Richard J. Bocchinfuso

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." – Oscar Wilde

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 8, Discussion 1

Discussion Post

Considering the art and science of leadership, how have the readings, lectures, and discussions in this course better prepared you for the role of a leader vs. a manager? 

Classmates, sorry for my late post this week, I was in Ireland all week.  It was a busy week, further complicated by the timezone delta and a seemingly endless flow of Guinness. I know, poor me. 🙂  Spent the week in Naas, Ireland working most of the time, but did have some time to hit the Punchestown festival and enjoy some horse racing and Guinness, lots of Guinness.  If you have never seen horse racing in Ireland, it’s very different than the flat track races we are used to in the United State.
Video (click on the video for sound):  https://photos.app.goo.gl/W94B8VQVQP7udXQCA
Photo of me trackside: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ogadFoFg6oM1WGDL8

What I learned is that I have a real interest in both the art and science of leadership. I was familiar with many of the concepts presented in the class, but the level of research which I had to undertake during the course certainly provided me with a deeper understanding of the science. The coursework and research even led me to do some leadership leisure reading. For instance, I read the book “Leadership is hell: How to manage well – and escape with your soul” which was referenced somewhere along the way in my research.  Not only did I enjoy the book, I felt like it helped me better understand a few people who I manage. In particular, this excerpt from the book shed light on a situation I have been dealing with for years.

“If you’re a people-pleaser, you’ll find it impossible to be content merely expressing yourself. You won’t even know what that looks like. You’ve been too busy sensing what would impress other people, then seeking to do that to the exclusion of everything else.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1430-1432)

I plan to leverage some of my new found knowledge to try to better coach the individuals who I believe are afflicted by the people-pleaser scenario above and my hope is that I will be able to help them elevate themselves.

I try to spend my life in a state of objective reality, rather than subjective reality. Not being subjective is something I have to consciously focus on because I am a passionate and committed person and I often expect others to see things my way, and when they don’t, I become very frustrated. I like to believe I have a vision, and that my execution strategy supports this vision. What I have learned about myself over the years is that I have a tendency to expect others to see my vision as clearly as I do, to execute with the same motivations and rigor that I do and this is often not the case. I have always believed that leadership is a way of life, it’s not something that you do from 9 to 5, leaders don’t get time off from the principles and actions that make them leaders. Leaders always “eat last” (Sinek, n.d.), there is no time when a leader can eat first. I enjoyed the topics which focused on job satisfaction, motivation, values and culture, other sections of the course were interesting, but I find these things intrinsically linked.

As a manager, I feel better armed to live my personal goal of objective reality. I have always been anti-negotiation, feeling that negotiation was always a short-term fix, there are still situations where I think this way, but I also recognize that negotiation can be a way to motivate, it’s doesn’t always have to threaten the culture. As a result of things I have learned in this class, I recognize how important fit is, I am more committed to the value of culture, and I realize that I need work on better understanding the motivations of other and increase my focus on communication because communication is what shapes the organization. I now realize that many of my frustrations probably come from a lack of communication, expectations I have which have not been communicated, motivations I possess which are driven by a vision, but I have not effectively communicated my vision to others yet place expectations on them. Improving communication is probably my biggest takeaway.

References

Asghar, R. (2014). Leadership is hell: How to manage well – and escape with your soul. Los Angeles, CA: Figueroa Press.

Sinek, S. (n.d.). Why good leaders make you feel safe. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 7 Assignment

Research Consultant Paper

This research paper allows you to showcase what you have learned from the course and the application within an organization of your choice. Also, it a chance to use theories gained from the course work and how to apply these to an organization to improve effectiveness.

You are to consider yourself a consultant that was just hired by organizational (does not matter if it is nonprofit or public) leadership to assist with a lingering problem that has impacted the organization’s effectiveness. This problem can be related to an area that you want to research and interests you; i.e., employees upset over anticipated change, performance evaluations being over-inflated, unethical practices, leadership not considering personal choices in the decision-making process, or any other similar type problems. Once you identify the organizational problem, you should develop a plan to address the problem, identify reasons why you feel the problem occurred, label reasons you feel the problem is persistent, and develop a means to overcome the problem. Also, integrate a long-term plan to ensure this problem does not happen again or at least is minimized.

You should consider all the main topics, readings, and discussions you have encountered throughout the course. This paper is a critical part of the class and should not be last minute developed.

Grade: 98%

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 7, Discussion 2

Discussion Post

Define organizational culture and ways culture can be transmitted to employees? What are the various way it can be displayed? Discuss and provide examples for each. Considering an organization you know well, have any of these examples surfaced as more important than the others?

The text defines organizational culture as the system of shared meaning held by members that distinguish the organization from other organizations. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 266) This definition strikes me as a bit ethereal.

I like the definition of organizational behavior as “a pattern of basic assumptions—invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration—that has worked well enough to be considered … the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.” (Martinez, Beaulieu, Gibbons, Pronovost & Wang, 2015, p. 1)

This week I visited a customer, I won’t mention their name (at least not yet), but a picture (https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZsStfaEFkYXXJmH93) from my visit might be a good indicator. If you still have no idea, hint, the company is the most popular gaming company in the world at the moment, packing stadiums around the globe for Esports events. The company has an incredibly strong culture and identity, employees are proud of the culture, and they shepherd it, they are players above all else. One of the things they outlined was an organizational culture expectation; they like many other high-performing cultures have a mindset that places an employee fit and aptitude over discrete skill and the ability to execute.

A quick look at the Amazon Leadership principles reveals things like “Customer Obsession,” “Invent and Simplify,” “Are Right, A Lot,” “Learn and Be Curious,” “Hire and Develop the Best,” “Insist on the Highest Standards,” and “Think Big.” (Amazon’s global career site, n.d.)  Amazon’s culture is everywhere from the published leadership principles tot he domain name relentless.com which Bezos’ registered in the early days as a potential name for the company before deciding on amazon.com.  relentless.com continues to live on as an important aspect of the Amazon story and redirect to amazon.com, but most of all it represents a something known by few about Amazon’s organizational climate.

The well documented NetFlix culture will reveal principles like “People over Process,” “Freedom & Responsibility,” “High Performance,” “Context, not Control,” “Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled,” and “Promotions & Development.” These principles are guided by values like judgment, communication, impact, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, honesty, and selflessness. (Culture At Netflix | Netflix Jobs, n.d.)

The company I visited earlier this week defines the culture in a manifesto which has five tenents: “Player Experience First,” “Challenge Convention,” “Focus on Talent and Team,” “Take Play Seriously,” and “Stay Hungry; Stay Humble.” (Who We Are, n.d.)

I love what Reed Hastings says about values “Values are what we Value” (Hastings, 2009, p. 4) and what we value is, in my opinion, is a big determining factor of the organizational climate. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 269)

People are the culture, values define the culture, and if the people do not buy into the values, then the culture begins to become fractured and weak.

The common thread you will find across all these cultures is they protect the culture, and they have a maniacal focus on hiring for fit. Each of these organizations has a rigorous interview process designed to protect the culture.  They all gate the hiring process in one way or another to ensure a cultural best-fit situation.

Amazon uses the “bar-raiser” to gate the hiring process. (Steward, 2016) It is the job of the bar raiser to protect Amazon strong culture, ensuring that Amazon’s core values will be “intensely held and widely shared.” (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 268)

NetFlix and Riot Games are not bashful about stating that they have different requirements for contractors vs. employees. Contractors can be incredible executors, they may have a work specialization (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 246 – 247) that makes them highly effective within a specific domain, but maybe they don’t possess the intangibles that would allow them to make them a cultural fit. In Netflix’s case this would be “Freedom & Responsibility,” in Amazon’s case maybe this is “Think Big” and in Riot Games case maybe your not a gamer and you can’t be a Rioter because can never embody “Player First.” Netflix and many others are overt in stating that they hold salaried, hourly and contract employees to different standards.

Organizational culture is actively on display and transmitted to employees in a myriad of ways. The organizations I mentioned above intently focus on hiring stewards of their culture, who believe deeply and passionately the values and mission of their respective organizations which makes them cultural evangelists. Riot Games being a gaming company has an immersive cultural experience. An aerial view of Riot Games campus in West Lost Angeles will reveal that it is laid out like the League of Legends game board, each area of the office is named and themed like an area (city-state) within the game, and conference rooms are named after characters from the game. Rioters play LoL in a PC Bang; this is where players in South Korea play the game and if you know anything about gaming you know South Korea is the mecca of gaming. I love this line from their website “…creative people making cool shit faster than a Hadron Collider that’s been chugging energy drinks all day. We think you’ll prolly like it, too.” (The New L.A. Campus, n.d.)

More and more I think we see immersive examples of organizational culture. The Riot Games example was fresh in my mind because I spent time there this week, but there are plenty of other examples like the Lamborghini that sits in Alibaba’s lobby in Hangzhou, China. Two men sourced all the parts for the Lamborghini through Alibaba and assembled the car over a one year period just to prove you could buy anything on Alibaba’s massive online marketplace, and now the car sits in the lobby of Alibaba’s corporate headquarters. (Soper, 2015)

References

Amazon’s global career site. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.amazon.jobs/principles

Culture At Netflix | Netflix Jobs. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://jobs.netflix.com/culture

Hastings, R. (2009, August 01). Culture. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664

Martinez, E. A., Beaulieu, N., Gibbons, R., Pronovost, P., & Wang, T. (2015). Organizational culture and performance. The American Economic Review, 105(5), 331-335. doi:10.1257/aer.p20151001

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Soper, T. (2015, November 11). Inside Alibaba: Photos from the Chinese technology giant’s headquarters. Retrieved from https://www.geekwire.com/2015/inside-alibaba-photos-from-the-chinese-technology-giants-headquarters/

Steward, A. (2016, October 27). Former Amazon ‘bar raiser’ offers insight into hiring process: What job seekers, companies can learn. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/techflash/2016/10/former-amazon-bar-raiser-offers-insight-into.html

The New L.A. Campus. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.riotgames.com/en/work-with-us/offices/los-angeles/the-new-la-campus

Who We Are. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.riotgames.com/en/who-we-are

 

Response Post

Scott, insightful and personalized read as usual. I remember being nineteen and joining a fraternity, learning to say the Greek Alphabet with my pledge brothers, forward, backward and in unison before the match stick which was held upside down burned your fingers was not an easy task, but the idea was to be one. The question always was “how many pledges are there?” The answer was always, “one.” Well, not always because when you said 27 the brother who asked the question would say no “one” and when you said “one” the brother who asked the question would say “can’t you count, there is 27 of you”. Anyway, the entire overarching theme was to assimilate you. During hell week we would have an event called jell-o night, where all the pledges would march to the cafeteria at 4 PM (when it opened). Anyone who has ever been to a cafeteria knows they never run out of jell-o, pudding, cottage cheese and whatever else they put in that area of the buffet (been a while), but hey I was nineteen. The idea was that pledge number 27 would eat first, as much as they could in X amount of time, then pledge 26, etc… etc… The idea was you didn’t want to leave the anchor with all the work. I was the treasurer, so I ate 3rd to last and a guy named Brett, he was a beast, was the president of my pledge class and well deserving because over twelve weeks I watched that guy suck up so much slack in support of others, a true leader. Simon Sinek says “leaders eat last” and this guy ate last for twelve weeks and he ate his share, and the share everyone else couldn’t eat, he put the best interest of others above his interest, because his interest was the success of the team, this is leadership.

When asked by people who didn’t know me at 19, who are usually shocked that I was in a fraternity if I would do it again my answer is, absolutely. It’s not the military, for sure, but I did develop a bond with those 27 guys, we struggled together, and we succeeded or failed together without exception. The strong picked up the slack for the weak and everyone had their opportunity to pull their weight in different areas. Getting through without teamwork wasn’t an option and looking a back on it, while there were some crazy and stupid things that were done, there were a few valuable lessons I walked away with.

Side note I have an uncle who is an enlisted veteran with 37 years in the Marine Corp with a rank of Sergeant Major, he’s a pretty hardcore individual. He’s been out now for quite a few years, and he struggled to assimilate into civilian life, so he did what felt natural, went to work as a civilian contractor at Camp Lejeune. 🙂

Probably a topic for a different forum (like around the fire with a six pack), but cultures with extreme assimilation typically aren’t very good at adapting to diversity. With a world that is becoming increasingly diverse, I wonder how these cultures will adapt, feels like we are only at the beginning.

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 7, Discussion 1

Discussion Post

“Organizational structure defines how job tasks are formally divided, grouped, and coordinated.” (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 246) There are seven key factors which influence organizational structure:

Work Specialization: The division of activities into small, distinct, specialized tasks. The assembly line is an ideal example of work specialization, where a worker performs a specialized and repetitive task. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 246 – 247) The text provides the auto assembly line example; another example would be an Amazon warehouse packer who repeatedly packs boxes.

Departmentalization: Groupings of jobs by function, product or service, geography or process. Functional departmentalization would include grouping by departments like sales, human resources, engineering, etc… Grouping by geography would be something like sales regions. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 247 – 248) I’ll stick with the Amazon example, well Whole Foods. Whole Foods stores stock different items based on regionalization; this is an example of departmentalization by geography or territory. Departmentalizing by geography allows Whole Foods to make decisions within a region that appeals to the preferences of consumers with a region.

Chain of Command: The flow of ascribed authority within an organization. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 248 – 249) Chain of command naturally or unnaturally organizes the reporting structure of an organization; superiors direct the work of subordinates and subordinates execute the work at the direction of their superiors. Chain of command created a clear demarcation between those creating direction and those executing tasks.

Span of Control: The number of subordinates a superior can manage, or I’ll say the number of mentees a mentor can mentor. Flat organizations tend to have few managers with a larger span of control while hierarchical organizations tend to have a narrower span of control. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 249 – 250) Both models have pluses and minuses. I prefer a flat organization where management’s has a larger span of control, but there are cases where a narrower span of control is required. I believe that when a narrow span of control is needed a hierarchal structure with additional management is not always required, the mentor and mentee approach with team leads can be an effective way to maintain a flat organizational structure while addressing the need for a narrower span of control.

Centralization and Decentralization: Where power resides in the organization and how decisions are made. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 250 – 251) I think forms of governments provide an excellent example of this. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and as young adult things auto registration and driver license issuance had to be couriered by a private sector company (Best Auto Tag is the one I remember) to Harrisburg, PA, this was the pinnacle of inefficiency. When I moved to New Jersey, I thought the decentralized DMV, where each county had a DMV and could issue auto tags and licenses were incredible and efficient. It’s all relative, who likes the DMV, but after living the centralized Pennsylvania system, New Jersey was a dream.

Formalization: How standardized and rigid is the job role? (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 251) A highly formalized job means the position is standardized and the employee is given no latitude to make subjective or objective decisions. Formalization values the job over the individual, execution of the standardized process is valued over innovation and free thought.

Boundry Spanning: The crossover of an individual or individuals between organizational groups. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 251 – 252) Cross-functional teams are often assembled to ensure that initiatives which impact the entire organization, consider critical stakeholders and are positioned for adoption and success by the broader organization. An example of this is an ERP system roll-out. Because an ERP system will impact every group within the organization the assembly of a cross-functional team consisting of representatives from finance, sales, engineering, HR and IT would be an approach to encourage interaction, develop cross-functional consensus, define product requirements and prioritize initiatives. These individuals then become subject matter experts and evangelists within their respective organization and increase the probability of success of the project.

The factors discussed above are the influencers of organizational structure. By mapping adherence to the seven factors, an organization can be classified as having specific structure types, such as simple structure, a bureaucracy or a matrix structure.

As I researched the factors which influence organizational structure I was intrigued by a peer-reviewed article which discussed the impact of work specialization and departmentalization on job satisfaction. Not hard to see the benefits and drawbacks of job specialization, while small, simple tasks may increase proficiency and lower training costs the finite nature of the job can lead to boredom, job dissatisfaction, which can result in absenteeism and low-quality deliverables. The article also drew a correlation between departmentalization and chain of command, stating that functional departmentalization provided a clear reporting structure, while this seems apparent it highlights that while there are seven factors, they are entwined in such a way that one dominant factor is likely to influence other factors. (Adeyoyin, Agbeze-Unazi, Oyewunmi, Adegun & Ayodele, 2015)

References

Adeyoyin, S. O., Agbeze-Unazi, F., Oyewunmi, O. O., Adegun, A. I., & Ayodele, R. O. (2015). Effects of job specialization and departmentalization on job satisfaction among the staff of a nigerian university library. Library Philosophy and Practice, , 1.

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

 

Response Post

Logan, good explanation of each organizational structure. I’ve seen organizations use a combination of structures, where one division of the organization might be bureaucracy while another follows a matrix structure. One of my first jobs was in big pharma, and the organization was split into two major groups, corporate and R&D. The corporate side of the business was a bureaucracy, and the R&D side of the business was a much flatter matrix structure. These model make sense when you think about the flow of the drug pipeline, the R&D (drug discovery) business is comprised of researchers looking for compounds that will attack viruses, bacteria, diseases, etc., this area of the organization favors velocity and innovation with a fail fast mentality. Once a compound shows promise it moves to drug development, still in R&D but rules get a little tighter as they convert the drug from a compound into a drug (a pill) they can send to the corporate side of the business for clinical trials. Once the drug moves into clinical trials the bureaucracy kicks in, the focus is now on standardization, methodology, and documentation, if the drug passes clinical trials, then it’s on to FDA submissions and if the documentation is not pristine all the dollars invested in the previous phases could be lost.

Both of these models make sense in the context I described above, overall though pharmaceutical companies are bureaucracies, and from what I understand this has gotten worse in the twenty years I have out of this business.

I have heard the argument the text outlines between the production manager, R&D manager, marketing executive and the accounting manager more than a few times. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 253)

References

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 6 Assignment

Case Study II (Organizational Communication)

This is an opportunity for you to apply what you have learned in the course, readings, discussions, and personal experiences into a well-developed analysis. There is no specific right or wrong answer with these cases, just a means to demonstrate your mastery of the knowledge.

Review the video in this week What is Organizational Communication? and consider the various details associated with the theories they support. After examining all the data, consider an organization you know well and implement some of these ideas to increase the communication process within your organization. Consider how the organizational culture impacts these, how receptive leadership will be, and how employees will accept these changes.

Grade: 97%

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 6, Discussion 2

Discussion Post

Analyzing an organization you know well, observe the negotiations that take place around you at work. Focus on one negotiation that appears typical for your organization. Utilizing the terms and concepts from this chapter, describe your assessment of the effectiveness of both negotiators, their negotiating styles, and provide suggestions for improvement of each person’s negotiation skills, as well as negotiation steps used. Provide an example to illustrate your answer. Do not use real names of individuals within your organization.

Life is one giant negotiation! At least my life seems to be. 🙂 I spend my days negotiating internally within my organization, externally with customers and prospects, with my children, etc… I wrote a blog (Bocchinfuso, 2017, http://bit.ly/2vbmhDZ) last year on how I leverage empirical data and analytics to aid in decisions and negotiations I face every day, the negotiation of how to keep various stakeholders satisfied knowing that my time is finite and the motivation of stakeholders is often self-serving.  Regardless of the stakeholder’s motivation for me to meet my objectives, I can’t afford to alienate them, I have to manage them, and this requires negotiation. The more educated I am on the topic (preparation and planning), the stronger my platform and reasoning become and my negotiating position improves (my ability to define ground rules rooted in empirical data, my analysis, and justification). I like to use the data to support my position in a negotiation, in negotiations I tend to avoid subjective opinion and focus on objective fact.  I have a process which aligns perfectly with the negotiation process depicted in by exhibit 14-6 in the text. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 237)

A couple of negotiations I am involved in daily include:

  • Pricing negotiations, this is a simple one, I inform the other parties involved in the negotiation of the “Triple Constraint” rule.  “The Triple Constraint says that cost is a function of scope and time or that cost, time and scope are related so that if one changes, then another must also change in a defined and predictable way.” (Baratta, 2006) I expanded on the traditional triple constraint rule by explaining “The Value Triple Constraint” which introduces the idea of value provided.  For instance, while reducing scope and delivery time might imply a lower cost, the value delivered may still be high and the cost reduction may not be linear or not exist at all. (Baratta, 2006)
  • Opportunity cost negotiations, this is a tough one, but with stakeholders regularly focused on their objectives which often are tactical initiatives it can be a challenge to metric the opportunity cost of changing direction to focus on the tactical at the expense of the strategic.  Staying focused takes a strong will and a belief that the strategy will deliver a more significant outcome than the immediate gratification of engaging in tactical tasks, this is not without risks which need to be absorbed by a leader. There is also an aspect of negotiation here which calls for influence, the more a leader can inspire others to see the vision the more they can focus on execution rather than negotiation.

So often negotiations can personify the exchange influence tactic, where the negation becomes all about a quid pro quo.  I promise X if you deliver Y, “ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” (J. Wellington Wimpy), I’ll wash your back if you wash mine, etc…  I have a general rule, I don’t negotiate to a place where the relationship is no longer logical of mutually beneficial, consistent and sustained transparency and always doing what I say (flawless execution of closure and implementation) are my best friend. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 237) I know the car dealer needs to make money, I know that they are not selling me the car “below their cost”, it’s a blatant misrepresentation of the facts because the car dealer would be out of business.  The goal of negotiation should be for both people to leave happier than they were before they entered into the negotiation. The text mentions that balancing ethics and the velocity with which an agreement is reached is essential. I agree, the values of an organization should always be in the forefront, concessions which disrupt these values may satiate a tactical need, but strategically they disrupt the entire organization. Distributive bargaining, in my experience, delivers perceived wins, but the intelligent loser in these situations knows they have a short-term issue that needs to be solved, but once the issue is addressed the astute loser will look to address the situation, long-term this is often a loss for the supposed winner. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 235)  Personally, I don’t believe in distributive bargaining; it’s a surface level win/loss scenario, there is always an unrealized loss to the so-called winner. For example, horrible customer service because there’s a note on your service record at the car dealer that you extracted every last dollar during the purchase of the vehicle. We live in the information age, every decision you make, every tweet you tweet impacts how others interact with you, these are facts. Furthermore, who knows what the “fixed pie” (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 236) is, car dealers have volume discounts, they have dealership incentives, etc… the same car from two different dealers can have wildly different margin profiles. Apply “The Value Triple Constraint” and the equation “value = f(scope, capability” and the perspective on a car purchase negotiation changes. Sticking with the car dealer example, which is a good negotiation use case, I think traditionally the model has looked like this:

  • consumer <–> distributive bargaining <–> auto dealer <–> integrative bargaining <–> manufacturer

But the information age has changed this; individuals place more value on the relationship, they want a fair price, the ease of comparison shopping has caused market consolidation, errored margins, and created value proposition parity.  I believe the more and more people are interested in integrative bargaining. The text outlines that integrative bargaining is preferred because it builds long-term relationships (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 237), I think that today more than ever organization and individuals are looking for a balance that satisfies the organizational needs and the needs of the individuals who make up this organization.  This complex balance has moved us towards an integrative bargaining model, it’s not to say that distributive bargaining doesn’t happen, it does, but it rarely delivers long-term sustainable results and desired outcomes.

References

Bocchinfuso, R. (2017, August 31). I’m a skeptic, satiated by large raw data sets, analysis & inference. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from http://gotitsolutions.org/2017/08/31/im-a-skeptic-satiated-by-large-raw-data-sets-analysis-inference/

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Baratta, A. (2006). The triple constraint: a triple illusion. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2006—North America, Seattle, WA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

 

Response Post

Andrew, I can certainly relate to the comment “for ‘free’ because a project is strategic and prioritized.” I frequently face this battle as well, the questions of should we allocate resource to a project or opportunity, should these resources be internal or external resources, what’s the opportunity costs, is there a quid pro quo, etc., are consistent debate/negotiation topics.

Power is a funny thing; it’s a delicate balancing act. I find your comment on the “pool of ‘free’ resources” interesting. Is there such a thing as free? Are the “free” resources underutilized resources? I have always struggled with this concepts, struggled to grasp the idea of underutilized that is. There is so much to do an learn, and things are changing so quickly that while a resource may not be billable, I don’t like to think of them as underutilized. IMO making the general assumption that an unbillable resource is always better off billable is a short-term view, where decisions are made using “flat earth thinking.” Interested in who is making the plea in your scenario? Are these internal stakeholders, are they salespeople looking for resources for customer projects or some other stakeholder? In my case, they are typically salespeople looking to “help” our customer for “free.” Salespeople are shrewd negotiators; they speak using terms like “our customer” intentionally because they feel it is more persuasive than the term “their customer.” The plea is always “this an opportunity to demonstrate our value”; my initial response is “if it’s free what tangible value does it have?” The answer is almost always a desire to create a quid pro quo. Sometimes I say, yes, if I feel there is upside opportunity, but more often than not I think free is a synonym for valueless, and I say, no.

Whimp Junction (http://bit.ly/2EMV8a3) is a critical crossroads. (Bellington, 2010, p. 12)

Like you, I need to maintain relationships, salespeople need me, and I need them, we need each other to be successful, so I try to remain sympathetic, offer alternatives and find solutions that address our mutual needs without being self-serving to either party. I always make my expectations clear; if there is a quid pro quo, it’s essential that the sale person know I will expect to see the quid pro quo materialize. I demand accountability for commitments, I execute and then track the other parties execution, because, without the ability to deliver on our mutual commitments we lack trust (Robbin & Judge, 2018, p. 202) and without trust, there is no way we can develop or sustain a relationship. I suspect that if I were to conduct a Big Five Personality test on salespeople, many of them would not rate high on equity sensitivity (aka benevolence).

References

Bellington, A. (2010, April 22). Wimp Junction Presentation For Sandler Sales Training. Retrieved April 15, 2018, from https://www.slideshare.net/SalesCoachAB/wimp-junction-presentation-for-sandler-sales-training-3823266

Lee, E. (2007). The effects of equity sensitivity and personality on transformational leadership behavior

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 6, Discussion 1

Discussion Post

Describe the effective use of influence tactics and what they are.

Influence tactics are how people enact power over others. (Wadsworth & Blanchard, 2015) The text describes “power tactics” as the ways or tactics used to assert upward, downward and lateral influence. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 212-213)  Yukl and Falbe (1990) claim that the most important determinant of managerial effectiveness is the success achieved influencing subordinates (downward influence), peers (lateral influence) and superiors (upward influence). I would agree.

Yukl and Falbe (1990) develop a hypothesis on different influence tactics and how they are most effective, observing that:

  • Pressure tactics are coercive powers which are used most often with subordinates.
  • Upward appeals (going over someone’s head) are most effective with subordinates and peers and less effective with superiors.
  • Exchange tactics (the creation of a quid pro quo) are most effective with subordinates and peers and less effective with superiors.
  • Coalition tactics (building a constituency) are most effective in influencing superiors and peers and less effective with subordinates.
  • Inspirational appeals are most effective with subordinates and less effective with peers and superiors.
  • Consultation is most effective with subordinates and least effective superiors.

Robbins & Judge (2018) state that a “softer” tactics such as inspirational appeals, rational persuasion and consultation are more effective.  If the “softer” tactics don’t work “harder” tactics such as exchange, coalitions and pressure can be used, but these will also come at a greater cost and with greater risk.

Personally, I am a fan of the inspirational tactic with the coalition tactic close second.  I am not sure I agree with the text (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 213) or with Yukl and Falbe (1990) that inspirational appeals are more effective on subordinates and less effective on peers and superiors.  I suppose as a generalization it is always easier to inspire downward, but I believe as a leader inspirational tactics are equally impactful downward, upward and laterally.

As a player-coach, I tend to rely heavily on inspiration, do as I say not as I do.  I do find that the audience matters, there are times when absolute power is required, and there are times when a coalition which applies indirect pressure is required.  Overall I think who we are trying to influence and the situation has a significant bearing on tactics; it’s a mixture of art and science.

With virtual teams who lack face-to-face contact, influence can be far more complex. I like Wadsworth’s & Blanchard’s (2015) ambiguity reduction as an influence tactic.  Far too often our expectations are too ambiguous; this leads to situations where a lack of accountability creates a need for taking a “harder” tactic. Because I manage a virtual team, I make extensive use of the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix to ensure that there is no ambiguity and total transparency.  The more structure that is in place to ensure accountability and to metric execution and course correct when required the less need there is to level “hard” tactics to exercise influence.

Lastly, I’ll say that nothing creates more pressure than being led by a true leader who is always willing to go first.  The personal pressure a leader like this creates not to let them down, to carry your weight, to contribute, to set an example, etc… is immense, and all without exercising one ounce of ascribed power.

References

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Wadsworth, M. B., & Blanchard, A. L. (2015). Influence tactics in virtual teams. Computers in Human Behavior, 44, 386-393. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.026

Yukl, G., & Falbe, C. M. (1990). Influence tactics and objectives in upward, downward, and lateral influence attempts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75(2), 132-140. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.75.2.132

 

Response Post

Terrance, I enjoyed your post, like how you talked about the military recruitment ads and how they focus on positive influencers while omitting the mundane or potentially negative aspects. It was interesting to read your post after completing this weeks case study. I did not serve int he military (grateful to all those who did for their service), but curious if you think the military practices informational communication or constitutive communication? I can imagine that both exist and there is a lot of informational communication, process, chain of command, etc., but it sounds like you are talking about the military in the first person thus I am assuming you have practical experience with communication styles, so curious how much constitutive communication you experienced?

When using influence tactics knowing your audience is critical, as you point out the military is targeting people who enjoy an adventure. Do you think omitting the mundane is deceptive? In the absence of a target audience, I always feel like a deep belief and passion will have you as a leader assemble the right team. Simon Sinek posted a tweet on January 15, 2015, that said “Dr. King gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech. Lets inspire people with our dreams, not bore them with our plans”. Every leader I have ever felt inspired by had a deep belief and passion, they always went first, they always sacrificed so that the vision could be realized by others because they recognized that the power of we was far greater than the power of me.

References

@simonsinek. (2015, January 15). “Dr. King gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech. Lets inspire people with our dreams, not bore them with our plans” [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/simonsinek/status/557290520570257409?lang=en

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 5, Discussion 2

Discussion Post

Consider the readings and lectures this week; analyze a leader versus a manager. Utilizing an organization you know well, does your organization have a majority of leaders or managers? Does this matter for organizational success?

Wow, it’s hard to find a more compelling distinction between a leader and manager than what Simon Sinek describes in his “Why good leaders make you feel safe.” Ted Talk. (Sinek, 2014)

Like Simon Sinek states, manager’s exercise influence and subordinates do what they say because as a manager they possess authority. “Leadership is choice; it is not a rank.” (Sinek, 2014) Leaders look after others, putting the needs of others above their own needs. “We call them leaders because they go first. We call them leaders because they take the risk before anybody else does. We call them leaders because they will choose to sacrifice so their people can feel safe and protected, so that their people may gain.” (Sinek, 2014)

I like the idea that “managers create circles of power while leaders create circles of influence.” (Nayar, 2014) This idea got me thinking about another Simon Sinek talk entitled “Why Reciprocity Improves Mentor Mentee Relationships” (Sinek, 2012) which lead me to another Sinek talk entitled “The best leaders are the best followers.” (Sinek, 2016) which echoes some of the same sentiments expressed in Sinek’s “Why good leaders make you feel safe.” Ted Talk, but I think he really highlights the importance of gratitude and humility, and how a leader views themselves as working in service to something greater than themselves. (Sinek, 2016)

I think it’s clear that traits like gratitude, humility, and courage are essential leadership traits. Leaders look to influence and inspiration while managers rely on power and control. (Nayar, 2014) Let’s face it, in any organization leaders are hard to come by and make up a small percentage of the people. Many people think they are leaders, but they rely on ascribed status rather than achieved status. Being a leader is a selfless pursuit and selflessness is hard. I read the book “Leadership is hell: How to manage well – and escape with your soul” (Asghar, 2014) this week and there were some great nuggets of wisdom that I think tells a story; the difference between leaders and managers and the difference between leaders and followers. I thought I would share some of the passages that I highlighted with you.

“good leaders seek to express themselves, while bad leaders seek to prove themselves.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1323-1324)

“A person driven largely by a need for respect will only be able to show up occasionally, when sufficiently outraged—and for only as long as doubters are making themselves heard.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1331-1332)

“In this view, a person who focuses too much on ‘doing’ would anxiously perform a never-ending series of hoop-jumps in order to feel substantial. If she were ever to stop doing those hoop-jumps, she would quickly lose her sense of worth. That indeed is a prescription for misery.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1405-1407)

“If you’re a people-pleaser, you’ll find it impossible to be content merely expressing yourself. You won’t even know what that looks like. You’ve been too busy sensing what would impress other people, then seeking to do that to the exclusion of everything else.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1430-1432)

I’ve observed each of these profiles within my organization. The true leader who possess humility, who is passionate and confident enough to express themselves and be selfless. The leader who is seeking to prove themselves, often driven by a need for respect, who lacks self-confidence and relies on ascribed status and power for control. A taskmaster, who finds security in the execution never-ending mundane tasks. The people pleaser who can’t lead because they can’t express themselves.

“Don’t ask what the world needs,” Thurman said. “Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Asghar, 2014, Kindle Locations 1480-1482)

Leaders feel alive when they are working in service of something bigger than themselves.

Leadership is a critical component of organizational success. In the context of this weeks reading, I would say that managers would be classified as transactional leaders while true leaders are transformational leaders. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 196) Why do I think leadership is so crucial for organizational success? There is some overlap with discussion post one in this comment, but if you believe that organizations need more than ever the ability to navigate a “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment” (Dartey-Baah, 2015), which I do, the need for leadership is paramount.

References

Asghar, R. (2014). Leadership is hell: How to manage well – and escape with your soul. Los Angeles, CA: Figueroa Press.

Dartey-Baah, K. (2015). Resilient leadership: A transformational-transactional leadership mix. Journal of Global Responsibility, 6(1), 99-112. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.portal.lib.fit.edu/docview/1675140305?accountid=27313

Nayar, V. (2014, August 07). Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2013/08/tests-of-a-leadership-transiti

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Sinek, S. (2016, September 28). Simon Sinek: “The best leaders are the best followers”. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://youtu.be/V5wtzze9L_M

Sinek, S. (2012, November 24). Simon Sinek: Why Reciprocity Improves Mentor Mentee Relationships. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrWg1qy2WNI

Sinek, S. (2014, March). Why good leaders make you feel safe. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe#t-138365 TED 2014

 

Response Post

Juan, you mention that you think that leadership through influence and management via ascribed authority have the same outcome. Do you mean the same outcome regarding meeting a tactical goal of the organization or the same outcome in the macro sense of the word outcome?

When I think of a manager, I think of someone marshaling or task mastering people towards a goal, the focus is on the tactical execution and ensuring that there is no dissatisfaction. Sure people absorb knowledge along the way, they become more efficient, and a well-managed team can drive good linear growth over time which probably says they are exceeding expectations and being well managed. I am sure that there are many businesses where this is a win, where solid tactical and authoritative management delivers the goals of the organization. Where I struggle is I am not sure that these organizations possess the high performing cultures that will make them competitive with those looking to disrupt them. For example, Amazon is a disruptor; I am sure there were tons of good managers at Walmart, they were the incumbent, with scale and yet they needed Jet even to try to make a run at Amazon after being disrupted. After Walmart acquired the company that was going to help them take on the disruptor, they began disrupting the culture that they identified as their hope, pretty strange, and the disruption of a giant like Walmart is probably more about the ability to acquire the human capital who will develop a better mousetrap. Walmart has plenty of management but fails to realize it’s the culture and the legacy which anchors them to yesterday that is creating the opening for a disruptor like Amazon, this is emphasized by the changes instituted at Jet post-Walmart acquisition, some of which have been repealed. (Howland, 2017) Culture is critical in today’s market and leaders marshall the culture.  I don’t believe that today’s market leaders who are looking for a combinatorial explosion, not linear or even exponential growth accept the idea of “the same general outcome”. I think they look for greatness; I think they look for the last hire to be the best hire they ever made. I read “The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon” (Stone, 2014) and what is Amazing about Jeff Bezos is how relentless he is (a bit of triva, go to http://relentless.com and see where it redirects you). The Amazon Leadership Principles (Amazon’s global career site, n.d.) tell a story about what Amazon expects from their employees, management by authority just can’t deliver this culture. The same can be said of Netflix where hard work is not relevant, but sustained A-level performance, despite minimal effort, is rewarded with more responsibility and great pay. (Hastings, 2009, p. 35) Listening to the story of the Netflix culture and Patty McCord drives home the idea of a high-performing culture and the expectations. (Henn, 2015)

In my opinion, leaders inspire leadership and a desire to innovate, they seek to do things like “put a ding in the universe” (Steve Jobs), while managers look to execute a defined plan. To a manager on-time delivery is a fixed point in time, to a leader time is relative and the expectation is that execution will improve as those who are executing innovate more effective and efficient ways to deliver.

References

Amazon’s global career site. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.amazon.jobs/principles

Henn, S. (2015, September 03). How The Architect Of Netflix’s Innovative Culture Lost Her Job To The System. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/2015/09/03/437291792/how-the-architect-of-netflixs-innovative-culture-lost-her-job-to-the-system

Hastings, R. (2009, August 01). Culture. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664/netflix

Howland, D. (2017, June 27). Cultures clash in the aftermath of Walmart’s e-commerce acquisitions. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.retaildive.com/news/cultures-clash-in-the-aftermath-of-walmarts-e-commerce-acquisitions/445917/

Stone, B. (2014). The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon. New York: Back Bay Books.

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 5, Discussion 1

Discussion Post

Analyze and describe the differences between the characteristics of transactional and transformational leadership. Which do you feel is more effective and why? Provide an example, either from your organization or one you know well to illustrate your points.

As I read about transactional and transformational leadership, I couldn’t help but think about a conversation I had earlier in the day about transactional salespeople vs. salespeople who are capable of pivoting an organization. Also, I am happy to have a leadership use case which I can talk about in the third person. I work with salespeople every day, they have customer requirements, every requirement is super urgent and the feature that I need to build and deliver is positioned as the organizational equivalent of Shangri-La. Conversely, every feature request can derail all strategic initiatives and achieve corporate extinction.

We have plenty of transactional salespeople, and we have few transformational salespeople. Within our organization and many organizations, salespeople are the opportunity leaders (let’s consider marketing and sales synonymous for this post); they are the tone and tenor which creates an external perception of an organization, it’s products, go to market strategy, etc… The text mentions that transactional and transformational leadership complement each other, and I would agree. (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 197) Most of our transformative salespeople service both transactional needs like customer x needs to purchase widget y, but they also can identify more complex requirements, articulate the value proposition, understand how the customer requirement aligns with market demand, the strategic direction of our organization, metric opportunity cost, etc… These leaders are change agents for the organization, helping to drive the future direction in a meaningful way. Contrast the sophistication of a transactional and transformational salesperson, and you’ll observe that the transactional salesperson is far more focused on a near-term goal, you hear phrases like “I just wanna get the deal off the street.” In the case of a transactional salesperson, the velocity of reaching the goal always take precedence over a more lofty goal, many of these individuals will articulate response time as their primary value proposition. Transactional salespeople service a need where transformational salespeople create a vision and define a need.

Where it gets fascinating is the idea that most salespeople think they are all transformational leaders, of course, you have to be a transformational leader to be an entrepreneur, right? Wrong! We struggle with this as an organization; the same latitude afforded a transactional leader afforded to a transformational leader comes with immense opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is hard to metric, but it exists and impacts numerous facets of the organization.

David Ingram’s description of transactional and transformational leadership in his “Transformational Leadership Vs. Transactional Leadership Definition” article rings true. Transformational leaders are concerned with “keeping the ship afloat”, in the salesperson context, selling a widget and generating revenue. Transformational leaders are, well, transformative; they help develop strategies, pivot organizations into new markets, etc… (Ingram, 2018) I often think about the motivation of commission and salespeople, while transactional salespeople are highly motivated by commissions, should transformational salespeople be compensated differently to encourage their leadership? Maybe this is the ultimate example of “contingent reward” (Robbins & Judge, 2018, p. 199)

There is no doubt in my mind in the context of today’s “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment” we need “Transfor-sactional” leadership mix more than ever. (Dartey-Baah, 2015) “VUCA” conditions demand that leaders be able to solve both near-term tactical problems while considering the impact on long-term strategy.  As far as which is more effective and why, I’ll take transformational leadership because I believe I can mentor someone to be a transactional leader, but the qualities required to be a transformational leader are harder to find and/or develop.  With this said there is danger in a transformational leader being overly ethereal, but I’ll take my chances.

References

Dartey-Baah, K. (2015). Resilient leadership: A transformational-transactional leadership mix. Journal of Global Responsibility, 6(1), 99-112. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.portal.lib.fit.edu/docview/1675140305?accountid=27313

Ingram, D. (2018, February 26). Transformational Leadership Vs. Transactional Leadership Definition. Retrieved April 04, 2018, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/transformational-leadership-vs-transactional-leadership-definition-13834.html

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

 

Response Post

Scott, this was a very interesting read. Over the years I have observed all kinds of leadership styles in the CEO position, those who have come from differing backgrounds, some emerge from the sales ranks, some from finance, some from engineering and all have very different styles, which are often pretty predictable. I would be interested to know if you charismatic CEO has a pedigree in sales which often provides that charisma over substance feel, don’t bother me with the details, why aren’t you as excited two weeks later sort of presentation. I also found the description you provided of your Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) interesting. I think the CHRO position can vary widely from organization to organization and the leadership can span from abysmal to incredible, all depending on the value the organization places on human capital. I know my organization has been through a few CHROs. We now have a natural leader in the CHRO role, the type of leader who looks to their left and their right and puts other first.
In the past, we’ve had uninspired transactional leaders in the CHRO role and what I can say is an inspired CHRO in a market where every organization is competing to hire and develop human capital the CHRO role is a critical one.