Ethics in the Real World eBook

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Vacation Time

Published July 7, 2016 by Mayrbear's Lair



“The appearance of things changes according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”
Kahlil Gibran


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America Deserves Better! (Part 1)

Published February 9, 2016 by Mayrbear's Lair



The past few weeks I’ve been posting blogs focused on leadership based on my extensive research work in organizational management. My choice to focus on this topic was based on the fact that as a nation, we are in the process of deciding who we believe will make the best candidate to assume the helm as the next president of the United States. Most citizens, like myself, are looking for a candidate with integrity; one that is accountable, whose decisions and actions make us feel safe about the direction the country is headed. More and more of us are motivated by the power of positive thinking; people of this mindset tend to yearn for an individual who can infect us with a sincere enthusiasm about leading this nation down a more successful and prosperous path. After all, this country grew and became a great nation because of the determination and focused actions our forefathers took as courageous leaders that were driven by a deep passion to pursue justice and freedom while protecting its people and helping the nation expand and prosper.


The citizens of this country deserve the kind of leader whose actions display sincere intentions with decisions that are driven by a concerted effort to bring order to the institutions that govern this nation. In addition, this country deserves a leader whose choices include an ongoing goal of maintaining peace and restoring economic balance. What I’ve been describing sounds like the kind of leader one would find in the heroic Arthurian journey. Isn’t that the kind of leader most citizens seek? Doesn’t the public deserve a genuine leader of that magnitude? If not, then why are people flocking to hear the negative rhetoric from Republican front runner Donald Trump? In truth, he’s merely expressing what the majority of the constituents are feeling … sick and tired of a dysfunctional government system.


What inspired me to pursue a Master’s degree in Organizational Management was a passionate eagerness to really understand the nuts and bolts about what it takes to create a successful organization with top performers. So I rolled up my sleeves and dug in deep, absorbing all the information I could muster from a wide variety of sources. I also had the opportunity to conduct extensive analyses of both the failures and successes of others as well as my own. What I discovered, was that while there are many components required in creating a prosperous organization, without the placement of effective leadership guiding the direction of the group, any organization will most likely face hardship taking off, let alone finding its niche in the marketplace with successful outcomes.

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In my eBook, Ethics in the Real World (2013) my research work reveals that an individual’s attitude and values has an effect on their predispositions towards others, as well as how they interpret concepts and unfolding events. People rely on their experience and perceptions to solve issues sometimes allowing emotions to guide the thinking and decision-making process. Individuals, for instance, without suitable self-management skills, tend to experience more challenges in social arenas and make different decisions than a person who is confident with self-esteem. Furthermore, leaders who lack self-awareness seem to experience difficulty picking up on the boundaries and emotions of others. This makes it difficult to develop healthy relationships because of their inability to relate to others with compassion (Berry, 2013). All of these components help shape an individual’s leadership style and what they perceive as ethical behavior.


As American voters focus their attention on the New Hampshire Primary, this week, the Republicans and Democrats are both vying for citizens’ attention and are eager for another opportunity to make a splash to convince constituents why they are the best candidate to lead the direction of this fabulous nation. However, in order to determine the best candidate for the position, we must first look at the components that constitute a good leader. In other words, in order to choose the best candidate, the kind of leader this nation deserves, it is up to us to conduct our own research to help us make the best decision available. But first, we must ask ourselves to identify the qualities of a successful leader and then determine which candidate displays most, if not all of them. In my own personal experience working with a wide range of CEOs and Executive Managers, the best leaders were those who: (a) continued to re-examine outdated views and determined which business paradigms required more focus and development; (b) were open to upgrading systems to achieve and maintain smooth operational functions; and (c) possessed an inherent ability to inspire and motivate staff members in reaching their highest potential. These qualities exhibit a kind of leader who is capable of making mindful choices and works diligently to keep morale up.


John O’Neil (1999) eloquently laid out a formula to help leaders cultivate effective leadership styles in his book, Leadership Aikido,  (1999) where he introduced six concepts developed from the martial arts tradition of Aikido. This plan is focused on achieving victorious outcomes without creating harm. O’Neil provides the following outline as a tool for managers to assess and develop their own efficient leadership style:

  1. Cultivating self-knowledge;
  2. Practicing the paradoxical art of planning;
  3. Speaking the language of mastery;
  4. Letting values drive the decision making process;
  5. Turning failure into success; and
  6. Heeding the law of unintended consequences (O’Neil, 1999).

Based on these practices, O’Neil asserts that through the elements of Aikido, leaders are in a better position to identify and overcome what he defines as the five inner enemies that can impede progress: (1) failure to grow emotionally; (2) failure to make creative decisions; (3) failure to empathize; (4) failure to manage ego; and (5) failure to overcome alienation and boredom (O’Neil, 1999). This perspective embraces personal power and energy as the vital components for developing effective leadership styles.

On Thursday, we will continue this discussion and take a closer look at which of the current candidates display some, if any, of these leadership qualities.

Until then … keep learning and enhancing your own leadership skills!


Through the right people focusing on the right things, we can, in time, get on top of a lot if not most of the problems of this world. And that’s what a number of us are trying to do.

Richard Branson


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Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

O’Neil, J. (1999). Leadership aikido. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Prayers for Paris

Published November 16, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair


When I was part of a team of performing artists, I had the privilege of touring throughout France and spent a considerable amount of time in Paris. In fact, the first merry-go-round my daughter ever rode on was outside of the Eiffel tower.

Fond memories of France

Fond memories of Paris France with my toddler

Due to the impact last Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris has had on the world, we decided to dedicate this week’s posts to celebrate the spirit of the French people. For no matter how many times they have had the winds knocked out of their sails … they always return stronger and more triumphant!


My little girl’s first Merry Go Round, Paris France

Paris, you are forever in our prayers!


Viva Le France!


“The more you are grateful for what you have the more you can live fully in the present.” ― Dana Arcuri


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Honoring Those Who Serve

Published November 9, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair


This week, as proud citizens of the United States, we will once again take the time to celebrate and reflect on the many services provided by our veterans as we honor all the great she-roes and heroes that have served this beautiful country. In honor of these heroic leaders, we decided to re-post our favorite blogs on the topic of leadership for the Veterans Day Holiday this week. In the meantime, we will continue the discussion we began on strategies for effective decision making next week.

Until then … we hope you enjoy this week’s blogs!


Styles of Leadership

(Original post, December 2012)

The nature of today’s business world produces constant change. Strong leadership expertise is required to handle potential problems with intelligence, diplomacy, and efficiency. Every leader exhibits talent in a different way and no one way of leading is better than another.  In fact, everyone can lead to a certain degree but not all leaders are effective (Glanz, 2002). Generally, visionary leaders that demonstrate a charismatic style tend to experience higher levels of success. This class of strong leader copes with change, delivers guidance, and institutes direction by communicating a vision that generates enthusiasm. These transformational leaders propagate trust, encourage development leadership skills in others, exhibit self-sacrifice and serve as moral representatives. They focus on objectives that transcend their own immediate needs (Baack, 2012).  In addition, they increase levels of fulfillment and performance in their organization by formulating and communicating a vision while building a bond with their staff. They are able to combine personal capability, group skills, managerial aptitudes and motivational proficiency with individual humility and professional determination.

#1 Leaders

Many studies have been conducted to determine the best style of leadership. Most conclude that effective leaders exhibit varying degrees of the following virtues: (a) courage, (b) impartiality, (c) empathy, (d) judgment, (e) enthusiasm, (f) humility, and (g) imagination (Glanz, 2002).  The best leaders continue to re-examine outdated business paradigms to maintain smooth operations, high production rates, while diligently working to keep morale up. In his book, Leadership Aikido, John O’Neil (1999) introduced six concepts inspired by the martial arts tradition that stresses victory without harm. The six master practices he outlines that enable leaders to assess and develop their potential are:

  1.  Cultivating self-knowledge;
  2.  Practicing the paradoxical art of planning;
  3.  Speaking the language of mastery;
  4.  Letting values drive our decisions;
  5.  Turning failure into success; and
  6.  Heeding the law of unintended consequences (O’Neil, 1999).

He believes through the elements of aikido, leaders are able to identify and overcome five inner enemies that impede progress: (a) failure to grow emotionally; (b) failure to make creative decisions; (c) failure to empathize; (d) failure to manage ego; and (e) failure to overcome alienation and boredom (O’Neil, 1999).  This perspective embraces personal power and energy as vital traits to effective leadership.


The bottom line is, individuals are not required to be well liked to become effective leaders. What is important, however, in an effective leader is their ability to garner high levels of trust and respect. The truth is, leaders are not always in a position to produce satisfaction in the workplace because not all policies and regulations enforced are popular. It is imperative, nonetheless, that leaders are accepted and command respect in their leadership role. To sum up, if a leader is not acknowledged or venerated on some level, it will be difficult to achieve objective goals and high levels of success in their position.


“What each of us believes in is up to us, but life is impossible without believing in something.” ― Kentetsu Takamori


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Baack, D. (2012). Organizational behaviorSan Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Glanz, J. (2002). Finding your leadership styleAlexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

O’Neil, J. (1999). Leadership AikidoNew York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

The Nature of Conflict

Published October 21, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair



This week we began a discussion on how to face conflicts in an attempt to manage them more effectively. Today, we continue our examination by first acknowledging a significant component: that practically every conflict begins with someone or something violating an individual’s rights, boundaries, or comfort zone. While the primary ingredients in any conflict are the individuals involved, conflicts tend to spring from the same litany of sources for all people (Cowan, 2003).  To begin pinpointing the source of a conflict, a closer analysis can help determine the stage of the conflict – whether it is in the latent; perceived; felt; or open stage.


To help us comprehend the nature of a conflict more clearly, we will analyze one case study of a situation that developed between two organizations we will identify as Company S and Company B. This examination is meant to help us assess what options are available to leaders to help avoid similar conflicts.

Our case study begins with Company S, a small company that sought payment for services rendered to a big company, Company B. In analyzing the situation, we discovered that the small firm, Company S, submitted an invoice for remittance to the big one, Company B, for providing services that required the small firm’s specialized set of skills. However, rather than paying the full amount, Company B rendered payment that represented only a fraction of the sum due. By engaging in this kind of conduct, especially without reaching out to Company S to offer an explanation, Company B’s actions naturally resulted in the creation of a difficult conflict. This action transmitted a clear message; one that revealed a kind of leadership from Company B that had no issue engaging freely in unethical conduct. In short, rather than honor the smaller company’s rates and terms of services, Company B chose to employ a strategy that communicated a form of workplace bullying by refusing to adhere to the terms and conditions laid out by the smaller firm.


Analyzing a situation like this, a perceptive, strong leader would recognize that the strategic actions of the larger firm revealed a reckless form of leadership; one that displayed a willingness to risk creating conflict in order to achieve short term solutions. Effective leaders also comprehend that this form of conduct, revealed from Company B’s leadership, also jeopardizes the possibility of developing a good working relationship with Company S. Furthermore, a smart leader understands that Company B’s actions also put the firm in jeopardy by risking long term consequences that could ultimately tarnish the firm’s reputation from any negative attention or publicity that could ensue from the exposure of unethical practices.

Had the leaders from the big organization at Company B, engaged in more ethical strategic management practices, rather than pursuing the kind of conduct hagglers exhibit in an attempt to receive lower rates, like sheep merchants at a flea market, they could have avoided this conflict altogether. Leaders of large powerful firms that use small firms or independent contractors as mere pawns to achieve organizational goals, are most certain to create conflicts and also face risking a serious breach of trust from their shareholders by deliberately choosing to engage in methods of ethical misconduct.

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In his book, Taking Charge of Organizational Conflicts, Cowan’s  (2003) research also revealed that relationships and organizations suffer when conflicts are not resolved. Plus, they also have a profound affect on those in the organization directly involved as well as those who are not. The truth is, everyone connected with a conflict, including the innocent bystanders, can be affected at some kind of personal level (Cowan, 2003).

Once leaders are able to address the conflict, steps to resolution can begin by identifying some of the following elements: (a) the parties involved, (b) the issues disputed, (c) the positions of the parties, and (d) the parameters of the bargaining zone. If leaders do not address these components, unresolved conflicts and disruptions can lead to disastrous consequences, especially if the tension continues to build and both sides resort to whatever method available to release aggression and seek justice for having their rights violated.

Although the psychological climate for negotiation can seem bleak, individuals and leaders of organizations that are faced with conflicts, will require strong leadership skills to work through them. The leaders who achieve the most successful results are those that are open to active listening, gather all the information available from the players involved, and engage in practices of transparency and accountability, to help them reach their goals.

That’s a wrap for our discussion today. Until next time … do your best to find ethical solutions when conflicts arise and stay organized!


“You can’t solve problems until you understand the other side.” – Jeffrey Manber


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Cowan, D. (2003). Taking charge of organizational conflict (2nd ed.). Fawnskin, CA: Personhood Press.

The Road to Effective Leadership (Conclusion)

Published October 2, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair


This week our discussion has been focused on what it takes to develop effective leadership skills. In the book, Business Ethics (2013), Ferrell, et al., revealed that when well-publicized scandals occur the public typically responds with outrage about the deception and fraud exposed and subsequently demand improved ethics with greater responsibility from the institutions they trust (Ferrell, Ferrell, & Fraedrich, 2013). In other words, a great leader who reveals ethical behavior, can influence the public’s attitude towards achieving positive outcomes and in doing so, will avoid destroying their trust. It seems like a simple enough formula for most folks to follow. If it is as simple as that, then why do so many world leaders seem to have problems making ethical choices, like the CEO at Volkswagen who just stepped down because of the scandal over their products cheating on pollution emission test results?


Ethical decisions make up a part of our everyday life. It’s just part of the decision-making process that affects all levels of work management as well as the choices we make in our personal lives. Ethics is not just about isolated personal issues, it also affects policies and informal communication. Additionally, a person’s ethics is responsible for outlining their conduct which is embedded in the fabric of every action that person takes. It affects how they view themselves, behave towards their family and friends, as well as how they operate and respond within their organization and community. In other words, ethical behavior (or the lack of it) has a very profound affect in everyone’s domain.


In the e-book, Ethics and the Real World (2013) my research work revealed that a person’s emotional intelligence, or their ability to distinguish and administer information from the stimuli that shapes their perceptions and emotional cues, plays a key role in the development of ethical perceptions. In other words, a person’s cognitive ability or beliefs and perceptions about any given situation, influences the way they judge, react, and respond to their environment (Berry, 2013). It also plays a significant role in how they choose to experience their life based on the perceptions they develop which help shape their views on acceptable behavior as well as what they construe as misconduct.


The most influential leaders, however, are those that carry with them a unique kind of energy; one that has the power to inspire others to take action and make positive changes in themselves. It is a kind of energy that can shine a light on misconduct to illuminate the dark crevices where deceptive practices tend to occur. It is this kind of energy that radiates a spark in others that inspires better choices. This results from the infectious way they touch the emotions of others bringing a sincere warmth in the meaning behind the messages they transmit. It is these kinds of charismatic individuals that come into the world to offer humanity hope in our ability to unite and work together to find solutions that will ultimately help restore balance and harmony.


In his book, 365 Science of Mind (2007), Ernest Holmes reminds us that individuals capable of aligning themselves with the energy of goodness and right action are those that display an admirable level of moral compass and ethics (Holmes, 2007). In conclusion, our research efforts uncovered that a person’s ethical views plays a key role in their ability to transform others to affect positive changes. This was one of the key components that helped leaders like Nelson Mandella, Pope Francis, Mother Theresa and Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, to name a few, emerge as a formidable force to reckon with in the global community. Each of them, effective leaders who relied on the power of their ethical views to transform the negative energy of the hardships they experienced, to achieve positive outcomes, which in turn has inspired millions to do the same in the process.

Well that’s it for this week. Until next time … keep working on those leadership skills!


Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life. – Albert Schweitzer


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Baack, D. (2012). Management Communication. San Diego, CA, USA: Bridgepoint Education.

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Ferrell, L., Ferrell, O. C., & Fraedrich, J. (2013). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases. OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Holmes, E. (2007). 365 Science of Mind. (K. Juline, Ed.) New York, NY: Penguin.

Cultivating Leadership Styles

Published May 13, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair


On Monday we began our initial examination on leadership styles and discussed whether being liked is more important than achieving end results. Today we continue this analysis by identifying different kinds of leadership styles. When I was conducting research for my ebook, Ethics in the Real World (2013) I discovered that the ability to distinguish and administer information from perceptions, stimuli, and emotional cues defines a person’s emotional intelligence (EQ). The EQ of a person plays a key role in the development of an individual’s ethical perceptions in both their personal and business relationships, particularly for those with constant social interaction.

inadequate leadership

A person’s cognitive ability, or beliefs and perceptions about any given situation, for instance, can influence the way they judge, react to, and respond to their environment (Berry, 2013). I also learned that a person’s EQ plays an important role in how individuals discern satisfaction in their lives and create career experiences based on their own values in addition to what that person perceives is acceptable or unacceptable behavioral choices.

Ethical Leadership 2

According to Jeffrey Glanz (2002), many studies have been conducted to determine the best style of leadership, and the majority of researchers concluded that the most effective leadership style is one that exhibits varying degrees of the following virtues: (a) courage, (b) impartiality, (c) empathy, (d) judgment, (e) enthusiasm, (f) humility, and (g) imagination (Glanz, 2002).  In other words, these are the components that are at the core in the development and cultivation of successful leadership styles.

On Friday we will conclude our examination on effective leadership styles. Until then … stay organized!


“Success comes from taking the initiative and following up or persisting.” – Tony Robbins


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For more information on Media Magic’s digital publications, or to purchase any of our Business Life audio book titles, please visit’s new feature called “Author Central” to view:

 Mayr’s Author’s Page


Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Glanz, J. (2002). Finding your leadership style. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculam Development (ASCD).

Styles of Leadership

Published May 11, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

Ashford Diploma

When we are assigned leadership roles, most of us want to be accepted and liked. However, leaders that are concerned with just being accepted and liked, often find themselves going out of their way to achieve this goal, which can sometimes lead to creating bigger challenges. During my graduate research work at Ashford University, the professor in my Organizational Management Behavior course asked us to contemplate what style of leadership we believe is the most effective for managing an organization. The focus of our discussion was centered on whether it is important to be well-liked, or whether the final results and reaching organizational goals were all that really mattered.

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For my eBook, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I began my research work on the topic of leadership ethics, by drawing from personal experiences working with managers whose strong leadership styles included good intentions and solid goals, but evolved into a style of leadership that produced ineffective results. This shift can occur because: (a) managers lose sight of the goal, or (b) the power they experience in this managerial role, supported by a strong ego, can distort a leader’s perceptions which in turn attributes to their losing sight of the original vision and goal. This can also happen to leaders in powerful positions that have no one to answer to. In extreme cases, these kinds of leaders may become dangerous individuals, because unlimited power, with unlimited compassion, tends to encourage unlimited corruption (Berry, 2013). This is the kind of arena that cultivates a fertile atmosphere for individuals with personality disorders to thrive; often unable to recognize inappropriate conduct or worse, unable to perceive that a problem even exists!


The reality is, the nature of today’s business world produces constant change. To develop an ethical organization, strong leadership expertise is required to handle potential problems with intelligence, diplomacy, and efficiency. In truth, every leader exhibits talent differently. There really is no one way of leading that is better than another. In his book, Finding Your Leadership Style, Jeffrey Glanz (2012) too asserts that anyone can lead to a certain degree, and agrees that not all leaders will yield the same results (Glanz, 2002). That is also due to the fact that each individual relies on their own unique experiences and influences in the decision making process.


Visionary leaders that demonstrate a charismatic style, for example, tend to achieve their goals more consistently and can experience higher levels of success. This class of leadership style tends to be effectively equipped at coping with change, delivering guidance, and instituting direction by communicating a vision that generates enthusiasm. These are transformational leaders that: (a) propagate trust, (b) encourage the development of leadership skills in others, (c) exhibit self-sacrifice, and (d) most significantly, serve as moral representatives. This style of leadership is focused on objectives which transcend the leader’s own immediate needs (Baack, 2012).  In addition, this style of leadership increases levels of fulfillment and performance from organizational staff members because they are effective in formulating and communicating the firm’s vision while continuing to build professional bonds with employees. In other words, this style of leadership includes individuals that are able to combine personal capability, group skills, managerial aptitudes, and motivational proficiency, with individual humility and professional determination to achieve their goals.

That’s wraps up our discussion for today. On Wednesday we will continue our analysis on styles of leadership. Until then … stay organized!


“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Bertrand Russell 


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For more information on Media Magic’s digital publications, or to purchase any of our Business Life audio book titles, please visit’s new feature called “Author Central” to view:

Mayr’s Author’s Page



Baack, D. (2012). Management Communication. San Diego, CA, USA: Bridgepoint Education.

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Glanz, J. (2002). Finding your leadership style. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculam Development (ASCD).


Organizational Knowledge and The Learning Process

Published September 10, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

Business objects

According to business analysts, to achieve maximum results, organizational “knowledge” has to be captured and used.  In one of the MBA courses at Ashford University, our professor revealed that successful leaders capture organizational knowledge and use it effectively by: (a) keeping it human; (b) putting focus on useful knowledge and “know-how”; (c) collecting artifacts; (d) the avoidance of insular or isolated focus; and (e) keeping knowledge fresh.


The learning process is an essential component in organizational management and often transpires when leaders detect, analyze and correct errors. Argyris (1993) suggested that mistakes occur because of a mismatch between what an organization intends to achieve with their actions with respect to what actually transpired.  In other words errors are made when a disconnect emerges between intentions and results. In addition, learning also occurs when an organization produces a match between intentions and results for the first time. The most effective business leaders understand that actionable knowledge is significant in running an organization efficiently (Argyris, 1993).


One way of capturing knowledge and using it effectively is by keeping it human. This means that although every company wants to be highly profitable, the human factor is equally important. It requires the development of a culture that supports employees with such components like a generous compensation, benefits, and a safe working environment. It also means becoming an organization that is socially conscious to the environment and contributes to the welfare of the community. Furthermore, companies that embrace a keep it human attitude, are also the firms that are popular with consumers usually because they have devised systems that are focused on customer relationship management and engage in practices that support responsible corporate citizenship.


In addition, effective organizational leaders focus on useful knowledge and know-how strategies. Bontis and Choo (2002) identify this tactic as knowledge strategy and purport that it is a competitive strategy that is built around a firm’s intellectual resources and capabilities. It consists of the strategic choices a company makes using knowledge and experience to guide a firm’s development and operational functions. In addition, innovative knowledge strategies can help motivate superior performance levels (Bontis & Choo, 2002).


Another useful strategy is collecting artifacts which include anything from competitor product samples, to adding technology that helps run the company more efficiently, to valuable information about the industry like where to mine for new leads. Collecting artifacts can: (a) help managers operate the firm more effectively, (b) give them a competitive edge, (c) help paint a clearer picture of the current marketplace, and (d) help managers anticipate new trends and changes.

On Friday, we will take a closer look at how organizational knowledge helps leaders in the strategic planning process. Until then … keep organized!


A person should look for what is, and not for what they think should be. – Albert Einstein


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For more information on Media Magic, our digital publications, or to purchase any of our accelerated learning Business Life titles, please visit our website at: Media Magic Publishing.


Argyris, C. (1993). Knowledge for action. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bontis, N., & Choo, C. (2002). The strategic management of intellectual and capital and organizational knowledge. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Failure Management

Published September 5, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair


One thing we are not prepared for in life, nor is this topic generally taught in most academic institutions, is how to deal with failure. Maxwell (2000) points out that people in school are trained for success and as a result, most of us have an unrealistic perception of what failure looks like, let alone how to deal with it. The truth is, we should also receive training for failure as this a far more common occurrence (Maxwell, 2000). In fact, taking into consideration that 1% of the population holds all the wealth, we can say that poverty is more prevalent than wealth and disappointment transpires far more often than not. Just ask all the teams that did not make it to the Super Bowl or any of the athletes that have ever competed at the Olympic Games who did not walk away with a medal. Given these statistics, it makes sense that the odds are in favor of our failing more often than not. When you think about it, that’s a pretty grim perspective. However, acknowledging this element can be helpful to leaders in a business arena. For instance, one survey from professionals that help companies in trouble, pointed out that components like inadequate leadership and poor planning are two of many reasons why some companies fail. This is valuable information that can help key decision makers create more effective strategies.

inadequate leadership

To address the first reason for business failures – the inadequate leadership factor, key decision makers must first understand what the magical component is that makes one person stand out from others. In other words, to address poor leadership issues, one must first comprehend the components that differentiate an average person from a top performer. Coulter (2010) points out, for instance, that effective leaders develop strategies that will: (a) move the company forward, (b) maintain the company’s position in the marketplace, or (c) reverse an organization’s shortcomings to lead them to successful outcomes (Coulter, 2010).

But why are some leaders effective while others fall short? Celebrated soccer player Kyle Rote is quoted to have said that there are many roads to success, but that the path to failure is a person’s inability to look beyond those failures. In other words, the difference between an average performer and a top performer is how they perceive failure in addition to how they deal with it. For example, a person that has the ability to learn from their failures is more likely to achieve successful outcomes, than one who allows failure to deter them from moving forward or making another attempt.

challenge to opportunity

A leader that is a high achiever tends to view negative outcomes differently. This is the kind of leader that will approach a challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than blame mistakes on someone or something else. A leader that blames others is missing an important opportunity to discover a new strategy and is more likely to repeat their mistakes. In addition, an inadequate leader most likely does not expect to fail again, once they resolve an issue. As a result, if and when it occurs again they are not prepared. Therefore, a strategy for company owners and shareholders would be to recruit top performers in leadership positions that possess some of following characteristics: (a) individuals that take responsibility for errors and shortcomings rather than blaming it elsewhere, (b) they learn from their mistakes, (c) they understand that failure is part of the process that leads to progress, (d) they challenge outdated assumptions, (e) they are not afraid of risks, and most important, (f) they persevere (Maxwell, 2000). These components can help key decision makers engage in better leadership choices to reduce chances of errors that can occur from inadequate leadership issues.


Another reason why businesses fail is because of poor planning. However, upon closer examination, we will also discover that businesses do not only fail because of poor planning, failure also occurs because the plans were not executed to their fullest potential. Carroll and Mui (2008) revealed, for instance, that corporate America has spent hundreds of billions of dollars producing epic business failures. In fact, many executives in top management positions cringe at the word failure. As a result they rarely learn from failed outcomes and in most cases, focus the blame elsewhere. Take for example the mortgage and loan crisis of 2008 that repeated earlier financial crises. This is a strong indicator that business institutions continue to repeat the same or similar errors. The statistics are quite sobering in fact because they reveal that since 1981, 423 US companies with assets of more than $500 million filed for bankruptcy. In addition, their combined assets at the time totaled more than – are you ready for this – $1.5 trillion! Their combined annual revenue was almost $830 billion; and in fact, some of these corporations filed bankruptcy multiple times! This tells us that companies are not even learning from other companies’ mistakes (Carroll & Mui, 2008).


So what is the reason for all these burnouts? Carroll and Mui suggest the culprit is poor execution of strategic plans. For instance, in a battlefield, most leaders reveal that a battle plan rarely survives first contact. This is because they can only engage in so much planning before just moving forward. Executives could stand to learn from this fact. Planning and execution are significant, but what is equally if not more important, is creating a plan with good strategic actions that will produce effective results.


Take for example the famous incident that occurred at the Charge of the Light Brigade, the British Cavalry so named because they were optimized for fast mobility. The English troops were led by Lord Cardigan against Russian soldiers in October of 1854 during the Battle of Balaclava. According to reports, faulty intelligence affected the orders given to the cavalry that contributed to the disastrous decision to charge the Russians who were equipped with a considerable amount of artillery in the Crimean War. The British executed their strategy as planned, however, because the strategic move was based on false data, their campaign was ineffective. Once the charge was set in motion, there was no way to avoid the disaster they encountered and as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in his famous poem, the soldiers walked into the valley of death. In other words, their failure did not result from poor planning, it resulted because of incorrect information that was used to devise the plans. This is how inaccurate information can result in disastrous outcomes. In fact, in a business context, Carroll and Mui further postulate that 46% of company failures can be avoided if leaders are more aware of the pitfalls they may face. Other failures can also be avoided if companies are able to detect the warning signs.

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My ebook, The Value of Strategic Management, just released on audiobook, provides insights to effective leadership skills and examines strategies that top performers implement to manage an organization more efficiently. In short, the best strategy leaders can use to avoid failures that result from poor planning is to understand that poor planning can result from a lack of accurate data in the construction and execution of the strategic planning process. Although we acknowledge that there are many factors that can contribute to a business failing to achieve their desired outcomes, the key lies in a firm’s abilities to not only acknowledge their mistakes, but take responsibility and accountability for them and use their experience with failure as an opportunity to learn and avoid repeating the same patterns thereafter.


“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”  –  Paulo Coelho


For more information on Media Magic, our digital publications, or to purchase any of our accelerated learning Business Life titles, please visit our website at: Media Magic Publishing.



Carroll, P., & Mui, C. (2008). Billion dollar lessons. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Coulter, M. (2010). Strategic management in action (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Maxwell, J. (2000). Failing forward. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.