Leadership on Point

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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Are You A Fitness Inspiration, Or Just The Boss?

June 27, 2011 Anne Etra - Guest Author

Fitness and Leadership

There’s a guy at the club where I play tennis who’s a bit of a lunatic on the court.  His footwork is nimble, his hitting aggressive and he runs around fiercely, raising his voice and spewing the occasional expletive.

What I admire about him is his attitude to fitness.

As President and CEO of a successful architectural materials firm in New York City, he’s got the pressure of running a competitive, high-end business.   He takes his fitness seriously, rising most weekdays at 5:30am to get in an hour of exercise that includes strength training and cardiovascular work.  His philosophy is that this keeps his body lean and strong, his brain sharp and his movement agile and energetic, which in turn makes him fitter to lead.  He also considers these sessions ‘stress-relievers’ as they provide an hour of uninterrupted quiet before the madness of the day begins.

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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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