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Archive: Organizational Culture

Where are men in the work/life conversation?

Many businesses today are making "allowances" for women, without framing flexibility as a total workforce issue and showing its benefits to all workers. This trend persists despite considerable research that shows positive support, regardless of gender, for more flexible work arrangements.

By Selena Rezvani | February 4, 2011; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (30)

Why Congress should watch where they sit

While the "who's sitting where?" game may seem just as juvenile as the "my side, your side" division of the past, the fact is that seating really does make a statement. Sure, few of us need to think about our seats Tuesday night, but just about all of us have hovered awkwardly around a meeting table at one point or other. Congress is right to understand that where they sit sends a signal about their power dynamics and willingness to cooperate--and the concept has interesting implications for business leaders.

By Carol Kinsey Goman | January 24, 2011; 02:51 PM ET | Comments (10)

What makes a 'Best Workplace'? (Hint: It has to do with women)

Perhaps the secret sauce of a truly inclusive workplace isn't overly complex. Best companies find ways to "join up" with employees' lifestyle realities, rather than just tolerating them. What's more, they know that what can be especially positive for underrepresented groups tends to be good for everyone.

By Selena Rezvani | January 21, 2011; 04:54 PM ET | Comments (1)

The death of old ways

Effective leaders of change focus on the future without describing the past as wrong. It is almost always unproductive to...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | January 4, 2011; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (2)

The U.S. auto revivers: Alan Mulally and Ed Whitacre

The two of them deserve enormous credit for restoring America's automobile industry, just when it appeared that American-owned auto companies were a thing of the past. They are doing it "the old-fashioned way": not with short-term moves and...

By Bill George | December 22, 2010; 04:24 PM ET | Comments (7)

The higher educators: Steven Sample and John Sexton

Like government, universities are filled with employees that are often nearly impossible to fire; they are bastions of political correctness that make management more challenging than in the military or the...

By Paul R. Portney | December 22, 2010; 03:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

For education reform, turning our attention to principals

Of all the factors common to successful schools, it is puzzling that so little weight is given to leadership. In the film Waiting for Superman, excellent teaching is rightly given credit as a major factor in student achievement, but there is no discussion of the exceptional principals leading the schools shown...

By Michael Maccoby | December 21, 2010; 04:39 PM ET | Comments (80)

The unknowns: Your manager, perhaps?

I nominate all the leaders--executives, managers, supervisors, team leaders--who fly under the radar. You know the ones I mean. Their staffs, team members and employees rave...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | December 21, 2010; 01:52 PM ET | Comments (1)

When what you do outweighs who you are

A cloud of allegations hovers over this year's Heisman recipient, and a shadow has been cast on his character and on the integrity of those who chose him. In his case, fact and fiction are somewhat muddled; but what is clear is...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | December 16, 2010; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (2)

Cam being Cam

Once in an interview in response to the question '"How do you manage all those newly rich, testosterone-rich, self-absorbed men on a professional football team?" Bill Parcells answered exactly the opposite...

By Marty Linsky | December 15, 2010; 01:47 PM ET | Comments (1)

Offer redemption, then show the door

Spending time with my five grand kids always reminds me that children are great mimics. Spending a few minutes with the daily newspaper reminds me that adults are too--and often with far less charming results...

By John R. Ryan | December 15, 2010; 01:39 PM ET | Comments (1)

Recruiting character and talent

When Joe Gibbs was building the Washington Redskins into Superbowl champions, his stated criteria for drafting players was...

By Michael Maccoby | December 14, 2010; 03:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

One strike and you're out

No exceptions, no matter how high your station, no matter how important you are to the organization. When you violate the fundamental rules of the institutional culture...

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | December 14, 2010; 12:46 PM ET | Comments (1)

The meaning of an asterisk

Add Cam Newton's reception of the Heisman Trophy to the long list of examples of athletic "excellence" coming before sports "integrity." Many names come to mind, but the quintessential example...

By Coro Fellows | December 13, 2010; 11:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

Strong character trumps perfection

As a veteran executive once told me, hire for character. Don't expect to develop something that is not there. If a person lacks a moral compass, don't think you...

By John Baldoni | December 13, 2010; 06:54 PM ET | Comments (0)

The road to ruin

Yes, Cam Newton is an incredible football player (I love watching him play), but we must care about the total person we hold up for emulation in our society. This is about repairing, not maintaining, the moral fiber of...

By Don Vandergriff | December 13, 2010; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

Creating a Benedict Arnold

As with the Benedict Arnold example, star performers can move up the organization to positions of great responsibility, without a clear understanding of the value of ethical behavior and institutional rules and...

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | December 13, 2010; 03:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Don't care about values? At least stop pretending

it all depends on how important a culture of integrity is. If it is essential (as it is for many top organizations), then you must reward, penalize, hire and fire to that value. But if you aren't going to do that, at least have the courtesy and honesty to delete that...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | December 13, 2010; 02:47 PM ET | Comments (3)

Compromise is king

Standing up for what you believe to be the right decision is the very definition of leadership. But standing tall for every idea you have is delusional...

By John Baldoni | December 6, 2010; 05:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

Gridlock has its rewards

It's tragic what Obama has to endure from Republicans, or they from him, or all of us from all of them. So what's new? Our political system was designed thus...

By Ken Adelman | December 6, 2010; 04:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Give us liberty (and, while you're at it, save us from death)!

the TSA should launch a public education campaign. Such an effort should be devoid of slick propaganda and clever slogans. Rather, I want statistics as well as evidence of nuanced thinking on the part of the decision-makers.

By Coro Fellows | November 23, 2010; 02:13 AM ET | Comments (10)

Four ways to evaluate such a big decision

There is one area in which leaders cannot reverse: integrity. You can change policy, but you cannot compromise principle. As straightforward as this seems, all too often we have seen...

By John Baldoni | November 22, 2010; 07:47 PM ET | Comments (3)

A problem of political correctness

The mistake is not so much in the technology, which is seemingly effective, as it is in the rigid political correctness that all travelers be treated as equally threatening...

By Slade Gorton | November 22, 2010; 02:14 PM ET | Comments (2)

'Rapid' turnarounds can be years in the making

The fundamentals of our economy and the talent of our people are strong, but it is our debt and entitlement programs that stall our recovery and long-term profitability as a nation. As with GM, rapid turnaround can come, but it will take hard choices and the courage to reset programs like social security and Medicare...

By Robert Goodwin | November 19, 2010; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

When culture eats strategy

There's a tendency in struggling organizations to focus on fixing systems and processes, as if structural repairs are all that stands between current problems and success. Certainly, GM did plenty of tinkering over the years, but it wasn't enough. That's because often it's the organizational culture--the day-to-day behaviors and beliefs and attitudes of employees at all levels--that needs changing...

By John R. Ryan | November 17, 2010; 02:35 PM ET | Comments (1)

How to save a company from demise

If culture is, as Terry Deal states, "the way we do things around here;" then corporate leadership must question the underlying assumptions that drive the behaviors of those within the company. Many assumptions are unconscious and have a dramatic effect on operations; surfacing them is critical to a company's ability to change. An integrated approach to leadership means...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | November 17, 2010; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (1)

The danger of complacency

In the army, leadership is continuously cycled. Lieutenants tend to only be a platoon leader for 15 months and then become an executive officer or take another staff position. Captains command companies for no longer than 24 months. Further, any military family can relate to the saying, "Home is where the Army sends you." This consistent leadership change keeps unit atmosphere continuously fresh, preventing complacency issues like GM had...

By West Point Cadets | November 16, 2010; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (3)

Combat insularity, confront reality

Failure to confront reality doomed General Motors, as it has many other companies. When you are really big, you tend to lose the hunger for excellence that many smaller companies have. In its early days, General Motors was a formidable competitor. It understood its customers and...

By John Baldoni | November 16, 2010; 10:18 AM ET | Comments (1)

Mapping GM's decline

It was a failure of leadership as astounding and momentous as the company's early achievement. Time will tell if the newly profitable automaker has truly overcome the last three decades of its own history and created an organization as committed to brave, effective and conscientious stewardship as the one that grabbed the industry gauntlet...

By Nancy Koehn | November 16, 2010; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (2)

Prior success is a powerful narcotic

Sometimes it takes a clear threat to organizational survival to prompt a new way of doing business that is responsive to changes outside of the company. As we have seen with General Motors before the bankruptcy, sometimes even that is not enough...

By George Reed | November 16, 2010; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (1)

The 'mechanics' of leadership

Remember when Rick Wagoner flew by private jet to DC to ask for a bailout? GM's executives ignored the seemingly obvious cost-cutting measure of reducing executive pay--something Toyota enacted without government instruction. A sense of "just" compensation--legitimate or not--prevents both union leaders and executives from making the obvious decision to cut costs...

By Coro Fellows | November 16, 2010; 12:34 AM ET | Comments (1)

GM's 'arrogance' virus

They arrogantly believed that foreign manufacturers were likely to produce lesser products that the American public wouldn't purchase. That is until Toyota came along and ate GM's lunch, Honda their breakfast and European manufacturers their dinner. By the way, GM would be wise to watch out for both Subaru and Hyundai, who are as we speak nibbling on pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres...

By Alaina Love | November 15, 2010; 05:37 PM ET | Comments (3)

Too big to U-turn

A company is asking for trouble when it becomes so big, when its profits are so great, that it believes it can do no wrong. GM's woes are the woes of a company that stopped scanning the landscape to see how the industry could be changing, a company that stuck to the same old formula for success and neglected true innovation, a company that forgot that what worked yesterday won't necessarily work today...

By Yash Gupta | November 15, 2010; 03:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

Reviving a boiled frog

It is so much easier for leaders to rally the troops in response to crisis, because the rationale for change--the "burning bridge"--is evident. But today our organizations are dealing with forces that are so dynamic and fast moving that to wait until there is proof of crisis is to respond far too late. The way that the accelerated pace of change drastically shortens response time was once explained to me in the following manner...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 15, 2010; 01:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

It's a problem of peer judgment

From an "electoral" perspective, Pelosi's performance could, of course, hardly have been worse: Democrats suffered a historic loss of more than 60 seats and Pelosi herself became the poster child for alleged Democratic "wrong track" ideas. But from a "legislative" perspective, Pelosi's performance was also historic in...

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | November 9, 2010; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Acknowledge the reality

I once asked an executive team what they were going to do with the devastating results of an employee survey. The managers' first reaction was, "Well, we certainly can't post those!" To which, I replied, "Why not?...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 1, 2010; 02:33 PM ET | Comments (2)

Fighting gender fatigue

At a time when companies are looking for any unturned stone to improve their financials, it seems like idiocy not to leverage women. Study after study documents that companies with more gender-balanced leadership teams see better financial results. And yet even in this economy, we find ourselves at a standstill. If the inclusion argument was not enough of a reason to increase women's proportion, I thought surely the business case would get CEOs' attention.

By Selena Rezvani | October 29, 2010; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (24)

Sexism in Mad Men--what has (and hasn't) changed

As much as I love watching Mad Men, it is difficult and painful to see the ways in which women and men dealt with each other and with power. It's painful because this behavior is not as far back in our past as we would like to think. Our daughters continually get the messages that power still comes through powerful men. And unfortunately being pretty is still a quality that can get you on the ladder-though it still won't...

By Marie Wilson | October 19, 2010; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (3)

Matching 'outside game' to 'inside self'

Our culture still tends to equate extroversion with leadership and introversion with followership. The former is perceived as active (good), and the latter as passive (bad). Much too frequently, a quiet demeanor and reflective deliberation are not seen as leadership behaviors; while verbal, outgoing, decisive action is. I find it irresponsible to attempt to coerce someone who is being authentic into an acceptable, conventional role or societal stereotype of...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | October 6, 2010; 02:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Afraid of average

Best paid. Most powerful. Top influencer. Lots of publications churn out lists and rankings of impressive women. These grown-up honor rolls sell magazines and get lots of hits in the social-media universe, whether showcasing women's power in terms of hierarchy or paychecks. It seems we love a good competition, especially one that culminates in a tidy inventory of prowess. But while impressive to read through, the average woman feels like there's a grand canyon separating her from the leaders profiled in these rankings.

By Selena Rezvani | October 1, 2010; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (17)

Fearful leaders

I suspect the meetings that President Obama has with his advisers engender passion and debate between and among all present over high-stakes decisions. In these kinds of settings leaders far too frequently march down one of two paths: they shut out their advisers or they cater to...

By Martin Davidson | September 29, 2010; 02:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Experts and advisers and leaders, oh my

A generation who judges its importance by numbers of blog followers and Facebook friends is bereft of leadership that dares to be unpopular. However, the "unpopular" role is one that leaders often have to play. If expert advice conflicts with what leadership senses is the best...

By Coro Fellows | September 28, 2010; 09:51 AM ET | Comments (3)

Leaders use advisers, not the other way around

President Obama's efforts to impose his views on the conduct of the war in Afghanistan bring to mind the example of an earlier president, Abraham Lincoln. During the first three years of the Civil War, Lincoln was served by military leaders who were either less than competent or...

By John Baldoni | September 28, 2010; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

When not to listen to experts

A leader's assumptions and incentives may be different from those of experts. In the case of Obama and the generals, the president--not the generals--is accountable to the American people. It is his responsibility to define and defend...

By Michael Maccoby | September 28, 2010; 09:22 AM ET | Comments (1)

The leader as chief strategist

The challenge with senior advisers and other content experts is that they are often just that --experts with deep, specialized knowledge in a narrow domain. They are not attuned to the language, framing and packaging required to sell a difficult decision to...

By Sally Blount | September 27, 2010; 04:46 PM ET | Comments (2)

This isn't "delegatable"

Get the opinions of the best advisers you can find in each of the affected areas and use them to consider the trade offs between, say, political and military effects. Ultimately, only the leader--in this case the president--can integrate this information and make...

By George Daly | September 27, 2010; 04:36 PM ET | Comments (0)

Tea party: The new grassroots template

When an organization cedes a measure of control to those it seeks to enlist as supporters, it does more than merely make them feel as if they are a part of something larger than themselves; it instills within them a measure of personal responsibility for protecting and growing the organization. Simply put, the ownership stake that each and every member of the Tea Party movement holds is what drives the levels of activism we've seen to date.

By Robert Goodwin | September 24, 2010; 04:49 PM ET | Comments (3)

Power: Face it, you need it

Leaders are preoccupied with power because power is an essential component of leadership. So noted the late John Gardner, founder of Common Cause and cabinet secretary in the Lyndon Johnson administration. Getting things done--particularly through and with others--requires influence skills. And, in order to lead both organizational change and effective execution, you need to cultivate the leadership capacity to get your way.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | September 23, 2010; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

The pros and cons of decentralized leadership

Decentralized leadership approaches work well when an organization needs innovation and creative solutions from knowledgeable people who are familiar with the environment and know their role within the organization. The less hierarchical culture allows a free flow of ideas, yet people's experience and professionalism keep chaos from swamping the task.

By Amy Fraher | September 22, 2010; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (1)

The tea party, Wikipedia and al-Qaeda: shared leadership lessons?

It's interesting that the two organizations that best exemplify "distributed leadership" (or at least get the most attention for making use of it) are the Tea Party and al-Qaeda. Both illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to...

By Paul R. Portney | September 21, 2010; 05:15 PM ET | Comments (6)

What successful decentralized leadership looks like

Leadership does not belong solely to people with titles or even big reputations. Leaders come in all persuasions and personalities. A denominator common to leaders is a willingness...

By John Baldoni | September 21, 2010; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

Get ahead of the crowd

We still need strong leaders, but we need to them to be responsive to change as well as willing to delegate control in order...

By John Baldoni | September 14, 2010; 11:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

Debunking the 24/7 workday

So many of us define our self-worth by how hard we work, we have trouble disentangling our egos and even asking if there might be a better way. When we've pushed ourselves to be good students, get good jobs and deliver results, it's hard to hear that our more-more-more approach may not be the right one. For many, being asked to examine how we work feels like being asked to be mediocre.

By Sharon Meers | September 10, 2010; 09:28 AM ET | Comments (6)

Time to lead by teambuilding

A leader that takes on complex challenges inherent to large organizations needs to transition from being an individual leader with comprehensive knowledge and mastery to one who develops a strong team of individuals to whom significant responsibility and accountability are vested.

By John H. Cochran, MD | July 21, 2010; 10:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

Three strikes against the intel community

It is difficult to get people who don't know of each other nor trust the process to work together, especially if there are some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies in about 10,000 different locations across the United States.

By Kathryn Kolbert | July 21, 2010; 10:51 AM ET | Comments (1)

Find the right leaders for the job

Organizations that may be considered "Too big to lead" require leaders who are big enough to lead with others. Such organizations need leaders who are temperamentally suited to handle complexity and, more importantly, who can develop teams of capable individuals to pull and push constituents towards their vision.

By Col. Charles D. Allen | July 20, 2010; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (8)

 
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