How to Create a Shared Purpose, Values, and Vision

Article Summary:  Many people these days are cynical about an organization’s purpose, values, and vision because they’re platitudes. But great leaders collaboratively elicit them from the team and then weave them into the fabric of the organization.  +++ Whether you’re the CEO, a department manager, or a small business owner, we encourage you to create … Read more

What to Do If You Work for a Toxic Boss?

What to Do If You Work for a Toxic Boss?

Article Summary: Many people work for a toxic boss. It can be incredibly frustrating. What to do about it? Here are five steps you can take. +++ So you’ve got a toxic boss and you don’t feel like you’re in a position to change things in your organization. What to do? There are five steps … Read more

How to Find a Great Organization to Work For

Article Summary:  Frequently, we hear from job seekers that it’s hard to find good organizations. How to find a great place to work? A step-by-step guide. +++ We’ve written extensively about what we call “triple crown organizations,” ones that are excellent, ethical, and enduring. These organizations are great places to work. Though they aren’t the … Read more

Is Your Organization Aligned?

Article Summary:  Most organizations aren’t aligned, reducing performance and causing frustration and dysfunction. Complete our Alignment Scorecard to gauge your organization’s alignment. +++ Most organizations aren’t aligned. As a result, workers are frustrated and the organization underperforms, sometimes badly.   Signs of Misalignment When organizations aren’t aligned: People lack a clear and inspiring sense of … Read more

Six Words to Fix Your Accountability Problems

accountability and success

Article Summary: Many organizations struggle with accountability. We discovered six words you can use to fix your accountability problems. +++ Are you frustrated by accountability problems? Are people passing the buck, denying responsibility? Do meetings go on and on without coming to timely and definitive conclusions? We’ve been there and know how demoralizing it can … Read more

Good Leaders Are Good Storytellers

Article Summary Many leaders struggle with effective communication. Here we address why storytelling is so powerful and how leaders can get better at it. +++ Bob recalls a defining moment in the turnaround of a large public company where he was the new CEO. During the senior staff meetings held every Saturday morning while the … Read more

How to Align Your Organization for Peak Performance

Article Summary Most organizations aren’t aligned. This reduces performance dramatically and often causes frustration and dysfunction. Here we show leaders how to align their organization or team. We include an Alignment Scorecard to assess your current levels of alignment. +++ In our experience, most organizations aren’t aligned. If they’re not aligned, they’re underperforming. And perhaps … Read more

The Best Legacy a Leader Can Leave

  What’s the best legacy a leader can leave?   A Track Record of Results? Is the best legacy a leader can leave a track record of significant results achieved? Laudable results for a business leader might include record sales, higher profits, significant brand appreciation, or markets developed. For nonprofit leaders, it might be deeper … Read more

Good Leaders Know When to Tilt

Good leaders don’t worship before the idol of one goal or one stakeholder. They have learned the art of balancing and tilting among competing and conflicting interests and among short- and long-term considerations. It’s easier for leaders to maximize results for one goal or one stakeholder group. But good leadership isn’t easy.   Goals Virtually … Read more

Good Leadership Practices–An A-to-Z Guide

Through many years of research and experience, we discovered many practices employed by good leaders. Some practices were well known. Others were surprises. We’ve now compiled an alphabetical guide of these practices: A-to-Z Guide to Good Leadership Practices. The full guide contains more than 200 entries, and it’s chock full of actionable tips for leading … Read more

An Overarching Aim for Your Leadership

Today, more than ever, we need leaders and organizations to commit to the overarching aim of being excellent, ethical, and enduring. Commit to the overarching aim of being excellent, ethical, and enduring.   Triple Crown Leadership When we wrote our book, Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, we committed ourselves as a … Read more

Why Leaders Should Create a Culture of Stewardship

bird flying out of cage

One of the most powerful ideas we discovered in our research for our book, Triple Crown Leadership—including interviewing leaders in 61 organizations in 11 countries—is one we call “stewards” (and building a culture of stewardship). It’s one of the most unusual and counterintuitive leadership practices we’ve ever discovered. A “steward” is a person who is … Read more

Are You Strong Enough to Be a ‘Voice of One’?

You’re sitting in a meeting with your colleagues. They all agree on a course of action you sense is wrong. It’s not illegal, but it certainly doesn’t feel right. Do you speak up?   You Will Be Tested No matter what field you work in, you will be tested with ethical challenges or dilemmas. You’ll … Read more

Taking Casualties–No Jerks Allowed

body chalk outline

What do you do when one of your star performers, the best salesperson, or the brilliant technical expert is a jerk? Even worse, more than a jerk, your star performer is a dirtbag who lies, abuses others verbally, or worse? Or cheats to land a bonus? What do you do? We’ve seen this too many … Read more

Why Leaders Must Protect Mavericks

Tom Cruise’s 2022 reprise of his 1986 hit movie, Top Gun, has been a box office smash. Top Gun: Maverick has Cruise again playing Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a cocky, rule-breaking Navy test pilot. The elite naval aviation academy recruits Mitchell (Cruise) to train a group of younger top guns for a harrowing and almost-impossible aeronautical … Read more

Steel and Velvet Leadership

steel and velvet

In our book, Triple Crown Leadership, based on extensive research and interviews with leaders in 61 outstanding organizations in 11 countries, we identified five advanced leadership practices for building an organization or team that’s excellent, ethical, and enduring. One of these practices has most intrigued the leaders we work with. Here we elaborate on how … Read more

Don’t Retire, Reawaken and Refire

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” -author unknown I have a new take to share on retirement. Search online about retirement and much advice will pop up. You’ll find advice about celebration, financial planning, hobbies, exercise, courses, bucket lists, disenchantment, and more. In … Read more

Why Are We Talking about Ethics?

There I was, giving a guest lecture on leadership at a European business school, when I got an intriguing question from a student in the back of the room: “Excuse me, why are we talking about ethics? This is a course about leadership.” I came to realize what a gift this question was. His question … Read more

Be Vulnerable: Turn Your Weaknesses into Something Good

Bob Vanourek with weaknesses quote

Most of us are adept at hiding our weaknesses. I know I am. I’m getting better though. I’ve learned that being vulnerable by admitting my weaknesses often turns the situation around to something good.   People Already Know I discovered that many people already knew my weaknesses. It was obvious to them, even while I … Read more

Why Leaders Can’t Be Loners

Early in my business career, I was a loner. I worked hard and was polite to others, but I never connected with colleagues. I never opened up to reveal what I was feeling. It was all business. I kept my head down and “nose to the grindstone.” Since I had done well in college and … Read more

Ethical Leadership: Our Gamechanger

(This presentation was given on April 27, 2022, by Bob Vanourek at the University of Denver’s Elevate Ethics 2022 Event, hosted by the Daniels College of Business and the Institute for Enterprise Ethics.) “Elevate Ethics.” What a wonderful title. I want to speak tonight about ethical leadership, my passion. How can we be more ethical … Read more

How to Become a Better Servant Leader

Decades ago, Robert Greenleaf articulated one of the most important leadership frameworks in history: “servant leadership.” Greenleaf described the essence of this counterintuitive approach here: “The servant leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from … Read more

The Paradoxes of Servant Leadership

Leadership is rife with paradoxes, seemingly self-contradictory statements that may nonetheless be true. We see this in the servant leadership framework as well as other approaches.   The Servant-as-Leader Paradox In his biography of Robert Greenleaf (originator of servant leadership), author Don Frick said: “Servant and leader are two nouns which usually describe two quite … Read more

How Great Leaders Recruit People with Heart

Penguins lining up for interviews

“Acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task.” –John Maxwell, leadership author How much scrutiny do you use in assessing people for your team? What do you look for? And how? Triple crown leaders—ones who build organizations that are excellent, ethical, and enduring—systematically recruit people with specific characteristics. They invest their precious … Read more

Leadership for the Long Haul—The Endurance Imperative

It’s one thing for an organization to achieve outstanding results. It’s another thing to do so ethically. And it’s another thing altogether to get outstanding results ethically and to sustain it over time. Leadership for the long haul. “Enduring” is the third imperative of what we call “triple crown leadership” (excellent, ethical, and enduring). By … Read more

Leadership and the Excellence Imperative

Getting results is one of the preeminent tasks of leadership. What we call “triple crown leadership” (from our book of the same name) seeks not just any results, but excellent results—exceptional outcomes. It strives for the pinnacle of performance. (Our “triple crown leadership” model has three aims: excellent, ethical, and enduring. Leaders should begin with … Read more

What’s Your Leadership Quest?

It’s time to raise your leadership game. What’s your leadership quest? What are you seeking to do through your leadership, and where do you want to take your team or organization? What kind of leadership does it take to build excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations? How can we lead ventures for both high performance and … Read more

The Power of Empathy in Leadership

These days, we ask much of our leaders. Organizations and governments are under great pressures to perform. These days, leaders are responsible for crisis management during a pandemic with its attendant economic destruction and social and emotional anxiety. More and more we are realizing that empathy is a powerful aspect of leading well. Empathy is … Read more

Is Your Business Stuck in Zombieland?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -attributed to Albert Einstein U.S. government statistics tell us that about half of all new businesses will be gone within five years. Of course, some businesses become successful, often within a few years. These are the models all entrepreneurs hope to … Read more

Does Your Business Need an Advisory Board?

“I was not sure where I was going … But you saw further and clearer than I, … to a place I had never dreamed of …” -Thomas Merton The sad reality is that most businesses fail. The quoted failure rates vary, but they are all dismal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says, “About … Read more

The Trust Imperative

Building trust is an imperative to creating a better world. Through my work advocating ethical and values-based leadership, I sometimes see eyes glaze over. “Whose values?” people wonder. “How do you define what’s ethical?” “Can we really act morally in this rough-and-tumble world?” Fair questions from people trying to survive in a tough, competitive environment. … Read more

The Keys to Success

What are the keys to success? I pondered this question when asked to speak at the recent GlenX Success Summit in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. My task was to define the X Factor that, combined with IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional intelligence), would lead to success, happiness, fulfillment, and achieving one’s best self. A tall … Read more

A Leadership Lightning Bolt

Early in my leadership quest to “find a better way to lead,” I had the wonderful pleasure to work for Jan and Olga Erteszak, Polish immigrants who had fled the Nazis in Europe and then founded a ladies’ lingerie company in Los Angeles. The Olga Company was the creative leader in this industry, designing and … Read more

Blue Ocean Trust Building Workshop

Building trust requires courage: the courage to be vulnerable, to listen to feedback on what you, as a leader, do daily, and the resolve to follow through on your commitments to change, even if those changes are uncomfortable. This trust-building activity takes guts because it opens you to feedback you may not have heard before. … 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 … 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

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.

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 here,” as we like to define it, can … Read more

Learning to Trust Your Judgment

Leadership speakers and authors Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek use an image of the word "Trust" to emphasize the importance of trusting yourself.

(This blog was previously published by Trust Across America – Trust Around the World as a part of their 100 Days of Organizational Trust program.) Many folks are reluctant to trust their own judgment. They may feel they should not speak up when some alarm bell is going off in their head for a variety … 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 take … 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 culture … 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

CEO Tip: Trust Your Board As Your Ally

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