations. One memorable day, Jan, with a wink and that crooked smile of his, gave me some pamphlets to read written by Robert Greenleaf. Knowing my burning interest in leadership, Jan quipped, “I think you’ll find these interesting.” The message was ages old   …Continue Reading


Why Do You Want to Lead?

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By Bob Vanourek I was flying from Cleveland to Chicago to meet my wife, June, and two young sons. They were flying from Los Angeles to meet me for a brief Christmas holiday. I had been “too busy” to fly back to help her cope with our toddler and the baby. (It is really so embarrassing to relate this story now.) I was 29 years old and working nightmare hours for a high-flying firm that was rapidly acquiring companies. My job was to fly out and spend all week, every week, “integrating” the acquired firms. “Integrating” meant consolidating their plants, cutting duplicate costs, and often firing their founders. The look of disbelief on those entrepreneurs’ faces when they were terminated just broke my heart. In Chicago my wife asked me,   …Continue Reading


Escaping the Stressors of Leadership

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  Guest Post by Mike Figliuolo   The pressure on leaders is increasing every day. Calls for “doing more with less” echo through the halls as ever-escalating expectations create a great deal of stress for leaders. The investment of a leader’s time, energy, and attention (what we call “leadership capital”) is a critical choice leaders make every day. The options for delivering on these heightened expectations are limited. Sure, leaders can step on the proverbial gas pedal and work harder and longer, but play that game too long and the stress will add up. The cumulative effects of these stressors can be devastating. When leaders overwork themselves, their teams tend to do the same. People stay at the office until the boss leaves; their stress levels are correlated with those   …Continue Reading


A Triple Crown Winner at Last

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That’s why it’s called “the most elusive championship in all of sports.” It’s taken 37 years since Affirmed won the coveted Triple Crown of thoroughbred horseracing in 1978 for another winner to break through. On June 6 American Pharoah (an inadvertent misspelling of “pharaoh”) became only the 12th horse since 1875 to win the Triple Crown. The bay colt ran wire-to-wire in the lead in perfect weather before 90,000 raucous fans at Belmont Park to win by 5 ½ lengths. After winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, all within the last five weeks, American Pharoah wore earplugs to muffle the distracting noise. All the other seven entries in the 2015 (and 147th running of the) Belmont Stakes had skipped the Preakness three weeks earlier to rest. Many racing experts   …Continue Reading


The Problem with Tired Leaders

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Are you tired? Stressed? Busy? Just par for the course for today’s leader, right? Wrong. These days, it seems that “busy is the new black.” Busy is in. People boast about how busy they are. When answering a schedule request, they regale you with all the things in their calendar that prevent them from meeting you at the requested time. It’s a game, with busyness an assumed proxy for importance. Anne-Marie Slaughter has described modern workers as “time macho,” with “relentless competition to work harder, stay later,” and travel more. Thus the recent viral meme: “Stop the glorification of busy.”   It turns out that being tired is a terrible formula for leading and living. And it’s worse that you might think. Recall that sleep deprivation is one of the   …Continue Reading


Learning and Development Impacting Your Bottom Line

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Learning and Development Impacting Your Bottom Line Guest post by Rachel Kay   Image: ShutterStock   One of the biggest challenges you face as a leader when attempting to implement a learning and development (L&D) initiative within your company is convincing the decision-makers that it will benefit the company as a whole. When they can’t see a clear projected return on their investment, they may balk at backing you, so it’s your job to assure them that it’s not going to be a waste of time, money, and resources; in other words, you must have their trust. According to the Thales Learning & Development guide that focuses on this subject, L&D should “impact your bottom line and help your business move in the direction you want.” Otherwise, what’s the point? Aligning   …Continue Reading


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


6 Ingenious Ideas for Elevating Employee Productivity

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6 Ingenious Ideas for Elevating Employee Productivity Guest blog by Karleia Steiner   image source: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/   Elevating employee productivity can seem like a daunting and difficult task; however, creating a work environment that keeps employees working at their maximum potential can be achieved by simply shifting your frame of mind. 1. Listen to Your Employees Listening is one of the hardest skills any manager, employee or person can master. Listening doesn’t just involve the time you spend talking to someone, but it also includes subtle cues you might not pick up at first. Do your employees seem frustrated or happy in their emails? Do they respond well to policy changes? Ask your employees what they need from you to do their jobs more effectively. 2. Give Positive Feedback When   …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


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


Blue Ocean Trust Building Workshop

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“Blue Ocean” Trust-Building Workshop (This Takes Guts) By Bob Vanourek   Building trust requires courage: the courage to be vulnerable, to listen to feedback on what you, as a leader, do daily, and the resolve to follow through on your commitments to change, even if those changes are uncomfortable.   This trust-building activity takes guts because it opens you to feedback you may not have heard before. It’s uncomfortable. This workshop, which I have used successfully, is a much shorter version of the excellent process described in the Harvard Business Review article “Blue Ocean Leadership” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.[1]   This activity can be used in (1) large organizations that have several layers of management and several departments (or functional “silos”), or (2) individual departments. The workshop   …Continue Reading


Merger Problems

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  Our friend and colleague, Bob Whipple, “The Trust Ambassador,” recently posted this blog on “Merger Problems” that we’d like to share with you. Bob’s most recent book, Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, deals with this subject in wonderful depth.  


New to the Boardroom? How to Succeed

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image credit: Bigstock By Bob Vanourek   Congratulations. You’ve just been invited to join your first public company board. Great. Now, what can you expect? It’s not just approving the CEO’s strategy or officer compensation recommendations after asking a few questions. It’s more than risk assessments, financial statement reviews, and meeting with the outside auditors periodically. It’s much deeper and more complex, especially if you want to bring a new brand of leadership to the boardroom. You will be confronted with difficult challenges you are not likely to have faced before. What do you do? When do you lead assertively? When do you lead softly? When do you follow? Who do you talk to for advice? How do you succeed? Based on years of experience with many corporate boards as a   …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


The Good News About Leadership

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  “For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.” -Winston Churchill   With all the leadership scandals and breakdowns in virtually every segment of society bombarding us day-in and day-out, it is easy to become cynical about our leaders today. Yet we’re cautiously optimistic despite the massive challenges we face.   Leaders acknowledge reality, and we don’t avoid the disheartening, even outrageous, leadership failures we come across. (You don’t need another list of them, do you?)   “You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality,”   -Jim Collins, in Good to Great,   …Continue Reading