Monday, December 15, 2014

Non-Violent Offenses: Is it Time for Change?

I’ve always been pretty much of a standup, law and order type of guy. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse;” “do the crime, do the time;” and similar sentiments have always rang true to me. For example, the police arrested an acquaintance of mine (let’s call him Pete) for growing pot just outside of his trailer, off of the beaten path, in SW Arkansas. In this example, the police had responded, with the fire department, after Pete reported his trailer on fire. The circumstances didn’t stop the police from hauling Pete off to jail, despite the looks of desperation on the faces of his wife and three preschool aged children… oh, I didn’t yet mention that the date was early December, late in the Reagan administration.

It surprised me that in the aftermath, his (Holiness, “never miss a church service”) mother-in-law argued the position that the particular law in question, as well as its application in this context, seemed too rigid. I argued the position that it wasn’t like he didn’t know that it was illegal to grow pot in his front yard — or that he didn’t know of the associated, potential ramifications. As I look back on it now, however, I wonder if the law, the police, and I should have shown more compassion.

Of course, what happened to Eric Garner served as the catalyst that caused me to remember and consider this true story about Pete. Garner died, earlier this year, after a police officer placed him in a choke hold. Garner had resisted arrest after having engaged in a minor, non-violent offence. Like Garner, Pete had broken the law. Also like Garner, Pete had police officers lay hands on him — even though neither of them possessed a weapon. Fortunately, for Pete and his loved ones, he didn’t resist arrest and he wasn’t subsequently killed in the process.

No doubt exists that resisting arrest can result in violence. Many people in U.S. society don’t have a problem with that. In fact, in his Hit & Run blog, on the site (4 December 2014), Jesse Walker stated that “… there are other people out there, crawling through hundreds of comment threads, Facebook debates, and twitter wars, all asking variations of the same question: ‘why didn’t he just submit.'”

In that same article, Walker went on to state that: “there are people who think Eric Garner’s resistance means that he’s to blame for how he died.” Similarly, in a recent online conversation, @StitchJonze suggested that: “… when a suspect resists a lawful arrest, the suspect creates the violence and commits a crime.”

Okay, I get it. Resistance equals violence and requires a “hands-on” response. However, if initial offenses don’t constitute violence, do no alternatives exist whereby society can effectively punish offenders? Does the government really have to arrest, convict, and incarcerate people for having participated in conducting nonviolent crimes?

Reportedly, Eric Garner’s initial “crime” in this case, included selling cigarettes on a street corner. He might thereby have cheated the government out of tax revenue on those cigarettes and brought a small part of the income redistribution machine to a grinding halt. He may also have cheated the nearby shop owners out of sales that they might have otherwise made, had Garner not set up shop on the corner. But, do either of those really require arrest; and if so, where does it end?

If he cheated the government, write him a ticket, summon him to court, give him a fine, and garnish his legitimate wages (or seize his assets); but do not arrest or incarcerate him. Those on the left should see this as a more humane (progressive, intelligent, et al.) way to govern. Those on the right should see this as a more economical (conservative, intelligent, et al.) solution; since incarceration of any given individual typically costs between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.

Additionally, in this case, Garner had only cheated the local shopkeepers and thereby put them at a disadvantage, because they had to charge and pay taxes. If no tax existed on the goods he sold, then the affected shopkeepers could also have sold their goods on the corner, right alongside the entrepreneurial Garner.

On the other hand, when I mentioned a solution similar to this to @StitchJonze, he brought up some great questions, like: (a) what violations would require an arrest and (b) since property crime is typically non-violent, if someone steals your car, should the police use force to affect an arrest?

If the accepted premises include that resistance equals use of force and that minimizing the use of force (by all parties involved) represents a desired outcome; then, for theft (of any amount), a possible solution might include: investigate, indict, send a summons, and try the person (in absentia, if s/he failed to appear). If found guilty, send a punishment summons (or preferably, garnish the person’s property or wages, if possible). However, the failure to appear for punishment would equal resistance, and only then might it prove necessarily to employ the use of force to resolve the given situation.

Would this or some similar plan work? I don’t know. However, I do know that putting people in positions where they feel that they have to resist, whenever they encounter the police will result in more, otherwise unnecessary violence. And don’t think for a moment that this problem won’t eventually affect every “civilian” across the country. As the different levels of government continue to geometrically increase the numbers of activities that they criminalize, people will begin to not even realize when they’ve broken the law (after all, who knew that a game warden could arrest a fisherman using the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or that home schooling parents could have their children taken from them, because of keeping a “messy” home?). When they come for any of us, for violating some obscure, arbitrary regulations, it’ll be too late.

Pete was “lucky.” The judge in his case gave him a five-year sentence, then suspended it. Eric Garner didn’t have that chance.

Originally published in ClashDaily (, 8-Dec-2014.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Challenges of Leadership in Governance

Republicans cheered, last Tuesday, as late evening election returns informed all of the watchers and listeners of the imminent transfer of leadership in the U.S. Senate. As a result of these Republican wins, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), victor in his own long and hard fought Senate contest, will likely receive the nod to serve in the position of Senate Majority Leader. Of all of the questions about McConnell’s upcoming ascendance; arguably, the most important question includes: does he have what it takes to lead where we, as a nation, need to go.

Over time, people have come to basically define “leadership” as “… going out ahead and showing the way.” Additionally, for the past several generations, many authors have suggested that a vast array of factors contribute to or otherwise represent leadership. Some of the more popular factors have included concepts such as influence, trustworthiness, and vision. Of course, vision serves as the only one of these three that people have to employ, in order to actually lead. Influence and trustworthiness really represents what politicians or sales people have to do and create, during their campaigns; since the electorate won’t follow anyone or anything to whom or to which they’ve not already bought in. This becomes obvious when, during their tenures, statesmen or other service providers periodically stop leading, while they revert back to the politician or sales role, in order to shore up lagging support for their directions and their overall visions... Read more at:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Forced Redistribution v. Charity

In a recent article in Investors Business Daily (, Betsy McCaughey discussed the fact that President Obama has sought emergency funding for Africa, in the amount of $6.2 billion, ostensibly, to combat Ebola. In the article, Dr. McCaughey said, "helping Ebola victims is the right thing to do..." and I agree with her sentiment, at least at some level. However, somehow, it seems that some people have lost sight of the fact that the U.S. government's money does not belong to the U.S. government, per se. It comes out of taxpayers' pockets. Sure, people who make several hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year, probably won't miss the few hundreds of dollars per person that it will take to complete this charity work. But, every dollar that the government takes from hard working, lower middle-class workers (too patriot-minded to take government "benefits"), represents a dollar that they could otherwise spend on their own families -- and let there be no doubt that many of those families suffer through their own personal; day-to-day struggles; struggles for which no government, at any level will allocate or distribute funds to relieve. Don't get me wrong: I have no problem with charity and those people who want to contribute, of their own volition, toward completion of the cited efforts, should certainly have that opportunity -- regardless of their financial situations. I just don't think it appropriate for the government to compel people, through threat of violence, to provide charity. For example, Bill and Melinda Gates would be well served to donate $6 billion out of their personal funds, for these efforts. They would thereby receive the praise and adulation they desire; they would demonstrate the real meaning of charity; and they would set an example of philanthropic giving for the rest of the "one percenters," from across the globe.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On Racism: 22-Oct-2014

When discussing racism, it seems patently unfair to lump all people of any particular party or persuasion (e.g., liberal, conservative, etc.) into a box, and label them as racists. Individuals from across the spectrum bring unique ideologies to the table, in the development of collective political platforms. Any of these individuals might possess racist values or values of inclusiveness -- or, even a combination of both. For example, arguably, some people continue to authentically believe that the repression experienced by blacks in previous generations has affected the country's cultural assumptions, in such ways, so as to require the continuation of affirmative action. They don't believe that individual black people can't succeed on their own merits; but rather, that an unfairly large, cultural obstacle remains in place, even after decades of affirmative action. On the other hand, opponents of affirmative action might argue that almost every subgroup in the country encounters cultural obstacles that limit their upward mobility; or that the obstacles that most hinder upward mobility rest more on socioeconomic starting points than they do on race. In the end, the questions of which group employs more racism really don't matter nearly as much as which groups' policy platforms will achieve greater levels of upward mobility, for all people; without unfairly burdening neighbors, who might already have obstacles just as pressing, in their own lives.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Protection, Tryanny and Gun Control

On gun control in the United States: in the end, whether people either accept or reject the basic conclusion that registration leads to confiscation leads to tyranny, will ultimately define their positions on gun control. However, for them to make an informed decision, it seems likely that people should consider these premises, in order to inform their conclusions.

  • People are basically good.

  • People are basically something other than good.

  • Members of government primarily have their constituents' best interests in mind, when making decisions.

  • Members of government primarily have their own best interests in mind when making decisions.

If people are good and if those in government primarily have their constituents' best interests in mind, then most non-criminal gun buyers / owners would not balk at gun control, in general. Similarly, those who advocate gun control would not really have any reason to hold that position, unless "control" serves as the operative word, since they'd have little rational fear of intentional injury or death. Additionally, if these two premises held true, many current gun owners might never have bought guns in the first place.

Likewise, if people are something other than good and if those in government primarily have their constituents' best interests in mind, then most people would likely still not balk at background checks or gun registration; since gun owners could not legitimately question the government's motives. Gun ownership would likely remain at current levels, in answer to the increased risks (even if the criminals would still not purchase their guns legitimately, anyway). Arguably, gun control advocates would also feel that they had legitimate reasons to hold their position -- since even legitimate gun owners make up a percentage of the population considered "something other than good."

On the other hand, if people are good; but if those in government primarily have their own best interests in mind, then most non-criminal gun buyers / owners would balk at background checks, gun registration, and similar measures. Their reasons would not necessarily include defense against neighbors, but rather, defense against a government that could devolve into tyranny -- on either of the local, state, or national levels. If the successful promotion of self-interests necessarily requires controlling others (thereby sacrificing some amounts of liberty); then gun control advocates must determine how the benefits of background checks, registration, and other such measures weighs against the risks associated with trusting the people within different levels of government to consistently do right by all of their constituents. Even though some who now own guns might not fear tyranny, some gun owners who fear government tyranny have already made that decision and have purchased guns, "off of the books."

Similarly, if people are something other than good and if those in government primarily have their own best interests in mind, then again, most non-criminal gun buyers / owners would balk at background checks, gun registration, and similar measures. Arguably, this represents the condition that many citizens believe presently applies within the United States. Most every day,  the press publishes stories of criminal assaults and homicides; to the point that some who otherwise advocate and argue for gun control also carry guns. Those who have weighed the risks associated with tyranny as greater than the benefits of control (generally) balk at gun control. Moreover, arguably, the United States was founded on the premises that the people could not trust their governments, because governments would control the people, if they could, and that liberty from that control is more important than life, itself.

Arguably, some people within every generation have believed that they served as the most enlightened generation that has ever walked the face of the earth. Most of the countries in which those people reside have fought and continue to fight in wars and extended, warlike instances of "police action," during each of those same generations. These countries have done this, without exception, in order to impose their wills on members of other people groups. Additionally, during the past 500 years, every century has experienced one or more wars, wherein people with political power have tried to impose their wills on the citizens within their own countries (including countries in Europe and the US Civil War). To think that history will not repeat these cycles, because this generation has "finally got it right" and has become more insightful and progressive than any of the previous generations, ostensibly represents denial, naïveté, or the lack of critical thinking. Consequently, based on these conclusions, it appears evident (a priori) that free people must take responsibility for questioning their devotion to any ideology, like gun control, that could ultimately result in their overarching loss of liberty.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Minimum Wage Day 2014

Why not raise the minimum wage to $10.10? After all, as some political pundits have said, "the federal minimum wage hasn't kept up with the cost of basic goods...," "it will allow everyone to achieve economic independence...," and "nobody who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty..." in fact, many folks on Tweeter cited more reasons, but most of those seemed tertiary to these three main premises.

Little doubt exists that, actually, the federal minimum wage has not kept up with the costs of basic goods (look online to find associated charts and graphs). However, arguably, what counts as "basic goods" and the amounts of money required to buy them, differ from person to person and family to family. Additionally, families that consist of more than one person and that have one breadwinner who earns the minimum wage, will likely qualify for and receive public assistance. What will happen to their public assistance when their wages go up? Either way, this premise appears to represent the most comprehensive amount of truth of the three listed.

I seriously question the second premise, though; that making $10.10 per hour will provide financial independence for most people -- if anyone. Sure, it would prove better than making $8 or $9 per hour (with all other things equal, e.g., public assistance, taxes, etc.). However, I have a friend who earns about $12 per hour, who lives by himself (with no governmental assistance), and who has no costly vices. He barely makes ends meet. Additionally, little doubt exists that collectively, business owners will not absorb any more of the associated increases of labor costs, than absolutely necessary. Therefore, if labor increases by about 30% and that 30% increase equals half of what would otherwise go to profits, the answer would include an increase in retail prices of about 15% -- across the board... OR a reduction in the number of hours and full-time positions for minimum-wage workers. Regarding the second possible outcome, I've personally witnessed huge companies lay people off, year after year, in order to maintain their annual, projected profit margins, as required by their shareholders. As morally reprehensible as some might consider the concept of conducting layoffs and firings to increase or maintain profits; the evidence suggests that, like it or not, this will happen.

Of course, some business owners (and others) have also addressed the issue of paying teenagers and other trainees, while they learn to work. Arguably, if they do the work that others do, I would argue that they should receive the same wages as anyone else. However, even if people could actually achieve financial independence by working for $10.10 per hour, does it really make sense to force businesses to pay the full amount of minimum hourly wage to young people who might not have the capacity to provide the full, hourly amount of work?

Finally, I couldn't agree more with the third premise. Indeed, no one who works 40 hours per week should be living in poverty. However, I'll go one step further and posit that no one who works 40 hours per week should settle for only earning the minimum wage; regardless of whether the amount of that minimum wage equals $7 per hour or $10 per hour. Substantial proof exists that, on average, people who obtain increased education reap increased financial rewards. Additionally, all levels of government in the United States provide various opportunities for people who lack education and skills to obtain that education and in many cases, those skills. Certainly, it won't prove easy to acquire these. However, having at one time lived in poverty, I can truthfully testify that, in my case, the results beat whining about the unfairness of it all.

Oh, I know, many people, including the well educated, have argued and will continue to argue that the requirements of time and effort price the acquisition of education and skills far beyond the reach of most people in poverty. Some of these people whisper words like these, back-and-forth, in private conversations: "They can't do it..." "they shouldn't have to do it..." "we, the haves, must take responsibility for the have-nots because we would act unfairly if we chose to require subsequent extra efforts of them, rather than simply ministering to their needs, for the rest of their lives." Even if many of the working poor argued in favor of a lifestyle of receiving public assistance, on ongoing bases; what many in poverty really need includes having opportunities to make friends with people who have "made it," to show them the steps whereby they can also "make it" -- and not necessarily having anything to do with any Federal programs.

Answers to some other specific comments:

@brainwashedur said: Thanks to @ScottWalker the Koch Bros. enjoy record profits while Wisconsinites lose more money working #Minimumwage jobs

My answer: what keeps any "Wisconsinites" from quitting their minimum-wage jobs and starting their own companies, just like the Koch family did at some point in their genealogical history?

Senator Ben Cardin ‏ (@SenatorCardin) asked and answered this question: "In how many states can a full time #MinimumWage worker afford a 2 bedroom at Fair Market Rent? Answer: 0.

My answer: how many 16 or 17-year-old children, living with their parents, and attending high school need to rent a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent prices?

Education Votes ‏ (@edvotes) stated: American families struggle on as Wall Street lives it up. First step to making it right: Raise the Minimum Wage.

My answer: I don't see how forcing everyone in the middle-class pay 15% to 30% more for basic consumer goods (a probable result of increasing the minimum wage by more than 30%) represents a "right" first step. If people in poverty become jealous of employees on Wall Street who "live it up," permission granted for them to go to the library, study, take the series 6 and series 7 exams, go to work for a brokerage, and work their way to Wall Street.

NWLC ‏(@nwlc) said and asked: Raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hr could boost millions of workers' earnings by $5,700. What could that buy?

My answer: quite a lot -- until prices go up to offset the increased costs of labor.

Kirsten Gillibrand ‏(@SenGillibrand) said: 2/3 low wage workers are women. With $10.10, we can pass fair Minimum Wage & help millions of Women Succeed.

My answer: since when have we, as Americans, ever accepted accomplishing the bare minimum as an adequate measure of success? Certainly, I want men and women who work for hourly wages and who perform equal tasks, to receive equal pay. However, rather than focusing any of our efforts on raising the minimum wage to $10.10, for these women, why don't we focus on training them to do jobs with minimum wages at the $20.20 or $30.30 threshold. After all, ours does not represent a zero sum economy.

Please feel free yo comment...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Serve and Protect: The Militarization of Police Forces in the U.S.

The re-imaged version of Battlestar Galactica serves as one my favorite TV shows of all time. I appreciate the show for many of the same reasons that many others have stated -- the depth of character and relationship development; the exploration of various responses to complex interests and ideologies; and the ethical dilemmas raised, regarding the responsibilities of people serving in competing roles in civil society. However, this last reason probably intrigues me the most. An exchange between Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) and President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) provides a classic example of this. In this scene (Moore & Grabiak, 2005), President Roslin suggested that since the admiral had people under his command who possessed weapons and the knowledge to use them that the military should police the fleet, during their collective journey, across space, in search of a new planetary home. Adama's reply included: "there's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state; the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people."

Of course, two of the basic societal questions that underlie this answer, include: how much freedom do people have to sacrifice for safety and will the sacrifice of freedom actually result in the establishment of more or less safety. For example, people in the United States have seen an increase in the militarization of police forces, across the country, especially since the 9/11 attacks (Horne, 2014; Shackford, 2014). Arguably, people have allowed or even invited this to happen, as a hopeful response, to increase the overall safety within the country. However, journalists have reported, with increasing regularity, about SWAT teams, armed with automatic weapons and dressed in full body armor, who have entered homes, with "no knock" warrants, for transgressions of lesser and lesser magnitude. Certainly, in situations where enemies of the state hide among the citizens of the state, the role of the military becomes clouded; since we need the military (and maybe members of the federal law enforcement establishment) to defend the state from those domestically located enemies. However, if we continue to militarize the police and, as a result, they increasingly view everyday citizens as potential enemies; who will stand with these everyday citizens and serve to protect them, their freedom, and their interests?


Horne, M. (2014, August 14).  USA Today tries to blame Ferguson riots on police militarization. Political Outcast. Retrieved from

Moore, R. D. (Writer), & Grabiak, M. (Director). (2005). Water [Television series episode]. On R. D. Moore and D. Eick (Executive producers), Battlestar Galactica. Universal City, CA: Universal Television.

Shackford, S. (2014, August 14). Obama speaks on Ferguson events; has nothing to say about police militarization. Reason. Retrieved from


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24

In her recent post, Rovaida Kazmion (a connection of mine in LinkedIn) quoted Jim Rohn as having said: "the challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly."

It's great to have leaders who display attributes like strength, kindness, boldness, thoughtfulness, and humility, while holding in check attributes like rudeness, weakness, and bullying. I know that, with all other things equal, I would much prefer to follow "nice leaders" than I would "mean leaders." However, regardless of my preferences, it seems that over the past 50 years, many (dare I say, most) writings on leadership have emphasized the desired attributes, similar to those listed; to the point where some people have actually accepted these types of desired attributes as necessary to include in their collective definition of leadership. One of the problems with this includes that most of the people I've interviewed have suggested that as much as they would like to have leaders who display these desired attributes, if forced to make a choice, they would rather have mean leaders who effectively lead them to their desired destinations, than they would nice leaders who might lead them astray. Additionally, another potential problem emerges, in that, based on differences in experience and values, what some people perceive as displays of desired attributes, other people might perceive as displays of undesired attributes. For example, what might seem like strength or boldness to some people, might appear like bullying or arrogance (respectively) to others.

Furthermore, I propose that these desired attributes actually represent the challenges of humanity, rather than merely the challenges of leadership. Even if we could collectively agree on what behaviors represent desired and undesired attributes, in every context; most people desire for everyone with whom they interact to display strength, kindness, humility, thoughtfulness, and similar behaviors, rather than rudeness, weakness, bullying, etc. And I would further suggest that people don't desire these from their leaders any more than they desire them from their followers or their peers, regardless of rank or station. Bottom line: evaluating leaders based on the standards that we expect of all people might indicate how those leaders measure up as human beings, but it won't necessarily indicate how they measure up as leaders.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5

Just because some people describe particular behaviors as good behaviors for leaders to display, doesn't necessarily make those behaviors "good leadership behaviors," any more than breathing, eating, or sleeping count as good leadership behaviors. Typically, those who desire for leaders to display whatever they consider as good behaviors, also desire for followers and everyone else in their given organizations to display them, as well. Arguably, defining good leadership in terms of what people desire of all organizational members, will ultimately result in considering that all members in every organization engage in leadership, every time they apply these behaviors. Maybe... but if all desired behaviors for everyone also represents leadership (with relatively unlimited, desired constructs), then leadership becomes completely contextual and relatively unmeasurable.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2

In their seminal work on social power, French and Raven (1959) suggested the existence of five types or bases of power in social relationships. These five bases include reward, coercive, legitimate, referent, and expert. As the term suggests, reward power relates to a person's capacity to provide rewards. Coercive power relates to a person's capacity to provide punishment. Legitimate power relates to a person's capacity to provide direction, based on positional authority. Referent power relates to a an alignment of values and a person's subsequent capacity to influence people or situations on someone's behalf. Expert power relates to a person's capacity to successfully accomplish tasks or achieve outcomes.

Arguably, social power affects every outcome in every social exchange, within organizations (Terry, 1993; West, 2008). For example, when supervisors task subordinates with accomplishing procedures, they might do so upon the explicit basis of their legitimate power and possibly upon the implicit bases of their reward and coercive power.

In a recent study, several of my colleagues and I investigated the moderating effects of the perceived bases of social power upon the relationships between servant leadership and the outcomes of affective organizational commitment and supervisor related commitment (West, Boisselle, Gerhart, Hartsfield & Winner, 2015). Specifically, we examined whether the uses of high or low amounts of each of the bases of power, best facilitated the relationships between those factors. What we found, included that subordinates who display higher levels of affective organizational commitment, perceive that supervisors who best employ servant leadership, do so by applying relatively high levels of referent power and relatively low levels of all of the other bases of power. We also found that subordinates who display higher levels of supervisor related commitment, perceive that supervisors who best employ servant leadership, do so by applying relatively high levels of reward, coercive, and legitimate power and relatively low levels of referent and expert power.

What this means, includes that supervisors who employ servant leadership and who desire to develop higher levels of affective organizational commitment among their subordinates should primarily try to develop a sense of "oneness" with those subordinates. Even though it probably wouldn't hurt, this doesn't necessarily mean that supervisors need to become "bosom buddies" with their subordinates. Rather, supervisors should primarily work to achieve congruence (alignment) of organizational values and vision with their subordinates. Conversely, supervisors who employ servant leadership and who desire to develop higher levels of commitment to themselves, from their subordinates, should primarily set clear and fair standards for rewards and punishments and they should clearly establish and display their positional authority, as their authority applies to and within their given organizations.

French Jr., J. J. P., & Raven, B. H. (1959). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright (Ed.), Studies in Social Power (pp. 150-167). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.

Terry, R. W. (1993). Authentic leadership: Courage in action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

West, G. R. B. (2008). An alternative method to investigate organizational effectiveness: An adaptation and expansion of Robert Terry's model. Emerging Leadership Journeys, 1(1), 62-75. Retrieved from

West, G. R. B., Boisselle, D., Gerhart, E., Hartsfield, M. K., & Winner, W. D. (2015). Servant leadership, commitment, and the bases of social power. Manuscript in preparation.

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30

It ranks as critically important for leaders to embrace and adopt the values and behaviors, idealized and promoted by organizations, as representing their desired cultures and worldviews. However, I suggest that organizations that limit their leadership development efforts to instructing current and potential leaders that leadership values and behaviors merely represent those values and behaviors that organizations really desire from all members that they will thereby, necessarily limit the intentional development of "real" leadership skills. Additionally, while some people seem to possess gifts for providing directions; others seem to have a need to learn the associated skills, throughout their organizations. In any case, here's my list of what leaders have to do differently from everyone else in organizations. Of course, by leader and leadership, I refer to people in any organizations who take up the mantle of going out ahead and showing self or others the way (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 117) and to what they do in that role, respectively. I say this because I believe that the appropriate use of leadership skills does not depend on positions or ranks, but rather, on roles (either formal or informal). Given that, and with all other things equal, it appears that leaders must possess the abilities to:

1. Identify and prioritize desired outcomes
Leadership should only ever enter the picture, when members of organizations do not know where to go or how to get there. If members know where to go and how to get there, they may need accountability partners (otherwise managers) to keep them on the "straights and narrows," but they don't need leadership. Therefore, the uses of leadership only come into play when management (or some other, similar sets of skills) won't work. Why? Because most organizations have identified and publicized their desired destinations and outcomes with most all of their members; and they have validated and standardized most of the processes and procedures needed to reach those desired outcomes and destinations -- especially at the operative and coordinative levels (Kast and Rosenzweig, 1979).

2. Direct the activities and behaviors of self and others
Showing people the way requires providing them with directions. Even though some people have seemed to only correlate the concept of "providing directions" with taking authoritative command and control; objectively, in most cases, individuals have to take personal responsibility for the paths that their organizations will follow. Additionally, in most cases, most organizations hold the designated leaders accountable for the associated outcomes, regardless of whether those leaders use authoritative, coercive, democratic, or participative methods of decision-making to determine those paths. For example, when lost drivers stop to ask local people to show (otherwise lead) them to their desired destinations, they ask those locals for directions. No shame exists in not knowing the ways to go or in not knowing the destinations. Neither should shame exists in providing directions. Shame might only ought to exist, if and when leaders abused their authority, to determine or provide provide the required directions.

3. Chart courses without maps
People should use the leadership skill set, when they or their would be followers, for whatever reasons, can't follow validated, standardized procedures, in timely matters. Specifically, leadership serves as the "go to" skill set when: (a) no validated, standardized processes and procedures exist that would allow people to reach their desired destinations or outcomes; (b) someone needs to make a choice, as to which validated, standardized processes and procedures to employ; and (c) the existing processes and procedures no longer result in the efficiency or effectiveness desired by the relevant stakeholders -- and not knowing the destinations fits into this last category. Arguably, all other situations most appropriately call for the uses of skill sets other than leadership. Additionally, would be followers who know what to do and how to do it can wind up resenting would-be leaders who propose new destinations or new directions for getting there, without sharing good reasons for adopting either.

4. Discern the existence of opportunities, challenges, and pitfalls
From time to time, especially in situations where traveling through relatively unknown territory, "bumps in the road" will emerge. These might include budget overruns, "scope creep," or any of a myriad of other political, structural, or resource-based occurrences; any of which could prove beneficial or detrimental to the organization, in the short or long runs. Leaders who can't or won't look for and identify relevant concerns, necessarily insert greater elements of risk into reaching desired outcomes and destinations.

5. Create innovative solutions
This most aptly represents the course adjustments that leaders need to make, in response to emerging opportunities, challenges, and pit falls that teams typically encounter along the ways to their ultimate destinations. This step addresses those bumps in the road, discussed in the previous step. After all, discerning that needs exist, for which no standard processes exist, necessitates the use of leadership, by definition.

6. Take responsibility and accountability for processes employed and outcomes achieved
This is where the "hows" of leadership really enter into the picture. Look at the 90+ attributes of leadership that Winston and Patterson (2006) identified as characteristics that they and other authors have suggested that leaders should value and employ. In their list, they included values like trustworthiness, care for followers, concern for outcomes, and just about any other values and related behaviors that most people have desired for everyone (not just leaders) to embrace in their given organizations. However, regardless of whether or not other members take responsibility or put themselves in situations whereby others may hold them accountable for how organizations do business, both internally and externally, embracing and displaying the desired attributes of their organizational cultures represents the "bottom line" for those who would lead.

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

Kast, F. E., & Rosenzweig, J. E. (1979). Organizations and management: A systems and contingency approach (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22

Greenleaf (1977) implied that it would prove easier for people to display the behaviors associated with servant leadership if they already embrace the values associated with servant hood: if they have already developed an ideology, personal philosophy, and worldview that includes serving as the foundational basis. On corporate levels, I posit that this means that organizations can more easily adopt servant leadership (or, for that matter, any style of leadership that differs significantly from the one they currently employ) as the norm, similarly, if they already embrace the associated values as cultural norms.

Many organizations have seemed to have approached leader development as they have skills development for operations and maintenance. They have provided technical training that lasted days, or weeks, or in some cases, even months. In this training, they have identified the desired leadership values and they have had potential and existing leaders work through case studies, role-plays, and other exercises to show would-be leaders how they should ideally prefer to go before others, within their organizations, to show them the desired destinations and how best to reach those. Some organizations have experienced success with this, most likely because they have actually and sincerely desired the associated transformations to occur; and they already had similar types of cultures in place. (As an aside, people who take organizations at their words, when those organizations promote transformational changes, and later find that their organizations displayed a façade -- and they never really and substantially intended to make the leap, will likely feel all of the values and display all of the behaviors typically associated with similar types of betrayals of trust.) However, I also posit that technical training, alone, will not result in the desired effects, for most people, if the existing gaps between the existing cultures in the desired cultures prove too great.

Technical training has proven sufficient, and will likely continue to do so, in situations where the personal values, philosophies, and worldviews of the individuals in the training align with the values that represent the desired cultural norms of their organizations. However, if those values differ, then any significant transformation will require more than technical training or educational courses. Specifically, Massey (1979) suggested people develop most of their basic values, by the age of seven years; and it requires those people to experience significant promotional events, in order to to reshape their values. On an corporate level, Schein (1984) suggested that organizations establish collective values in answering opportunities and challenges associated with processes of internal integration and external adaptation. In other words, the members of the organizations collectively suggest, validate, and learn solutions. They then adopt those solutions and then embrace and embed the supporting values. Once they have embedded those values, they will continue to embrace them, even after the original opportunities and challenges no longer exist. Additionally, when implementing new solutions, they will tend to revert to the old values, even if they no longer apply. Therefore, when organizations desire to make changes, not only do members have to collectively appreciate the improvement offered by the required technical changes, they also have to undergo a cultural shift that requires displacing old values that they have previously proven and accepted as the correct ways to thank, feel, and behave; but they also have to replace those by embracing new values.

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

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.

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16

While many people regularly use the term leader to represent those in positions of hierarchical authority; the term leadership more aptly represents a skill set that people most appropriately use, when no standardized procedures exist that would otherwise show the ways to desired destinations. People who know where to go and how to get there might need accountability partners (otherwise managers), to keep them on the "straight and narrow;" however, arguably, they don't need leaders. Additionally, those who employ leadership, serve as entities that go out ahead and show the way -- nothing more and nothing less. Certainly, they should do what some scholars have suggested; to take care of their teams. Quite frankly, however, I expect everyone in organizations to take on the role of getting themselves and others "to do what's best for their team." That should represent a cultural norm that ought to transcend any positions or roles. Finally, people can talk all they want about how influencing serves as a construct of leadership. Yet, in most contexts, it seems abundantly evident (a priori) that most people won't follow unless the influencing has taken place -- before the leading begins. Therefore, I posit that it serves as an antecedent rather than a construct of leadership.

When people equate leadership with position, their definitions of leadership often read like leading serves as all that "leaders" do during any given day. I would argue that anybody, in any given role, in any organization would likely use a combination of skill sets that include management, leadership, selling, marketing, and a myriad of others, even when addressing a singular problem or project. For example, a designated manager might help everyone on a team to achieve maximum effectiveness, but everyone else might take turns leading, based on their various levels of functional expertise and the contextual needs of the given project. At other times, they may serve as promoters, administrators, or in some other roles necessary to achieve the desired outcomes (otherwise destinations).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 14

Since several people have recently looked,  here's a revisit to my post from November 23, 2012:

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 that maintains that private initiative and production work best, when people allow them 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 (otherwise mentioned as management) style ranks lowest among the different styles that the associated researchers investigated, as they relate 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 two disciplines of economics and leadership. Where the economics experts have apparently concluded that when left unregulated, people will do those things required to achieve outcomes correlated to their perceived best interests; leadership experts have apparently concluded 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: (a) leaders have not adequately and appropriately developed shared visions, compelling self-interests, and entitlements with and for their subordinates, in order to establish subsequent buy-in and associated levels of organizational citizenship and affective commitment; (b) stakeholders have confused the concept of leadership by hierarchical position with the concept of leadership by functional behaviors. They have thereby mistaken the overall purposes and uses of leadership with those of other competencies, typically emplyed by organizational members in hierarchical positions of authority. Arguably, actual "leaders" need only to appropriately employ leadership competencies, when:

  • No standard procedures exist

  • Selecting standard procedures to use

  • Existing standard procedures no longer result in the desired levels of efficiency and effectiveness that relevant stakeholders require.

During all other situations, those who employ positions of hierarchical authority should appropriately employ other competency sets (diplomacy, influence, management, sales, etc.); and (c) for all of the praise in the literature, heaped upon McGregor’s (1960) Theory Y and the subsequent contempt shown for the associated Theory X; the underlying perceptions (cultural assumptions?) of the cited leadership scholars, includes that, for the most part and at the most basic levels, subordinates prefer to embrace attitudes and employ behaviors associated with Theory X, rather than those associated with Theory Y.

Based on my experiences as a subordinate, I have 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. Therefore, I suggest that a gap exists in the current leadership literature, represented by 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 their supervisors' effectiveness higher than 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 supervisors' effectiveness higher than 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.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25

"All things equal, I’d rather follow a kind person than a jerk. However, I’d rather follow a jerk who knows where to go and how to get there than a kind person who would lead me astray."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 9

On his website, George Ambler (2014) defined leadership as “... a process of influence that generates the commitment and capabilities required to translate vision into reality.”. I just don't know, however, if his definition will serve to clarify or confound the issue. Little doubt exists that leadership deals with change, social processes, and results and that it exists as distributed, personal, and developmental in human nature; at least, as Ambler described them in his post. However, Greenleaf (1977) cited a dictionary definition of leadership as something like: going out ahead and showing the way. If that holds true, then (notwithstanding the stated opinion of John Maxwell, in a personal discussion, in 2007) influence and the resulting commitment serve as antecedents to, rather than factors of "leadership." For example, before I engage in the actual act of following, someone will have had to sell (influence) me to the point where I buy in (commit), either to a person, a vision, or a process. Additionally, with all other things equal, that influence and subsequent commitment might or might not result from the efforts of the same persons. In many daily instances, the people who influence me to commit, differ from the people who actually go before me to show the way -- even on the same projects. I suggest that Ambler's definition actually identified a combination of the labels of different skill sets (concepts) and that the combined constructs generally represent skills necessary for people to succeed in life. Based on that conclusion, I further suggest that the skill set that supports "influencing others" differs from the skill set used to go before and show the way. I recommend that people who really desire to isolate the skills unique to leadership (and not life, in general), take a more discrete approach.

Ambler, G. (2014, May 9) . 6 factors that define leadership. Retrieved from

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

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5

A Report on Servant Leadership in The United Methodist Church

By, G. R. Bud West and Jessica Dearth

Copyright © 2014 by the authors. All rights reserved.

During the recent past, some United Methodists have taken issue with the established and longstanding doctrines and the guiding principles, processes, and procedures prescribed by traditions and hierarchy. While some members have found the center of denominational polity as appropriate; others have found it too progressive, and still others have found it too liberal. However, regardless of the sides of the current controversies with which members have aligned, the need for United Methodists to employ Christ-centered leadership has arguably never proven greater.

The Book of Discipline and other guiding instructions of The United Methodist Church have prescribed the use of servant leadership, as the preferred leadership style for leaders at every level, throughout the denomination. Well-known people in other denominations have likewise, both formally and informally confirmed the importance of adopting servant leadership as the go to style for their members. For example, when addressing the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute, in 2011, Pope Benedict emphasized the importance of servant leadership. The institute reported him as having said: "that from Jesus' perspective, authority means humble service — and that’s a message that continues to be valid in the church today — 'especially for those who have the task of guiding the people of God.'"[1] Similarly, in the working paper "Theological Education for the Anglican Communion"[2] written in 2003 and forwarded by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Cantuar, the authors suggested that the use of servant leadership answers a biblical call to lay ministers, ministers. and bishops alike. In 2011, the now president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention, Frank Page, wrote an article in SBCLife[3] that discussed the fundamental importance for Christian leaders to adopt the Christ-like character of servant-hood; and the celebrated Southern Baptist pastor, Rick Warren, has similarly implied and specifically described the important value associated with implementing servant leadership.[4] And the list goes on, with high ranking executives from just about all of the main stream denominations, ranging from Evangelicals to Pentecostals to Orthodox, who have embraced servant leadership and the values that support it

Of course, people who oppose the concept of servant leadership have also spoken out.  For example, Andrey Shirin, the director of transformational leadership and an assistant professor of divinity at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies wrote a contrary opinion of servant leadership.[5] In her writing, Shinn stated her doubts about the relationship of servant leadership to biblical scriptures and she suggested that the constructs that support servant leadership have not and cannot alone, effectively answer the complex challenges found in organizations today. Similarly, in her 2001 article on her assessment of servant leadership at an institution of higher education, Adrianna Kezar suggested that the administrators' application of servant leadership perpetuated a participative leadership style that resulted in feelings of coercion on the parts of some faculty members. She also found that this coercion led to further problems associated with organizational fit; primarily based on a lack of awareness of power, apparently on the parts of everyone involved.[6] However, regardless of these and other, similar arguments; no one has yet proven, by any valid measures that the factors supporting servant leadership represent non-biblical principles or that servant leadership will not provide leaders with better and more equitable ways to lead people, than any of the other popular leadership styles currently in use.

What is Servant Leadership?

In our research, one of the biggest challenges that we faced included trying to determine what the term servant leadership actually means to United Methodists. We found several instructions that required members to utilize servant leadership and that also provided ideas of the generally beneficial results that people should expect by using it. However we could find no source references that included any comprehensive definitions, descriptions, or explanations of servant leadership in any of the authoritative or administrative documents that span The United Methodist Church. It seems likely that this lack of clear guidance has led to some confusion about desired and expected leader behaviors and outcomes. After all, through the ages, it has usually proven difficult for leaders or anyone else to navigate well in uncharted territory. On the other hand, most of the factors that authors have included in their servant leadership components lists include those that most Christians, through the ages, have seemed to promote -- either explicitly or implicitly. Representative examples include factors listed in the works of Larry Spears, Kathleen Patterson, and Don Page and Paul Wong. Specifically, Spears said that servant leadership consists of: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community.[7] Patterson suggested that servant leadership consists of: agapao love, humility, altruism, vision, trust, empowerment, and service.[8] According to Don Page and Paul Wong, the 12 factors that represent servant leadership, include: integrity, humility, servant-hood, caring for others, empowering others, developing others, visioning, goal-setting, leading, modeling, team-building, and shared decision-making [9]

Other authors have reduced and otherwise manipulated these factors and other, similar factors (e.g., Dirk Dierendonck and Inge Nuijten;[10] and Sen Sedjaya, James Sarros, and Joseph Santora;[11] among others); while still other authors have added words or phrases to provide clarity, where they thought some confusion might have otherwise existed. Two such authors have included the team of John Barbuto and Daniel Wheeler. Barbuto and Wheeler expanded Spears' ten factors by adding the term calling to the list. They then reduced their investigative tool to five categories, including: altruistic calling, emotional healing, wisdom, persuasive mapping, and organizational stewardship.[12] Additionally, their instrument serves as the only validated survey tool that researchers can use, regarding servant leadership, that allows for the measurement of both the self-perceptions of leaders and the perceptions of followers about  their leaders.

The Study

In 2014 we finished conducting a servant leadership study in The United Methodist Church. This study included over 300 congregation members and over 300 pastors, all volunteers, from across more than 40 of the United States. Using Barbuto and Wheeler's servant leadership instrument, we asked pastors to rate themselves and we asked congregation members to rate their pastors and themselves. Women represented the congregation members with about a 3 to 1 ratio and men represented the pastors with about a 2 to 1 ratio; and the participants in both groups reported having an average age of 55+ years.

Generally, both pastors and congregation members rated the pastors at or below (median) average in four of the five categories measured; with both groups only rating organizational stewardship as higher than average. Similarly, congregation members rated themselves below average in the same four categories as the pastors. These results seem to represent a cause for concern. For over five years, United Methodists have agreed in their doctrinal statements and in committee meetings that resulted in the development of those statements that pastors and all others who aspire to lead should employ servant leadership. The concept of servant leadership and its supporting characteristics have received relatively wide publication, in both religious and secular professional journals and in the popular press, for well over ten years (even though some people might likely argue that in any case, servant leadership really represents nothing more than the typical leadership behaviors that Christians have expected of each other, throughout the ages). Additionally, the participants performed their ratings by responding to items that plainly asked about specific behaviors that directly support servant leadership -- and not about the five categories, per se. Therefore, based on these premises, it appears that within The United Methodist Church, a gap exists between the current state and the desired state of servant leadership. It further appears that this gap probably represents one of the fundamental leadership concerns that reaches across The United Methodist Church; at least in the United States.

This gap in leadership could stem from a lack of definition, a lack of appropriate training, a lack of prioritization, a lack of accountability, or a combination of all of these. Holding people accountable for successfully implementing servant leadership only works (equitably) if those people first receive the appropriate authority to make that happen. In this case, the authority presents in the form of expected leadership behaviors. Without knowing and understanding those expectations, people will not generally have what they need, to establish priorities or to otherwise take the appropriate levels of responsibility, to successfully accomplish the desired goal. Additionally, for many people, becoming a servant leader requires a lifestyle change, because, arguably, servant leadership requires "right reasons" and not just "right actions." Lifestyle changes generally require changes in values and in deep seated, cultural assumptions.[13]  Therefore, relatively quick changes usually only result from intense training. For example, the different branches of the military use "boot camps" and officer candidate schools to "kick start" the associated, required lifestyle changes. Some religious orders use seminaries in much the same way, to accomplish changes in their students toward divinity. However, some Christians have apparently developed a belief that good leadership should somehow come naturally, through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. At the most, they seem to feel that learning leadership should not require any more effort than having prospective leaders pray and read the latest books by John Maxwell or Ken Blanchard. Certainly, any individual can successfully lead in particular, short term efforts, without necessarily having to first experience intense training. However, Jesus modeled His servant leadership 24/7 for three years for the disciples. In doing so, He shared with them what to do, but He also showed them how to do it. This enabled them to lead effectively, in broad ranges of situations, for the remainders of their lives. Can United Methodists really expect to achieve similar results through applying less effort? Finally, it will likely prove impossible to train leaders and potential leaders to embrace and implement a common and unified understanding of servant leadership across The United Methodist Church, unless and until United Methodists define, describe, and explain an accepted meaning of the concept: servant leadership.

Jessica Dearth serves as an independent researcher, consultant, and speaker, primarily on the topic of servant leadership. As a Methodist parishioner, she has also served in various lay leadership roles for several years. Ms. Dearth holds a Bachelor degree, summa cum laude, in Organizational Leadership, from Regent University and she currently resides with her handsome husband and beautiful children in New Mexico.


[1] Retrieved at:

[2] Retrieved at:

[3] Retrieved at:

[4] Retrieved at:; and Retrieved at:

[5] Retrieved at:

[6] Kezar, Adrianna. "Investigating Organizational Fit in a Participatory Leadership Environment." Journal of Higher Education Policy & Management 23, no. 1 (May 2001): 85-101.

[7] Spears, Larry. "Tracing the Growing Impact of Servant Leadership, in Insights on Servant Leadership: Service, Stewardship, Spirit, and Servant-Leadership, ed. Larry Spears (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998), 1-12.

[8] Kathleen Patterson, "Servant Leadership: A Theoretical Model" (PhD diss., Regent University, 2003).

[9] Retrieved at:

[10] Dierendonck, Dirk, and Inge Nuijten. "The Servant Leadership Survey: Development and Validation of a Multidimensional Measure." Journal of Business & Psychology 26, no. 3 (2011): 249-267.

[11] Sendjaya, Sen, James C. Sarros, and Joseph C. Santora. "Defining and Measuring Servant Leadership Behaviour in Organizations." Journal of Management Studies 45, no. 2 (2008): 402-424.

[12] Barbuto, John E., ,Jr and Daniel W. Wheeler. "Scale Development and Construct Clarification of Servant Leadership." Group & Organization Management 31, no. 3 (06, 2006): 300-26,

[13] For more information on this, see: Schein, Edgar H. "Coming to a New Awareness of Organizational Culture." Sloan Management Review 25, no. 2 (1984): 3-16.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April 25

Some theorists and other scholars have suggested that leadership exists only as acontextual and non-standardizable phenomenon, due primarily to the contextual nature of the opportunities to employ leadership that have historically emerged. Some members of this same group have also supported the logical conclusion from that premise that because of its contextual nature, no one can adequately define, describe, or explain leadership as a singular concept. Conversely, I posit that leadership more likely exists as a universal, process-type concept that consists of one general set of constructs and that requires its users to possess adequate levels of content knowledge, in order for them to achieve successful outcomes. If this proves true, the potential implications associated with this position include that people who have once learned the actual leadership process should only have to master the job-task contents related to the new assignments, as well as the cultural norms content of the associated organizations, in order to achieve successes. Similarly, those who have served in acknowledged leadership roles and who have succeeded in their initial organizations, failed in subsequent organizations, did not fail because the constructs that constitute leadership differed between the organizations. Rather, they failed because but they did not possess adequate: (a) conceptual understandings of the jobs and (b) cultural understandings of the "new" organizations, broad enough to allow them to succeed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 18

Successful supervisors and executives both manage and lead. They manage when their teams have valid, standardized procedures (that work) and they lead in the absence of those procedures, when choosing the right procedures to use, and when their current procedures no longer work. If you want to motivate and inspire me, please do so as a human being -- regardless of the work relationship we share. As a follower, I neither require nor desire those types of paternalistic influences. If the destination doesn't inherently motivate and inspire me enough to do what needs doing, then no one who "goes before and shows the way" will likely change my mind.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26

Why should anyone care about potential differences between management and leadership? It has appeared to me that both leadership and management represent the knowledge and skills necessary to direct behaviors, in order to successfully achieve desired outcomes; where management appropriately applies to situations in which the directors use validated, standardized procedures and leadership appropriately applies to situations in which the directors possess no validated, standardized procedures to follow. However, my understanding in this regard does not primarily result from established theory. Rather, it comes from having served at the operative level in organizations, for most of my adult life. I have observed two specific things that seem to support the existence of differences between leadership and management. In the first place, I have witnessed people in charge who often tried to reinvent the wheel, even when the associated subordinates knew where to go and how to get there (they led when they should have managed): mainly, so that they (the directors) could raise their levels of exposure and their subsequent value to their higher-ups. I have also witnessed people in charge who followed rules and procedures blindly, using the excuses: "we've always done it that way," or "we've never done it like that before," even though the associated subordinates had no clear idea of the destinations or processes to achieve the given, unique outcomes or when it appeared obvious to the most casual observers that the given processes would not result in the desired levels of efficiency or effectiveness of the targeted outcomes (they managed when they should have led), primarily in order to mitigate their (the directors') liabilities, if and when things went wrong. If differences truly exist between leadership and management and if we can identify them, then people can: (a) better understand the unique skills associated with the constructs that support each concept, (b) make better decisions regarding when to apply those skills, and (c) thereby, potentially take efficiency and effectiveness to new heights.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 18

I have heard and read a lot, these days, about "bad" leadership. The people doing the writing or talking have usually either commented on the moral failures or the tyrannical behaviors of people known to them, who have held positions of authority, within organizations or societies. However, I contend that neither of these necessarily equate to or even contribute to bad leadership. If leadership means something like: to go before and show the way (Greenleaf, 1977); and it substantially consists of the application of values and skills necessary to accomplish those ends; then moral failures associated with anything other than location (ahead of followers) and destination (showing the way) might indicate that those leaders lack what it takes to live as "good" people, but not necessarily that they lack what it takes to serve as good leaders. Similarly, tyrants and dictators might lord over people to provide direction. However, providing direction only serves as a part of the definition of leadership. For example, managers too, provide direction. Yet, for several decades, scholars have worked hard to show clear differences between leadership and management (Yukl, 2001). Just as the skill sets differ between those that support management and those that support leadership; so do the skill sets and values differ between those that support lordship and those that support leadership. Therefore, referring to those who employ tyranny as "bad leaders," presents similarly to biting into a rotten apple and referring to it as a bad orange. Leadership has a unique skill and value set or maybe several sets, depending on contexts; but neither moral failure nor tyrannical behavior necessarily indicate that given people have (or have not) served as good leaders.

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

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January 9

To see the illustration to which I refer, below, please check this link; originally posted by Gunjan Bolton (@gwelkar) on LinkedIn:


If leadership represents something like "going out ahead to show the way," then I would argue that even constructs like placing blame, using people, and commanding might have places in leading effectively. Specifically, if I follow a leader, I expect to receive what I need from that leader to reach the given destination. Even though I might not have felt as "secure" or as "well-liked," when leaders used them; sometimes, the behaviors in the left column have worked "best" to get me going (as a follower) or to motivate the best good from the teams on which I've served. I would also argue that what followers perceive, as leaders' intentions, will have greater affects on followers responses than will the use of specific behaviors from either column.