Tribute to General Jack Chain—An Extraordinary Leader

A great leader and our dear family friend, Four-Star Air Force General John T. (Jack) Chain died peacefully in his sleep this month at the age of 86. All who knew Jack mourn his loss and are grateful for the time he had with us. Jack and his dear wife Judie were neighbors of Bob … Read more

Leadership and Psychological Safety in Teams

The problems in far too many organizations today are legion: Unproductive, boring meetings Astonishing amounts of wasted time Avoidance of sensitive issues Lack of full engagement Reluctance to provide candid, constructive feedback Political games and hidden agendas Sound familiar? The effects are far-reaching, from low quality work to employee turnover. According to a Corporate Executive Board … Read more

CHRO–Become Your Organization’s Chief Culture Officer

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 … Read more

Interviewing for Emotional Intelligence

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 … Read more

CEO Tip: Trust Your Board As Your Ally

Some CEOs and boards have close, trusting partnerships that serve them and their firms extremely well. They are, in my experience, the minority. Most CEOs I have met see the board as a group they need to “manage,” a dinner and meeting they need to prepare for, taking preciously valuable time away from running the … Read more

Leaders Must Be Present with People

People won’t follow your leadership if you’re not fully present with them. If you are not present with people, you are not connecting with them. Without connections, the leader/follower relationship breaks down and trust is undermined. People feel devalued. You’re sending a signal that they are not important. As a result, they won’t commit to … Read more

10 Reasons Why Great Leadership is a Group Performance

Leadership speakers and authors, Bob Vanourek & Gregg Vanourek use an image of geese in the "v" formation to illustrate the power of alignment for creating high performance teams.

“We have a wrong-headed notion of what constitutes a leader, driven by an obsession with leaders at the top.” – Bill George, Harvard professor, former CEO, Medtronic We have a crisis in leadership today with seemingly continuous scandals rocking business, government, religious organizations, non-profits, sports, and more. The latest results from the much respected Edelman Trust Barometer … Read more

The Three Most Important Things Leaders Can Say to Their Teams

Arrow through brick wall represents the breakthroughs triple crown leaders can achieve in employee engagement when they say the right things to their team.

Disengaged employees are a growing problem for many organizations today. People lack commitment, can be cynical mutterers, and even saboteurs of company initiatives. How can you as a team or organizational leader motivate better performance, even breakthroughs? The answer has many components, from creating a high-performance culture of character with clear goals and empowered followers … Read more

Unleashing Other Leaders

Bird out of Cage demonstrates the power of unleashing other leaders.

Leaders today need to, not only develop loyal and committed followers, but also unleash other leaders who can lead various critical tasks. Leadership in this scenario is not about the great skills and talents of “the leader,” but the collective strengths and blended talents of the leaders and the followers, who variously lead at times … Read more

Creating Alignment & Balance through High-Performance Leadership

Guest Blog by Charles Walsh One of the most important aspects of leadership today is intentional alignment of purpose and direction. A four-quadrant approach will assist you in achieving high-performance leadership while ensuring balance of effectiveness and impact of results. In the 21st century, the battle cry of top leaders is achieving and sustaining high … Read more

Love as a Leadership Imperative

chief karl bauer sees love as leadership imperative

Guest Blog by Chief Karl Bauer We study, teach and write about how to become better leaders.  We espouse collaborative visioning, champion the empowerment of subordinates and challenge each other to harness collective wisdom when setting organizational goals.  We call upon leaders to provide clear direction, cultivate a climate of support and work tirelessly to … Read more

Botching Mission and Vision

Words matter in leadership. Bob was once talking to a group of employees about his ideas for setting up dedicated teams to focus on problems. One employee responded, “We are all dedicated here.” Oops. Bob meant teams focused on single problems. The employee thought he was questioning their commitment. Semantics. Words matter in leadership. Think … 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

Leading a Tech Startup in China

Interview with Steve Mushero   Founder, CEO, & CTO, ChinaNetCloud Leaders Speak Series Steve Mushero is Founder, CEO, and CTO of ChinaNetCloud, a leading global provider of Internet Managed Services. Headquartered in Shanghai, China, ChinaNetCloud is a private company founded by Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs, with a team of system experts and support staff in … Read more

What’s Different About Leading Startups?

Interview with Stephen Von Rump  Co-Founder and CEO, Giraff Technologies Leaders Speak Series  Stephen Von Rump is Co-Founder and CEO of Giraff Technologies AB. Giraff brings people together in the care of those living at home (e.g., the elderly). Giraff allows you to virtually enter a home from your computer via the Internet and conduct … 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

Making It Work as Co-Founders

Interview with Raj Vinnakota and Eric Adler Co-Founders and Managing Directors, The SEED Foundation Leaders Speak Series  The SEED Foundation partners with urban communities to provide educational opportunities that prepare underserved students for success in college and beyond. SEED’s innovative model integrates a rigorous academic program with a nurturing boarding program, which teaches life skills and … Read more

More Leadership Half-Truths

Many leaders operate from half-truths or outright misconceptions about leadership. Here are more examples, adding to our prior post, “10 Leadership Myths and Half-Truths.”  Half-Truth: Leaders Hire the Most Competent People Yes, leaders hire for competencies and skills, but equally important is to hire and promote people with character, emotional intelligence, and cultural fit. We … Read more

How to Develop Other Leaders

Leadership speaker and author Bob Vanourek uses this image of a man on top of a rock ledge reaching out to help the next person up to illustrate the importance of trust in the workplace.

Great leadership is a group performance, with leaders developing loyal followers and unleashing other leaders. Everyone has the potential to lead well, and everyone will have to lead at some point–in the office, at home, or in their community. In this age of budget cuts, how can leaders develop other leaders? Leadership is best learned … Read more

Values-Based Leadership with an Indomitable Will

 Interview with Tom McCoy Former Executive Vice President, AMD Leaders Speak Series Tom McCoy Founded in 1969, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE: AMD), or AMD, is a Fortune 500, multinational, semiconductor company and the second largest global supplier of microprocessors behind Intel.  Thomas M. McCoy joined AMD in 1995 as general counsel and secretary, later … Read more

Leadership Is a Group Performance

Leadership a group performance? Ridiculous, you retort. Nevertheless, it’s true. Get over it. In this age of intense competition, information overload, and downsizing, no leader can do it alone. The amount of work coming into your Inbox is virtually infinite. The faster you turn it out, the faster new stuff roars in. So how do … Read more

The 3 Questions Asked of Every Leader

Legendary football coach Lou Holtz, now retired and in the College Football Hall of Fame, had an uncanny ability to turn losing teams into winners. During his college coaching career, he compiled a record of 249 wins, 132 losses, and 7 ties. Holtz’s 1988 Notre Dame team was undefeated and determined to be the consensus … 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

10 Leadership Myths and Half-Truths

Many leaders operate from half-truths or outright misconceptions about leadership, often leading to major mistakes. Here are examples. LEADERSHIP MYTHS Myth 1: Leaders Are Born, Not Made  Many people believe that leaders are born, not made. We disagree. Some people may have more natural intelligence, be more outgoing, have innate speaking skills, or whatever, and … 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

It Takes Teamwork, Trust, & Values to Win

Leadership insights from John Krol  Former chairman and CEO, DuPont Leaders Speak Series E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, commonly referred to as DuPont, is one of the world’s largest chemical companies. It was founded in 1802, and its stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. John Krol joined DuPont … Read more

Turnaround Priority: Establishing Psychological Stability

The single hand of a drowning man illustrates how it feels to be out of organizational alignment, as seen by leadership speakers Bob Vanourek & Gregg Vanourek.

  For turnarounds to work, leaders must establish psychological stability in the organization. Too many turnaround leaders focus only on financial stability and neglect this critical element.  In the turmoil of a turnaround, many people are demoralized, afraid, or angry. Some feel misled or on the verge of panic. Logo-inscribed ball caps stay in the … 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

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

Your Ego Is Not Your Amigo

Why do you want to lead? All too often, the answer has breadcrumbs back to ego. The drivers may be disguised in other terms such as recognition, status, power, money, or competitiveness. But it ultimately comes back to ego. Bob recalls an executive who worked with Washington politicians. The executive described the mentality he observed … Read more

No Jerks Allowed

“You know what a jerk is when you see it.” -Bob Diamond, Former CEO of Barclays Bank (Source: The Guardian)   As CEO, Bob Diamond terminated 30 Barclays Bank staff in 2011 for breaking his “no jerks” rule. Diamond said six staff, who ran up a £44,000 lunch tab in London, epitomized “jerk” bankers. He said … 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

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