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The Leadership Room

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Leadership, Culture And Prostitution

By Gary Rich on Apr. 24, 2012 in Leadership Bites


We conduct a program called The Leadership Room for small groups of executives. During last week’s session we sent the ten participants to retail establishments to study the experience they had with the sales staff. We were interested in the relationship between the intentions of each organizations leadership and the actual behavior on the part of employees. 

As our students were entering the front doors of these retailers, twelve prostitutes were allegedly entering the Columbian hotel rooms of some of the best government operatives in the world. So what’s one got to do with the other?

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Most senior leaders that I have worked with believe that they are good at hiring.  They have their formula for interviewing candidates and a process that they are comfortable following to get from short list to offer.  Some are rigorous in using data from assessments and seek input from a wide range of stakeholders, while others rely on “gut” and may even subtly signal their disinterest in receiving challenging opinions or advice from others in the organization.  I’ve witnessed success and failure from both extremes, and many in between.  Does this mean that there really isn’t a way to improve the odds of successful hiring?

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Leadership And Latin

By Gary Rich on Mar. 27, 2012 in Leadership Bites


First a quick definition: managing and leading are not the same.  Managing is creating the infrastructure (systems and processes) to achieve organizational objectives. Leading is using one’s self as a catalyst for achieving organizational objectives.  Both are important to a company’s success.

Most successful executives start to differentiate themselves from the herd early in their careers by managing very effectively. It requires competence with the technical aspects of the business they operate in. Often the better we are at managing, the more frequently we are promoted and the more we are given to manage. Then comes that magical moment. The transition point where our ability to manage becomes less crucial and our ability to lead becomes the main thing.

So what?

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Leading Under The Influence

By Glenn Kaufman on Feb. 6, 2012 in Leadership Bites


We should license leaders.  Think about it.  Doctors, lawyers, dentists, psychologists, accountants and host of other professionals all had to pass some kind of test to certify that they knew their fields before they were allowed to practice.  Yes, there are malpractice suits and some of them go astray, but we at least know that they absorbed a body of knowledge that is essential to their field before they could hang out a shingle.  Not so for leaders.

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The Need To Exchange

By Gary Rich on Jan. 30, 2012 in Leadership Bites


Recently, I was meeting with a client who serves on the Board of a large company. Discussing the organization’s performance, he marveled at the fact that although the CEO post had been vacated nearly six months earlier, earnings had not declined. The new CEO would be coming on board soon, and this Director predicted that, “Now, things will really start moving!”

Well, maybe. On the other hand, we’ve seen this movie a few times and they haven’t all had Hollywood sunset endings.

It goes like this: A new CEO enters the company and is heralded by much fanfare, pomp and circumstance. A worldwide introduction is organized, video monitors in thirty seven countries begin humming, there are planted questions from the audience, praise for the past, talk of the future, the familiar “world is changing and we have to change with it” message, and the need for everyone to jump on board, etc. etc. Sound familiar?

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There’s an old saying: “The real discussion begins once the meeting’s over, the decisions have been made and everyone has left the room.”

Recently, I saw this in action while strolling through a conference center where a number of different companies had meetings taking place. At a break, all the meeting attendees spilled from the rooms and began to cluster around the coffee and muffin spread. I’m an inveterate eavesdropper, and I like muffins, so I lingered a little, moving from table to table. As I did, it was hard not to notice the pattern:

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Have You Seen This Bull?

By Glenn Kaufman on Jan. 3, 2012 in Leadership Bites


Over the years, I’ve witnessed many senior leaders come into organizations like bulls in china shops, only to be booted out- some within their first 90 days.  It’s like an immune reaction where the body spits out the offending bug, only with all the organizational collateral damage as a side effect.

No matter how smart or senior you are, you simply don’t have credibility in a new organization until you earn it.

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Dirty Harry

By Gary Rich on Dec. 19, 2011 in Leadership Bites


Recently, at the request of a board of directors, I met with a senior executive who was widely considered to be a leadership disaster, but his business was doing well. He broke every management rule in the book, and was described as short sighted, disrespectful and arrogant. I’d been asked to do some coaching with him.

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Contrary to what the title suggests, this is NOT a book for first-time leaders, though it contains lots of practical wisdom that they could use.  Rather, this is THE book for any leader who is entering a new job and wants to do it right.

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Getting On Board

By Glenn Kaufman on Dec. 12, 2011 in Leadership Bites


One of Gary’s recent posts, Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, discussed a leaders obligation to stop those around her/him from making a strategic mistake. But at some point, a CEO may say “Gary, despite your reservations, making investments in random Internet properties in a search for the silver bullet is the way we are headed; now line up.” 

What should the senior, but not senior-most leader, do in this situation?

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