Many of us grew up watching teenage movies with themes based on the popularity of high school cheerleaders, beauty queens, and good-looking star athletes. These were the “beautiful people” that everyone admired and wanted to have as friends. Of course many times these popular teenagers were actually self-centered, insensitive, and very superficial. Before the end of the movie the true character of these idols was exposed. The exposure usually came with the triumphant recognition by the students of a timid, shy, mousy teenager who really possessed the true character.
Stephen Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, identifies a change that has taken place in America over the past fifty to seventy-five years. For the first 150 years in America the success literature focused on what he calls the “character ethic.” Individuals living their lives based on ethical principles such as honesty, integrity and humility characterized this earlier period. Around World War I there began a gradual shift from an emphasis on character to an emphasis on personality. This shift was toward what Stephen Covey calls the “personality ethic.” It places emphasis on outward appearance rather than character. It emphasizes “appearing to be” rather than “actually being.” 4
David Riesman, in his book The Lonely Crowd, says that character is developed in the home and then dispersed into society through work, play, politics and various activities of society. 7 Riesman recognizes that the emphasis on character that was dominant in America in the nineteenth century has gradually been replaced. Today the success literature emphasizes techniques more than character. Communication techniques, public relations techniques and dressing for success are major themes today.
Recently, a friend of mine shared her experiences about an employee who was a true diamond in the rough. Prior to returning to the work force full-time, she was working a few hours each week as a consultant to several small businesses. Entering a client’s business one day, she observed that the whole office was in an uproar. The problem was that on the day before, the owner had hired a person we’ll call Mary, who appeared in short shorts and looked like she had just left an all night bar. Because the owner was short handed and desperately needed help, he hired Mary on the spot and put her to work immediately.
My friend soon came to depend a great deal on Mary to assist her. Mary was always eager to learn and do things the right way. As my friend spent more time with Mary, she began to see that Mary had real character built on a strong work ethic. Unfortunately, like the greater part of an iceberg, this character was hidden “under water” from the casual viewer, and only the “tip of the iceberg” was visible to others. Mary was abrasive at times and lacked many social skills.
Stephen Covey uses the iceberg as a metaphor to explain the relationship between personality and character. 4 Covey explains that personality is like the tip of an iceberg—the part that people see or come in contact with first. In teenage movies, and many times in real life, we judge people by their physical beauty or their possessions. The tip of the iceberg symbolizes all these traits that are immediately visible.
The first time that my acquaintance suggested to Mary that she continue her education at the local college, Mary was horrified at the suggestion and said it was something that she could never do. No one in her family had ever graduated from college. Mary had been scripted by what Stephen Covey calls the “social mirror.” Each of us tends to form the perception of our self from our surroundings and the opinions, perceptions, and paradigms of others. How we perceive ourselves is often very distorted and out of proportion. 4
You can see someone’s outward beauty, but you can’t physically see character. Character is “below the surface.” People with character are honest and sincere in their relationships. They demonstrate integrity daily by standing up for what they believe, and they know what is right and what is wrong. They treat people fairly. They live the six “pillars of character,” which are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. 2
The “character ethic” is based on such pillars, and principles such as sincerity, temperance, humility, courage, integrity, honesty, industry, and thrift. These principles cannot be violated if an individual wishes to be truly successful. 3 True success goes beyond financial success. This character, symbolized by the larger portion of the iceberg submerged under the water, was still extant in 1933 during the Great Depression. Many Americans were without work and lacked any means of supporting their families. President Roosevelt implemented an emergency assistance program to help these individuals. Written into the law was the requirement that assistance be given in cash. It was hoped that by giving assistance in cash, officials would be able to convince these proud men, who were industrious, to accept government help. 1 How times have changed!
Some people have a tremendous strength of character but it is hidden behind a personality or appearance that is not acceptable. How often do we ignore such people or “write them off” immediately as failures? We need to prepare ourselves to recognize when a character base is strong enough to overcome the lack of an acceptable personality or image, and give such people support and encouragement until they are able to acquire the necessary social skills to function in healthy personal and business relationships.
I was once so introverted and awkward that one of my teachers told me I would never be a public speaker. A manager once painted a mental picture of me working in an office by myself for the rest of my life, with someone sliding a tray of food under the door at lunchtime. I carried these images, derived from the social mirror, in my head for many years. I accepted them as reality—“the way things are.” Thanks to the help and encouragement from many people over the years, I came to recognize that my self-concept was not totally accurate—and certainly not predetermined. I discovered that I could be proactive and change my social skills over time. Today I speak regularly before audiences of hundreds of people and have taught communication and leadership courses at the college level for many years.
Some time passed and my friend had been working full time at another location for about a year when a position came open in her department. She immediately thought of Mary. Forgotten was her lack of acceptable social skills and her unprofessional dress and language. What was remembered was the fact that Mary was a dedicated employee who worked very hard, was very honest, and always eager to learn. As brusque as Mary could be at times, she was never mean or spiteful or cruel to anyone. She did not have a winning personality, but she did have a lot of character.
My friend hired Mary. When Mary came to work for the department, the response was worse than it had been at the first business where she had worked. Employees would come to my friend and say, “Did you hear what she just said?” “I can’t believe you hired her!” One manager even said Mary needed to be talked to about the way she conducted herself when men came in the office. However, there was never a single complaint about her work or her work ethic—only her social skills.
Within a year Mary had won over the office staff just as she had won my friend. They too began to recognize the solid character underneath the unsuitable social interaction. People in the office began to informally help Mary become more aware of her inappropriate dress and language. Mary was also urged to continue her education. She finally developed enough confidence to enroll at the local junior college. Once she saw that she was an “A” student, she decided to continue her education and pursue a management degree at the local university.
Last May my friend attended graduation ceremonies and watched Mary graduate magna cum laude! Over the past eight years, Mary has developed a winning personality, which complements her outstanding character. Because of her hard work, dedication, and work at self-improvement, Mary has moved into a professional position within her organization and is considered a very valuable employee.
Many times we are guilty of “selective perception.” When we first meet someone, we are often guilty of judging the value or worth of the person based on what we immediately see—the “tip of the iceberg.” Often the halo effect causes us to make a determination about the person we have met based on a single characteristic, such as their looks or their speech. 6 The shortcuts we use to judge others may keep us from opportunities to help others to grow and mature. How many people appear to be “losers” at first, but turn out to be real “winners” once we get to know them? Judging on outward appearance and first impressions can keep us from developing personal and professional relationships that would be very fulfilling and beneficial.
Personality is unique to each individual. Some people have very flawed personalities, yet under the surface they have a magnificent character. Often it takes time to discover this since it is “below the surface.” My personal experience tells me that a person with a flawed personality and strong character is usually easier to assist than a person with a winning personality and a flawed character!
Anybody can lead perfect people. Servant leadership organizations believe that a person that is immature, stumbling and inept is capable of great things when wisely led. As Robert Greenleaf said, “The secret of institution building is to be able to weld a team of such people by lifting them up to grow taller than they would otherwise be.” 5
As leaders, we are in the business of “growing people.” We must not overlook those who may lack certain social skills, but have character. Once such a person is worked with, there is no limit to what such a person can contribute to the organization.
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Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for eight years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
1. Bernstein, I. (1985). A Caring Society: The New Deal, the Worker, and the Great Depression. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
2. Character Counts! Retrieved July 28, 2001 from http://www.newciv.org/ncn/eric/character.html
3. Character Ethic Vs. Personality Ethic. Retrieved July 28, 2001 from http://www.ryu.com/mascio/7habits/Chicago/sld017.htm
4. Covey, Stephen R (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster.
5. Greenleaf, Robert K. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. New York: Paulist Press, 1977.
6. Frequently Used Shortcuts in Judging Others. Retrieved July 27, 2001 from http://mars.acnet.wnec.edu/~achelte/obl/lprob03/tsld009.htm
7. Riesman, David (1974). The Lonely Crowd. Clinton, Massachusetts: The Colonial Press, Inc.
What You See is Not Always What You Get
Many of us grew up watching teenage movies with themes based on the popularity of high school cheerleaders, beauty queens, and good-looking star athletes. These were the “beautiful people” that everyone admired and wanted to have as friends. Of course many times these popular teenagers were actually self-centered, insensitive, and very superficial. Before the end of the movie theDr. J. Howard Baker Articles
One Leader's Perspective...
If you study the subject of leadership at one of our fine educational institutions or read many books on the subject of leadership, you will eventually come across the term “contingency theory” or situational leadership. In the past, most researchers believed in a “one best way” or universal approach to leadership.
Many also held the opinion that leaders were those who simply had the “right stuff” to lead others. This right stuff was defined as commitment, strength, vision and often charisma. Of course, one hundred years ago many assumed that great leaders were simply “born” to lead and the “right stuff” was unavailable to others! Within the past 40 years, two avid supporters of the best way theory or universal leadership approach have been Robert Blake and Jane Moulton. Their books, training programs and articles have taught that a single leadership style is the right approach for all situations.
Blake and Moulton created a two-dimensional “managerial grid” that has become a classic way to diagram the best way or universal approach model. This grid diagrams two basic dimensions of an effective leader. They are the concern for results (task) and concern for people. This managerial grid model has a numerical rating for each cell depending on the degree or amount of concern a manager demonstrates for results and for people. These two “concerns” are considered to be independent of each other. The ideal is considered a 9.9-oriented manager who integrates a high concern for both the task and people to produce outstanding performance. Apparently, unlike physical beauty or gymnastic skill, leadership is incapable of achieving a perfect 10! The original grid concept appeared in 1961 and has been modified into the 1990’s. In a survey performed by the National Industrial Conference Board, this grid was mentioned as one of the most frequently identified behavioral science approaches to management.
However, as other researchers studied farther, a different model was developed that viewed good leadership as contingent upon the given situation or environment. The best way or universal model was criticized by those who recognized that good leadership often adapts with the situation. Widely varying circumstances typically require different qualities of leadership. These became known as contingency theories. Two respected researchers by the names of Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard established a contingency theory known as situational leadership. They also created a managerial grid similar to Blake and Molton, since two of its dimensions also included results (tasks) and people.
Paul Hersey then merged the relationship between behavior tasks and people into a four-cell chart that reveals four distinct leadership styles… directing (telling)… coaching (selling)…supporting (participating) and delegating. Hersey and Blanchard believe a manager may effectively use any of the four styles depending on the “readiness level” or “maturity” of the subordinates (Hersey, 1984). For example, a manager whose subordinates are unable and unwilling to do a good job would demonstrate leadership by directing (telling) them what and how to do the task. So according to this theory when the leader is demonstrating a directing (telling) leadership style, they are providing high direction and low support.
However, this contingency theory has also been under assault by researchers. Continued studies have cast doubts on its validity. As Bolman and Deal point out, “If, for example, managers give unwilling and unable subordinates high direction and low support, what would cause their motivation to improve?” Other problems with this theory include no task structure variables. Also, the concept of follower “maturity” is not well defined and is therefore open to interpretation. Many other contingency theories have arisen and all have supporters and detractors about either the relevance or quality of research associated with them. Leadership thinker James O’Toole opines, “Yet, evidence mounts that contingency, or situational, leadership is ineffective. All around we see the signs of failure: the depressing social and organizational indicators that point to the inability of leaders to bring about constructive change.” So the debate continues regarding the “best way theory” and various “contingency” theories. There is also presently a global leadership (GLOBE) project in progress since 1993. It involves a sampling of over 15,000 leaders from 779 organizations in 62 various cultures from around the globe. It enlists the help of 170 co-investigators to help in the research. The goal of the project is to find out what really makes for effective leadership.
It is for these reasons that Bolman and Deal offer yet a different approach to leadership they call reframing leadership. They offer four images of leadership that include structural, human resource, political and symbolic viewpoints. Each of these images potentially extend effective or ineffective leadership styles! They believe that “each of the frames offers a distinctive image of the leadership process. Depending on leader and circumstance, each can lead to compelling and constructive leadership, but none is right for all times and seasons.”
So what is the conclusion? Is there a universal or one best way approach to leadership? Or is the best approach contingent upon the present situation? I am afraid that like most areas of leadership research, this subject will be open to debate and confusion for some time to come. This is just one example of why many people find the subject of leadership a complex and perplexing study. Sometimes it is hard to get most researchers to agree to a definition of what “leadership” actually is! But we should not allow the confusion and inconclusive research to frustrate us in our attempt to practice it in our daily lives.
Regarding the “one best way” or universal theory verses the contingency theories; we need to understand a basic truth. Yes, leadership does require different approaches and methods for different situations. We must resist the temptation to view leadership in a narrow and oversimplified way. Allow me to provide some examples. A leader may need to use a different set of skills to motivate individuals who have “tenure” or are protected by a union in contrast to temporary or part time employees. Often leaders may use different traits when working in the private sector when compared to the public sector. The leadership skills needed to motivate followers who are unskilled and alienated are different than for a group who are highly skilled and deeply motivated. Because of cultural differences, the role of police chief may require different leadership skills in the United States than in China. Exhibiting leadership to a group of executives is often different than leading the mailroom staff. Recently I had a conversation with a prominent social advocate and political leader in the state of New Jersey. She told me one of the most difficult tasks she has ever encountered was to attempt to build a consensus among a room full of other influential leaders and executives. This situation called upon her to use a unique set of leadership skills since they all wanted to be the most influential and to lead!
However, situational leadership has too often been used as an excuse for situation ethics. Some high-powered managers who have been given appropriate nicknames such as “chainsaw” or “the hatchet” have used the premise of situational leadership or contingency theory as an excuse for instant disposal of workers due to “losses” or an “economic downturn”. Yes, I realize and accept that there are times when the workforce absolutely must be reduced. Unfortunately the cycle of growth and contraction are part of the economic system we have in the western world. The question is how this worker reduction is accomplished and how these individuals are treated. Many of these workers were highly committed people who did everything that was asked of them! Some have worked for decades under one new CEO after another, who immediately incorporated their own new “priority of the month club”. Many of these people endured years of personal career sacrifice and additional workload only to be disposed of when “chainsaw” decided to let another group of “unessential” personnel go! Perhaps what is most pathetic is what occurs when the myopic corporate board finally decides its time to let “chainsaw” go because he or she has devastated the once proud organization and its culture. It is usually done with a million-dollar “severance agreement” and a plaque for appreciation of “dedicated” service.
Does the “one best way” or universal approach have any application? It absolutely does and this question brings us to an important subject regarding truly effective leadership. Researcher Gary Yukl makes the following comment about the “one best way” or universal model created by Blake and Mouton. He states, “The universal feature of their theory is the value orientation used by a high-high manager to select appropriate behavior, not a particular pattern of high-high behavior that is applied automatically in all situations.” Yukl is correctly stating here that he believes the universal aspect of Blake and Moulton’s theory relates to the values behavior of the leader and not necessarily to the skills or traits a leader may use. There is always a best way to treat people under any circumstance. That is with respect, fairness and dignity.
For example, even if you must reprimand or correct an indignant worker you can do it privately and respectfully. There is always a “best way” to handle a coworker if they are being “let go” due to poor economic circumstances or even incompetence. That is with compassion and a sincere interest in their future. Even if you must change an existing culture or ask others to sacrifice important gains, you can do it with a deep sense of appreciation for their past efforts and commitment to the organization. In the same vein, the “best way” is to always encourage and motivate others from the heart whether they are able, unable, willing or unwilling to do a task! The same thing applies to learning. The best way for a leader to encourage a “learning organization” is to promote the value of knowledge and reward learning in any situation or environment. Yes, some leadership behaviors are universal because they are built upon an ethical foundation of respect and high regard for people! Why are these values universal? Because smart leaders know that people are their greatest natural resource and people treated with dignity, care and genuine concern are the most productive. People who are properly motivated, encouraged, trained and appreciated will far out perform others who are disrespected, discouraged, neglected or abused. In the 21st century, this is the competitive edge.
In conclusion, the “best way” or universal aspect of leadership theory is valid in regards to right values and ethics. People should never be viewed as disposable or unimportant. An effective leader must treat all employees or followers with the heartfelt values reflected in the “golden rule”, including respect, dignity and a genuine concern for the individual. This requires an investment in time and resources, even if they are limited. But this is an investment in your most powerful asset…your people! Do it right and it pays large dividends by engendering a healthy culture, increased productivity and higher levels of commitment.
Conversely, leadership does require different approaches, methods, skills and tasks for different situations. We must resist the temptation to view leadership in a narrow and oversimplified way. Yes, these approaches, skills and tasks are indeed contingent upon the present situation the leader experiences. But, understanding this legitimate need for situational leadership should never be used as a motive or excuse to mistreat or casually discard other people. Today organizations must exist to serve their stakeholders, and that not only includes their customers, but also their employees. Any organization today that doesn’t get this essential point may ultimately have their product or service displayed in the Smithsonian Institute…right next to buggy whip manufacturers!
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What You Need to Know About “Situational Leadership!"
One Leader's Perspective... If you study the subject of leadership at one of our fine educational institutions or read many books on the subject of leadership, you will eventually come across the term “contingency theory” or situational leadership. In the past, most researchers believed in a “one best way” or universal approach to leadership. MaGreg L. Thomas Articles
A familiar parable is that of putting new wine in old wineskins. In biblical times new wine was stored in strong, new leather bottles. As the new wine fermented, the new leather was capable of expanding and remaining intact. On the other hand, if old leather bottles, which had been subject to decay, were used, the wineskins would often burst from the action of the fermenting wine. Thus both the new wine and the bottle would be lost.
What can this parable teach us today? Are there leaders in the year 2001 trying to put new wine in old wineskins? I suggest that when we try to establish a new leadership paradigm (such as servant-leadership) within an organization without first addressing the need for a compatible organizational culture, we are pouring new wine into old wineskins.
Talking servant-leadership doesn’t make it so! You can learn all the buzzwords and jargon, yet not be a servant-leader. You can know about servant-leadership and yet not really know servant leadership. Knowing servant leadership involves more than head knowledge. It involves heart knowledge! It means shifting your own paradigms and beginning to walk the talk. Servant-leadership is something you can’t fully know until you actually live it! Dare to solicit some feedback from those who work for you. If your so-called subordinates see your leadership behavior as autocratic and coercive rather than supportive and serving, you still don’t know servant-leadership!
Writing to executive leaders, Stephen Covey (Executive Excellence, Dec. 1995) pointed out the need for personal change: “Isn’t it ludicrous to think that you could transform a culture without having the individuals change. To me it is, and yet such thinking is common: everything in this organization should change, except me. If you make yourself the exception, forget the transformation.”
Every organization has an organizational culture. The culture is determined, consciously or unconsciously, by executive leadership—sometimes by just one dominant leader. The organization’s culture, more than any other factor, determines the results the organization achieves.
Small organizations may have a single culture, while very large organizations may have a dominant corporate culture and numerous subcultures. The culture represents the organization’s worldview and what it considers to be reality. Culture is made up of various artifacts, values and assumptions. It reflects the organization’s basic beliefs about what the organization is about, how its members are expected to behave, and defines itself in relation to the environment. The environment is anything outside the control of the organization that impacts the organization.
Organizational culture is unique to each organization. However, organizational cultures seem to fall along a continuum. At one end of the continuum is the power pyramid model and at the other end is the inverted pyramid servant-leadership model. Various names have been applied to these two models. A culture on the power pyramid side of the continuum might be referred to as a traditional, bureaucratic, patriarchic, or autocratic organizational culture. A culture on the inverted pyramid servant-leadership side of the continuum might be referred to as a principle-centered, entrepreneurial, stewardship, or egalitarian culture. In reality, the description of organizational culture is far more complex, since such cultures are multi-dimensional.
Cultures can be examined in various dimensions such as how they view people, make decisions, view leadership, and how they deal with risk, creativity, and communication. In general, the traditional organizational culture values the status quo, supports leadership from the top down, and is autocratic. Those who are effective at controlling others are considered to be the heroes in such a culture. Extreme cases of this type of culture strangle the human spirit and create a sense of helplessness.
The servant-leader or entrepreneurial culture emphasizes the growth and maturing of people, empowerment based on that growth, and promotes creativity. Such a culture values commitment and a passion to serve. Accountability at all levels of the organization is promoted. It endorses serving as the highest form of achievement.
Organizations with traditional cultures tend to be rather closed systems. A strong managerial class and a separate working class often characterize an organization with such a culture. The emphasis of management is on compliance, rather than broad ownership and accountability. Loyalty and trust are expected (regardless of the leader’s behavior) rather than earned. Maintaining control is of the utmost importance. Policing, auditing, monitoring, and surveillance are evident throughout the organization. The influence of ideas or individuals from outside the management class are avoided or ignored. Due to the closed nature of the system, the organization’s view of reality over time becomes more distorted and inbred as entropy sets in.
Peter Block, author of Stewardship (1993), says that having one group manage and another group execute is the death knell of the entrepreneurial spirit. In contrast, an entrepreneurial organizational culture focuses on people. Earned respect, new ideas (from whatever source), fun, learning, and service are typical characteristics. Power is used for service, and work is integrated with managing. Control is placed close to where the work is actually performed, and local units are encouraged to innovate practices that fit local situations.
Robert Greenleaf, who died in 1990, is considered to be the father of modern servant-leadership. However, most students of servant-leadership recognize that servant-leadership concepts did not originate with Greenleaf. Rather, servant-leadership has been around for thousands of years. Servant-leadership is successful because it is based on timeless and universal principles. Practices based on these principles result in a commitment to the growth of people, listening, empathy, stewardship, and the building of community. Greenleaf himself readily admitted he was not the creator of the servant-leadership concept. He was first introduced to the concept while reading The Journey to the East (Hesse, 1956). (For more on servant-leadership, see the January issue of weLEAD.)
In considering the two ends of the organizational culture continuum, Greenleaf suggested that traditional organizational cultures resulted in “people-using” institutions and servant-leadership cultures resulted in “people-building” institutions. He said that lip service has been given for a long time to the idea that people are the most important asset in an organization, but only recently have a few organizations begun to question traditional organizational assumptions.
It is well known that creativity is a key element of an entrepreneurial culture. Greenleaf recognized that a servant-leadership culture was, in fact, an entrepreneurial culture. He pointed out that the concentration of power in the hands of a few, or a single leader, was potentially corrupting. Even though many executives are successful in mastering a persona of humility and openness, few are able to maintain a proper personal awareness and avoid the arrogance and corrupting influence of holding and using considerable power. Greenleaf said that such arrogance tended to impair or corrupt one’s imagination, thus reducing creativity. As one who had lived most of his corporate life deferring to power and being pushed around by bureaucrats, Greenleaf knew what he was talking about!
Greenleaf emphasized that servant leadership is about helping the people around you grow as persons, to be healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants. In reading this description, many have missed the connection between servant-leadership and creativity. It takes a great deal of imagination to create and maintain an organizational culture that makes people freer, more autonomous, and more likely to become servants. It also requires hard work, and the pay-off may not be seen quickly. Creating such a culture doesn’t just happen, and there is no “quick fix”. On the other hand, an uncorrected wrong action by a single leader may destroy months of building trust. Creating a culture of trust and accountability is a most challenging endeavor!
Books and seminars on servant-leadership are becoming more plentiful. Unfortunately, some organizations “buy in” to the benefits of servant-leadership, but attempt to implement it quickly without addressing the deep, underlying issue of organizational culture. Leaders in such organizations may “know about” servant-leadership, but may not “know” servant leadership!
Short of the appearance of a powerful change agent or agents, the present culture of an organization will dictate the manner used to change the culture. If the culture is based on the traditional model, rather than the entrepreneurial servant-leadership model, it is doubtful that any long-term positive change will occur! In this case, servant-leadership will be viewed as just another “program of the month”. It is important to remember that the culture is bigger than any of us. It is “the way we do things around here”. Therefore, the current leadership will most likely go about reform in a manner consistent with the current culture!
Peter Block describes this process: “The very system that has patriarchy as the root problem uses patriarchal means to try to eliminate its symptoms. This is the dark side of leadership.”
This is like putting the new wine of servant-leadership into an old autocratic organizational culture wineskin. So how does an organization that is steeped in a traditional autocratic culture, make the transition to servant-leadership? It must first focus on changing the culture itself. This is done in three steps. First, the old culture must be unfrozen. Next, there must be a move to the new culture. Finally, the new culture must be frozen. The newly created culture must incorporate organizational learning, so that the organization can adapt to new conditions and alter practices over time.
Preaching servant-leadership to the troops without the leaders setting an example of change will only create cynicism. Trust must be earned by new and different behavior. This kind of change does not take place by talk, articles in the company newsletter, policy changes, or the creation of servant-leadership training programs. Without positive and sustained change in the behavior of the leaders, all this amounts to just more patriarchy!
To make the transformation from a bureaucratic culture, those in executive leadership positions need to stop telling others what is best for them and start listening to what their organization is saying. They need to practice full disclosure and stop operating on a need-to-know basis. They need to stop acting only in the interest of their managerial class and begin to act in the interest of the whole organization. They need to examine existing systems to see if they reinforce traditional bureaucratic organizational behavior or entrepreneurial behavior.
Those in executive leadership positions also need to start building a unified community. This means moving in the direction of equality. Inequality is the enemy of community. This doesn’t mean everyone has the same power or salary, but it does mean that everyone is allowed dignity and respect as a human being. Respect is shown to workers when they are given a voice in the processes and decisions that affect them. Such empowered workers will become the new heroes in the organization.
Trust can only be built on managerial behavior that is radically different from that displayed in the old bureaucratic culture! Until such change is observed, any effort to implement servant-leadership, empowerment, and a true entrepreneurial spirit will be like pouring new wine in old wineskins. It didn’t work thousands of years ago in biblical times, and it will not work today.
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About the author:
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Last year Dr. Baker taught an Honors Seminar at ULM, which included a field trip to the top servant leadership companies in America. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for seven years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Block, Peter. Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993.
Burton, Terence, and John Moran. The Future Focused Organization. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1995.
Connors, Roger, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman. The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1994.
Cornwall, Jeffrey and Baron Perlman. Organizational Entrepreneurship. Homewood, IL: Irwin, 1990.
Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Covey, Stephen R. Principle-Centered Leadership. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
Covey, Stephen R. “Keys to Transformation.” Executive Excellence. Vol. 12 No. 12 (Dec. 1995): 3-5.
Depree, Max. “Creating a Positive Environment.” Executive Excellence. Vol. 13 No. 62 (June 1996): 11-12.
Fitz-Enz, Jac. The 8 Practices of Exceptional Companies: How Great Organizations Make the Most of Their Human Assets. New York: Amacom, 1997.
Hanson, Daniel. “Building Community.” Executive Excellence. Vol. 13 No. 62 (June 1996): 5.
Pinchot, Gifford, and Elizabeth Pinchot. The End of Bureaucracy & the Rise of the Intelligent Organization. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993.
Spears, Larry, editor. Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
New Wine In Old Wineskins
A familiar parable is that of putting new wine in old wineskins. In biblical times new wine was stored in strong, new leather bottles. As the new wine fermented, the new leather was capable of expanding and remaining intact. On the other hand, if old leather bottles, which had been subject to decay, were used, the wineskins would often burst from the action of the fermenting wine. Thus both theDr. J. Howard Baker Articles
Last month I discussed the limited nature of our own personal resources. I drew an analogy between the limitations of the world’s most popular operating system and ourselves. These precious limited resources can be defined as our physical energy, mental sharpness, ability to focus, emotional well-being, and coworker relationships. When our personal resources are stressed, the results are often poor decision-making and inadequate leadership skills. In last month’s article, we used the Microsoft WindowsÓ analogy to draw three valuable lessons regarding our own personal resources. To go directly to part 1 in last months issue click here. This month I would like to discuss how we can balance and nurture these resources.
One reason for a major decline of our own resources is a lack of real direction in our lives. We easily recognize organizations that lack direction and when we do, we often ask, “What is it’s mission plan?” What is the organization’s direction? What is it striving to be? What makes it unique and why does it exist? When an organization begins to struggle, the stakeholders typically ask the following basic question, “Are we modeling our mission statement?” The same is true for people. In this ever-complex world, we too need a personal mission statement! Much like an organization, this mission statement is intended to remind us of who we are, why we are here on earth and in what direction are we headed!
In my personal experience I have found that many individuals who reached the limit of their personal resources and suffered from career burnout were those who lost their mental balance. They often became so consumed with one area of their life that they forgot why they were working or the real purpose of their career. Sadly, some individuals go so far off balance they acquire the social disease of becoming a workaholic in order to mask other painful area’s of their life. However, most people who suffer from burnout simply never established in their minds what things are really important to them and why! This is why I often place so much emphasis on a term I call personal leadership. What is personal leadership? Personal leadership is the ability to visualize a goal, to embrace the values of that goal, and maintain a positive perspective in a self-disciplined environment until the goal is attained.
A personal mission statement is a written “game plan” or blueprint for your life. Its purpose is to help you establish your own path and desired destination. It is a written reminder of who you are, what you desire to be, and how you expect to get there. It should contain your personally established values. These are often expressed by the religious or philosophical principles you esteem. Dr. Roger Birkman has some interesting comments about values. He reminds us that if we say we value something but aren’t affected by it in any way, it’s not a genuine value. He continues by stating “it is much better to be honest about your values and then be consistent in your pursuit of them.” He correctly reminds us that there is a difference between our needs and our values. We have no control over our needs. They exist because of our inborn traits and we must learn to deal with them. However, values are chosen and should be high standards that influence our lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors.
Much like a compass, your personal mission statement it provides a true “north” for your life during difficult times. If you don’t have your own personal mission statement, by default you have someone else’s mission statement! For most people this default mission statement is not an acceptable alternative since it reduces your ability to choose you own direction. It is created by societal values and cultural norms. For example, those who grew up in the middle of the 20th century were conditioned to accept that cigarette smoking was sexy, sophisticated, attractive and macho. Multiple missions accepted it as a default cultural habit and it was part of their lifestyle. In reality it has been confirmed to be an expensive, foul, addictive and deadly habit. Either we chose to decide what is of value or important to us, or society will for us.
As Stephen Covey explains, this effort will answer the question of whether you are “living” or “being lived!” Without your own personal mission statement, you are most likely not living according to your own hopes or goals, you are being lived by others. Your own mission statement will focus your energies and resources. It will also tie together the fragments of your life such as a career, personal goals, responsibilities, and desired achievements into a value-centered foundation.
Here is a suggested list of potential areas we should include when creating a personal mission statement.
1. Belief system based on religious or philosophical values and principles
2. Personal career goals including job orientation, attitude and income needs
3. Personal family goals and role as parent, spouse, grandparent, son/daughter
4. Personal life goals including education, talent development, health
maintenance, community service or philanthropy
As you create your own desired mission on paper, here are a few things to remember. It is yours only! Personalize it especially for you. Feel free to make it as short or as long as you want. Work on it until it inspires and motivates you. Begin by asking yourself…from this day on, what do I want to be? What do I really want to do and how can I get there? It should reflect not just where you are today, but what you hope to become tomorrow. After completed, what do we do with it? It should be well written and made public in our home or office! I suggest you either put it in a picture frame and hang it on a wall or sit it on a desk. It should be reviewed at least once per week during the year as you reflect on the week past or the one to come. It should provoke humble self-analysis and it should be allowed to be re-written as you grow and change. It is intended as a tool for personal focus, goal setting, growth and self-analysis.
Unfortunately, I realize that many who read this article will not create a personal mission statement because you may have actually given up on yourself or are afraid of a challenge or even change. Yes, much like an organization, most of us are also resistive to change and self-examination. It threatens our comfort zone! But, the right perspective is to view change as an opportunity to gain something new! Accepting the need for change is at the heart of leadership! Our life is a book with many chapters. Each chapter has a beginning and an end. As we proceed to another chapter, it should lead us to something new and challenging. We need to view change and the need for change as something positive...not as bad or detrimental. It is natural to resist the change process because we know it may wrench us out of our routines or habits. But, we should view change as a powerful opportunity to begin another step of growth!
How does creation of a personal mission statement help us to avoid burnout or our own personal “blue screen of death”? It does so it in a number of ways. It helps us to have a proper perspective to determine which events and activities are really important. It reminds us not to focus on unimportant activities at the expense of significant activities. Establishing written values help us in the decision-making process because the rational realm of “right vs. wrong” or “proper vs. improper” behavior becomes clearer. In times of stress our own personal mission statement reminds us of the direction our compass is pointing and our most important priorities. If written thoroughly, it reminds us of our need for balance including recreation, talent-building, and relationship needs. I have never seen a tombstone that said, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.”
There are also a number of important things we do at work to avoid potential burnout and nurture our resources. Take a number of scheduled breaks during the day and clear your mind. During these breaks, spend a few minutes to think about enjoyable activities away from the work environment. The mind is like a battery and needs to be renewed to remain highly “charged” and able to focus effectively. Take your scheduled lunch break to recharge your mind. Take a walk or short drive to change environments for a while. Don’t eat at your desk when you are supposed to be on a lunch break. It is counterproductive and is a warning sign of possible meltdown if changes are not made. You will be much more productive if you refresh your mind and take a scheduled break.
Another important way to nurture your personal resources is to take a vacation regularly. This is not only important annually but on a weekly basis. More and more physicians and professionals are emphasizing the tremendous importance of taking at least one day off every week. Again, the human mind and body needs a period of rest and relaxation! Learn to become aware of your body’s warning signs of stress. These may include a tense jaw, stiff neck, headache, or the feeling of being overwhelmed. When any of these signs begin to occur, its time for an immediate break! Then ask yourself some questions. Think about the possible root cause of the stress. Are there any small tasks you are holding on to that you can delegate? Are you making more out of an obstacle or problem than is really there? Is there another co-worker with the expertise available to help? Are you feeling stressed out because of time restraints or the responsibility of too many tasks? Think the situation through…you will see there are always some good answers.
One other area can help you to avoid your own personal “blue screen of death.” It is regular exercise. The good news is that medical professionals have now come to see that major improvements in daily energy level and longevity are possible with a moderate amount of regular exercise! You don’t need to strenuously run, swim or lift weights to gain significant health benefits. Dr. Andrew Weil promotes walking over jogging and suggests 45 minutes of walking at least 5 days a week. So take a long walk regularly, work in the yard, play some sports with the family. In other words, get more active and step away from the sedentary lifestyle too many of us are now in due to work environments, television and the Internet.
Remember, your personal resources are limited and precious. If you nurture and balance them well you will be rewarded with a greater ability to handle stress and provide leadership when needed. Consider writing your own personal mission statement. It will help to link together the various segments of your life including your career, personal goals, responsibilities, and desired achievements into a value-centered foundation. Committing your life goals and mission to a written plan will help you to deal with stress and sort your priorities. Finally, remember to take scheduled time away from the workplace daily, weekly and annually. Allow your mind and body a period of relaxation and recreation. Leaders know how to work long and hard. To balance your personal resources and increase your career’s longevity, learn how to take time out for yourself!
*Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Comments to: email@example.com
About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 9 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. In August of 2000, Greg completed his studies for a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University. He is the founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
Birkman, Roger. True Colors. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.
Covey, Stephen R. Principle-Centered Leadership. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
Weil, Andrew. Healthy Living. New York: Ivy Books, 1997.
Avoiding You Own Personal “Blue Screen of Death”- Part II
Last month I discussed the limited nature of our own personal resources. I drew an analogy between the limitations of the world’s most popular operating system and ourselves. These precious limited resources can be defined as our physical energy, mental sharpness, ability to focus, emotional well-being, and coworker relationships. When our personal resources are stressed, the results are ofteGreg L.Thomas Articles
"I know that many times I have to remind employees to put principles above personalities. That we are here to work on a project and the fact that you may dislike a co worker should not come into play.
But sometimes that is easier said than done. How do you deal with employees who want to have a confrontation instead of a conversation. Unfortunately, dismissing one or removing one from the team is not an option."
Answer: Primarily, never forget that we lead people! We don't lead organizations… but people. The
word "organization" is a created term to refer to a group of individual people who have a shared
interest or purpose. We may work for an organization, or serve an organization, but ultimately it is people we are leading. The reason I mention this is that many authors and consultants speak of rebuilding or changing organizations as if they are dealing with a single individual. In truth, if we are interested in growing or changing an organization, we must change the people, one-by-one, who collectively are the organization.
I am a firm believer in the principle of “cause and effect.” This problem you describe exists because our historical business culture rewarded competition within the workplace environment. People were rewarded and promoted for making their co-workers look inept and inferior to them. The people who traditionally got ahead were the “politicians” who worked hard to diminish the value of everyone else in order to make themselves look loyal and valuable to the organization. Confrontation was viewed as an admirable trait that showed everyone who was “in-charge” and was potential managerial or executive material.
When this kind of a culture exists, a large part of everyone’s positive mental and emotional resources are wasted playing “got-ya” in an effort to allow the egos of some to make themselves appear superior to others. This problem has been modeled in government, business, and many religious organizations for hundreds of years.
Culture is never an easy thing to change. It takes time, energy and persistence. But, here are some things you can do.
1. Lead by example. Don’t participate or play the game of “got-ya.” When this is done in your presence, let it be known by your look and gestures that you are not impressed by this kind of self-absorbed behavior. Whatever you do… don’t laugh at putdowns, or do anything that openly or even subtly encourages this kind of behavior. If it continues…
2. When an individual does this in a group, or to you personally, say with a smile on your face, “Greg, this kind of an attitude is not important or relevant. The question we should be addressing is what is wrong, not focusing on who is wrong.”
If the behavior continues make statements like, “This approach of making everything personal is not helpful to our team. I would appreciate it if we could focus on genuine problems and not the people you differ with. If it continues…
3. You need to address this issue “one-on-one.” No one ever said that leadership is easy. Sometimes you must address issues head-on, and for the sake of the organization you need to be frank and pointed. Let the person know that their behavior is not professional, mature or productive in the workplace. To see how to correct a co-worker effectively read this leadership tip.
4. If it continues… there are a number of options you need to consider. Is there another supervisor or executive who can also approach this individual with a similar message to reinforce what you said? Are the individual’s contributions so important that everyone else can endure his or her behavior? Is the behavior so divisive and harmful to productivity that the person needs to be employed elsewhere? If you get to this point, these are serious questions that must be answered.
If you are a manager or supervisor never… ever… promote a person who demonstrates this kind of behavior. If you do, it sends a loud message throughout the organization that being a jerk who criticizes and confronts everyone else is what it takes to get ahead in this company. Be assured of this fact. You will inadvertently reinforce a culture of negativity and politics in the organization and this is destructive. If the person is extremely talented and otherwise promotable, let them know that it is this trait that is holding them back. Document it on their annual review.
If you address this problem with skill, patience and dignity you may help that person to see how harmful their behavior really is. The truth is they are very insecure and lack a real sense of self-worth! They mask this to the world by confrontational behavior. You may help this individual grow to another level and at least modify their attitude and behavior. But remember that you can’t change their behavior… you can only point out to them how they come across and hurt others. Only they can change themselves.
If you have a challenging question you would like our consultant to discuss, please email your question here. We will be happy to keep your question anonymously.
* The advice and counsel offered by the consultant is based on the limited information provided by the questioner. No two situations are exactly the same, and the consultant makes every effort to provide helpful and educational counsel based on the information supplied.
About the author:
Greg has an extensive thirty-five years experience in public speaking and has spoken to hundreds of audiences worldwide. Greg has a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University, where he also has served as an adjunct professor teaching courses in business management and leadership since 2002. His first book, 52 Leadership Tips (That Will Change How You Lead Others) was published in 2006 by WingSpan Press. His second book, Making Life's Puzzle Pieces Fit was published in March 2009. Both are available at amazon.com. Greg is also the president of Leadership Excellence, Ltd and a Managing Partner of the Leadership Management Institute. Leadership Excellence, Ltd. effectively builds individuals and organizations to reach their highest potential through enhanced productivity and personal development using a number of proven programs. He is also the president and founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
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 at the weLEAD website.
Dealing With Confrontational Employees - Ask The Leadership Consultant
Question: "I know that many times I have to remind employees to put principles above personalities. That we are here to work on a project and the fact that you may dislike a co worker should not come into play. But sometimes that is easier said than done. How do you deal with employees who want to have a confrontatiArticles Tips
1. High energy level and stress tolerance.
These traits help the leader to cope with the hectic pace, long hours and constant unrelenting demands of others. Effective problem solving requires the ability to be calm and focused rather than one of panicking, denial or fault-finding.
This is not vanity. It is simply the belief that you have the ability to do a task well. Leaders with self-confidence are more likely to attempt difficult tasks and set challenging expectations for themselves. They are more persistent to solve problems. Their optimism affects others and is likely to increase commitmentby others to the task.
3. Strong internal locus of control orientation
People with a strong internal locus of control believe their lives are more determined by their own actions. People with a strong external locus of control believe events are determined by chance or fate and they can do littleto change their lives.
Rotter Personality Scale
3. Strong internal locus of control orientation (continued)
Leaders with a strong internal locus of control are more future-oriented, plan proactively, are more flexible, adaptive, and innovative in response to problems than someone who dismisses them as bad luck or uncontrollable. When setbacks occur, they are morelikely to learn from them.
3. Strong internal locus of control orientation (continued)
locus of control scale developed by Julian Rotter
Example of testing. What is your answer?
a. Leaders are born, not made
b. Leaders are made, not born
4. Emotional maturity
Leaders with emotional maturity are less self-centered, and aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. They are oriented toward self-improvement rather than denial, blame or success fantasies. They have stable emotions, not mood swings and maintain more cooperativerelationships with others.
5. Personal integrity
A leaders behavior must be consistent with espoused values. It determines whether people will perceive him/her as trustworthy and credible. Without trust it is difficult to gain commitment and cooperation from others. Integrity includeshonesty, keeping a confidence and accepting responsibility.
6. Socialized Power Motivation
There are two types of power motivation.
Those with a personalized power orientation gain power to aggrandize themselves and satisfy their strong need for esteem and status. They tend to exercise power impulsively and have little inhibition and self-control. They seek to dominateothers by keeping them weak and dependent.
6. Socialized Power Motivation (Continued)
Leaders with a socialized power motivation desire power for the benefit of others. They are less egoistical and defensive. They are less materialistic. Their strong need for power is to build up the organization or others to be successful. They tend to use more of a participativecoaching style of behavior and take advice from others.
7. Moderately high achievement orientation.
These are leaders who have a need for achievement, desire to excel, drive to succeed and willingness to accept responsibility. They have a strong concern for completing objectives and act decisively to solve problems. These are the goal setters and organizers. They are more prone to deadlinesand action plans.
8. Balanced need for affiliation
This is the need to be liked and accepted by others. Either extremehas negatives.
Those with a high need for affiliation put friendships over tasks. They avoid conflicts rather than confront genuine differences. They show favoritism to friends and allow specialexceptions to rules. This often leaves other followers feeling weak, irresponsible and confused about what they should be doing.
8. Balanced need for affiliation (Continued)
Those with a low need for affiliation tend to be loners who doesnt socialize well. They are usually unwilling to work at developing close interpersonalrelationships with others. May be perceived as lacking confidence or warmth.
The key is a balanced need for affiliation!
The following guidelines are recommended for a leader to do an honest self-analysis and gain personal insight to monitor your own behavior. These guidelines are the result of trait behavior research.
Discover your strengths and weaknesses.
Be receptive to feedback from others about both your positive and negative behavior as they perceive it.
Dont fear assessment tests or evaluations. They are designed to help.
What key skills and traits do you have?
Develop relevant skills that you lack.
Effective leaders value continuous learning and self-development.
Make a real effort to develop needed skills.
Take classes or workshops to grow.
Seek challenging assignments to broaden your skills.
Remember that a strength can becomea weakness!
A strength in one situation can later become a weakness when the situation changes.
Example being autocratic in a crisis
People tend to emphasize a strength that brings early or repeatedsuccess.
Confidence can become arrogance, innovation can become recklessness, decisiveness can become rashness, global vision can become lackof focus.
Compensate for weaknesses
Look for associates who have the strengths you lack. Ask for help!
Delegate or establish a team to help you in areas of your weakness.
Dont give up on these areas develop them to your fullest extent.
Balance your extremes and excesses.
Learn to temper one trait against another
- self-confidence vs. timidly unresponsive to others
- high need for power vs. empowerment
- task oriented (head) vs. people (heart)
- risk taking vs. prudent caution
- efficiency vs. flexibility
8 Traits of Effective Leaders and Leadership Self-discovery
1. High energy level and stress tolerance. These traits help the leader to cope with the hectic pace, long hours and constant unrelenting demands of others. Effective problem solving requires the ability to be calm and focused rather than one of panicking, denial or fault-finding. 2. Self-confidence This is not vanity. It isArticles Tips
Leadership Through the Way of OZ
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 creSmith, Robert V. Articles
- Employee engagement
- Employee motivation
- Leadership Development
- Leadership Principles
- Leadership Styles
- Leadership Tips
- Management development
- Organizational Culture
- Organizational Design
- Organizational leadership
- Personal leadership
- Sales Techniques
- Servant leadership
- Transformational leadership
- Workplace Challenges