Retooling Ethical Behavior With Agrarian Leadership

Summary: Examine the concept of agrarian leadership in today’s society. Dr. Green shares how to infuse ethical behavior in the workplace with a different type of leadership. 

We live in a digital economy. Technology and innovation continue to improve our wants and desires. Like the Great Roman Empire, the moral decay in our society will slowly eat us from the inside out. In order to improve leaders’ value systems, we need to regain the values of agrarian society. Leadership expert Vana Prewitt argues that the current leadership theories are based on modernist assumptions and are out of date with leading today’s postmodern organizations. Given this dilemma, I advocate for a different kind of 21st leadership.

Today’s leaders need a fresh and authentic outlook, which is morally sound. In fact, a leader’s vision must be deeply rooted. Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, and David Buchanan, authors of Managing Organizational Change explain, “Visions are thus linked to strategy and competitive advantage, enhancing organizational performance and sustaining growth… A lack of vision, on the other hand, is associated with organizational decline and failure.” Let’s look at Agrarian leadership. Agrarian leadership is defined as a contextual influence that has an impact on subordinates’ attitudes and performance by leaders who are both value and results driven. Agrarian leaders view their followers as critical parts of the socio-technical system. Therefore, technology does not drive the value system of society.

Before the Industrial Revolution, life was centered on land and labor. Life was simple for the leader in the agrarian society. Rural living revolved around the land; owning it was equivalent to self-sufficiency and liberty. Although Americans lived in a tribal structure prior to the Agrarian Era (1650-1849), farming communities operated in a decentralized economy.

Agrarians exercised a strong spirituality and a deep respect for the environment. There was a genuine concern for neighbors and co-workers. Being a leader was a major responsibility. In fact, farmers were like heroes because of their hard work, contributions to society, independence, and moral standards. A man’s word meant something. With the transition from an agrarian to industrial society, untainted leadership was lost.

The Industry Revolution meant major changes to the American way of life. Before that period, over 90% of Americans lived rurally. Farmers influenced society. Between 1870 and 1900, rural areas doubled and the urban regions tripled. Farmers were cautious about these societal changes.

Industrial managers faced challenges, such as generating new efficiencies while expanding operations. Chaos theory was in effect because those managers couldn’t control these organizational changes (both inside and outside). Factory managers lacked a process to motivate the unskilled (former agrarian) workforce. This era created new advances and new problems.

The Industrial Revolution forever changed agrarian society, primarily due to market economy and technology. Farmers were less self-sufficient and became “economic market” slaves. This created a conflict because farmers and industrial society had different values. Farming became more productive, but fewer farmers were needed.

As a result of these advances, farmers lost their independence, family focus, and societal influence on moral conduct. For example, some managers found factory workers breaking equipment. Consequently, managers tried to institute positive and negative rewards; these managers used conventional wisdom: “the hungriest man makes the best worker.” Once again, humanity was moving away from his calling—the land.

Therefore, advances in technology do not always equate to a better society. Many techno advocates would argue that technology has provided superior virtues. I beg to differ. First, technology doesn’t automatically improve society. In over 50 years, America has gone from rural to city and from national to international markets. Richard Critchfield, author of Trees, Why Do You Wait: America’s Changing Rural Culture, argues that these advancements have weakened our core values, such as family tradition and work ethic.

Secondly, the disintegration of the agrarian code has destroyed our moral stability. Osha Davidson, the author of Broken Heartlands, suggests that technology and the economic prestige of the agricultural system brought a host of social ills, such as poverty, depopulation, and soil erosion.

In closing, we may consider agrarian lifestyle primitive. However, agrarian values shouldn’t be forgotten as good leadership attributes. We continue to advance technology rapidly while the values of society continue to disintegrate with each innovation. In society, many leaders exhibit unethical conduct, pursuing wealth. Throughout American history, we see the consequences. Let’s pray it’s not too late for agrarian leadership.

Please discuss agrarian leadership as it relates to a changing world.

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10 Steps To Spot Unethical Leaders

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Have you seen the number of scandals in today’s organizations?  Government! Business! Non-profit organizations! Religious entities! No institution is exempted.  But—followers of these organizations deserve better!

Sadly, many employees chuckle at their bosses when they lecture them about ethical behavior in their organizations (typically because their management is not…ethical).  With the continual unethical behavior patterns of several leaders, today’s workers are more cynical about their leaders than ever.  In today’s discussion, we will evaluate how to spot unethical leaders in organizations. Continue reading

Retiring Early: Planning Out Your Exit Strategy

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“I was ready! In my early 40s, I started thinking about retiring early. I sat through my organization’s mid-career retirement classes and had gotten several retirement estimates (i.e., different retirement years). I had kept myself marketable by continuing to take advantage of career opportunities and obtaining additional education in my professional field. Some co-workers mocked me because they said any scholarly education would not advance my career.

Yet, I felt that professional growth and a continual learning mindset would only increase my value in the market. I had developed an exit strategy. Working with my friend (Dr. Gary Roberts), I had mapped out a future purpose in academia. I could fully utilize my professional experience while at the same time applying my other skill sets. However, things did not work out as planned. The time and opportunities did not align with my plans. In fact, it took 9 years and more than 200 job applications for the exit strategy to work. Because I was patient and adaptable, God opened up a door, which was much better than my initial plan. Having an exit strategy was invaluable!” 

Are you happy with your current job? In general, US employees are satisfied with their work life. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, about half (49%) of American workers say they are very satisfied with their current job. Yet, 30% of them are somewhat satisfied, and the remainder says they are slightly dissatisfied (9%) or very dissatisfied (6%). Continue reading

Good Content in a Digital World

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With this quick pace of technology and increasing access to information, the world is a land of opportunities for those who have the knowledge. An individual in the 21st century has the opportunities to influence millions of people across the globe. Unfortunately, many do not know how to do it. With the rapid fire of social media interaction and engagement, businesses need to know how to write great content in order to sustain success. The internet has made it necessary for online platforms to keep fresh content or customers will eventually dismiss them from relevancy. You don’t think content matters? Below are some digital statistics to observe:

• 92% of online consumers don’t intend to buy during a first visit
• Nearly half of consumers won’t spend time with branded content if it’s not relevant to their interests
• 46% of marketers say photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies
• 88% of consumers say that, personally, relevant content improves how they feel about a brand
• 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading their custom content

With that said, customers will not come to your website or your social platforms if your content (i.e., articles, videos, or podcasts) aren’t any good. Therefore, individuals need to be strategic about their content.

Businesses need to write good content that matters to their constituency. With that said, organizations should think in the best interest of its target audience. When I wrote my first book My Cup Runneth Over: Setting Goals for Single Parents and Working Couples, my goal was to assist working families with the issues of how to balance work and family. I had a lot of experience with this subject being a working parent.

I wrote lots of content on this subject and got plenty of attention from the media. People were amazed at my publishing accomplishments. It changed my life. I was asked to speak at events. Co-workers wanted my advice. The audience wanted to listen to my messages. Since that time, I have given insights to thousands of people.

This new market success was due primarily because my content was focused on a critical problem that appealed to a specific group of people. In fact, becoming an author is one of the quickest ways to be recognized as an expert in a field or industry. Sadly, many businesses undervalue a well-written piece.

Content marketing allows businesses to develop content relevant to their audience. Content marketing can be defined as “a form of non-traditional marketing communications whereby a brand produces or designs contents in various forms (e.g., text, images, video, audio) and disseminates that content to targeted audiences or customers.”

Today’s marketers understand that good content is essential for their brand awareness and market sustainability. In fact, marketers like to utilize content marketing in social media platforms for the following reasons: (a) High level of control over content design; (b) Low cost of content dissemination; (c) Increased opportunities for audience interactivity and engagement; and (d) Increased opportunities for real-time feedback.

Jeff Larson and Stuart Draper, authors of Digital Marketing Essentials, argue that customers do take notice of content on organizations’ websites. They explain, “For good or ill, consumers are talking online about companies’ brands. Online review sites, directories, social media sites, Wikipedia, blogs, and forums all allow users to express their opinions about a brand… This content can appear in so many places online that it is impossible to monitor this conversation by visiting each site and sifting through the billions of comments left by web users.”

Given the high risk of failure, businesses should not be careless in creating content for their customers. If individuals do not have the talent nor the foresight for developing content, they should consider to just contract this talent out. Even when businesses have the necessary skill set, they must make sure their content is effective and efficient.

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In the book Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing, the authors stress the importance of good content: “Customers are online and looking for products, services, and solutions to their problems. It’s up to you to grab customers first (and make no mistake – the competition from other companies trying to do just that is huge.” The authors offer the following steps to create great content for customers:

• Focus on your specific target audience.
• Solve the problems that your customers care about.
• Become a trusted source to address their problems.
• Write fresh content.
• Make it easy for them to shop with you.

With the high stakes for today’s businesses, organizations can stand out in the crowd with good content on all of their social media platforms. Adding content marketing into a seller’s arsenal of marketing tools can provide relevant, useful content to customers. This article demonstrated that good content is essential in a digital world.

Today’s marketers are constantly developing content to meet the needs of their constituents. If companies do not take the development of good content seriously, they will not be able to compete with a more demanding and engaged customer base. Pray that it is not too late.

© 2018 by D. D. Green

Wicked Problems for Today’s Leaders

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My wife and I wanted to get a motion detector in our backyard. We had a backlight on the house already. The house was a new construction. The motion detector would be additional security. We estimated the price to be under $200.

When the electrician arrived, he talked with us about our needs and did a thorough inspection of the home. He came back with an estimate of over $600. He rationalized this price due to the configuration of our home and the difficulty of wiring this fixture.

My wife and I both wanted this motion detector. However, we were unwilling to pay the price for this addition. Thus, we needed to redefined the problem. We wanted this motion detector as extra security for the home. We asked the electrician what it would cost to change out the light fixture. He mentioned less than $80. The motion detector was about $50. By redefining or refocusing the problem, we were able to carryout a better solution. 

In search of more lucrative markets, today’s companies are looking for more opportunities across the globe. The United States is a land where dreams come true. Individuals from across the globe come to this country for possible opportunities. Yet, companies fail every day in the marketplace.

According to one study, the failure rate for new startups is about 46%. Botch understanding of your business competencies and market opportunities may put to be fatal. On the contrary, businesses that provide value to customers by solving their pressing problems are rewarded.

By solving someone’s challenging problems, individuals are compensated very well. Thus, solving ‘wicked problems’ could yield greater rewards.  In this session, we will discuss the concepts of wicked problems and introduces how organizations can solve them with effective leaders who provide a burst of innovative thinking.

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Know Your Worth: Compensation Negotiation

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As I contemplated my next career move, I knew it was important to know my worth in the market. In a sense, the concept was foreign to me since I had worked 27 years in engineering for the public sector. In securing that job, the only thing that was negotiated was the time of employment.

My desire to have a second career outside of engineering into academia drove me to get meaningful experience as an adjunct professor. Of course, I felt my core competencies were strong as a professor. I had about ten years in academics working part-time. Yet, I also knew that obtaining a full-time tenure track would be highly competitive due to the limited amount of these treasured positions and the number of applicants. 

I personally knew of qualified business professors who could not obtain a full-time faculty position. To increase my marketability, I continued to secure new skill sets and to follow market trends. One of the biggest trends working for me was that many institutions were looking for new faculty who had demonstrated working experience.

Yet, in order to determine my worth, I had to actively apply for academic positions and go through the interview process. With every interview, each prospective employer provided me with a missing piece of my market worth. However, I got this insight by being assertive by asking meaningful questions like “what part of my application package attracted you to me as a candidate.”  

This transparency was contagious. One dean even told me my prospective rank (i.e. salary) in his organization. All of these pieces were critical in helping me negotiate my final position as a full-time faculty because I understood my worth in the marketplace.

In today’s competitive environment, working professionals need to know their worth so that they can be compensated appropriately and they can market themselves toward better jobs. In fact, professionals need to know how to market themselves and promote their personal brand in order to maintain their market worth. Downsizing and layoffs are a way of life for most U.S. businesses.

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The Future of Digital Marketing – Small Business Help

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Today’s customers can purchase a variety of items online with minimum effort. Given this scenario, brick and mortar companies are fighting to stay alive with the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics looking at 1,164 U.S. business owners, the following observations were made:

  • 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.
  • 51% of Americans prefer to shop online.
  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).
  • 51% of seniors have shopped on marketplaces, 66% at large retailer sites, 30% on web stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the internet and how to effectively leverage this power. According to Socialmedia.com, 90% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Sadly, many small businesses do not recognize this fact. Many businesses had opted to bury their heads in the sand in hopes that this ‘internet thing’ will go away. It hadn’t!

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Social Media Marketing Strategies by Guest Blogger Brenda Coleman

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Notwithstanding the arguably negative impact of social media on people today, according to the Daily Mail’s opinion, social networks are becoming more and more powerful. So are marketing opportunities for businesses. Business owners use social media sites as another channel to implement their branding and marketing strategies. If you think that it’s time for you to use this channel too, you will need to find out a few important things.

Simple Social Media Tips for Beginners
Let’s begin with the basics. What is social media marketing? Simply said, it’s all about using your company’s online profiles with marketing goals. There are many subtleties and tricks that help those goals be achieved, but they are all built on and around the fundamentals of social media business owners should know. Here they are.

#1 Search Is Your Everything
In order to gain followers’ attention, your must create an engaging media product. If you do want to use social media for business effectively, it will be wise for you to start with studying your audience and analyzing their interests, which could be easily done with a search option available on all platforms. When searching, ask yourself the following question: What lacks out there that could interest them?

You should aim at relevant groups – “travelers,” “dieticians,” or “vegans” – that make up your target audience. Find a catchy personality and scan his or her Facebook likes. Understanding what your potential customers are interested in will help you decide what kind of content they will love. Continue reading

Connecting The Dots Between Personal Competencies & Personal Branding

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With fierce competition for limited jobs, many college students wonder if they will be able to land a good job. Sadly, the economic situation feels like a bad dream. With a weak job growth, many U.S. jobs will continue to be outsourced globally or automated through technology. Yet, there are opportunities for those students who are prepared for the future.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in 2024 will reach 160.3 million, an increase from 2014 of almost 9.8 million jobs. The health care and social assistance sector will account for over a third of the nation’s projected job growth from 2014 to 2024. This article focuses on how building the right competencies will help individuals brand their personal brand and increase their opportunities for job opportunities.

As a result, today’s unemployed workers are unsure about their future. Many students struggle to pursue the right major in college. Others follow the latest trend on reality TV for selecting their ideal major. Finding the ideal job is a combination of personal interest/passion, values, and skills/abilities.

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Disruptive Change: How Leaders Navigate Uncertainty

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As companies continue to wage war with global competition and attempt to figure out their next steps due to advanced technologies, organizations are dealing with unpredictable change that is disruptive. In fact, disruptive change is impacting everyone in all walks of life, from Wall Street to entertainment. The casualties of disruptive change are evident.

In a statement to the Associated Press about joining a Silicon Valley boardroom, Serena Williams said, “I feel like diversity is something I speak to. Change is always happening. Change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of change and to make it easier for the next person.”   we will examine disruptive change and what leaders can do to navigate the resulting uncertainties.

Disruptive change is wrecking traditional thinking of industries and institutions. Long-standing organizations have long attempted to maintain the status quo, allowing flagship institutions like Harvard University and Princeton lead the pack. Non-traditional institutions, like the University of Phoenix, were frowned upon by academics because it was a for-profit university growing by using non-traditional models like online learning.

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