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Berger Blog

Expanding the discussion of Generatonal issues in organizations, Leadership, and Individual & Professional Growth.

YIKES!! How about a little leadership?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Most likely, you've heard or read (hopefully not experienced) the Christmas debacle brought to you by USAirways, in which 30 flights and thousands of mis-directed suitcases plagued the struggling airline on the second-busiest traveling weekend of the year.

Customers were angry. Airline employees were frustrated. Family members were left shaking their heads and waiting -- wondering, even -- when their family members or their belongings (and presents!) were going to arrive.

In steps Bruce Lakefield, CEO of USAir to offer his 2-cents on the situation, as reported in The Washington Post.

"I have seen lots of excuses for why people took it upon themselves to call in sick, such as low morale, poor management, anger over pay cuts and frustration with labor negotiations," Lakefield said in a memo to employees. "None of those excuses passes the test. We all have our jobs to do."

If I were a USAir employee and had just received that in my email inbox, I'm sure my moral, belief in management's wisdom and expertise, and general anger and frustration would have really improved.

So, I think that I know a little bit about how to work with people who are pissed off. I feel confident to say that Mr. Lakefield has a thing or two to learn about leadership. Like, lesson one: Don't do or say something stupid that will make a bad situation even worse.

And that one was on the house!

And, Happy New year.
posted by Michael Berger, 8:18 PM | link | 0 comments |

Integrity on parade

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Integrity. An easy thing to say you have. A wise thing to represent in your speaking and positioning, but a really hard thing to actually live. A recent article in Fast Company’s Leadership series speaks to this point, outlining the need to have integrity in all of your aspects of your business – mission, function, team, compensation, security. All really obvious things to say. Much harder to do.

Today, I’m not going to give my answer on how to deliver all of these things. What I am going to do is name just how hard integrity (in any or all of these things) really is to attain and maintain.
The external forces on leaders and their businesses are unbelievable. Between shareholders, customers, and the media, you slip up one time and your either facing a sell off, a drop in market share, or a front page story telling how much of a bastard you are.

Add your employees to the mix, and you have to worry about quality and efficiency of output, and then morale, and ultimately your competitive edge.
It’s easy to say you have integrity as a leader, but are you telling the truth? Either to yourself or all of those around you? We have seen examples of high profile leaders who can look you straight in the eye and lead you to believe that they are doing to best thing and the right thing for everyone, and then end up indicted for embezzling, faking the figures, and lining their offshore accounts with company and shareholder dollars. They, thank goodness, are the aberration, not the norm.

That leaves the rest of us. I truly believe that nearly every leader and manager with whom I am working is genuinely doing the best that he or she can for reasons that are generally good. Most people are not out to advance themselves at the expense of everyone else. But even for these people, I push them to really question themselves about what their personal definition of integrity is and check in to see if their actions and words line up with their statements of integrity.

How would yours do?
posted by Michael Berger, 11:10 AM | link | 0 comments |

Crossing the Divide

Friday, December 03, 2004

Success or failure. What is it going to be for your company? Some of the factors that will determine this are out of your control. The economy. The strength of the dollar versus the Euro or the Yen. Legislative decisions made behind closed doors.

Fine. I say don’t deal with things that are beyond your realm of influence. But there’s a lot of other stuff left. One piece that I actively advocate for is preparedness for the eventual changes that are guaranteed to take place. Changes are happening and will continue. How ready are you – and the rest of American companies -- for the evolutionary shift in leadership that we are literally standing at the edge of?

Do you want to hear more?
posted by Michael Berger, 2:51 PM | link | 0 comments |
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