Rationalizations that Derail Leadership

Author and Leadership Speakers Bob Vanourek and Greg Vanourek use a train that has run off the tracks to show how rationalizations can adversely affect leadership abilities.

“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. … Read more

Leadership in a Horizontal World

... use three sets of legs walking on a cobbled path to show the new, horizontal, leader/-follower relationship.

Guest Blog by Charles H. Green   Leadership’s not what it used to be. There used to be leaders, and followers. Leaders were the few, the chosen. They were charismatic, insightful, inspiring. They seemed to be born (and then maybe tuned up), rather than made. High performers were the audience for leadership development programs, which … Read more

Diversity and Cultural Fit

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 … Read more

Cross-Sector Leaders need to be Triple Crown Leaders

A picture of Paul Thallner, writer of this article and an independent leadership and organizational development consultant

This guest blog is written by Paul Thallner, an independent leadership and organizational development consultant. Imagine that you are an incredible and gifted athlete, and you become a fantastic baseball player. Then, because you like a challenge, you decide—after a decade of high performance in baseball—to switch to cycling. Think about it: what would you … Read more

RIP Great Leader

iStock Photo “But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.” (From “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman) The Great Leader passed away last week after a long, slow decline.  Countless old colleagues were at his side. In the ensuing days, … Read more

The Role of Values for Leaders & Organizations

 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 … 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

Six Tips on Giving Effective Feedback

Leadership speakers and authors, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek, use the image of an older gentleman listening intently to a co-worker to show the importance of transparency.

iStock Photo   Here are some edited excerpts from a great post by our leadership colleague, Chuck Wachendorfer, on giving feedback effectively. Giving feedback effectively includes following these six rules: Focus on the behavior, not the intention.  Never question someone’s intent.  Assume they wanted to do the job well.  It’s the behavior that may have … Read more

10 Reasons Why Great Leadership is a Group Performance

“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

Leader, Manager, Follower: Not as Simple as You Think

Leadership speakers and authors Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek use this image of a smiling woman in front of other people to illustrate the importance of valuing your employees.

“Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.” Song lyric, by John Michael Montgomery Which are you: a leader, manager, or follower? More importantly, which should you be? Can you be them all? Should you? It’s an important choice. Too often, leadership is lionized while management and followership are disparaged. … Read more

Learning to Trust Your Judgment

Leadership speakers and authors, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek, use the image of a scale to illustrate the importance of judgement in ethical decision-making.

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 … Read more

Dreams Versus Goals

Leadership speakers, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek use an image of two hands reaching toward the sky to illustrate the importance of goal-setting.

“Goals are dreams with deadlines” ~ Diana Scharf, author Goals are the secret ingredient for turning our dreams into reality. Our good friend and fellow leadership practitioner, Bob Whipple, “The Trust Ambassador”, wrote a helpful blog on goal setting recently. We excerpt below some of Bob’s wise insights for setting great goals. 1. Make your goals … 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 … Read more

Culture as a Competitive Advantage

Leadership speakers and authors, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek use an image of the Knight of the Roundtable as an example of a high-performance culture of character.

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM How can your organization gain a sustainable competitive advantage? Technological breakthrough? Killer patents? Brilliant strategy? Protected regulatory position? We suggest another, perhaps even more powerful, way: create a high-performance culture of character Create a culture intent on building … Read more

The End of Hierarchy?

Leadership speaker and author Bob Vanourek uses this image of professionals standing at different levels of hierarchy with an upward moving arrow on a graph to illustrate the importance of the board having the CEO/CFO's back while making important, ethical long-term decisions.

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 … Read more

Death By Meeting? 33 Tips to Ensure Great Meetings

Leadership speaker and author Bob Vanourek uses this image of two people shaking hands in front of a board table to illustrate the importance of the board making ethical and enduring decisions when it comes to CEO bonuses and pay.

Source: iStock “The work is through the people.” Ron Heifetz, Harvard professor and leadership author Most people hate the endless stream of useless meetings that keep them from doing the “real work.” But, as Harvard’s Ron Heifetz points out, the real work is done through people. Meetings can be a powerful tool for accomplishing results if they … Read more

Twelve Tips to Grow as a Leader

Leadership speakers Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek feature Nelson Mandela as exemplifying growth in leadership.

 Nelson Mandela. Source: Creative Commons, Flickr, South Africa Good News Leaders aren’t born. They grow. Yes, some people are born with characteristics that make leadership easier. Some people are more outgoing, or intellectually gifted, or quick thinking. Some are excellent communicators, or have natural self-belief. But opportunities to learn and grow dramatically outweigh all of … Read more

The Wonders of “Pay It Forward”

Leadership speaker and author Bob Vanourek uses this image of a smiling man offering a pen to a woman to illustrate the importance of valuing people.

 iStock Photo “For it is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi There are three kinds of people: takers, “transactors,” and givers. Each of us needs to decide where our focus will be. Takers are focused on serving their own needs and pleasures. They may be courteous about it and pleasant to be … Read more

Trust is Essential for a High-Performance Team

Leadership speakers and authors, Bob Vanourek & Gregg Vanourek feature a photo of Bob Whipple, The Trust Ambassador.

Internet Talk Radio Show with Bob Whipple and Bob Vanourek December 18: Noon eastern time Join Bob Vanourek and Bob Whipple, “The Trust Ambassador” and CEO of Leadergrow an organization dedicated to leadership development, as they dialogue on how leaders can build trust in their organizations. The Internet talk radio program, hosted by Voice America, … Read more

Leading with Heart and Head

Leadership speakers Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek feature Nelson Mandela as exemplifying growth in leadership.

 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 … Read more

Leadership, Pushes, and Poetry

Leadership Speakers Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek use the image of a frog peeking its head over the edge of a pot.

“Come to the edge,” he said. ? “We are afraid,” they said. ? “Come to the edge,” he said. ? They came to the edge, ? He pushed them and they flew. ? ? Guilliame Apollinaire, French poet How much should a leader push colleagues when they are afraid? Apollinaire’s lines above signal that a … Read more

Your Leadership Mindset

Leadership speakers, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek, use an image of a man with his head buried in a vast desert of sand to illustrate the "fixed mindset" that is so detrimental to leaders.

 iStock Photo What is your leadership mindset? What are your self-conceptions and beliefs that drive your behavior as a leader? In many cases, these are unknown because they operate beneath the level of our conscious awareness. Yet they are crucially important because they affect the way we approach people, situations, opportunities, and risks. In short, … Read more

Your Most Dangerous Employees

Leadership speakers and prractioners, Bob Vanourek & Gregg Vanourek, choose the image of lurking crocodiles to represent the insidious "mutterer" in the workplace.

iStock Photo   There are four types of employees in your organization: leaders followers objectors mutterers Which are the most dangerous? It’s not the leaders. Every organization needs a variety of leaders, even though they make mistakes. And every organization needs loyal, dedicated followers. Even the objectors are valuable. They raise concerns openly about a … Read more

Is Your Organization Falling Short on Values?

Leadership Authors and Business Speakers Bob Vanourek and Greg Vanourek, feature guest blogger Harvey Kaufman, who uses the image of the word values over a group of words that are considered values to show the importance of values in buisness

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 … Read more

Is Your Organization Out of Alignment? 2 Checklists

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.

Are you working more but enjoying it less? Stressed out? Overloaded? Does it feel like things are slipping out of control? These conditions are becoming “the new normal” for leaders today; they also indicate that your organization is out of alignment: People are working at cross-purposes Turf wars break out between departments Everyone is criticizing … Read more

Trust: Ride the Wave to High Performance

Trust Inc. Book Cover. Leadership Speakers, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek recommend Trust, Inc., a new book of essays compiled by Barbara Kimmel.

A sea change is underway in how businesses are run. Are you ready? Will you follow the trendsetters, scrambling to catch up? Or will you run out front in the vanguard? For decades, the mantra of businesses has been to “maximize shareholder value.” Executives were quick to embrace it. They could focus on a single … Read more

10 Steps to a High-Performance Culture

Leadership Speakers and Authors, Bob and Greg Vanourek, use this picture to illustrate the importance of team work in leadership.

“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 … Read more

“Take This Job and Shove It”? Not So Fast

Some of you are stuck in a toxic firm or with a terrible boss. But before you say, “Take this job and shove it” (to quote the old song), let’s run through a pre-flight checklist before flying the coop. #1 Live Lean. If you don’t have your dream job in your dream company, you should … 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

The Three Most Important Questions About Your Leadership

Stick figure sitting in question mark ponders 3 questions of leadership

Here are three critical questions to ask yourself before you undertake the responsibility of leading other people: What is the difference between “the leader” and “leadership”? Why do you want to lead? Whom do you serve? Let’s discuss each one. What is the difference between “the leader” and “leadership”? “The leader” is the historical leadership … 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

We’re All Entrepreneurs Now

Guest Blog by Mike Critelli During my 25-year tenure as a senior business leader, I have seen a remarkable change in the requirements for successful business leadership. Leaders today must adopt more entrepreneurial behaviors and imbed them in their organizations, however large or mature those organizations might be. The image of an entrepreneur as a … Read more

Unleash Your Latent Leader

Too many people disempower themselves with comments like “If only they would …“ Or “I’m only a (fill in the blank with ‘engineer,’ or ‘salesman,’ or ‘clerk’).” Too many people self-select out of leadership. (See our blog on “The Biggest Barrier to Leadership.”) What if Alice Paul (who fought for women’s rights), or Rosa Parks, … Read more

Why Is Leadership So Difficult? Paradoxes (and How to Master Them)

cube frame representing the paradoxes of leadership

After thousands of years and countless words written and spoken about leadership, why is it still so hard to get it right? Perhaps because leadership is rife with paradoxes? A paradox includes two contradictory concepts both of which are true. We recount some of them here. Leaders are: Adaptive and persistent. Asking and telling. Bosses … Read more

The Ten T’s of Trustworthy Leadership

Trust Inc. Book Cover. Leadership Speakers, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek recommend Trust, Inc., a new book of essays compiled by Barbara Kimmel.

Guest Blog by Barbara Kimmel #1 Trustworthy leadership – A culture of trust cannot exist with an untrustworthy leader. Trustworthy behavior must start at the top and flow down through every person in an organization. Trust should not be confused with compliance. Being “legal” is not synonymous with being trustworthy. #2 Transformation – Productivity and … Read more

High Performance Begins with Shared Values

“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. … Read more

Moral Leadership: Not Just For The Pulpit

Leadership speaker and author, Bob Vanourek, uses the image of a compass against the sky to represent the responsibility of Boards to ensure trustworthiness.

Guest Blog by Dr. Daniel Sweeney Most responsible students of leadership recognize the importance of organizational leadership, strategic leadership, project leadership, and other types of leadership in business organizations. But moral leadership in the workplace? That seems a bit ethereal. I would suggest moral leadership is at the core of all leadership. Moral leadership is … 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 … Read more

Classroom Chaos? Try Shared Values

 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 … Read more

Leading Board Members Who Aren’t Natural Followers

Guest Blog by John Balkcom The board chair by definition and by charter is assigned to be the leader in the boardroom. But board members, especially when selected well, are rarely known for their willingness to follow. What’s a board chair to do? Here are my recommendations based on years of service on both for-profit … Read more

Four Steps to Mastering a Stressful Day

Guest Blog by Brandon Lee As leaders, we have stressful days that can undermine our leadership if we let them. I have learned that how I handle the stress is the one thing I can actually control.  Here are four steps I use: 1. Mental Break.  I take a walk or read something that is not … Read more

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

Life's Leadership Lessons

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 … Read more