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Articles on Leadership

  1. Jonathan Gosling & Henry Mintzberg, The Five Minds of a Manager, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/11 p54, 10p, 3c (2003)
  2. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Leadership and the Psychology of Turnarounds, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/6 p58, 10p, 5c (2003)
  3. David C McClelland & David H Burnham, Power Is the Great Motivator, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/1, p117, 10p, 3 graphs, 5 cartoons (2003)
  4. Douglas R. May, Adrian Y. L. Chan, Timothy D. Hodges & Bruce J. Avolio, Developing the Moral Component of Authentic Leadership, Organizational Dynamics Vol 32/3, p 247-260 (2003)
  5. Warren G. Bennis & Robert J. Thomas, Crucibles Of Leadership, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 80/9 p39, 7p, 2c (2002)
  6. Sandford Borins, Leadership and innovation in the public sector, Leadership & Organization Development Journal Vol 23/8, p 467-476 (2002)
  7. Melvin Sorcher & James Brant, Are You Picking The Right Leaders? Harvard Business Review, Vol. 80/2 p 78 8p (2002)
  8. Jim Collins, Level 5 Leadership, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79/1, p p66, 11p, 1c (2001)
  9. Barbara Kellerman, Leadership Warts and All, Harvard Business Review, Jan2004, Vol. 82/1, p40, 6p
  10. Marcus W. Dickson, Deanne N. Den Hartog and Jacqueline K. Mitchelson, “Research on leadership in a cross-cultural context: Making progress, and raising new questions”, The Leadership Quarterly Vol.14/6, pp 729-768 (2003).
  11. Kathleen M Sutcliffe & Klaus Weber, The High Cost of Accurate Knowledge, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/5, p74, 9p (2003)
  12. Potsdam, Near Berlin (More)
  13. Leadership and gender
  14. Margaret Wheatley, Goodbye, Command and Control (Leader to Leader: No. 5 (Chapter 16) Summer 1997)
  15. Robert Knowling, Why Vision Matters (Leader to Leader (18), 2000)
  16. “How New Leaders Learn to take Charge”
  17. “What we have learned about developing transformational leaders”
  18. Leadership and strategy in the new electronic age
  19. “Assessing and Attacking Workplace Incivility”
  20. Leadership in local government
  21. Small groups and involved leadership is better
  22. “Developing Leaders: How winning companies keep on winning”
  23. Leadership in the Academy
  24. More active learners are more frequently involved in leadership

“The effectiveness of the true leader should be assessed, not in terms of the leadership they exercise, but in terms of the leadership they evoke “¦ in terms of growth in competence, sense of responsibility, and in personal satisfactions among many participants. Under this kind of leadership it may not always be clear at any given moment just who is leading. Nor is this important. What is important is that others are learning to lead well.”

Bob Galvin 1996

Jonathan Gosling & Henry Mintzberg, The Five Minds of a Manager, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/11 p54, 10p, 3c (2003)

Gosling and Mintzberg commence their article, “The world of the manager is complicated and confusing. Making sense of it requires not a knack for simplification but the ability to synthesize insights from different mind-sets into a comprehensive whole”. In their view the practice of managing, then, involves five perspectives

If you are a manager, this is your world!

They say, “we use the word in the spirit of a fortune one of us happened to pull out of a Chinese cookie recently: “Get your mind set. Confidence will lead you on.”

Besalu, Catalunya (More)

This doesn’t seem very consequential, does it? Or immediately understandable. In fact the article is full of wisdom and excellent quotes, as one would expect from a paper involving Henry Mintzberg. Gosling and Mintzberg run a leadership course which moves over several continents depending on the mindset to be explored. Here are some extracts:

* Managing means understanding .. In his book Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky makes the interesting point that events, or “happenings,” become experience only after they have been reflected upon thoughtfully: “Most people do not accumulate a body of experience. Most people go through life undergoing a series of happenings, which pass through their systems undigested. Happenings become experiences when they are digested, when they are reflected on, related to general patterns, and synthesized.” Unless the meaning is understood, managing is mindless.

* Sustain complexity, maintain capacity to act. Who is to say with any certainty what is the right thing to do, or even what is the best thing under the circumstances? Deep analysis does not seek to simplify complex decisions, but to sustain the complexity while maintaining the organization’s capacity to take action. That was the great power of Winston Churchill’s rhetoric during World War II. His simple expressions captured the complexity that was Great Britain and the war in which it was engaged. The trick in the analytic mind-set is to appreciate scores and crowds while watching the ball.

* The real action is at the margin. What Ray Raphael has written about “Edges” in his book by that title, is germane to every manager:

“Many of the most interesting things, say the biologists, happen on the Edges – on the interface between the woods and the field, the land and the sea. There, living organisms encounter dynamic conditions that give rise to untold variety….”

* What leaders can do. Engaging managers listen more than they talk; they get out of their offices to see and feel more than they remain in them to sit and figure”¦. Leaders don’t do most of the things that their organizations get done; they do not even make them get done. Rather, they help to establish the structures, conditions, and attitudes through which things get done. And that requires a collaborative mind-set.

* We haven’t noticed that many things are not changing. Our point is not that nothing is changing. No, something is always changing. Right now it is information technology. But many other things are not changing at all – and these we don’t notice (like buttons). We tend to focus on what is changing and conclude that everything is. That is hardly a reflective mind-set, and it is detrimental as well to the action mind-set. We have to sober up to the reality that change is not pervasive, and that the phenomenon of change is not new. If the reflective mind-set has to respect history, then the action mind-set could use a little humility.

Change has no meaning without continuity. There is a name for everything changing all the time: anarchy. No one wants to live with that, certainly no organization that wishes to survive. Businesses are judged by the products they sell and the services they render, not the changes they make. So change cannot be managed without continuity. . the trick in the action mind-set is to mobilize energy around those things that need changing, while being careful to maintain the rest.

Change, to be successful, cannot follow some mechanistic schedule of steps, of formulation followed by implementation. Action and reflection have to blend in a natural flow. And that has to include collaboration.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Leadership and the Psychology of Turnarounds, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/6 p58, 10p, 5c (2003)

This distinguished author talks of her experience inside nearly two dozen turnaround situations in the last few years, in various stages of progress, in which new leaders were bringing distressed organizations back from the brink of failure and setting them on a healthier course. She says, “In every case, I saw — and agreed with -the need for smart financial and strategic decision making. But along the way, I also noted another important aspect of this leadership task, a related line of effort that seemed to go largely unnoticed and unstudied by observers but that was just as vital to improving the company’s fortunes and just as hard to do well. Each of these executives restored their people’s confidence in themselves and in one another — a necessary antecedent to restoring investor or public confidence. They inspired and empowered their organizations to take new actions that could renew profitability. In short, each had to lead a psychological turnaround.”

The examples include the BBC, interesting because of the clear success of this enterprise in the last four years. The text of BBC director general Greg Dyke’s Richard Dunn Memorial Lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival on Sunday August 24 2003 is available. (You have to register first, at no charge.).

This paper, like that of Gratton and Ghoshall on conversations, is relevant to museums and similar organizations because of the many creative and professional staff involved. I may be getting soft but I find the paragraphs in Kanter’s paper about Greg Dyke to be extraordinarily inspiring.

One of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is an individual’s ability to find meaning in negative situations and to learn from even the most trying circumstances.“

Warren Bennis 2002

David C McClelland & David H Burnham, Power Is the Great Motivator, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/1, p117, 10p, 3 graphs, 5 cartoons (2003)

Contrary to popular opinion, the best managers are the ones who like power-and use it. Managers, according to McClelland and Burnham, fall into three motivational groups.

Those in the first, affiliative managers, need to be liked more than they need to get things done. Their decisions are aimed at increasing their own popularity rather than promoting the goals of the organization.

Managers motivated by the need to achieve-the second group-aren’t worried about what people think of them. They focus on setting goals and reaching them, but they put their own achievement and recognition first.

Those in the third group-institutional managers-are interested above all in power. Recognizing that you get things done inside organizations only if you can influence the people around you, they focus on building power through influence rather than through their own individual achievement. People in this third group are the most effective, and their direct reports have a greater sense of responsibility, see organizational goals more clearly, and exhibit more team spirit.

Douglas R. May, Adrian Y. L. Chan, Timothy D. Hodges & Bruce J. Avolio, Developing the Moral Component of Authentic Leadership, Organizational Dynamics Vol 32/3, p 247-260 (2003)

The authors observe that recent ethical scandals in the business world point to the growing need for developing leaders who consistently demonstrate the highest levels of ethical behavior. They state their goal as to propose a blueprint for fostering sustainable authentic moral behaviors in leaders. “This blueprint is based on research from the ethical decision-making, leadership, positive organizational behavior, and positive psychology literatures.

“For leaders to display sustainable authentic moral behaviors, they must first see their roles as including an ethical responsibility to all of their stakeholders. Authentic leadership is defined as being completely self-aware, confident, transparent, optimistic, resilient, honest, and concerned about the welfare of others before one’s own welfare. Authentic leaders will have developed a unique perspective to looking at problems that allows them to recognize moral dilemmas and address them in an open way.

“Such leaders are committed to transparently evaluating alternatives to problems so that decisions are both functionally sound and morally justifiable. Their authenticity may be seen not only in the way they think and decide, but also in the way they carry through on their decisions. They must display the courage to be true to their intended course of action and be resilient in the face of overwhelming adversity and social pressure to act otherwise. These authentic leaders demonstrate a deep commitment to their own personal growth and the growth of those around them. Each dilemma they encounter is reflected on, each lesson learned is internalized, so they become better equipped for the next challenge that must be confronted. We hope and expect that authentic leaders will become models of such thinking and behaving in their employees, cascading authentic moral action throughout organizations. ”

It would be fair to say that the achievement of ethical principles as the basis of leadership and governance has much more to commend it than the mere application of more rules and laws. This is the real challenge for governments and others ultimately responsible for the conduct of society and its institutions. The rule of law should be the exception, the last resort.

Dr Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre in Sydney has written a numberof articles about coporate governance. In one written in 2003 about corporate governance principles, Longstaff said,

“In particular, a principles-based approach works to ensure that company directors and senior executives take personal responsibility for the conduct of the corporations that they govern. Alternative approaches, based exclusively on “˜black letter’ law and a weighty system of regulation and surveillance have the opposite effect as they reduce the span of corporate responsibility to a technical question of compliance to a set of rules externally developed and imposed by others. As such, the room for choice (and therefore the exercise of responsibility) is narrowed to the strict boundaries of the law.

“The “˜black letter’ law approach to regulation is ultimately self-defeating because it inadvertently weakens the ethical sinews needed to give strength to a system of compliance. In a world of mere technical compliance to rules the need to make ethical choices is made to appear redundant. In time, people give up on the task of developing and maintaining the skills of ethical discernment and therefore become more easily convinced by the dubious proposition that, “if it’s legal it’s right”.”

Warren G. Bennis & Robert J. Thomas, Crucibles Of Leadership, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 80/9 p39, 7p, 2c (2002)

What makes for extraordinary leaders? Being a good leader has something to do with the different ways that people deal with adversity. One of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is an individual’s ability to find meaning in negative situations and to learn from even the most trying circumstances. Sidney Harman unexpectedly became a pioneer of participative management, a movement that continues to influence the shape of workplaces around the world. Harman tells of an experience in his life that he was transformed by and became the source of his distinctive leadership ability.

After interviewing more than 40 top leaders in business and the public sector over the past three years, Bennis and Thomas found that all of them were able to point to a similar time in their life in which they were challenged, met the challenge, and became better leaders; they call these experiences that shape leaders, ‘crucibles.’ They provide a variety of examples to explore the idea of the crucible in detail and also discuss four essential skills they believe great leaders possess: (1) the ability to engage others in shared meaning, (2) a distinctive and compelling voice, (3) a sense of integrity (including a strong set of values), and (4) ‘adaptive capacity,’ an almost magical ability to transcend adversity, with all its attendant stresses, and to emerge stronger than before.

Sandford Borins, Leadership and innovation in the public sector, Leadership & Organization Development Journal Vol 23/8, p 467-476 (2002)

The nature and role of leadership in three ideal types of public management innovation is considered. These are politically-led responses to crises, organizational turnarounds engineered by newly-appointed agency heads and bottom-up innovations initiated by front-line public servants and middle managers.

Quantitative results from public sector innovation awards indicate that bottom-up innovation occurs much more frequently than conventional wisdom would indicate. Effective political leadership in a crisis requires decision making that employs a wide search for information, broad consultation, and skeptical examination of a wide range of options.

Successful leadership of a turnaround requires an agency head to regain political confidence, reach out to stakeholders and clients, and to convince dispirited staff that change is possible and that their efforts to do better will be supported. Political leaders and agency heads can create a supportive climate for bottom-up innovation by consulting staff, instituting formal awards and informal recognition for innovators, promoting innovators, protecting innovators from control-oriented central agencies, and publicly championing bottom-up innovations that have proven successful and have popular appeal.

Melvin Sorcher & James Brant, Are You Picking The Right Leaders? Harvard Business Review, Vol. 80/2 p 78 8p (2002)

Many senior executives make the costly and painful mistake of recruiting the wrong person for a key position. CEOs, presidents, executive vice presidents, and other top-level people often fall into the trap of making decisions about candidates based on lopsided or distorted information. In order to assess a candidate properly, senior executives must consider the full range of leadership criteria, including the various ‘soft’ skills and characteristics, such as personal integrity, that are difficult to judge. Furthermore, decisions should be based on an integrated view of the candidate drawn from the various perspectives held by the people who have managed and worked with the individual throughout his or her career.

“Evaluating a candidate for a senior-level position is a daunting task. Indeed, judging different individuals on such a multifaceted and nuanced capability as leadership is, at best, an imperfect process.” Sorcher and Brant note, “All too often, assessments are based on hearsay, gossip, casual observation, and insufficient information”. They advocate careful examination and questioning in respect of attributes like integrity, ability to persuade, gain respect, intellect and analytical ability, recruitment of others to a team and so on.

These statements of Sorcher and Brant can be compared with the findings of James Collins in his study reported in “Good to Great”.

Jim Collins, Level 5 Leadership, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79/1, p p66, 11p, 1c (2001)

A Level 5 leader is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.

A five-year study found that executives who possess these traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one. Level 5 refers to the highest level in a hierarchy of executive capabilities that was identified in the study. While Level 5 leadership is not the only requirement for transforming a good company into a great one — other factors include hiring the right people and creating a culture of discipline– the research shows it to be essential. Examples are Kimberley-Clark Chief Executive Officer Darwin E. Smith who turned Kimberley-Clark into the leading consumer paper products company in the world: his lack of pretense was coupled with a fierce, even stoic resolve toward life. Other Level 5 leaders, like Gillette’s Colman M. Mockler, Walgreens’ Charles R. ‘Cork’ Walgreen III, and Circuit City’s Alan Wurtzel, have become role models. Leaders that were not Level 5, such as Lee Iacocca and Stanley C. Gault, were successful in the short term but seemed to have set up their successors for failure. In more than two-thirds of the comparison companies in the study, the presence of a gargantuan ego contributed to the demise of the company. Level 5 is a very satisfying and very likely an essential idea, but there are no easy steps to achieve it. Under the right circumstances — with self-reflection, a mentor, loving parents, a significant life experience, or other factors, the seed of Level 5 leadership can begin to develop.

This is an extremely important and influential study which follows from “Built to Last” the study by Collins and Jerry Porras.

Talking about the book “Good to Great”, which reports the study on which the HBR article is based, Collins says (in FC issue 51, page 90), “Start with 1,435 good companies. Examine their performance over 40 years. Find the 11 companies that became great. Now, here’s how you can do it too”¦ Here are the facts of life about these and other change myths. Companies that make the change from good to great have no name for their transformation — and absolutely no program. They neither rant nor rave about a crisis — and they don’t manufacture one where none exists. They don’t “motivate” people — their people are self-motivated. There’s no evidence of a connection between money and change mastery. And fear doesn’t drive change — but it does perpetuate mediocrity.

Nor can acquisitions provide a stimulus for greatness: Two mediocrities never make one great company. Technology is certainly important — but it comes into play only after change has already begun. And as for the final myth, dramatic results do not come from dramatic process — not if you want them to last, anyway. A serious revolution, one that feels like a revolution to those going through it, is highly unlikely to bring about a sustainable leap from being good to being great.”

Ought we not to think about this very carefully indeed? What do we make of companies changing their name for no obvious reason, mutual organizations demutualising only to find themselves short of money and embroiled in board turmoil, companies shifting their headquarters offshore, directors of one company fighting over their right to benefit other companies of which they are directors without regard to the benefits of the company of which they are a director, companies signing up to protocols which they then abrogate and then defend their abrogation when the union points out the error? And particularly, what do we make of “guilds” such as Chambers of [you name it] or Councils of [whatever] who advocate policies which favour their organisations whilst being completely unsupported by any good evidence or who talk about how they operate in language which lacks credibility?

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Barbara Kellerman, Leadership Warts and All, Harvard Business Review, Jan2004, Vol. 82/1, p40, 6p

This article reviews changes in descriptions of leaders and they way they are regarded and the attention paid by universities to the training of leaders. Kellerman asserts that there is much to learn from the behaviour leaders, even bad ones.

Marcus W. Dickson, Deanne N. Den Hartog and Jacqueline K. Mitchelson, “Research on leadership in a cross-cultural context: Making progress, and raising new questions”, The Leadership Quarterly Vol.14/6, pp 729-768 (2003).

Dickson and collaborators, noting the explosion in the amount of research on leadership in a cross-cultural context, describe major advances and emerging patterns in this research domain over the last several years. They start from two previous reviews published 1996-97. They observe the beginnings of the decline in the quest for universal leadership principles that apply equivalently across all cultures, and focus on the increasing application of the dimensions of culture identified by Hofstede. They also note the emergence of the field of cross-cultural leadership as a legitimate and independent field of endeavor, as reflected in the emergence of publication outlets for this research, and the establishment of long-term multinational multi-investigator research programs on the topic. They conclude with a discussion of progress made since the two pieces that were our departure point, and of progress yet to be made. The paper contains a very useful summary of what dimensions seem to be generally applicable and those that are more specific.

Kathleen M Sutcliffe & Klaus Weber, The High Cost of Accurate Knowledge, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81/5, p74, 9p (2003)

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing? Not necessarily. New data reveal that the way senior executives interpret their business environment is more important for performance than how accurately they know their environment.” The research shows that highly accurate forecasts of growth and profitability are correlated with poorer performance. Possibly, reliability in forecasting leads to a belief in controllability and less questioning of infromation. Extra effort in improving senior executives’ market knowledge is wasted ““ even damaging.

“The knowledge economy is extraordinarily hungry for information. In their quest for competitive advantage, companies are pouring increasingly more money into collecting and organizing information about the world in which they operate.

Potsdam, Near Berlin (More)

“Many business academics and practitioners applaud such large investments, arguing that the more top decision makers know about their competitive environments, the better their organizations will perform. Information improves accuracy, they contend, and accuracy helps companies adapt more quickly and effectively to a changing marketplace. Such business thinkers believe that the role of senior managers is to scan the external environment to monitor contingencies and constraints, and use that precise knowledge to modify the company’s strategy and organizational design to fit new competitive demands.

“Even executives who believe passionately in the value of rigor concede that there are limits to objective analysis. After all, facts don’t speak for themselves; one has to make sense of the facts, not just get them straight. What’s more, when people do apply sophisticated rational decision models to make sense of data, the models often break down due to information overload; executives inevitably end up reducing large amounts of information by selectively focusing their attention. Lastly, precision matters little when the data being examined aren’t pure. According to research, top managers routinely work with facts and figures that have already been filtered through corporate hierarchies and work processes.

“The truth is, in the complex world in which most business leaders operate, information about the environment, though abundant, is seldom obvious in its implications. Executives therefore have no choice but to interpret and intuit the data they receive. In light of that reality, another school of pundits contends that it’s not the accuracy and abundance of information that should matter most to top executives-rather, it’s how that information is interpreted.

Leadership and gender

Three interesting articles appeared in The Leadership Quarterly Vol 14/6 (2003) on this contentious subject.

Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, The female leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence. (pp 807-834)

Eagly and Carli note that journalists and authors of trade books increasingly assert a female advantage in leadership, whereby women are more likely than men to lead in a style that is effective under contemporary conditions. Their analysis is considered to show that women have some advantages in typical leadership style but suffer some disadvantages from prejudicial evaluations of their competence as leaders, especially in masculine organizational contexts. They say, “Nonetheless, more women are rising into leadership roles at all levels, including elite executive roles. We suggest reasons for this rise and argue that organizations can capture the symbols of progressive social change and modernity by appointments of women in key positions.”

Robert P. Vecchio, In search of gender advantage (pp 835-850)

Claims of gender advantage by journalists and trade book authors are critiqued for their lack of objectivity and lack of empirical rigor. Issues raised by Eagly and Carli (2003), along with social scientific research that seeks to demonstrate gender advantage, are examined on methodological and theoretical grounds. Finally, a set of recommendations is offered for designing research on the topic of sex/gender differences in leader effectiveness.

Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, Finding gender advantage and disadvantage: Systematic research integration is the solution (pp 851-859).

In a response to Vecchio’s critique of Eagly and Carli’s arguments concerning female leaders’ relative advantage and disadvantage. They say, “conclusions about leadership style and show that the areas of leadership style in which women exceed men are associated with gains in leader effectiveness, whereas the areas in which men exceed women have negative or null relations to effectiveness. We point out flaws in Vecchio’s understanding of the methodology by which researchers integrate research findings across studies and elucidate several essential principles of valid research integration. Our analysis strengthens Eagly and Carli’s conclusion that female leaders, relative to male leaders, are correctly described as possessing both advantage and disadvantage.

Margaret Wheatley, Goodbye, Command and Control (Leader to Leader: No. 5 (Chapter 16) Summer 1997)

Old ways die hard. Amid all the evidence that our world is radically changing, we cling to what has worked in the past. We still think of organizations in mechanistic terms, as collections of replaceable parts capable of being reengineered… But in the late 1990s, we are surrounded by too many organizational failures to stay with this thinking. We know, for example, that in many recent surveys senior leaders report that more than two-thirds of their organizational change efforts fail. They and their employees report deep cynicism at the endless programs and fads.

Margaret Wheatley is a consultant, speaker, and best-selling author. Her books include Leadership and the New Science and, with Myron Kellner-Rogers.

Robert Knowling, Why Vision Matters (Leader to Leader (18), 2000)

In business, as in life, good intentions are often lost. Our everyday practices, not our espoused values, define who we are. To align good intentions with effective practice, leaders need to define a vision, articulate values, and infuse both into every aspect of the business. Most leaders love to make strategy, but it is vision and values that spawn strategic action.

Robert Knowling is chairman, CEO, and president of Covad Communications, (at that time) a national provider of high-speed Internet access. Previously he led large-scale change efforts at U. S. West and at Ameritech. At the time of writing Knowling also led the Digital Opportunity Initiative to increase minority participation in the high-tech workplace.

“How New Leaders Learn to take Charge”

Carole K Barnett (University of New Hampshire) and Noel M Tichy (University of Michigan) in Organizational Dynamics 29(1), p 16-23 (2000) point up the need for executive development of self and others and cite the failures in learning and teaching by executives such as Al Dunlap who led their organizations through “painful, dysfunctional transitions that cost them (and others) their jobs and significantly diminished shareholder wealth”. Barnett and Tichy refer to Ram Charan’s work with CEO’s (Fortune 1999, 5, 288 and 1999 21, 68-75) which showed that “a common cause of chief executive’s downfalls is the failure to put the right people in the right jobs” which is related to the “inability to fix people problems in time”.
Victor H Vroom, in “Leadership and the Decision-Making Process” (Organizational Dynamics 28 (4), p 82-94, 2000)

This is an interesting model for decision-making guiding choices as to whether one decides oneself, consults or delegates. According to Vroom, much of the behaviour currently driven by habits needs to be converted back into choices. “Leaders achieving focus in the place of not knowing”

Peter Simpson of the University of West England in Bristol and Hugh Burnard (Collector of Customs and Excise, SW Bristol, in Leadership & Organization Development Journal (21(5), p 235-242, 2000) discuss how to constantly identify and clarify what to focus on and then direct attention to that focus, senior managers work within a context of uncertainty and disagreement. Learning to work in this way involves discovering how to act as though one knows whilst still not knowing. Certainty is socially constructed rather than discovered truth. A case study explores this.

The article points out that certainty is socially constructed rather than discovered truth. The paper explores the role of one of the authors who is the Collector (CEO) of Customs in Bristol. Through discussions the role was redefined from a list of activities in the form of a job description to new understandings that the much more productive role was a way of thinking and working. Burnard discovered that he was capable of acting, authoritatively and decisively, even when he did not know what he was doing.. The value of pursuing clarity of purpose as a touchstone against which all actions and thoughts may be tested. Clarity of purpose provided support for learning on the job and encouraged risk taking. As the management team struggled with dependency, confusion and conflict in the change from a hierarchical structure based on authority to a team structure involving shared leadership where managers talked to and gained assistance from their colleagues as well as from the CEO. In this Burnard as CEO had responsibility for the external boundary management function.
Enhancing transformational leadership: the roles of training and feedback

E Kevin Kelloway of St Mary’s University, Halifax (Nova Scotia) and Julian Barling and Jane Helleur of Queens University, Kingston (Ontario) in Leadership & Organizational Development Journal 21(3), 145-149 (2000) investigate the effect of leadership training and counselling feedback on subordinate’s perceptions of transformational leadership. Both training and feedback are effective in improving subordinate’s perceptions of the leaders’ transformational leadership and the behaviour of leaders but that combining the training and feedback doesn’t enhance transformational leadership.

“What we have learned about developing transformational leaders”

Kelloway and Barling (in Leadership & Organization Development Journal 21(7), p 355-362, 2000) review studies on transformational leaders. There is little doubt that leaders’ use of transformational leadership style results in positive organizational outcomes. But the question remains how organizations use that knowledge: training and development is suggested as the most viable route to pursue. [As previously reported] both training and feedback contribute significantly to enhancement of transformational leadership but the two together do not. This article proceeds further in reporting analysis of reactions of people to “charismatic” and “intellectually stimulating” leadership styles. Productivity increased if either of these styles was used but trust in the leader declined when the two styles were combined. Kelloway and Barling suggest that the combination might have been considered “too much of a good thing”. They conclude transformational leadership enhances subordinates’ self efficacy and sense of group cohesion, intrinsic motivation and affective commitment. “it is these enhanced employee attitudes that lead to higher levels of performance.”

Leadership and strategy in the new electronic age

The celebrated Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Harvard Business School) discusses this in Leadership & Organization Development Journal 21(7), p 363-365 (2000).

Communication, awareness of outside developments, developing alliances and partnerships are some of the new challenges for leadership.

“Assessing and Attacking Workplace Incivility”

Christine M. Pearson of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Lynne Anderson of the Fox School of Business & Management at Temple University in Philadelphia and Christine Porath also of the Kenan-Flagler Business School (in Organizational Dynamics 29 (2), pp 123-137, 2000) assert civility matters! “Observing basic rules of interpersonal demeanour and acting with social intelligence enables us to live and work together, whether colleagues or strangers. Yet, some content that we have hit an age of “whatever”, where rudeness and insensitivity towards others have proliferated to new heights of thoughtlessness”¦” In summary their argument is that such behaviour at work can have a far more detrimental effect on an organization than many managers anticipate. This affects performance and profit; astute managers can assess and control this.

Leadership in local government

Robert J Alban Metcalf of the Nuffield Institute Centre for Leadership Studies of the University of Leeds (UK) and Beverly Alimo- Metcalf of Trinity and All Saints’ University College in Leeds (UK), in Leadership & Organization Development Journal 21(6) p 280-296 (2000) report on an important study. “The transformational leadership questionnaire (TLQ-LGV): a convergent and discriminate validation study” sets out to provide evidence of the validity of a recently developed questionnaire. The evidence comes from a random stratified sample of over 1,400 male and female managers in local government. Nine scales correlate to varying degrees with five criteria of leadership (achievement, job satisfaction, motivation, satisfying leadership and stress (negative)). The most significant factor scale is concern for others which showed the greatest predictive power. Accessibility/approachability and “encourages critical and strategic thinking” were also significant predictors. The authors caution that this study concerns only one segment of the public sector in the UK.

The introductory/literature review part of the article is extremely interesting. In it the authors deal with

# the proposition that social distance is an essential condition of the “charisma” of a leader and the opposing view that leadership is a function of the relationship between a manager/leader and his/her followers and the perceptions of each kind of “leader”,

# the proposition that “leadership can be conceptualised as a social influence process” and that research on it must take account of context,

# the influence of gender on leadership stye, women being found to construe leadership in more transformational terms than men, more likely to describe their style of leadership as transformational and significantly more likely to be described as adopting a transformational style (irrespective of the sex of their report); in general men are more transactional, construe leadership that way and are perceived as doing so. In addition

# a contrast is made between the “charismatic and inspirational” leadership described by Bass & Avolio in 1990 and the concern for others which emerges from the present study of local government in the UK. The differences “could be the result of national cultural factors and/or the fact that the instrument was based on constructs derived from a sample of managers in one public sector and piloted in the same large public sector.”
“Leading in unnerving times”

In Sloan Management Review Winter 2001 (p97-103) Warren Bennis discusses and leads interviews on leadership and the role of younger people, the importance of experience, training and development, coaching, learning. Bennis concludes, among other things, with the thoughts that the acronym for today is more like ACA (align, create, adapt) rather than COP (control, order, predict). “Think deep generalist rather than specialist, applied biology and living systems rather than engineering and mechanics” Encourage others to create meaning for themselves at work and rely
“How assumptions of consensus undermine decision-making”

Robert L Gross (Boston University) and Susan E Brodt (Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Durham, North Carolina), in Sloan Management Review Winter 2001 (p 86-94), observe that “decision making in today’s global environment requires that managers understand the ways their experiences bias their perceptions of new situations – and hurt the company.” The paper outlines “projection” , the belief that one’s own beliefs are held by others, surrounding oneself with others who hold the same beliefs, paying most attention to one’s own views and beliefs and other dangerous situations are explored through carefully selected and analysed scenarios.
Creative Leadership

Max De Pree, in Leader to Leader, No. 20 (Spring 2001) commences his article with these words, “King Lear tells us that nothing comes from nothing. So do scientists, for that matter. Everything in the world already exists; whatever seems new is only something old rearranged. So how do we explain innovation? The relatively short history of the United States glistens with innovation. Our open meritocracy has bred and nurtured innovative people with new ideas. Leaders in all sorts of organizations want desperately to encourage creative, innovative persons.

“Innovation is a form of change. For the most part our culture welcomes change, but people proposing it do, as you might expect, run into barriers. As our society has become more complex, we find important segments of it becoming larger, more structured, more bureaucratic, less nimble, and less hospitable to unusual persons. Leaders can resist hardening of the arteries. Leaders can help unusual people produce innovations “” even if it’s not out of thin air.”

Small groups and involved leadership is better

An extremely interesting paper by Judy Hoffer Gitell (in California Management Review 42 (3), p 101-117, 2000) compares the approaches to management structure and behaviour in Southwest (SW) and American Airlines (AA). Based on a range of criteria including data from staff surveys and from performance in arrivals, baggage handling and customer complaints, Southwest is adjudged the more efficient. (Southwest is a point to point operator whilst American Airlines is a spoke operator and this influences their approach.) SW has shared accountability across functional lines which diffuses blame, encourages shared goals and improves quality and efficiency; AA has a large span of control and attends to data about performance. SW has small span of control in which supervisors are coaches giving feedback, improving shared goals and knowledge. SW selects for teamwork – staff are recruited who treat others with respect. SW has cross-functional conflict resolution resolving misunderstandings. The results are compared with views of theorists on accountability and supervision. (I found this extremely interesting because of the assertions made by some that increases in efficiency needing tight control. Remember that Peter Drucker once observed that good business management comes down to no more than tight cost control.)

“Developing Leaders: How winning companies keep on winning”

Robert Fulmer (Pepperdine University), Philip Gibbs (College of William and Mary) and Marshall Goldsmith (Keilty, Goldsmith & Co) in Sloan Management Review 42(1), p 49-59 (2000) assert that leading companies keep a steady stream of leaders moving up by focussing on five essentials of leadership development. They are awareness, constantly looking for best practice in leadership-skill development; anticipation, an emphasis on the future and its exploration; Action, discovery of answers to tough questions through experience; alignment, tying education efforts to formal succession planning; and assessment, assessing the impact of leadership-development process on improved organizational performance. A quote: “Gary Hamel recommends decentralized planning because revolutions are beneficial and they seldom start with the monarchy.”

“Flawed Advice and the Management Trap : How Managers Can Know When They’re Getting Good Advice and When They’re Not”

Chris Argyris in an important new book shows how and why so much of today’s business advice is flawed, and how managers and executives can better evaluate advice given to their firms. At the website it is explained as follows:

“Practitioners and scholars agree that businesses in the coming millennium will be managed differently than firms of the 20th century. And getting there from here, according to today’s best advice, will require creative change. “¦ Argyris”¦ reviews a wide array of business advice from the best and brightest thinkers and consultants and concludes that as appealing as their ideas may be, most of them are simply not workable. They are too full of abstract claims, logical gaps, and inconsistencies, to be useful. And ironically, even when their recommendations are implemented correctly, the result is often failure.

“”¦ Argyris shows readers how to be more critical of the advice they are given, how to learn new approaches for appraising employee performance, and how to generate an internal commitment to values and better strategy”¦”

Amongst the several reviews is the commentary that a lot of the statements made by management “experts” is based on no immediately available data that can be scrutinised!

Leadership in the Academy

In “New leadership” and university organisational effectiveness: exploring the relationship” (Leadership & Organization Development Journal 22 (6), 2001), James S. Pounder (Associate Professor, Department of Management, Lingnan University, Hong Kong) notes that “New leadership” studies often suggest that transformational leadership in particular produces desirable leadership outcomes but that few studies have demonstrated a direct link between the exercise of a particular type of leadership and organisational effectiveness. Efforts to establish such a link are hampered by the absence of a generally agreed definition of organisational effectiveness, particularly so in higher education where attempts to develop models of organisational effectiveness applicable to universities have been sparse despite worldwide calls for universities to demonstrate “value for money” performance. The paper examines the relationship between transformational/transactional leadership and university organisational effectiveness and indicates possible modifications to the original conceptualisation of transformational leadership. The paper also argues for university leadership that is self-reflective and capable of utilising the array of leadership characteristics subsumed under the transformational and transactional leadership notions.

More active learners are more frequently involved in leadership

In “Exploring the relationship between learning and leadership” (Leadership & Organization Development Journal 22 (6), pp. 274-280, 2001), Lillas M. Brown (University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada) and Barry Z. Posner (Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California, USA) investigate how two important research streams, namely learning and leadership, might be related with one another. They compare responses on the learning tactics inventory and leadership practices inventory for a sample of 312 managers.

Results indicate that more active and versatile learners subsequently consider themselves more frequently involved and engaged in leadership behaviors. Implications for transformational learning and leadership theories are explored, as well as thoughts about how the development of leadership competencies may be enhanced and affected by various learning techniques. They conclude, “Research over these past two decades underscores that the majority of leadership skills are learned from naturally occurring experiences in the work place.

Being able to access and apply principles of adult learning and foster transformational learning would help aspiring leaders, those wanting to strengthen their leadership, and those concerned with the development of leadership, to accelerate and leverage leadership learning. Importantly, creating a culture of leadership and learning is the ultimate act of leadership development.”

“Does leadership matter? CEO leadership attributes and profitability under conditions of perceived environmental uncertainty”

David A. Waldman from Arizona State University and colleagues (in Academy of Management Journal 44(1): 134-143, 2001) explore transactional and charismatic CEO leadership in a selection of 48 Fortune 500 companies. They sought to find what, if any, relationship might exist between these leadership attributes at CEO level and financial performance. They hypothesized that the relationship between CEO leadership attributes and performance depends on perceived environmental uncertainty, as reported by immediate CEO subordinates.

They say, “Uncertainty strongly moderated the relationships between performance and both transactional leadership and charisma. However, the interaction of transactional leadership and uncertainty had no significant effect beyond that of the charisma-uncertainty interaction. Consistent with expectations, charisma predicted performance under conditions of uncertainty but not under conditions of certainty.”

They conclude, “Although the present study cannot demonstrate conclusively that charismatic CEOs in environments that are perceived to be uncertain have positive effects on firm performance, the inclusion of firms from a number of industries strengthens the case for external validity.”