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 positive impact on all stakeholders? How can we avoid breakdowns? We know it’s possible, because we’ve seen it in action and been part of it.
Most people want to be successful, maintain their integrity, and have a positive impact. These aspirations are powerful, but they’re under attack from organizational dysfunction, ethical compromises, and unsustainable practices.
Too many talented people work in organizations that don’t live up to their values and aspirations. Too many leaders sell out, succumb to short-term pressures, and take the easy way out.
The rationalizations are legion:
“That’s just the way the world is.”
“Everybody’s doing it.”
“It’s just this once.”
“It’s not really hurting anyone.”
The central message of our book, Triple Crown Leadership, is that leaders should commit to the overriding aim of building excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations. With the right kind of leadership, these three pillars can be mutually reinforcing and dramatically raise performance, engagement, and impact. Using five advanced leadership practices (described in our book), we can address the root causes of our problems and set our organizations on a remarkably higher trajectory.
Your Leadership Quest
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” –Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach
Along with Coach Lombardi, we propose something radical: that we “chase perfection,” embarking upon an epic quest for the triple crown of excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations.
What’s your quest? Are you chasing power or riches, fame or glory, recognition or approval?
What’s your organization’s quest? Crushing the competition? Enriching the officers? Enriching shareholders?
For decades, the aim of most businesses was singular: to maximize short-term shareholder value. The results: we’re now suffering the consequences of that maxim taken to the extreme, ignoring the caveats to do so honorably and over the long term.
Those who focus solely on profit and share price today face a backlash and a barrage of questions: What about ethics? What about negative externalities and social impact? What about long-term value creation and sustainable practices?
But there are also problems with the alternatives. “Doing well by doing good” is a noble maxim, but the “win-win” isn’t automatic. In fact, it can be elusive. Choosing to operate ethically and sustainably is only the beginning. Organizations must figure out how to do that while achieving excellent results, maintaining the viability of the enterprise so it can run the next race. There are tough decisions to be made. It requires strong leadership, innovative thinking, and many midcourse corrections.
Today, we don’t need more of the same old approaches. We need a quest that raises our sights, summons our passions, unleashes our talents, and calls our better angels to the post. Building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization is difficult, but it can be done. It requires a different brand of leadership.
Notably, that leadership is not what most people think, and it’s certainly not just about the person at the top. It’s a job for leaders throughout the organization, even those without titles and those who don’t think of themselves as leaders.
No, we don’t view leadership as the sole prerogative of people with fancy titles, corner offices, and loads of frequent-flier miles. That’s one of the fallacies that has held so many enterprises back. We purposefully focus on “leadership,” not “the leader.”
Leadership as Group Performance
Triple crown leadership is a group performance, not a solo act.
We view leadership as a choice, not a position. A trust, not a right. Leadership is a way of thinking, being, and acting that we—every single one of us—can apply in all settings.
Triple crown organizations don’t just expect leadership from the upper echelons. They encourage and develop leadership from all quarters. They promote a pervasive leadership dynamic, and in the process, they build a culture of character.
We’ve traveled a similar journey, father and son, a generation apart, coming to the same conclusions about leadership, now eager to share those insights with you.
We’re fed up with poor leadership, dysfunctional organizations, unethical and unsustainable practices, and recurring scandals that crush dreams and wreak havoc.
We’ve seen great leadership in action. We’ve been privileged to be part of it at times. It changed our lives. We know it can change yours too.
At certain times, we’re all called to the post of leadership. The bugle sounds. It’s time to mount our horses for the race ahead. Look down the track and envision the race you want to ride. Much depends on you. We wish you Godspeed on your leadership quest.
More Articles from Our Series on Triple Crown Leadership: Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring
- What’s Your Leadership Quest?
- Leadership and the Excellence Imperative
- Leadership and the Ethics Imperative
- Leadership for the Long Haul—The Endurance Imperative
Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek are leadership practitioners, teachers, trainers, and award-winning authors. They are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards, and called “the best book on leadership since Good to Great.” Take their Leadership Derailers Assessment or sign up for their newsletter. If you found value in this, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps!