Is There Hope for High Integrity Leaders?

April 14, 2010

Chapter 8 Pg’s 207-209 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

 The negative conclusion of the previous section should not be where we leave the discussion of integrity. There is little doubt high integrity leaders should have a strong commitment to integrity, and therefore, we cannot assume they will be unable to change an organization from within. The previous section sounds like a particularly pessimistic view of changing an organization with rotten values. The good news is organizations can change, and recent studies reflect that American corporations are increasing efforts to improve their cultures. According to the 2005 National Business Ethics Survey, which surveyed more than 3,000 American workers, 69 percent of employees said their companies implement ethics training, which is a 14 percentage point increase from 2003.

 Tragically, much of the change that occurs in organizations, as in the world of politics, results from a crisis. Often the behavior predicated on the lack of integrity encourages or precipitates a crisis. Many organizations have found a way out of a crisis because leaders, either from within or from without, have committed to change. If the crisis is severe enough, the entire culture can be shocked into a dramatic shift. It is important the cancer of lost integrity is not so pervasive that the organization is populated by only the weak or the $awed. One example of an organization that lost its way at the top is

Hewlett-Packard (HP). This organization has very high standards and a rich culture of commitment to a value system known as the “HP Way.” It appears much of the culture remained intact, but not at the top. The tragic story of HP’s apparent illegal practice called “pretexting” demonstrates that even an organization known for its virtuous business ethics can be polluted by a breach at the top. The scandal that ensued caused many to leave the board and the organization, and several individuals, including the former chair of the board of directors, were indicted in California. Those individuals appeared to have strayed from the company’s tradition of sound values and integrity. However, the strong culture that exists deep into the organization has reportedly survived and seems to be working with the new leadership to save the company from demise.

 The HP story suggests that an ethical culture at the bottom of an organization can eventually prevail. If integrity is a value that has positive influence on the organization, then hopefully, the lack of an integrity culture at the top will eventually lead to an organization’s failure. If that is true, then the good leaders at the bottom can overcome the “bad leader” at the top, hence invalidating the Law of Bad Leadership. The mission of restoring integrity within an organization may be influenced by its size, complexity, and geographic dispersion, but it can be accomplished more easily when the top fails than when the entire organization fails.

 Some organizations manage to mask their lack of integrity for a surprisingly long time. The Enron story is once again a perfect example. Enron had been the darling of the investment community for decades, and it took a financial crisis to bring the house of cards down. In the case of WorldCom, it took the courage of an internal auditor to speak up and tell the Board Audit Committee she thought there was “something

wrong” with the accounting. In the final analysis, neither Enron nor WorldCom survived as stand-alone entities. The message is clear: eventually the “bad guys” get caught, but it is difficult for outsiders to see that a corporate culture lacks integrity. The good leaders from within must be the organization’s salvation and cause others to commit  to the value of integrity.

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A Culture of Integrity?

April 5, 2010

Lead With Love  Chapter 8 Pg’s 204-206 By: Gerry Czarnecki

 Have you ever worked for an organization whose values you thought were flawed? What did you do? Did you stay and just ignore the circumstances? Did you quit? This is a tough issue, and there are no easy answers. The dilemma we frequently face in the arena of ideas is there are many views, philosophic or simply opinion that differ. If I am a current-day political conservative, I probably believe in the primacy of the individual

and individual initiative. On the other hand, if I am a political liberal, I value the use of society to support the weak individuals collectively. These two positions establish likely behaviors and set up potential conflict for any individual who might have a view of society that differs from the one currently dominant in the political party in power. This difference in views has much to do with the political arguments we hear in a variety of public media. Which side is correct? On a more abstract level, this question cannot be answered. If I believe in the position of the conservative, then I am convinced I am right and that the society should follow the path that flows from my conviction.The other side of the argument is wrong, in the conservative opinion, and vice versa.

 The core lesson here is you do not need to have an untruth to create an integrity problem. A simple disconnect between the values of an organization and those of the individual could result in an integrity violation. Consider an organization with extensive behaviors that prove to you it does not honor its customers. You come to that conclusion because you see the organization always charges the highest price the market will bear. You, on the other hand, have a deep sense that all organizations must be committed to offering customers the very best service at the very best price. How do you reconcile the organization’s behavior with your own value? In this case, a classical economist could easily conclude that the organization has a core value of profit maximization and it actually has an obligation to its shareholders to charge the highest price the market will bear.

  Hence, the behavior of charging the highest price would be consistent with a core value of the enterprise, and yet violate your sense of values. According to your value of fairness, the corporation should charge a lower price and certainly not always all the market can bear. If you believe strongly in this value, you could potentially find yourself troubled by the organization’s decision making and might even view it as evidence the organization has low integrity. Ironically, an organization with this profit maximization goal would probably believe anybody not working toward maximizing shareholder profit would be committing a breach of integrity. Our philosophy on values and the core concepts of right and wrong may differ, but each of us in the workplace will eventually be faced with situations that require value-based decisions. There will be times when our personal values appear to conflict with the organization’s values. When they do, we will inevitably be faced with the need to reconcile that conflict, resolve it, ignore it, or walk away from it. The irony is many organizations do not have a clear expression of their values, and consequently, their employees or prospective employees have no way of knowing if the corporation’s values conflict with their own personal values. As an individual with a set of values, it is imperative you understand as much as possible about the organization’s values before you join it, because if there is a wide disparity, it

 will cause you great conflict and pain. A conflict of values is difficult to resolve. If you have a strong commitment to a value that is inconsistent with an organization’s values, it may actually be a personal violation of integrity for you to remain in the organization. The organization also would probably be better off if all those who did not subscribe to its values were to leave. Indeed, any employee who did not behave consistently within the value structure probably would be viewed as creating an integrity breach.

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Promoting Creative Thinking/ Is My Job Candidate Open to Humor?

March 25, 2010

Chapter 8 pg’s 189-191 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

 One strategy for prompting creative thinking is to play the “yes and …” game. It starts with one person tossing out an idea that can be practical or zany, and each person in turn has to add to the idea by saying “yes and,” then adding something to it. For example, a leader might gather his creative team together to discuss ways to increase public awareness of the company. The first idea might be “We should host an event”; the next person might say, “Yes and it should have a memorable theme”; the next might say, “Yes and there should be a contest,” etc. By having only “yes” replies, there is no fear of being wrong; furthermore, the spirit and nature of the session are based on fun. Even if the ideas become impractical as the chain of “yeses” continues, there will likely be a few suggestions or kernels of creativity that may ultimately lead to an “aha.”

 For associates to be able to participate in this sort of freestyle thinking and sharing, they have to be open to humor. Everyone knows how to laugh, but there are some individuals who will find it challenging to lighten up and enjoy levity in the workplace. They may have the same fears that leaders have: that they won’t be taken seriously or will appear unprofessional. It is the leader’s responsibility to establish the humor precedent and help the associates to join in the fun. This is another aspect of associate development that is truly important for long-term success. Associates who can’t learn to lighten up and maintain a healthy attitude will ultimately be those who turn over or burn out.

 In establishing a workplace that embraces humor, leaders also need to consider whether potential hires are a good fit in that environment. The

 tone of a job interview is typically serious, and candidates will most likely behave in a strictly professional manner. #is presents a problem for leaders to gauge a candidate’s humor quotient. To the extent that it is possible, try to put the candidate at ease and take note of whether the individual smiles often. If appropriate, tell a joke or humorous personal story and see if it elicits a laugh. When it is truly hard to assess whether a candidate can lighten up, address the issue openly. Explain that your team takes work seriously but laughter and fun are part of the culture. Ask the candidate if that is an environment in which he or she would be comfortable.

 Use the clues from body language, attitude, and dialogue to determine if an individual will mesh with your team and be able to participate in the fun. When faced with difficult circumstances, your ability to use humor to diffuse stress and tension will actually help your associates to regain their focus and enthusiasm. We all try to organize our personal and professional lives so they run smoothly and don’t negatively affect one another. Inevitably there will be times when family will take precedence and interfere with our plans at work. There are also times when work demands a personal plan to be sacrificed or put on hold. A loving boss recognizes that an associate’s happiness and productivity involves more than what goes on at work. When a valued and reliable employee is simply having a bad day, respond in a way that is sensitive. Rather than a reprimand that will make the person feel worse, ease the tension through humor.

 Tell your associate to take a breather of some sort. If one associate is having a bad day, the negative attitude could affect other associates and lower their morale. It could also be evident to customers or clients. By helping the individual in distress, you also help the people who would be interacting with him or her.


How to Incorporate Humor in the Workplace

March 24, 2010

Chapter 8 Lead With Love Pg’s 186-188 By Gerry Czarnecki

 There is no formula for incorporating humor into your business. You, your organization, and the individuals who work there are unique. Therefore, the First step is to make a personal assessment of your own humor quotient. Ask friends and family to give you an honest assessment of your “fun factor.” How and when do you most readily exhibit your humor? Use their feedback to determine ways in which you will feel at ease expressing your sense of fun and lightheartedness. If you are truly “humor-impaired,” seek a mentor to help uncover your sense of humor. Look for humor in everyday situations, as well as in reading material and interactions with others. Compile a humor library of jokes, quotes, cartoons, bumper stickers, articles, and stories that make you laugh. In moments of stress, take time to read one of the items again and share it with your staff. The result of your humor will not only be a pleasure for your associates, it will help you to release tension and maintain a positive attitude.

 The next step is to assess your associates’ personalities and the level of humor they currently display in the workplace. Consider what type of humor will be well-received within the organization. Wearing a clown nose to a staff meeting might not garner laughs; but breaking the ice by telling a joke on yourself could set the group at ease. Gentle, self deprecating humor is a way to demonstrate to others you are human.

 By showing you don’t take yourself too seriously, others will feel more relaxed and comfortable expressing themselves in your presence. Establishing your own precedent for humor is essential, as you must lead by example. You can’t expect your associates to embrace humor if you don’t exhibit that behavior yourself. The individual personalities of your associates will be affected by your attitude as a leader, and their attitudes are likely to mirror your own. A funny, quick-witted associate will eventually save the jokes for after hours if you frown or fail to laugh along with the others. A shy, quiet associate is likely to lighten up and become more spirited if you display a sense of humor and participate in the fun. Fun doesn’t function if it is not shared. This means that your personal commitment to the benefits of humor, and your own pleasure in sharing it, must be genuine. If you connect with your associates on a human level (and love them), you will instinctively want to celebrate their successes, share kind words, and alleviate tension. You will enjoy your role as a leader, and it will be evident in your attitude. As a result, you will elicit great attitudes and loyalty from your associates. If you feel isolated and lonely at the top, then your abilities as a leader will be severely compromised. #e fun factor is not just for your team’s benefit; it is for yours as well.

 The attitudes and environment in your organization cannot be changed in a day. It takes time and should be approached in increments. Consider your typical routine as well as your staff’s. In what ways can you introduce a surprise to break up the routine and make it a more pleasant place to work for everyone involved? If you have a weekly staff meeting in the conference room, consider holding it in a variety of different places. Invite the staff to meet at a local restaurant; when the weather is nice, set up chairs or blankets and sit outside. You can bring bagels to a morning meeting, or choose a different associate each week to order in a surprise snack for the team. If the group has to work especially late one evening to meet a deadline, send them all home with gift certificates for pizza delivery as a way to show your appreciation.

 Demonstrating your appreciation can take many forms, and the more creative you are, the more fun it will be. At Playfair, Weinstein likes to express his thanks by having flowers delivered anonymously to an associate. The accompanying note tells the recipient he or she is appreciated and should pass the flowers on in a half hour to a coworker he or she appreciates in kind. Such gestures are not expensive or grandiose, but they promote positive feelings and attitudes.


Why Don’t We Use More Humor?

March 19, 2010

Chapter 8 Pg’s 183-184 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

 If Southwest and other big-name organizations are using humor and succeeding, why are so many leaders reluctant to do the same? The first reason is perception. They mistakenly believe that humor and laughter in the workplace means associates are not doing their jobs. They may also feel it is inappropriate and unprofessional. The second reason is personal. Many leaders don’t consider themselves funny, don’t understand the value of humor, and don’t know how to incorporate fun into work.

 The first reason is simply a misconception. Humor does not undermine work. To the contrary, it enhances an associate’s ability to perform. Humor provides a physical and emotional release, a distraction from negative emotions, such as anger or stress, and it enables us to see challenges from a different perspective. Laughter is contagious: it elevates the mood of those around us and creates a positive social interaction. Whether one associate is having a bad day or a team of associates is facing a difficult situation at work, laughter will temporarily divert attention away from the problem. The diversion will likely improve their ability to cope with the challenge. According to Weinstein, the positive effects of fun can penetrate into the “heart and soul” of an organization: For too many companies, building a team means creating a high-powered, smoothly functioning

organization that has plenty of muscle, but not much heart. It is the absence of the human side of business that depletes employee morale, and contributes to job dissatisfaction and burnout. By adding an element of fun and celebration to a team-building program, you can take an important step toward humanizing your workplace and creating a sense of heart and soul in your organization.

 Humor in the workplace involves some risk. By incorporating humor, you lighten the tone of the work environment. If this is taken too far, it can spin out of control and result in reduced focus and productivity.

 Humor also has the risk of falling $at or being offensive. Humor in the workplace is not about practical jokes and should absolutely not involve off-color or politically incorrect statements or behavior. As described by Warren Shepell, an HR consultant, “Humor has nothing to do with taking your job lightly, joking about your company not being a good place to work or joking about its products and services… Humor that works in the workplace has to do with attitudes.”


The Benefits of Humor

March 16, 2010

Chaper 8 Pg’s 182-183  Lead With Love By Gerry Czarnecki

 To fully appreciate the many and varied benefits of adding humor into the work environment, one can start with the research that has demonstrated that humor has a significant impact on our health. Studies in publications including the Journal of behavioral Medicine and the American Journal of Medical Science support the health

benefits of humor. Laughter releases hormones that reduce stress and enhance the immune system; it oxygenates the blood, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes muscles. We all encounter stress on some level in our professional lives, and often this is compounded by stress in our personal lives. Employers who incorporate humor into the workplace will likely have healthier, happier employees. According to Linda Melone PhD, a clinical psychologist and Pepperdine University professor, humor creates positive responses in three ways: “Laughter triggers an emotional uplift. In the work environment, it also triggers our cognitive process and gives us added perspective. Physiologically, laughter counteracts negative thinking and other emotions: chronicanger, anxiety and guilt feelings associated with an increase in the incidence of health problems.”

 The additional benefits of humor are more abstract but equally appealing for the results it produces. Humor stimulates creativity, positive attitudes, and morale, as well as lessens anger, absenteeism, and turnover. According to humor coach Ann Frey, author of Laughing Matters, “A willingness to laugh, plus a sense of lightheartedness, equals a fun, productive workplace. If your employees are happy, they will  bring greater energy and enthusiasm to their jobs and your company will function at peak performance. It’s not rocket science.”

 Indeed, humor is not “rocket science,” but it is a fundamental joy that is often absent at work. The absence of humor results in employees who are unhappy and inevitably look elsewhere for a job. Employee turnover is expensive to an organization as it takes time and money to interview, train, and integrate each new employee. The current  generation of employees expects to work longer hours than were typical for previous generations, but they’re also looking for a fun, supportive environment that is more relaxed than the formal, buttoned-up office culture of the past. Studies have also shown that organizations with a fun-at-work ethic are extraordinarily successful. Among the standouts are Southwest Airlines, General Electric, Kodak, AT&T, Money Mailer,  uaker Oats, and Playfair, a company founded by Matt Weinstein, author of Managing to Have Fun.

 Herb Keller, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, said, “If work is more fun, it feels less like work.”Southwest is often used as a case study for a company that encourages humor and fun and can demonstrate that it has a positive effect on the bottom-line results:

 * the fewest customer complaints eighteen years in a row, according to the Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report *profitable for thirty-one consecutive ears

*the “Second Most Admired Company,” according to Fortune

Magazine  less than 10 percent employee turnover rate  a $10,000 investment in the airline in 1972 would be worth more than $10 million today


HUMOR—Lead with Humble Humor not Hubris

March 12, 2010

Chapter 8 Pg’s 181-182 Lead With Love By; Gerry Czarnecki

Go ahead and laugh at the irony: humor is a topic that should be taken seriously. Leaders who want the best from their associates must incorporate humor into the workplace. Not to be mistaken for “goofing off” or slapstick jokes, humor is about attitudes and actions that promote health, happiness, teamwork, creativity, and job satisfaction. Organizations that embrace humor employ associates who love coming to work. As a leader, it is your responsibility to lighten up and laugh, and encourage your associates to do the same.

 Incorporating humor in the workplace does not mean you should suddenly become a comedian. It is about lightening up the tone, mood, and atmosphere. Diligent, disciplined work is required to achieve the high expectations you set for yourself and your associates. That diligence and discipline needs a counterbalance to promote well-being and alleviate stress. We’ve all experienced stress and its uncomfortable symptoms such as headache and nausea; however, stress that continues without relief leads to distress, a condition that causes serious adverse health effects. According to a report published by the Cleveland Clinic, “Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.”

 Studies also indicate stress has a negative impact on the immune system, making those who suffer from stress more prone to illness. The extremely competitive work environment that dominates our society has also increased the level of stress among workers. Furthermore, the need to constantly learn and improve in order to advance is stressful, as is the fear that comes with the potential of losing a job. If too much stress leads to distress and disease, then it is incumbent upon leaders to reduce the stress for themselves and their associates. How? Humor.

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