Leadership Trends LO12813

Sherri Malouf (sherri@maloufinc.com)
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 14:09:23 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO12745 --

>Responding to Sherri, I am confused. You say the SVPs have two jobs, to
>make stockholders happy, and to buffer between stockmarket, shareholders,
>and the org so the org can work. Is this your scenario? I have never
>actually heard the work of leadership described in these terms. Is this a
>general situation or true of specific companies? Sorry to ask so many
>questions, but I did not understand your point.

No problem -- Yes this is the scenario that I was painting. I actually
think it is a general trend as opposed to company or industry specific.
In fact I have been talking to people about it and a colleague said there
was an HBR article basically stating what I had said... I will try and
find the article.

>Then you say that the job of leaders can be achieved in a spectrum of ways
>-- I assume you are talking about the same thing -- ranging from direct
>use of power to LO-type approaches. Tell me if I am misinterpreting.

I am saying that top management doesn't pay a lot of attention to style as
long as share prices are steady, rising, and they have stock market
confidence. Middle management are the ones who then have the range
described above and sr management don't really care as long the the work
gets done and the stcok market is happy.

>Then you say, "How well this works," referring to the management method
>chosen, I think, "is dependent upon how the organization is set up. For
>example, where access to resources is well balanced between departments it
>[what?] tends to work better than if there is a lot of comptetition. If
>there is a lot of competition then the job of the SVP's becomes 95%
>>From a 'cause & effect' perspective I wonder if in this case, the
>imbalance in access to resources is the cause of politically-minded SVPs
>or the effect.

The premise described above is drawn from a book by Jeffrey Pfeffer called
Managing With Power -- he has some very interesting examples in the book.
Basically if you have a strong CEO who has forged good alliances with his
direct reports and they perceive themselves as having equal treatment the
negative politiking is not as prevalent.

>You point out correctly that senior management does not walk the talk.
>This is sadly true. They do not own this LO point of view for one thing,
>but even if they do, they do not actively participate. My experience goes
>beyond that, though. 90% plus of management and workers do not 'walk the
>talk' on this stuff. And while the excuse of senior management is that
>they have another job, the excuse of everyone else is that they can't do
>it without senior management. We give senior management even more power
>than they already have when we believe that. Perhaps this is true in some
>of these bullying orgs you have worked for, but not in most I don't
>believe. I can never remember a svp telling someone they could not do
>something that was working. I am sure it must happen some, but...

I wander through a lot of companies -- beleive me there are those who do
not act in the best interest of the company... I don't disagree with what
you say about giving too much power to sr. management. When I train or
consult -- I ignore titles to some of these senior people's dismay. And I
do work again in the company! But isn't it common that people want the
silver bullet -- the magic answer -- the easy way out. If I had a penny
for the number of times that people ask me for a silver bullet in their
dealings with people. I would indeed be wealthy if I could come up with
that silver bullet... I am working on it but unconditional love would
probably be a tough seminar to sell!

>In fact, people's unwillingness to become a LO without energy from senior
>management is one of the indicators to me that revolution is somewhat
>unlikely unless it is pushed from above. It is still today {5+%
>unemployment, and less than 3% for managers) easier to move to a new
>company than to do anything controversial. And roughly half of all
>severances are employee- rather than employer- initiated.

Again -- I agree with you totally but I have my doubts that it will come
from above in most companies unless there is no other way. I heard a
statisitic (I don't know if it is true) that states if you can get get 5%
of the population thinking in a particular direction then you have social
change. So as we are all hoping -- we will impact things. I just have a
need to bring the reality I perceive as out there into this forum. I
don't think we can have a realistic discussion about leadership trends
without looking at what is actually happening as a basis for discussion.
And I don't mean it to sound as if LO is pie in the sky. I just want us
to have a connection between our theory and the data I and others have
observed in the world.

>I look forward to hearing from you.

Hope this helps...

sherri@maloufinc.com Tel:603-672-0355
LMA, Inc Fax:603-673-7120


Sherri Malouf <sherri@maloufinc.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>