ACT – Changing Others Through Changing Ourselves

•April 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This article reminded me of the Dean’s Disease.  The first step to immune ourselves is to recognize how easy it is to be infected.  Advanced Change Theory is what separates good leaders from great leaders.  All leaders are interested in bringing success to their organization and almost all say that they are open to change but only some are willing to go the extra mile to make a sacrifice and put their organization before their self-interest.

A great leader is not a saint but is one that can recognize her hypocrisy, patterns of self-deception and admit her short-comings.  A great leader recognizes the fact that certain general human tendencies can prevent her from seeking the best result.  The best result rarely comes by taking the easy path.

It is absolutely necessary for a leader to be truly open to change in order to change people and organizations.  Great leaders possess flexibility in their views while remaining true to their values.  They do the right thing all the time as opposed to follow the rules.  This is being fearless in making risking decisions while avoiding to be reckless.  Additionally, they build relationships based on trust rather than control, recognizing that they can get more from people by developing trust rather than fear.


Organizational Silence

•April 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

There are many factors that result in Organizational silence.  Factors from the organizational structure, managerial practices to individual preferences.  Organizational silence is more than just a philosophical idea, it changes the end result for the shareholder.  Each organization should have a culture that not only allows employees to freely speak their mind but should also award employees for their constructive criticism and feedback.

Trust is very important developing a mutual relationship towards one goal.  Managers should put trust on top of their agenda and should work hard to keep the trust once they have it because once the trust is gone it may be very difficult to fix the broken link between employee and management.   The root of this mistrust is often originated from management when managers don’t welcome feedback and criticism thinking their employees have their own selfish agenda.  This causes employees being fearful for sharing their feedback knowing that their feedback is not welcome and will have negative consequences.  The overall result can be problems that could have easily and cheaply been resolved had there been a better trusted relationship between employee and management.

Harvard Business Publishing: Treadway Tire Company

•April 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This case shows that the underlying reason for Treadway Tire Company high turnover at their Lima Plant has been mainly caused by their employees Job Dissatisfaction.   I see the main reason as lack of the leadership.  It seems like the  upped manager expect the line formen to run their business without giving them proper training.  Line formen see the problem in lack of authority as the main reason why they cannot resolve any conflict with the unionized hourly employees.

I think there is just too much expected from the line formen.  They should not be responsible for the turnover, their managers should be.  Their supervisors need to build better working environment for the line formen and the hourly employees so that they can work well with each other as opposed to have one watch the other one.

Another reason for dissatisfaction is that there is no room to grow for the line formen who want to move up in the company.  In my opinion this is a good thing because it looks like the line formen’s style of leadership is driven by their management.  I think this company need some fresh blood and really shake things up or they need to send their line formen to extensive leadership training so that they can relearn their leadership and reevaluate how they have managed in the past.

Stanford Graduate School of Business Case Study – Men’s Wearhouse: Be a humble servant leader and you’ll succeed “I guarantee it”

•April 21, 2010 • 1 Comment

I think it’s great that leaders such as George Zimmer can show such great leadership and remain humble and true to their value after years of success.  I see a huge portion of Men’s Wearhouse success because of their leadership and because of the fact that they put their employees first; before their customers, vendors, shareholder or even their management.

I find it amazing that the management team at a company with such success get salary and bonuses that are only in 6 digits.  I see CEOs and executive at companies with no foreseeable future who run their companies dry with their incentives.

Harvard Business Review: The Layoff. Making the tough decision.

•April 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This Harvard Business Review does a fantastic job at illustrating the atmosphere in a company that is undergoing extremely tough times where management have to make difficult decisions to ensure company’s survival.  What interested me the most about this review was the different leadership and problem-solving styles seen from the management team at Astrigo and the commentators offering solutions for the problems at Astrigo.

So is there a truly good way of doing layoffs? I don’t believe there is.  Many companies claim that layoffs are their last resort but I don’t buy that.  I think layoffs are far too common.  I think many companies blindly chose to go this route without properly considering and evaluating other alternatives to cut cost.  What I’ve also noticed is that many times layoff become more than a tool to cut cost, they become a measure for a companies success, especially in public companies.

Many companies’ justification for layoffs is their shareholders satisfaction.  What they fail to recognize is that their employees are also their shareholders.  Bob Sutton does a fantastic job describing the short-term and long-term effects of layoffs in his commentary of this case.  There are many long-term effects when a layoff occurs and, as simple as it may be, many companies fail to clearly evaluate these effect prior to the layoffs.  Layoffs obviously hurt the people who will be losing their jobs, but they also bring down the moral for those who remain employed.  Employees will either be scared for their jobs or worried that the company is not going to recover.  In either case, employee performance decreases.

Additionally, many companies lack to define a clear path for what next steps are after the layoffs have occurred.  They don’t have a clear idea as to when to expect a turnaround.  The executives at these companies just assume that after layoffs everything is going to be better.  This lack of knowledge results in companies exercise one layoff after layoff, further lowering the moral in their companies and the trust in their shareholders.

Layoff should truly be the last alternative.  there should be a clear path defined for every step of the layoff, start, severance packages, and end.  Communication is the key.  Both employees and shareholders should know why the layoffs are happening, who will be impacted, when the layoffs will end and what the expected result of the layoff is.

Finally, a company is a family, when a company goes through tough times it should have an impact on all the members of the family not just some.  As a member of executive, you cannot enforce or suggest a layoff when you are still receiving hefty bonuses and enjoying a lavish business style.   Not only this is demoralizing for the employees but it’s also insulting.

In my opinion, in tough times, the suffering should come from top to bottom not the other way around.  If reducing cost is of interest, and if all other measures to reduce cost have failed, executives should be first to take a pay/bonus cut then the management and finally the employees.   Once this has been met, if the company is still suffering, the executives and management should meet to discuss a layoff plan and a clear path in and out of it.  this plan should be clearly communicated to the employees and shareholders to maintain moral and trust.

Wall Street Journal Article: Good Leadership

•April 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In my opinion this short Wall Street Journal article captures what is wrong in today’s society.  You cannot find many CEOs like Mr. Levin who chose to do the right thing instead of serving their own interest.

What is wrong with today’s society is that CEOs or other individual with extraordinary levels of power given to them,  mistakenly think that they are entitled to enormous rights and benefits and can bend and shape rules to serve their own interest.  Many CEOs nowadays don’t see the benefit in doing the right thing.  You see the AIG management giving themselves hefty bonuses while they ask the government to bail them out with taxpayers’ money.  You see many other companies’ CEOs getting ridiculous amount of benefits and bonuses while they enforce massive layoffs of their work force.  You see CEOs moving from company to company, promising to make a difference but all they end up doing is destroy these companies cultures, collect a ridiculous paycheck and bail.

Ethics are so easily over looked these days.  How can one possibly expect an employee to take a pay cut while watching many of his peers’ jobs getting terminated but at the same time read about how the CEOs and Vice presidents get massive bonuses and still expect them to perform well for the organization.

A good leader is an ethical leader, who consistently put the interest of their shareholders (this includes the company and their employees) ahead of their self-interest.  A good leader makes a difference by gaining his employees trust and respect.  It’s not easy to make the right decision all the time but that’s why CEOs make the salary they make.  They do the hard work, they make the difficult decisions all the time. They make personal sacrifice to benefit their shareholders.  In my opinion, if you don’t make a personal sacrifice while making the right decision you don’t deserve a hefty bonus.

Stephen Covey on Servant Leadership

•April 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In New Wine, Old Bottles, Stephen Covey argues that servant leadership is a more effective way of leading compared to micro management and performance evaluation.  A servant leader builds a mutual relationship and understanding with her employees and gives them power and freedom to perform to the best of their ability to reach a common goal.

Despite general assumption, this approach is not a soft approach by any means.  In this approach the leader does not become the hero.  The leader does not single-handedly take the organization from good to great. Instead, she only offers help, support and resources.  She describes the expectations and goals and she motivates her employees by giving them freedom to perform in their roll and by rewarding their good performance and holding them accountable for the work they do.