Strategic thinking is a knowledge acquisition process that connects and involves every component and department of an organization by defining the direction of the organization, how it construes its strategy into execution, how it reassesses the organization’s direction, and then fine tuning its path.[i] Organizational leaders who seek to develop successful organizations and ultimately work towards long-term success and sustainability would benefit from adopting strategic thinking and planning skills.
Traditionally, strategic thinking and planning is allied with high level and top leadership teams with an organization.[ii] When a leader applies new thoughts, procedures, and processes to guide the persuasion of organizational members and its components towards the advancement of the organization, the leader is said to be practicing strategic thinking.[iii] Strategic thinking therefore considers the ‘now’ to be able to obtain imminent insight into the future.[iv] When a leader(s) employs activities that direct the organization towards an innovative and competitive arena in today’s internationally aggressive marketplace this includes strategic thinking. Thus, leaders who work towards finding unconventional ways to compete and provide client value are said to be practicing strategic thinking. Such leaders are able to indentify exceptional approaches to provide value to their clients. Strategic thinking is more of an indefinable, methodical, and future oriented activity for leaders.[v] Leaders who are looking for ways to formulate winning strategies for their organizations must consider using strategic thinking as a vehicle.[vi]
Traditional strategic planning relies on systematic processes to ascertain who the organization is in terms of its mission, what the organization does in terms of its believes, where the organization is headed in terms of its vision, and how the organization intends to get there in terms of planning[vii] while strategic thinking centers on mental processes essential for use of information and ideas which form an organization’s prospective direction.[viii] Strategic thinking makes available input for the strategic planning process through ground-breaking opportunities[ix] to enhance the organization’s performance and accomplishments. Strategic planning searches for means to create a new outline of the organization’s direction by adopting a novel and enhanced prospect.[x]
Questions Arose From the Strategic Thinking and Planning Literature
The following questions arose from the literature review based on strategic thinking and planning:
*What do you consider to be your strongest leadership qualities?
*Would you say you possess strategic leadership qualities? If so, mention a few?
*What is the vision of your organization?
*Are your staff/followers familiar with this vision?
*In what ways would you say your staff/followers are supportive of the vision?
*Have you taken part in a strategic planning process as a leader?
*If so, what time frame is adopted for the strategic planning and implementation process of your organization (monthly, quarterly, annually)?
*In your opinion, what is strategic thinking?
*Which strategic thinking and planning skills are necessary for a successful process?
*Which strategic thinking and planning tools do you use for your planning and implementation process?
*What obstacles do you consider as a hindrance to the practice and implementation of strategic thinking and planning within your organization?
*What systems do you have in place to assist you as a leader in identifying strategic thinkers within your organization?
*As a leader, do you use a strategic team? If so, how do you choose your team members?
*What would you consider as your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
*What strategies do you rely on to combat perceived weaknesses and threats to/within your organization?
*What specific tools do you rely on to determine the progress and growth of your organization?
*Please mention and explain 5 trends you perceive as having the potential to impact the long-term performance and success of your organization?
The first leader I chose to meet with was Matthew S. Essieh. Matthew is the president and chief executive officer of an information technology firm called EAI Information Systems located in Beaverton, Oregon. As a visionary leader,[xi] Matthew began his company from scratch 20 years ago. The company develops and modifies software solutions to assist financial service firms in controlling their retail investment programs for superior effectiveness and productivity.
Karen Howells was the second leader I chose to interview. Karen is the president and founder of the Howell’s Group, Inc.; a consulting firm in Portland, Oregon. Karen and her business focus on bringing ‘business to life’ through an exclusive and extremely tailored approach. Karen is a great communicator, a coach and a visionary.[xii]
The third leader interviewed was John T. Goldrick, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life at the University of Portland. John oversees all student services including admissions, financial aid, student activities, judicial affairs, international student issues, career services, the Moreau Center for Service and Leadership, residential life, campus, ministry, health services, and public safety. John is a great strategist, a visionary and a great communicator.[xiii]
Responses from Leaders
What do you consider to be your strongest leadership qualities?
According to Matthew Essieh, his strongest leadership qualities include initiative and drive. Matthew reported he is driven internally; action oriented, allows other to follow, develops creative solutions to solve problems, and does not allow perceived problems to stand in his way. Karen Howells mentioned she connects quickly and authentically with clients, has the ability to motivate and influence others to get things done, is able to articulate a vision and inspires others to perform. John Goldrick loves to lead change, manages his employees well, has good intuition when hiring, has experience, works to keep his followers in the spotlight, and considers himself to be allocentric; more follower-centered than leader-centered. John stated he does not look for conflict, but at the same time, does not shy away from it.
Would you say you possess strategic leadership qualities? If so, mention a few?
Each leader I interviewed believes they possess strategic leadership qualities. According to Matthew Essieh, the fact that he founded his company 20 years ago is a sign of possessing strategic leadership qualities. He stated he focuses on broader decision-making without being ‘bogged’ down by details or initiatives. Therefore, he focuses on the broader positive implications of what has to be done. According Matthew, he has always had the vision to own businesses in the United States and he has achieved that vision. Karen Howells’ feels she is able to scan the social and economic environment in order to be in touch with her clients, is pragmatic in her operations, intentionally keeps her business small, and has the ability to listen to client’s and team members’ needs and concerns. John approached the issue of possessing strategic leadership qualities quite differently. According to John, he considers the ‘what, why and when’ with regards to a planning point of view. John also mentioned he relies on assessment tools prior to the implementation of any plan. Therefore, the assessment process assists him in determining whether the move is strategic or not.
What is the vision of your organization?
Regarding the vision of the organization, Matthew Essieh stated his vision is, “To be the leader in providing financial services technology and responsive services to clients.” Karen Howells envisions her organization to be one of the strongest regional players. She also believes it takes leaders and organizations to the next level of success, does not work with failing organizations, and remains a ‘boutique firm’ that customizes its services to meet the needs of clients. According to John Goldrick, University of Portland’s vision is to be the best Catholic teaching university in the western United States focusing on faculty who are abreast in research and publication.
Are your staff/followers familiar with this vision?
Each of the leaders I interviewed stated their followers were familiar with the vision of the organization. According to Matthew, his staff believes in the vision because they live by it every day. “My followers understand that everything is client centered and has to be approached as a strategic partnership with clients,” said Karen Howells. Karen stated she knows her followers have bought into the vision because they often refer her to other clients. John Goldrick strongly believes his followers are familiar with the vision because he seldom discusses issues without relating it to the vision of the university. He also added it is an expectation he has of his followers and is incorporated into how they execute their work on a daily basis.
In what ways would you say your staff/followers are supportive of the vision?
According to Matthew, he reported his follower’s exhibit support for the vision of the organization through the work they do each day by providing innovative technology and responsive services to their customers. He mentioned the vision drives his employees to develop quality products for their clients. Karen Howells stated an emphatic “yes” as evidence of the fact her staff are supportive of the vision of the organization. John Goldrick stated his follower’s support of the vision of the organization and this is reinforced through annual retreats and full day discussions. According to him, his followers also provide regular feedback on the administration by highlighting the positives and negatives.
Have you taken part in a strategic planning process as a leader?
Matthew stated he and the organization has taken part in a strategic planning process and will participate in the process again this year. “Absolutely”, Karen Howells stated when asked whether she has ever taken part in a strategic planning process. According to Karen, she leads a lot of strategic planning session with her clients, as well as, with the staff in her business. John Goldrick stated he has taken part of numerous strategic planning sessions for the university during of fourteen years that he has been there. However, John stated the university does not typically put it into practice and this often results in frustration on the part of the followers. He mentioned the university put together a strategic plan, but it was not used because the goals and objectives were too many. John feels there are many problems associated with strategic plans. First, he thinks strategic plans are not fluent with the total needs of an existing organization. Second, strategic plans are usually not structured to operate as a living document and third, he believes the tasks provided in the strategic plan are usually in conflict with strategic thinking. Thus, he recommends fewer goals, objectives, and tasks should be incorporated into a strategic plan in order to make it more applicable to the specific departments at the university.
If so, what time frame is adopted for the strategic planning and implementation process of your organization (monthly, quarterly, annually)?
According to Matthew, his organization adopts the annual approach to the strategic planning process. He stated his organization revisits the plan annually. Karen Howells reported her firm adopts the semi-annual approach for the strategic planning process. According to Karen, she holds annual meetings with her followers to review the past year as part of their strategic planning process. According to John Goldrick, the University of Portland used to develop a strategic plan every 10 years, but now the school utilizes a five-year approach. He stated this is driven by the academic accreditation board regulations.
In your opinion, what is strategic thinking?
When asked to give his opinion on what he considered as strategic thinking, Matthew stated that he considers “strategic thinking to be the day-to-day operational type of thinking.” He also mentioned it is the process of stepping back and looking at the broader purpose and direction of the organization. Furthermore, he stated strategic thinking includes deliverables and the implementation of a strategic plan to achieve goals, objectives and the purpose of the organization. Matthew gave an example of opening up a new office in Accra, Ghana with a vision to reach out to the West African Sub-region as a form of strategic thinking. According to Karen Howells, a leader’s ability to walk onto a balcony to gain a better view of things in terms of social, economic and political issues determines whether he or she is a strategic thinker. Karen gave an example of a client who is using the current health bill to his advantage, and at the same time, helping others. Karen stated a strategic thinker considers how things fit both inside and outside of the organization to determine what actions need to be taken. “Such leaders strive to be ahead of the game,” Karen remarked. For John Goldrick strategic thinking comes into perspective when a leader considers the ‘why’ and not the ‘what’. Thus, the leader considers why the organization is doing what it has set out to do and asks if it is taking the appropriate path.
Which strategic thinking and planning skills are necessary for a successful process?
With regards to strategic thinking and planning skills necessary for a successful process, Matthew stated as the CEO of the organization, he considers the direction of a proposed product, what competitors are offering and whether the product will be successful within the next three years. He also mentioned he works in collaboration with his project manager who skills assist in product development. The project manager assists in determining the sustainability and success of the product and the costs involved. Karen Howells mentioned the following skills as necessary for a successful strategic thinking and planning process. For strategic thinking, the leader must be able to look ahead and envision the organization by utilizing different approaches. She also mentioned a strategic leader must know the market in which he or she operates in. For strategic planning to take place, Karen mentioned the leaders must seek to engage the entire organization in the process. According to Karen, she believes funneling, environmental scan, and annual planning sessions can facilitate a successful process. John Goldrick stated no planning process works if it originates from the top. Therefore, he listens to his followers and adopts an all inclusive process of planning. Trust, honesty, and openness are key to a strategic thinking and planning process. He stated leaders who are not open and do not listen develop ineffective plans.
Which strategic thinking and planning tools do you use for your planning and implementation process?
Matthew stated he uses individual people as tools for the planning and implementation process. He reported he relies on key players and stakeholders within his organization such as board members, staff members, and clients. He also reported he creates a culture of strategic thinking and planning to be used as a tool for the implementation process. According to Karen, she uses the ‘sticky wall’ idea as a tool during the strategic thinking and planning process. During this process, participants are encouraged to write their personal vision, mission, goals, objectives, and ideas, as well as, that of the organization. Karen then uses the data collected for the planning and implementation process. Karen also mentioned brainstorming and funneling as effective tools for the strategic thinking and planning process. John Goldrick stressed the use of communication as a dynamic tool for the strategic thinking and planning process. He suggested leaders adopt a discussion and explanation strategy when thinking and planning with their followers. Promulgation of information is key for a successful planning and thinking process, John Goldrick said.
What obstacles do you consider as a hindrance to the practice and implementation of strategic thinking and planning within your organization?
When the organizational culture is not open and receptive to strategic thinking and planning processes, its practice and implementation becomes an issue for leadership and followers, Matthew remarked. According to him, when followers are not invested in the overall success of the organization it becomes difficult for leadership to implement strategic thinking within the organization. Followers not just interest in their paycheck can be a huge success for this process. Karen stated the size of her organization is often a hindrance to strategic thinking and planning. She also mentioned a lack of energy because of other life circumstances have been a barrier to strategically thinking and planning for the organization’s progress and growth. John Goldrick mentioned a lack of creativity, a fear of change, apprehension towards taking risks, a fear of making mistakes, the inability to lack failure and a refusal to undertake true assessment of the situation can be huge hindrances to the strategic thinking and planning process.
What systems do you have in place to assist you as a leader in identifying strategic thinkers within your organization?
According to Matthew, he identifies strategic thinkers by providing followers with the opportunity to lead a software development project. He also creates small and ad hoc teams for individual followers to be given the opportunity to solve problems and develop new ideas. Karen relies on team members to assist in the strategic thinking process and therefore identifies who excels in such an area. She also works towards identifying potential employees and places them on short-term projects to allow her to observe and confirm they possess strategic thinking skills. John Goldrick, on the other hand, does not consider this process as a system. According to him, it is more of an appraisal process which he undertakes once a year with his followers to identify strengths and weaknesses. After this process, “I am able to identify strategic thinkers,” John said. However, he stated it is a difficult process to undertake with university administrators.
As a leader, do you use a strategic team? If so, how do you choose your team members?
Matthew reported he uses strategic leadership teams within specific departments. Karen Howells uses a team of consultants as her strategic leadership team. According to Karen, when the need arises she utilizes other individuals from other organizations who possess the skills needed. According to John Goldrick, his strategic leadership team comprises of his staff which is made up of fourteen departmental heads. He reported the team meets for two hours every two weeks to deliberate on issues concerning the university. He stated, “I could not function without the team,” John said. He reported such collaboration allows us to work towards a common goal he concluded.
What would you consider as your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Matthew mentioned his organization possesses the following strengths. It is responsive to clients’ needs, flexible to solve client needs, relies on client needs to define its problems and adapts to client needs. He felt the organization had the following weaknesses: unrealistic client expectations and the lack of stability of a product. Matthew stated his organization is flexible and responsive and therefore this can be seen as an opportunity. The inability to meet customer expectations, a threat to credibility and the potential to lose customers are seen as threats, according the Matthew.
According to Karen, the individual clients the organization works with and the reputation of her team members are seen as strengths. As a leader, Karen stated her inability to clearly see the future is a weakness. Karen reported she has not been in good health over the past year and therefore does not have a committed direction for the organization and as a result has not marketed her services as readily as in recent years.
John Goldrick stated the strengths of the University of Portland is that it is a Catholic University and University of Portland is aware of what it wants. The University of Portland lacks self-confidence and therefore this is seen as a weakness. However, he sees opportunities in the horizon as individuals are beginning to recognize the identity of the institution. He foresees secularization and narcissism of the American society, the growing need for instant gratification, and the delayed enjoyment in higher education as threats to the welfare of the institution.
What strategies do you rely on to combat perceived weaknesses and threats to/within your organization?
Clear communication of customers’ expectations; internally enforcing flexibility, responsiveness to customer needs, and communication among leaders and followers; and ongoing training and accountability are strategies that Matthew utilizes to combat perceived weaknesses and threats to his organization. Karen uses change initiatives and time-lines to combat weaknesses and threats within her organization. John employs open communication; a collective approach to leadership; and endless conversation around the vision, mission, goals and objectives of the institution to combat weaknesses and threats.
What specific tools do you rely on to determine the progress and growth of your organization?
In determining the progress and growth of the his organization, Matthew keeps close accounts of sales figures, the measurement of profitability, client retention, cost management and the measurement of growth and retention of staff. According to Karen, she considers ‘how full the pipeline is,’ how may referrals the firm receives, and the level revenue for the firm. John presented a different approach to determining the progress and growth of his organization. According to John, he uses assessment tools and performance appraisals and reviews on a regular basis.
Please mention and explain 5 trends you perceive as having the potential to impact the long-term performance and success of your organization?
According to Matthew, the contraction and expansion of the financial services industry, mergers and acquisitions within the industry and the changing pace of technology and staying abreast of such changes are potential trends that may affect his organization. He also mentioned the workforce in the United States over the most recent years has not seen enough individuals being trained within the information technology industry. Therefore there is a limited workforce to tap into. He also stated the cost of labor and current privacy laws and regulations regarding sensitive data may also have an adverse affect on his organization in the near future. Karen believes the following trends will impact her organization’s performance and success over the course of time: clients’ desire for instant gratification, organizational fatigue and overload, and competition from competitors. Karen also mentioned the emergence and growth of small businesses can have a huge impact on her organization. Karen believes the current generation of young people, will have a significant impact on her company. John had similar views with Karen. John perceives secularization, narcissism, instant gratification and federal government regulations will impact the performance and success of the University of Portland.
The leaders in this interview were carefully selected as a result of my interests and practice in consulting and higher education. The questions were carefully crafted to elicit the needed information from the selected leaders regarding what they considered as their strengths as leaders and in the area of strategic thinking and planning. Interestingly the three leaders had similar views though operate in different industries. Their views regarding trends that will impact the future of their organization are proof of their ability to think and plan strategically in order to run successful organizations. All three leaders provided great examples of visionary leadership and they brought strategic thinking and planning to life. It is therefore in the good interest of organizational leaders to research and practice strategic thinking and planning principles. Leaders who lack the ability to think and plan strategically must rely on internal and external consultants[xiv] who will facilitate the process of imparting the needed knowledge, skills and expertise for a successful operation. Such leaders can take steps to build a resource base of materials centered on strategic thinking and planning for their organizations for the use of their followers in order to develop a culture of strategic thinking and planning in their organizations.
[i] Hughes, R. & Beatty, K.C (2005). Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization’s Enduring Success. Jossey- Boss, San- Francisco, CA.
[ii] Fairholm, M. & Card, M. (2009). Perspectives of Strategic Thinking: From Controlling Chaos to Embracing it. Journal of Management. 15(1), 17-30.
[iii] Hughes, R. & Beatty,K.C (2005). Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization’s Enduring Success. Jossey- Boss, San- Francisco, CA.
[iv] Sanders, I. (1998). Strategic Thinking. Strategy & Leadership. 33(5), 5-12
[v] Goldman, E.F. (2007). Strategic Thinking at the Top. MITSloan Management Review. 48 (4). 75-80
[vi] Abraham, S. (2005). Stretching Strategic Thinking. Strategy & Leadership. 33(5) 5-12.
[vii] Strong, B. (2005) Strategic Planning: What’s So Strategic About It? Educase Quarterly.
[viii] Sanders. (1998).
[ix] Briefing Notes: What is Strategic Thinking? (Philadelphia, PA: Center for Applied Research, 200), 1.
[x] Fairholm & Card. (2009).
[xi]Jones, T. (2010). What is Your Vision? Leadership Excellence. 27(3), 6.
[xii] Robert N. Lussier, R.N. & Achua, C.F. (2007). Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development: Thompson Higher Education. Mason, Ohio.
[xiii]Richardson, D. (2009). The Urgency Factor…Leadership Communication In Chaotic Times. Of Counsel. 28(8), 10-13.
[xiv] Block, P. (2000), Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used. Pfeiffer, San Francisco, CA. 5.
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Strategic thinking is a knowledge acquisition process that connects and involves every component and department of an organization by defining the direction of the organization, how it construes its strategy into execution, how it reassesses the organization’s direction, and then fine tuning its path.Peter Carlos Okantey Articles
This is a short story about a small high tech company that in spite of some developing employee relations issues has been very successful. In order to protect the guilty, we will call this company Wacko Technology.
On the surface everything at Wacko appears to be rather calm. They are making money so little else seems that important. Oh, there are one or two tell-tale signs of trouble brewing beneath the service such as Wacko’s rising 18% turnover rate. Also Wacko’s break room is filled with “toxic gossip” as well as the not too small matter of constant employee gripes and complaints. To say the least, all was not well at Wacko.
While considering Wacko’s situation, I began to get those same uneasy feelings you get when watching a documentary on volcanoes. In the program’s opening scene you are speeding in a helicopter towards a tropical island paradise, surrounded by clear blue water and white sand beaches, covered in softly swaying palm trees and beautiful tropical flowers. But just before the first commercial break your dream of this island paradise becoming your next vacation destination is totally destroyed by the shattering forces of an exploding volcano. The shock is so great to your senses you grab the remote and quickly begin searching for an escape, but you end up settling on another disaster by watching the Red Sox blow a seven game lead in the AL East.
It has not been that good a day. After having spent your entire day fighting fires at work and now to see you vacation dream being consumed by smoke and ash followed by watching another year of the Curse of the Bambino play out on ESPN has about pushed you over the edge.
If you are experiencing pre-volcano anxiety concerning your organization, this may be a good time to intervene with an employee driven organization development program that is based on the principle that, "the person closest to the problem is the best expert on the problem". Don't worry, this solution is not going to replace you. In fact, it will contribute greatly to strengthening your position of leadership at all levels of the organization. The leadership principle at work here is simple. Give your employees a voice by “asking employees their opinion, listening to what they have to say and acting on it”.
You begin by first asking your employees in confidential one-on-one interviews; “What three things, if done extraordinarily well, will have the greatest impact on the quality of work and the quality of work life for you, your fellow employees, customers and your company?” These interviews are best conducted by your HR department or an outside consultant. Once you have completed interviews with each of your employees (or a representative percentage), organize their suggestions in order of importance and provide your employees access to your listing through feedback meetings or by email. This lets employees know you value their opinion. On the front end, if there are any suggestions you will not be implementing, it is very important to let your employees know what you will not be doing and explain why. Don't be afraid to say no as long as you explain why.
Next go to work on a “quick start plan” by announcing and implementing any suggestions that can be put in place quickly and that you feel are critical to addressing employee dissatisfaction. In order to address the remaining employee suggestions create an Organization Development Committee (7 to 9 member committee) made up of a cross section of employees, which should include two or three well respected front line managers. This committee will be responsible for developing, for management’s approval plans and programs that address employee concerns and suggestions taken from the employee OD interviews. The manager’s involvement in the committee is to act as the “boss interpreter” directing the group’s recommendations towards plans that will be accepted by management. Allow the committee to own the process and the chairperson of the OD committee to be responsible for communicating to employees all aspects of the committee’s activity including announcement of action plans and programs developed as a result of employee input. An OD Plan of this type has a six month shelf life so I strongly suggest someone in senior management take responsibility for championing the OD committee work.
By asking your employee’s for their opinion you begin a participative process that will change the culture of your organization. But what is so remarkable about an employee driven OD program is not only will your employees effectively address issues that threaten employee morale and productivity but the program will also empower employees companywide by giving them a voice. Your employees’ voice will be expressed by:
*Creating a belief that they can make a difference by seeing their ideas are valued and implemented.
*Taking greater initiative and action to make things better.
*Taking responsibility to do the right thing and not always waiting for management direction.
*Taking leadership by being willing to help others move in the right direction.
*Becoming self-correcting by making themselves accountable to the standards they set.
*Becoming more confident and proud of the work they do and the organization they work for.
*Working in a more collaborative way to help assure the best thinking and employee support made part by the critical plans as they are implemented.
*Taking responsibility for developing and maintaining a positive employee culture.
Strengthening relationships that are built on trust.
*Expanding of the social circle within the organization where employees feel like they belong to something bigger them themselves.
Creating peer pressure for the majority who are no longer willing to accept difficult, nonproductive employee behavior. These problem employees then become isolated and their counterproductive attitude and behavior will be minimized. These employees will either slowly change for the better or will become so uncomfortable they will leave the organization. This is how you create positive turnover.
Volcanologists tell us that the study of volcanoes is not a perfect science and that there is much more to learn before they are able predict a volcanic eruption. The same may be true for predicting the eruption of employee relations problems, but there is a way to prevent these nasty employee eruptions …. simply give your employees a voice.
About the authors:
Michael E. Hackett is a retired Human Resource executive and management consultant based in Brentwood Tennessee. www.hacketthrconsultant.comj Michael has distinguished himself in the field of Human Resources Management and Organizational Development, with more than 40 years of human resources consulting, management and executive level experience in business, industry, government and healthcare. Michael has served as an Adjunct University Professor for more than 25 years, where he has taught a variety of management, leadership, customer service and strategic planning courses. Hackett has authored a number of management articles; and as conference leader, he has conducted training programs for business, industry, government, hospitals, universities, and professional associations. Michael’s academic credits include a BS and MS degrees from The University of Memphis. You may reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org
P. Daniel Hackett is a Construction Project Engineer with J. E. Dunn Corporation in Brentwood Tennessee. Dan’s academic credits include a BS degree in Building Construction Science from Auburn University and a MS degree in Sustainable Practices from Lipscomb University in Nashville. Dan was also a intern assistant with Hackett and Assistant while attending Auburn University.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
This is a short story about a small high tech company that in spite of some developing employee relations issues has been very successful. In order to protect the guilty, we will call this company Wacko Technology. On the surface everything at Wacko appears to be rather calm. They are making money so little else seems that important. Oh, there are one or two teMichael and Daniel Hackett Articles
Let’s be honest, any kind of change, much less corporate change, is difficult, really difficult. Whether a start-up experiencing growing pains, a company faced with increased competition, a floundering company trying to stay afloat, or a successful business attempting to expand into global markets, the path toward change can often be unclear at best and the barriers can seem insurmountable at worst. Yet change your company must if it is going to become or remain a “player” in its market. The question isn’t whether your business must change; that is a given if you want it to survive and thrive. Rather, the question is: Will our company change?
If you answer in the affirmative, there are two more questions that you must ask. First, what will your company change? In the ever-morphing marketplace, there isn’t always clarity on what needs to be changed for a company to stay competitive. Second, how specifically will your company change? It’s one thing to have grand ideas about what changes your company needs to make. It’s an entirely different thing to take those “50,000 feet” ideas and bring them down to Earth.
Though change is always complex, like all complicated processes, it begins with a basic framework that orients and guides the course of transformation. A useful way of framing this process is by what The Trium Group calls “the Six I’s”: intention, inspiration, information, insight, integration, and implementation.
The foundation of any change is intention that change is needed. Intention provides the objective for an initial course of action that will lead to the desired change. For example, “We intend to modify our sales practices to make it more customer friendly” or “ Our intention is to increase our market share by 25% over the next 12 months.” This intention creates a sense of purpose that provides the preliminary impetus for the change.
As the saying goes, though, the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions. Simply knowing what your company wants just isn’t enough for change to occur. Instead, there needs to be inspiration that puts the wind in the sails to propel the change forward. Because change is so difficult, the motivation to change must come from a deep place within the leadership of an organization and that strong desire for change must then emanate outward and be embraced through all levels of the organization. This inspiration can be grounded in many forms so that it is more readily accessible to everyone involved in making the change a reality, whether due to a sense of ownership, pride in being part of a productive team, personal ambition, or the determination to take the company to the next level. The key is to infect your organization with this inspiration from the corner office to the “boots on the ground.” Without this powerful emotion, any efforts at change are sure to be dead in the water.
One of scariest things about change when it’s first proposed is lack of clarity and its magnitude.
Everyone knows that a change needs to be made, but there are many questions that are left unanswered and the change can seem overwhelming It can feel like you are told to climb Mt. Everest, but without the necessary equipment, route, or guidance. This feeling of “How can I possibly do this?” is where the idea of change collides with the reality of change. And that collision can stop even the most powerful inspiration in its tracks.
The remedy for this feeling of being overwhelmed is information. When everyone in your organization has the relevant data needed to put the required change in perspective, the scope and process of change seem more manageable. You want to answer the what, why, who, where, when, and how of the change. So, my recommendation to you when it comes time to announce the changes through your organization is to follow it very soon after (if not concurrently) with the information that will allow everyone to gain perspective and understand that the change is not only possible, but doable.
Once everyone in your company understands the ins and outs of the proposed change, insight is necessary to take the intention, inspiration, and information and make the change personal. In other words, every team member must understand their role in the organization-wide change. This insight provides each person with a framework and process that will guide them in their particular responsibilities in making the change happen.
One of the most challenging aspects of company-wide change is that your team is expected to make the changes while also continuing to fulfill their normal roles and responsibilities. The stress-inducing question that everyone asks is: “How am I going to do this when I’m already maxed out in my ‘day job’?” This is where you must ensure effective integration of the change process into everyone’s already-busy schedules. The simple reality is that change will not occur if your people lack the time, energy, or resources to do their part in initiating the change. You must be explicit in identifying the when and how of the change for each member of your team, otherwise they are likely going to feel overwhelmed and demoralized, both of which will undermine the company-wide efforts at the needed change.
All of your company’s efforts to this point are in preparation for rolling out the intended change in your company. Everything to this point will go for naught if it isn’t able to take action in pursuit of the change objectives. The final phase of the change process, implementation, is where the rubber meets the road. If you have successfully fulfilled the mandates of the first five I’s, meaning everyone in your company knows the what, when, where, and how, implementation should be, well, not easy, but a natural extension of the earlier groundwork. These efforts will then, over time, produce the intended change and help your company to achieve its goals and find continued success.
About the author:
Jim Taylor a partner at the Trium Group, a boutique corporate consulting firm based in San Francisco that specializes in strategic, organizational, and human transformation and performance. You can contact Jim at
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website
Let’s be honest, any kind of change, much less corporate change, is difficult, really difficult. Whether a start-up experiencing growing pains, a company faced with increased competition, a floundering company trying to stay afloat, or a successful business attempting to expand into global markets, the path toward change can often be unclear at best and the barriers can seem insurmountable atJim Taylor, PhD Articles
The Navy – it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! Get technical training, see the world, earn educational benefits, and be part of the fight against global terrorism! These are just a few of the reasons people are motivated to join the Navy. The Navy experience varies from sailor to sailor causing some to leave the Navy after a few years and others to make it a career. After their duty station, the biggest influence on a sailor’s Navy experience is typically their leader and that person’s leadership style. Leadership styles in the Navy can be compared to a Clint Eastwood movie; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Generally when a Sailor or Navy veteran is asked who their best leader was, it won’t take them much time to identify the good. Similarly, when ask who their worst Navy leader was, they can identify the bad almost immediately. Then there are those sailors who have experienced the ugly Navy leader. These are sailor’s who have survived bosses whose leadership styles are so toxic, the leader is often relieved from their position.
What leads to these people in authority to act the way they do, whether good, bad, or ugly? It has been suggested that a leaders inner motives, combined with their competencies, drives leadership style. The leader chooses their leadership style to help them best achieve their motives. This article explores what motivates one subsection of the military, naval leaders, and how that motivation influences the specific leadership style or styles they use.
Honor, Courage, and Commitment
All sailors are required to know and expected to live the Navy’s Core Values of “Honor, Courage, and Commitment.” Honor requires truthfulness, honesty, integrity, respect for others, knowing right from wrong, and acting in an ethical manner. Courage is the personal and moral fortitude to do what is right whether facing anything from enemy fire to a temptation. Commitment means staying the course regarding the oath to ‘defend and protect,’ personal behavior, technical skills, and respect for others. The core values give all sailors the fortitude to fulfill their duty to their followers and their country.
These core values were not arbitrarily arrived at. Being honest was rated the top characteristic of admired leaders in repeated studies. Even though the studies were conducted with non-military personnel, courage was also ranked high. These values drive commitment and without commitment, a leader’s credibility diminishes.
Navy Leadership Training
The Navy has long recognized that leadership styles and skill levels have an impact on mission accomplishment, retention, and morale. For years, the Navy has had the Naval Leadership Continuum which provides career-long leadership training from E-4 to the flag officer level. The top three leaders of any Navy command are expected to attend leadership training at the commanding officer, executive officer, or command master chief level as appropriate. Navy leadership training is not only for senior leaders but is also targeted at far more junior personnel. Navy leadership training has such a good reputation Forbes magazine reported that many of the top corporations in the nation have studied it “…to see what they can learn and adapt from the Navy, to weave into their own cultures of leadership learning and development.”
Sounds good, right? Despite the majority of Navy leaders who uphold the highest traditions of our nation, other Navy leaders continue to make headlines for leadership failures. Regrettably, these incidents greatly damage the leader’s career and normally reflect poorly on his or her family, service, and country. What motivates these leaders to stray from the sound leadership principles which they have been taught? And can their leadership style predict hidden motivations?
In reality, it is difficult to know what truly motivates an individual, but with most leaders there are indications of what motivates them. Going back to Clint Eastwood’s outline, let’s look at some well-known naval leaders, their leadership styles, and what may have motivated them.
While stationed on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon in the 1990s, I was fortunate enough to serve with two great naval leaders, General Peter Pace, USMC, and Admiral Vernon Clark, USN. At the time, they were both three-star flag officers and served in key positions on the staff. Both were strategic thinkers with stellar reputations as intelligent, honest, hard working, and selfless leaders who cared strongly not only for the mission but for their people. There was never a question that both men loved their country and were ready to do whatever needed to be done to get the mission accomplished. Their motivation was to serve not only their leaders and followers but their country and fellow countrymen.
Both of these gentlemen had similar leadership styles – a combination of servant leadership and transformational leadership. Servant leadership has been described as a style where the leader places others at the center instead of themselves and who view their task as serving others. A transformational leadership style is evident when the leader dismisses using their position or rank to get something done and “…instead attempts to motivate and mobilize followers by persuading them to take ownership of their roles in a more grand mission that is shared by all members of the organization.” There are some who would suggest these leadership styles are “touchy-feely” or not goal-oriented enough, but this is not the case. It should be noted that both these men were fiercely dedicated to the mission of national defense and their leadership style prompted others to emulate that dedication to the mission despite danger, family separation, low pay, and difficult living conditions. These two exemplary leaders each had 30+ years of service to their country. Through these years, there were countless examples of actions that personified the type of leader they were. An example from each helps to show their true colors.
Admiral Clark continued to excel after his tour on the Joint Staff and rose to become the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Navy’s top position, in July 2000. A quick review of his CNO guidance to his leaders demonstrates his commitment to the mission and to his people.
Winning the Global War on Terrorism is our number one priority… Last year I told you I wanted every leader to be evaluated on two things, their commitment to the growth and development of their people and above all to mission accomplishment…I want each of you to understand that mission accomplishment means both warfighting effectiveness and resourcefulness. It has been said that great leaders do the right thing, and great managers do things right—we need to do both…People remain at the heart of all we do; they are capital assets in our Navy. We have invested heavily to do what is right for our people. As we look to the future, we will build on the impressive progress we have made in recruiting, assigning, and retaining our military and civilian professionals. "Growth and development" is our byline and I expect every leader to be deeply involved in developing their shipmates. Active leadership is making it happen today and will do so in 2003.
Admiral Clark didn’t just talk the leadership talk – he walked the walk. In January 2002, he traveled half way around the world to reenlist sailors onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. His words following the ceremony demonstrated his commitment to his sailors, “I came out here to look you in the eye, and tell you something that I couldn't tell you if I just sent you a message. I came out here to look at you and tell you that the American people are so proud of what you're doing.”
General Pace also was clear in what he thought was important – the sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen that he led in the nation’s highest military position. In 2007, while serving as the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), he was told that he would not be renominated for the CJCS position. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested to Pace that he voluntarily retire to reduce awkwardness with the Bush Administration. He refused. After a speech at the Joint Forces Staff College, he was asked why he did not voluntarily step down.
“I said I could not do it for one very fundamental reason, and that is that ‘Pfc. Pace’ in Baghdad should not think ever that his chairman, whoever that person is, could have stayed in the battle and voluntarily walked off the battlefield,” he said. Out of his sense of leadership, he could not even consider the idea, Pace said. Therefore, he did not submit his retirement papers until after it became publicly known that he was not going to be renominated. “The other piece for me personally was that some 40 years ago I left some guys on the battlefield in Vietnam who lost their lives following Second Lieutenant Pace,” he said. “I promised myself then that I will serve this country until I was no longer needed. I need to be told that I’m done. I’ve been told I’m done.”
Both Clark and Pace were motivated by love for country, their countrymen, and those they led. Their leadership styles clearly reflected and promoted achievement of their motives.
Not all successful military officers are necessarily good leaders. Most career officers have seen leaders “that eat their young” and wondered how it happens when a poor leader gets promoted or put into a position of power. Retired Green Beret Lt. Col. Mark Johnson noted, “Anyone can try to impress and fool the boss and peers and actually be successful doing it…But the true test, the true mark of your respect and character comes from below, not above.” What motivates this negative type of leadership style could range from anything from insecurity to over-confidence. An interesting case is that of Admiral Earnest J. King, who some consider one of the greatest Naval heroes of the 20th century.
Admiral King served as both the Commander in Chief and the Chief of Naval Operations in World War II. He was an extraordinarily intelligent risk-taker who quickly climbed the ranks after graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. In a biography of King, Thomas Buell noted his primary motivation, “King had but one aim in his life during his first forty years of naval service; to become the Chief of Naval Operations…He made no secret of it. He would tell anyone who would listen…”
As his primary motivation was self-interest, it is not surprising to find that many subordinates found his leadership style abrasive and uncompromising. As the Navy Commander in Chief, King worked his staff to the point where there were illnesses including heart attacks and even a suicide. One officer who worked for King reported he did not tolerate errors and that “Censure was swift, devastating, and before a cloud of witnesses.” Another officer noted that filled rooms would clear out when he entered, “No one seemed to want to be where King was.”
Admiral King was an extraordinarily successful naval officer who contributed to the Navy mission, but his brusque leadership style was clearly not appreciated by his Sailors. It is interesting to ponder if King’s abrasive leadership style would have been tolerated in today’s environment where command climate is a consideration. As King’s motivation to become Chief of Naval Operations was so strong, today he may have very well adapted his leadership style into something more acceptable.
It is disturbing that 39 senior Navy leaders were relieved for professional or personal incidents or indiscretions in 2011. Equally concerning is so far in 2012, 26 senior Navy leaders have been fired. Sexual harassment, hazing, drunk driving, adultery, incompetence, inappropriate relationships, cruelty, and maltreatment are some of the behaviors that these leaders were fired for. It is unlikely that these leaders intentionally wanted to end their careers in disgrace. What was their motivation for this poor leadership behavior? Each of these leaders was required to go through leadership training before they took their positions – training that reinforced that any of these behaviors would most likely lead to dismissal for cause. Training that also highlighted the difficult spot that this type of dismissal put their family, their command, their Navy, and their country in.
Possible motives were personal gain, sexual gratification, and a quest for power. Other contributors included stupidity and poor judgment. These motivations contrast sharply against motivations such as service to country, service to fellow service members, and mission accomplishment. When a leader is committed and motivated to their mission and their people, they intentionally avoid situations that encourage or facilitate poor decision making.
Although less than one percent of commanding officers are relieved each year, it would be wise to remember these are only the ones who were caught and reported. How many sailors are out there trying to hold on and waiting for a transfer date for their boss or themselves? Besides the personal embarrassment to the leader and the Navy, there are significant costs to the taxpayer for these leadership failures. One of the primary symptoms of dysfunctional leadership behavior is lower productivity due to low morale. Gallup estimates it can cost an organization approximately 1/3 of its payroll cost. Additionally, retention can be negatively affected resulting in increased costs for the Navy. Then there is the obvious cost of having to find and train qualified reliefs for those who are dismissed.
One solution may be to go through these cases and analyze what were the motives of the leader that prompted the incident or incidents that ended their careers? When we understand one’s motives, we can better understand their behavior. And could an analysis of leadership styles help to predict poor behavior? If so, who would be best to conduct an analysis of leadership styles?
A study on destructive leadership behavior in the Swedish military was recently completed which could have bearing on this problem. The study provided a survey to subordinates of military leaders and asked them to answer “How well do the following statements fit with regard to your immediate supervisor/commander?” Twenty statements were rated including: uses threats to get their way, has violent tendencies, put’s own needs ahead of the group, gives unclear instructions, etc. The survey could be completed in a short time and the results proved statistically reliable. This instrument also fits nicely into a 360-degree evaluation. Although some officers and senior enlisted would be threatened by a system such as this, those leaders who have the right motives and right leadership styles should welcome one. As Lt. Col. Mark Johnson noted it is easy to trick your leaders and peers into thinking you are a great leader. It is not so easy to trick your subordinates – our service members are smart and know a good leader when they see one.
Personal motivations do impact leadership styles for the simple reason that in order to get what they want people naturally adopt those characteristics that will help them achieve their goal. When motivations fall outside of the Navy’s core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment, leadership styles also fall outside of the acceptable boundaries the Navy has tried to instill not only through its leadership training but culture as well.
About the author:
Captain Jeanne McDonnell (ret.) served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years. Command assignments included Naval Support Activity Norfolk, Naval Administrative Command, and Transient Personnel Unit Norfolk. She also served in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff and Navy Staff. Jeanne has a Masters Degree in Education from Old Dominion University and another in Military Studies from U.S. Marine Corps University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Strategic Leadership at Regent University.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
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 Johnson, Mark. Lessons in Leadership: Straight Talk from a Green Beret. Dallas, TX: Brown Books Publishing Company, 2005. 111. Print.
 Buell, Thomas. Master of Sea Power. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1980. xx. Print.
 Ibid., pg 91.
 Ibid., pg 232.
 "Commanding officer, XO and senior enlisted firings." Navy Times [Springfield, VA] 3 July 2012, Web. 22 Aug. 2012. <http://www.navytimes.com/news/2012/07/navy-2012-co-xo-cmc-firings-list/>.
 Tavanti, Marco. "Managing Toxic Leaders: Dysfunctional Patterns." BEPRESS.Com. DePaul University, Jun 2011. Web. 26 Aug 2012.
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The Navy – it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! Get technical training, see the world, earn educational benefits, and be part of the fight against global terrorism! These are just a few of the reasons people are motivated to join the Navy. The Navy experience varies from sailor to sailor causing some to leave the Navy after a few years and others to make it a career. After their duty sJeanne M. McDonnell Articles
Leadership styles are based on the balance and overlapping of several core leadership frameworks (Styles, n.d.). According to Beck (2012), leadership effectiveness requires development in order to be aware of self-emotions, have control over these emotions, have empathy, and extend sound judgment. The value set of every leader is the basis from which their leadership styles develop and transition. Christmas (2011) states these values are influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors that shape the leaders of the times during a period of celebratory, visionary, and inclusive leadership transformation. It is through the transition and balance of leading and managing that the conscious and collaborative leadership processes are fostered for success.
According to Schwerin (2012), this process is self-awareness or the conscious state and is
an essential quality for successful leadership. Conscious leadership is a state of mind, the
authenticity of being who they are (Wood, n.d.). It helps leaders understand their strengths and
weakness and provides a foundation to reexamine and modify their conscious level leadership
behavior (Schwerin, 2012). The conscious leader trusts in the union of people and systems.
Conscious leaders experience authentic power that is internally based. According to Wood
(n.d.), they have a freedom that enables them to see beyond their own beliefs, opinions,
judgments, and values. The conscious leader listens from an open heart and encourages those
who have a different reality to express their views, fully and frankly (Wood, n.d.). They
continue to learn and understand the vital nature of diversity (Wood, n.d.).
Komives, Mainella, Owen, Osteen, & Longerbeam (2005) discussed the grounded theory
of leadership identity as a six-stage developmental process as depicted in Figure 1. The
transitional stages in leadership identity are awareness, exploration-engagement, leader
identified, leadership differentiated, generativity, and integration-synthesis. The participants in
their study described their leadership identity as moving from a leader-centric view to one that
embraces leadership as a collaborative and relational process and is central to the conscious and
relational leader (Komives, et al., 2005).
Figure 1: Developing a Leadership Identity: Illustrating the Cycle
According to Komives, et al. (2005), participants in the study revealed the dynamic process
of developing a leadership identity based on different experiences, new awareness of themselves
in a leadership context at different ages, and identified various ways their experiences and
context affected them. The essential development influences that fostered the development of a
leadership identity included adult influences, peer influences, meaningful involvement, and
reflective learning (Komives, et al., 2005). Developing oneself included a deepening self-
awareness, building self-confidence, establishing interpersonal efficacy, applying new skills, and
expanding motivation. The developing self category interacted with the category of group
influences where engaging in groups, learning from membership continuity, and changing
perceptions of groups influenced a person's leadership identity.
Leadership identity, according to Komives, et al. (2005), is the cumulative confidence in
one’s ability to engage with others to accomplish group objectives where a relational leadership
identity appears to be a sense of self as one who believes that groups are comprised of
interdependent members who do collaborative, relational leadership. As the group developed
themselves throughout the stages, they changed their perceptions of groups and their roles within
The study noted the engagement in groups and feedback from group members informed the
development of themselves as individuals shaping their individual awareness of who they were
in relation to others. Their changing view of self with others had a direct bearing on their
broadening view of leadership. Komives, et al. (2005) stated that those who viewed their
interdependence with those around them viewed leadership as a relational process and leaders as
anyone in the group who were contributing and collaborating in the process.
Boyatzis & McKee (2005) state that cultivating the capacity for mindfulness requires a
process of intentional change to develop ourselves – deliberate, focused identification of our
personal vision and our current reality, and conscious creation of engaging in a learning agenda.
This leadership role challenge requires leaders to engage in a conscious process of renewal both
on a daily basis and over time. Boyatzis & McKee (2005) state that leaders need to transform
their approach to managing themselves and to learn new behaviors and practices that enable
sustainability of internal resonance and attunement with those they lead. According to Wood
(n.d.), the consciousness shapes the leadership thinking resulting in change because individuals
see a need to grow, learn, and change their behavior (Kezar, 2001).
According to Legault (2012), horizontal and vertical growths are two-dimensional aspects
to development. Horizontal growth occurs through exposure to life and its many learning
processes. Horizontal development is the most common dimension due to the learning, training,
and development practices. The focus is on expanding, deepening, and enriching one’s current
way of making logic of the world. Vertical growth does not occur as often and is more powerful
than horizontal growth because it transforms a person’s way of making sense toward taking a
broader perspective and creates new ways for adults to think, feel, and act (Legault, 2012).
Legault (2012) describes successive stages or levels of learning that integrates prior stages
into a more complex structure forming a tiered system. The first tier stages leaders at a pre-
conventional level guided by their needs resulting in egocentric behavior. Conventional leaders
at the second tier take on socio-centric or ethno-centric view where concern for others is limited
to their immediate circle, workgroup, family, company, or nation. Legault (2012) further
discusses the last tier as leaders in a post-conventional level taking on a world-centric view that
encompasses the entire planet.
Turner (n.d.) identified six levels of leadership consciousness that a leader transitions
through in the tiered system: diplomat, expert, achiever, individual, collaborator, and servant.
Turner (n.d.) stated the diplomat acts to fit into work and social groups, meet others’ standards,
behave correctly, and maintain face and status. The expert is interested in what unique skills
they have that enable them to stand out from the group; however, they still define themselves in
terms of the group. Turner (n.d.) shows that the achiever is interested in other viewpoints, in
working effectively, and in achieving results.
The individualist’s key personal transition is in moving the source of authority in their lives
from being external to internal making this shift the start of a new phase of the leadership
journey (Turner, n.d.). As the collaborative transitions through the fifth level, they become
clearer about who they are and what unique qualities and skills they bring in the stage. They
tend to look out into the world to find ways of using their gifts and uniqueness as they step into
the collaborator phase (Turner, n.d.).
The ability of individuals to build relationships is a definitive factor in determining the
success or failure of leaders (Lester, 2011) across all divides. The collaborative leadership style
uses influence, not authority; creates open work environment without fear where people want to
work; keeps the purpose and vision alive; frees the team to question, analyze and investigate; and
operates with integrity and authenticity (Pixton, n.d.). A collaborative leadership approach is a
paradigm shift from a traditional leader to one that shares participative leadership and decision
making at all levels and in multiple decision processes for its members (Lari, 2011). Successful
collaboration often starts with one collaborative leader who identifies and convenes regularly a
collaborative leadership team that focuses overall on the organization’s goals and objectives
(Ohio, n.d.). It allows for the consideration of all viewpoints and enables all members’ ideas and
contributions to matter (Lari, 2011).
Collaboration requires group decisions at all levels, sharing of all information, a process
to stimulate the generation of ideas, team definition of accountability and self-selection, allowing
mistakes – expecting success, and the matching of talent and interests with responsibilities
(Pixton, n.d.). Collaborative leadership is effective for creating an environment conducive to
meeting the social and economic changes confronting organizations and the world (Yukl, 2010).
The facilitation of collaboration requires new types of leadership styles and structures. It
requires new leadership, management, and governance structures involving team approaches
rather than single person approaches. Collaborative leadership offers a new way to solve old
problems and take advantage of untapped opportunities by mobilizing collective expertise,
clarifying problems, resolving conflicts, and building consensus to act (Ohio, n.d.).
A high degree of intention to change the culture to one of caring and collaboration
demonstrates a transformational leadership model where relationship building is essential to the
role of the leader (Lari, 2011). Proven results of collaborative leadership has seen increased
productivity, a shared commitment to departmental goals, and improved quality of programs.
The greatest benefit of a shared leadership approach is a favorable impact on the preparation of
future leaders. According to Raelin (2003), a leader’s work is not to get people to comply but to
engage them, to support them, and keep the field clear so they can do meaningful work (Lari,
2011). Collaborative leadership is most effective when designed systematically to meet the
needs of a changing culture.
The sixth level of the conscious leadership dynamic element is the servant phase. This
stage finds the servant leader becoming increasingly integrated with their interpersonal skills as a
conscious shift takes place and a systems perspective emerges. This is the sustainability phase.
The servant leader acts to promote quality of life internationally by influencing positive change
relative to equality, conflict resolution, creative technology, and ecology (Turner, n.d.)
Servant leaders form mutually beneficial relationships with employees, customers,
suppliers, community, and the larger society. They balance their time and are motivated by
service to create a sustainable future for humanity and the planet (Turner, n.d.). This final level
of leadership consciousness enables a leader to reassess their conscious level and transition to a
corresponding stage while sustaining their leadership journey.
New ventures in conducting business require new ways to lead, manage, and govern that
promotes collaborative leadership. Leadership and management challenges will require the skills
of a conscious and collaborative leader for success (Lash, 2012). Collaborative leaders that
support and promote collaboration environments build the cultural elements of trust, sharing,
goals, innovation, environment, collaborative chaos, constructive confrontation, communication,
community, and value (Mays, 2007). Building collaboration requires setting clear goals and
objectives that are specific, measurable, and achievable. Along with the building process, Mays
(2007) states leadership behaviors must be consciously inclusive, empowering, purposeful,
ethical, and process-oriented. It is imperative to provide leadership in building relationships
among the people and organizations to fulfill one’s core purpose (Mays, 2007).
Leading during times of great changes and challenging realities requires leadership that is
assertive in expected and desired outcomes, examines logical opportunities and potential pitfalls,
and embraces and ensures changes are consistent and supportive of the personal and
organizational beliefs and values of the employees and the business constituencies (McFarlane,
et al., 2011). The conscious and collaborative leader is a vital part of key factors including
context, follower, and outcomes (MindTools, n.d.) that add to the success or failure of a dynamic
and ongoing leadership progression.
Ferdig (2007) states that sustainability leadership reflects an emerging consciousness
among people who are choosing to live their lives and lead their organizations in ways that
account for their impact on the earth, society and the health of local and global economies. The
role of the conscious leader includes capabilities beyond those we currently attribute to leaders,
foremost learning what it means to be a leader with others instead of leadership of or over others
Leaders who strive to develop themselves can have a meaningful effect on developing
others towards a successful leader (Beck, 2012). Gutek (2011) states all leadership begins with
self-leadership through discipline and precision. It is emphasized that leadership authority rests
in the balance of relationships they form with the people they lead. Beck (2012) asserts that
being mindful of your words and actions and being persistent in your efforts, your effectiveness
and impact as a leader will increase.
Lord (2005) states when we grow as people and value more of our true selves, our true
capabilities, and our true potential -- we naturally become greater catalysts for the growth of all
those around us including the organizations and societies that are socially constructed. The
conscious and collaborative leader forms a self-awareness of behaviors, thoughts, actions, and
communication. The need to develop conscious leaders has never been greater for organizations
to deal with the complexity of the global economic environment and create opportunities for a
sustainable future (Legault, 2012). The conscious leader inspires and evolves prominence, trusts
in themself and others, and seeks an infinite opportunity to grow and learn. Accordingly, the
conscious leader is inner-directed, leading with presence and serving those who follow.
Conscious leadership starts with a fundamental shift in how leaders perceive reality calling for
greater self-awareness and a more expansive leadership mind-set and world view (Anderson &
Ackerman, 2011). The conscious and collaborative leadership elements are influencing factors
in the effective and successful balance of the dynamic leadership progression.
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About the author:
Laura Perrymond is a Training Manager for county government. She is also a veteran having served in the U.S. Army. She received her Bachelor's degree from City University and an Associate degree from Pierce College. She will receive her Master's degree (MA-Leadership) from City University this May. You can email Laura at Perl35@hotmail.com
Leadership styles are based on the balance and overlapping of several core leadership frameworks (Styles, n.d.). According to Beck (2012), leadership effectiveness requires development in order to be aware of self-emotions, have control over these emotions, have empathy, and extend sound judgment. The value set of every leader is the basis from which their leadership styles develop and transitiLaura Perrymond Articles
Leaders are transitioning into the global arena at a greater frequency than ever before. This is the ideal time to address how to approach this transitioning. This article will briefly describe the utilization of cross-cultural transitioning as opposed to mere cross-border transitioning.
It has been stated again and again: most organizations are more global than local. When one considers the vendors with which an organization deals or the employees they hire or the software they utilize, there is a global flavor and dimension to even the smallest enterprise. However, there are legitimate events that occur that cause organizations to begin planning to take their actual operations global. Rising costs of resources, transportation issues, political conflicts, fluid tax regulations and an impoverished talent pool are but a few of the obstacles that may best be overcome by crossing business borders and becoming a truly global organization.
Crossing business borders as well as cultural borders may seem to be a daunting task when it is first approached. That need not be so. Moving to global operations requires some fundamental actions on the part of the manager(s) involved, but it can be accomplished. Briefly, consider the broad, sweeping moves that will be necessary when beginning the new global initiative. Why change operations at all? Identify the reasons behind the global expansion. Reduced transportation costs from factory to end user are a real concern; becoming global just because IBM is global is not a justifiable cause. Where shall the new operations be located? There’s no point in setting up the latest factory in Bangladesh if your customer base is in Switzerland; try moving a little closer. Bangladeshi prices may be just wonderfully affordable but the cost of getting product to consumer will be astronomical — donkeys have to eat as well. Is there a talent resource pool that can be easily accessed or do you have to know the Prince’s son-in-law to get the best people? These are but some of the logistical questions that must be answered when expanding globally. However, global expansion is much more than just spending the money and setting up shop in another land. The remainder of this article will address the most important aspect of global organizational expansion: the cultural crossing.
While crossing business borders can be daunting enough (remember those donkeys), crossing cultural borders is infinitely more exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Nuance plays such a critical role here. Glances and gestures, the position of the eyes or the posture of the body can all be communicative devices if one knows what it all means. Unfortunately, for most North American business people, these things mean nothing; only direct confrontation makes sense. This is understandable as these are the cultural lenses through which most North Americans peer. Though North Americans seem dominant on the global stage; this is often a cultural misunderstanding. In North American business schools and cultures, one is taught to be direct in communication with others. Those who work specifically for one manager are often referred to as “directs.” However, being direct in this manner will often derail an intercultural business proposition before it ever has the opportunity to be examined. In truth, one of the best instructions for North Americans breeching the cultural walls of global business is to “close mouth and listen.”
Having drive and initiative is often a highly desired trait in business. Initiative can actually erect barriers as one enters into global business relationships. Firoz, Maghrabi, and Kim, state, “research indicates that most management techniques are not portable and that cultural-specific training is desperately needed within the ranks of multinational organizations.” In other words, leaders do not rise to the place of global leadership without developing certain techniques that work for them in their current management arena, yet these very techniques may need to be “un-learned,” and new techniques developed in the global business scope. Communication is one place where this variance is clearly noted. Many people in other cultures operate in a “shame” or “face-saving” manner. Direct disagreement will virtually never occur as this may cause the new manager to lose face and cause the direct report to lose face if she is wrong. Instead, indirect communication is likely to take place. For example, the direct report may refer to a non-existent third party in order to place any possible shame on a party that cannot be injured. Again, remaining silent and listening often prove to be the very best means of leading.
Beginning an international venture is much like returning to college. One often learns the most by remaining silent, taking careful notes and practicing excellent listening skills. Additionally, developing intimate relationships with “locals” will give one a mentor to which to turn prior to making a cultural misstep. Global leaders “consciously seek out a sophisticated understanding of how complex data fit together, an understanding that has to be lived, not taught.” Global leaders will value the additional education that is needed to success on this level and will earnestly pursue opportunities that will allow them to improve their global “I.Q.” “Global leaders observe, deliberate, and ponder. They know that reflection, or meditative thinking, ‘does not just happen by itself.’”(Ibid, p 58) It is out of this observation and reflection that global leaders grow and eventually succeed.
By being inquisitive and committed to continual learning, the global leader takes charge of her success and direction. She continually seeks to know more about the culture she inhabits and compares those studies to that which she currently practices. This only happens with intentionality. The global leader understands that “the learning process of individuals in a cross-cultural context requires the creative destruction of barriers to learning and the broadening of access to new sources of knowledge and experience.” Destroying the barriers to learning is often no more than opening up oneself to that which is unfamiliar and agreeing to examine it from the understanding that a difference in leading does not necessarily indicate an inherent wrongness in either approach. It is vitally important for the global leader to allow herself to be a sponge for absorbing the information and cultural clues that will present themselves as she observes the characteristics of doing business in her new culture. By not allowing oneself to exhibit prejudice for one’s own business acumen and understanding that there are numerous ways of doing things across the world; a global leader will develop into one whose specialty is the reinterpretation of techniques so that they may cross cultural barriers and borders. Herein lays the value of the truly global leader: that she can adapt the strategies and policies of her global corporation to the culture in which business is conducted without diluting the strategy or denigrating the culture.
Unending learning will be the global executive’s lifelong associate, servant and guide. It is impossible to place a value on the outcomes that will arise out of this commitment to learning. Developing this habit of continual learning; learning to be found in every circumstance and not halls of education alone, will lead to success in every aspect of life: business, family, and faith. The path toward global leadership must begin at the restructuring of assumptions. One does not reach this level of executive success by virtue of technique, but by a propensity to know what one knows and what one does not know. This follows along the lines of Kolb’s research (1984) concerning experiential learning theory (ELT). “[One] reason to enlist ELT to understand cross-cultural learning lies in its focus on the interactive nature of person and environment in the learning process.” It seems simplistic but often global executive development is of the nature of “diving in and finding out.”
To summarize, the global executive faces one of the most exciting and enduring experiences available to business leaders: that of experiencing a culture different from one’s own and learning to develop one’s technique and style of management within the context of a culture composed of people, laws, governments, and structures that are different by far from what one knows. With this exciting opportunity come challenges and barriers to try the hearts of the strongest individual. By combining the traits of effective listening, experiential learning, inquisitiveness, relational development and pre-developed business and management skills; the global executive will be one of those fortunate few who truly can leave an impression in the global landscape by virtue of their presence. The first step is to close mouth and open ears allowing one to be influenced by her new culture prior to her influencing said culture. There are very few more rewarding experiences than to transform oneself from the selfish and prototypical American business executive into a global executive success.
About the author:
Ralph Johnson is a student at Regent University
 Firoz, Nadeem, Ahmad S. Maghrabi, and Ki Hee Kim. “Think Globally, Manage Culturally” International Journal of Commerce and Management, 2002, Vol.12 No. 3 & 4.
 Black, J. Stewart, Allen J. Morrison, and Hal B. Gregersen, Global Explorers: The Next Generation of Leaders, New York: Routledge, 1999. Page 56
 Gahfoor, Shahzad, Fukhaia Kaka Khail, Uzair Farooq Khan, and Faiza Hassan, “An Exploratory Analysis of Experiential Narratives and Implications for Management, Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, June 2011, Vol 3 No 2
 Yamazaki, Yoshitaka and D. Christopher Kayes, “An Experiential Approach to Cross-Cultural Learning: A Review and Integration of Competencies for Successful Expatriate Adaptation,: Academy of Management Learning and Education, 2004, Vol 3 No 4.
Leaders are transitioning into the global arena at a greater frequency than ever before. This is the ideal time to address how to approach this transitioning. This article will briefly describe the utilization of cross-cultural transitioning as opposed to mere cross-border transitioning. It has been stated again and again: most organizations are more global thaRalph E. Johnson Articles
If you monitored the United States’ presidential election process or the corporate woes of Nokia and Research in Motion as they try to recover what were formerly massive stakes in the cellular phone market, then you realize that worthwhile change, even when planned, is neither simple nor easy; it is complex and difficult. Organizations struggling most with change, therefore, seem to be the ones that also struggle most with innovative thinking. Successful organizational changes are possible – just not as clear-cut and idealistic as some management books and journal articles would lead you to believe. Many readers can likely recall an encounter with an Organizational Development (OD) consultant ending with a forgotten, polished report. Separated by time and distance from the change implementation process, the projects appeared clean and clear recipes for new life. But, just as recipes are ineffective if the proper ingredients are not gathered in the correct measurements, at the right time, and combined by the proper tools, so change-management plans are also ineffective if misdirected and misapplied.
Organizational leaders, with or without the aid of consultants, are responsible for these spectacular changes or disasters. C-suite leaders are routinely hired and fired with the understanding that they will bring the “magic” that makes change work, resulting in innovation, efficiency, increased brand value and earnings, reduced turnover, and improved talent acquisition. Surely, useful methods for successful change exist and are routinely highlighted by change-management experts. Still, there are also obstacles that hinder change management – some errors of commission, others of omission, and they primarily affect individuals on the receiving end of leaders’ visions for change. Among these obstacles, any which makes or breaks follower buy-in is nonnegotiable. It must be addressed well. When unaccounted for, these organizational booby-traps trip up unaware interventionists and halt progress – to the often repeated rate of 70% failure.
Two coalescing perspectives of the change process have dominated OD: Kurt Lewin’s (1890-1947) three-step approach and, more recently, Chris Argyris’ (1923-) theory of intervention and double-loop learning. For Lewin, change processes consisted of:
1) unfreezing the present condition,
2) changing to a new condition as favorable affections replace affections for the old condition, and
3) refreezing the process by which the new condition becomes established.
Essentially, the need for change is realized, desired, and then consistently pursued after a semblance of acceptance for the change is obtained. Argyris’ theory built upon Lewin’s model by introducing discussion about persistent evaluation. In short, he promoted what is called systems thinking, which examines the foundational issues for why problems arise, promoting change at that level. For instance, in collecting performance data, this would mean not only examining the collected data, but it would also entail critiquing the data collection process i.e. Were the correct data collected and the means of collection proper? The point is that alleviating symptoms is not a long-term strategy for successful OD. Leaders need to address root causes – the metaphorical infection causing the sore throat. Effective leaders manage these change efforts like skirmishes comprising a war campaign. For each, they rally their troops’ morale, negotiate resources and leverage competencies, study the benefits and drawbacks of the environment, and assess costs. Such accounting is needed every step of the way because, if not recognized as an opportunity to be well-prepared, each aspect may become a potential obstacle for followers’ change readiness.
The approach most leaders take, resulting in that dismal 30% success rate, is one of firefighting. They see change as inviting resistance, and so they prepare for resistance and learn to “put out fires” along the way. Their fact-pattern is:
Followers naturally react to change, or the idea of change. It is often a matter of perceived control. Some feel they lose while others feel they can only benefit from the change. Successfully timing change events, therefore, requires leaders to monitor followers’ motivations and evidence of growing dissatisfaction with the present situation and greater affinity for the proposed change (willingness to complete additional work, spend extra time onsite, work jointly in cross-functional teams, etc.). These signs indicate readiness for change. Unilateral action should replace politicking when the coalition in favor of change is strong and vocal.
Leaders do not have to settle for such adversarial change-management scenarios. Those projects will exhaust all factions and exacerbate organizational tensions. Instead, leaders ought to seek improvement in organizational relationships throughout the change-management process. These events bring leader-follower tensions and underlying assumptions to the surface, and so they are prime opportunities to address misalignments and strengthen understanding of the organization’s unifying mission while improving operations. The following list of ingredients for effective change management will increase the likelihood of change “sticking” and the organization improving.
1. Organization assessment
Even novice organizations have endured change efforts, and so leaders can look to history for the strengths and weaknesses evidenced in past events, considering: Are the parties to change the same? What cultural barriers remain or have arisen since? Is this change bigger or smaller in scope than past changes? Is this change necessary? How likely will we survive this change? Are there alternatives?
2. Developed vision
Without guidance, change efforts fail. Leaders are responsible for developing the vision for what change will bring – incorporating the needs and expectations of followers and answering and overcoming their concerns. Visions need to clearly describe the organization’s problem as well as inspire followers in counting the cost of change, concluding what is to come is better and more desirable that what is at hand. Fear is another strong motivator; and, when used honorably, powerful visions of negative consequences for failing to change provide additional motivation.
3. Severed ties
In his seminal work, Reflections on the Revolution in France, British statesman Edmund Burke (1791) wrote, “A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.” His point was that the reform process recognizes institutions’ need for innovation, but such innovations improve institutions only if they uphold the institutions’ purposes. Strong ties to the past are good when anchoring policy decisions, but they must serve the organizational mission. When they do not do that, leaders must help followers disconnect from former ways of operating. As confusion can overtake and divide followers who may wonder whether leaders are hijacking the organization, leaders must be careful. Consider the strife caused by differences in American churches undergoing changes in worship styles. Research shows that shared resolve to change across diverse groups is yoked to successful change implementation. Thus, the more readily the status quo can be questioned by followers, the sooner the organization can adapt to present circumstances.
In 1949, the infamous Mann Gulch fire took the lives of thirteen smokejumpers. The wildfire was unassuming, until drastic changes in the environment caused it to erupt into an inferno of death. Because of their quick-thinking, three men survived. Organizational leaders must recognize the level of immediacy required not only to motivate change, but also understand and effectively communicate the threshold after which change will no longer be possible without grave consequences (cost-prohibitive, lost market share, lost talent, agreement deadlines, etc.).
5. Strong leadership
Strong leaders effectively motivate followers to change given the particulars of a situation. Such leaders often have know-how related to the change event and are respected by the followers involved in it. They are crucial for gaining followers’ support and preference, meaning that followers give such leaders the benefit of the doubt when judging whether the leaders actually considered followers’ good before recommending and guiding change.
6. Key follower sponsorship
Depending on the size of your organization, the primary leader may need to secure the support of and then charge certain followers to become secondary leaders. The further removed the primary leader is from those immediately involved in the required changes, the more important it becomes to have leaders in closer proximity also actively supporting change. Distance creates uncertainty, which dissolves trust – a key resource leveraged by successful leaders. Leaders closer to the action should be better equipped to secure the necessary commitment. But, such leaders must have strong rapport with their followers, or their involvement will be counterproductive.
7. Clear implementation plan
If followers are persuaded but provided with no details of who is responsible for what tasks and outcomes, when such will take place, and how the effort should proceed, along with clearly defined lines of communication for decision-making and mechanisms for follower-feedback and readjustments midcourse, then they will likely become anxious, disengaged, and frustrated. The best plans generate follower ownership and elicit immediate action, having been co-developed with followers’ input from the beginning.
8. Enabled followers
Smooth change occurs when followers have power commensurate with their responsibility. Have you ever been tasked with a responsibility for which you were not equipped? Such inadequate empowerment results in follower stress. In the United States, stress leads to losses in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Leaders, therefore, need to support and champion their followers, providing them with the resources and organizational support to achieve reasonable outcomes. It is an unfair – and likely to be opposed – change effort which expects from followers what they are incapable of providing (not having access to reasonable resources, required authorizations, vital information, key contacts, etc.). Early adopters, properly empowered, can prove decisive as to whether change sticks or slips.
9. Communication, collaboration, and credibility
Socrates’ statement, “Speak, that I may know thee,” illustrates the important role of communication in manifesting intent. Followers look to leaders for direction and encouragement. Leaders must honor this relationship where they are yielded influence by providing reliability and demonstrating integrity in how they manage the change process – telling the truth even when it means conveying uncertainty as well as less-than-flattering news about the change process proceedings. Collaborating with key followers in communication efforts will help the truth permeate follower constituencies so that rumors are ineffective. Additionally, it will improve trust between followers and top leaders, as followers will hear confirming information from the secondary leaders. Leaders should embrace dialogue, especially when it permits them the opportunity to strengthen followers’ clarity about the organization’s mission.
By highlighting successes along the way in the change process, leaders can help cement positive attitudes about the change in followers’ minds. Some followers may be skeptical, but they will eventually support the change if they continually see their peers and leaders rewarded (financially, socially, emotionally, etc.) for positive engagement. Since development entails the idea of continuousness, reinforcement should not focus on the change specifics; rather, it should promote the culture recognizing the need for change and proactively engaging to strengthen the organization given environmental particulars.
Ultimately, leaders must think through their organization’s situation with humility, being open to correction and advice. In doing so, they will earn their followers’ trust and mitigate many concerns about what change means for their futures.
The change-management approach described above is akin to culture-management. The ability to successfully change an organization for greater effectiveness depends on the organization’s ethos – the thinking patterns of its people. Consider this: research shows the failure of change leaders to address this critical concern is listed as a major reason why 80% of corporate mergers and acquisitions fail. The unasked questions driving success or failure in change efforts are: Can we adapt, improve, innovate, and lead? If not, can we become an organization that does? The ten ingredients provided acknowledge this organizational need for leaders and followers who yoke themselves to the future, understanding the times and honoring the past by properly addressing present and future circumstances. In so doing, they create more collaborative environments where change processes produce fruit rather than thorns.
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About the author:
David Stehlik is an independent strategy consultant and in Regent University’s doctoral program in strategic leadership. He received his B.A. from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI and MBA from the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, IN.
Removing the Bitter Taste of Change-10 Ingredients for Organizational Transformation You Can Stomach
If you monitored the United States’ presidential election process or the corporate woes of Nokia and Research in Motion as they try to recover what were formerly massive stakes in the cellular phone market, then you realize that worthwhile change, even when planned, is neither simple nor easy; it is complex and difficult. Organizations struggling most with change, therefore, seemDavid Stehlik Articles
Any change to an organization can be disconcerting, but when new leaders come in it can be particularly unsettling. Many times it seems that whenever a new leader comes into an organization, they want to make changes. Whether we like it or not, it is human nature that some new leaders feel an urge to make their mark upon arrival. It is also human nature for the rest of the organization to resist or fear change. Military organizations are no different than corporate America in this regard. It may even be worse given the frequent turnover of leaders. Change has to happen in order for any organization to keep up with the changing world but it is not always a good thing, especially if it is made for the wrong reasons. This essay will focus on change within the realm of Navy shore commands, look at real examples of change, examine costs of changes, and provide recommendations.
Anticipation – What will change this time?
Every Navy command has a Commanding Officer (CO) who is responsible for the safety, well-being, and efficiency of their command and for carrying out the mission. Operational commands such as ships, submarines, and air squadrons normally do not give their COs as much opportunity to institute major changes as shore commands. Operational commands are too busy with carrying out their mission and are guided closely by their type commanders. On the shore command side, it is a little different. There is more flexibility, there may be civilian personnel, and people normally get to go home at night and on the weekend. The tempo of operations is also normally slower at the shore commands. The length of time CO serves in a tour can range from fifteen months to three years. Rarely does a CO serve over three years.
Getting a new Commanding Officer can be an exciting time and an anxious time. Sailors and government workers know a CO rotates on a regular basis and know when to expect the next one. As that time approaches, there will be discussion at all levels of the command. “Have you heard who the new CO is?” “What do you know about him or her?” Members of the command may feel excited to get new leadership, especially if the outgoing CO is not well liked. If the CO was popular, people may feel resentment and concern that a new CO is coming in. But the bottom line everyone wants to know is “How are things going to change around here?” and “How is this going to impact me?”
Congratulations Future Commanding Officers!
This is the greeting prospective Commanding Officers receive in their welcome letters before they attend the Navy’s Prospective Commanding Officer Leadership course. This two-week course provides information on almost anything the COs will need to know for command from ethics to military law to communications. The advice and training received during this fire-hose course runs the gamut and attempts to provide the tools for success. One thing these leaders do not learn is when and how to implement change and the costs of change. However, one old adage passed down in the Navy is whenever you take over a new command; do not make any changes in the first thirty days. This gives the leader an opportunity to see how the command runs. This can be a heady time for the new COs, many who may have worked their entire careers for this moment. Let’s look at a possible scenario using Commander I. M. Newbie:
After graduation from the leadership course and any other training required, the big day comes. Commander Newbie participates in the traditional change of command ceremony, says a few nice words about the outgoing CO, and reports to his new boss. Family and friends cheer and congratulations are spread all around. CDR Newbie is now the CO, responsible and accountable for the new command. CDR Newbie only has a relatively short period as commanding officer and wants to do the best job he can. He receives briefings, talks to key leaders and other command personnel, conducts tours, and makes observations for the first 30 days as advised. Now it is time for change! After all, CDR Newbie is only going to be here for a short period of time. He will most likely be ranked against other COs of his pay grade – how will he break out? What can CDR Newbie do during his relatively short command tour to make an impression that will lead to the kind of fitness report he needs to make Captain and beyond?
Let’s change something!
This urge to make changes and accomplish great things is not restricted just to commanding officers. Navy leaders at any rank may get the urge to make changes just like their counterparts in the civilian world who are put in a new leadership position. We are taught that change is the way to go. Northouse, an organizational change expert, noted “Change, rather than stability, is the norm today. Whereas change once occurred incrementally and infrequently, today it is dramatic and constant.” So CDR Newbie has precedence for coming in and making change. But, is it possible that CDR Newbie and other new leaders like him are making change for change’s sake?
The primary purpose of change is to improve the organization and make it more competitive and responsive to customer needs. Real change requires a reason and strategy for why you want to change, the skills to make the change, and the long-term and short-term tools to support the change. Additionally these areas must be aligned between the leader and the followers or the optimal outcome may not happen. West and Cianfrani (2004) discussed the importance of alignment of the organization’s objectives, leader’s objectives, and individual objectives. All three should work together with their eyes fixed on common objectives. When objectives are not thought through or aligned properly, things can become difficult and frustrating and result in unintended consequences.
A recent military example of this was the change in Army camouflage uniforms. In 2004, the Army issued a new digitized uniform to be worn in all environments. Problems have abounded with the uniform to the point where American soldiers actually stood out in the Afghan landscape instead of blending in. Earlier this year, it was announced that this uniform will be replaced because it does not meet needs. Reports were that Army leaders sped along the decision before testing was complete. All to the rumored tune of $5 billion. How many military awards or civilian bonuses were given out to the perpetrators of this ineffective and expensive uniform? We can only imagine what the additional costs to reinstate new or previous uniforms will be. In this case, objectives were not aligned and this change caused undo frustration and wasted taxpayer dollars.
Making a Mark!
But, let’s go back to CDR Newbie. With all good intentions, he looks to make his mark on his new command and the Navy. However, making a mark may be more difficult than CDR Newbie originally thought. First, most Navy commands are run efficiently and effectively thanks to previous COs who have made needed change. By the time CDR Newbie takes over, there may not be any obvious low-hanging fruit. Yikes! What can he do in his pursuit of that elusive fitness report or evaluation bullet? Let’s look at some examples of real life changes that other COs made:
A commanding officer reports into his new command and decides he does not like the exterior of the building that houses his command. Despite the building being almost as big as a city block, he begins to work to get the exterior of the building redone. Many weeks go into planning, finding funding, and making it happen. To the surprise of command personnel, the CO obtains a considerable amount of funding to put on a new exterior. After several months of disruption to the command, the job is finished leaving subordinates scratching their heads as to why the Navy would spend big money to make a relatively small cosmetic change.
On another base not far away, a new CO reports in. Things must be going well because there are not any significant changes for a few months. Then the new idea for change arises – change the name of the command. People are confused…change the name of the command? Only the Secretary of the Navy can change the name of a command. The new name does make the job of the CO seem bigger and more important, however. It takes over a year, but the name change is approved. Costs include considerable personnel time and effort and the changing of all base signs, highway direction signs, administrative materials, and patches on all enlisted uniforms. More scratching of the head…
Civilian government workers can stay at a command for many years or even their entire career. This gives them an opportunity to see many changes over the years. What can be most frustrating is when one CO comes in and makes a change and then another comes in a few years later and changes the change! These changes are not only costly financially but suck up energy and effort. Then there’s the frustration level of employees. For example:
A long, long time ago, in a far away fleet concentration area, a new regional commander decided to move his headquarters off one base onto a smaller piece of property that was more central to all the nine bases he commanded. Each of those bases had their own CO who reported to him. The thought process behind this move was that the current location not only infringed upon that particular base’s CO but it also appeared to the other base COs that the CO whose base he was on may have special access to him. The move was made, was generally accepted, and appeared to be working well. The move consisted of moving a large staff out of the new location and onto another base. Renovations were done on the buildings and the regional commander’s staff was moved in. A year later, a new regional commander came in and was also pleased with the arrangement. Three years later, another new regional commander took over and decided that his headquarters should be not only back on the base that it originally was on but back into the same building. This required, once again, moving a large staff out of the original building and back to the other property and then moving the commander’s staff back to the other base. The cost of changing the change was enormous – with estimates as high as several hundred thousands of dollars.
Another example in this same fleet concentration area involved the regionalization of several support programs including family housing; morale, welfare, and recreation; bachelor housing; family advocacy; galleys; and family service centers. Several years ago, the regional commander put one CO in charge of these programs which were spread out on nine bases and included over 3,000 personnel. This change was considered a success, saving the Navy millions of dollars and improving service to the sailors and their families. One of the real tests of the success of this effort was the ability it gave the Navy to respond to the devastating attack on the USS Cole. Thanks to the regionalization effort, within hours personnel and resources from around the region quickly mobilized to provide counseling, housing, meals, and a wide range of other services for the hundreds of family members who converged on the USS Cole’s homeport from around the country. Captain Joe Bouchard, the base CO, noted “The families were effusive in their praise. By all accounts, the effort to support the crew of the Cole and their loved ones was a tremendous success-and a testimony to the soundness of the Navy's often maligned and little understood decision to regionalize the management of its shore installations.”
Captain Bouchard was so impressed with the regionalization efforts, he wrote an article praising the process which was published in Proceedings Magazine. To answer the COs who thought regionalization might take some power from them, he reported, “Regionalization is founded on proven, long-standing organizational and command principles commonly used across the Navy. I have no less authority as a commanding officer than did my predecessors…The Navy cannot afford to return to the old way of doing business without unnecessarily diverting scarce resources from personnel, readiness, and modernization.” Later I became a base CO in the region and was equally impressed with the regionalization efforts. A few years later, under pressure from other base COs who wanted more control, the regional commander reversed the regionalization efforts. Total costs to reverse this effort were not documented but are estimated to be considerable. A price could also not be put on the frustration and confusion the 3,000 employees endured.
The fact that changes did not stick even though they were good ideas is not surprising. It has been reported that on-half to two-thirds of major corporate change initiatives fail and that less than 50% of reengineering programs succeed. In giving advice to public service ministers in England, Richard Layard noted: “…many different organizational structures can be made to work equally well. What cannot work is constant reorganization, where nobody understands what is happening, institutional memory is lost, and everybody worries about their future rather than the job in hand.”
What can be done?
The Navy has a great respect for Commanding Officers and their position and generally hesitates to interfere with changes they make unless they are immoral or illegal. Like CDR Newbie, most COs are not completely self-motivated. If they were, it is unlikely they would choose the military for a career due to the personal hardships required and the relatively low pay. Navy officers generally want to do the right thing for the right reasons. Through the Prospective Commanding Officer Leadership Course, the Navy tries to give the COs the tools they need for success. By adding a learning objective on change theory, the COs may be better prepared to address change, determine where it is needed, weigh the costs of change, and the best way to implement it if needed. They should also be made aware that the legitimate function of resistance to change is avoiding unnecessary change.
Avoiding these types of changes by COs in Navy shore commands will require a culture change. Currently, the culture is “what can I do to stand out among my contemporaries?” The other cultural issue at work at all levels and in all organizations is that new leaders feel they have to make change. Cultural change may be the hardest change of all. This is especially true when the culture is not something that is generally talked about. Attention to these issues should be made through open discussion during Navy leadership courses and other avenues. Commanding Officers need to know that carrying out the mission of their command effectively, efficiently, and safely will make them stand out – not change for change’s sake!
 Gilley, Ann. The Manager as Change Agent. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. 4-5.
 Layard, Richard. "No change for change's sake." The Guardian. 13 Jul 2007: Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
 De Jager, Peter. "Resistance to Change: A New View of an Old Problem." The Futurist. May-June (2001): 24-27. Print.
 Half, Robert. "Getting to know you: How to start right with a new boss." Experience. (2008): n. page. Web.
 Daft, Richard. Organizational Theory and Design. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2010. 412-415. Print.
 Gilley, Ann. The Manager as Change Agent. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. 4-5. Print.
 Carter, Eric. "Successful change requires more than change management." Journal for Quality & Participation. Spring (2008): 20-23. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
 West, J. E., and C. A. Cianfrani. Unlocking the Power of Your QMS: Keys to Business Performance Improvement. Miwaukee, WI: Quality Press, 2004. Print.
 Kilmas, Liz. "Huge let down: Army will yank widespread camouflage pattern deemed a 'colossal mistake'." The Blaze. N.p., 26 Jun 2012. Web. 23 Oct 2012.
 Bouchard, Joseph. "Regionalization: An insider's view." Proceedings Magazine. Oct. 2001: 83-88. Print.
 Gilley, Ann. The Manager as Change Agent. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. 4-5.
 Layard, Richard. "No change for change's sake." The Guardian. 13 Jul 2007: Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
 De Jager, Peter. "Resistance to Change: A New View of an Old Problem." The Futurist. May-June (2001): 24-27. Print.
Any change to an organization can be disconcerting, but when new leaders come in it can be particularly unsettling. Many times it seems that whenever a new leader comes into an organization, they want to make changes. Whether we like it or not, it is human nature that some newJeanne M. Mc Donnell Articles
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creative and entrepreneurial author—a man who served in roles as actor, breeder of rare chickens, director, gardener, lyricist, merchant, movie producer, philatelist, photographer, playwright, printer and newspaper publisher, salesman, theater manager, window dresser, and, of course, celebrated author. Enter The Way of Oz: A Guide for Wisdom, Heart, and Courage and its roadmap for leadership development and travels down the yellow brick road of life.
Now, imagine the characters of Oz bearing special symbolism for learning, loving, serving, focusing on the future, and humility. You might imagine the associations: the Scarecrow for wisdom and learning, the Tin Woodman for heart or loving, the Cowardly Lion for courage and service, Dorothy for leadership and a focus on the future, and the Wizard for humility and related virtues. For the purposes of this short essay let’s focus on Dorothy and her character as a metaphor for a future focus and leadership. At end we’ll see how a focus on the future and leadership are tied inextricably to the characteristics imbedded of the other major players of the Wizard of Oz masterpiece.
Dorothy in The Way of Oz is the leadership person—the character with a focus on the future—the character who brings out the best in others through understanding, heart and her own courage—all cast in a spirit of kindness and service. And, with Dorothy’s savvy about personal and institutional planning, diversity, sustainability, scientific and political understanding, and personal responsibility—she is a character who makes significant differences in the lives of others—men, women and creatures alike! Dorothy in The Way of Oz also knows how to detect and deter life’s wicked witches, both of the internal (e.g., self-doubt, imposter syndrome) and external (e.g., aggressive, manipulative and envious co-workers, friends or family members) varieties.
Through The Way of Oz, we learn about Dorothy’s approach to personal planning, involving integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, selective volunteerism—all while drawing on the wisdom of teachers and mentors, and connecting learning and wisdom through caring and service.
The 21st Century Dorothy also understands institutional strategic planning and its components: vision, mission, environmental context, goals and objectives (directed through implementation strategies and articulated challenges), group oversight and shared understanding, and benchmarking integrated with periodic reporting and results-driven revisions of plans.
In The Way of Oz, Dorothy accentuates the best in colleagues and institutions through her understanding of the mosaic model of diversity and the importance of science and political insight for developing policy and actions related to sustainability. She is also wise in her comprehension of secular democracies and their power to serve our worldwide community.
On the “personal responsibility front,” Dorothy of The Way of Oz is empowered by determination, persistence, priority consciousness, critical thinking, and complex reasoning—all with ethics in the lead. She is also able to manage life’s time—systematically and sensibly.
Our modern Dorothy’s focus on the future is powerful because it is cast through an archetypal story written by a man who, despite his foibles and frailties, knew how to relate to others in unique ways. In other words, Frank Baum made a difference and The Way of Oz can make a difference in many peoples’ lives—particularly in the area of leadership development.
Thus, the Way of Oz approach to leading, involving personal planning, integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, and selective volunteerism, fortified by organizational strategic planning, an understanding of diversity, science and political insight to guide decisions about sustainability, and personal responsibility—all with ethics in lead—prepares one for a life of personal and professional fulfillment. These elements of the Way of Oz and the new book of the same name—enriched by the creative graphics of Dusty Higgins and video content portraying leadership roles of students, faculty, and staff in universities as one segment of society—can make a significant difference in lives of seekers and future leaders of our world community. Many have found—in these thoughts—the true magic of The Way of Oz. Consider joining us!
Below are the main characters in The Way of Oz as conceived by Dusty Higgins. See if you can identify them all?
About the author:
Robert V. Smith serves as Provost and Senior Vice President at Texas Tech University (TTU). He has oversight responsibility for fourteen colleges and schools, along with the libraries and several other academically related units and programs.
He is the author or co-author of more than 320 articles and nine books. The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage (Texas Tech University Press, 2012) is available in hard cover, paperback, and electronic versions in all electronic formats. You can find out more about Robert Smith and his book at http://www.thewayofoz.com/index.htm
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creativeRobert V. Smith Articles
Over the 20 years that I’ve been advising leaders and their teams on how to enhance customer service, I’ve found that with proper training, customer contact workers can quickly learn to enjoy dealing with external customers - even those who are stressed. The main people who make their jobs stressful are their internal customers; their co-workers, subordinates, and supervisors. Turns out, the problem isn’t usually the job itself – it’s office politics. If you’re not into playing politics, if you don’t want to suck-up to supervisors, if you don’t want to step on others to climb the ladder, here are a few questions and answers they won’t tell you in the company manual.
How do I handle a colleague who is bad-mouthing me to the boss without looking like a whiner?
You don’t. Or you will indeed look like a whiner. If your boss has a problem with you, he or she will bring it to your attention sooner or later. Focus on doing your job well and ignore the other person. If they write lies about what you’ve said or done, then you need to refute them (in writing, without exaggerating) and copy your boss on it. Stick to facts only; your opinion will only make you look desperate.
I feel awkward trying to find mentors in the office just so I can get a promotion. What’s an authentic way of meeting influential people?
Join your professional association and get involved. Plumbers have plumbers associations; dog walkers have dog walking associations. They are clamoring for volunteers. You can easily distinguish yourself by showing-up, offering to serve, and being reliable. Mentors will appear. You’ll develop your expertise and your professional network. Eventually, people will want you to become their mentor.
I'm older and I’m concerned I may not fit in with younger coworkers. Any suggestions?
In this case “fitting in” doesn’t mean trying to become one of them. It won’t work and will only make you look insecure. I’ve had similar questions from married employees with young families who are concerned they may not fit in with single workers who socialize after hours. It’s human nature to worry about whether people like us – but it’s a waste of mental energy. The real secret to being liked at work is to be reliable and deliver solid results. Treat everyone positively and respectfully. Then go home and socialize with your own family and friends.
I just got a promotion and it’s awkward to delegate and discipline my colleagues who were my friends up until recently. Your advice?
You’re right, it will be awkward, but that’s true for any leader; whether they were buddies with the person or not. I suggest you call a meeting with your team. Openly explain that of course things will change now that you’re their new boss; things would change with any new supervisor. Explain that whatever happens – good or bad with the team - it will be you as their supervisor who will now be ultimately held accountable. So, while you will ask for their input, you will make the final decision. You will also be giving each of them one-on-one feedback, both positive and areas for improvement. In turn, this role is also new to you. So you will also be asking for individual feedback from each them about ways you can improve as a supervisor. If they have concerns about your leadership, you are asking them to discuss it directly with you; not behind your back. (That won’t prevent back-biting from happening, but it will make them more conscious about it when it occurs).
Some reality TV programs give the impression that the only people who get ahead in their careers are those who connive, backstab, and toot their own horns. That may be true in Hollywood. It rarely works in the real world with successful organizations led by ethical people. That is the kind of place where you want to work, right? In reputable organizations, shameless self promoters quickly wear out their welcome. Ironically, the best strategy for winning at office politics is to refuse to become embroiled in them.
About the author:
This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease by customer service strategist and certified professional speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com
Over the 20 years that I’ve been advising leaders and their teams on how to enhance customer service, I’ve found that with proper training, customer contact workers can quickly learn to enjoy dealing with external customers - even those who are stressed. The main people who make their jobs stressful are their internal customers; their co-workers, subordinates,Jeff Mowatt Articles
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