Posts Tagged ‘reference’

One may ask

One may ask? Wow! Why did Dr. Baiz, pick “The relativity In Leadership” as a topic of discussion? We all know that the word “Relativity” is typically referenced to the man whom has been recognized as perhaps the smartest man who ever lived; and, so therefore why make such an attempt? Well, if I may, I would like to paraphrase what Albert Einstein once said about the subject of relativity. Einstein said it would take a well versed trained physics scholar, two weeks to understand just the very rudiments of relativity, just to understand what relativity is, just the “rudiments”. You see Albert Einstein was denied the Nobel Prize eight times; and quite frankly denied because the Nobel Prize committees reviewing his work just did not understand fully what he was trying to explain, he truly was a man way ahead of his time. Einstein in his time was the premier scientist of his day and beyond. He was a leader, In spite of being denied eight times for the grand Prize all scientists seek. He held firm and worked away at his theories.

Albert Einstein is the innermost figure in our world that taught us that: “everything is relative” – now one must be careful and not just simplify the issue of relativity and think that you are now an expert in relativity by applying it in any random approach to the problem solving process of resolving challenges. The scope of “Relativity In Leadership” is to understand like Einstein understood in his theories of Relativity that In the end there is no end. Some have said plan with the end in mind. My answer to that is how? As there are no ends to: things, beings, or developments. Action is an evolving manifestation and leadership is constantly in the face of relativity. How? Let’s take a brief look at leadership and relativity and synthesize how the two are partners in progress. Let’s review the political, psychological, and social aspect of leadership as it pertains to relativity. In politics it is a broad base stratum of economics and finance, in psychology it is a broad base strata of philosophical approaches to human behavior and treatment while in the social it is a complex application of a cultural trends and social solutions to society’s sicknesses. The relativity In Leadership within the above mentioned social factors are the ever ending explorations of finding where the truth lies in leadership and what is the best mechanism to apply the best system; within the realm of all that we have at our finger tips that is Relative to Leadership! It is definitely there one just has to look for it.  

Be prepared to apply relative conceptual solutions to leadership approaches and define your leadership by applying the relative relationships to the heart of your business astuteness.           



This leadership tip has something in it for managers everywhere, but it’s particularly targeted at those of you with large company backgrounds who have made career moves to smaller businesses that you own and/or manage. 

My background is primarily in large scale management of IT organizations.  The companies where I’ve worked were places where changing a process or behavior took some time.  I always thought I was quicker than most, and action oriented.  As a small business owner, I found I had to be much quicker. 

I’ll offer this leadership tip in the form of a story.  It’s a story of how taking your eye of the ball can cost you money, and worse than that can cost you customers. 

My First Small Business 

I opened a small personal services business.  It was located about an hour from my home office, and with all my other commitments I knew how important hiring the right manager would be for this shop.  It took a few tries, but I found one with a good background and references, and she seemed to quickly develop loyalty to the business and to me. 

For the first six months we grew slowly but steadily.  We were behind plan in terms of customers and revenue, but the trend was up.  There were a few staff issues, but overall turnover was okay.  I decided to invest a little more in marketing to try and get more new faces in the door. 

Over the next three months, customer counts were mostly flat, and average sale was actually down a little.  Concerned, I visited the shop a few times more than usual.  The people were not as upbeat as they had been.  When asked about that, they attributed their moods to less business and less enjoyment of the job.  I wondered about seasonality, the economy, and whether I needed even more marketing investment. 

Want to know what was really going on?  My trusted manager had some personal problems that I had not been aware of before, and was exhibiting some totally unacceptable behaviors: 

  • Criticizing staff in front of customers
  • Intimidating staff, letting them know they were at risk of being fired, and telling them I was out to get them.
  • Stealing money by voiding transactions and other means  

The Damages 

I’m still figuring out how much money all this cost me, but the money is only today’s problem.  The customers I’ve lost are a more serious longer term issue, because many of them won’t be coming back. 

When I figured out what was going on, I moved quickly to fire the manager.  There were only two problems:

  • I was too late, and there had been several months of damage done;
  • There was collateral damage.  I had to fire two other employees who had adopted the attitude and behaviors of the manager. 

Today, I’m working on putting together data to see if I can assemble a case for prosecuting the employees and the manager.  An even higher priority, though, is the work I’m doing to recruit and orient new staff and develop a recovery plan for our customer service reputation.   

This leadership tip was a painful lesson that I hope never to repeat.

The generational debate rages on in today’s workplace if you want to put any one generation on the defensive, talk to a baby boomer (aged 45 – 63) about the work ethic of generation y, (born after 1982, end-date to be determined) the youngest generation to enter the workplace

The generational debate rages on in today’s workplace

If you want to put any one generation on the defensive, talk to a baby boomer (aged 45 – 63) about the work ethic of Generation Y, (born after 1982, end-date to be determined) the youngest generation to enter the workplace. It is not unusual to hear this new generation described as “the entitled generation”; one that is sometimes described as spoiled, lazy, cocky, brash, selfish, impatient, irresponsible, disloyal and disrespectful.

At the crux of these perceptions is a clash of values resulting in misunderstandings and resentments between the generations at work. According to a recent survey by Lee Hecht Harrison, more than 60% of employers say they are experiencing tension between employees from different generations. The survey found more than 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger workers’ abilities and nearly half of employers say that younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers. None of this can be good for morale or the bottom line; therefore it is crucial to the success of any organization to educate its workforce regarding the reasons why we see the world and the world at work from different vantage points.

Understanding frames of reference

Generation Y often perceives their baby boomer parent’s generation as one that needs to get a life and have more fun. The reality for the boomers, however, is that work has given them a sense of identity and pride for many years. The traditionalist generation, or “radio agers”, (born 1925-1946) taught their boomer offspring that the key to career success is to be grateful they had a job, respect their employer, work hard, go above and beyond and you will reap the financial rewards, as well as a promotion, job title and maybe a bigger office. They passed on their experience of showing appreciation and dedication to their employer by hard work and long hours…understandable when we remember their values and attitudes toward work were shaped by two significant watershed events of their time; World War II and the Great Depression. Boomers learned these values but began questioning them during the recessions of the 1980’s and 1990’s when they personally felt the effects of a post-Woodstock world and a changing economic landscape. Many lost their jobs due to downsizing and restructuring (are you feeling a sense of d?j? vu?). It is my view that many of us boomers are still conflicted regarding our own work values. In fact, we have been sending our children mixed messages. On the one hand, we taught our Generation X’s (Born 1964 – 1981) and Generation Y’s to be resilient, self-reliant and at the same time to respect their career path, yet we seem disgruntled when the new generations we now work with have less trust in management and complain about feeling undervalued.

Paying your dues…A clash of generational values

It should therefore come as no surprise that our younger cohorts have a completely different take on the idea of career. They have grown up in a post 9/11 world where altruistic causes are of great interest to them. In addition, they have been afforded the highest level of educational opportunity than any preceding generation from parents who have communicated loud and clear that the world is their oyster. They have not known a world without cell phones or computers. We think that this generation’s social skills have been compromised by the amount of time they spend on Facebook, text messaging, etc. Yet, they feel more “connected”. Who is right?  The internet and social media have given them exposure to a powerful form of self-expression. As a result, they are savvier and deeply interested in their environment. Many are seeking fulfilling employment with an organization that demonstrates a commitment to making a meaningful difference at a global level. A job for life is more like a life sentence for the “Ys” who cannot imagine being with one employer forever.  For this new generation, a job is a stepping stone to the next opportunity. When their parents or managers talk to them about climbing the corporate ladder to achieve professional success, they are speaking a foreign language. Gen Ys are thinking “aren’t you the same people who told me I could be and do anything I wanted?”

When baby boomer managers or co-workers tell them to “pay their dues”, generation Y feel that they already have; in terms of years acquiring an education and student loans. They want to be treated as equals…working “with” but not “for” a manager. They are frustrated with the traditional manager/subordinate dynamic. For boomers, career success and job satisfaction has always been closely aligned to a heightened sense of self-worth. From their vantage point, generation Y consciously choose a “work to live” philosophy and as a result, have created an awareness amongst all generations for a re-awakening and re-prioritizing of the term work/life balance. The ideal workplace is one where differences are appreciated; where the younger generations can learn from the wisdom and experience of their older coworkers and conversely, the older generations can learn from the enthusiastic, tech-savvy younger generation. From a core value perspective, how different are we? We all have a deep desire to be understood, valued and appreciated.



The title of project manager (PM) is used to mean different things in different companies.  Fortunately there is a standards body called the Project Management Institute which provides excellent guidance around the role and function of a project manager.  

Some will disagree, but I don’t care if your project manager is PMI certified or not.  You need to care about having a project manager with the skill to carry out the role as the Institute defines it.  It’s your change management strategy, and it’s your reputation on the line. 

Finding a Project Manager 

Do you need a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)?  As I said above, I don’t care.  There are newly certified PMP’s who have taken their tests and gotten the certification, but they may not be battle tested.  There are veteran project managers who never got the fancy title, but they know how to manage projects.  And there is everything in between.  The track record is what you need to care about. 

Do you have a strong PM on your team now?  Is that person well respected, perhaps a key opinion leader in your organization?  Do they treat project management as a profession?  Then by all means use them.   

If, on the other hand, project manager has been a title used by junior, untrained people who walk around with a task list and a clip board, it’s time to bring on stronger talent. 

Your fastest route to a proven project manager will be a contract hire, either from a reputable firm or an independent.  There are many good ones out there.  Get and check references, and interview at least three.  Let your key opinion leaders and managers interview them as well.  Look for their track record and for good chemistry. 

Set the Project Manager Up for Success 

Simply put, everyone needs to understand that the project manager is your alter ego.  Everyone includes you. 

Your managers and project leaders must understand that they are accountable to the PM for providing all of their tasks, their dependencies on other tasks and other work units, their schedule commitments, and their resource requirements. 

They need to understand that the PM will review all of their information and look for problems.  These could include missed tasks, schedule inconsistencies, resource overloads, etc.  Often managers will tell the PM that they can handle some of these problems, by working people longer hours or by overlapping some tasks “by a day or two”.  A good project manager is going to challenge such claims, and you’ll need to stand behind the PM. 

The PM is going to hold everyone accountable for milestone deliverables.  In most projects, especially those that are complex, milestones are missed and contingency plans must be activated.  Again, you as the leader need to support the PM as they hold people accountable. 

Handling Conflicts 

It’s entirely possible that the PM will have conflicts with managers, team leads or others in the organization.  Make it safe for people to discuss and bring up such conflicts.  Just because the PM is your alter ego doesn’t make them right — any more than you are always right.  

Engage your key opinion leaders along with the project manager and others.  Find out the facts contributing to the conflict, and make the decisions necessary to get the change management strategy back on track. 

Change management strategies that fail often do so because of poor project management.  Don’t let that happen to you.

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