Volume 5, Issue 5
ă 2003 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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The Faith of Followers
We’ve seen hundreds of images in recent weeks that remind all executives that we earn whatever faith followers have in our leadership, and we can lose that faith in the blink of an eye. A global audience of potential followers watched the statues of Saddam Hussein toppled, his billboards destroyed, and fervent former followers removing their shoes to pound the fallen images. We watched the outrage of union workers when they learned of the special treatment for top executives at American Airlines. We heard a CEO’s plea for forgiveness, followed by his resignation when workers with the power to destroy the company made it clear that they would not follow his leadership. We observed the quick demise of civil servants who declined to tell people the truth about the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It’s trite, but true, that without followers, one is not a leader. It seemed apropos to devote this month’s issue to exploring some of the recent stories about the faith of followers and the loss of that faith. As you read about the challenges faced by other executives, think about what you do every day to build and to destroy the faith in you held by those who choose to let you be their leader, a choice they make one moment at a time.
Fifteen new books are
rated in this issue, beginning on page 5, including a four-star (Highly
Recommended) rating for Louis V. Gerstner’s story of his decade of
leadership at IBM, Who Says
Elephants Can’t Dance? You can also visit our 2003 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/bookshelf.html
and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 2003 book
How have you used opportunities in your
organization to build trust and goodwill between management and labor?
Whether your organization is unionized or not, what do you do to improve relationships
between labor and management? Which of your actions have caused those who
report to you to lose their confidence in your leadership? What actions could
jeopardize the trust others have in you? When following a leader in a key
role, how will you be the same as your predecessor, and how will you be
different? Are you prepared today to take on a new role, if asked?
How do you deliver reassurance to those who look to you for leadership? When do you tell them the unvarnished truth? Have you found yourself withholding information from followers because it’s in “their best interest” not to know? When the information comes out eventually, do you expect to be followed? When those who report to you hide facts from you and others, how do you respond?
Not So Big Easy
you choose your business partners? In whose interests do you expect your
service providers to act? Do your agreements define expected actions in
real-world situations? How do you reconcile the differing expectations of
your customers and your owners? How do you approach service relationships
with your competitors? What controls ensure that your interests will be well-represented?
Do you have enough faith in the skills of a competitor to let them manage
part of your business?
Some employees hold key roles in managing the relationships between your organization and your customers or suppliers. In many organizations, one individual provides the only “face” that clients ever see, and they conclude that whatever this person does is exactly what management of your organization wants done. The level of faith in your organization is a direct result of the actions of that front line representative. To mitigate the risk of behavior by rogue employees, some organizations communicate directly with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that the community at large understands the organization’s values, and would encourage someone to come forward if an employee behaved in a way that appeared inconsistent with those organizational values. When we read on the Associated Press wire (4/12/03) (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/12/business/12RAZO.html) that a fired Gillette employee was arrested for engaging in a kickback scheme with retailers that netted him $600,000, we decided to dig a little deeper. It turns out that Gillette uncovered the fraud by the former director of its Permanent Merchandising Systems Department, Gino Deluca. According to the United States Department of Justice, “It is important for the public to understand that this case is the result of individual greed and not corporate misconduct. The Gillette Company through its own internal investigation identified the alleged fraud and brought this conduct to the attention of federal authorities and were fully supportive of the criminal investigation. This is an indictment of one individual who enriched himself through illegal means.” (http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ma/presspage/April2003/Deluca-Gino-indictment.htm). The actions of a single employee can change the image of your organization by the clients or suppliers who interact with that single individual.
How long would it take your organization to uncover the actions of a rogue employee? Are you sure? How do you monitor the ways in which your organization is represented by your front line “faces?”
Here are selected updates on stories covered in prior issues of Executive Times:
Ř Readers of Executive Times since the first issue in
may remember that back then we noted that Don Carty had the chance to break
from the contentious labor relations policies of his AMR predecessor, Bob
Crandall, but decided not to do so, costing the company an extra $50 to $75
million during an unnecessary squabble with the pilot’s union back in 1999.
Ř Ford Motor Company celebrates its first 100 years in a five-day celebration beginning June 12 in Dearborn, Michigan. We called attention to the Ford and Firestone family feud in the October 2000 issue of Executive Times and now await finding out who attend the anniversary bash, now that the financial bashing of the Explorer tire fiasco has passed.
A Different Cityscape
Beyond housing, LeFrak contributed to the community through his support of the arts. As a trustee and benefactor to the Guggenheim Museum (where a gallery bears the name of LeFrak and his wife), he made art works he purchased available to museums around the world. When he received a Patron of the Arts Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, he said, “Music is my life, and this is where I get my fulfillment.” Through many scholarships, LeFrak saw to it that students with talent were able to learn from the best teachers.
LeFrak was honored by the United Nations for his work with Habitat International, and he addressed the UN on the topic, “Planning for Urbanization in the 21st Century.”
inherited a building business started by his father in 1901. The tagline for
the company today is: “Building a Better World Since 1901.” A grandson now
runs the business. LeFrak died in mid-April after a long illness. He was 85.
He’ll be remembered by those who live in and near where he built housing.
He’ll be remembered by all the arts groups who received his generosity. And
he’ll be remembered by all those managers and leaders who see something
valuable where others see wasteland.
Latest Books Read and Reviewed:
(Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers to order copies directly from amazon.com. When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com. Click on the title to read the review or visit our 2003 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/bookshelf.html).
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