Pub. Date:
McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Pub. Date:
McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations / Edition 1

Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations / Edition 1

by Bob Vanourek, Gregg Vanourek Bob Vanourek
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"A rare combination of deep insight and helpful research, and an important book. Relevant and timely. Smart and helpful guidance for leaders about today's pressing problems."
—Stephen R. Covey and Stephen M. R. Covey, bestselling authors and father and son (from the Foreword)

"It's been more than thirty years since the sport of kings last saw a Triple Crown. We can't wait that long for the triple crown of leadership—the stakes are too high and the need too urgent. It's time to embrace this vision of lasting, ethical leadership."
—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

"The Vanoureks have written the new leadership manifesto…. It is a gift to all of us who believe in the power of purposeful leadership."
—Richard Leider, bestselling author of Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose

"A clarion call for anyone striving to create an enduring organization with lasting positive impact.”
—David Gergen, Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and CNN Senior Political Analyst, and Christopher Gergen, founder and CEO of Forward Ventures, father and son

"A powerful case for leaders who simultaneously combine ethics and excellence to create enduring organizations."
—Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor and Former CEO, Medtronic

"An extremely timely and practical book about the complex art and practice of leadership. Every leader of tomorrow must read this book today."
—James O'Toole, leadership author and professor

"An inspiring call to action, a challenging mandate, and a compelling road map for leaders across the public, private, or nonprofit sector. A must read."
—Marty Linsky, Harvard Kennedy School Faculty and cofounder, Cambridge Leadership Associates

"In a crowded marketplace of books on leadership, this one stands out. A book of wisdom and practical advice."
Barry Z. Posner, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge

In today's fiercely competitive world, it takes more than "business as usual" to stay strong and stay ahead of the curve. It takes Triple Crown Leadership. Inspired by the most elusive championship in sports, the Triple Crown of horseracing, this compelling road map is designed for leaders at all levels, from supervisors to CEOs. If you want to win, you'll want this book.

Triple Crown Leadership provides helpful tools for any leader seeking a better way. The book shows you how to:

  • Be excellent (achieve exceptional performance), ethical (do the right thing), and enduring (stand the test of time)
  • Align your organization for peak performance
  • Instill a culture of character
  • Lead with both "steel" and "velvet"
  • Achieve impact and sustainability while maintaining high performance.
  • Turn your company around after a breakdown.

Based on the authors' experience and interviews with over sixty organizations in eleven countries, this book provides compelling leadership lessons from an array of enterprises, including Zappos, Google, eBay, Infosys, Xerox, Spotify, Mayo Clinic, KIPP, Ashoka, and more. Executives Bob and Gregg Vanourek—a dynamic father and son team—show you how to achieve high performance, integrity, and sustainability.

In horseracing, it takes more than speed for a horse like Secretariat to win the Triple Crown. In organizations, it takes both head and heart, commitment to an inspiring cause, steel and velvet leadership, stewardship, and alignment—the practices of triple crown leadership. Triple Crown Leadership also provides hard-hitting, practical advice on leading turnarounds, startups, and social ventures—and addresses the leadership needed from CEOs, boards, senior managers, and even people without authority.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071791502
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 07/13/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

BOB VANOUREK was CEO of Sensormatic, a billion-dollar NYSE company, and serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Vail Leadership Institute. He has been CEO or officer of a number of global companies, including Pitney Bowes, Recognition Equipment, and Avery International, helping guide them through transformational turnarounds.

GREGG VANOUREK is an expert on leadership, entrepreneurship, and personal development. He teaches at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship and Royal Institute of Technology. He co-founded New Mountain Ventures and served as a senior executive at K12 Inc. and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. He is co-author of two other books, including Life Entrepreneurs.

Read an Excerpt


Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations


The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2012Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-179150-2




What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place ...? —Winston Churchill

It was a quest that crossed generations: finding a better way.

It started with a father, William Worrall Mayo, and his small medical practice in Minnesota in the 1860s. Twenty years later, his two sons joined him. They were obsessed with finding better ways to help patients. Humble and curious, they invited outside physicians into their practice, creating what was arguably the first integrated group medical practice in the world.

Practicing medicine with this kind of team-based approach was revolutionary at the time. Individual physicians were supposed to have all the answers. Rejecting that thinking, the Mayos believed that pooling the knowledge and skills of doctors would lead to better results.

"No one is big enough to be independent of others," said the Mayo father, to which his son William J. Mayo added: "The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered." Those were the founding precepts that made what was then called "the Mayos' clinic" distinctive.

According to Drs. Kent Seltman and Leonard Berry in Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic, "Mayo Clinic is the first integrated, not-for-profit medical group practice in the world and one of the largest." It is a global leader in healthcare delivery, research, and education, with a sterling brand in the healthcare industry. With its four main hospitals and additional affiliated hospitals and clinics in the Mayo Clinic Health System network, it serves more than a million patients annually—a spectrum of patients from the international elite to Medicare recipients. With its reputation for excellence, patients from all corners of the globe come for diagnosis and treatment, and doctors come to learn new techniques. Since many people go there only after exhausting all other options, Mayo physicians face some of the toughest medical cases. In today's age of spiraling healthcare costs, Mayo Clinic has been able to maintain high quality while keeping costs comparatively low, according to independent studies. For over twenty straight years, Mayo hospitals have earned top rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

The Mayos' quest for a better way has yielded a stunning record of impacts and innovations, including:

• Influencing the way medicine is practiced throughout the world

• Helping to establish the medical residency education system so prevalent today

• Developing one of the world's first centralized systems of individual medical records for patients (versus previous systems organized by physician)

• Creating a system for numerically grading cancer (still used today), dramatically effective methods to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and innovative tuberculosis cures

• Performing the first federally approved total hip replacement in the United States in 1969, heralding a new era of joint replacement

• Training and employing Nobel Prize–winning physicians and researchers

Mayo's innovations are no accident. Clinic leaders proactively monitor the practices of other medical organizations and study companies like 3M and Xerox that are famous for innovation.

Equally important is Mayo's record of ethical leadership. Its "Spirit of the Clinic" lays out Mayo's ethical commitments: service, not profit; patient first; interest by staff in every other member; willingness to change; excellence; and integrity. According to Dr. Seltman (Mayo's former director of marketing), "Mayo Clinic has built one of the strongest brands in the world ... by preserving the essential elements of what the organization is." Mayo does not take these values for granted. All new hires (from nurses and janitors to accountants) receive extensive orientation in the "Mayo Way," specifically designed to help them understand and appreciate how their jobs affect patients. Mayo employees go the extra mile because they know that together they are helping people and saving lives.

Mayo's values drive day-to-day decisions. For instance, when a Mayo cardiologist faced a choice between two pacemakers for his patient, he consulted with Dr. Robert Waller (then Mayo's CEO), who agreed that he should use the new and less invasive pacemaker even though it was not yet approved for reimbursement from Medicare. Even though it was a bad deal financially, Waller said it was a "no-brainer" because it was the one that was best for the patient.

Through such collaboration and consultation, physicians and leaders make better decisions. According to Paul Roberts in Fast Company, "For all of its prowess in science and technology, the Mayo Clinic owes much of its success to its culture." The clinic has placed on Fortune's prestigious "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the past nine years in a row.

Perhaps most impressive is how Mayo's record of excellence and ethics has stood the test of time. Mayo Clinic works hard to maintain its reputation as an innovator. In 2010, the clinic invested $790 million in research and education. Its approach is both high tech and high touch—combining the smart use of technology with old-fashioned customer service and attentive care. On the technology side, for example, Mayo makes innovative use of social media, blogs, and Intranet videos; created one of the largest electronic medical record systems in the world; and developed a "Virtual Mayo Clinic" presence on Second Life, an online virtual community. On the touch side, you don't just get a doctor at Mayo Clinic: you get a swarm of physicians consulting with each other about your case (they even call themselves "consultants"), as well as a team of support professionals working to provide you with the highest-quality care and even hospitality and comfort. Meanwhile, Mayo invests generously in more than a hundred community programs, plus energy conservation efforts and sustainability practices.

Of course, Mayo has had problems and made mistakes. Over the years, critics have faulted it for moving too slowly and for being attached to old ways. Experts recently complained that Mayo is spending too much money on costly proton beam treatment facilities due to perverse Medicare funding incentives and competition from other hospitals. Of course, one can also find critiques of doctors, diagnoses, and patient treatment, but Mayo's long-term results, impacts, innovations, and commitment to ethical practices are exceptional.

Mayo Clinic exemplifies the ultimate aim of triple crown leadership: building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization. See Figure 1.1. We discuss each of these elements in turn below.


Leadership is defined by results not attributes. —Peter Drucker, author and management consultant

Getting results is one of the preeminent tasks of leadership. Triple crown leadership seeks not just any results, but excellent results—compelling and exceptional outcomes. As at Mayo Clinic, it strives for the pinnacle of performance.

In different fields, there are beacons of excellence: for inspired product design, we look to Apple; for brand management, we look to Procter & Gamble; for financial reporting, the Wall Street Journal; for advanced military missions, the Special Forces.

Ensuring clarity about ultimate aims—and measures of success—may sound obvious but is not always straightforward. Harvard Bu

Excerpted from TRIPLE CROWN LEADERSHIP by BOB VANOUREK, GREGG VANOUREK. Copyright © 2012 by Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction Call to the Post 1

Chapter 1 The Triple Crown Quest-Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring 17

Part 1 Triple Crown Leadership Practices

Chapter 2 Head And Heart 41

Chapter 3 The Colors 61

Chapter 4 Steel And Velvet 83

Chapter 5 Stewards 105

Chapter 6 Alignment 125

Part 2 Leadership In Action

Chapter 7 Breakdowns 149

Chapter 8 Turnarounds 169

Chapter 9 Startups 189

Chapter 10 Social Impact 209

Chapter 11 Snapshots 227

Conclusion At the Post 245

Appendix About the Research 253

Postscript Sport Of Kings Or Business Of Knaves? 263

Frequently Asked Questions 267

Endnotes 273

Acknowledgments 289

Index 291

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