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

The Dangers of Toxic Micro-Cultures

Leadership authors and speakers, Bob and Gregg Vanourek, use this picture of business people in gas masks to show the idea of toxicity in the work place.

Image credit: Painting by Leah Saulnier www.paintingmaniac.com   Does your organization have some toxic micro-cultures? If so, you ignore them at your peril. Much is written these days about the importance of culture in boosting an organization’s success. Strategy is important, as are talent, business models, innovation, and more. But culture, “how we do things … Read more

Special Leadership Responsibilities of Boards

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

  Boards have special leadership responsibilities to ensure their organizations are trustworthy. If their firms are not trustworthy, they will suffer at the hands of regulators, customers, employees, and shareholders. But surely boards are consumed with the important duties of corporate governance, strategy, risk management, compliance, executive compensation, and succession. Can we realistically expect boards to … 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 projects … Read more

Value and Values

Interview with Chip Baird Founder and Managing Director, North Castle Partners Leaders Speak Series North Castle Partners is a leading private equity firm headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, committed to creating extraordinary value for its companies, employees, investors, and communities.  Charles (Chip) Baird, Jr., North Castle’s Managing Director, founded the firm in 1997. From 1989 to 1997, Baird … 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. How … Read more

Values and Culture Key to Success

Interview with Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos Leaders Speak Series  Tony Hsieh is CEO of online retailer Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, a #1 New York Times best-seller. You can also find him on Twitter (@Zappos) and working with community leaders in Las Vegas to rejuvenate the city. Here … 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

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 chairman. Please … 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 mis-steps (e.g., BP, Johnson & Johnson, and Toyota). We interviewed Dr. Dan Sweeney, Director of … Read more

Unhappy at Work? Check Before You Step in It

“The grass always looks greener beyond your cow pies.”  -(We made that up.)  Tempted to switch organizations? Bigger responsibilities, title, pay? Before you make the move, find out what the culture really is. Unless, of course, you’re a serial job switcher only interested in how fast you can become a VP. This blog is not for … 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