Leadership on Point

RLA Named Among Best Management Consulting Firms

May 4, 2017 Richard Levin

Richard Levin

It is with both modesty and humility that I share the good news that Richard Levin & Associates has been named by Forbes as one of the best management consulting firms in America.

What makes me truly happy about this is that we were nominated by an independent and confidential survey of 1100 business executives who were asked by Forbes to identify the 100 best management consulting firms out of nearly 50,000 small and large consultancies nationwide. I am also pleased that our good friends at CFAR, the extraordinary consulting firm with whom we have a deeply valued alliance, made the Forbes list for the second year in a row.

Richard Levin & Associates is truly a dynamic and diverse community. Our team includes more than 35 leadership coaches and management consultants who have created a warm, welcoming culture of collaboration and creativity. They are compassionate, wise, kind people with deep experience in business and organizational behavior. Most important, perhaps, is that we are forever mindful of strengthening our commitments to civil discourse and inclusivity while encouraging leaders to enhance their positive impact, both personally and professionally.

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How Many Hats Does a CIO Need to Wear?

October 21, 2016 Joe Wolke

Technology leaders earn their keep when they help their organizations use technology as a competitive advantage. Success is no longer measured just in availability, speed and uptime: one must now add resiliency, security, scalability, affordability and, most of all, the flexibility to meet business needs that have yet to be defined. These leaders must understand differentiators in their businesses; they need to know real capabilities in the IT marketplace as well as the best providers of those capabilities; and they need to know how to staff and manage high-performing teams who can assure consistent and reliable delivery of those services. They need to be:

  • Technology specialists who know and understand what is real and what is hype
  • Authorities in security, protecting the information that drives the company as well as meeting regulatory compliance
  • Team leaders able to attract, manage and retain a team of highly skilled technical professionals
  • Salespersons, working with peers within an organization to create and sell the business cases that prove the investment in technology is the best use of a company’s money
  • Service brokers with the ability to source both commodity services and the business differentiators from providers both internal and across the globe.

No single university discipline, certification or job prepares individuals for what they need to be the best IT leaders for their organizations. There is no single source that can teach IT leaders to comfortably wear all the necessary hats at the same time.

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How To Handle A Crisis

April 23, 2015 Barry Wanger - Guest Author


Hardly a day goes by without the leaders of some company or nonprofit organization wondering how to handle the latest crisis. A product recall; an evironmental disaster; a sexual harassment lawsuit; an unexpected scandal. The list goes on and on.

What is shocking to me is how often the crisis is handled ineptly. The most common mistakes:

· Not having a crisis plan in place

· Hoping the media won’t find out about the crisis

· More concerned about potential liability than doing the right thing

· Stonewalling

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Will Yahoo’s Ban on Telecommuting Fix The Problem?

March 1, 2013 Richard Levin

As a vocal proponent of telecommuting throughout my career, I am not so sure that Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting is necessarily a setback for working parents and work/family policies (many of which I helped develop over the years).

Having visited the Bay Area several times over the past year, it appears to me that despite Silicon Valley’s reputation as the hub of telecommuting, many Bay Area workers spend part of their workweek IN the office.  But here is the key:  Bay Area companies seem to utilize flex time more than telecommuting – workers frequently come to work “late” (after 9 or 10) and leave “early” (before 4 or 5), checking in frequently from home, cars, or trains when they are not in the office.  So the real story here is not necessarily Yahoo’s ban on telecommuting, but whether the company will still encourage flexible hours and avoid the useless metric of facetime, the policy of being in an office for a set number of hours, regardless of your output.

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The Myth of Work/Life Balance

August 23, 2012 Richard Levin

I have come to a disappointing realization.  It is now 14 years since my colleagues and I published our much-talked-about book, Shared Purpose, whose premise was that employers, families, communities, governments, and schools must work together to address the work/family imbalance facing working parents.  At the time, we urged our readers not to view “work and family” as a women’s issue, but as a serious challenge we must collectively address as a society.

It is why I am so saddened to read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic: “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”, whose conclusion is that society has reneged on its commitment to working moms and has continued to place the burden of “work/life balance” on women.  (Anne-Marie Slaughter is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, and the mother of two teenage boys. She served as the director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011.)

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This Holiday Season, Remember: Customer Loyalty Is A Two-Way Relationship

November 28, 2011 Richard Levin

The holidays are upon us and that means opportunities for retailers to develop loyalty among its customers.  The first step?  Make it easy!  Customers are busy and want to accomplish what they set out to do… without any unnecessary obstacles.  Impressing customers now could likely lead to loyalty throughout the year.

 

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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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Who Is Harold Leavitt … And Why Should You Care?

October 3, 2011 Meghan Vincent

Harold J. Leavitt's Diamond Model for Analyzing Management Change

The late Harold J. Leavitt was a pioneer in the development of the academic field of organizational behavior, a management expert with degrees from Harvard, Brown and MIT (undergrad, graduate, and doctorate, respectively) and a highly respected college professor (University of Chicago, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Stanford).  And, in 1965, he gave to the world his model for analyzing the impacts organizational change.

Through this model (known as Leavitt’s Diamond), Leavitt demonstrates that each element of an organization’s system – people, goals/tasks, structure and technology/processes – are interdependent.  In other words, changes made to any one of these four elements cannot and will not occur in isolation.  Rather, a change made in any one area of your organization will impact the entire system.

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Crash and Burn: Bad Leader, or Set Up to Fail?

September 26, 2011 Richard Levin

Leaders Set Up To Fail

I was recently asked to advise on a situation in which a senior executive, new to the company, was spiraling downward in his performance.  The executive had been pre-screened by a global search firm and was interviewed by an internal search committee representing numerous corporate functions.  His references were stellar, his executive presence superb. Six weeks into his new job, nearly all of his colleagues and direct reports were in agreement: the hire was a misfire. What went wrong?

The most common response is that the company and its search firm missed something in the executive’s profile, and the executive fell short of expectations.  Our tendency is to focus on what the leader did “wrong”; maybe he failed to engage his team, perhaps he didn’t have great communication skills, possibly he could not articulate his vision or spark people’s (or his own) imagination. In this scenario, the leader’s team is typically presented as competent and well-intentioned, ready to be motivated and inspired by the “right” leader.  The team sees itself as eager and hungry for exceptional leadership, and feels the new leader let them down.  The outcome is a situation in which the leader and the team co-generate an escalating spiral of underperformance, frustration, and anger.

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It’s Not Just The Money: The Motivating Power of Words

July 26, 2011 Anne Etra - Guest Author

Thank you + employee retention + employee satisfaction

I recently ghostwrote an e-book for an entrepreneur with a lucrative fitness club member retention system.    His own 14,000-square-foot fitness facility boasts a whopping 84% customer retention rate.  “Success through Involvement” is a key philosophy of his system, resulting in stellar staff effectiveness and happy members achieving their fitness goals.

It might surprise you that employee retention research consistently rates ‘Recognition’ the #1 motivator for staying with a company.  (‘Opportunities for Further Learning and Advancement’ is #2, with ‘Salary’ a lagging #3.)

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