Three Responsibilities of Great Leadership Responsibilities of Great Leadership
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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 message of Triple Crown Leadership is this: make building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization the overarching priority of your organization.

Excellent means achieving exceptional results that have significant, positive impacts on stakeholders: customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, and communities.

Ethical means acting with integrity, even when it’s costly or hard, always paying attention to how the results are achieved.

Enduring means standing the test of time and operating sustainability when it comes to people and resources.

Too many leaders are seduced by ego, status, ambition, greed, or power and cut corners to aggrandize themselves. Too many leaders make unethical decisions in order to avoid business failures or setbacks and the pain associated with them. Enough!

2) Unleash stewards throughout your organization to protect and nurture a high-performance culture of character.

We have operated too long under the flawed leadership model of the great leader at the top. It’s a myth. No one person in today’s complex world is smart and talented enough. No one can (or should) work the hours to do it all.

Great leadership is a group performance—not a solo act—with many leaders unleashed.

Culture matters, in part because it’s the atmosphere in which all other important factors (like strategy, business model, operations, etc.) are floating. An organization’s culture is healthy and vibrant when it is defined smartly and when everyone nurtures, enhances, and defends it.

3) Ensure leaders regularly coach others, thereby building leadership capacity.

The best way to develop other leaders in not through leadership development initiatives, sending employees off to classes, or having them read good leadership books (though we highly recommend Triple Crown Leadership!).

All of those can help, but the best way to develop other leaders is through “tours of duty”: giving people progressively more challenging leadership assignments. Let them lead. Let them learn success and failures. And coach them along the way.

Don’t tell them what to do, or how to do it. Tell them the goal (or, better yet, develop it jointly with them) and let them experience leadership while you check in and ask questions, avoiding the temptation of taking over for them when things get tough. Then have them reflect on what they have learned (and get ready to start coaching other leaders when they are ready).

Core Concept: Three special responsibilities of great leadership are: committing to the triple crown quest (excellent, ethical, enduring); unleashing stewards to protect the culture; and coaching people to build their leadership capacity.

Practical Applications:

  1. Is building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization your overarching goal?
  2. Have you unleashed stewards to nurture and protect a high-performance culture of character?
  3. Is your organization rife with leadership coaching?


Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations. Responsibilities of Great Leadership
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