Potential Psychopaths Us All

In the article Three Things to Know to Hold Wells Fargo Accountable the author Lynn Parramore (Senior Research Analyst at Institute of New Economic Thinking) relays what William Lazonick (Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Lowell) identified as the three things we need to know: 1) American businesses have become stock manipulation machines; 2) focusing on short-term stock prices leads to corruption; and 3) punishment means little until executive pay is understood. The first essentially speaks to the profit maximizing intent of business and its executives and the second to the importance of it happening now if not sooner while the third is that the entire scheme is ultimately profitable because of the enormous size of the gains. So now that we know these things, what are we to do about it? Continue reading

Clueless in a Human World

The authors of a recent HBR article, Wells Fargo and the Slippery Slope of Sales Incentives, provided the answer “to meet sales quotas and earn incentives” to the question “why they (they being the lower level employees of Wells Fargo) did this in the first place.” The “this” being unethical if not illegally selling and charging customers for services they did not need or request. It seems that the perspective here is that the employees where at fault, after all they are the ones who acted fraudulently! Continue reading

A Theory for Leadership for a Human World

Leadership, according to Peter Northouse (2010, p 3), is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. So then is evidence of leadership the achievement of a goal by a group? Does the goal matter? Do the means matter? Continue reading

Leadership Untainted

When most people talk of leadership what they are really speaking to is the highest levels in the management hierarchy. They are talking about the legitimate authority positions in an organization. They speak of leadership as if it was a noun, a name we attribute to a person or position. Continue reading

Our Fires Consume Us

How often, in either your workplace or community or on corporate television news, have you heard questions asked such as who allowed this to happen or what caused that individual do this after the occurrence of an undesired outcome or terrible incident? I suspect quite often. Continue reading

Work-Life Balance

The balance of work and life is something many of us are concerned about and struggle with. That is we are concerned about the amount of time (and attention) that work demands from us in our life. Though several tactics have been offered these tend to make the conflict between work and life tolerable they don’t dissolve the conflict.

So let’s give this—the whole idea of work and life being in balance—a bit more critical thought. Continue reading

Why GM Acted as It Did

As we learned that GM had waited until 2014 to recall vehicles having a defective ignition switch which causes the car to suddenly shut off rendering brakes, steering and airbags non-functional which can lead to accidents killing people I am reminded of a brief discussion about GM’s tunnel vision in the post Gravity of Vision.

 

“It is unfortunate that many believe that it is not what the vision is, but what the vision does that makes it so important. For many having a goal is all that matters.  Accordingly most visions are in effect mission statements—what some might call BHAG (big hairy audacious goal).

As illustration consider GM’s vision, “Design, Build and Sell the World’s Best Vehicles.”  This speaks not of people but of things—yes the objects—the organization makes.  While GM’s statement offers a far-reaching noble goal it does not offer guidance to people toward developing and maintaining meaningful relationships with each other and the work.

When results-only becomes the thing then meaning is lost as everything becomes objectified.  Moreover as concern for results dominate relationships all interaction among people become mere transactions. Unavoidably, motivation turns to movement caused external authority and people become disconnected from the work.  Because engagement in the work turns superficial keeping people on task toward results guides the approach of management.”

 

I think it speaks to why GM acted as they did—choosing not to incur costs in recalling and replacing the defective part—and likely will continue to act similarly in the future unless management changes the profit-only intent and correspondingly the morally bankrupt vision of the business.

When Smart is Beyond Stupid

When do managers talk about improvement and development with those they manage?  In most cases it is when managers are required to do so, during the organization’s annual performance appraisal time period.  In three previous posts (Replace performance reviews with leadership for quality; Facilitate performance, don’t appraise it; Performance appraisal: A pathway to mistrust) performance appraisal was discussed but since the practice is still very popular another appraisal of it is in order. Continue reading