Leadership

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Satirical Laughter and Dissenting Silence as a Strategy for Positive Change

Published December 30, 2016 by Mayrbear's Lair

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According to author, educator, activist, Parker Palmer (2004), who is also the founder of The Center for Courage & Renewal, satire is a component that oppressive and corrupt leaders fear most. Palmer explains that when giggles turn to thunderous roars of laughter around a corrupt regime, it can rock the very foundation of that power and profusely shake the political seismograph. To prevent the shakeup from gaining momentum, a leader who embraces a dictator leadership style, for instance, will: (a) make a concerted effort to suppress satirists whenever they are able to; (b) eliminate them when their attempts are unsuccessful; and (c) remain vigilant for signs of satire arising from the underground (Palmer, 2004).

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In a democracy like the U.S. however, a form of government where the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or their elected agents under a free electoral system (Democracy, 2016), citizens are guaranteed the freedom of speech because of the First Amendment of the Constitution. This gives ordinary citizens the right to ridicule the powerful. In short, ordinary citizens have the power to exercise their right and speak the truth, especially if that means bringing down a corrupt system and their leaders, as history can attest.

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If the United States were set up as a totalitarian state – “a form of government that does not tolerate parties of differing opinions and exercises dictatorial control over many aspects of the lives of people” (Totalitarian, 2016) citizens would face different consequences sharing views that were not in alignment with that of their oppressive government. In the meantime, democracy is constantly under attack from a brand of politics that is driven by greed and seduced by an arrogance of power disguised as something patriotic and/or religiously significant. In his book, A Hidden Wholeness, which focuses on strategies that build Circles of Trust, Parker Palmer explains this concept more eloquently. Using the classic fable from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, as an example, he explains about the political ramifications of both laughter and silence.

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In Andersen’s famous fairy tale, con men posing as tailors come to town convincing the Emperor to pay big bucks for a new outfit. To maximize their profits, the con artists make the sartorial out of thin air and convince the Ruler that only the unenlightened and the foolish will not see the new garments. To avoid being identified as an imbecile, the Emperor agrees to parade stark naked throughout the town – while citizens applaud the unique new clothing, not wanting to disrespect their Ruler’s actions. This scene provides a classic example of citizens living in what Palmer describes as a “divided life” where both Emperor and townsfolk alike know the truth inwardly, but support that lie, outwardly  (Palmer, 2004) .

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The only person in the fairy tale with the cleverness to crack this illusion of fools was a young child who simply stated that the Emperor was naked. Although the child’s fearful father attempted to silence the little one, it was that innocent outcry, that freed the townsfolk from further supporting their lying eyes. This action in turn instigates the wave of recognition which confirmed to citizens that their beloved Emperor was traipsing around in the buff. It was the one simple act of an innocent child, who merely described what he witnessed, that freed the rest of the citizens from the deception.

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Palmer suggests that the message communicated from this kind of awareness is simple: citizens will no longer conspire in supporting the illusions that help corrupt leaders maintain control. He further postulates that by withholding support rather than falling into silence, citizens are taking small steps toward withdrawing their consent which in turn plays a significant role for leaders who engage in misconduct and wish to maintain their abuse of power. In short, when people no longer affirm, pretend to affirm, or give meaning to an unethical form of nationalism and/or religious symbols that corrupt leaders implement  – citizens can affect positive change. Instead, Palmer stresses that citizens will discover that from this vantage point, they are in a much better place to laugh at corrupt leaders, rather than laugh with them by using this silence as a means of dissent from their corruption, rather than expressing compassion towards these misguided leaders (Palmer, 2004).

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In conclusion, Palmer’s research work helps us comprehend that satirical laughter and dissenting silence are two forms of nonviolent strategies that can help ordinary citizens become agents of positive social change. People who turn to strategies of nonviolence when confronting or exposing leaders that impose cruelty and injustice, have a much higher claim to good manners than those same leaders who hide behind piosity and patriotism to encourage and justify economic, military, or domestic violence (Palmer, 2004). In today’s ever changing climate, these are very real concepts leaders must consider when faced with issues that could lead to corruption and misconduct. Implementing an effective proactive strategy can be the key that helps motivate positive action from leaders as they continue to work on raising their own levels of awareness in an effort to achieve their goals with integrity and the support of the community.

That concludes our analysis on affecting positive change using satirical laughter and dissenting silence as strategies. Thanks for stopping by! We really appreciate and value your time. We’re also grateful for the opportunity to share the research work that motivates us, as well as offer a few insights from our own experiences which helped inspire this work. Next time, we will take a closer look at identifying attacks on the human spirit and discuss how these assaults may be interpreted as violent acts, which we may not even be aware of. We will also examine nonviolent solutions leaders can rely on as more effective problem solving strategies … until then, keep working on evolving your leadership skills!

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“Laughter need not be cut out of anything, since it improves everything.”

 – James Thurber

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References:

Democracy. (2016, December 28). Retrieved from dictionary.com: http://www.dictionary.com/

Palmer, P. J. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness. San Francisco, CA, USA: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved December 28, 2016

Totalitarian. (2016, December 28). Retrieved from dictionary.com: http://www.dictionary.com

 

Honoring Those Who Serve

Published November 9, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

Veterans-Day1

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!

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Styles of Leadership
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(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.

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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.

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

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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:

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References:

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

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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:

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References

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

Independence Day Weekend!

Published July 3, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

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True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right. – Brigham Young

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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!

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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.

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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!

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“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 amazon.com’s new feature called “Author Central” to view:

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References:

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).

 

Strategic Positioning

Published February 11, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

Secret Weapon

An organization that is able to outperform its rivals over a prolonged period of time has sustainable competitive advantage. Google for example has sustainable competitive advantage because it continues to outperform its competitors consistently over and over. Past performance, however, is no guarantee of future performance. Automotive magnate, Henry Ford, was driven by his ambition to mass produce a reliable car at a low cost. Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in the meantime, were motivated to create a better search engine. In his book, Strategic Management, Frank Rothaermel reveals that successful business people like these, made their fortunes as the consequence of providing quality products or services consumers wanted. He postulates that strategic management is the significant component that helps create superior value, while containing the cost to produce it (Rothaermel, 2013). In other words, the greater the difference between value, creation, and cost, or the greater economic contribution the firm makes, the greater the likelihood is that they will achieve the competitive advantage.

Competitive-Advantage (1)

Sharp executives learned that to gain a competitive advantage, the firm needs to provide other goods or services consumers value more highly than those of their competitors, or that their goods or services are similar to their competition, but are offered at a lower rate. The essence of strategic management therefore, is being different from their rivals which in turn, makes them unique. Harvard Business School expert Michael Porter (2011) emphasized that strategic management is as much about deciding what not to do as it is about deciding what decisions to make. In addition, because supplies of resources are not unlimited, leaders must carefully contemplate business strategies in their quest to achieve the competitive advantage (Porter, 2011). In other words, those that try to do everything for everybody, inevitably are creating a recipe for inferior outcomes.

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Another component executives consider is that strategic positioning requires trade-offs. In The Mission of Corporate Strategic Behavior (2014), my research work took a peek at the many obstacles the music industry faced because of a shift in economic conditions as well as the strategic decisions executives made and new partnerships they forged to remain competitive in a changing market place (Berry, 2014). Industry leaders achieved these goals through strategic management by staking out a unique position in their industry that allowed them to continue to provide value to their customers while controlling costs while protecting their intellectual property. Other companies, in the meantime, create strategic positioning by cooperating with competitors to achieve strategic objectives. The term for this practice is known as “coopetition”. For example, JCPenney is a low-cost retailer. It is clear their strategic profile serves a specific market segment. Saks Fifth Avenue on the other hand, is an upscale retailer. They built their strategic profile by providing superior customer service to a specific luxury market segment. Although these companies are in the same industry and their respective customer segments may overlap a little, if at all, because of their positing strategies, they are not direct competitors. To keep it that way, executives must make conscious trade-off decisions that will enable both organizations to strive for the competitive advantage in the same industry.

Well, that’s it for today! Until next time … Keep your systems strategically organized

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“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” ― John C. Maxwell

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

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References:

Berry, M. A. (2014). The mission of corporate strategic behavior. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Porter, M. (2011). HBR’s 10 must reads on strategy. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Rothaermel, F. (2013). Strategic management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Norms, Artifacts, and Assumptions

Published January 30, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

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In his book, Organizational Behavior, Baack (2012) discloses that artifacts are the overtly stated values and norms that identify individuals and organizations (Baack, 2012). Individual artifacts include the car a person drives, the clothing and jewelry they wear, piercings and other forms of items of value. These artifacts transmit nonverbal messages or kinesic cues that are communicated in a nonlinguistic way. An organization’s culture on the other hand, is determined by the observable artifacts. They represent the physical signs of an organization’s dominant culture, like the golden arches of McDonalds.

The most significant observable artifact at Capitol-EMI Industries, my former place of employment is the historic Capital Records Tower building in Hollywood. Like McDonald’s golden arches, the Capitol Records Tower is instantly recognized by the unique design which represents a stack of record discs. As a newly hired employee, I was fascinated with the design of a round building. It’s one thing to marvel at it from the outside, but another experience entirely from within the tower walls. The offices I worked at were located on the twelfth floor, so the views from that height were magnificent. When the Paramount Studios lot caught fire from the set of one of the Star Trek movies, we were able to view it from the office bay windows.  It wasn’t until I was promoted and transferred to the EMI offices down the road that I really began to appreciate the operations at the tower. Although I was content to find employment in a smaller one story building, with a second story loft where our executive offices were located, I look back now at that tower building with fond memories.

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The Capitol Records culture was transmitted in a variety of ways through the espoused values which include emphasis on sustainability and a commitment to high quality entertainment. The combination of observable artifacts which includes the company brand and logo, the tower building, and the catalog of famous artists, along with the espoused and enacted values, helped create role clarity for the employees. For example, the lobby of the building displayed many gold records from artists including: The Andrew Sisters, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, Bob Seger, and Tina Turner. The personnel who worked at the tower encountered these observable artifacts every day which gave staff members a sense of pride. Many of us grew up listening to these artists and were proud to be a part of such a prestigious family.

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Schein (2010) contends the connection between leadership and culture is clear in organizational cultures and micro-cultures. Managers influence the behavior of the subordinates. Those who are resistant to change do not last very long. (Schein, 2010). For example, when I was initially hired, I had just relocated from Arizona where I grew up. I had not resided in California long enough to adapt and blend in with the Southern California culture which was entirely different from that of a desert state like Arizona. My sense of style reflected that of a conservative small town. In fact, I recall one individual compare my fashion style to that of an airline flight attendant, which translated as professional, but not very hip.

The dress code varied from floor to floor and department to department. For example, the executive offices where the CEO and high ranking officers worked (all male) and each dressed in suit and tie, while their administrative staff were dressed in professional accouterments that reflected their executive office. The floor where the A&R (Artist and Repertoire) and R&B (Rhythm and Blues) departments were located (where our Business Affairs division was also situated) the executives attire resembled that of the artists they represented. For instance, the executives who signed the rock bands dressed like the rock stars; the executives who signed the rap artists looked like rappers. I was employed with the attorneys who negotiated the artist contracts and eventually adapted a style that blended with the norm of the support staff on that floor, which consisted of a combination of those from the A&R department with that of a professional business look that would reflect positively on the attorneys we worked with.

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The espoused values and assumptions both helped and hindered moving the company into a learning organization. Executive leaders learned to work together cohesively and in tandem to achieve company goals, but at times engaged in conflicts from policies and actions that were not always supportive. For example, when an artist’s profits and popularity soared after their initial debut album, the artist’s manager and attorney immediately looked to renegotiate their contracts. The department head of A&R could decide to either support the position of the manager and artist, refuse their requests, or face other executive branches that are in alignment with the artist’s position. It is here the negotiation process begins pitting company leader against company leader as the artist’s camp engageds into debates with the policy holders. Each incident becomes a learning experience as every situation is unique and no two artists are the same.

The department where I worked got involved when contractual inquiries or disputes arose. We provided information that either armed the A&R executive or deflected the A&R department from operating outside the parameters of the contractual commitments. As a rule however, the members of the Capitol Records family enjoyed a positive culture of stability. The recognizable observable artifacts, perceptions of espoused values and functioning, were developed to support company values that helped generate a greater sense of clarity for the personnel.

That’s it for this week! Until next we meet again … Keep organizing those systems!

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A woman with organizing skills can run a construction company without ever picking up a hammer and nail. – Warren Farrell

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

Mayr’s Author Page

 

References:

Baack, D. (2012). Organizational behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Schein, E. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.