Helping People Soar

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 … Read more

Culture Building Workshop

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 … Read more

Why Boards Should Pay Attention to Corporate Culture

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” Lou Gerstner, former IBM CEO   Most boards think “culture” is the soft, fuzzy stuff that some CEO’s or HR leaders may pay attention to. These boards are sadly wrong. A high-performing, ethical culture can be a great source of competitive advantage. An organization’s … Read more

CEO Tip: Trust Your Board As Your Ally

  Some CEO’s and boards have close, trusting partnerships that serve them and their firms extremely well. They are, in my experience, the minority. Most CEO’s 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 … Read more

Put Trust on Your Daily Docket  

Leadership speaker and author Bob Vanourek use this picture of the trust definition in the dictionary to express the importance of trust.

Let’s assume that as a CEO or board leader you want your firm to be viewed as trustworthy by its stakeholders. You realize a more trusting set of relationships between people will be useful, perhaps even a breakthrough to improved performance. Great. But this is a field where you don’t have expertise. You have been … Read more

Blame Boards For Excessive CEO Pay and Perks

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.

Compensation levels for CEO’s and C-suite execs took off like a rocket starting in the 1980’s. It was caused by the dual whammy of Milton Friedman’s “maximize shareholder value” maxim and the advent of the “leveraged buyout” focus from private equity firms. I should know because I participated in those phenomena as a CEO. The … 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

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

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 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 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

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 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

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. (Check out Mike’s blog: “Open Mike.”) PB, a leading provider of customer communication technologies, was one of the eleven companies identified by … 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 … Read more