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.