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

A New, Overarching Goal for Boards

One of the painful results of boards embracing the goal to “maximize shareholder value” is shown in the Edelman Trust Barometer: Only 53% of respondents trust business Only 18% of the general population trust business leaders to tell the truth The overarching goal for corporate boards should not be to maximize shareholder value. Instead, boards should … 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

Transparency Builds Trust

iStock Photo Let’s consider two otherwise identical firms. Rocket Corp. issues their quarterly earnings press results, focusing on their financial results. Then they conduct their quarterly conference call with investors, reporting their revenue, margins, profitability, cash levels, and citing their revenue and earnings guidance for the next quarter and year. They take questions from those … Read more

The Longest Tail (Guest Blog by Walt Hampton)

According to Steve Coburn, “It’s not fair to the horses that have been in the race since Day 1.” Coburn is the co-owner of California Chrome, once thought to be the heir to the Triple Crown, who lost at Belmont. “Look at it this way, if you can’t make enough points to get in the … Read more

Tips for New Graduates about Leading and Living

Image: iStock With this cap and gown season upon us, here are some thoughts for new graduates as they transition from school to work or other pursuits. 1. Avoid making choices for the wrong reasons. You are probably under a lot of pressure, both self-imposed and externally thrust upon you. As you look at various … Read more

The Triple Crown of Leadership

Leadership writers and speakers Bob and Gregg Vanourek use a picture of Secretariat to show the accomplishment and difficulty of becoming a triple crown leader.

The sports world is abuzz with excitement. We may have our first Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed captured what has been called “the most elusive championship” in all of sports. California Chrome is poised to accomplish this incredible feat on June 7 if he can win at Belmont Park. This unlikely horse, bred … 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

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

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 of … Read more

Ethical Pitfalls—You Will Be Tested

Photo: iStock No matter where you work or live, when it comes to ethics one thing is clear: you will be tested. Ethical pitfalls are all around us. Often you stumble upon them suddenly. Your ethics are tested most when you are under duress (with stress, pressure, or fear). Here is a partial list of … 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

Your Leadership Legacy

What will your legacy be? In the age of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and tablets–of endless emails and ceaseless connecting–how rare it is to stop and think about that question. How rare it is to stick to the long game and not get caught up in short-termism. How rare it is to look to the far … Read more

Leadership from the Whole Stable–Secretariat’s Legacy Renewed

Secretariat was robbed. In 1973, the thoroughbred known as “Big Red” had won the Triple Crown in spectacular fashion, setting the Kentucky Derby record and demolishing the Belmont Stakes record with a time that is still the world record today, winning by an astonishing thirty-one lengths. But Secretariat’s legacy was marred by a clock malfunction … Read more

Wave of Cheating Scandals–And What To Do About Them

Sad and shocking news from Harvard yesterday: about 125 undergraduate students are under investigation for possibly sharing answers or plagiarizing on a take-home final exam in a single course. (See here for background.) Harvard President Drew Faust said the following about the disturbing events on the Crimson campus: “These allegations, if proven, represent totally unacceptable … Read more

Suicide by Quarter–Leading for the Short-Term

Have you ever: • Told one of your line managers to “do whatever it takes to make your numbers this quarter”? • Pulled sales from next quarter to make this quarter’s numbers? • Cut into critical R&D funds to hit Wall Street forecasts? • Asked the CFO to lower the reserves for future expenses to … Read more

Faces Behind the Gold

Hats off to the Olympic champions. Competitors like Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas, and Michael Phelps inspire us. They reawaken our dreams. We admire their talent, dedication, and sheer grit. We revel with them in their gold. But let’s look deeper to the faces behind the gold—all the people who made it possible for these champions … Read more

The End of Leadership?

Barbara Kellerman and Jim O’Toole, two leadership experts we respect, are ticked off about the failures in leadership we witness virtually every day. (See “Mad About Leadership” in Strategy+Business, June 2012). Think of all the leadership-related scandals recently:   Recent Leadership Hall of Shame Barclays Bear Stearns BP Countrywide Financial Galleon Group GlaxoSmithKline Goldman Sachs … Read more

The Triple Crown Deserves Better

34 years. That’s how long it’s been since a Triple Crown. It was way back in 1978 when Affirmed won the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horseracing with 18-year-old jockey Steve Cauthen aboard. This year, Cauthen wasn’t invited until the last minute to Belmont Park to see if I’ll Have Another could dethrone him with 25-year-old … Read more

How Great Leaders Maintain Exceptional Focus

One of the cruel ironies of our time is that with such incredible access to information, many leaders are drowning in data and bogging down in complexity. They drink through a fire hose of reports, analytics, blogs, and tweets. Mobile devices blessedly update and painfully distract. At some point, the choices become debilitating, especially with … Read more

Facebook’s IPO and Hacker Leader

On May 18th Facebook’s IPO lumbered to close at $38 and change, barely above the opening price but valuing the firm at over $100 billion. Quite an accomplishment for a company started in a college dorm in 2004 as “thefacebook” and one “not originally created to be a company,” according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. We … Read more

Leadership and the Quest for Excellence

Getting results is one of the preeminent tasks of leadership. “The world is not interested in the storms you encountered,” says Norman Augustine, the aerospace businessman and former U.S. Army official, “but in whether or not you brought the ship in safely.” Perhaps he took his cue from Winston Churchill. When asked about the Allies’ … Read more

A Call for Better Leadership

Is it just us, or are we bombarded by negative news? •    NewsCorp scandal and cover-up •    A Goldman Sachs exec resigning in disgust in an op-ed read around the world •    Walmart corruption in Mexico •    Hyperpartisanship and focusing on scoring political points instead of solving real problems What do all these negatives have … Read more