Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10

Servant leadership (SL) can be a tough sell. Some theorists have suggested that incorporating SL has essentially amounted to adopting a new life style or paradigm. Therefore, it would seem that that adopting SL has "cut deeper" than merely exercising a few new leadership behaviors -- behaviors that people can switch on or off at a moment's notice, as the needs arise. Other theorists have further suggested that the fundamental attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors found in servant leaders do not differ much from those found in people who exercise transformative or transformational leadership (and recently, Level 5 leadership, thanks to Dr. Wilbur Reid) -- only the end concern for organizational outcomes (transformational) or followers (SL) differs. These and other factors may have contributed to explaining employers' reluctance to utilize SL. These employers may feel that: (a) the outcome trend of the organization doesn't justify a change in leadership style, (b) SL doesn't have enough of a track record to risk incorporating it, (c) it's just a bunch of touchy-feely human relations stuff that might work somewhere, but might not work "here," or (d) potential political ramification, pushback, etc., offer risks not clearly mitigated by the benefits associated with employing SL.

Additionally, theorists from Greenleaf on have offered lists that specify SL traits. However, it appears that most organizations desire the adoption and exhibition of thoe same traits in followers, just as much as they do in leaders (as with most traits listed in those types of leadership theories). Of those executives who desire maximum efficiency and effectiveness, which of them has not also desired for followers to serve, to exercise humility, and to work together to contribute valuable insights to the vision and mission of their organizations? Maybe Greenleaf pointed out the need for these in leaders only because he so seldom came across leaders who embraced them. If that's true, then SL theory might actually relate more to desirable human or organization-wide behaviors rather than to just leadership behaviors alone. In any case, two concepts seem to follow that question the notions of:

  • Leadership as necessarily tied to functional position. It has appeared that leadership happens at all levels, regardless of rank or station, and

  • The programmatic use of leadership. Evidence suggests that the proper use of leadership is finite and that most people, even those in "leadership" positions, only employs leadership a small percentage of any given day.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23

Laissez-faire -- A French phrase literally meaning "let do;" eighteenth century "physiocrats" first used the term as an injunction against government interference with trade. It later became used as a synonym for strict free market economics. Subsequently, many students of economics have generally understood it to represent a doctrine maintaining that private initiative and production work best when allowed to "roam free," without opposing economic interventionism and taxation by the state, beyond the levels necessary to maintain individual liberty, peace, security, and property rights. In that regard, Keynes (1972) characterized [economic] laissez-faire as meaning "that by the working of natural laws individuals pursuing their own interests with enlightenment in conditions of freedom always tend to promote the general interest at the same time" (p. 274).

Several pieces I've reviewed over the past months have suggested (or cited empirical results) that the laissez-faire leadership (management) style ranks lowest among the different styles investigated, in relation to organizational outcomes. For example, under the topic of "Transactional Leadership," Barbuto (2005) noted that: Bass identified laissez-faire as a key type "... of transactional leadership" and  that "... most conceptualizations of transactional leadership... exclude laissez-faire because it represents the absence of leadership" (p. 26). Barbuto continued by citing how Bradford and Lippitt described "laissez-faire leadership as a leader's disregard of supervisory duties and lack of guidance to subordinate" (p. 27). Barbuto then cited a number of leadership experts who essentially concluded that: "Laissez-faire leaders offer little support to their subordinates and are inattentive to productivity or the necessary completion of duties… From the outset, laissez-faire has demonstrated itself to be the most inactive, least effective, and most frustrating leadership style" and "studies show that policies and practices that reflect non-involvement of supervisors lead to low productivity, resistance to change, and low quality of work..." (p. 27).

Clearly, a dichotomy exists between the traditional uses of the term laissez-faire, as experts have applied it in the disciplines of economics and leadership. Where the economics experts have apparently made assumptions that when left unregulated, people will do those things required to achieve outcomes correlated to their perceived best interests; while leadership experts have apparently made assumptions that when left unregulated, people will not do those things required to achieve outcomes required to achieve outcomes in their organizations' best interests. Why have leadership experts taken this position? I posit they have done this for one or more of at least three reasons, reflected by these positions: (a) leaders have not adequately and appropriately developed shared visions, compelling self-interests, and entitlements with subordinates, in order to establish subsequent buy-in and associated levels of organizational citizenship and affective commitment; (b) they have confused leadership by hierarchical position with leadership by functional behaviors; and they have thereby mistaken the overall role of leadership with other competencies emplyed by members in overall positions of authority. Arguably, "leaders" need only to appropriately employ leadership competencies when selecting standard procedures to use, when no standard procedures exist, or when existing standard procedures no longer result in the desired levels of efficiency and effectiveness. They should appropriately employ other competency sets (diplomacy, influence, management, sales, etc.) at all other times; and (c) for all of the praise in the literature, heaped upon the McGregor's (1960) Theory Y and the contempt shown his Theory X; the underlying cultural assumption remains intact that Theory X still generally applies.

Based on my experiences as a subordinate of having generally: embraced organizational outcomes of the organizations for which I have worked, appreciated most the supervisors who managed my by exception, and maintained as high or higher personal production and quality standards than those of my supervisors; I suggest the following research questions, stated as hypotheses:

H1. Subordinates who perceive the existence of positive personal relationships with their supervisors who employ a laissez faire style rate supervisor effectiveness higher than will subordinates whose supervisors employ the transformational or servant leadership styles.

H2. Subordinates who perceive organizational vision alignment with their supervisors who employ a laissez-faire style rate supervisor effectiveness higher than will subordinates whose supervisors employ the transformational or servant leadership styles.


Barbuto, J. E., Jr. (2005). Motivation and transactional, charismatic, and transformational leadership: A test of antecedents. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 11(4), 26-40.

Keynes, J. M. (1926/1972). The end of laissez-faire. In Essays in persuasion (pp. 272-294). London: Macmillan.

McGregor, D. (1960). The human side of enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12

As I recently noted in a blog response, it has appeared to me that in the recent past, just about all of my Republican friends and acquaintances (from Evangelicals to agnostics) have consistently voiced their desire for a smaller, less-intrusive U.S. Federal government, first, regardless of where they have stood on other "social issues." Arguably, Mr. Romney didn't offer enough of that. Some have suggested the red herring reason for the Romney loss as related to "Christian vs. Mormon" and they can continue to do so, 'til the proverbial cows come home. Others have criticized the involvement of third party candidates. However, the real problem seemed more that U.S. voters only had a choice this election between Big-Government and Bigger-Government... and of course, which group of rich contributors and supporters would ultimately receive the associated perks. Additionally, I doubt that "disgruntled" or "misguided" Ron Paul or Green Party supporters made a significant difference in the overall outcome of the presidential election. In fact, based on research conducted a few weeks before Election Day, a Reason-Rupe Poll suggested that support for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, pulled equally from Democrats and Republicans.

In any case, I would argue that if anyone hurt America during the recent elections, it did not include Evangelicals who stayed home for religious reasons or those who voted third party for the sake of conscience. Rather, it included the people who went to the polls, held their noses, and voted for either Romney OR Obama, when they considered that neither of them actually best represented the overall values needed in and for the United States. Some folks actually reported having voted this way because others had sold them on the idea that a vote for anyone other than the Democrat or the Republican amounted to a wasted vote. Guess what? Voting for "the lesser of two evils" wasted votes, in that so doing sent the errant message that over 100-million people believed that the collective values suggested by Obama and Romney represent what voting Americans consider as the most important values. Additionally, I would further argue that any type of election-to-election thinking that results in voting for candidates with whom people fundamentally disagree has centrally contributed to our elected officials settling for short term compromises, rather than striving for long term collaborations. Regardless of the electoral college results, if Obama, Boehner, and Reid saw that 6% of the votes for Romney and Obama had otherwise gone to Johnson (the possible percentage also noted in the Reason-Rupe Poll), it would have sent a message. However, if they saw that either Obama or Romney had won with only a plurality, with third parties having won 15% to 30% of the electorate votes (the likely range of people who had major disagreements with the values presented by BOTH major parties), they would have had to sit up and take notice. Bottom line: I have never before supported or voted for a third party candidate in a national election, but starting now that trend will forever change, unless and until the Republicans (or Democrats) start substantially reducing the size and scope of the U.S. Federal government.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 7

Traditional leadership and management approaches that predominately apply centralized, top-down authority for the direction of behaviors have not provided sufficient protection for large-scale, highly distributed organizations, especially those that operate in multinational and cross-cultural environments. In the realm of complex, adaptive, and dynamic systems, the evaluation of natural escalation of opportunities and challenges versus hierarchical, mechanistic decision-making processes has demonstrated time and again that these traditional organizations have remained almost always vulnerable to competitors who have decided to initiate courses of action at the operative level. These challengers have particularly acquired and displayed these competitive techniques to compete against well-known, traditional organizations that have incorporated the use of repetitive strategic components; because typically, these traditional organizations have made readily available widespread knowledge of their organizational processes to the community, at large. Consequently, in the presence of such competitors, there has emerged a compelling need to augment traditional decision-making approaches with methods and techniques that allow teams and other work groups to survive, mitigate loss, respond, and thrive in the presence of competition for which they might not have otherwise possessed the capabilities to fully answer. Furthermore, a baseline premise that underlies the survivability of any organization, group, or team has included the fact that none can avoid competition or the errors that necessarily emerge when answering it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26

Like all organizations and sub-units of organizations, teams have presented as necessarily contextual in nature. What outcomes particular team building organizations have sought to achieve, have helped to define their contexts. In recent discussions with colleagues, I proposed a role reversal of sorts, with relationships serving as the targeted outcomes and activities of production, service, and distribution serving as means to achieve those outcomes. Even when they exist in simple structures and have otherwise simple missions, goals, objectives, and tasks; organizations and their teams have also presented as complex, adaptive, and dynamic entities (Argyris, 1957; Arrow, McGrath, & Berdahl, 2000; Stacey, 2007). In that regard, viewing relationships as ends would likely add additional complexity, especially from researchers’ perspectives, since output, profit, or some combination of those and other constructs, like those included in a "balanced scorecard" (Kaplan & Norton, 1996), have typically served as the “normal” bottom lines in most traditional Western organizations. In any case, however, four broad-based questions seem to emerge when considering the associated dimensions related to relationships as outcomes; and arguably, these could represent a typology that encompasses team selection, whether viewing relationships as means or as ends for given organizations. These questions include:

  • Do organizations place conditions on those who perform team selection, and if so, what do those conditions consist of?

  • How do functional supervisors or others “in charge” and tasked with the job, actually decide who will serve on their organizations’ teams?

  • Do the criteria for selection for formal team leadership differ from those of general team membership and should they?

  • Do the criteria and concerns regarding selection for and membership in local, face-to-face, functional teams differ from those of international, multicultural, virtual, and cross-functional teams, and if so, how?

Argyris, C. (1957). Personality and organization. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Arrow, H., McGrath, J. E., & Berdahl, J. L. (2000). Small groups as complex systems: Formation, coordination, development, and adaptation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Kaplan, R. S., & Norton, D. P. (1996). The balanced scorecard: Translating strategy into action. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Stacey, R. (2007). The challenge of human interdependence: Consequences for thinking about the day to day practice of management in organizations. European Business Review, 19(4), 292-302.

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 16

Dent (2003) wrote of dimensions beyond those of which people commonly perceive. He suggested that these dimensions host constructs that humankind hold as paradox. However, in these other dimensions these constructs present as “material” and therefore, self-evident. Dent’s premise arguably holds two ends of complexity, spiritual and physical. He asserted, based on the works he cited by Gell-Mann, and Schwartz and Ogilvy, that relationship forms the “central concept of organizational life” (p. 131). Conversely, the Bible teaches and some ostensibly have observed that both God and man function as triune beings. This observation has therefore created plausibility that dimensionality and therefore complexity, as the literature has recently defined it, may fall short of encompassing the observable nature of material reality in the four sensed dimensions. Combining the soul, represented by one’s intellect and seat of emotions, with physical existence (as much of the recent literature has), might render the contribution of the soul less valuable than what its nature actually provides to the dynamics found in complexity. A three-way paradox, of sorts?

In that regard, I consider the ramifications associated with the long accepted, a priori observation that sometimes the whole presents as greater than the sum of the parts. Rational, natural, open, and chaordic systems enter the discussion here. The dominate coalition examined above developed, maintained, and presented behaviors based on their individual and collective rational beliefs that “… organizations are purposefully designed for the pursuit of explicit objectives” (Scott, 1981, p. 408). Natural beliefs emerged, as they nearly always do, questioning if "the plans" would win out or if some other complex, adaptive, and dynamic factors would emerge and vanquish “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men…” (Burns, 1785/2008). Scott further suggested that people may view both rational and natural systems from either an open or closed system perspective. He further detailed how the open system viewpoints have dominated the literature since about 1960; regardless that Pfeffer (1998) presented a case in which he argued the typical existence of organizations that continue to use management techniques that most readily apply in a paradigm of closed-rational, even though Scott and Pfeffer (and I would suspect Bennis, Beckhard, and Stacey, among a whole host of other leadership and organization experts) would argue that generally, theorists find open-natural the most appropriate model by which to consider today’s organizations.

Burns, R. (1785/2008). To a mouse, on turning her up in her nest with the plough. Retrieved from:

Dent, E. (2003). Reconciling complexity theory in organizations and Christian spirituality. Emergence, 5(4), 124-140.

Pfeffer, J. (1998). The human equation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Scott, W. R. (1981). Developments in Organization Theory, 1960-1980. The American Behavioral Scientist, 24(3), 407.

Stacey, R. (2000). The emergence of knowledge in organizations. Emergence, 2(4), 23-39

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October 7

Do any leaders possess the skills and abilities required to single-handedly pull any group completely together, especially when using the term "leader" only in reference to people who fill the top functional positions in teams, group, or organizations? Some researchers have suggested that the complex, adaptive nature of organizations, generally, makes the possibility of any one person directing the behaviors of other members in the absolute realization of a preconceived vision highly unlikely (Arrow, McGrath, & Berdahl, 2000; Streatfield, 2001). Although it also appears, a priori, that a values alignment between members (regardless of functional position) could likely contribute to unified visions of future states of organizations and therefore, ultimately result in the better realization of their preconceived visions, at least one other scholar has suggested that it presents as unlikely that members could align their values to that degree, over the long haul (Vince, 2004). Specifically, opportunities and challenges emerge to confront organizations in processes of internal integration and external adaptation, the responses to which cause members to adopt new or modified values and priorities (Griffin & Stacey, 2005; Schein, 1992; Stacey, 2005). Notwithstanding the potential role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, some other scholars have actually theorized that leader effectiveness could correlate better to serendipity -- a contextual application of luck, happenstance, or being in the right place at the right time, than to his or her skillfulness in terms of directing the achievement of organizational outcomes (Svensson & Wood, 2005).

This doesn't even address the question of who actually serve as leaders at any level, at any time, within any organization, regarding any opportunities. Arguably, in an organizational setting, functional supervisors should have the "lion's share" of expertise, but in the internet age, who can guarantee that they will possess the most experience in any organization on any given topic? The bulk of members in many organizations include professionals that possess extensive work experience, including participation in international teams. If the job of leaders ultimately consists of directing behaviors toward the closure of perceived ethical gaps, created by emergent opportunities for which no procedure exists, then I posit that many members in many work centers, departments, and divisions could take the leadership mantle for themselves and for other members. The role of the functional supervisors, at those points and maybe at all times, becomes one of facilitator of the learning and leading processes (not necessarily qua servant leader, but actually as a servant of the other participants within the work division). In the role of process expert and facilitator, the functional supervisors can then provide the support necessary to let other members experience leadership in their own rights, as they respond to emerging opportunities; the functional supervisors can rework the flow of resources and organizational structures to meet members' emerging needs; and they can thereby position themselves to better mitigate the outcomes of conflicts and frustrations.

Arrow, H., McGrath, J. E., & Berdahl, J. L. (2000). Small groups as complex systems: Formation, coordination, development, and adaptation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schein, E. H. (1992). Organizational culture and leadership (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stacey, R. (2005). Introduction: Emergence and organizations. In R. Stacey (Ed.) Experiencing emergence in organizations: Local interaction and the emergence of global pattern (pp. 1-16). New York: Routledge.

Stacey, R. & Griffin, D. (2005). Introduction: Leading in a complex world. In R. Stacey & D. Griffin (Eds.) Complexity and the experience of leading organizations (pp. 1-16). New York: Routledge.

Streatfield, P. J. (2001) The paradox of control in organizations. New York: Routledge.

Svensson, G., & Wood, G. (2005). The serendipity of leadership effectiveness in management and business practices. Management Decision, 43(7/8), 1001-1009.

Vince, R. (2004). Rethinking strategic learning. London: Routledge.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 4

Ultimately, how we vote comes down to what we believe about the role of government -- or at least it probably should. Let me preface by saying that I serve as no apologist for Mitt Romney or the Republican Party. Although I have counted myself a Conservative, with Libertarian tendencies, I have done so because I believe that smaller, less intrusive governments; free markets, tempered with level "playing fields," and personal responsibility make for the best socioeconomic mix. I have also found that "experts" in my local neighborhoods have often supplied answers to local and regional problems that rendered similar, if not better results than those supplied by the experts appointed by the Federal Government -- and usually with much lower associated costs. That said:

I find it ironic that people who have had their pensions invested in high yield growth funds that held stock and other securities in companies like Bain Capital, would then turn around and say that they would never vote for Mitt Romney, because they disagree with the methods he used to secure profits for Bain. Even if the methods the people of Bain used didn't prove as "worker friendly" as those methods employed by members of some other companies; for some outcomes, having it both ways has proven difficult, if not impossible.

I also find it difficult to understand how some people have come to seemingly believe that their employers owe them lifetime employment. I inferred such a belief on the part of Mike Earnest. He was featured in the pro-Obama advertisement, in which he recounted the events surrounding the year 2000 closing, by Bain, of the Ampad paper company plant in Marion, Indiana. In the advertisement, he reported working to build "a 30-foot stage;" receiving the news that people of the company had lost their jobs; and feeling. later, like "it was like building my own coffin." If Mr. Earnest and his co-workers seriously thought that the company could generate enough profit to warrant staying in business indefinitely (even though the company began showing losses in January 1999), it seems like it would have made sense for them to have taken the initiative to band together to establish an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, in order to buy the company, outright. On the other hand, if after they completed their due diligence, they bought the company (to absolve Bain of its involvement), and they later found that Ampad did not have what it took to remain profitable, I wonder how many of their employees would have voted to stay in business and how long they would have personally absorbed any subsequent losses (before they otherwise complained that they felt like they had built their own coffins). By the way, Mr. Earnest could have invested in the securities of the companies that owned the plant, right along, and made an equitable percentage off of that particular sale.

Of course, some would likely say that because Mr. Earnest and his ilk served as workers in the company, they should not have had to concern themselves with ownership and management responsibilities. Maybe not, but history recounts those who have observed the existence of leadership vacuums and chosen to ignore them, rather than either answering those opportunities (themselves) or fighting to choose their close allies to answer those opportunities. The people who failed in this regard have almost inevitably had to follow the directions of whomever did fill those leadership vacuums, usually regardless of the politics involved or the subsequent outcomes.

If President Kennedy correctly stated, "to get a good job, get a good education;" then I would suggest: "to get another job, get another education" or "to get a better job, get a better education." No one I know likes to have had to arbitrarily change jobs, but just about everyone I know, over 30 years of age, has had to do it. Neither did any of these people necessarily enjoy having to pack and move across the country (or the world) to work in those new jobs. However, all of them who had the wherewithal to do it, did the deed. Most of them had the wherewithal because they had prepared themselves, in advance. Most of them took personal responsibility for their own lives and many of them trusted God to provide positions in which they could use that preparation. Regardless of their beliefs in God, it doesn't change the likelihood that taking personal responsibility for self-improvement has usually resulted in superior results, especially when compared to the life-styles represented by sitting around and endlessly complaining about the unfairness of situations that emerge in life.

Finally, I wonder what Mr. Earnest would have done if a competitor had offered him a significant raise to come to work for them six months before the plant closed. Would he have stayed with Ampad and thereby displayed the same loyalty to the owners and the management team that he expected them to provide to him? Had he taken the higher paying job, what would he have felt, had the company broadcasted on national television that he had proven disloyal to his friends and his co-workers and that by his quitting, it felt to them like he had "put the nails in their collective coffin?" Similarly, if he held securities in a losing corporation, would he sell them, rather than taking a loss on his own portfolio, if he knew that selling those securities would cost people their jobs? As you read this now, what would you do in similar situations?

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 29

In Western culture, for the most part, we have applauded people who have taken the initiative to achieve objectives beyond "assigned work"and who have grasped the necessary authority, as required, to accomplish those types of endeavors. To some extent, people have considered this a form of leadership; as the ones taking initiative have, through their explicit behaviors, gone before and shown the way; a paraphrase of the definition of leadership proposed by Greenleaf (1977), in his seminal work on servant leadership. Successes in those initiatives have often yielded rewards, including personal satisfaction, personal glory, and material gains, among others. However, failures in those endeavors have led some initiative takers to abdicate their associated responsibilities -- the responsibilities they voluntarily took on, initially, when they grasped the requisite authority to accomplish the work. Since they had originally grasped the authority, rather than having accepted authority as an assignment, only they could primarily hold themselves accountable, unless they had committed illegal acts in their failures.

Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Pualist Press.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25

An online friend of mine, L. J. Galleta, recently hosted a meeting on development, broadly defined. Of course, in this meeting the participants expressed differences of opinion on several key issues. Ms. Galleta later reported having encountered some people in the meeting whose positions it seemed she could not sway, regardless of the technical superiority of the content of her arguments. She aired her frustration by saying, "it's a total waste of time arguing with people whose mindsets are not open and flexible enough to allow other 'truth' not aligned with their own."

My answer: "people have entrenched their positions for as long as they have taken positions. After all, for most people, their positions correlate to their hidden, taken-for-granted values; and likewise, to the power they perceive themselves to possess. Additionally, anyone who only includes the technical constructs of truth, without also considering the associated political constructs, will arguably have limited success with their efforts to move people. Regardless of the levels of altruism represented or the objective, transformational value of anyone's proposed solutions; ultimately, all movement (leadership) is transactional. Therefore, the question to answer becomes how do you move those with different perspectives and still allow them to retain or enhance their personal power (regardless of the bases of power they might employ)."

Check Ms. Galleta's blog at: and follow her on twitter @ljgalleta

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20

A fellow believer and Regent University alumnus, I also count Courtney McBath among the best orators whom I have ever heard. He has typically presented information in ways wherein I have felt like 15 or 20 minutes had passed, when an hour or more had actually gone by. Bishop McBath shared a tweet today, with which I agreed. However, as those who tweet have sometimes complained, "it just didn't seem to go far enough." In his tweet, he said, "the oxymoron of leadership is that you are often forced to depend on people that you can't depend on." After reflecting on this, I responded, "I know many more followers than I do leaders who suffer through that oxymoron."

Arguably, few people "in the know" would argue with the Bishop's conclusion. Regardless of whether referring to leaders by position, role, or behaviors; it seems that people who "go before and show the way" sometimes interact with followers who, for whatever reasons, fail to live up to their responsibilities. In fact, some of those followers even fail to initially (or ever) acknowledge, as their responsibilities, the requirements asked of them. Maybe they lack shared visions, compelling (self-) interests, authority or other organizational or societal entitlements, or the resources necessary to accomplish the tasks at hand. Maybe they lack the clarity needed to succeed, regarding the applicable organizational structures, goals, and missions. Whatever the reasons, however, many leaders have had to overcome the lack of participation of undependable followers, simply by doing "it" themselves or by trusting others to do the required deeds. In that regard, I have known many dependable followers who have accomplished their own work and then taken the responsibilities for and accomplished the work of their undependable colleagues, as well; especially in organizations that have proven successful over the long run.

On the other hand, regardless of position or role -- or the lack thereof, those who accept the mantel of leadership take on the responsibilities associated with going before and showing the way, by definition. People who lead, place themselves in positions wherein they must provide directions (like it or not, to show the way means to provide directions), even when they might not actually know their present positions; much less how to navigate to desired locations or outcomes. The very nature of leadership requires its use when: (a) no validated, standardized procedures already exist; (b) someone needs to choose the situationally correct proceedure(s) to follow; and (c) the existing procedures no longer meet the required levels of efficiency and effectiveness to meet the needs of the stakeholders. Conversely, when validated, standardized procedures (knowingly) exist, no need for leadership exists. Oh, some followers or peers might need training, diplomacy, marketing, or some other form of influence to overcome lacks of knowledge or motivation. However, once the selection and implementation of the correct procedures occur, the appropriate form of directing immediately and automatically shifts to management (or some other form of directing that few people enjoy discussing in public conversations). Therein lie the cruxes of undependable leadership. Of course, leaders may suffer from the same ailments as followers, in that they can also lack shared vision, authority, resources, etc. However, the fatal flaw has most appeared to present when they have either failed to appreciate the scope and dynamics associated  with their leadership responsibilities or they've applied leadership when some other form of directing (or no form of directing) presented as more appropriate. Either set of shortcomings has arguably rendered leaders undependable.

Please check a short biography of Bishop B. Courtney McBath on the website at this link:

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14

I have a colleague developing a work team cohesiveness scale for his dissertation. He needs the participation of one or two organizations where employees work in team environments to complete the initial scale. If you are interested in helping, he'll gladly share the findings with you (or designated others) from the survey results. Please respond directly to this post if you know of a team with members who might participate.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 10

Not long ago, Adam Shaw (2012) blogged about two phenomena that might impact polling surveys, especially in the current presidential election in the United States. Named the "Bradley Effect" and the "Shy Tory Factor," as he describe them, they both seem to fall under a broad category known in social sciences research circles as "Social Desirability Response Bias." Coined by Crowne and Marlowe, back before 1960, SDRB reflects people's desire to "look good" when answering questionnaires. SDRB leads people to "over-report" what they think surveyors or other people around them desire to hear and to under-report what they think that others do not desire to hear. Although Mr. Shaw suggested that challenges have hindered or prevented pollsters from quantifying the existence of the the Bradley Effect and the Shy Tory Factor, other researchers have used several instruments that have allowed for the relatively easy confirmation of the presence of SDRB. One of these (the MC-Form C), derived from Crowne and Marlow (1960) by Reynolds (1982), includes only 13 "yes or no" items and has yielded about the same validity and reliability of the much longer, original instrument. Additionally, another of the "forms" proposed by Reynolds includes only 9 items, but it has presented lower validity. See more on Wikipedia: Social Desirability Bias.

Crowne, D. P., & Marlowe, D. (1960). A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 24(4), 349-354.

Reynolds, W. M. (1982). Development of reliable and valid short forms of the Marlowe-Crowne social desirability scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38(1), 119-125.

Shaw, A. (2012, August 30). How 'the shy republican' could be masking a landslide. [Web log post]. Retrieved from:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5

Typically, the earlier in a given organization's life cycle, the less engrained the culture. However, modifying organizational assumptions at any stage of life cycle has often required more than a concerted will to change, solely based on competitive environment. History over the past 50 years provides an abundance of examples where organizational members from the "top" to the "bottom" knew of some or all of the major market challenges, but they just couldn't make the leap.

Additionally, values and assumptions "imported" from outside have seldom worked to change organizations in anything other than the superficial, over the long haul. For true change of cultural assumptions to occur, it has appeared that people have had to first experience, collectively, a "significant emotional event" (Massey, 1979, p. 18); and they have then had to collectively buy into the concept that any proposed cultural change would answer the challenges associated with that event, at deep-seated, taken-for-granted levels (Schein, 1992).

As far as convenience and unwillingness representing the motives for remaining the same; I posit that it depends on the definition of culture. Some people have defined moving from using individual computers to enterprise-wide, server-based solutions as an example of culture change. Although it can likely precipitate a culture change, does that really represent the definition? It might change day-to-day operative and political values and behaviors, but will it significantly challenge any deep-seated, taken-for granted assumptions? For example, will that type of change really challenge how people in an organization fundamentally and collectively view: (a) their relationship to their environment; (b) their understanding of the nature of reality, time, and space; or (c) their perceptions of the nature of human nature; etc. (Schein, 1984)?

Massey, M. (1979). The people puzzle: Understanding yourself and others. Reston, VA: Reston.

Schein, E. H. (1992). Organizational culture and leadership (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schein, E. H. (1984). Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture. Sloan Management Review, 25(2), 3-16.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 24

A friend of mine recently asked for my suggestions on preparing for the comprehensive examination in Regent University's Organizational Leadership PhD program. My response:

Congratulations on your achievement of completing the course phase of your journey!

Even though it offers little comfort, remain assured that the comps "scare" even the bravest and most well-prepared of potential candidates. You'll undoubtedly read and hear a lot of advice on how to approach the "eating of this elephant." One of my themes for life includes: "a poor plan well implemented beats the best plan left undone." Therefore, I most of all encourage you to weigh the different approaches, pick the one that best fits you and give it your committed effort -- as unto the Lord. In any case, my advise for preparation first concerns two things: (a) how comprehensive you were in developing your dialogue posts and (b) how well you've memorized references from key authors to support the 3 test-room topics you'll confront.

If you're like me and most of the folks I talked with (both before I took the comps and afterwards), you probably did an "ok" job on your dialogues. I would go back through those and all of the associated replies; categorize them (as best as possible) by comp topic / question; "beef up" any you skimped on; and then study them, as they apply to each of the categories.

As for the references, you probably need to have at least 5 or 6 citations/authors committed to memory, per comp question topic, in order to demonstrate / document your breadth of understanding of the associated literature. Of course, some of these references might overlap the different categories. This might sound daunting, but if you think about it, you probably already have at least 8 or 10 favorite references you've used through the years, to prove everything from "soup to nuts." Maybe you've cited Bandura (1977), Maslow (1972), Schein (1992), or Yukl (2001); bringing in the concepts of social learning, motivation, organizational culture, or leadership (respectively) into 10 of your previous papers and dialogues -- and you might probably even detail the associated full citations from memory. Build on your strengths in this area. Of course, you won't have to have the Kerlinger & Lee or Creswell citations memorized, if you'll take the 4th question home with you.

Finally, regardless of previous dialogue or memorized references, I would work back through all of the topics generally associated with leadership and be able to say something about each of those. Reviewing your dialogues and papers should help you in this endeavor. However, in my group's third question, they asked us about a concept I had not studied (looked at?) since my 1st semester. I was able to salvage the question with a low pass by relating it to things I knew -- but I used no references that spoke directly to the topic. If I had known then what I know now, I would have answered that weakness in preparation by trying to pretty much scan and commit to memory Winston and Patterson's (2006) study, found at: I would also include memorizing at least some secondary citations on each topic (as listed in their paper) for which I didn't already have references committed to memory.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 11

Research, anyone?!!

The process of discovery has served as an antecedent to designing measures of leadership attributes (and indeed, all social scientific constructs). This process has first provided for the actual identification of the specific attributes. It has usually occurred as a culmination of literature review processes or as the result of qualitative studies that have yielded grounded theories or have identified particular phenomena that suggested the needs for further investigations. In that regard, de Vaus (2001) explained how research design actually begins one step before deciding whether to establish or test a theory. He described how the first step includes the researcher identifying whether to describe a phenomena or to explain why it happens (descriptive or explanatory research). He then further explained the importance of good descriptive research, in that it forms the foundation for good explanatory research. In the case of explanatory research or explaining the why, he specifically identified the distinction between correlation and causation, noting that although researchers may see a correlation, they cannot see the cause -- they can only infer it.

If theories have required establishment, researchers have typically used inductive reasoning, by observing the subjects and asking broad based, open-ended questions. These researchers have then established their theory post factum. If other researchers or theorists have already established a given theory, the following researchers have tested this theory by allowing the theory to dictate which observations they should make. In these cases, researchers have used deductive reasoning to develop a set of propositions that answer the “if, then” question. Ultimately, the design of any research should cause the data that researchers collect to answer the research question(s), with as little ambiguity as possible.

Issues to consider in explanatory research design include:

  • Affirming the consequent -- Just because B event follows A event does not mean that A causes B... Correlation does not imply causation.

  • Deterministic or probabilistic -- Social science research deals with human beings who, for our intents and purposes, have free will and who develop their own social constructs. Little presents as deterministic in this realm, regardless of the amount of control a researcher exercises.

  • Falsification -- Researchers need to look to disprove their theories or at least frame their propositions in ways that allow others opportunities to disprove their theories.

  • Internal and External Validity -- These apply to research design. Internal validity refers to how well the design promotes clarity in conclusions about results. External validity refers to the generalize-ability of the results.

  • Indicator Validity and Reliability – Not only does the design require validity, the items for measuring the phenomenon do too. Indicator, measure, or item validity refers to determining if the indicator actually measures the concept the researcher says it does. It comes in three categories: (a) Criterion validity: how a new measure relates to an established measure or an expert group’s assessment, (b) content validity: how comprehensively the indicators measure the concept, and (c) construct validity: how well the results of the indicator fit the original theory. Reliability refers to the consistency of the indicator to repeat with the same results.

de Vaus, D. (2001). Research design in social research. London, UK: Sage.


Monday, January 2, 2012

January 1

At the end of 2011, Tia Carr Williams presented two questions on the ILA board on Linkedin. These two questions included: "What three distinctive traits makes you (or anyone) a good leader? How do you nurture these in those you lead?" On face, these two questions appeared innocuous enough, as they directly relate to the concept of trait theory. However, subsequent challenges have presented, in response to these questions. In his comprehensive overview of leadership in organizations, Yukl (2001) presented the existence of "... methodological and conceptual limitations" (p. 201) when using traits and trait research to accurately predict managerial and leadership effectiveness and advancement. He further suggested that a "... better understanding of leadership in an organization may be gained by examining the pattern of traits for the executive team, rather than focusing on the traits of a single leader, such as the chief executive officer" (p. 202). Additionally, as noted in previous studies, Winston and Patterson (2006) presented a meta-analysis of over 90 trait-type constructs that various scholars had presented as necessary or required for the "successful" employment of leadership. Based on these, the challenges of self-identifying the two or three most important leadership traits would seem to include: (a) that a lack of self-awareness would hinder leaders from accurately assessing their own leadership traits; (b)  a likely lack of awareness on the parts of those same leaders of all of the various traits that could potentially contribute to making people good leaders; and (c) the lack of reliability in applying the resulting answers to others. However, if leadership merely consists of going before and showing the way, as suggested by Greenleaf (1977), then another, arguably more germane question emerges: what traits should people generally expect for leaders to exhibit that those same people would not expect everyone to exhibit?

Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press.

Winston, B. E., & Patterson, K. (2006). An integrated definition of leadership. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 1(2), 6-66.

Yukl, G. (2001). Leadership in organizations (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Printice-Hall.