About Me

This website offers an insider’s no-holds-barred analysis of leadership behavior and misbehavior in the news; free tools developed over years of practice; videos of CEOs confiding experiences which prepared them to lead; and an opportunity for you to join the community of kindred spirits in sharing questions, stories and viewpoints. Why?

It is my mission in life to share what I have learned with those who aspire to be extraordinary. What gets me up in the morning is the opportunity to help someone grow and be extraordinary. Or, as happens from time to time,  learning that something I said or wrote or did improved someone�s life.

My name is Stephen H. Baum. Not exactly a household name. I have been working behind the scenes with some of the country’s most admired leaders. On rare occasions, I also I found myself near masks: people who should not have been the boss but got there somehow.

For years, as partner with a big consulting firm, I learned the craft skills of fact-finding, analysis and generation of insights into difficult business problems. Surprising the client with counter-intuitive findings and new insights was the holy grail for many of my colleagues. But understanding people and their behaviors and helping people grow is the most interesting to me and — it turns out — most important. So, when I was invited to chat with the CEO after hours about a sensitive topic, or to design and moderate the off-site of a senior team or to counsel key team members — well, I jumped at the opportunity.

For a decade now, I have been solely a coach — asking the questions and providing the frameworks and stories that help people discover the answers themselves. And I have more than a dozen private meetings with business owners and CEOs every month and one group meeting of a dozen leaders. It not only keeps me on my toes, but also gives me insights into the heart and mind (and gut) of today’s bosses. There is a lot to learn. And a lot to share.

We are all the accumulation of our experiences. I have been privileged with so many wonderful ones. Working night shift in a chemical plant during college summers. Supervising a department in a soap factory. Leading a jazz trio in college. A terrific education at Princeton, MIT and Harvard Business School. The experience of playing on varsity teams. Post graduate training in the Pentagon’s Systems Analysis and later as a site visit team leader for the Baldrige National Quality Award. The first ever Services Institute. Starting a business and selling it. Twice. Having two dozen CEOs treat me as a confidante and advisor.

Those who know me know how important family is to me. Different kinds of family. Family at home, family at work and family in community service. At Booz Allen, we used to have “the Cleveland Airport test” — could you stand to be stranded with a person for three hours in the Cleveland Airport? Extracurricular interests enrich our presence and value at work. So for me: jazz piano, storytelling festivals, scuba diving with my eldest son, cooking for and ballroom dancing with my spouse, theater with my younger son the script-writer. And constant learning by every means possible.

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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

How Ordinary People Become
Extraordinary Leaders

by Stephen H. Baum (Random House)

Most leaders of American companies started out as ordinary people. What prepared them for the top job?

Countless more ordinary people of equal talent never developed the leadership core required to run the show. Why not?

"Lessons for life about the core leadership traits of character, risk taking decisiveness and the ability to engage and inspire followers."
--Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization

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