Monday, December 10, 2007

Bureaucracy - unacceptable red tape or a useful organizational structure?

Bureaucracies grow to administer policies, procedures or regulations that an organization deems necessary to accomplish its mission. Without the bureaucracy and more recently, it's computerized equivalent, we would have to invent a procedure or process each time we wanted to accomplish what could be a routine task like registering a birth or placing an order.

Unfortunately some bureaucracies decide to actually become the mission which means that rather than providing a service they create work by building barriers to accomplishing the tasks. An immigration service, for example, may reinvent its role and consider it productive that applications are not processed efficiently. This is when we get "red tape."

All organizations, all systems for that matter, have automatic control mechanisms that keep them in some state of healthy, dynamic equilibrium, internally and with their environment. Such mechanisms are necessary for existence but, just like our immune system, can themselves get out of control and harm their host.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is your workplace dysfunctional?

Q Is your workplace dysfunctional? If this is true is it because the people who work there are dysfunctional, are the processes used to run the business dysfunctional, or is it some combination of these 2? Or something completely different?

A All workplaces exhibit some degree of dysfunctionality. Neither human beings nor the processes they create are perfect. A healthily functional workplace will act to restore functionality when the cost of dysfunctionality is greater than the cost of restoration.

People who stay working in dysfunctional processes become dysfunctional. Dysfunctional people are likely to accept/create dysfunctional processes. It may be impossible to separate people and process! The place they come together is in leadership. In this case let's call it "self-functionality." An effective leader will not allow his/her time/energy to be wasted or that of people on his/her team.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is there a link between sustainable business practices and financial performance?

Q. (cont.) Do you believe there is a verifiable link between a company's corp. social responsibility initiatives and its financial performance?

A. A sustainable business requires social responsibility. Unfortunately business "success" that is achieved by externalizing costs can go undetected for years while the business reports strong but distorted financial performance. It has yet to be proved that socially responsible investments are more successful but I suspect that day is not far off. Meanwhile it is a matter of belief and there are strong arguments for the case.

A business that is managed to satisfy it's stockholders only, and that means competing with other businesses to deliver investor value only, will inevitably short-change other stake-holders. Disgruntled employees, pissed-off customers and unpaid vendors will spread the word and the community at large won't want it in their back yard.

The success of the information-based, global economy contains the seeds of destruction of anti-social corporate behavior. Increasing transparency combined with 24/7 feedback from anyone anywhere are every day asserting accountability, making millions of new connections between business practices and stakeholder needs. This sea-change may take a while but it appears inevitable.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Does taking a proactive approach to adversity have the potential of changing your perception of the same?

Q (from Ron Hurst, cont.) Recently I was challenged to consider how adversity in the workplace could be leveraged to initiate organizational transformation. Armed with a heightened sense of awareness to adversity I have so far found less of it overall. What is your experience?

A. It makes sense that a heightened awareness of adversity might lead to the discovery of less. Such consciousness shifts my perspective on what is happening to me and to others. I see, whenever circumstances change beyond our hopes or expectations, whether we are really suffering, falling into victim-hood or failing to seize an opportunity.

Change of almost any kind can be perceived as adverse and we need to learn healthy responses. Classically we use fire drills, flight simulators and dry runs of all kinds to build confidence in the face of the new and unexpected. Notice how these proactively present potential adversities but with a safety net that allows us to relax enough to understand how we can be most effective. Then in the workplace and without a safety net except for their coaching, powerful leaders proactively apply stretch-goals to demonstrate how self-defined goals can be too conservative or, if you will, adversity averse. Meanwhile there remains the constant promise that "you may get to keep your job if you do your job."

So it is clear we already use the prospect of adversity as a motivator but it only exercises our fear-based responses to external events and that is the danger lurking in any proposition about proactive adversity. When we get beyond fear to confidence and courage our motivations are our aspirations. Failure to cultivate these keeps an organization in 'survival mode' in which survival is doubtful at best and transformation is impossible.

Presently I can see no other approach to transformation than letting aspirations focus organizational energy. This means relegating the use of adversity to potential and in scenarios only. It means proactivly eliminating fear so that potential or real adversity can be seen as an opportunity to find confidence, act courageously and realize those aspirations.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How can corporations best fight atrophy?

If organic atrophy is something to do with a weakening and loss of function due to lack of effective utilization or lack of nourishment, the metaphor suggest we do whatever it is that healthily exercises and nourishes an enterprise. Over the last few years and triggered by the popularity of outsourcing there has been a renewed focus on change management and innovation as defensive measures. They do provide exercise and nourishment but I'm concerned that the manner of adoption is unlikely to prevent atrophy.

Change management has become an analgesic, reducing the pain by working on the symptoms rather than causes. The problem is that while we are able to manage whatever is predictable about the pain of change, the process doesn't help us be more accepting of and adaptable to the randomness and chaos of change. Change management assumes that change is the exception rather than the rule and is a band-aid for leadership by persistence and control to the exclusion of acceptance and experimentation.

Much of the conversation about innovation gravitated to product design which, while important, in itself provides limited barriers to competition and neglects all the other activities in the corporation that can be nourished by innovation.

Change management and management generally is about implementation. When the managers of an enterprise feel pressured, the fear-driven response is usually to implement better and this generally means doing more of the same only quicker or cheaper. While this is great for doing more of the same it is still the same and meanwhile everything else is changing - customers needs, technology, society, macroeconomics and geopolitics are all changing. There may be a lot of exercise but no nourishment. So atrophy begins.

The trick, if there is one, is to accept change as ongoing and therefore that innovation is ongoing and inseparable from implementation. It is clearly atrophy-enabling to have one group of people responsible for implementation and another, usually less integrated and/or less resourced, group of people responsible for innovation as was so visibly the case at Xerox Rochester and PARC Palo Alto in the 80's. It was the quality movement, also a product of the 80's, that taught us differently but the issue now goes way beyond the production floor. Innovation and implementation are everyone's jobs and, if that is the case, it is up to corporate leaders to model this and develop cultures and structures that value both in a way that nourishment is guaranteed.

A couple of years ago I developed the ideas expressed here into an interactive model, "A Vision of Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation" and an interpretive blog, "The Leader-Follower."

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How do culture, motivation and leadership contribute to the success of an organization?

Q (cont.) What is human behavior in organization?

A. Human behavior in organizations is the product of what you identify: culture, motivation and leadership.

- Our motivations are the hidden, emotional sources of energy that drive our behavior.

- Leadership is the act of making our motivations explicit in our behavior so others can decide whether or not they want to follow.

- The culture is that hidden aspect of the organization comprising the values, traditions and beliefs that members share.

- The organization itself is a collection of people behaving in such a way that they can live out these shared values.

There is at least one other ingredient, imperative for sustained organizational success. These values must also be important to its customers, its investors, and society in general.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

How big an impact do you think that structural and organization changes have on working relationships and the dynamic of an office?

Q (cont.) In my working career, I have been through my share of process redesigns, departmental shuffles and realignments. Sometimes the changes influence the direction of people's careers, the importance of their positions and the level of people who are their customers and/or vendors. I have seen new working relationships created, old one's slowly fade away, I have seen people everyone thought of as friends become rivals. I have seen people who were highly trusted by their department heads relegated down two or three levels on the managmental run in terms of who they dealt with. These changes often influenced the outlook of people, confirmed their own confidence in themselves or stripped them of their sense of strength and ownership. The biggest of these events occurred early in my working career and at large scale companies that had been entrenched in their industries for significant time. As the late eighties and nineties have washed away into history, I wonder if maybe these events are less monumental now.

A. Your description of the impact of structural changes resonates strongly with my own experience which has led to a transition in my perspective on the workplace including my own role in change. Although the success of the TV show, The Office, suggest our experiences are widespread and that comic relief from them is welcome, I believe more is possible.

Changes to organizational structure reflect the changes in values propagated by the organization's leaders. Members of the organization relate to the organization according to their own values, self-selecting to a large extent their roles and relationships for a best fit. If the organization's values shift the foundation or framework for almost any personal behavior changes and, as we have seen, some of us thrive on change, others ride the waves and yet others can be terrified.

I've drawn a couple of lessons from this. The first is that life is about constant change. What we have come to call "change management" is a dangerous idea. It assumes that stability is the desirable condition, that change is not chaotic and that change can be managed as if it were predictable. I now find it more useful to accept change as normal, inevitable and how organizations and I myself grow.

The other lesson is that the pervasive effects of change you describe can be accommodated only if everyone who is impacted is allowed to contribute. For example, the complexities of social networks can only "managed" by the participants who must be brought into the process if their value added is to be retained or even enhanced. (This suggests how important it is that change be seen as an opportunity.)

Good leaders show up as people who shape an organization's culture in ways that not only support its mission but simultaneously support the intentions of its members. Members become leaders when their intentions become embedded in the values of the culture.

I suppose change will always bring collateral damage. The lesson's of Iraq apply everywhere - change impacts all stakeholders. If stakeholders are to be accountable to themselves and others, they must also be permitted to be responsible.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

What do you find is effective to promote reflective thinking in the workplace?

Q. For this purpose, reflection is taking the time to examine past or current situations and applying the learning to a particular action in the present time or future. Some examples of methods of promoting reflection are journaling, coaching, discussion groups, after action reports, and retreats.

A. In many workplaces, for much of the time, quick, knowledgeable responses are encouraged in a convergent process that tends to quickly exclude possibilities in an intense search for quick answers. All this is in the name of 'saving time' which, because of the poor quality inherent in this form of communication rarely occurs. This kind of conversation is most useful in a directive environment where the goal is implementation of something that is routine.

On those occasions where learning and creative solutions are desirable, suspending judgment permits a divergent conversation, a dialog that embraces all elements that emerge. The process of doing something other than judging exposes an idea to the more intuitive mental processes. We start to reflect.

This kind of dialog becomes possible when people are ready to learn about themselves, have no expectations for their own or for other's performance and replace a sense of urgency with relaxed confidence that a useful outcome will arise. When they are at their most effective, coaching, discussion groups, after action reports, and retreats each support these same qualities.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How do organizational goals affect ethical behavior? How do these goals interfere with ethical leadership?

One of the challenges for a business organization is that it is obligated by law to provide the best returns it can to its investors. In a competitive market in which the end can often be used to justify the means, it requires significant moral strength on behalf of its officers to maintain high ethical standards.

Some ethical failures are illegal behaviors as in the case of Enron where officers acted to obscure the true financial health of the company from its investors, including its own employees a large number of whom lost their savings and/or pensions. The pressure for ever growing profit has other effects that are only recently receiving mainstream attention and have given rise to the position of CRO or Chief Responsibility Officer to bring a focus to dealing with them. These are the effects of externalizing costs, that is passing on costs to people who are not involved in the business. Examples would include power and auto companies whose services and products generate pollutants or businesses that treat employees unfairly for short term gain.

Organizational goals, in the absence of clear ethical consideration are accidents waiting to happen. While CROs represent a positive investment in responsibility, corporate responsibility is exercised by individuals so it show up as individual decisions and behavior. Thus it is important that everyone in the organization takes personal responsibility for their behavior and resists behaving unethically even if pressured to do so. I am optimistic because the new media are raising public awareness, many human resource organizations understand the problem, and there are a growing number of public interest groups who will support those who want to take an ethical but organizationally unpopular position.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How Can Spirituality Help in Management?

We know that spirituality helps in any human enterprise and that management is a necessary activity in any human enterprise but they are not the same.

As others have said, management is about doing and spirituality is about being. What has not been said, however, is that leadership is about being. It is about being in such a way that others make a decision to follow.

This way of being has been very closely observed with the publication of many lists of important leadership attributes and many models describing their interaction and even more readers wondering which attributes to adopt and which models to apply.

Personally, the more I evaluate these and reflect on my own experiences the more I am convinced that leadership is about the expression of one's authentic self. (I exclude manipulation disguised as leadership from this consideration.) Because that is about letting go of control, leadership is about being and is therefore a spiritual act.

So, spirituality certainly helps leadership, has nothing to do with management and both are essential in any enterprise.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

New Manager - How do I train another person?

Q. I have been the sole person in my department for over two years. I was doing the work of at least two people, but with time was able to streamline the process to make the workload manageable. I was promoted and got an assistant that I am supposed to turn into a clone of myself. I have no training experience and realize that I am very territorial over the workload. In my review I was told to pass on more and more of the responsibility to the assistant to free myself up to take on more special projects. I have asked for management training, but the response has been very slow and I need guidance now. I definitely don't want to hinder my assistant's progression, but I am stuck in the "I could just do this myself" mentality. I need advice on how to work so that both of us move the next level. I feel responsible for molding her at this beginning stage of her career and would hate for her to move on not knowing as much as she should because I just didn’t know how to convey it to her.

A. I used to have that "I could just do this myself" mentality. The way I got out of it was to ask myself, as I considered each item of work, "Must I do this myself or can I delegate it?"

Delegate everything you can. Start with the simplest, where no or minimal training is required. Let your assistant know what you are trying to do and when something comes up, ask her if it is something she is comfortable doing. Let her know she is taking responsibility for the results and if she is in any doubt she must ask for your help. If this person is self-motivated, in a short while you and she will be making these decisions easily, she will be learning and together you will be getting more done.

Most people are "territorial over the workload" when they believe it is their personal output that counts, that they must be seen to personally deliver the goods or they might not receive the credit for results. Your promotion means that someone believes you can see beyond this and that what counts is that the work is done, whoever does it.

Mostly, the best thing you can do is, rather than clinging to a job, work yourself out of it. That demonstrates to you and your present or future employers that you can lead the work as well as manage it.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

What are the different types of leadership?

The different types of leadership are an illusion accidentally created by people who specialize in trying to understand this important phenomenon.

The only kind of leadership is that in which a person exhibits their true self in a way that it resonates with other people. This behavior is highly individual and situational for both the leader and follower and therefore there are a huge variety of ways in which effective leadership occurs.

The only important leadership type or style, therefore, is the one in which we unconditionally express our whole selves. It is easy for others to follow such truth and integrity. Anything else is manipulation and often seen as such.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

How do you make decisions?

Q. This question is for decision-makers at any level of an organization. I'm not asking about making choices, where the alternatives have already been determined. Nor am I talking about judgments, where rules can be applied to the facts of your situation. I'm asking about the process you use to determine a course of action when the future is unknown.

A. I once coached a CEO who was obsessed about how decisions should be made. I remembered this when just yesterday I saw a video of Bush explaining how he is "the decider."

I use Bush as a visible example and not for political advocacy.

Bush's concept of leading appears to be that one is out there ahead of others on some course, uncertain of what comes next and making decisions that will provide direction to those following. When the future is unknown, it's challenging enough to make decisions for oneself, let alone others. What an onerous responsibility!

Actually it's a recipe for disaster because a) there's no ownership on the part of those who will implement the results of the decision, they can only act as automatons and b) the alternatives perceived from a single perspective are disadvantageously narrow.

There is a self-perpetuating conventional wisdom that collective decision making ("by committee") takes too long. To the contrary, for those who practice it, collective decision-making can be rather fast.

The first thing to do it resist the urge to find a decision and trust the possibility that a decision will emerge when it is ready to be made! An exploratory conversation is divergent, admitting diverse viewpoints while a decision making conversation tends to be convergent, exclusive and dismissive. If each participant positively explores each alternative that arises, negating nothing, eventually an extraordinary thing can happen. There can be an instantaneous convergence of the conversation on a solution that satisfies all. The logic or rationale that would have earlier been impossible to explicate becomes self evident. All perspectives are considered, all stake-holders are satisfied and the decision is made!

This reliably works only when those who believe they lead by deciding admit it is not a good strategy and when those who lead by knowing admit that they don't.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why do so many "leaders" show such bad judgement?

Q. Leaders today are being questioned on their judgment more than ever before. Top government officials are being called on the carpet, The President's judgment over Iraq, the Democrat's calls for withdrawal. Industry leaders are being questioned on their decisions a lot more since Enron, MCI, WorldCom, and more have been exposed.

A. Here are a few reasons why "so many 'leaders' show bad judgment:"
1. Very, very few of us walk on water.
2. We enjoy reading and hearing about how the strong have fallen.
3. Judgment is a matter of opinion and there are always plenty of bad opinions.
4. Not all leaders are good managers
5. Getting elected or promoted or hired is not the primary qualification for leadership.

An important question for any of us may be, "How can I learn to make better judgments?" Here are a few ways, in correspondence to those reasons:
1. Humbly accept my limitations.
2. Spend more time learning from my own stories.
3. Seek diverse opinions.
4. Get help, not from ideologues but from good implementers.
5. Ensure my leadership is a sincere expression of my motivations and not others'.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How would you define Authentic Leadership? How can it be developed?

Can you imagine inauthentic leadership? That is manipulation, deception or play-acting. I think we've seen enough of that in high visibility business figures over the last few years to know how catastrophic such shams and scams can be. Unfortunately, we only have ourselves to blame, it is really we who pull the wool over our eyes.

Yes, we decide to follow, therefore it is we who make leaders. We respond to something in another person and make a decision to support what they stand for. They can make a conscious appeal to our base instincts like anxiety and fear or our higher instincts like justice and joy and in either case that is a manipulation. Any such conscious action is an act of the ego and designed to get what they want from us - to strengthen that ego!

Authenticity is free of ego. This is our true self shining through, however that shows up. Our true self resonates with other true selves. There is no intention to influence others, they simply find something appealing in our behavior, can relate to us at a profound level, and decide to follow.

We cannot develop authentic leadership, it is already there. What we can do is remember it, uncover it and give it free reign. This can be a significant challenge for people whose conditioning has made that authentic self a source of shame. Recovering our authentic self requires acceptance of who we are and that we cannot control others for them to be as we would wish, only respond to them as they are.

It is no accident that the answer to a question about authentic leadership leads to the authentic self.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

What is vision statement of a company?

Q. . . . . and how it is different from mission statement?

. For a company, a vision is a description of its possible future(s) based upon the primary values of its business and the values believed to be important for its stakeholders in the future. A vision can take the form of statements, illustrations and stories, whatever stimulates the imagination and appeals to those involved. Through communication and feedback it is constantly tested and clarified. A powerful, well communicated vision attracts people to contribute in its realization when the expressed values resonate with their own.

A company's mission statement describes what the company must accomplish in order to realize its vision. It tends to be more objective and factual. The vision and mission are tools of leadership, to attract people and to focus their energy.

Here's a non-business example chosen because it is so very visible.

The Bush administration expressed many quite different, changing visions for Iraq: WMD-free, US style democracy, model democracy for the Middle East, terror-free zone, and so on. These visions were all bankrupt because they did not represent the values of the key stakeholders like Iraq and its neighbors and now, the American people. Without a robust vision, the mission has constantly changed. The Iraqi people, the US military, US allies have all been confused with each refocus. After all this, the emerging and rarely stated vision is a United States unencumbered by responsibility for resolving internal Iraqi conflicts. This vision is manifested in the emerging mission of withdrawal.

Here is another non-business example, chosen because of its simplicity.

Nicholas Negraponte of MIT Media Lab and his colleagues had the vision of "a computer for every child." The governments of several developing countries are considering supporting this vision and Negraponte is now close to accomplishing his mission to develop a computer that can be delivered for around $100.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Define leadership. Is it the same as managing?

Leadership is about exhibiting personal qualities that attract other people to follow. Followers decide what they find attractive, depending upon their needs and the situation. The leader's challenge is to express him/herself in a way that is appealing to the people s/he wants to engage with.

Managing is exercising control over things including people. The possibility for control arises because, often in an employment agreement, a person has agreed to let someone else control their activities, within some framework, in return for payment.

Managers control their subordinates. Leaders attract their followers.

Managing and leading are similar in that:
1. Managers and Leaders influence others and
2. Subordinates and followers agree to be influenced in return for something they want.

Managing and leading are dissimilar in that:
1. Managing occurs in a relationship framework of objective, cause and effect, negotiated agreements for the implementation or execution of specific objectives. Managers tend to focus subordinates' energies on specific tasks by restricting their subordinate's freedom of choice and this is why being managed can feel like an imposition.
2. Leading occurs in the realm of subjective motivations and values. Good leaders tend to inspire people to find the motivation to do things they might not have believed they could accomplish and in this way increase their followers freedom.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

How do you espouse honesty in the workplace?

Any workplace in which position power is exercised has a door open to dishonest behavior. Position power leads to privilege, secrets and manipulation. If you think that is cynical look at, of all places, the US Justice Department and listen to a President who demands that hearings are in private, with no oaths or transcript.

Yes, leadership's greatest responsibility is for the culture of the workplace and it exercises that by modeling key values . . . so I suppose everything depends on what you understand to be valuable. The problem is, and we know this, that unfettered power corrupts. So in addition to ethical leaders in all our workplaces we also need the checks and balances that can be provided by boards of directors, ethics committees, regulators and, especially, the marketplace.

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Editorial Note

I've been distracted from posting in the last week or so by the start up of another creative project. Now I'm ready to resume regular postings here, Monday through Friday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What are the factors that make responsibility feel like a burden to some, while like an opportunity to others?

How we understand the subject/object of our responsibility will dictate the extent to which it is a burden or opportunity.

If we believe we are responsible primarily for what goes on around us we have chosen a burdensome task. We may also see it to be one full of opportunity but the opportunities are in other people and we are doomed to discover at some point in time we can exercise no responsibilities over others.

Alternatively if we believe we are responsible individually, for ourselves, that reduces the scope to something manageable. Of course our first responsibility is to let others (assuming they are able) look after themselves so we can retain that focus on ourselves. This is not selfish. To the contrary, when we take responsibility for ourselves we do the world a favor. The challenge is to learn who we really are, as opposed to whomever we have been conditioned to believe we are. When we know ourselves then we have the opportunity to freely respond to others without agenda or prejudice. The effect is to be able to contribute with empathy, justice and love.

Unfortunately, despite the burden that goes with taking responsibility for others, this can be our preference because it allows us to continue the pretense of having taken responsibility for ourselves and having time and energy to spare for others. When responsibility is a burden it is one we have chosen to carry. When we notice responsibility feels like a burden, that's when the opportunity arises to take greater responsibility for ourselves.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Correlation between gender and leadership qualities?

OK, by gender we understand male and female. What do we understand about leadership qualities that allows us to look for correlations with gender? Are leadership qualities and gender the only variables? How about situation? Culture?

As a man, in general:
- If I had a tear in my shirt, discovered newborn on my doorstep, or was sick and needed care, given the choice, I would tend to ask women first.
- If I wanted protection from an enemy, advice on how to repair my car or file my taxes, given the choice I would tend to ask another man first.
(Is help the same as leadership? Yes of course. Anyone who provides direction and I follow, is leading me.)

The most significant thing about these observations is that in those areas I tend to look for help from the gender representing which of my parents might have helped me similarly. I totally admit to looking for leadership in this conditioned and prejudiced way, not always, but enough to recognize how subjectively I respond.

So we can see that leadership is at least situational, subjective and, because our responses are conditioned, variable over time. I was thinking about who I would go to if I wanted something to eat. As a child it would have been my mother but now that distinction is less clear. My expectations of myself as a leader and of others as potential leaders I might follow have changed over time as I have learned and our culture has changed (e.g. fifty years ago the possibilities for a black or a female presidential candidate were considered very limited).

Back to the question. If there are correlations between gender and leadership qualities, from my own experience and observations I am inclined to believe that they only exist at a personal level and are by no means absolute.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

What type of leadership style do you use and how effective is it?

The question assumes there are styles of leadership. We may think there are because "leadership styles" has been a part of our vocabulary as pundits have sought to explain how some people appear more effective leaders than others. This gets a lot of attention because we have a deep rooted survival concern about the exercise of power.

If you find these "styles" obscure, hard to relate to and/or not relevant to how you experience yourself with others take heart, you are among friends! The styles are caricatures or even cartoons, representations of the perceptions of observers who have seen and described patterns of behavior according to some framework they have chosen. These style are not real! Leadership is about something else.

Here are the facts. Let's define leadership as influencing others in a way that they change their behavior to better accomplish some goal. There are only a couple of ways to do this. The first is by manipulation, which is not leadership because it attempts to remove choice, it dis-empowers. The second is by behaving in a way that others resonate with the action and its apparent purpose, they become empowered - e.g. Rosa Parks sitting at the front of the bus.

That's leadership in action but what did she really do? She changed her own behavior to better accomplish a goal of her own. Others followed (the bus boycott) because they admired her example and supported the issue she raised. She led by doing what she needed to do and others discovered they could do the same. Everyone has led something at some time. Check your own behavior for when people follow you. I bet you were simply doing something you're passionate or enthusiastic about. You were really leading yourself.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How does collective responsibility work in practice?

It doesn't. Really there's no such thing.

Today, it is fashionable to talk about "corporate responsibility." The business world is waking up at last to understand that pleasing stockholders only and at the cost of other stakeholders is an unsustainable position.

But corporate responsibility, like any so-called "collective responsibility" is only meaningful if it is first an accepted personal responsibility. Action is individual. If people do the same thing and do it simultaneously, yes you can call it collective action but there is nothing without the contribution from each individual.

The danger of "collective responsibility" is that you or anyone in the collective can abdicate responsibility by assuming " someone else will take care of it."

Ultimately all responsibility and all accountability is individual.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why do you think diversity is important? Does that take a major role in an organization?

Diverse is the way we can describe a culture that is multifaceted. We talk of multicultural organizations.

We are deeply rooted in beliefs and traditions about diversity. For example, almost without exception worldwide, native cultures prohibit intermarriage. In some primitive cultures you were only permitted to marry outside of your tribe and in a few cases it was required you marry someone who spoke an incomprehensible language!

It is ancient agricultural wisdom that one strengthens plants by cross breeding, something Mendel and Darwin showed to take place naturally. When in geological time the creatures on the Galapagos Islands were isolated, finches, in the face of competition from each other, evolved into different kinds with their own innovative behaviors and niches in the ecosystem.

Attempts to achieve mono-cultures tend to fail, e.g. Hitler's Germany and Stalin's USSR. Unfortunately the industrial age's mass production appeared to justify mono-cultures. You were either a manager or a worker, a boiler maker or an accountant. Industrial culture demanded similarity, uniformity and predictability and in this post-industrial era we still struggle to shed such old traditions.

Market economies and democracies may be imperfect but they comprehend that the primary evolutionary force is personal choice.

In short any organization that fails to encourage diversity is protecting something it doesn't want to talk about and is itself doomed to fail. Some organizations boast their diversity as a competitive asset and they're right!

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Why do you believe mutual respect is important to developing high performing work teams?

Mutual respect means that team members accept each other so, unquestionably, this is important but it might not be the most important for a high performing team. It is unlikely that respect for another is genuine unless one first has respect for oneself. Because respect appears in a team as respect for shared values and conventions of behavior it can be faked quite easily until a person or the team is tested

Self-respect means accepting oneself. Under pressure, self-rejection shows up as anger with others, blame of others and mistrust of others. There can only be limited acceptance of others without self-acceptance. So a high performing team must comprise self-respecting team members. It's possible that not everyone will start that way but a characteristic of excellent teams is that, because of their accepting culture, members can learn self-acceptance and self-respect.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

What is the importance of innovation in business?

Innovation is what gives life to a business in a market economy. The businesses that never get going or if they do, then fail or fail later under pressure of a changing economy or marketplace have all failed to innovate appropriately.

What is appropriately? "Necessity is the mother of invention." This is all very Darwinian. Only the fittest survive. Fit means passing the test of a changing marketplace which means learning that what had value yesterday may be, without innovation, un-competitive today. It means learning that the greatest potential value is almost always in something that is presently unknown,

Unfortunately, making money in the short term is always a matter of implementation - design the product/service, make the product, sell the product/service, deliver the product/service. Every step of the way is an opportunity for innovation. But, unlike innovation, implementation can be predictably costed and scheduled and so it is implementation that often receives disproportionate management attention.

A sustainable business needs coexisting implementation and innovation.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

How do you keep your team motivated?

One person cannot motivate another. We can only find motivation in ourselves - that is the energy to set ourselves into motion or action. Yes, we can respond to another person but how we do so is a matter of choice. Others do not lead us, we choose to follow. Anything else is manipulation or even abuse.

Possibly this widespread misunderstanding arises because of an ongoing confusion between management and leadership. Management looks for cause and effect, objective relationships in everything, e.g. price lower - sell more. The people analog would be something like: do your job - keep your job.

Motivation is subjective. I can't know yours nor can you know mine. Each decision, in addition to depending upon our unique circumstances, only a few of which will be observable to others, draws on our history, knowledge, expectations, habits, goals and particularly our values all of which are changing! We need to be able to freely draw upon those resources and comprehend those factors all the time and anyone who consciously tries to intervene in that fragile process does us a disservice.

It is our responsibility to create the circumstances for ourselves that keep us free us to express our motives, especially in selecting the teams we join, making commitments we can keep, and collaborating in ways that allow us to contribute our best.

Conversely, if a team leader provides the information we need to decide to join, fairly negotiates our objectives, and controls the team's dynamics so we can deliver on our commitments, that leader allows our motivation. By this I mean that the leader has removed those obstacles to our effectiveness that the leader controls.

If in addition, the team leader behaves in a way that inspires, that is a wonderful bonus. However, this leader is still not motivating us. They have acted in a way that reminds us of some additional aspect of ourselves that we can (our choice) bring to bare as a team member. This is probably what you are really asking about. It is highly individual and that is why there are such a variety of responses. What it amounts to at its most basic is being your genuine self, knowing who you are and who you're not, and revealing to others your humanity so they can reveal theirs to you.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

What are the major challenges in building a balanced senior management team?

Q. How do you overcome these challenges? How do you assess potential team members? What is most important in the process? What is over-rated? How do you improve the chances of making the right decisions about new team members?

A. The reason for a team is so that these people can, together, accomplish more than they might individually. The challenge is just that. To make 1+1 something greater than 2.

• How do you overcome (address) these challenges?
A collaborative team will tend to balance itself according to the needs of the situation. Above all, that means its leader must be a successful collaborator.

• How do you assess potential team members?
Along the same lines, look for evidence of success through collaboration in each of their areas of specialization.

• What is most important in the process?
Self-management, respect for others, self-organization, ethics.

• What is over-rated?
Other-management - imposed structures.

• How do you improve the chances of making the right decisions about new team members?
During multiple cycles of interaction in a variety of combinations and contexts, let your team (actual or intended) select new members.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How do you forge greater team work & improve moral of volunteers?

Q. How do you forge greater team work & improve moral of volunteers of an organisation, many of which are rather older than your normal ‘corporate’ workforce and therefore may not understand the modern team-building techniques?

Some may remember a question I asked a few weeks ago about a Theater I am a member of. Taking the challenges a step further, one issue identified was the falling number of active members – the front line and back line staff to include box office, stage hands and actors. It was widely felt their efforts were unappreciated and that the Theater was not working as ‘one’.

How can you encourage better team work, bearing in mind the demographics are wide, with some youngsters but many members being of retirement age?

A. In your earlier question you describe this as a rather old organization, still run by the "builders" (founders?).

Our motivations, values, hopes, aspirations etc. all change over time and meanwhile so does the culture around us. Teamwork and high morale emerge from shared motivations and values manifesting work that is appreciated. From your story we can only guess how aligned the "builders" are with today's culture and how much of the participant's motivations and values are shared. Creating complete alignments are improbable in the short term.

I suggest therefore you focus on a succession of small wins for everyone, to demonstrate there are areas of alignment that can be build upon and that the older generations can trust the younger one. I'm sure its a lot easier to install an impressive website than it is to put on comparably impressive production. Resist the temptation to be superb in all areas and craft the productions around known competencies. Only stretch the team as their confidence builds.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you are asking these questions which in themselves are acts of leadership, there has to be a leadership crisis. Morale and teamwork vanish in its absence. Let these early, small wins be vehicles for people to exercise leadership in their domains of expertise - identifying the leaders as those who know how to push the envelope far enough for originality but not so far that people get left behind.

What a wonderful project. Good luck with it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Employee development and motivation.

Q. I'm very interested in employee development and motivation... in positively impacting the work environment to recover that old feeling of "happy to go to work" I had when I got my first job. Many of us spend more time with our colleagues than with our own families on weekdays (some on weekends too!) so having a nice atmosphere at work can really make a difference in our quality of life.

What has your company (or you personally) done to motivate staff and develop their skills? What creative ideas have you had/heard of that involve little or no budget?

A. Your question reflects a commonly held belief that one can person can motivate or develop another. This belief results in people trying to control each other and is an outgrowth of a "management" culture in which the priority value is control.

I had the feeling of being, "happy to go to work," in my first job, too. I now see that I was innocent of the dynamics of the organization and freely expressing my values in my actions. As I developed my career (notice that I did that) I acquired a more sophisticated appreciation for the organizational forces and became part of the system of control, not knowing that I was allowing myself to be motivated by the darker side of my character.

What is a "nice" working atmosphere? It might be an atmosphere conducive to getting the work done while supporting the very human need for free personal expression. The first part can easily be established by more control but the second, only by less. So what have I done that involves little or no budget? My responsibility as a leader is first to understand my own motivation and take care of my own development. When I have been seen to do that, sometimes others have become interested and I have been able to help them do the same.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Manager or Leader?

(A recurring question)

Q. How would you define the different roles of manager and leader? Or do you think they are not different?

A. A manager exercise control over others. A leader exercises control over him/herself in ways that appeal to others.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What is the difference between leadership and management?

These two appear similar because they are about influencing how people in organizations behave and how successful organizations can be. Leadership and management, however operate quite differently.

Leadership is about letting people experience your personal power so they are clear about their own needs and how to take care of them. Management is about making people aware of your positional power so that they will respond to your needs.

Management is about controlling others, leadership is about managing oneself.

I believe it is impossible for an organization to be successful with strong management and no leadership. I believe an organization is most likely to be successful if it has leadership that encourages self-management.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Why do some people do their best but receive less credit?

Mostly, a person's work not assessed you on how hard something is for them to do, or the effort they made, or whether they do their best, but on whether or not the person did what they committed to do.

It is fair to get credit or pay according to what you commit to do, if you do it. It is up to you whether what you commit to is easy for you or requires your best efforts.

Another kind of credit is the credit you give yourself. Maybe its called self-respect. You're living your life for you and no-one else. If you do your best, appreciate what you have accomplished and give yourself credit for doing good work.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

What is the one thing you value most in a person?

I am beginning to find that I value most a person's humanity.

This may not be easy to explain.

There are lots of specific qualities I could list that I believe are valuable in a person. However, if I look for a specific quality I tend to:
- Judge the person.
- See what I don't like or would prefer to see in myself.
- Look for perfection and be disappointed.
- Exclude or ignore other attributes.

This is why it is hard for me to choose something too specific.

What I now prefer, is to recognize a person's humanity. I mean the person's accomplishment in being alive and as well as they are, despite the struggles he/she has with him/herself in a complex world, and that despite the mistakes the person made, they continue to do the best they can.

I can find no other single word to describe this.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Which is the role of creativity for an organization's future?

The role of creativity in an organization's future is paramount. An organization creates its future - no creativity, no future.

At the surface it can sometimes appear that an organization is all about the implementation or execution of existing processes and certainly this is an important priority. However, technology changes, markets change, people change and our values change and unless an organization innovates it will stagnate and die.

Our society comprises people trying live and even thrive and organizations trying to survive and flourish. As we "progress" we creatively change and bring about changes around us. Every change brings with it unanticipated consequences and so issues emerge for individuals organizations, nations and our global society.

The local and global issues we face are the result of creativity and, we continually hope, will be resolved with creativity. This is an interesting, spiraling or snowballing phenomenon and appears to lead to an increasingly complex and interdependent world.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I want to know about collaboration and partnership?

The answer may depend upon whether you mean a formal, legal, partnership or an informal one. In legal jargon, partnership describes a business structure with specific responsibilities, accountabilities and liabilities and I cannot comment on workability in that case.

An informal partnership appears to be the same as a collaboration. Two or more people getting together to create something, each contributing a share of talent, energy and resources and each receiving a share of the results. In my experience both can work so long as the people involved are compatible.

Compatibility is a complex matter and, in addition to having complementary skills and talents, is importantly about a shared willingness to subordinate ones own personal preferences to the needs of the project. Competition is death to a collaboration or partnership. I suspect this is the factor responsible for the conventional wisdom that partnerships are risky.

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Monday, April 9, 2007

Controlling the Sales Force?

Q. You are the regional sales manager of an organization that supplies high-quality windows and doors to building supply centers nationwide. Over the last three years, the rate of sales growth has slackened. There is increasing evidence that, to make their jobs easier, salespeople are primarily servicing large customer accounts and ignoring small accounts. In addition, the salespeople are not dealing promptly with customer questions and complaints, and this inattention has resulted in a drop in after sales service. You have talked about these problems with top–management and you are going to design a control system to increase both the amount of sales and the quality of customer service.

Design a control system that you think will best motivate salespeople to achieve these goals.

What relative importance do you put on output control, behavior control and organizational culture in this design.

A. It is impossible, except by manipulation, blackmail or extortion to directly control a sales force's output or behavior. Control systems as they relate to people reduces them to neurotics like Pavlov's dogs or rats in a race to find the cheese in a psych lab maze. Motivation of others is an illusion. People find their own motivations based upon what they deeply value. All that remains, therefore, is organizational culture which is a complex system of interacting values, beliefs, assumptions and goals.

Everyone tries to make their job easier, the trick is to make it easier by making it more productive - individually. If that is not occurring the problem is less about control systems and more about leadership. The only controls associated with leadership are the controls each individual imposes on their own behavior. Leadership sets the standards in this regard. If leaders are exemplars of self-management, a culture of self-management grows around them.

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

What do you say when things have changed?

Q. Time, work and many factors change relationships. As kids we were often told to respect elders and greeting relatives or doing small chats was a way of life.

Now being an adult working with many people, one realizes that not everything that one was used to doing was the right way. Elderly people may not be looked up to if they had not used their time wisely or led a life that one did not hold on as good. (Could be better) Example the Auntie who always smiled but now you know only did that because she had your parents etc as clients.
Small chats become agonizing when time becomes very precious because there are bills to pay and one does not want to become caught in a rainy day and desolate due to a lack of saving!

Some people might not have caught on knowing these, or maybe pretending to not know. They may not like the changes they see although they know it is necessary for young adults. It becomes awkward when to say the truth is painful to the other party but to not say is

A. There's no doubt that when you need to make a living and add a career to your life, you make a considerable new commitments of your time and must adjust your priorities for how you spend it. Also, as each of us matures our perspective changes because of our life experience. From what you describe, you have at least these two things going on.

I believe that most of us find it quite a challenge to manage the tension between our time at work and our time with our families, the tension being because we cannot live full lives without either of them and each has different demands and rewards. The ideal balance, I suppose, is that we organize ourselves so that both these sides of our lives thrive and neither one threatens the success of the other. At the extremes are the workaholics who put work ahead of all else whatever the cost, and then the eternal children who never develop a life beyond their family.

As we mature, our perspectives change, not only about how we use our time but also about the people in our lives. You have a more sophisticated understanding of adult behavior than you did when you were a child and see people in a different light. The challenge in this case may not be about adopting a balance but to honestly examine your attitude. As a child, I believe I was a lot less judgmental than when I grew into adulthood. One of the behaviors that goes with developing an identity is to judge others in comparison to your own self-image. Unfortunately this is a waste of time and energy because you can never change them. More important than wasting time and energy, is the probability that by judging rather than accepting them you will exclude all that they have to offer as a person. (Remember the golden rule?)

At this time in my life I believe I was arrogant, pretending I knew more than I did. I was impatient, thinking that if I had my life under control (oh yes?) and wondering why didn't everyone else. I was intolerant, having little time for people who didn't see it my way. Fortunately there were a few people who stuck by me despite all that. I don't know what they saw in me or what their motives were. I do know they were generous in accepting me and making time for me.

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Are collaboration and teamwork the same thing?

Yes, both are about working together to achieve something an individual could not achieve on his/her own, generally something that has never been done identically before.

Collaboration and teamwork are collective creative activities. They becomes possible when the parties allow each other to improvise and they each respect and respond to the other's contributions. Essentially they continually learn from each other and break new ground as they find the way to achieve their objective.

This is/was equally true for the Indianapolis Colts, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Watson and Crick, and the cast of The Departed.

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Friday, April 6, 2007

What is transformational leadership?

You can read volumes on this subject but there is one essential aspect that is often misunderstood. Once you have grasped this you will find your project relatively easy.

A transformational leader does not have the objective of transforming others. Except by manipulation that is impossible. Only we can transform ourselves. A transformational leader is effective because s/he is visibly undergoing his/her own transformation.

This person has taken full responsibility for their self. They always own their contribution to the situation - the buck stops with them. They recognize they are imperfect and will make mistakes - this person can forgive him/herself and is free from any burden of guilt or shame. This person accepts the humanity of others, that even when people try their hardest they will also make mistakes - this leader has no interest in blaming or personal judgment. Transformational leaders live in the moment.

Transformational leaders provide such positive examples, they do not have to look for followers or persuade others; followers find them because they can learn from them.

I you are lucky you will have seen some of these characteristics in someone you know. Possibly not all of them at once but enough to know what I mean. If you want your project to be grounded in the real world, identify who these people have been in your life and draw upon your experiences of them or with them.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

What is ment by vision (from an organisation point of view) ?

Leaders who communicate a strong vision of the future provide a unifying force and stimulate the motivations of the members of the organization.

However, there are many who are skeptical of "the vision thing."

It is a major challenge to express something, appealing to positive qualities, that has significant and unique meaning for a large number of people with diverse backgrounds. It is no wonder that there have been many visions described and ignored and many leaders who have given up trying to articulate one.

An effective vision speaks the deepest values of those who share it. If you are in an organization that doesn't have inspirational leadership, you urgently need help. This can come from someone who combines the insight of a poet or sage, the communications skills of an advertising copy writer and the ability to work with the leader(s) to help them articulate their own vision.

When the vision truly expresses a leader's values s/he gives it life with their enthusiasm, and people respond.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

How can an organization use more than one type of organizational design?

Combinations of organizational forms are often used in a single organization. Usually one form overlays another.

A hierarchy with centralized power can decentralize into business units, each another small hierarchy containing the unique functions to run that specific business. Meanwhile the original hierarchy still exists, managing shared resources.

A hierarchy that manages resource allocation to organizational functions can be overlaid with co-ordinating roles to identify synergies and prevent duplications and create a matrix organization.

Overlaying a hierarchy there can be multiple cross-functional project teams creating a project oriented organization.

Overlaying almost all hierarchies are official and often unofficial groupings that manage processes not well suited to a hierarchy.

It appears hierarchy is always the foundational structure for allocating resources with one or more overlays that ensure focus is also given to the application of resources which almost always occurs cross-functionally.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Does respect come from the heart or are we obliged to do it?

Q. do we have to be respectful? or do people just do it to be polite? what does respect do to help our world and us?

A. Respect of others shows up as an attitude about oneself. If we respect ourselves, others find in us an attitude of respect for life that includes them. You cannot give respect, you can only have respect. It starts in your heart and stays there.

When people see in your behavior that you respect yourself, they will see things in you to model themselves. A little self-respect can go a long way.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

At which level in the organization does change process begin?

The change process doesn't start at a level it starts with an individual prepared to take the initiative to bring it about. In a healthy organization that is learning from experience and change is an ongoing process.

Unfortunately, because some people get too comfortable, and the organization stalls, development stops. People at all levels have an investment in the status quo, risk is discouraged and the organization stagnates until its "inhabitants" (at this point in time they are really not active members of anything) are forced to change - usually by the prospect of loosing their jobs.

With inspiration, however, everyone is more willing to take the risk of something new. The inspiration appears inside as a confidence that different personal behavior can bring about different results. When someone takes that risk and the results are seen to be promising, others will follow. They can be subordinates and/or peers and/or more senior people who have been waiting for someone to take a risk and identify alternatives.

There are examples showing that the instigator can be anywhere from someone at the lowest level who demonstrates what is possible by winning back a lost customer, or demonstrating a new process, to the board room when the chair decides to bring in a new CEO.

The lesson in all this is that we cannot wait for someone else to start change because it might not happen. By waiting we are depriving the organization of our contribution and depriving ourselves of the satisfaction of knowing we have done our best. By changing, by learning, we are acknowledging we are alive and that we still believe in ourselves.

organization level, change process, initiative, learning, experience, stalled development, status quo, organizational stagnation, inspiration, risk, contribution,

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Does business strategy relate to leadership?

Let me see if I can make a case that leadership is largely about strategy.

What differentiates leaders is how they develop, express and implement their strategies. You are more likely to want to work with someone who:
- Presents to you in an appealing way, a credible strategy.
- Collaboratively develops their strategy with you, so you have a sense of ownership too.
- Works with you and others as you implement the strategy, in ways that keep you engaged.
- Is flexible and will change their strategy as conditions change

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

In what ways does management hierarchy help organizations to develop structure?

Management hierarchy is a means to distribute power and allocate resources in an organization. This structure is the marketplace's inheritance from feudalism and monarchy. It works well if leaders are benevolent and falls apart when leaders put their own interests above those of the organization.

Profit making corporations are bound by law to provide the best return to their stockholders which is why management is usually given stock. This makes sure that management's interests and the stockholders' are aligned which in turn means management prioritizes its own interests over other stakeholders like employees, customers, providers and the larger community.

The present debate about global warming highlights how many businesses exist by externalizing their costs. Stock incentivized management and employees are motivated to increasingly externalize costs. This is part of a growing body of evidence that a business is unsustainable unless it satisfies the needs of all its stakeholders. There is therefore the possibility that the dangers in self-serving hierarchies will be understood and as a form they will be obsoleted.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

How would you handle a situation where your ethical principles conflict with your organization's ethics?

There are a couple of occasions from years back, one in school and the other as an employee, which, when they come to mind, fill me with regret and shame. I knew what was going on but chose to look the other way and conform.

How many times was I told that I'm "rocking the boat?" Later I came to understand that all that boat rocking was not a negative quality at all. It represented my best but my self confidence was treated as if it were inexperience or arrogance.

I learned to recognize that advice like, "Be a team player," is manipulative. Now, after doing my best to change people's minds, if the ethical conflict continues I leave the situation as soon as I can.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The factors/parameters (inside&outside the organization) that affect/enhance/obstruct/d... strategic plan?

There's plenty of material out there but I'm not sure how much will effectively address your question.

Strategic planning evolved as a management tool in the middle of the last century, before IT and at a time when, generally, the cycle times of social activity were relatively slow. In these circumstances it was easier to make assumptions about how conditions might evolve and plan accordingly. There was still a significant risk that assumptions would prove incorrect but there was also time to adjust the strategy and reconfigure the plans.

Cycle times are now much shorter - instantaneous information transfer and 24-hours-to-anywhere movement of people and material. The information can be correct or incorrect, benevolent or malicious, and the materials can be nutritious or toxic and the people can be benevolent or malevolent. All social systems can change for the better or the worse very quickly.

As a consequence it must be possible for strategies and plans to be reformulated on the fly. To the extent there is separation in time and space between the planners and the implementers, there will be less responsiveness leading to more lost opportunity and more unforeseen consequences. (The Iraq story is, unfortunately, a fine example.)

A leader now has to be able to make decisions with respect for both near and long-term objectives/effects. That distinction is blurring and I advocate that today's leaders be hybrid strategist/tacticians.

If I were researching this subject now it would be with some skepticism and I would tend to look for sources that comprehended chaos theory, emergent systems and so on. Although he has a theoretical, business orientation, my first stop would be the work of Clayton Christensen. For NGOs I would certainly look at the wonderful works of the leaders recognized by the Ashoka organization - they are exemplars of the hybrid strategist/tactician.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Leaders make a real difference in an organization’s performance. Build an argument againt this statement?

A. Leaders don't always make a difference in an organization's performance. I can make this argument in a couple of naive ways:

1. In some organizations leaders come and go all the time and nothing changes. This happens when people are hired or retained inappropriately and that happens when the so called leaders fear change. These people will not rock the boat themselves, nor will they hire anyone that is likely to, nor will they retain anyone who does. [This argument is false because, while they make no intentional difference in performance, the organization's performance will stagnate over time by these leaders' inaction. It is a misuse of the language to call them leaders.]

2. There is an organizational form called "the leaderless team." The ideology is that without the monopolization of power associated with conventional positional leadership, the team members will retain their individual power and self organize to accomplish their goals. It is believed that the only difference a leader will make is to constrain individual contributions and therefore limit overall performance. [This argument is specious because in a self-organizing mode everyone, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate contribution, acts as a leader.]

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Differentiate between leadership and management. Are both equally as important?

Leadership is a more encompassing quality than management.

Management is about arranging resources, including oneself and/or others, in the optimum way to implement a preconceived plan of action.

Leadership adds to implementation the additional action of innovation through which a leader identifies and exemplifies possibilities to accomplish something that has never previously been accomplished, in a way that is not preconceived.

It will take leadership (e.g. Al Gore) for a concerted effort to manage global warming. The implementation practices are generally quite clear but to initiate those practices requires inspiration coming from insight and/or the desperation coming from pain.

Nothing happens without management and nothing new happens without leadership.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

How can I develop leadership qualities in my personality?

Q. I am a manager in a cement company but sometimes I feel I am not doing up to my potential, I feel either my behavior is too friendly for my subordinate or sometimes it is too hostile, I am in a fix, how to tackle such situation?

A. Because you are already sensitive to this tension between friendship and hostility, you are ready to make changes.

Reflect on your relationships inside and outside of work. Identify the differences in behaviors when you are leading, managing and "friending." Recall what you feel like in each case. (You can also consider the behaviors of people who are leading, managing and "friending" you.)

Remember these distinctions at work. Choose a behavior according to what you want to achieve with the other person and then use your feelings to guide you.

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Amateurs in charge of restructuring?

Q. My employer (government agency) is going through a restructuring initiative at the moment, and I have to say that I have never seen a group of more clueless and stupid people in charge of a change management process before.

There is absolutely no leadership or consultation with staff - they don't have a plan, and certainly don't have a plan b either. Working in this place has become unbearable as they were supposed to tell staff what is to happen to our jobs 2 months ago. To date, there has been no information.

A. Unfortunately the only way to really change, to stop repeating the old habits is to take a big step into the unknown and unless those leading the way are strong leaders and honestly explain what they are trying to do, it will feel very unsettling.

Weak leaders don't like to admit that they don't know and in pretending to know, usually look very silly. Also, depending on the culture, weak leaders, especially when they themselves are nervous, withhold important information because information gives them power. And lastly, as you've observed, the last thing they will do is ask for help.

I think you already understand the choices available to you: continue as best you can and hope that things work out, or find the people who have the information you need and are prepared to inform you, or request a transfer because the present situation is unhealthy.

Although I have never worked for a government agency, I have certainly experienced the turmoil you describe. At some point you have to decide whether you can be part of the process or a victim of it. This is a significant challenge to your leadership as well.

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