10 Steps To Spot Unethical Leaders


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

Grit in Effective Leadership


As the U.S. presidential election goes into full swing following both major conventions, voters will be considering which candidate will serve best as the nation’s leader.  This decision is not an easy one, as both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have some of the worst favorability ratings in history.  Ideally, voters should be thinking about candidates’ character traits, but most will prioritize self-interest and vote based on their pocketbooks.  Media pundits will analyze every insignificant point as if it is…well, significant.  In the face of global terrorism and financial uncertainty, what character trait genuinely sets a successful leader apart?  Problems will arise.  Trouble will come, and leaders who possess intrinsic drive will have the highest chance of overcoming obstacles and external factors in their environment.  We will examines the nature of grit for leaders caught in today’s chaotic world.

Effective leaders have a special quality called “grit,” which refers to a drive to overcome all sorts of hurdles.  People define grit in various ways: according to Gostrengths.com, grit is “a personality trait possessed by individuals who demonstrate passion and perseverance toward a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions.”  Along similar lines, blogger AJ Julian wrote an article on grit in education in which he shared an outstanding acronym: Guts, Resilience, Integrity, Tenacity.[1]

Continue reading

Authentic Leadership in a Global Environment

dishonest -fingers cross-managers

Today’s employees expect managers to model corporate values. Sadly, some managers do not take this invisible code seriously.  Hypocrisy is the rule of the day. When I was sitting in my Sunday lecture, the instructor brought home what it meant to be hypocritical when discussing Jesus’ interaction with the leaders of his time, The Pharisees. Jesus openly criticized their actions to his followers in Matthew 23:2: “Therefore, whatever they [Pharisees] tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do their works. For they speak, but do nothing. They fasten heavy loads that are hard to carry and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” Sadly, many workers face some less than genuine managers that fail to inspire them for greater performance.  In this post, we will examine the concept of authentic leadership in today’s society. Continue reading

Mapping out the Green Economy

Most businesses are promoting ‘Going Green’ while politicians peddle the concept as a way to grow jobs.  Many people have been disappointed with the perceived ‘hype.’  My question, with this concept, was who was going to lead this green economy? 

LMU’s Dean Jack McCann and I published an article entitled “Benchmarking a Leadership Model for the Green Economy” to address this subject.  This paper examined benchmarking leadership theories in order to build a new leadership model for the green economy.  This academic journey opened my eyes on the green economy.

Let’s explore this green economy. Many hope that the green economy will provide new prosperity for America’s future. The current economy is fueled exclusively by oil, natural gas, and coal. As these resources continue to become scarce, the cost increases.

On the contrary, the green economy is environment friendly and provides an opportunity for more innovation. Many experts support the green economy concept. Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, suggests that the stage is set for a green economy with billions of people from China, India, and the former Soviet Union demanding their share of the energy treasure chest.

There will be more energy demands to feed the world’s microwaves, vehicles, and other power hungry technology.  Friedman argues that this global demand would create an environmental disaster. This reality could infuse a new desire for renewable energies and environmental sustainable systems.

For example, Michigan has created more than 11,000 renewable energy jobs in four years; these jobs are compensated with sustaining a fair and equitable wage. Critics argue that some jobs will be lost as more rigorous energy regulations are in place and companies are forced to make energy transitions.

Jerome Ringo, the former president of the Apollo Alliance which has a coalition that promotes clean energy and green jobs, further maintains that these setbacks could be overcome by taking the proper steps. Therefore, the green economy could become a positive driving force in the future.

Ringo argues that green jobs could revive the U.S. economy while resolving some of the worst environmental problems facing the world. He points to this fact based on several states implementing the green economy.  However, other individuals have their doubts about any financial success from the green economy.

What do you foresee as leadership challenges for launching the green economy?  Please share your personal or professional experience on this subject.


© 2012 by Daryl D. Green                                    


The Designful Leader

Last night I was reviewing the Design School Boot Camp Bootleg, an interesting document put out by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. In the opening of the 36-page PDF is the “Design Mindset” or “D. Mindset” (supposedly because everything looks cooler when you shorten a word to one letter and add a period). As I read them again, I started to wonder if they couldn’t also apply to leaders. The D. Mindsets are as follows, with my leadership commentary below:

Show, don’t tell

We all know how frustrating it is to receive “orders” from a leader who is solely focused don telling, especially if what we need is to see the action, behavior of value from the leader first before engaging in it ourselves.

Create Clarity from Complexity

Much of the role of leadership is sense-making, reducing the complex system they view to a tangible action or behavior that followers need to understand. Leaders make sense.

Be Mindful of Process

While making sense of complexity for followers, leaders also have to juggle their attention on the overall process of their objective. In addition, leaders need to know that their development and the development of their followers is a process.

Collaborate across boundaries

In most organizations, the leaders who get things done are often those who step outside the lines of hierarchy to do so. Collaboration is becoming increasingly more vital…and that doesn’t even consider the effects of globalization.

Take Bias toward actions

In the end, leaders influence others toward action. Leaders who can get to that action the quickest (with sufficient background knowledge) are of distinct advantage.

Get experimental, and experiential

As the literature on innovation grows, our understanding of the need to experiment grows with it. Leaders need to let followers experiment, and experiment themselves. In addition, leaders ought to consider the experience of what it is like to work on their team and build a positive experience.

Focus on human values

I’d love to think this one is obvious, but many “tactical” or “transactional” leaders are focused on accomplishing the objective first and appealing to human values second. While this may work in the short-term, it is not sustainable.

Seven mindsets billed as required for engaging in proper design. Still, I can’t help but wonder if they ought to be re-billed as the “L. Mindsets.

Please provide comments or feedback to our guest blogger.

David Burkus is the editor of LeaderLab, a community of resources dedicated to promoting the practice of leadership theory. He is a consultant, a speaker and an adjunct professor of business at several universities. David focuses on developing leaders putting leadership and organizational theory into practice.

David is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Oklahoma. David is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Strategic Leadership from Regent University. He can be reached at david@davidburkus.com.

Workforce Woes

Why do we see managers so disconnected with workers? Many CEOs proclaimed they understand their workers. Yet, most don’t! In fact, one reason organizations do not reach peak performance is because managers do not understand their employees’ motivation. Since the industrial age, researchers have recognized that both technical and social factors impact organizational performance.

Daniel Wren, author of The Evolution of Management Thought, concludes that analyzing a social system gives management an avenue to measure conflict between the “logic of efficiency” demanded by the formal organization and the “logic by sentiments” by the informal organization.

 Workers are frustrated with the status quo.  According to a American Psychological Association study, four in 10 employees say a heavy workload, unrealistic job expectations, and long hours have created stress. With fierce global competition, I found it surprising that managers move toward the quick fixes like downsizing for short-term gain without analyzing the organization over the long term. This process isn’t easy. Yet, understanding workers need to be a priority. 

The current financial meltdown has forever changed our confident in traditional institutions. The private and public sectors are no exceptions. However, many organizations gain comfort in knowing that most employees will not leave due to this economic crisis. Yet, employee loyalty is at a three year low. According to MetLife’s 9th Annual study of Employee Benefit Trends, frustrated workers are secretly undertaking job searches in hopes of new opportunities when the market recovers.

In high-performance organizations, an environment is created where managers and workers coexist. In profit hunting, many businesses lose focus of the importance of socio-technical systems. Given precepts, it becomes evident that there is an increasing disconnect between leaders and followers in today’s organizations. To some managers, the problem with today’s workforce is simple a physical problem which is lack of motivated workers. Yet, the reality of the matter is that the workforce pressures are affecting workers holistically.  

What can be done to connect senior executives with the plight of today’s workers so that they can learn how to effectively motivate the workforce?

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green

[1] The Evolution of Management Thought by Daniel Wren

[2] “Workers eager to job hunt as morale plunges” by Laura Petrecca

[3] “Workers eager to job hunt as morale plunges” by Laura Petrecca

Guest Blogger – Mirror or Window Leadership?

It seems that some leaders just think about themselves. Maybe you’ve experienced a leader who seemed to care very little about you; his or her behavior was inconvenient, annoying, unprofessional or even unethical. Think about this: Who was that leader serving? The person in the mirror, or someone else?

When you go through a typical day, is your personal leadership like looking in a mirror all day—constantly concerned with yourself, looking out for your best interest above others’? Or, are you looking out a “window” to focus on others? Does your personal leadership keep bringing you back to self-preservation and self-promotion? Or, does it help you think about ways to address others’ needs and concerns?    

I think you know where I’m going with this! The best leaders are “window” leaders. Their eyes are consistently looking outward to others, caring for them and serving them. As leadership expert Max de Pree said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”

Be others-focused rather than self-focused, and you can experience the synergy of people working together well, united in purpose, and producing great results. Dean, professor, and professional leadership consultant Bruce Winston put it this way: “Employees and followers want leaders who are ‘others-centered’.” He goes on to explain that the paradox of this approach to leadership is that while the leader “…concentrates less on the organization and more on individuals, the organization gains more because the employees are working to uphold the organization’s needs.”

So you see, an others-focused practice of leadership can also yield greater return on investment for a business—it can reap monetary rewards. Simply put, when people are treated well they work more effectively. However, it must be intentional on the part of the leader. Remember the famous John Donne quote, “No man is an island”? This succinctly communicates our need for one another and especially the idea of connection to each other. “Window” leaders understand this vital connection. It is only by stepping away from our mirrors and turning to look outward to others that we begin to make connections to people around us and begin to reap the benefit of meaningful relationships.

Consider the profound urging of William Penn’s words: “I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”  Turn from the mirror to take in the magnificent view outside. Be a “window” leader!

Please provide your insight on this topic.

Renée N. Hale, DSL is an Organizational Performance Catalyst, with over 25 years experience in guiding individuals and teams, leading seminars, workshops, individual mentoring, and on the job training experiences.  She is a former professional violinist, and also served for 15 years as an international representative for a non-profit organization in Africa. Renée works fluently in French, and facilitates cross-cultural leadership learning. Dr. Hale’s broad worldview offers distinctive insights, innovative applications, and the capacity to see, understand and apply significant conceptual connections.

Dr. Renée N. Hale is also founder and president of WellSpirit Consulting Group, Inc.—engaging organizations around the world to get well, stay well, and create positive futures. Visit www.wellspiritconsulting.com  today.  © 2011 Renée N. Hale

Leadership Attraction

Many individuals are reluctant to admit that a person’s appearance may influence how others perceive them as a leader. Let’s take a trip back to the future.

Spanning nearly two years, the 2008 presidential campaign was historical on several fronts. It was the longest presidential campaign and the most expensive in history. It was the first time that two US senators would run against each other and New York Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton was the first serious woman presidential candidate and Senator Barak Obama was the first African American nominated by a major party for president.

However, the Republican Party had a share of history also. The Republican ticket consisted of Arizona Senator John McCain, who sought to become the oldest person elected president to a first term in America, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was to become the first woman vice president candidate for the Republican Party. On November 4, 2008, Obama became the first African American to become president.  Did Trait Theory play a part in his strategy?

Leadership characteristics are important factors in the presidency that many pragmatists dismiss. Trait Theory suggests that certain individuals possess special innate qualities that make them the preferred leader. Qualities, such as height, intelligence, extroversion, and other noble traits are components of Trait Theory (See Table 7.1 in Impending Danger). Focusing on the 2008 elections, some would argue that both McCain and Obama possessed leadership qualities and support Trait Theory. However, the question must be posed ‘Which candidate best benefited from the outward perception of what a leader should look like?”

First, physical characteristics are what most individuals see first. In this presidential election, some of the physical traits included height, age, and race. Some people have identified strong physical characteristics as a perquisite for leadership selection. This application can easily be seen in athletics and activities that require great physical ability. Obama hovered over McCain in terms of physical stature. Obama was thought to be 6 feet 1 inch while McCain was 5 feet 9 inches. Obama, being tall and sturdy, would overshadow a much shorter and frail McCain. In many people’s minds, the election was much more about optics than content in some cases.

For example, the presidential debates also demonstrated showmanship. Political organizers worried how their candidates would be viewed by the voters. Therefore, the style of the debate was always a strategic consideration for the McCain camp. This reality was a major concern to McCain’s campaign because of the public perception. Obama was noticeably taller. Two of the three presidential debates in the fall were seated debates, perhaps to neutralize Obama’s height advantage.

Race was the mysterious factor in the election. There was no consensus on the role of race with some experts concluding race would have a significant impact (the Bradley effect) while others predicted that Obama’s race would aid his candidacy given the guilt, sympathy, and compensatory factors for the legacy of racism.

 According to a CNN Exit Poll (16,000 participants) of the presidential election, twice as many of those polled said age was an important factor in their vote as those who indicated race. Specifically, 78% went for Obama to 21% for McCain among voters who thought age was important. However, individuals who said race was an important factor voted 55% to 44% in favor of Obama. However, Obama also was the winner for people who said race was not important.

Second, intrinsic character attributes were also a significant factor. Most people admitted that Obama had star power. He was able to bring record number of crowds to his rallies. Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell supported Obama which broke ranks from his Republican Party: “He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure.”

Yet, both candidates attempted to frame their opponent in a character framework. Feeding on the perceived eloquence of Obama, McCain’s strategy was to paint Obama as a celebrity and elitist. Additionally, McCain tried to use Obama’s articulate speech and his charisma with his followers as void of any substance. Obama had his own method for framing McCain. Obama attempted to portray McCain as the third-term of President Bush.

Last, political strategists sought out ways to best showcase their candidate while highlighting any character flaws in the opposition. The results showed that voter perception counts. Obama was viewed as the agent of change while McCain was viewed as part of the current establishment. Given the fact that Obama won every major demographic in the election, Trait Theory may have played a role in the outcome of the election.

Does having good looks really matter in our PC culture? If so, why?  Is there any value in applying Trait Theory to 21st Century organizations?

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green

The Power of Influence


In the 1990’s movie “Goodfellas,” we witness how individuals can rapidly move up the power chain through influence. In fact, it is an all-time classic gangster movie. Goodfellas grossed over $46.8 million domestically and received many national awards and reviews.

Here’s the synopsis. Henry Hill (Ray Liotte) grew up with a vision of a Mafia lifestyle. It was a dream that would garnish him wealth, power, and influence. Henry aggressively worked toward this ambition. He would become successful. Once a small time gangster, Henry became a major player; he participated in a major robbery with Jimmy Conway (Robert De Nero) and Tommy De Vito (Joe Pesci). His two partners managed to kill off everyone else involved in the robbery and slowly advance the hierarchy of the Mob. Henry had finally gotten the power and influence he craved along with other intended consequences.

Today, many managers tend to operate like gorillas in power.  People in organizations tend to follow the person in power, not necessarily the best thinkers. This is called the Alpha Principle.  Harry Beckwith, marketing author, states that most organizations operate like apes. He notes, “The alphas dictate what the group does and thinks. 

But are alphas better at decision making?  Not necessarily. Alphas are just better at getting and keeping power.”  Poorly skilled managers cause a lot of unnecessary stress to families because they don’t understand how to treat people.  Employees then bring it home to their families, thereby creating more problems. In this discussion, we will examine how individual workers can gain more influence in their organizations.

Levels of Power

There are a variety of ways influences can obtain influence in contemporary organizations.  In fact, leadership is a combination of power and influence.  Leader can be defined as the ability to influence, guide, and direct others.  Leaders get people to do things they wouldn’t normally do alone.  Power is a key component of leadership.  Power is the ability of a person in an organization to influence others to accomplish a desired outcome.  In most organizations power often evolves into the domination of others. 

Given this dynamic of organizations, managers need to understand their organizations. James Gibson, John Ivancevich, James Donelly, Jr., and Robert Konopaske, author of Organizations, argue that individuals need to understand how organizations operate.  In many organizations, there is a power struggle.  Power relates to the ability to get others to do what one wants them to do.  Given this framework, five interpersonal bases of power can be summarized as legitimate power, reward, coercive, referent, and expert power. 

In legitimate power, a person’s ability to influence others is given by being in a position of power. In fact, the person’s influence is authorized by his title in the organization.  There is little an individual can do if they do not possess this legitimate in changing the way things are done.  Coercive and reward power are based on the same premise; it is a person’s ability to reward or punish the behavior of others.

In fact, these sources of power are often used to support the use of legitimate power. Therefore, if you are not in a position to apply coercive or reward power, gaining influence in a contemporary organization may prove to be too difficult.  The above items are considered organizational power.

When individuals do not have title in an organization, they should be strategic in gaining more influence in the organization. The two major factors are referent and expert power. Referent power is based on a person’s charisma due to the personality or style of behavior.

Gibson, Ivancevich, Donelly, and Konopaske maintain that the strength of a person’s charisma is an indication of a person’s referent power. This power can be effective in leading others to make better decisions. People will at least listen to you because they instinctively trust you as a leader. Unfortunately, not everyone has that type of a magnetic personality.

Expert power is the power to influence others based on special expertise.  Even when an individual may have low rank in an organization, expert power makes the individual invaluable. Expert power can relate to administrative, technical, or other personal attributes. It goes to the Law of Scarcity.  Therefore, the most difficult a person is to replace, the greater the individual’s power in the organization. Individuals can gain this power in several ways.

First, a person can learn about the organization’s needs or deficiencies and seek to fill this knowledge gap.  For example, a small consulting firm may lacks the skills to promote itself. An employee with this ability could provide this additional service to this organization. Thus, the employee gains power. Second, employees can take additional training and obtain special certifications which can assist the organization in achieving its mission.

Third, individuals can become an authority in an area and become a hot commodity.  In fact, a person who can train, teach, lecture, and write on a particular subject can gain influence in his or her organization as well as outside of the organization. Finally, gaining expert power may not propel you into the next manager level. However, it will give you great influence in your organization as well as the community. Therefore, your influence becomes mobile and makes you more competitive in the marketplace.



As businesses fight to stay alive in the changing marketplace, there is an increasing need for effective leaders. Gaining influence becomes a premium for emerging leaders. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends Influence and Influence People, argued the importance of influencing others:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

The article demonstrated that there are a variety of power types in most organizations.  Unfortunately, some manager’s fear their losing power and are unwilling to share decision-making. Yet, entrusting good employees to make good decisions is a catalysis for creating high performance teams. Learning how to influence others is critical. Individuals do not have to be the boss in order to possess power in the organization.

However, not everyone has leadership persona. Referent power is derived from personal characteristics that employees admire.  But—empowerment increases employee morale.  Some people don’t understand the merits of satisfied employees on the bottom line.  Sadly, many people cannot distinguish a manager from a leader. Yet, leadership is all about gaining influence, regardless of the organizational level.

How can individuals gain influence with social media and other new technologies? Are there any ways to garnish more influence?

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green

The Baby Boomer Bow

The clock keeps on ticking as many Baby Boomers consider retirement.  If many retire, it will leave a huge void in leadership for most organizations. With the rocky rollercoaster ride of the stock market, Baby Boomers don’t enjoy life as much because of the decrease in their disposable income. Some individuals have the extra burden of caring for parents, children, and even grandparents.  

These realities of life keep Baby Boomers working well beyond their anticipated retirement. Andy Hines, the director of Customer Projects at the Social Technologies, predicts that Baby Boomers will refine the meaning of retirement and notes, “U.S. Baby Boomers are choosing post-work lifestyles that don’t resemble the stereotype of the quaint, restful senior citizen.” In fact, Baby Boomers are the top leaders of most organizations and will find it difficult to separate themselves from their positions of power and influence.

Other observers believe that Baby Boomers will leave graciously and pass the baton to the next generation of leaders. I have my own doubts about the outcome. Columnist Daniel Kadlec wrote a USA Today article, “‘Me Generation’” becomes ‘We Generation,’” about the virtue of this Baby Boomer transformation. A Department of Labor report, “Futurework: Trends and Challenges for the Work in the 21st Century,” reveals that this rapid demographic shift will impact the future dynamics of organizations.

 Yet, many seasoned experts, who are primarily Baby Boomers, downplay the impact of the younger generation. This observation goes to the heart of the “Me Generation.” Based on my past career experience, many of these individuals will struggle to relinquish power and influence over their organizations. Therefore, we must wait to see if this generation follows through on these claims.

Are Baby Boomers now transformed into “We Generation” leaders? Clearly, the storyline is incomplete because we do not understand how Baby Boomers will respond to these future changes. Unlike hard science, futurism provides a window of many possibilities. Some people paint a smooth transition of power for the Baby Boomer generation. Others don’t! What if Baby Boom managers refuse to relinquish their positions and neglect the development of future leaders?  Therefore,  many different scenarios will continue to play out in various settings and industries.


Will organizations be able to cope with a massive exodus of Baby Boomers? Can Baby Boomers leave authority and title behind since these things so easily defined many of them?

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green