June 26, 2010
June 24, 2010
In an article, Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, describes the role of failed leadership and dysfunctional culture as contributors to the BP oil spill:
“BP must also clean up an organizational and cultural mess.
A true leader faces facts, presents a situation fully to all stakeholders, and models accountability. A leader does not attempt to minimize the extent of a problem or promise action faster than can be delivered. A true leader sets appropriate expectations and delivers. He or she does not duck responsibility by shifting the bulk of the blame to someone else.”
As the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill continues to grow, reports suggest that several IT failures may have contributed to the problem. More importantly, the spill represents a deep state of failed leadership inside BP.
The company needs a leader who engenders confidence. CEO Tony Hayward has had over six weeks in the spotlight to demonstrate his leadership capabilities. Yet the situation keeps getting worse: escalating damage in the Gulf and a whopping %35 drop in BP’s stock price.
Why is Hayward still running BP? BP’s finances were in good shape before the explosion. This is an acute, explosive situation with short-term urgency and long-term consequences.
June 21, 2010
As shiny and great leadership descriptions and as odd and strict manager descriptions sound, both are vital for a successful organization. In fact it is not a question about having a so-called “manager” or “leader” at the top of your organization it should be a mixture of those two. A pure manager might do great work but will not be successful in a fast changing globalized environment. In contrast a powerful, charismatic leader might be great in motivation people and establishing a great corporate culture, but might lack the knowledge to plan, organize and control professionally. The knowledge of this article is mostly taken from the daft book “new era of management” as well of what professors constantly tried to teach me at HWR Berlin. In the blog-universe there is a lot of discussion going on about this topic. One really enthusiastic discussion can be found on Sigurd Rinde’s blog who is a ambitious enerpreneur having several projects going on: To sum up Sigurd Rinde is adding to the leader vs manager question a hierarchy vs. not (or a very flat) hierarchy. He argues that only static tall hierarchies have managers, actually they are full with managers. Moreover Sirgurd Rinde is stating that tall hierarchies are even made for managers and their direct and control attitude as there is not much transparency and individual integrity. The comments to Mr. Rinde’s article are interesting and plenty, so I would highly recommend to read them: thingamy.typepad.com/sigs_blog/2005/05/leader_vs_manag.html
June 21, 2010
June 21, 2010
People have been debating the nature of leadership for as long as records have been kept – certainly as far back as Homer and his peers. The topic continues to fascinate and enthral us today, but the way in which we assess leadership roles is changing.
Much recent work in this area has concentrated on trying to understand why some leaders are more effective than others by looking at their environment and the context in which their acts have been carried out. Situationaltheory views leadership as specific to the situation, for example, rather than to the personality of the leader. It is based on the idea that different situations require a different style of leader.
A leader must realise there is no one best way to influence people.
The Basis of Situational Leadership:
Situational Leadership is a way of describing and analysing leadership styles. It is a combination of directive and supportive behaviours.
Directive behaviour involves telling people what to do, how to do it, where to do it, when to do it and then closely supervising this performance.
Supportive behaviour involves listening to people, providing support and encouragement for their efforts and then facilitating their involvement in problem solving and decision-making.
There are four leadership styles: Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating.
Each style is appropriate in certain circumstances. They can be shown as follows:
o Delegating i.e. Low Supportive & Low Directive
o Directing i.e. Low Supportive & High Directive
o Supporting i.e. High Supportive & High Directive
o Coaching i.e. High Supportive & Low Directive
In my opinion, leadership is dynamic. A leader should fit into the changing environment and should have different strategies to different situations. That’s why I wanted to write about Dynamic Leadership. You can read the relevant article from here.
Generally speaking one can say that similarities can be identified between leaders in Western Europe and the United States as well as in East-Asian countries. The GLOBE study examined 9 vital characteristics to explain leadership style. One important factor is for example how countries value pure performance. It’s not surprising that the U.S.A are leading the list of countries who have a high concern for performance, as it is a very performance orientated country. Moreover the U.S leaders were also characterized as very tough and competitive and it was explained that they are not thinking about others very much. Also countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong put enormous emphasis on performance. Germany is as well a very performance orientated country, but more interesting is that Germany is very poor in Humane Orientation. This means that people are not very helpful and rather take care about their selves instead of other people. Furthermore German leaders, as well as all middle
European countries, emphasize avoiding uncertainty, which means that they like to stick to norms. Another exciting fact stated in the study is how loyal people are to their organizations. It can be seen that almost every Asian culture is highly corporate-loyal in contrast to e.g Scandinavian countries that were ranked least in this category and therefore show an enormous lack of loyalty to their companies.
From my point of view the GLOBE study is a vital source of information in today’s business world as we are not acting on a national basis anymore. However I also think that these differences will diminish as time passes by as in a globalized world every culture is influencing others and being influenced by others. As a result business practices and leadership styles around the world will be more standardized and not as different as today or – more drastically spoken – like a hundred years ago.
The blog of sapumal from Sri Lanka, to whom I unfortunately cannot find additional information, also detected the influence of culture on leadership style. Sapumal wrote his article on the basis of another well-known study by Hofstede. The characteristics to explain leadership styles in different countries used by Hofstede were: power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long term orientation. Generally the outcomes of Hofstede are similar to the GLOBE study, sapumal also explained them graphically, which I found really interesting:
Unfortunately most blogs that deal with the influence of culture on leadership just paraphrased existing surveys and there are no stories about personal experiences available which could have been especially interesting.
Detailed information about the GLOBE study can be found in Robert J. House’s Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: The Globe Study of 62 Societies
June 8, 2010
Nitin Nohria and Amanda Pepper of Harvard Business School’s Leadership Initiative collaborated with XPLANE to create this video in order to generate a discussion of the value and importance of leadership to address some of societys most pressing problems.
“It is my desire to inspire people of all ages and social demographics to think about leadership on a broad level, contemplate what it means to them and what individual impact they can have when it comes to leading,” says Nohria.
June 7, 2010
June 7, 2010
The article “Enacting the ‘true self’: Towards a theory of embodied authentic leadership” compares the method of acting by Stanislavski with leadership skills. I’ve made a summary of the comparison. It is interesting since it is related to the topic of “authentic leadership” I have been researching.
|Method of acting||Leadership skills|
“Don’t take a part if it isn’t in you -a part has to be real to you before it can be real to an audience
|Self exposure (Enacting the “true self”)
“A growing number of
studies point to the importance of leaders expressing their vulnerabilities in order to more fully engage with and establish trust
“No sane person could actually believe the events on stage were real, they could act ‘as
if’ they were.”
“One critical way that actors use the ‘magic if’ is to be in communion with the other actors on stage.”
“For never-encounter-before situation, you should narrate what is happening for
you and inquire what is happening for others. By narrating her own feelings, our leader stays present in the moment and connected to the context. By inquiring she attempts to deepen the relationship with the colleagues.”
“In essence, this meant that rather than mimicking more senior
managers, they(lower level managers) only relied on behaviours which they recognised as being part of their existing repertoire.”
“… finding a reason to express your fullest feelings deeply and importantly, saying yes to the possibilities that are within a
relationship.Human beings, fortunately, don’t operate out of reason.Whatmotivates human beings are dreams.…”
“Leader-like actions are tied to
the motivations and dreams of the group which they lead”
In my opinion, being a leader is sometimes akin to being a professional actor. It is not the same to say that a leader must be an impostor. However, a leader can not always act in whatever ways he likes in a business setting. Like acquiring acting skills, it is a must for the leader to know how to control emotions and manage his subordinates.
June 7, 2010
Due to recent occurrences in Germany, I will this time focus on how leaders stop to be leaders. The emphasis will be on the resignation of two German politics in leading positions – Roland Koch and Horst Köhler. I will discuss their way to become leaders, their achievements as leaders and why they decided to resign from their leading positions. Next I will state what I think about theses recent events, followed by opinions of other bloggers.
Roland Koch has been climbing up the career-ladder within the CDU (Christian democratic union) since 1979 with an enormous pace. In 1999 he became minister president of the province of Hesse and in 2006 he became vice-president of the CDU, which made him the second most important person within the CDU behind Merkel Mister Koch is known as a conservative hardliner and has been accused of xenophobia in many cases during his political career.
Horst Köhler spent his first 14 years as a refugee, fleeing from communist areas in the east to West Germany with is parents. Köhler is known as an economic speacialist starting is political carreer in 1976 in the Federal Ministry of Economics after having different positions he was announced as the Managing Director of the International Monetary fund 10 years ago. After living 4 years in Washington D.C. he was appointed as the President of Germany in 2004. More details about those two biographies can be found on wikipedia.org.
The similarity between between Köhler and Koch is that they both had a 30-year political career ending in important leading positions for the German state and both have just recently ( may 25th koch/ may 31st köhler) and surprisingly withdrawn from their jobs. I think the question now is were their personalities to weak as they are resigning during one of the biggest crises of modern Germany. Isn’t this exactly what a good leader should be able to do – leading through hard times? During an economic upturn a stable situation and more or less satisfied citizens almost everybody can be a leader as one is not faced by any major issues. So actually this is exactly what charactarizes a good leader: the ability to go through hard times, resist the pressure and struggle hard for one’s employees/citizens. Both – Köhler and Koch – terribly failed this assignment. What is happening at the moment is that the resignation of these politicians is even worsening the current cris
is leading to the fact that people are more insecure about the future than they already are.
Concerning this ongoing resignations infamous journalist Adorján F. Kovác claims that these politicians are leaving the sinking boats like rats. These politicians argue that they are faced by enormous pressure, but he thinks that they are not. In fact is of the opinion that politicians in Germany won’t have to deal with any consequences when they do something terribly wrong, the worst thing that could happen to them is that they “must” transfer to a top position in business life. Moreover also the blogs “quergedacht 2.0” as well “NID” take the metaphor of rats that leave the sinking boat for Germany, critzising german politicians sharply. The voice in Germany’s blog world is pretty identical at the moment. People blame Koch and Köhler for resigning in such hard times, leaving their leadership positions in times when hard work would be needed most. Furthermore in almost every blog one can read the question: which politician will be next. So I am asking as well: Who else is fed up with leading a sinking boat?