Leadership in Ukraine from East to West

Feb 19

Many of my thoughts on leadership revolve around the congruence of values between leader and follower. I argued that Leadership Erosion is eating away at majorities and consensus with the end being irreconcilable segmentation. When common values cannot be established there is little hope of common objectives on social and political issues. One such case today is found in Ukraine. View Larger Map Ukraine is a country ideally situated to observe the clash of values that erodes the effectiveness and reach of leadership. One the east is Russia, a reluctant adopter of western capitalism and liberal thought. On the west is Europe, forward thinking, capitalistic and largely democratic. Within the Ukraine, there are people who align with both value systems. Recent fighting brought this division to the forefront. President Viktor Yanukovych has received pressure as a result of his alignment with Russia on financial and energy resource issues. The opposition argues that alignment with the European Union is more desirable. At the heart of the disagreement is a conflict of values which some in the media are describing as a conflict between Obama and Putin. While this has less to do with the actual western or eastern leaders, it does trace back to what those leaders stand for. If Yanukovych, or any other leader, hopes to unite, inspire and transform the Ukrainian people, the first step must be a unification of values; an agreement on what is worth living and dying for. Until there is greater congruence of values, it’s unlikely any leader will succeed in uniting the people and putting Ukraine back on solid, independent...

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Leadership: Play to your Strengths, Forget your Weaknesses

Feb 12

Weaknesses feel so much more visible than strengths to many people. In the consideration of leadership, there is a tendency to allow focus to dwell on correcting flaws rather than developing strengths. Recent research indicates that weaknesses may not be holding leaders back as much as previously thought. With the exception of what Zenger and Folkman call “fatal flaws”, much more potential improvement is available to those leaders who focus on strengths. Strengths represent opportunity for leaders. Whether a leader invests in his strengths should be viewed opportunity cost. A focus on trying to fix weaknesses may cost a leader a great deal of growth opportunity. Time frame is helpful in identifying both whether to focus on a strength or a weakness and which strengths to focus on. Cultural tendency is to set new year’s resolutions. However, that time frame may be too short when considering personal development. Questions about who the leader wants to be in five to ten years from now may bring more clarity and perspective. Another benefit associated with a focus on strengths development is increased engagement and retention. Strengths building can be very rewarding and can improve outcomes in immediate ways. Immediate rewards increase engagement and satisfaction, and in some cases can diminish the negative aspects of weaknesses. When it comes to leadership, there’s a lot more value in playing to personal strengths than dwelling on weaknesses, as long as the leader stays in touch with his weaknesses so they don’t become critical...

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Netflix and the Future of Entertainment – case study

Feb 10

The latest case study for my marketing class was a review of Netflix. It discusses trends in delivery of entertainment content, starting with video cassette through to their streaming service. I highlight some of the strategic business choices that Netflix is making to remain relevant among competitors. Download Netflix Case...

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Transformational Leadership and Value Congruence

Feb 06

My latest research paper in Leadership focuses on the relationship between leadership and the alignment of values, both between leader and follower and relative to their organization. The research demonstrates that “The state of value congruence occasions a number of efficiencies, including similarity of cognitive processes and communication systems. The predictive character of behavior among people with value congruence further streamlines cooperation between leaders and followers and among peers. The levels of follower satisfaction and commitment both increase when values are aligned interpersonally and organizationally.” You can read the paper below: Download Transformational Leadership and Value...

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Leadership Myopia

Jan 28

Humans are fascinated with strength, beauty, intelligence and many other human characteristics. American fascination with these human characteristics is seen in our literature, comic books, movies and in the stories told about men and women who have risen from rags to riches; from weakness to power. In The Atlantic, Tara Burton asks why American colleges are so obsessed with Leadership. This not only highlights that there are followers, but also that there are other possible roles, such as a “lone wolf” or “team player”. In the right context, these non-leadership roles can bring as much value (and sometimes more) to organizations. Another point the article makes is that often, when we discuss leadership, the real context is management. Rather than producing real change and movement, the focus is one of managing and structuring to achieve maximum profit. As one surveys history to identify great leaders, some of the most compelling and effective leaders obtained very little in the way of riches or power. Those that did obtain power did so after many years of toil. Is there value in pursuing a universal model of leadership? Could it be that the ocean of literature devoted to finding the secret to producing outstanding leaders is really distracting American academia from opportunities to more richly educate and prepare tomorrow’s workforce? For those students who don’t naturally lean toward leadership, the myopic American focus on leadership in university studies may be cheating them of much more rewarding career training and opportunities. It’s tempting to take the article one step further and notice that leaders are rarely noted for how well they do what they’re told. The idea of teaching leaders to be leaders and sending them into the world to lead seems at odds with the idea of leadership. Many who become leaders will do so regardless of their educational...

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Leadership and the Value of Fair Play

Jan 22

One key value that affects the effectiveness of leadership is fair play. Expectations, implied or expressed, are the basis of whether actions are seen as exhibiting fair play. Teamwork requires that team members trust that their expectations will be met. The expectation of fair play derives from human attitudes toward reciprocity and equity. A great historical account that illustrates this important value in a leader is when Abraham Lincoln made an agreement with Henry E. Dummer, John Hardin and Edward D. Baker that they would rotate the nomination every two years and would help each other win the election. After Mr. Lincoln had helped others win their elections, it was his turn. In the face of some resistance he wrote to them, reminding them of their agreement and citing that “turn about is fair play”. Reckless Self-Interest The political environment today is rife with excess and unfair play. There seems to be an endless stream of kickbacks, misuse of funds, inappropriate relationships and many other types of behavior that does not meet expectations. A notable, although not isolated, example of this behavior is seen in the actions of Chris Christie’s staff in recent months. Political retribution, manipulation and coercion all demonstrate a reckless self-interest on the part of a leader. Consequences of this type of behavior are almost universally negative in the long term. Alliances are short lived, trust is absent making skepticism high and outcomes are rarely in the best interests of the people who are represented. Decreased Influence A lack of fair play in leadership will eventually result is a diminished capacity to influence others and effect real change. Leaders who brush aside fairness and equity, who fail to reciprocate when expected, will find that their personal and positional power decrease over time. Unfortunately, many leaders learn this disappointing outcome when the stakes are highest, in times of...

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CardSwap Marketing Case Study

Jan 18

The first case study assigned for marketing focuses on the Canadian Company CardSwap. The case mentions pay-per-click advertising and some traditional offline media as possible customer acquisition methods. After a careful review of the company, its profit potential and the complexity of forecasting given the unpredictable nature of the the target market, I didn’t endorse either approach. One proposal I did make in my analysis was that CardSwap should offer their own open loop gift card, which I later found out that they do. From my paper: Continued investment in automation technologies for verifying the current balance of existing cards, social media integration and fine tuning of analytics technology are likely to bring the most long term benefit and growth to CardSwap. You can read or download the complete paper below. Download the CardSwap case study...

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