314. His Sage Advice to Leaders: Look in the Mirror
He retired from a 30-year corporate career, where he honed his understanding of what makes leaders great. Today he shares his body of knowledge with top executives. When he tells them they might well be creating a culture where trust and cooperation are low, some of them point him straight to the exit.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow, Inc., a company dedicated to improving leadership in organizations. Known as the “Trust Ambassador,” he is a professional speaker and a member of the National Speakers Association. He’s won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Trust Across America group. He has four published books on the topic of trust and over 500 published articles and videos on various leadership topics.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“Even when I was a young child, I was fascinated by the topic of leadership. I really wanted to find out what makes leaders great. I wondered why some people don’t function quite as well in leadership as others. I read and studied through my early years in my career all the great authors and leadership experts, and got a pretty good education that way.” In Bob’s 30-year-plus corporate career at Eastman Kodak, he recalls, “Basically, it was all about leadership. I knew that’s what I wanted to be. I created what I called a Leadership Laboratory. That’s where I really got serious about trying to understand the finer points of leadership. I surrounded myself with the best leaders I could find and we learned from each other what it takes to lead.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I studied engineering to get a solid technical background, but I was also always aiming at a business career. I got a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, then a Master’s in chemical engineering.” Still with his eye on business, he earned an MBA at the Simon School at the University of Rochester. Making his way into Eastman Kodak, he turned his focus back to his lifelong passion to learn all he could about leadership.
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“I think there are lots of reasons why people find themselves trapped in jobs that are not in their sweet spot. One of the painfully obvious ones is that the pressure of a globalized economy makes it such that short-term goals become king. People forget that in order to accomplish great things you have to have people on your side, and that means, taking a longer-term view of what you’re doing, rather than just going after today’s deliverables. Certainly you have to have a track record of being able to deliver year after year and long-term. But you have to be able to set aside some things that appear to be urgent and make sure you’re not compromising your values, integrity and beliefs. Unfortunately, that’s what so many leaders do. They shoot themselves in the foot that way.”
Steps to Success from Bob Whipple
1. Be awake! Live your life in a conscious way, otherwise you’re just living mechanically.
2. Know what is really important to you—know it in detail—and make sure you are connected to it.
3. Create a strategic plan for your life, ideally once a year.
4. With a clear vision, be willing to take the longer term view.
On His Bookshelf
Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, by Bob and Greg Vanourek
Leadership Wisdom: Lessons from Poetry, Prose and Curious Verse, by Bob Vanourek
Managing People is Like Herding Cats, by Warren Bennis
Connecting With Bob Whipple
Blog: TheTrustAmbassador.com (weekly posts)
Free demo of Avanoo Trust Program
Two video program discounts on Leadergrow.com
- Surviving the Corporate Jungle Leadership Assessment. (Click on blue arrow on Home page)
- Building Trust (Products tab)
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