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?