Sunday, February 10, 2008

Government Policy and Leadership

Hello again. It is becoming a regular thing for me to apologize but I must do so again. I thought I was out of the woods with this whole lupus flare thing, but that was not true. I am feeling better physically. However, I am still struggling with concentration, focus, and energy. I find myself losing hours at a time, both at work and at home. This has definitely taught me something about leadership.

The book Good To Great by Jim Collins is speaks the truth, when it talks about having the right people on the bus. My staff has been great throughout this whole process. So have my peers. I believe that if I didn't have them, I wouldn't have been able to stay on top of all of my commitments. I am lucky to have them.

Now, on to the topic of the day - Government Policies and Leadership. The one government policy that has most effected by daily work-life is Sarbanes-Oxley. In many ways, this law drove leaders to take a step back in the area of empowerment. However, after 5 years now, we are starting to get the hang of it. We now recognize that control doesn't necessarily mean that you can't empower. It just means that you have to have the controls in place that will, as best as possible, eliminate the abuse of that empowerment. There are always going to be things that we are going to shake our heads at and question why its necessary. But, those are "Just Do It" kind of things.

Sarbanes-Oxley affects me directly. Other government policies do so indirectly and have for years. We would be foolish to think that ethics ,human resources, and information technology policies are not affected by the governments policies. Companies are not only concerned about sharing proprietary information outside of the company but they also want to ensure that its network is not being used for what the government might deem shady. Companies recognize that the information may be obtained by the government because of the Patriot Act. Government Policies about protected groups drive human resources policies as much as recognized benefits of diversity. And the list could go on and on.

Whether we want to admit it or not, government policy affects us each and everyday. It is something that we have to accept. And it is part of the leader's job to ensure that these policies are recognized and followed.

I'm going to one caveat to that statement. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, a true leader should also recognize that, in some cases, policy should be changed. Therefore, if the leader truly feels that any policy needs to be changed, they should work to make that happen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leadership and the Social Network

Hello Everyone! Sorry its been so long since I've written. Let me start out by saying thank you for your patience. I am finally starting to feel better - the miracles of modern medicine are greate but not always fast-acting. :) So onto the subject of the day.

How do social networks effect the leaders of today? That is a really good question. At first glance, it would appear that their isn't much of a correlation. However, after I spent sometime thinking about it, this is what I came up with...

First of all, blogs and other social networking tools give leaders and their teams another tool to share ideas and get to know one another. There are so many teams that work virtually now that the face to face communication that happens in the traditional office is slowly becoming extinct. However, the need for that interaction still exists. The use of these tools, if done appropriately, can help to fill the void.

Secondly, and as we discussed in class, social networks are good sources for getting information on current and potential employees. And though that may seem shady at first, it is a leader's responsibility to ensure that the company has integrity. If the employees don't, than how can you ever ensure that the company does. Social networks can give leaders insight into the people that they interact with.

A role of the leader is also to ensure that the company grows. Social networks, specifically business oriented networks, gives the leader the ability to network and grow opportunities for the company, at the same time. And, they can do it for free, which is always beneficial for the company.

I've decided to let my staff know about my blog. I'm not sure that any of them will look at it, but I just believe that they'll have a better understanding of who I am and what is important to me if they read my blog.

At first glance, I thought no way. But now, I think I'm starting to get it. Expect more posts in this space.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Experience with Online Class

First of all, sorry it has been so long since I last posted. I have been under the weather during the last week. As some of you know, I have lupus. I am currently flaring due to over-exertion. Lesson learned here is that I will have to change my exercise regimen to ensure this doesn't happen again. But enough on that subject....

As far as the experience I had last week, I thought it was great.

There were only a couple of challenges that I can think of. 1) There were issues with the web cam portion, so we didn't have the pleasure of both watching and listening to the guest speakers. Once the camera was shut off, the sound connection improved drastically. Lesson learned here: When using internet based technology, connection speed on both ends will definitely affect the quality of the experience. 2) We couldn't communicate verbally with the other location (Cincinnatti). The use of Instant Messaging was a positive alternative. However, always find that verbal communication in a meeting to be more productive than written communication. Lesson learned here: In some cases, using a combination of traditional and new forms of technology may be the best solution. It may have been more affective to have a conference call number, in addition to the internet based technology.

On the positive side, the Instant Message technology was great. It was both effective in keeping the conversation going and entertaining. I felt that it kept everyone involved and engaged. The class definitely had fun - Go Faster, Go Slower (Ha, Ha). In addition, the combination of using voice technology and presentation tools definitely ehnanced the experience.

Along with the tools we used, the presenters were great. Professor Lloyd's conversation about transactional versus transformational leadership was interesting. I see transactional leadership as management and only transformational leadership as true leadership. However, my favorite presentation was Donovan Myrie's discussion on changing technology. It was obvoius that his knowledge in this area is immense. His comments on the elimination of the Blockbuster stores because people can now get movies via downloads and through the mail was informative, and the fact that they may be offering boxes that will allow people to get movies downloaded to them in minutes definitely proves that companies are finding ways to adapt to the changing world.

Overall, I thought the experience was great. This type of technology will continue to change the way that we do business and even learn. It is definitely addresses to issues in learning - adult learners find that web-based learning is more cost effective and convenient, but would also like the face to face interaction with the professor. This technology will accomplish both offering face to face while offering cost effective ways to communicate with those in different locations. I am just thankful that I had the opportunity.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Looking Forward to Our Adventure

As most of the people who will be reading this blog already know, my Masters of Organizational Leadership class will be conducted over the web tonight. This should be a lot of fun. I have had several opportunities to participate in meetings via the web. I've also been on a few conference calls that used video-conferencing. In addition, I have also taken classes through the University of Phoenix - which is completely web-based (basically, email strings). So, it's not like this will be my first time with web-based meetings/classes. However, I recognize that every opportunity, that is afforded to me, to use new technologies is an invaluable experience, and one that I may be able to learn from and even use in the future.

Check back tomorrow for my reactions to this experience.

Preparing for the Challenges of 2008

This morning I will be meeting with my team to discuss our goals and objectives for the next year. For most of them, the things that we will be discussing will be very concerning. Most of them have been doing the same jobs for a long time. However, the organization's leadership has recognized that the new business world (The E-World) will require us to transform ourselves. Therefore, I will be challenging them with 2 things - 1) Change and develop a new set of skills and 2) To take a fresh look at what they do and ask themselves why they do it and can it be done differently. I will keep you posted about how it goes and whether they embrace the challenge or run from it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Leadership in the E-World - The E-World has definitely changed the way a leader leads. One thing that a leader does is ensure that his or her organization and its members are prepared for the future. That preparation is completely different now than it was in the past.

A great example of preparation changes is in the sales and marketing arena. Many companies are turning to the internet for marketing and sales opportunitites. Selling over the internet is completely different than selling in person. Therefore, a leader in a sales organization must make sure that the organization's sales agents are prepared for the new sales arena.

Processing funtions, and other back-office functions, are no longer considered value-add for most companies. The E-World has made outsourcing of these positions a cost saving option for companies. Processing can be done by low cost 3rd parties, whether that is in the United States or off-shore. Therfore, eaders in organizations that have been traditionally classified as processing/back-office organizations must also prepare to transform the organization's role in the company. Employees in these organizations must be prepared for the transformation - new goals, new skills - to make it possible.

I believe that preparation for the new E-World is a critical task that leaders must perform. The required preparation will be different amongst diverse organzations but the preparation is a requirement.