10 Keys to Self-Leadership

  We face a barrage of challenges these days: astonishing technological change, intense competition, a barrage of demands on our attention, tension between work and home, and more. There is one meta-skill that shapes how we respond to all these challenges: self-leadership. Without it, we cannot sustain ourselves for long. Leading self may be obvious, … 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

A Triple Crown Winner at Last

That’s why it’s called “the most elusive championship in all of sports.” It’s taken 37 years since Affirmed won the coveted Triple Crown of thoroughbred horseracing in 1978 for another winner to break through. On June 6 American Pharoah (an inadvertent misspelling of “pharaoh”) became only the 12th horse since 1875 to win the Triple … Read more

Double Your Productivity in 15 Minutes

Guest Blog by Dan Forbes, Founder of the Lead With Giants™ Community In the early 1900s Charles Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel, a small, struggling company. He was looking for ways to increase productivity and profits. In walked Ivy Lee.  He was a business consultant and promised Schwab that in just fifteen minutes he could share … Read more

Take Fear Along For The Ride

Leadership authors and speakers, Bob and Gregg Vanourek, use this picture of an x'd out fear to show the importance of overcoming fear.

“I have learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, But he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela Years ago in Dallas, Bob attended a presentation on courage that made a lifelong impact on him. He expected to … Read more

Governance Guidelines for Corporate Boards

Leadership speaker and author, Bob Vanourek, uses an image of a board table to represent the importance of governance guidelines in an organization.

 Image credit: iStock “If you have leadership without governance, you risk tyranny, fraud and personal fiefdoms. If you have governance without leadership,  you risk atrophy, bureaucracy and indifference.” –Mark Goyder, Founder Director, Tomorrow’s Company With so many corporate scandals in recent decades, much focus has been placed on upgrading corporate governance practices, and rightly so. … Read more

A Life in Leadership: The Legacy of Warren Bennis

Recently, the world lost a giant in the field of leadership and a remarkable human being, Warren Bennis, who passed away at age 89. I was fortunate to get to know Warren years ago through a mutual friend, Christopher Gergen. Together, the three of us strolled by the beach in Santa Monica, visiting in his … Read more

Servant Leadership through Time

The concept of leaders as servants goes back into ancient history but was articulated most clearly in the 20th century by Robert Greenleaf in an essay, “The Servant as Leader,” published in 1970. In the next four years, two more essays explored ideas that an entire institution – and a society – could act as … Read more

Paradoxes of Leadership

Leadership speaker and author, Bob Vanourek, uses this picture of a paradox ahead sign to show paradoxes in leadership.

Paradox: A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. Leadership is rife with paradoxes, competing claims, countervailing pressures, and conflicts. There is frequently a “thesis” and an “antithesis” in leadership dilemmas, often requiring a “synthesis.” Here are some leadership paradoxes and other interesting dualities we have learned: Serving followers and being served by followers … Read more

Everyone Leads at Times

Leadership speakers Bob and Gregg Vanourek use a chess board with all black pieces but for one pawn to show that at some point, even a pawn may lead.

 “Leadership is your choice, not your title.” –Stephen R. Covey Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m just not a leader”? “Fair enough,” you might think. Some people are just not into that leadership thing. Perhaps they have other talents or interests. Or they are reluctant to take responsibility, or afraid of not leading well. … 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

Alignment: A Transformational Process

Organizational alignment is a transformational leadership process, requiring extensive, multidirectional communication, with deep listening and dialogue, not edicts from the top. Alignment is a “we” process, not an “I” process. It is is a back-and-forth, up, down, and sideways leadership process that should touch everyone in the organization, even some outside stakeholders on some steps. … Read more

Tips for New Graduates about Leading and Living

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 work opportunities, … 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 targeted … Read more

RIP Great Leader

“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, there was … 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.

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 fallen short.  Usually, … 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.

 “…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 how a … 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

Twelve Tips to Grow as a Leader

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

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 those factors combined. Leadership is learned and developed through a … 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.

“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 around; or … 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.

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, our mindset … 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

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 that “family” was … 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

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

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. How … 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

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

Is Your Organization Headed for a Breakdown?

Business Breakdown

Is your organization or team headed for a breakdown? Organizations emit warning signs before breaking down, but the financial signals, such as revenue declines, shrinking margins, and deteriorating working capital ratios, are lagging indicators. Leading indicators are much more important because you can address them before the financials go south. Using our triple-crown framework, here … 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 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 … 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, … 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

What’s So Hard About Ethics?

  Why are ethical breakdowns in organizations so common? Why do so many good people make bad decisions?  Look at the “wall of shame” of organizations abusing trust recently: AIG, Barclays, Bear Stearns, BP, Countrywide Financial, Galleon Group, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, Johnson & Johnson, Lehman Brothers, MF Global, Standard Chartered, Walmart, and many more.  … 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

Vanguard’s Values-Based Visionary

Interview with John Bogle  Founder and Former Chairman and CEO, The Vanguard Group Leaders Speak Series The Vanguard Group is an investment company with over $2.0 trillion in assets, offering mutual funds and other financial products and services. The investors who place money in the funds own Vanguard. Based on his undergraduate thesis at Princeton, founder … 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