Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Pioneer of Organizational Creativity

As one of the most innovative organizations in the world, the Coca-Cola Company “strives to refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, create value and make a difference”. Through creative leadership, product innovation, inventive business processes, and encouraging consumer participation, Coca-Cola has become an agent of change for communities, by utilizing their resources to make an impact on the global environment.

According to Richard Florida, a company’s most vital asset is its creative capital, or a team of creative employees capable of discovering new technologies and ways to solve problems, increase efficiency, and power economic growth (125). Coca-Cola prides itself on creating an environment for its employees that fosters exploration, creativity, professional growth, and interpersonal relationships. Florida highlights the fact that organizations should stray away from which traits make individuals creative and instead “[unlock] the social and management contexts in which creativity is most effectively nurtured, harnessed, and mobilized” (126). Similarly, Heifitz focuses on leadership as an activity, and encourages the “unhinging of leadership” from personality traits in order to be able to assess the many ways in which individuals exercise leadership behavior.

Employees are constantly provided opportunities to grow with the organization and are rewarded for doing so. Coca-Cola offers a unique experience to employees known as the Coca-Cola University (CCU). CCU is a virtual global community where employees engage in learning and capability training in order to establish a foundation and align employee efforts with broader organizational goals. This is just one example of how Coca-Cola aids in product innovation and business processes. The company has acknowledged the importance of their employees and will provide the necessary resources and tools to harness creativity.

The most creative and profitable aspect of Coca-Cola is their brand. Coke is one of the few brands that inspires and promotes happiness, a company that has proven to be an American symbol and a representative of American innovation around the world. The company has over 500 brands and can be found in more than 200 countries. In order to keep an international presence, the company has had to adapt to local cultures and business processes to ensure that their product is accepted by consumers. This creative adaptation has benefited not only the organization but the communities it serves as well. The company is in a unique position to contribute to the economic vitality of even the most remote communities around the world(

Finally, it is the involvement of the consumers and customers in the creative process that has led to organizational success. According to Florida & Goodnight, organizations should “engage customers as creative partners so that the [organization] can deliver superior products” (126). Coca-cola does just this by helping their customers maintain and grow their businesses.

It is transformative and creative brands that bring about change and prosperity to communities. Brands like this are shaped by innovative processes and creating a unique environment for employees to work to their potential.

“After all, it’s the combined talents, skills, knowledge, experience and passion of our people that make us who we are”

More information about The Coca-Cola Company:

The Pepsi Refresh Project

Are corporations oblgated to give back to society? Are those that choose to give back and profit from a charitable campaign in the wrong?

Instead of spending $20 million for their annual Super Bowl ad campaign, PepsiCo decided to spend funds on a social marketing campaign called the Pepsi Refresh Project. Now, the Pepsi Refresh Project is making headlines around the globe. Pepsi is giving away millions of dollars each month (totaling $20 million at the end of the year) to fund refreshing ideas that change the world. The ideas with the most votes at the end of each month will receive grants ranging from 5k, 25k, 50k and 250k. There are several categories that include: health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods, and education (

Pepsi has received ample amounts of positive press covering their new innovative campaign. Their profits are also on the rise. While this campaign is noteworthy, is it just a marketing ploy to gain profit? Or does Pepsi believe in corporate responsibility and giving back to society?

Selznick discusses responsible leadership. He says the leader and the organization’s values must merge. The main task of a leader is to avoid opportunism and utopianism. The price for opportunism is that you start to trade off your values for the short-term gains. It also starts to define the character of the organization. In Pepsi’s case, I do not think they are trading short-term gains for values. A $20 million dollar campaign is no small mission. I would like to think that Pepsi has outstanding values in their organization. The public certainly thinks so after the Refresh Campaign launched. Do you think Pepsi is opportunistic?

Barnard is another theorist that believes in executive responsibility. He believes in order to get everyone rallied around a certain goal, it requires a moral task and a creative process. Barnard continues by saying there are “moral aspects of cooperation…..cooperation is a creative process carried out by organization as a whole, with leadership as the ‘indispensable fulminator....moral creativeness is the ability to create or provide moral basis for problem solution to others; to generate enthusiasm and conviction, which make cohesiveness and cooperation possible.” I believe Pepsi had creative cooperation when carrying this campaign out. It was ground-breaking. For a social media campaign to be this successful, an organization has to rally.

Goodpaster also has similar beliefs as Barnard and Selznick.

Friedman has opposing views to Barnard, Selznick and Goodpaster. He says that companies should not be involved with social issues, and if an organization does want to be involved in “corporate responsibility” the only exception is profit. One must have a split between their company and values.

In an article written by Scott Moir, Moir states, “As long as a corporation is trying to make the world a better place one area code at a time, I think that's a pretty good start!” Moir goes on to name four benefits of corporate social responsibility from an Internet public relations and marketing perspective.

In my opinion, I think Pespi is doing a wonderful thing. Not only are they helping hundreds of organizations and people, they are giving individuals a voice and a platform. Pepsi is granting $20 million dollars over the next year. I think they deserve all the free publicity and positive moral they can get. There is no way of knowing Pepsi’s motives behind the campaign – profit or giving back. But giving this much -- does is even matter? What do you think?

Additional Sources:


2. Moir, Scott. 19 Feb 2010.“Pepsi Refresh Project- Corporate Social Responsibility a Priority in 2010?”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't Be Evil

We all think of Google as innovative and fun, but do we ever stop and think how it became that way? Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page started the small company in 1998 and since then has consistently made Fortune magazine's list of best companies to work for. Though many points made here could also support a discussion on how Google fosters creativity and innovation, I will assume that creativity is a byproduct of the culture.
According to Schein, culture is “the assumption that underlie the values and determine not only behavior patterns, but also such visible artifacts as architecture, office layout, dress codes, and so on.” Google’s culture is based on sharing ideas and opinions in order to accomplish their mission of organizing the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Clearly they pride themselves on unorthodox practices, such as no dress codes or strict hours. Free food at the Googleplex cafĂ© and whiteboards in the hallways further instill the idea of open communication. Googlers can also join interest groups and partake in the onsite massage parlor, salon and doctor’s office. They also created the office space to have very few solo offices, fitness equipment, and games. Probably the most famous perk it the 20% rule, in which 20% of an employee’s time must be spent on a project of personal interests.
Sergey and Larry have done a terrific job in defining and upholding the culture by recruiting the right people to fit their ideas. How often do you hear about a company with the position of Chief Culture Officer? Google does, and she works with employees around the world to figure out ways to maintain and enhance and develop Google’s culture and how to keep the core values they had in the very beginning--a flat organization. Every Friday is TGIF in which employees are allowed to ask the founders anything and everything.
Following Schein’s Problems of Internal Integration, we can clearly see Google’s culture in their Code of Conduct ( Language is seen through the use of Googlers, Googleplex, Nooglers, etc. Boundaries: Everyone is in, unless you do something “evil” i.e. personal investments, outside employment and inventions, accepting gifts and other business courtesies. Intimacy: personal relationships at work should be avoided. Other examples can be found embedded in their expanded code.
The next phase in shaping culture would have to be when Larry and Sergey decide to pass the torch and step back from the organization. They will have to choose carefully who will replace them position wise as well as culturally to avoid the case we saw with Carly Fiorina.

Creative Leadership

There are hundreds of books written about him, his leadership style, and his legacy. For example, search him in you will find almost 49,000 options. If you narrow your search to books only a whopping 17,500 books are available to read. Narrow it further to biography only and you find 160 different biographies about him including a Spanish version and a Tamil version.

Who is this person that has inspired such a prolific quantity of text? And what was the impetus for the current $36.1 billion dollar empire attributed to his legacy? (Igler, 2010) Pat Williams, senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, would say this infamous leader is Walt Disney and his “magic ingredient” is his Creativity.

J.B. Kaufman, film historian and coauthor of the film Walt in Wonderland said “You can’t think of Walt Disney without thinking of creativity. That was his leading quality. His mind was always seeking new and creative ways to do things. He wouldn’t let anything or anyone limit this scope of his vision, and he never lost his capacity to dream in a big way.” (Kaufman) Joe Grant, an artist who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the original and new Fantasia said that “[Walt] had an astounding creative awareness...He was thinking and creating on many different levels, at all times. It was exciting and stimulating to be around him, because ideas were constantly whirling around him…You began to inhabit his world of ideas.” (Grant)

But were Disney’s unique ideas enough to create an American icon in Mickey Mouse, found an empire that spans nearly every continent, and inspire a legacy of leadership? Amabile (1998) said that creativity alone is not enough. “To be creative, an idea must also be appropriate – useful and actionable.” (Amabile, 1998)

Pat Williams, author of How to be like Walt, said that it was just Disney’s unique ideas that made him so successful; it was his ability to dream and then do, to conceptualize and the actualize. “Walt is remembered to this day, not because he dreamed, but because he created and constructed what he had dreamed.” (Williams, 2004) Disney pushed himself and his team to constantly work hard, work creatively, and to push the limits of the possible.

Williams says the real power of Disney’s creativity came in the face of adversity. Disney’s original creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, as well as most of his staff, was stolen by a business associate. It is said that instead of responding destructively or rebelliously, Disney responded to the challenge creatively. It was on the train ride home from the fateful meeting in New York when Disney learned Oswald had been swindled and his staff team had deserted, that Mickey Mouse was born. “Mickey was not merely the right idea at the right time; he was the creative solution to a crisis in Walt’s life.” (Williams, 2004)

Disney and the company he created satisfies the necessary requirements of creativity established in Amabile’s article. (Amabile, 1998) Disney himself was inventive, intrinsically motivated, and became an expert in animation. He created an enterprise that encouraged those same attributes in his staff. He constantly set a new challenge to his team, gave them the freedom to accomplish it, shared resources to foster success, encouraged diversity of thought, and embraced the ‘failure value’.

Disney embodies several of the attributes that DePree (1992) identified as Leaders’ Leaders. Specifically, Disney remained “vulnerable to real surprise,” “worked with creative people without fear,” “remained wary of incremental change,” and “set an example for openness and imagination and acceptance.” (DePree, 1992)

Ultimately, Disney did not believe that creativity was for the elite only or simply an innate trait born in the womb. He believed that creativity is a skilled to be learned and nurtured. He challenged his team to push to new heights, create new ideas, and to do the impossible. Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” That is the power of his influence, the power of his leadership.

Works Cited

Amabile, T. (1998). How to Kill Creativity. Harvard Business Review , 78-87.

DePree, M. (1992). Leaders' Leaders. In M. DePree, Leadership Jazz (pp. 93-108).

Grant, J. (n.d.). Interview with Joe Grant. (P. Williams, Interviewer)

Igler, R. (2010, January 1). 2009 Year in Review - Letter to Shareholders. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from Corporate Disney:

Kaufman, J. (n.d.). Walt in Wonderland. (P. Williams, Interviewer)

Williams, P. (2004). How to be like Walt. Deerfield Beach, FLorida: Health Communications Inc.

Proctor and Gamble's Innovative Culture

Proctor and Gamble (P&G) has long been known for its innovative culture. P&G’s principles reflect Schein’s categories of problems that culture solves (see for the principles).

P&G’s mission is seeking to be the best with the goal to “create and deliver products, packaging and concepts that build winning brand equities.” They accomplish this through being strategically focused and operating “against clearly articulated and aligned objectives and strategies,” as well as only doing work that adds value. Furthermore, they state that “innovation is the cornerstone to our success,” which will be discussed subsequently. Their criteria for success is benchmarking their performance “rigorously versus the very best internally and externally.” They strive to learn from their failures as a remediation tactic. Common language includes honesty, integrity, personal mastery, diversity, and sustainability. People included in P&G are those who “want to contribute to their fullest potential,” “achieve high expectations, standards, and challenging goals,” and have “outstanding technical mastery and executional excellence.” The reward for these people is stock ownership and ownership behavior. The criteria for intimacy is “doing what is right for the business with integrity” because this creates mutual success for the company and the individual. “Confidence” and “trust” are also important because employees must “work together… across business units, functions, categories and geographies.” Lastly, P&G’s ideology is to “challenge convention and reinvent the way we do business to better win in the marketplace,” which is essentially innovation.

Innovation is critical to P&G’s success and culture, and they are the leading innovator in their industry. They invest over $350 million in consumer understanding to determine innovation opportunities. SymphonyIRI’s New Product Pacesetters Report “recognized P&G as the most innovative manufacturer in the consumer packaged goods industry for the last decade” ( How do they do this? They value “big, new consumer innovations,” and Amabile’s article discusses the innovation team that P&G created called Corporate New Ventures. Aside from this specialized unit, P&G as a whole operates according to Amabile’s three components of creativity. They value expertise, evident in hiring less than 1% of the half-million people applying for P&G jobs each year. Their recruiting process “measures intelligence, assesses character and leadership, and predicts success at P&G” ( P&G also fosters creative-thinking skills, as seen in their “innovation centers,” which simulate in-home and in-store environments, enabling employees to solve innovation challenges (2008 Annual Report). P&G not only emphasizes disruptive innovation and creating new ideas and products, but they want employees to continuously evaluate and improve products already on the market through sustained innovation.

P&G is also very focused on Amabile’s most important creativity component – motivating employees. They state, “We challenge P&G people from day one” through hands-on experience ( They match meaningful responsibilities for each employee, which is critical for intrinsic motivation. They stimulate employees’ minds (Florida & Goodnight) by providing technical, functional, and leadership skills training. This training often takes employees into stores or consumers’ houses to truly touch the issue. P&G also stimulates minds by assigning projects that require collaboration within and outside the company. This collaboration requires work-group design (Amabile), which P&G does by valuing differences, believing that “the interests of the company and the individual are inseparable,” and building “confidence and trust across business units, functions, categories and geographies.” Furthermore, P&G seeks to minimize hassles (Florida & Goodnight) by striving to “simplify, standardize and streamline” work. Finally, P&G provides employees with supervisory encouragement (Amabile). Senior executives are mentors and coaches for younger managers, helping them develop necessary leadership skills and planning their careers at P&G (

Through all of these examples, it is evident that the two theories of leadership is innovation and leadership is culture come into play at P&G, and can be realized in this video by CEO Bob McDonald After watching this video, how does P&G’s innovative culture help them achieve their purpose of providing “branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers, now and for generations to come”?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could."

At a time when visionary leaders were shedding the shackles of no representation in government and constructing a brand-new country with laws demanding equality, Abigail Adams seized her opportunity. "Remember the Ladies," she famously wrote to her husband, "and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors...if particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or Representation."
Abigail Adams, like nearly all other women at her time, had no formal/positional authority and no legitimate power beyond that required to run a household. She was, however, exceptionally bright, and fortunate enough to have married a man who not only noticed her intelligence but also respected it. It is well-documented through John and Abigail Adams' prolific correspondence that he often asked her advice on matters of state and governance; through the strength of this relationship, Abigail possessed at least some degree of referent power and potential influence (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy).
Abigail also used the "rational persuasion" power tactic as she counseled her husband on, ironically enough, good leadership - "Whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to all men, emancipating all nations, you insist on retaining an absolute power over wives. But you must remember that arbitrary leadership is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken...we have it in our power...[to] throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet." Her argument is following naturally enough from current events - Americans were in the process of overthrowing a ruler who refused to act in their best interests, and Abigail is stating directly that exactly the same thing will happen with women if they are not given notice. Her statements themselves sound eerily like a precursor to Barnard - leadership is not effective when assumed merely by virtue of position, it is granted by those who are led, and they can take that authority away.
It is perhaps on a related principle of Barnard's that Abigail made her error in leadership - a leader should never ask a subordinate to do something that they cannot or will not do. John Adams was certainly physically capable of remembering the ladies, but even as a progressive man of his time he was unwilling to put his masculinity on the line and risk the "despotism of the petticoat." But did she create her own self-fulfilling prophecy? In an interesting parallel to McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y of humanity, Abigail would have planted herself firmly in the Theory X category when she called all men naturally tyrannical. If she had communicated to John that all men were, instead, naturally fair and just, would she have received a more fair and just response?
Abigail Adams is an example of a leader with no followers (at the time) and who "accomplished" essentially nothing. She did, however, have a vision - a leadership quality which Choi, Sashkin, and other theorists claim is fundamental - and this vision would inspire hundreds and thousands of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to fulfill the prophecy of rebellion that Abigail Adams foretold. It took almost 150 years from the founding of our country for her vision to realize, but the government finally did - in 1920, with women's suffrage - remember the ladies.

(quotes taken from

U.S. Leadership - Past, Present, and Future

With midterm elections on the brain, this week’s assignments triggered thoughts on our national government and how it functions in light of the theories presented in the readings. I found Schein’s discussion on the role of the founders particularly intriguing, as there are several ways to apply his findings (1983). There is the historical context as well as more current applications of his theory on founding leadership.

For instance, Schein (1983) outlines four distinct steps that demonstrate how founding has a lasting impact on the culture of the firm. In the case of the United States, George Washington is the figurehead that most clearly represents the first step, an “idea for a new enterprise:” an independent country of distinct but united states. Then, according to Schein, “a founding group is created on the initial consensus that the idea is a good one,” a group of colonial leaders appropriately known as The Founding Fathers. Next, this group acts “in concert to create the organization,” which this set of founders did by crafting and signing the Declaration of Independence, and later drafting and adopting the Constitution. Schein’s final step, bringing others on board to begin functioning and “developing its own history,” is portrayed in our country’s 234 rich and colorful years of existence. The cultural theme of separate and unique, yet united, parts permeates this history: the structure of government, the diversity among the roles and occupations of the Founding Fathers, as well as our demographic diversity here in “the Melting Pot.” This notable founding and the resulting culture is a familiar example for many of us of Schein’s discussion of initial leaders and their impact.

Another way to consider founding leadership in the U.S. is in terms of each president and his administration. Every time a new commander-in-chief is elected, a new administration is appointed and a new Congress is elected, essentially re-creating and re-founding the country under new leadership. In our current situation, most would agree that Obama exemplifies qualities of a charismatic and visionary leader, as we have discussed extensively in class. During his initial campaign, he was massively successful in mobilizing people and garnering commitment, and has since set up a founding group of his own within his Cabinet, as well as the Congress he works alongside. In the current political climate, midterm elections, which could drastically impact is core group of “founders,” will be a critical moment in the Obama’s success as an organizational leader.


- Has Obama’s four years in office been consistent with the culture established by The Founding Fathers? Why or why not?

- Do you think Obama will ultimately be successful in establishing a resounding legacy? (Some particular “hot issues” to consider are health care reform and the economy.)

- What other points from Schein’s article could be applied United States’ government?

First Ladies: Public Servants or Positional Powerhouses?

First ladies, especially in the latter part of the 20th century, have gained a significant amount of power and influence in the eyes of the general public. Beyond simply serving as a political celebrity and White House hostess, women who have held this position have helped their husbands advocate causes, promoted the public image of our country, and served as a leader for various causes ranging from literacy to women's rights to environmental protection.

But the position and the actions of the women who are given the unofficial title of first lady presents a chicken and egg problem: are these women leaders simply because they have become first ladies, or were they leaders before reaching the White House and are now using their additional power to advance their established leadership agenda? Or to use the terminology of this class, are first ladies typically situational or servant leaders?

It could be argued that the leadership of most first ladies is purely situational, that the only reason they are afforded any sort of leadership or prestige is because of their husband's immensely powerful and public job. Though some of these women carry on their adopted causes after their time in the White House is over and remain public figures years after, many could still claim that their leadership after their time in the White House is merely lingering power from their years as first lady.

Is the power and leadership of these women in any way minimized because they gained the position of first lady through no (or at least little) personal achievement of their own? Many of these women were successful and powerful in their own right, but were more or less forced to give up their own careers when their husbands were elected president, and have displayed many of De Pree's leadership traits in previous professions.

Though the leadership that these women display is often ostensibly situational, this label doesn't fully acknowledge and appreciate the work they do. Though Michelle Obama was a lawyer with little public advocacy for military families before becoming first lady, is her work any less important that the work of Laura Bush, who has promoted literacy through her work as a librarian for years before her husband was elected president?

Smith's definition of servant leadership might be more apt to describe the work of first ladies. According to Smith, servant leaders have an underlying attitude of egalitarianism, step up when the situation calls for it, and have the primary goal of community-building around a specific issue. All three of these attributes describe the attitude and actions of most first ladies, who use their notoriety and public image to bring attention and help to specific issues.

While many of the actions of first ladies are in line with the typical definition of servant leadership, there is one major caveat: Greenleaf insists that servant leadership is the opposite of positional leadership. The two are, by his definition, mutually exclusive. So, which is it then? Are these women using their privileged position to enhance their established public service or are they serving the public merely because their position essentially demands it? Or is Greenleaf, at least in this case, not completely right in his definition? Also, while neither approach is particularly better, is it possible for first ladyship to be clearly defined as situational or an extension of lifelong service, or should it be examined on a case-by-case basis?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You can't make 500 Million Friends without making a few Enemies

With The Social Network hitting theatres this month, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been getting a lot of negative attention. The movie depicts Zuckerberg in an unfavorable light by revealing some unpleasant facts about him as a person. I could write this blog post about the many things he does poorly as a leader that is represented by all of this negative press, but instead, I am going to defend Zuckerberg’s leadership and show how he embodies many of the theories we have discussed in class in impressive ways.

The worst aspect of Zuckerberg that is portrayed in the movie is his betrayal of Facebook co-Founder and best friend, Eduardo Saverin. Zuckerberg strategically cuts Saverin out of the company and does so knowing that he would lose him as a friend in the process. DePree says people skills always precede professional skills and without understanding the cares, yearnings and struggles of people, one cannot intend to lead them (221). Zuckerberg clearly lacks appropriate interpersonal skills, but in my opinion, overcomes them with other important leadership qualities to lead Facebook in an effective and productive way.

Facebook is what it is today because of Mark Zuckerberg. His visionary leadership has made the company so important to the lives of all that use it. When creating Facebook, Zuckerberg had the idea that he wanted to create something that would change the way people live for the better by connecting them to each other. This construction of a vision is the first thing Sashkin says you must do in order to be a visionary leader. The second thing Sashkin says is putting the philosophy into practice. Zuckerberg has clearly done that by connecting over 500 million people all over the globe. The third aspect of Visionary Leadership according to Sashkin is personally creating and supporting your vision. Zuckerberg devotes his entire life to Facebook and has said in multiple interviews that the only thing he does outside of work is sleep.

Zuckerberg also represents a socialized charismatic leader. Choi defines this leader as someone who motivates his followers to maximize the gains of the organization without regard for his own personal needs (26). People may not believe this because Zuckerberg is currently the world’s youngest billionaire, but making money is not his primary concern. Zuckerberg is still involved with the day-to-day operations of Facebook and shows his followers how to unite their work to a larger sense of purpose (Choi, 27). His main goal is not to make money, but it is to have his employees provide a network for people all over the world to share and connect with each other. In an interview with Mike Harvey of The Sunday Times in London, Zuckerberg says that if his employees succeed in the company’s mission, the financial rewards will come. The mission always comes first.

Lastly, and I think most importantly to understand Mark Zuckerberg as a leader, is how he exemplifies Selznick’s idea of statesmanship. Zuckerberg has undeniably bonded his selfhood to the identity of his institution. The fate of Facebook is intertwined with Zuckerberg’s, and vice versa. For the rest of his life, Mark Zuckerberg will be remembered hand in hand with his company, and I think he would not want it any other way. And that to me is what makes him a great leader.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Servant Leadership Exemplified

When considering contemporary religious organizations, perhaps no other well know individual exemplified the concepts of servant leadership more so than Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity.  As a respected leader in the organization for more than 40 years, Mother Teresa led thousands of fellow ministry staff while also giving guidance to innumerable numbers of faithful around the world, (Clucas, 1988). Widely recognized for her humility, charity, courage, and compassion for the poor and powerless, Mother Teresa’s influence continues to inspire commitment to serving the less fortunate today.
Mother Teresa’s calling to a religious vocation developed at a young age.  While she was growing up in Macedonia, she began reading the stories of missionaries who traveled to other countries to care for the needy.  At the age of 12, she decided to devote her life to the service of others, the first of many decisions which highlight Mother Teresa’s lifelong tendency to care for other people more than she cared for herself, (a key, recurring theme within servant leadership). Her altruism and leading-by-doing approach to humanitarian causes worked to generate momentum towards the shared vision of her followers.
As discussed by Smith, Montagno, & Kusmenko (2004), a servant leadership approach can be particularly effective within organizations with a charitable focus.  When examining the relationship between context and the efficacy of different leadership approaches, the authors explain that, “…not-for profit, volunteer, and religious organizations often operate in a more static environment and attract employees who seek opportunities for personal growth, nurturing, and healing.”  In working to expand the ministry to reach more than 100 countries, Mother Teresa’s followers achieved personal growth as they saw their shared vision realized through their efforts on an individual level.  I believe that her cause and her followers benefitted enormously from Mother Teresa’s servant leadership approach and her continual reassurance that challenges, no matter how insurmountable, could not hold back the ministry’s work.  As of 2007, Mother Teresa’s followers in the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 5000, operating more than 600 missions, schools, clinics, and shelters, all around the world, (Vatican News, 2007).
It seems useful to also consider Mother Teresa’s leadership style as aligning with what Choi would describe as being charismatic.  Choi (2006) explains that, “Charismatic leaders empower their followers by enhancing their perceptions of self-efficacy and their confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles …by functioning as a role model.”  While serving as a role model to her fellow missionaries, the examples of self-sacrifice demonstrated by Mother Teresa were numerous and well documented.  Whether giving away her own sandals to a homeless woman, or fasting for several days to raise awareness of the living conditions in Indian slums, her focus remained on her work, not her own advancement, (Clucas, 1988).  Furthermore, most have described her as being incredibly genuine and able to move people to act with only a few words, another attribute which Choi associates with charisma.  He states that, “…most charismatic leaders…often rely on various rhetorical techniques such as metaphors, analogy, and stories to inculcate ideas into the followers’ minds, so that their message would have a profound impact...” One example that comes to mind of Mother Teresa’s ability to move the public to action with the simplest of words, is her assertion that “peace beings with a smile,” – a simple, yet powerful idea with universal relevance.
It’s clear that Mother Teresa recognized that many looked up to her as a source of inspiration during her life time.  With this admiration came unwanted attention, which she preferred to direct outward into her work.  Instead of accepting credit for the accomplishments of her mission, it seems that her primary objective as a leader was to serve those in need, regardless of her position. Sendjaya & Sarros (2002) describe the servant leader as, “…not the person who promotes himself or herself, but the promoter of others.”  In her role with the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa was able to effectively function as both servant and leader, a skill which likely resulted from her infectious optimism and ability to connect with people from all walks of life.

Additional Works Cited:
Burns, J. (1997, March 9). Followers Struggle to Fill Mother Teresa’s Sandals. The New York Times
    Retrieved Online: teresa-s-sandals.html?ref=teresa_mother

Clucas, J., World Leaders Past and Present. (1988, May). Soulful Tributes Retrieved Online:

Mother Teresa of Calcutta. (2002, December). The Vatican News Retrieved Online:

Questions to consider:
1)      Do you see Mother Teresa’s approach to leadership as being situational?  Why or why not?
2)      How can leaders in for-profit organizations apply self-sacrificing concepts demonstrated by charitable
         and religious organization leaders?
3)      Is it always possible to be both a servant and a leader? 

A New HBO Leader to Debate

I would like to thank HBO for finally filling the ‘Sopranos’ void with its new show created by Sopranos alum Terence Winter and award-winning director Martin Scorsese: ‘Boardwalk Empire’. This show gives us a new “leader” to replace Tony Soprano as the subject of deep arguments and debates for hours on end. The show revolves around Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, who is the multifaceted treasurer of Atlantic City during the 1920’s. Nucky is basically in charge of every business that turns a profit in America’s Playground and will always get paid, no matter what.

Nucky displays many leadership styles (for better and worse) we have studied in this class, but for the sake of the blog, I will only focus on a few. Nucky’s leadership is confronted with a major change in society with the dawn of Prohibition. After our federal government put the ban on the sale of alcohol, bootlegging became an instant money-making profession. As treasurer of Atlantic City (which lies directly on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean), Nucky felt the need to take the opportunity to make some extra money for himself and his city and get involved with bootleggers and gangsters. This brings to mind Selznick’s idea of meeting the needs of a social situation (22). He says that in order to understand the nature of the work done by a leader, you have to know something about the social situation they are called upon to handle. In Nucky’s case, the social situation is that crime and illegal activity were going to start dominating a big portion of the economy, and in order to fulfill his duties as treasurer, he felt that he needed to get his hands dirty in this new venture. Nucky’s new identity, although not known by most of his constituents, is a representation of the impact Prohibition had on many of our country’s various leaders during these times. Organized crime rose drastically in America, and the moral values of leadership became insignificant.

The money Nucky began making from bootlegging clearly was illegal and therefore morally corrupt as determined by law. Cadbury discusses business as a part of the social system in his article and how one cannot isolate the economic elements of major decisions from their social consequences (70). Unfortunately, this is exactly what Nucky does. Blinded by financial gain, Nucky fails to address what major social consequences could arise for him and his city if caught bootlegging. Federal agents begin taking a large interest in Nucky and his business affairs, but Nucky refuses to stop. I guess we will have to continue watching the show to see if Nucky’s illegal affairs end up getting the best of him.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the show is Nucky’s noticeable commitment to his constituents of Atlantic City. As a viewer, we can clearly see that Nucky is not as honorable as he seems, but his followers don’t get to see his morally corrupt side. As Heifitz says, “a leader earns influence by adjusting to the expectations of followers” (17). Nucky makes sure that he is continuously satisfying his followers through gifts or promises and alludes to this year being an “election year” all of the time. Getting votes to remain treasurer is always in the front of his mind, so he is always doing things to better the lives of his people, earning influence day by day. But as Geneen says in his essay, “ultimately, a good leader should do the decent thing…he should know what the decent thing is, everyone else does” (12). It is hard to say that Nucky is not decent, because you can tell he cares about his followers greatly, but you cannot ignore the fact that he is getting involved with very indecent practices. It would be interesting to see Nucky’s followers get a glimpse of the real leader he is becoming, and whether or not they would remain loyal to him. There is clearly a prominent divide in Nucky’s morality at this point in the show and only time will tell if it all comes up and backfires on him. I suggest you tune in to HBO and watch ‘Boardwalk Empire’ as Steve Buscemi beautifully portrays a leader with many skills and deficits that mirror the theories we are learning about in class.

Servant Leadership and Stewardship as Demonstrated by Liu Xiaobo

When reading this weeks articles about servant leadership, one thing that stood out, was Greenleaf’s claim that “the servant-leader is servant first…the person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions” (Greenleaf). With this in mind, I began to think about a modern leader who embodied this concept of serving first and leading second. Knowing that the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday 8 October, I researched some of the favorites to win the award. Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo is someone who stood out to me as servant leader. Liu is a human rights activist, who since 1989 has been repeatedly arrested by the Chinese government for peaceful political activities. I think it is important to ask the question as to whether or not Xiaobo’s actions fall in line with the themes of servant leadership and stewardship. In order to completely answer this question however, I feel that it is necessary to provide a brief synopsis on Xiaobo’s actions.

On Christmas day in 2009, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for what was ruled “inciting subversion of state power” (Radio Free Asia). Liu was deemed to be the author of a “pro-democracy manifesto” titled Chapter 08 that called for greater freedoms for Chinese people and proposed sweeping changes to the Chinese political structure. Liu’s manuscript, which was signed by 303 mainland intellectuals called for a move toward more democratic practices in the authoritarian country.

According to Cara Anna, “he is the best shot the country’s dissident movement has had in winning the prestigious award since it began pushing for democratic change after China’s authoritarian leaders launches economic, but not political reforms three decades ago” (Anna). It is worth noting however, that the Chinese government believes that if Xiaobo were to win the award, it would be a slap in the office to their government.

With this in mind, we can now examine, how Xiaobo actions line up with Peter Block’s definition of stewardship and also with Greenleaf’s definition of the servant leader. According to Block, “stewardship means taking a clear stance in support of partnership and empowerment” (Block, p. 71). It is worth note, that even though Xiaobo co-authored Chapter 08, he didn’t not himself as the author. I believe these actions fall in line with Block’s definition of stewardship because they place ownership in the hands of the other 300 intellectuals associated with the document. Furthermore, it is worth note that Block’s article asks the reader to “Think of yourself as a social architect in the redesign on a governance system…Stewardship has us become skillful in articulation its principles and then insisting that people construct the house in which they live” (Block, p. 64).

I believe that Chapter 08 implements Block’s ideals of stewardship by pointing to the problems of the Chinese political structure, and leaving it in the hands of the people to go about forcing political reforms. Xiaobo bullets certain areas that are worth reforming, yet he doesn’t go into specific details on how these reforms should go about. Therefore, the document leaves it up to the hands of the people to then decide what issues would be most pressing in a newly revised government. As a result, I believe Xiaobo’s actions fall perfectly in line with Block’s definition of stewardship.

Also worth examining is how Xiaobo’s actions fit with Greenleaf’s definition of a servant leader. Xiaobo knew from years of being an activist that the publication of Chapter 08 would put him at risk of being imprisoned, yet he believed that his message must be delivered in service to the people. Hence, once can view Xiaobo as a servant leader because he placed the needs of the group (the Chinese people) ahead of his own security. Greenleaf suggests that servant leaders are not initially motivated to be leaders. I believe that Xiaobo wasn’t trying to achieve a position of leadership in the movement to change the political structure of China. Instead, I think that Xiaobo inserted himself into a leadership role through repeatedly acting out against the government on behalf of the people. According to Smith, Montagno and Kuzmeko, “servant leadership promotes the valuing and development of people, the building of community, the practice of authenticity, the providing of leadership for the good of those led and the sharing of power and status for the common good of each individual…” (p. 82). Thus, I believe that that Xiaobo demonstrates servant leadership by putting the good of the Chinese people ahead of his own and trying to empower the people with the tools necessary to stand up to the government.

In conclusion, if Liu Xiaobo doesn’t receive the Nobel Peace Prize it isn’t for lack of being stewardship or acting as a servant leader. Xiaobo’s selfness in leading a movement to democratize China without needing to be seen as the leader of the movement demonstrates his skills to act as a servant leader.

Works Cited:

Anna, Cara. "Contender for Nobel prize is in Chinese prison." Yahoo News. Associated Press, 02 Oct 2010. Web. 4 Oct 2010. .

Block, Peter. “Defining the Stewardship Contract,” in Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self. 1993.

Greenleaf, Robert K. “Servant Leadership,” adapted from “The Servant As Leader”(1977) in R. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power, Paulist Press, 1991.

"Support for Dissident Nomination." Radio Free Asia. RFA. 4 Oct 2010. .

Smith, Brien N.; Montagno, Ray V.; Kuzmenko, Tatiana N. Transformational and Servant Leadership: Content and Contextual Comparisons. JLOS 10:4, 2004, 80-90.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

International Justice Mission and Servant Leadership

Gary Haugen graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, got a J.D. at University of Chicago, and was a successful Senior Trial Attorney with the Police Misconduct Task Force of the U.S. Department of Justice. Yet now, Haugen is the CEO of the International Justice Mission (IJM), a nonprofit, securing “justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression” ( How did Haugen transition from a successful lawyer to starting a nonprofit? The answer, I believe, is because of his servant leadership style. His complete dedication to the mission of providing the highest-quality legal representation for the oppressed has provided legal assistance to fifteen thousand victims as of 2008 and has a budget of $22 million (The New Yorker).

Haugen first discovered a need for justice when he travelled to investigate genocide in Rwanda. When he returned, he needed to act, following the Biblical command to “seek justice, protect the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Greenleaf (1977) writes that “the great leader is seen as servant first.” Haugen did not start IJM to be a leader but because he wanted to serve those who are helpless. He characterizes an “affirmative builder of a better society” and took the hard path to stop living comfortably and instead start serving victims.

Haugen’s servant-heart is seen in him giving “power to” instead of having “power over” (Sendjaya and Sarros 2002). Instead of merely punishing criminals, he gives power back to their victims. Greenleaf asks if those served grow as a result. IJM not only provides legal representation for victims, but they provide victim aftercare. Victims are treated by doctors and social workers, who help them reenter into society and begin a job. I recently attended a benefit dinner for IJM and heard Haugen speak. He told the story of a girl in India who was rescued along with her family from working as slaves in a salt mine. She now wants to study to become a doctor because she desires to help others. Her family has since opened their own salt mine, which employs people for fair hours and wages and provides them with protective gear from the harsh salt. Service is seen as a continuous cycle, and servant leaders’ “chief motive is to serve others to be what they are capable of becoming” (Sendjaya and Sarros). This family in India is just one story of many showing IJM’s impact.

Lastly, Haugen’s leadership style resembles the model outlined by Smith, Montagno and Kyzmenko (2004). His desire to serve influences his initiatives of sharing leadership (90% of IJM’s international staff are nationals of the countries where they work) and displaying authenticity (Haugen is not afraid to cry when moved emotionally by heart-breaking stories) (The New Yorker). The organizational culture also resembles one centered on servant leadership. The organization is fundamentally Christian, and every day begins with thirty minutes of “prayful preparation.” Spirituality is inherent in servant leadership, and Haugen’s model is Jesus Christ, just as the Sendjaya and Sarros article expounded upon. Haugen is not afraid to enter the darkest of places and love those whom society has rejected, including prostitutes and modern-day slaves.

The following video shows IJM in action:


1. 1. Smith et. al’s model showed that servant leadership works best in a static environment. IJM operates in anything but a stable situation. Do you think that this makes IJM less successful than it could be?

2. 2. Sendjaya and Sarros talk about self-concept and how “the servant leader’s primary intent to serve may emanate from their self-concepts as an altruist, moral person.” Haugen was interested in justice all of his life and made the conscious decision to become a servant leader. Do you think you can change to become a servant leader or that you are born with this self-concept?


Power, S. The New Yorker. “The enforcer.(January 19, 2009).

Greenleaf, R. (1977). Servant Leadership.

Sendjaya, S. & Sarros, J. (2002). Servant leadership: Its origin, development, and application in organizations.

Smith, B., Montagno, R., & Kuzmenko, R. (2004). Transformational and servant leadership: Content and contextual comparisons.