From Controlling to Empowering Leadership


Truly accomplished leaders are people who have a compelling vision and the ability to rally others to make that vision a reality. However, we know from studying leaders like Ghandi and Mao, Roosevelt and Stalin, that leaders use different kinds of power to accomplish their visions. I want to distinguish between two forms of power:

  1. Control-over power (controllers)
  2. Influence-with power (empowerers)

Control-over power is probably the most prevalent form of power experienced by man throughout history. It is power that is imposed from without. Such leaders believe they have to control people in order to accomplish organizational results. These leaders may accomplish much, but often at a high price. At best, their tactics result in unthinking followers who learn to keep their heads down and do the minimum possible to avoid getting into trouble. At worst they create an environment of smoldering ill-will or even malicious compliance. [Read more…]

What is Organizational Design?

Organizational design is a step-by-step methodology which identifies dysfunctional aspects of work flow, procedures, structures and systems, realigns them to fit current business realities/goals and then develops plans to implement the new changes. The process focuses on improving both the technical and people side of the business.

For most companies, the design process leads to a more effective organization design, significantly improved results (profitability, customer service, internal operations), and employees who are empowered and committed to the business. The hallmark of the design process is a comprehensive and holistic approach to organizational improvement that touches all aspects of organizational life, so you can achieve: [Read more…]

Traditional to High Performance Organization


The model that has dominated most modern businesses has been based on a set of principles and practices formally defined by Frederick Taylor in 1903 and known as “scientific management.” The thinking of Taylor and other of his contemporaries (most notably Max Weber) conceived of an organization as a collection of parts that need to be standardized and centrally controlled. The assumptions of this model are implicit in the way most organizations are designed and, until recently, have dominated the thinking of people within organizations. Some of the major features of this theory are summarized below. [Read more…]

The Design Process

The first challenge of the design process is to create a streamlined and effective organization that is aligned with the strategy and desired results of the organization. The second challenge is to get buy-in from the entire organization and implement the new design so that it dramatically and positively changes the way the business operates. Many organizations fail to adapt and adjust their internal infrastructure to the rapidly changing business demands around them because their business processes, structures, and systems act as barriers to efficiency and common-sense decision making. These internal barriers can trap capable people who eventually become cynical and disheartened by their inability to change or influence obvious gaps, inconsistencies, or burdensome constraints within the organization.

[Read more…]

The Development Process

The design process focuses on the technical aspects of improving business processes, structures and systems, while the development process focuses on improving the organization’s human resources. Physical, technological, and financial resources depreciate quickly, but people are the only resource within an organization which appreciates over time. For example, an employee who has been on the job for a year is expected to contribute more to the organization than when he/she had only been on the job for three months. Similarly, after three years of experience, development, and training, a person should be able to add even more value to the organization. The purpose of the development process is to leverage human capability, creating an organization which engages the intelligence, positive motivation, and commitment of every employee. [Read more…]

Your Company’s Stimulus Plan

Infusions of cash and capital will come as consumer/investor confidence recovers, but what measures will you take to revitalize morale and an environment of trust within your company? The economy’s damage to your bottom line seems obvious enough. What about the damage to employees’ relationships with their leaders and coworkers?

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Recession’s Lessons: The Upside of Downturns

Companies that learn from economic crises will emerge stronger and better-positioned as industry leaders.

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Picking Up the Pieces: Emerge as a Redesigned Organization

When world economies rebound from this recessionary beating, will your company be positioned to set full-sail into the upturn’s prosperous winds? On world, national, and enterprise levels, financial medics have repeatedly defibrillated the sources of lifeblood for economic health. As consumers and investors express progressive confidence in these measures and contraction turns to expansion, we’ll all take stock to see which companies made the cut.

[Read more…]

Performance Requirements Planning

The purpose of this article is to continue the theme of leadership development. The premise is that leaders (managers and supervisors) need more than training to be effective. It is imperative that the top leaders of an organization create an infrastructure to support and elicit desired leadership behaviors. One way to do this is through performance requirements planning.

Performance requirements planning begins by providing a clear definition of expected outcomes for a given position and continues by identifying those behaviors (best practices) and/or competencies that will lead to those outcomes. It defines the cross bar for individual performance and serves to:

  • Measure individual (leadership) performance
  • Provide individual performance feedback
  • Develop personal improvement and progression plans
  • Create and deliver management training/development programs and coaching

At a high level, here are some steps for making this happen:

[Read more…]

Managing the Business From a Master Plan

Although corporations within the U.S. spend approximately $300 billion per year on training, permanent change will occur only when an organization’s infrastructure elicits, reinforces, and even demands desired leadership behaviors. Research shows that only about 10-20% of the knowledge gained from training actually transfers to the job. The challenge and opportunity is to translate knowledge and skills into practices that actually improve organizational performance.

This article is part of a series about how to build good leadership practices into the infrastructure of your organization.  In my last two newsletters, I’ve discussed the following guidelines for instilling good leadership in your organization:

  1. Focus all your leaders on a shared definition (standard) or paradigm of good leadership behavior
  2. Set the example at the top
  3. Create a forum for feedback between leaders and their employees

[Read more…]