Are You Playing the Long Game?

These days it’s easy to fall into the trap of playing the short game. Our culture is geared toward it. With our devices, we’re developing the attention span of a gnat. We swipe and scroll. We get fidgety with a few seconds of down-time. The power of the long game is astonishing, but the short game is alluring. Now more than ever we need to reorient our life and work to the long game.

To Lead Well

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 … Read more

Tips for New Graduates about Leading and Living

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, … Read more

The Triple Crown of Leadership

Leadership writers and speakers Bob and Gregg Vanourek use a picture of Secretariat to show the accomplishment and difficulty of becoming a triple crown leader.

The sports world is abuzz with excitement. We may have our first Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed captured what has been called “the most elusive championship” in all of sports. California Chrome is poised to accomplish this incredible feat on June 7 if he can win at Belmont Park. This unlikely horse, bred … Read more

Three Responsibilities of Great Leadership

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 … Read more

The Scourge of Short-Termism

Leadership speakers and authors Bob Vanourek & Gregg Vanourek use the image of newsprint saying "stocks falling" to illustrate the scourge of short-termism.

 “The future whispers while the present shouts.”-Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President One of the great scourges of our age is “short-termism.” A staggering 78 percent of the managers surveyed in a large-scale study of CFOs and CEOs admit to sacrificing long-term value to achieve smoother earnings. In July 2011, former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) … Read more

Synthesis: A Critical Leadership Skill

“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 … Read more

What to Do If You Work For a Jerk

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 … Read more

Is Your Organization Headed for a Breakdown?

Business Breakdown

Is your organization or team headed for a breakdown? Organizations emit warning signs before breaking down, but the financial signals, such as revenue declines, shrinking margins, and deteriorating working capital ratios, are lagging indicators. Leading indicators are much more important because you can address them before the financials go south. Using our triple-crown framework, here … Read more

Tilts: Short- vs. Long-Term?

Our triple crown leadership model has three dimensions: excellent, ethical, and enduring. Some people wonder whether triple crown leadership requires giving equal priority to “excellent,” “ethical,” and “enduring” considerations. Many ask, “Don’t we have to sometimes tilt toward the short-term results just to survive, thereby, sacrificing the long-term?” Others may wonder, “In my business everyone … Read more

The Job of a Lifetime: Leading an Incredible Transformation

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 … Read more

The Legacy of Leadership

  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. … Read more

Vanguard’s Values-Based Visionary

Interview with John Bogle  Founder and Former Chairman and CEO, The Vanguard Group Leaders Speak Series The Vanguard Group is an investment company with over $2.0 trillion in assets, offering mutual funds and other financial products and services. The investors who place money in the funds own Vanguard. Based on his undergraduate thesis at Princeton, founder … Read more

What Makes Mayo Clinic Great

Interview with Drs. Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman  Authors of Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic Leaders Speak Series Mayo Clinic, founded in 1864, is a global leader in health care delivery, research, and education. With its four main hospitals and additional affiliated hospitals and clinics, Mayo serves more than a million patients annually with revenue … Read more

Transforming a University

Interview with Dan Ritchie  Former Chancellor, University of Denver Leaders Speak Series  Dan Ritchie was the Chancellor of the University of Denver (known locally as DU) from 1989 through mid-2005, a particularly challenging time. Prior to that post, Ritchie was an executive at MCA-Universal and then CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting before taking up ranching in … Read more

A Tireless Focus on Excellence

Interview with Steven Rothstein  President, Perkins School for the Blind Leaders Speak Series  Founded in 1829, Perkins School for the Blind operates in more than sixty countries with revenue of over $50 million. It offers free audio, Braille and large print books, and hundreds of newspapers by phone. The operations are complex, including a school, … Read more

Creating a Great Place to Work

Interview with Mary Ann Tocio  President and COO, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Leaders Speak Series Founded in 1986, Bright Horizons Family Solutions is a leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, early education, and work/life solutions. Conducting business in North America, Europe, and India, the privately held company has created employer-sponsored child care and early education … Read more

Leading a World-Class Institution

Interview with Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman President, Princeton University   Leaders Speak Series  Founded in 1746, Princeton University is consistently ranked as one of the finest institutions of higher education in the world. An honor-system school, the university’s informal motto is “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” Distinguished alumni, … Read more

A Vision of Great Leadership

Interview with Ursula Burns  Chairman and CEO, Xerox  Leaders Speak Series  Ursula M. Burns is chairman and CEO of Xerox. With sales approaching $23 billion, Xerox (NYSE: XRX) is the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management. Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern and then worked her way … Read more

Why Tyco Threw Out Its Entire Board

Interview with John Krol and Ed Breen Tyco International Leaders Speak Series John Krol was elected to Tyco’s board in 2002 and served as lead director until 2008. He is the former chairman and CEO of DuPont. Edward Breen was chairman and CEO of Tyco from 2002 until September 2012, when the company separated into … Read more

Leadership for Bold Social Impact

Interview with Bill Shore  Co-Founder and CEO, Share Our Strength  Leaders Speak Series  Share Our Strength began in the basement of a row house on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in 1984, in response to the famine then raging in Ethiopia. Brother and sister Bill Shore and Debbie Shore started the nonprofit organization with the … Read more

Adaptable Leadership

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. PB, a leading provider of customer communication technologies, was one of the eleven companies identified by Jim Collins as “great” in Good … Read more

How to Build a Culture of Character

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 … Read more

Translating Mission & Values into Results

Interview with Bill George  Harvard Business School Professor and   Former CEO, Medtronic  Leaders Speak Series  Bill George was the COO, then CEO and Chairman, of Medtronic from 1989 through 2002, the years when annual revenue increased an average 18% and earnings increased 22%. A host of innovative products were introduced during this time, and the … Read more

Interview with Bob Hatcher, MidCountry Financial

“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 … Read more

Interview with Kit Crawford, Clif Bar

“Sustainable Leadership” Interview with Kit Crawford Co-Owner and Co-CEO, Clif Bar & Company Leaders Speak Series Clif Bar & Company is a privately held, family- and employee- owned company, creating nutritious and organic food for people-on-the-go. It has achieved double-digit annual revenue growth and won a long list of employment, diversity, and sustainability awards, including … Read more

Interview with Daniel Wallach, Greensburg GreenTown

“Rebuilding Green after a Tornado” Interview with Daniel Wallach Executive Director, Greensburg GreenTown “Leaders Speak Series” A few years ago, a devastating tornado destroyed Greensburg, a small town in Kansas. Remarkably, the town bounced back and created a model for the world for building a “green community.” One national expert called it “the greenest city … Read more

Interview with Dr. Andres Alonso

“Turning Around a School System” Interview with Dr. Andres Alonso CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools Leaders Speak Series We interviewed Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, about his approach to leadership and the unique challenges of running a complex and large school system with multiple challenges and constituencies. During his tenure, Baltimore … Read more

Interview with Dr. Dan Sweeney

“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 missteps (e.g., BP, Johnson & Johnson, and Toyota). We interviewed Dr. Dan Sweeney, Director of the … Read more

The Legacy of Jim Burke

(Note: Bob and Gregg Vanourek co-authored this blog with Dr. Dan Sweeney, former Director of the Institute for Enterprise Ethics at the University of Denver) Few corporate executives have provided as powerful a role model as James E. Burke, former CEO and Chairman of Johnson & Johnson. He worked at J&J for 40 years and … Read more

Culture: The Entrepreneur’s Blind Spot

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 … Read more

Your Leadership Legacy

What will your legacy be? In the age of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and tablets–of endless emails and ceaseless connecting–how rare it is to stop and think about that question. How rare it is to stick to the long game and not get caught up in short-termism. How rare it is to look to the far … Read more

Suicide by Quarter–Leading for the Short-Term

Have you ever: Told one of your line managers to “do whatever it takes to make your numbers this quarter”? Pulled sales from next quarter to make this quarter’s numbers? Cut into critical R&D funds to hit Wall Street forecasts? Asked the CFO to lower the reserves for future expenses to help earnings this quarter? … Read more

The End of Leadership?

Barbara Kellerman and Jim O’Toole, two leadership experts we respect, are ticked off about the failures in leadership we witness virtually every day. (See “Mad About Leadership” in Strategy+Business, June 2012). Think of all the leadership-related scandals recently: Recent Leadership Hall of Shame Barclays Bear Stearns BP Countrywide Financial Galleon Group GlaxoSmithKline Goldman Sachs Johnson … Read more

How Great Leaders Maintain Exceptional Focus

One of the cruel ironies of our time is that with such incredible access to information, many leaders are drowning in data and bogging down in complexity. They drink through a fire hose of reports, analytics, blogs, and tweets. Mobile devices blessedly update and painfully distract. At some point, the choices become debilitating, especially with … Read more

A Call for Better Leadership

Is it just us, or are we bombarded by negative news? •    NewsCorp scandal and cover-up •    A Goldman Sachs exec resigning in disgust in an op-ed read around the world •    Walmart corruption in Mexico •    Hyperpartisanship and focusing on scoring political points instead of solving real problems What do all these negatives have … Read more