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December 19, 2013
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Vail Daily column: A guide, if you gotta be the boss

What I view as brains, heart and soul the father-and-son team of authors titled “Triple Crown Leadership.”

Their collaboration, published in 2012, is an especially useful collection of great anecdotes and a guide to true leadership — which is not to be mistaken for much of the malarkey passing as such.

First, though, I must confess that I, well, hate bosses. That’s a tough admission when I’ve been one for all but a year of my too many decades in my current calling, and half my time in the one before this one.

I mean, I view supervision as a pernicious exercise in sucking the life out of all great and minor causes. I look at bosses as ticks, basically. I don’t just question authority. I want it plumb out of the way so we can get something done.

All bosses do is second guess, try to measure everything, and then take credit for your accomplishments. They are handy if you need a scapegoat, other than that’s usually you in the balance of powers: If only you would have just followed their wisdom, blah, blah, or if only they’d known. … But then how could they? They are too busy taking meetings with other bosses, and reality never quite follows the logic of the echo chamber.

OK, I think you sufficiently understand my fundamental flaw. Can you imagine trying to supervise me? (And I’m not without sympathy for the poor souls stuck with the task.)

Imagine Fate’s sense of humor with me filling supervisory roles since the mid-’80s.

Believe me, I yearn to do better. So being a reader, I turned to books: “In Search of Excellence,” “The Essential Deming,” “First Break All the Rules,” “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,” “The 12 Elements of Great Managing,” “The Speed of Trust,” “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” among lots of worthy others. And the giant on my bookshelf in this genre: “Good to Great.”

Well, add Bob and Greg Vanourek’s book to the A list. I don’t know that it quite dislodges “Good to Great” for me, but it is pretty darn good.

The book is easy to read, is packed with great lore, and each chapter ends with questions that will humble you if you answer honestly. They also inspire. Nice touch there.

I know I embody everything and more that I hate about bosses, and I know full well that I am indicted in everything my colleagues who I happen to supervise don’t know about me. And too often in what they do know.

I know that I care about them more than they can care about me, and that their inevitable fear of my potential capriciousness only fuels my hubris. That the mere fact of authority makes me think I’m smarter than I am.

I know all this from reading and from carrying out my roles of responsibility. These simply are occupational hazards, and the traps are easy to fall into.

And so principles become beacons. We’re trying to get somewhere, after all. No one understands this more than the one in charge.

“Triple Crown Leadership” excels in the genre to match principle to practice in simple (but never easy) ways.

The overriding principles are building excellent, ethical and enduring organizations.

For all my BS about bosses, I appreciate the high calling that leadership really is, as outlined by the Vanoureks.

So if you happen to still be looking for that gift for the leaders in your office or family, you can’t go wrong with this book. You can find it at The Bookworm of Edwards, among other places.

Bob Vanourek lives in Cordillera and is one of the sages who helped start the Vail Leadership Institute after a career leading larger companies. I like to think the ethos of our valley influenced the core messages running through the book.

I’d give it to my boss for Christmas, but he already told me enough with the books. He wants booze.

Remember, he has to deal with me.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 19, 2013 10:14PM Published Jan 8, 2014 07:27PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.