Leadership on Point

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).

In modern day organizations, leaders are required to not only harbor ideal leadership styles and attributes, but to also create a sustainable workplace environment for present and future operations (Kwong, 2004).  As such, sustainable workplace development besets the requirements of current workers without undermining future followers’ ability to achieve similar or greater needs (Kwong).  Sustainability centers on two elements: essentially, to fulfill the needs of the current environment; using universal cost-effective applications, i.e., Benefit-Cost Analysis and life cycle cost analysis.  Second, without forsaking the future, leaders must confront new opportunities by assessing traditional economical tools and comparing them to contemporary performance models that are applicable for futuristic econometric estimation (Kwong).

Practitioners use psychologically-based strategies and techniques to stabilize and enhance operational performance, establish and reinforce goal, and provide a forum to share feedback (Sutherland, Makin, Bright, & Cox, 1995).  Such an approach to ensuring operational performance was coined by researchers as applied Organizational Behavior Modification (OBMod).  Thus, establishing and defining desired behaviors and rewarding workers for practicing required behaviors is geared to promote continuous quality improvement.  To foster success, relative to quality behavior, organizations should follow specific methods.  First, leadership should work with OBMod experts to identify undesired and desired behaviors; and focus particularly on behaviors that promote favorable productivity.  Second, assess baseline frequency of desired behaviors (Sutherland, Makin, Bright, & Cox, 1995).

As such, leaders and OBMod trainers can monitor quality performance with respect to rewards versus punishments.  Next, the appropriate team must analyze behaviors to recognize antecedents and consequences.  Essentially, the purpose of this phase is to identify obstructions and constraints to quality behaviors and improvements (Sutherland et al., 1995).  As leaders and trainers learned and understood the antecedences and consequences and their relations on quality behavior; the next stage is to manipulate findings to generate desired behavior and minimize undesired behavior.  Finally, leaders must establish a continuous evaluation program to determine if worker behavior has changed to meet quality performance objectives (Sutherland, et al).


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.