Great Questions Leaders Should Be Asking

Article Summary: Many leaders are too focused on providing answers and not enough on asking great questions. On the benefits of asking questions, plus great questions leaders should ask themselves and their direct reports—and about other stakeholders. +++ Many leaders assume that their job is to provide answers. And if they don’t, they’ll look stupid, … Read more

How Leaders Can Become Better Listeners

listening

Article Summary: Good leaders make sure they don’t talk too much. They listen more and listen well. On the benefits of being a better listener and the best practices of listening, including how to build a culture of listening. +++ Many leaders talk too much. After all, they’re in charge, and people want to know … Read more

Leadership Lessons from the Great Works

Article Summary:  A wealth of life and leadership wisdom is readily available in the great works of literature, film, theater, and oratory. We’re wise to plumb this fount of extraordinary knowledge. +++ We can learn much from the great works of history, including classic books, films, great poems, theater, and speeches. Thomas Jefferson created lists … Read more

Good Leaders Say “And” More than “But”

Good Leaders Say "And" More than "But"

You’re in a meeting with your boss and colleagues discussing an important issue. You have a new insight to share on how to solve the issue, so you speak up. How would you feel if everybody ignores what you said and just moves on in the conversation? Or if the next person to speak says, … Read more

Leadership as Art and Science—But More Art

Article Summary:  Is leadership an art or a science? That debate has gone on for decades. We believe it’s both—but more of an art, especially in challenging circumstances with risk and uncertainty. +++ People have long debated whether leadership is an art of science, or both, and whether it’s more of one than another. The … Read more

Why We Need More Coaching Leaders

Article Summary: A coaching leadership style is on the rise to help organizations be more effective with today’s workers and our current challenges. +++ Coaching leaders provide guidance and support to people to help them achieve their goals and reach their full potential. They invest their time and energy into developing people. Coaching leaders identify … Read more

Spirituality and Leadership in Action–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Article Summary: Here we profile Martin Luther King, Jr. as an example of someone who has incorporated spirituality into his leadership with great effect. (This is part of a series on spirituality and leadership.) +++ In recent articles, we covered “Spirituality and Leadership—Leading with Heart and Love” and “How to Bring Spirituality into Your Leadership.” … Read more

Spirituality and Leadership in Action—Modern Examples

Article Summary: This article profiles several prominent modern leaders who have incorporated spirituality into their leadership, from JFK and Mother Teresa to Jane Goodall and Indra Nooyi. (This is part of a series on spirituality and leadership.) +++ In recent years, there’s been a growing interest in spirituality and leadership—and the related efforts around workplace … Read more

Spirituality and Leadership in Action–Historical Examples

Spirituality and Leadership Historical montage

Article Summary: This article profiles several prominent historical leaders who have incorporated spirituality into their leadership, from George Washington to the Dalai Lama. (This is part of a series on spirituality and leadership.) +++ In recent decades, with big challenges like a pandemic, climate change, global financial strains, political division, wars, and concerns about the … Read more

How to Bring Spirituality into Your Leadership

How to Bring Spirituality into Your Leadership

Article Summary: Incorporating spirituality into our leadership can be powerful for people and organizations. Here’s how leaders can go about it. (Part two in a series on spirituality and leadership.) +++ Our previous article, “On Spirituality and Leadership—Leading with Heart and Love,” addressed the power and many benefits of spirituality and leadership. Bringing spirituality into … Read more

On Spirituality and Leadership—Leading with Heart and Love

Article Summary:  On the relationship between love, spirituality, and leadership—and leading with heart. The first in a three-part series on spirituality and leadership. + + + Many of the derailers that inhibit the effectiveness of leaders concern matters of the heart and spirit that have gone awry for these leaders. For example, our Leadership Derailers … Read more

The Best and Worst Bosses: Implications for Leaders

Article Summary: Here we describe the worst bosses and the best bosses—and we suggest what can you do to become more like a best boss. “Bosses shape how people spend their days and whether they experience joy or despair, perform well or badly, or are healthy or sick. Unfortunately, there are hordes of mediocre and … Read more

Communicating with Steel or Velvet–A Critical Leadership Practice

Communicating with Steel or Velvet— A Critical Leadership Practice

Article Summary: Many leaders don’t tailor their communication style to the situation. Effective leaders flex between steel and velvet (hard- and soft-edge) communication, depending on the situation and the people involved. +++ Of the five advanced leadership practices for building an organization that’s excellent, ethical, and enduring (from our book, Triple Crown Leadership), “steel and … Read more

Giving and Receiving Compliments–An Important Leadership Practice

Article Summary:  Many people are poor at giving and receiving compliments. That’s a shame. High-performance teams are superb at this skill, and praise can make a big difference in motivation. +++   What’s Wrong with This Exchange? Sam: “Amy, you did a great job on that rush project last week.” Amy (looking away and down): … Read more

Reading Body Language—A Neglected Leadership Skill

Article Summary:  Reading body language is an underutilized skill for most of us. Body language and tone of voice are important communication conduits. +++ There’s a leadership capability we all have that is seriously underutilized—observing and reading body language. By reading what other people are communicating through their body language, we can significantly upgrade our … Read more

Why Do You Want to Lead?

Article Summary:  Knowing why you want to lead is essential. If your motive to lead is selfish, you’ll fail. Your ego is a leadership toxin. +++ Why do you want to lead? It’s important to know that—important to your future and to those you lead.   Leading Is a Choice You may get thrust into … Read more

Good Leaders Are Good Storytellers

Article Summary: Many leaders struggle with effective communication. Here we address why storytelling is so powerful and how leaders can get better at it. +++ Bob recalls a defining moment in the turnaround of a large public company where he was the new CEO. During the senior staff meetings held every Saturday morning while the … Read more

The Power of Small Groups—And How to Run Them

new growth with group hands

There is immense power in small groups. But not just any small group. We mean small groups that meet periodically to support each other at the deepest levels in a safe place of confidentiality, trust, and respect. We’re not talking about social clubs, book clubs, Bible studies, 12-step meetings, mastermind groups, circles of trust, clearness … Read more

Good Leadership Practices–An A-to-Z Guide

Through many years of research and experience, we discovered many practices employed by good leaders. Some practices were well known. Others were surprises. We’ve now compiled an alphabetical guide of these practices: A-to-Z Guide to Good Leadership Practices. The full guide contains more than 200 entries, and it’s chock full of actionable tips for leading … Read more

An Overarching Aim for Your Leadership

Today, more than ever, we need leaders and organizations to commit to the overarching aim of being excellent, ethical, and enduring. Commit to the overarching aim of being excellent, ethical, and enduring.   Triple Crown Leadership When we wrote our book, Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, we committed ourselves as a … Read more

Are You Strong Enough to Be a ‘Voice of One’?

You’re sitting in a meeting with your colleagues. They all agree on a course of action you sense is wrong. It’s not illegal, but it certainly doesn’t feel right. Do you speak up?   You Will Be Tested No matter what field you work in, you will be tested with ethical challenges or dilemmas. You’ll … Read more

Why Leaders Must Protect Mavericks

Tom Cruise’s 2022 reprise of his 1986 hit movie, Top Gun, has been a box office smash. Top Gun: Maverick has Cruise again playing Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a cocky, rule-breaking Navy test pilot. The elite naval aviation academy recruits Mitchell (Cruise) to train a group of younger top guns for a harrowing and almost-impossible aeronautical … Read more

Steel and Velvet Leadership

steel and velvet

In our book, Triple Crown Leadership, based on extensive research and interviews with leaders in 61 outstanding organizations in 11 countries, we identified five advanced leadership practices for building an organization or team that’s excellent, ethical, and enduring. One of these practices has most intrigued the leaders we work with. Here we elaborate on how … Read more

Why Are We Talking about Ethics?

There I was, giving a guest lecture on leadership at a European business school, when I got an intriguing question from a student in the back of the room: “Excuse me, why are we talking about ethics? This is a course about leadership.” I came to realize what a gift this question was. His question … Read more

What Are Your Leadership Derailers?

Here’s the thing: we all want to be better leaders. But too often we focus on what to do as leaders while neglecting what not to do. That’s where leadership derailers come in—the things that take us off track and inhibit our leadership effectiveness. If we want to be good leaders, we must be aware of … Read more

Why Leaders Can’t Be Loners

Early in my business career, I was a loner. I worked hard and was polite to others, but I never connected with colleagues. I never opened up to reveal what I was feeling. It was all business. I kept my head down and “nose to the grindstone.” Since I had done well in college and … Read more

Lead by Leading

  (Guest article by Bill Thompson.) Leadership occupies the vast space between that which is clearly right and clearly wrong. The result often is indecision and inaction at the highest levels of organizations. This failure of leadership can be catastrophic, and often is. While most are familiar with the high failure rate of businesses during … Read more

How to Become a Better Servant Leader

Decades ago, Robert Greenleaf articulated one of the most important leadership frameworks in history: “servant leadership.” Greenleaf described the essence of this counterintuitive approach here: “The servant leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from … Read more

The Essential Qualities of Servant Leadership

In the years since Robert Greenleaf first published his essay, “The Servant as Leader,” many notable authors and experts have built upon his work. As expected, servant leadership in theory and practice has evolved over time as the context of leading has changed. Here we’ll summarize Greenleaf’s original ideas on servant leadership, recap what some … Read more

How Robert Greenleaf Created Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf was the founder of the servant-leadership movement. But who was this self-effacing man? Why did Stephen R. Covey say, “… I have found Robert Greenleaf’s teachings on servant leadership to be so enormously inspiring, so uplifting, so ennobling.” With no grand title or celebrity, how did Greenleaf, a self-described introvert, create this world-wide … Read more

Who Determines If You’re a Leader?

Are you a leader if you’re a boss with people who report to you? If you’re a military officer with personnel subject to your orders? Are you a leader if a nonprofit board hires you as their Executive Director? Who determines if you’re a leader? In the late 1960s and 1970s, Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990), a … Read more

How Great Leaders Reward, Recognize, and Celebrate People

“There are two things people want more than sex and money—recognition and praise.” -Mary Kay Ash, founder, Mary Kay Inc. It’s not enough to recruit and develop exceptional people. Triple crown leaders—ones who build excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations—must also recognize, celebrate, and reward them effectively through their culture.   How Leaders Can Reward People … Read more

Great Leaders Develop People Intentionally

Triple crown leaders—ones who build excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations or teams—focus not just on recruiting great people but also developing them intentionally. They focus on developing people systematically and continually. Unfortunately, many leaders fail miserably when it comes to developing people. Most organizations leave development mostly up to individuals, acting on their own initiative, … Read more

How Great Leaders Recruit People with Heart

Penguins lining up for interviews

“Acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task.” –John Maxwell, leadership author How much scrutiny do you use in assessing people for your team? What do you look for? And how? Triple crown leaders—ones who build organizations that are excellent, ethical, and enduring—systematically recruit people with specific characteristics. They invest their precious … Read more

The Importance of Heart in Leadership

head and heart

In “triple crown leadership,” our framework for how to build organizations that are excellent, ethical, and enduring, both head and heart are required for exceptional leadership. In most workplaces, it’s almost all head power. We need much more heart power in leadership. The way most leaders go about identifying and developing talent is utterly insufficient … Read more

What We Can Learn from the Olympics about Life and Leadership

With the Olympics underway­­­—with all the competition, drama, and intrigue—what can we learn from them not only about excellence and teamwork but also about life and leadership? Sure we admire the grueling physical feats and the mental preparation. The years of punishing practices, discipline, focus, and skill-building that go into the nine-second sprint, the epic … Read more

Leadership and the Excellence Imperative

Getting results is one of the preeminent tasks of leadership. What we call “triple crown leadership” (from our book of the same name) seeks not just any results, but excellent results—exceptional outcomes. It strives for the pinnacle of performance. (Our “triple crown leadership” model has three aims: excellent, ethical, and enduring. Leaders should begin with … Read more

What’s Your Leadership Quest?

It’s time to raise your leadership game. What’s your leadership quest? What are you seeking to do through your leadership, and where do you want to take your team or organization? What kind of leadership does it take to build excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations? How can we lead ventures for both high performance and … Read more

Back to Normal? Not So Fast

In fortunate parts of the world, there’s a palpable sense of relief and celebration as life begins to get back to normal after a brutal pandemic year. In some quarters, there’s jubilation—and rightly so after so many shocks to so many for so long. And of course the pandemic rages on, with so many people … Read more

Why Conflict Is Good–And How to Manage It

Most people avoid conflict. But that’s a mistake. Conflict is essential in high-performing teams but must be managed well. Here’s how.

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.

Designing Your Work for Flow

We’ve all heard of flow—that remarkable state of being in the zone and operating at our best. Many of us have experienced it. But what exactly is it? And how do we get into it? First, we note that the deep concentration and absorption associated with flow is becoming much harder to attain these days … Read more