Leadership on Point

Ethics and the Business Decision-Making of Today’s Leaders

December 6, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Ethics in Business Decision Making

The people who work in both large and small corporations are typically a reflection of society. Workers and leaders that enter the workforce bring with them personal, family, and community ethics and values.  From an ethical perspective, there are two elements worth considering: ethical approach and ethical referent.  Ethical approaches include principles, rationale, and standards that individuals portray when facing an ethical decision.  Within the decision-making process, people include their egos, a sense of benevolence, and a principled philosophy.  Ethical referents are the building blocks of an individual’s ethical concerns, or the stage of scrutiny supporting a person’s ethical decision-making.  Unfortunately, many business decisions are made with irrational foundations.  Good ethical decisions are not always beneficial to an individual or profitable for a firm, however, good ethical decision-making is good for society and is a requirement for good leadership.

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Where Is Your Business Going?

November 17, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Business Improvement Process + Organizational Direction + Knowledge Management

Mission and vision provide employees with a picture of where their organization is headed and is part of a bigger  value system.  This value system provides direction for how the organization will respond to the overall business landscape and how the business will position itself among its competitors.  The discerning leader uses environmental and competitive analyses to create an exciting and ideal vision of the future or to redefine a new direction for the organization (Nanus, 1992).  Creating a picture of the future, persuading the board of directors and motivating employees are key elements to executing a rigorous strategic plan with multiple tactical elements.  Such a vision gives followers something bigger than themselves to believe in and a clear, values-based direction to follow.

 

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Let’s Celebrate – Another Female Corporate Executive – CEO!

November 3, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Women CEOs, Leadership, Women, CEO

Although the pay gap has shrunk, women are virtually absent from executive positions.  Corporations and society, in general, have numerous causes from such misrepresentation; the cuprites most sighted are stereotyping, misperceptions about leadership skills, cultural constraints, and the perceived inability for women to make tough managerial decisions. Moreover, women executives are observed having minimal networking groups and opportunities and are often not accepted in male dominate circles.  But IBM has a different opinion; the October 26, 2011, WSJ revealed that after 30 years of impeccable service, Virginia M. Rometty was given the top position of one of the world’s largest and well know corporation.  Rometty now shares corporate prominence with Hewlett-Packard’s CEO, Meg Whitman – how nice!  In the United Kingdom, executive women are also making a difference; their presences in the board rooms and at higher leadership levels show exceptional performance relative to Total Shareholder Return.  Yet, overall, executive and working women are still exposed to discrimination, stereotyping, the glass ceiling, and an expectation to conform to cultural norms and values.

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Stakeholders and Change Management

October 26, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Stakeholders and Change Management, Leadership, Leadership Development, Richard Levin & Associates

Effective Business Positioning with External Stakeholders

Business executives and connected advocacy groups are both focused on the benefits and risks encountered by an organization’s business decisions.  As both entities measure and manage organizational benefits and risks, proponents of theoretical stakeholder’s viewpoint postulated that the long-term sustainability of the firm is ultimately based on relationships (Vachani, 2006).  Experts, in the field of stakeholder theory, speculate several important leadership factors that should be embraced by today’s executives, i.e.; noteworthy participations outside the professional arena and boundaries of job responsibilities; confronting institutional mindset both inside and outside the firm to think and behave in the communities’ or region’s favor; and maintaining a creative and constructive connection with the external social and philanthropic environments (Welter & Egmon, 2006).  Welter and Egmon suggested, “Building the continuous process of change readiness on deeply held, sustainable principles”.   Unfortunately, some leaders’ inability to accept their social responsibility may be a result of historical factors that influence their behaviors; whereas, previously learned behaviors, formal training, and orders from superiors are often established to confront current and future business predicaments, skirmishes, and opportunities.

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Critical Thinking and Deconstruction of Leadership Assumptions (Part II)

October 21, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Example of Executive Leadership’s Politics at Work

Understanding executive politics is vital for personal career success and downright survival.  If we would carefully observe and examine the dynamics of our executive team, we would discover that they are accomplished individuals who apply their skills and talents to advance the business – everyday.  One useful method relative to navigating the C-Suite environment is to have an astute understanding of self and how you are perceived by your peers.  Your boss is essentially interested in your performance, stellar interpersonal skills, and how well you interact with peers; those who possess strong personalities, in a demanding business environment.  As we reflect on executive decision quality, however, we may conclude that our decisions are fundamentally good.  However, let me share an example of poor decision quality vis-à-vis a specific company’s rollout of a new market based compensation program, which generated a social shock to and within this particular company.

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Critical Thinking and Deconstruction of Leadership Assumptions (Part I)

October 18, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Critical Thinking and Deconstruction of Leadership Assumptions + Leadership Development + Executive Coaching + Richard Levin & Associates

As professionals, we embrace creative and critical thinking in a manner to take on exciting initiatives and provide new opportunities for our businesses and personal improvement.  Prior to formal training and exposure to the nuances of critical thinking, we may have found professional socialization and interaction either challenging or cumbersome.  During our professional development, several business situations may have presented small and large problems for us.  These difficulties may have resided in executive leadership’s politics, shadowing role models, and our inability to demonstrate a questioning attitude.  Often, we place ourselves under the assumption that we are effectively exposed to refined relationships and we are properly functioning in our professional world.  Routinely, we may be deceiving ourselves into believing that we are performing well in various business settings.  However, if we truly reflect on our daily professional situations; peer and team dynamics; and our success or failure within our personal interaction; we may discover that our assumptions are actually blind spots.  These blind spots may be a result of our lack of creative and critical thinking.  Ultimately, our goal is to uncover and confront these assumptions and establish corrective measures to deconstruct our leadership suppositions.

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Establishing a Futuristic Organizational Culture

June 22, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Scholars posit numerous differences between leaders and managers.  Leaders are facilitators of change; relish a proactive approach to launching new programs and initiatives, and reaching for the pinnacle of success.  Conversely, managers are grounded on getting the work completed through organizational structures and directing workers’ activities and duties (Dearstyne, 2003).  However, in the arena of records and information management (RIM) programs, the role and responsibility of leaders is always evolving.  Leaders in this environment are inundated with changes, opportunities, diverse clients and new demands, and limited resources (Dearstyne).  To achieve success in a RIM program setting, leaders must possess several traits: (1) optimal personality that typical workers can appreciate and witness wholesome honesty and integrity; (2) ability to see the big picture, while having the ability to get involved in functional work; (3) through strategic practices, influence and motivate workers to pursue a visionary idea; (4) ability to identify, attract, and retain the best worker talent and place them in the right jobs; (5) ability to recognize worker complacency and poor morale and convert such feelings into and promising sense of necessity; (6) understanding fluid customer demands and their relationship with good symmetrical information; (7) keenness to establish appropriate risk management programs and structures to manage the unanticipated; (8) desire to create shareholder value by growing, leveraging opportunities, and building on previous successes; (9) ability to establish and institutionalize appropriate performance measures and metrics, measuring input as well an output, and create a culture of continuous improvement; and (10) a drive and desire to raise the bar on operational performance (Dearstyne).

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Effective Steps to Significantly Boost Customer Loyalty

May 16, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Outstanding customer service is rarely the result of high-priced employee training and performance-monitoring programs.  Before launching a costly plan to overhaul the organization’s customer service operations, consider inexpensive steps that can significantly boost customer loyalty—right away.

Energize employees.  Pep rallies can help, but nothing energizes employees more effectively than seeing senior management demonstrate enthusiasm toward customers.  Bill Marriott of Marriott Corporation has been known to work the front desk from time to time.  It isn’t for the guests’ benefit, but for his employees.  They never forget seeing the head of the company doing what they do—and enjoying every minute of it.

Be generous with customers.  In the rush of day-to-day business, small favors might seem trivial.  To customers, however, they can be the key factor in a decision to develop a long-term relationship with a company.  It might be as simple as a compliment an employee gives to a customer.  Or, it could be a special tailor-made recognition given a customer for placing a larger order or being loyal for a long time.

Keep pace with changes in customers.  Customer expectations are constantly changing.  They are up 33% over this time last year.  Organizations that don’t keep up with them have little chance of developing long-term relationships.  Instead of asking customers how they like the organization’s service, ask them; “What can our company do to provide the best service in the business?”  Answers will help keep you up to date on what customers expect.

We work in challenging economic times.  As margins get thinner, budgets are squeezed.  Sometimes, the best service is simple service.  Just like that homemade holiday gift given during lean years when you were growing up, frugal service can still be fantastic service.

 

 

Written by Dr. Johnny D. Magwood, Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for Northeast Utilities. A well-known industry spokesperson, he can be reached at magwojd@nu.com.

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