Leadership or Dictatorship

Today, America’s captains of business and industry command increasingly vast sums as compensation for their services. Accordingly, there is an enormous disparity—on the order of 325-to-1—between what the average paid-worker in an organization gets and what the CEO gets. We refer to these captains of industry as business leaders: But are they really?  Continue reading

Analytics on management

There appears to be an enormous amount of interest in using data (a.k.a. analytics) as a management tool for gaining some degree of certainty of performance through better control of the tasks and the task doers of an enterprise. In fact analytics seems to be the beginning and end all of management these days.  After all, as Lord Kelvin asserted ‘to measure is to know” and “when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”  This is all well and good if we are dealing with pure mechanical systems, systems with no inherent will or self-initiation and that function according to laws of physical science.  Continue reading

Toward Higher-Level Performance

Just imagine if those you managed were more self-acting and self-directed, had greater levels of creativity and had (really) good interpersonal skills.  Wouldn’t this make for a higher performing team enhancing organizational performance, not to mention having a positive influence on your effectiveness?  Obviously, for many, the next questions are do such people exist and how do I get them to be my team? Continue reading

Mistakes Confusing Leadership

A recent HBR Blog post by John Kotter speaks to the confusion surrounding management and leadership.  He continues by outlining three key mistakes people make in confusing management and leadership: 1) using the terms interchangeably; 2) using leadership to refer to those at the top of the hierarchy; and 3) thinking leadership is about personality characteristics (i.e. charisma).  Let’s critically think about these mistakes to better understand their likely causes. Continue reading

Black Holes

Let me begin with a statement from a previous posting:

 

“When people are given the legitimate authority associated with a position in an organization’s (management) hierarchy, they are also necessarily entrusted with the development of those over whom they have been given formal authority.  Sadly some become intoxicated with exercising power over others that they deny and ignore the responsibility for the care and concern of others.  Upholding this latter responsibility is in large measure what separates the good leaders from the bad.” Continue reading

What We Know That Ain’t So

The paradigm that emerged in the 17th century set humankind as the conqueror and manipulator of all things for tangible ends. Moreover knowing something meant that it is expressible and explainable in the language of mathematics (i.e. numbers, measurements), as everything that was anything must be quantifiable and quantified if it is to be understood.  Accordingly everything in the universe became an object to be measured and modeled into exact laws of cause-and-effect.  Continue reading

Cascading Goals

Spend some time in most business organizations—as I have done over the past 35-plus years—and you will likely observe the practice of cascading goals top-to-bottom.  Why?  Because executive teams believe:  a) it is the way to align organizational goals and people’s activity, to implement strategy; b) it is a way to exercise control over what happens in the organization; c) it is the means to holding people accountable and the basis for evaluating people’s performance; and d) it is what other executive teams do. Continue reading

A Reframing

When I say the word leader, quite understandably most associate it with the ‘one-in-charge’, the top person. Furthermore, since leader is synonymous with the one-in-charge, then leadership must be the actions of the one-in-change. That is when the term leadership is the focus—be it in academic journals or the popular press—its use is most often referring to people in positions of authority such as top executives or c-level managers in organizations or officials of rank in government.  We could just as well talk about top management since the terms connote the same thing.  Even so, everyone would prefer to be a leader than a manager—it just sounds better. Continue reading