Looking Forward...

Looking Forward...
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Devise a plan for your organization to get people to see disconfirming data and their implications.

In a world that continues to change rapidly, most people are still living in their comfort zone and complacent with their common routines.  In most of our organization, we develop ways of doing things that work well enough so those routine become institutionalized.  It ends up with the situation that constrains us and inhibit out thinking about trying new things.  But there are times when we get some disconfirming data, and we have to face a choice about what to do.  According to Clawson (2010, p. 340), “disconfirming data are a challenge to our self-concept, because they say that what we just did doesn’t work anymore.”  The data is a signal to us, invite us to do something about it, and that we should try something new.  

In order to get people to see disconfirming data and their implications, I would prefer to look at the suggestion given by Clawson (2010):

·        Encourage people to change their behavior by searching for alternative ways of behaving through trying out things they haven’t done before.
·        Pushing them out of their comfort zone by trying something new that can be threatening, scary, and undertaken with trepidation.
·        Advising people not to be defensive and trying to get outside help in: 1) reviewing the data differently, with more seriousness and a greater sense of validity, 2) identifying alternative course of action, and developing a new view of what’s possible, 3) interpreting the data from the new experiments until we get our own bearings and are able to see things more objectively.
·        Building a change team by recruiting good people and having great strategic planning.
·        Underlying persistent organizational culture through management by objectives, nominal groups, self-managed teams, total quality management, look for best practices, and benchmarking,
·        Design the change attempt by setting the clear goals and objective, substantial training, give guidance and coaching during the experiment.
·        Giving positive reinforcement by rewarding people for their efforts, especially when the behavior moves in the desired direction.

According to Clawson (2010), leadership is about managing energy in ourselves and those around us and the same for managing change, and making real change will triggers a common and emotional response pattern of denial, anger, bargaining, despair, experimentation, hope, and integration.  If leaders able to do change effectively, the implication would be: 1) old assumptions will fade away, 2) integration of new ways in doing things, 3) new hope blossoms, and 4) people feel more comfortable. If leaders want to change the world around them, they should understand this process, develop the skill at managing people, and manage their mutual changes effectively.  In conclusion, leaders have to change themselves first if they want the world around them to change.


Clawson, J. C. (2006). Level three leadership: Getting below the surface (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Friday, July 30, 2010

How culture can impact empowerment and coaching and how will a leader handle this?

Organizational culture is the pattern of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that lead to certain norms of behavior, or in other words, “the way we do things around here” (Osland, Kolb, Rubin, and Turner, 2007). Organizational culture is the personality of the organization. Culture serves as the glue that holds the organization together. An organization’s culture is made up of all of the life experiences each employee brings to the organization. Organizational culture consists of the values, symbols, stories, heroes, and rites that have special meaning for employees. Based on the writer’s experiences, culture is a powerful element in the organization that shapes the work enjoyment, work relationships, and work processes. Culture also provides members with a sense of identity, generates commitment to something larger than self-interest, and helps people make sense of what occurs in the organization and the environment. Culture is the environment that surrounds people at work all of the time. Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of--generally unspoken and unwritten-rules for working together. Culture represents the emotional, intangible part of the organization. If structure is the organization’s skeleton, culture is its soul. Culture is transmitted through various mechanisms: socialization, stories, symbols, jargon and language, rituals and ceremonies, and statements of principles (Osland et al, 2007).

Most organizations recognize culture and try to influence it. To foster a creative and productive environment where employees are motivated to achieve exceptional performance, the organization’s culture needs to empower its employees. “Empowerment is defined as granting employees the autonomy to assume more responsibility within an organization and strengthening their sense of effectiveness (Osland et al, 2007, p. 528).” Empowerment seeks to break the cycle of powerlessness in organizations by giving employees a real sense of control. Empowerment gives people in organizations the ability to get things done, often at levels of the hierarchy where the power can be most directly and effectively applied. Organization requires a different style of management, and there has been a gradual shift from a command-and-control model to an involvement-oriented approach centered on employee commitment and empowerment. The involvement-oriented approach is the best way to organize is to give employees the freedom and responsibility to manage their own work as much as possible. So, employees are given both information and the power to influence decision about their work.

In order for managers to be effective, they must be able to influence their subordinates, peers, superiors, stakeholders and many other individuals both affiliated and unaffiliated with their organizations (Elias & MacDonald, 2006; Vecchio, 2007) There are many actions organizations can take to foster empowerment. Recent studies demonstrate the empowerment of an organization's members is closely related to the type of organizational culture (Osland et al, 2007). Normally leaders or managers in the organizations try to develop cultures which are helpful in motivating employees, keeping employees committed to the organization, and helping employees make appropriate decisions. Organization should let employees to participate in decision making. They will gain a sense of control over their work lives and will be more enthusiastic about implementing decisions. Actually, according to Osland et al (2007), it was proven that employees involvement in decision making, fair rewards for their efforts, good training, and career opportunities on the part of the organization: in return, the employees contribute their brains, enthusiasm, higher productivity, and responsiveness to customers.

Managers should also allow people room to feel and know that they matter; that what they say is heard and know that what they do will have an impact. Employees should be given empowerment with responsibility and trust, and in that process, coaching—because empowerment cannot be sustained long-term without real coaching behind it (Osland et al, 2007). According to Osland et al (2007,), coaching is defined as a conversation that follows a predictable process and leads to superior performance, commitment to sustained improvement, and positive relationships. Organizations expect managers to master coaching as a way to develop their subordinates. Managers require expertise and experience in-order to know which type of coaching to be used in specific situations with specific people. Good candidate for coaching are people who are willing to accept feedback, have a sincere desire to improve and an intrinsic need to grow, and who are lifelong learners (Bacon & Spear, 2003).


Bacon, T. R., & Spear, M. I. (2003). Adaptive coaching: The art and practice of a client-centered approach to performance improvement. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Elias, S.M., & MacDonald, S.R. (2006). “Consequences of restrictive and promotive managerial control among American university professors”, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 14, pp. 239-50.

Osland, J. C., Kolb, D. A., Rubin, I. M., & Turner, M. E. (2007). The Organizational Behavior: An Experiential Approach (8th ed.). NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Vecchio, R.P. (2007), “Power, politics, and influence”, in Vecchio, R.P. (Ed.), Leadership: Understanding the Dynamics of Power and Influence in Organizations, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN, pp. 69-95.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unethical Behavior and Nonethical Values

Ethics deals with what is right or wrong in human behavior and conduct (Thiroux & Krasemann, 2007). Ethics or integrity is a set of moral standards of what is good and right behavior. Ethics refers to “standards of conduct that indicate how one should behave based on moral duties and virtues arising from principles about right and wrong” (Osland, Kolb, Rubin, and Turner, 2007). According to Osland et al. (2007), one of the first steps in teaching ethics is to help people identify and articulate their own values, and values are core beliefs or desires that guide or motivate attitudes and actions. The goals, norms, beliefs, and values of a person will vary depending upon the cultural and religious tradition of that person, and those variations will in turn affect the moral standards. Moral standards of behavior are our gauges of individual and organizational actions. The problem is that our moral standards of behavior are subjective. They are personal. Moral standards of behavior differ between peoples because the goals, norms, belief, and values upon which they depend also differ, because of variations in the religious and cultural traditions and the economic and social situations in which the individuals are immersed. Our family, our religion, our community, and schools have helped to shape our values.

In ordinary language, we frequently use the words ethical and moral (and unethical and immoral) interchangeably; that is, we speak of the ethical or moral person or act. When we speak of people as being moral or ethical, we usually mean that they are good people, and when we speak of them as being immoral or unethical, we mean that they are bad people. When we refer to actions as being moral, ethical, immoral, and unethical, we mean that they are right or wrong. The immoral person knowingly violates human moral standards by doing something wrong or by being bad. Ethical behavior is concerned with not only what should be, but what should not be. The study of ethics is concerned with how a moral person should behave, and values concern the various beliefs and attitudes that determine how a person actually behaves.

According to Osland et al. (2007), ethical values directly relate to beliefs concerning what is right and proper (as opposed to what is simply correct or effective) or that motivate a sense of moral duty. But people, however, do not always act in accordance with their espoused values. It is difficult for people to act ethically if they have not been inculcated with ethical values when they were growing up. Non-ethical considerations are important because they are often the powerful impediments to ethical conduct, and the cause of many conflicts of interest (Marshall, 2007). Non-ethical values deal with things we like, desire, or find personally important, such as money, status, happiness, fulfilment, pleasure, personal freedom, and being liked (Osland et al., 2007). Anyone behave unethically because unethical or immoral behavior is the product of a number of factors, both internal and external. All of these elements must be addressed if we want to cast light rather than shadow. Johnson (2007) stated that unhealthy motivations that produce immoral behavior include internal enemies (insecurity, battleground mentality, functional atheism, fear, denial of death, evil) and selfishness (pride, ego, narcissism). Not all shadow casters come from within. Ethical failures are the product of group, organizational, and cultural forces as well.


Johnson, C. E. (2007). Ethics in the workplace: Tools and tactics for organizational transformation. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

Marshall, J. (2007). Ethics scoreboards: Rule book. Retrieved May 29, 2010 from http://www.ethicsscoreboard.com/rb_definitions.html

Osland, J. C., Kolb, D. A., Rubin, I. M., & Turner, M. E. (2007). The Organizational Behavior: An Experiential Approach (8th ed.). NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Thiroux, J. P. & Krasemann, K. W. (2009). Ethics: Theory and Practice (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

The differences in communication patterns of men and women

Communication is the process by which information is exchanged between communicators with the goal of achieving mutual understanding (Osland, Kolb, Rubin, and Turner, 2007, p. 195). Effective communication does more than just convey information. Effective managers can use communication to keep employees informed and up to date on everything happening within the organization. Successful organizations understand that communication is the glue that holds an organization together. There are numerous causes of distortion that function as barriers to communication, such as poor relationships, lack of clarity, individual differences in encoding and decoding, perception, culture, silence, and direct versus indirect communication (Osland, Kolb, Rubin, and Turner, 2007). But there are times gender also influences how people encode communication.

Deborah Tannen highlighted some important insights into differences between men and women in terms of their conversational styles (Robbins & Judge, 2007). In particular, Tannen has been able to explain why gender often creates oral communication barriers. The essence of Tannen’s research is that men use talk to emphasize status, power, dominance, and independence, whereas women use it to create connection. According to Tannen, communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. Intimacy emphasizes closeness and commonalities. Independence emphasizes separateness and differences. Women speak and hear a language of connection and intimacy. Women as a group are more concerned with maintaining the relationship with the person to whom they are speaking. Women are more likely to aim for cooperation, and focus on seeking and giving confirmation and support. For many women, conversations are negotiations for closeness in which people try to seek and give confirmation and support, whereas for many men, conversations are primarily to maintain status in a hierarchical social order.

According to Robbins and Judge (2007), Men frequently complain that women keep on talking about their problem, and women criticize men for not listening. Actually when men hear a problem, they frequently assert their desire for independence and control by offering solutions. On the other hand, women view telling a problem as a means to promote closeness. The women present the problem to gain support and connection, not to get the man’s advice. Mutual understanding is symmetrical—it sets up men as more knowledgeable, more reasonable, and more in control. This contributes to distancing men and women in their efforts to communicate. Men are often more direct than women in conversation. Men often criticize women for seeming to apologize all the time, and consider this as a weakness because they interpret it as the women is accepting blame. Lastly, women tend to be less boastful than men, and take the other person’s feeling into account. However, men can frequently misinterpret this and incorrectly conclude that women are less confident and competent than she really is.


Kolb, D.A., Osland, J.S., Turner, M.E., & Rubin, I.M. (2007). The organizational behavior: Behavior reader (8th ed.). Upper River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Robbins, S. P. & Judge, T. A. (2007). Organizational Behavior (12th. ed.). New Jersey: Upper Saddle River, Pearson.

Tannen, D. (1990). You just don’t understand. Retrieved on June 6, 2010 from

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Adaptive Learning and Generative Learning

In order for an institution to function like a learning organization, its constituents need to take time to reflect on their professional practice, learn from their experiences and design new actions to keep up with the ambiguity of challenges prevalent in volatile times (Yeo, 2006). Chris Argyris described two types of learning: 1) single-loop learning, and 2) double-loop learning (Osland, Kolb, Rubin, & Turner, 2007). According to Osland et al. (2007, p. 64), single-loop learning or adaptive learning is defined as “a coping approach that focuses solving problems and making incremental improvements using the prevailing mental model.” In other words, it is the ability to cope without questioning, solve problems without investigating other options, and makes improvements within the organization without using creativity or without changes the status quo. Adaptive learning provides a pedagogical framework to accommodate learning styles, media, and interactivity. Adaptive learning provides a pedagogical framework to accommodate learning styles, media, and interactivity. “Adaptive,” or student-centred learning was influenced by formal theories of knowledge representation, connectionist approaches to learning, and symbolic representations of knowledge creation (Sonwalkar, 2008).
Single-loop learning involves using knowledge to solve specific problems based on existing assumptions, and often based on what has worked in the past. This writer has experienced this when dealing with the subordinates in handling human resources problems with reference to the guided rules and procedures as given by the Malaysian Civil Service Department. Actually the writer gave an example of Adaptive Learning when handling human resources problems with reference to the guided rules and procedures as given by the Malaysian Civil Service Department. In Malaysia, all of the public universities are under the control of Malaysian Government and any employees' services matter must be referred to the Malaysian Civil Service Department. In this situation normally the writer just need an ability to cope without questioning, solve problems without investigating other options, and makes improvements within the organization without using much creativity or without changes the status quo. In most of the cases, the writer just need to refer to the guidelines and procedures that stated in the Handbook given by the Malaysian Civil Service Department and cannot even change the status quo.
Double-loop learning or generative learning “consists of continuous experimentation and feedback in an ongoing analysis of how organizations define and solve problems” (Osland et al., 2007, p. 64). In double-loop learning, people question the assumptions that underlie their theories and ask themselves hard questions. Double-loop learning is developed when people not only reference predetermined rules; they constructively challenge rote responses as well (Blackman et al., 2004). Double-loop learning contributes to organizational members’ capacity to enlarge their responsibilities, enhancing their responsiveness to things around them in turn. They construct alternative scenarios in anticipation of likely outcomes, test potential ideas and replace old rules with new ones (Blackman et al., 2004). Consequently, they enhance their personal and meta-competences by being more confident in the way they relate to people and being more creative in the way they approach problems (Cheetnam and Chivers, 1998). The capacity to learn and perform is largely motivated by the alignment between personal values and organizational vision. This writer has experienced this when doing her doctorate program in NOVA through blended-learning. This program is an example of a new mental map about how students learn without being physically present in a classroom.
The writer gave an example of Generative Learning by sharing her experiences in doing her doctorate program in NOVA through blended-learning method because this program is an example of a new mental map about how she learn without being physically present in a classroom. The writer was able to gain some new experiences, getting used to a new way of study, familiarized herself with the learning technology and meet new people. She has an ability to enlarge her responsibilities, enhancing her responsiveness to things around her, enhancing her personal and meta-competences by being more confident in the way she relates to people and being more creative in the way she approach problems.
The writer consider herself learning in single loops when she just need to refer to the Handbook given when dealing with the services matter and is regarded as minimal as she tend to be inward-looking merely performing tasks as part of her routine. The writer is in double-loop learning when she joined the blended-learning program as she goes a step further and questions existing assumptions in order to create new insights. The writer change from single-loop learning to double-loop learning as she move from simply performing to improving daily tasks, and as a result, it is a coping response to a creative response.


Argyris, C. (1993), Knowledge for action, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.
Blackman, D., Connelly, J. & Henderson, S. (2004), “Does double loop learning create reliable knowledge?” The Learning Organization, 11: 1, pp. 11-27.

Cheetham, G. & Chivers, G. (1998), “The reflective (and competent), practitioner: a model of professional competence which seeks to harmonize the reflective practitioner and competence-based approaches”, Journal of European Industrial Training, 22: 7, pp. 267-76.

Kolb, D. A., Osland, J. S., Turner, M. E., & Rubin, I. M. (2007). The Organizational behavior: Behavior reader (8th ed.). Upper River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Sonwalkar, N. (2008). Adaptive individualization: the next generation of online education. On the horizon, 16: 1, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1074-8121, pp. 44-47.

Yeo, R. K. (2005). Learning institution to learning organization: Kudos to reflective practitioners. Journal of European Industrial Training, 30: 5, pp. 396-419, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. DOI 10.1108/03090590610677944.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Identify Your Own Personal Theories

According to Osland, Kolb, Rubin & Turner (2007), successful organizations are characterized by good fit among strategy, structure, systems, staff, style, skill, superordinate goals, and also fit the environment. In order to achieve that, managers should do their job or the best way to manage people, and their successful management involves a careful balancing act and the ability to manage paradox (Osland et al., 2007). According to Osland et al. (2007), excellent managers have an unusual ability to resolve paradox, to translate conflicts and tensions into excitement, high commitment, and superior performance. It shows that managers should be able to make the organizations to be adaptable, flexible, stable, and controlled. In fact, managers should work toward growth, resourced acquisition, external support, tight information management, and formal communication. Managers should also emphasis on the value of human resources, planning, and goal setting.

The first step in managing the paradoxes of organizational effectiveness understands one’s own theories of management. Theories are constructed to give an explanation of phenomena (Stam, 2000). Managers have their theories and mental maps about what makes successful managers and organizations. A relevant theory of leadership can then serve as a valuable tool for diagnosing the situation and determining the most relevant aspects of leadership behavior. According to Denzin (1970), there are three functions of a theory: permitting organization of descriptions, leading to explanation, and furnishing the basis for prediction of future events. This is to ensure that managers do not approach leadership problems and situations using trial and error tactics but base their decision-making on principled actions.

Managers need to be aware of the leadership theory or theories they ascribe to because these will determine and provide insights to who they are and the enduring concepts that really define everything about them as leaders. In the effort to understand the various elements that impacts on leadership and organizational effectiveness, much attention and research has been conducted on leadership theories. The notion of leadership has been defined and conceptualized from numerous perspectives. Managers must find the appropriate method to match a given situation because there is no one best way to manage in every situation. There are many leadership theories that can assist leaders confront the complex leadership phenomenon. These converge and create a new framework for thinking about and leading complex change.

According to Osland et al. (2007), some of the theorists’ model of excellent organizations and managers are:

1. Taylor’s Scientific Management, the managers scientifically determined the goals that needed to be accomplished, divided the work up in the most efficient way, trained workers to do the job, and rewarded them by wage incentives.

2. Administrative Theory, the organization would succeed if managers designed the organization correctly and followed the proven principles of management. Managers emphasizes on understanding the basic tasks of management and developed guidelines or principles for managing effectively.

3. Human Relations School, the effective managers were expected to pay attention to people’s social needs (i.e., feelings and attitudes that affected productivity) and elicit their ideas about work issues. Cohesion and morale as a means of increasing the value of human resources.

4. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y described two ends of a continuum of assumptions about people and human nature. Whether managers incline more to the carrot (Theory Y) of the stick (Theory X) approach to motivation may be rooted in these assumptions.

5. Decision-Making School, the effective managers have to take into account workers’ “minds,” set the premises for employee’s decisions and relied on their rationality to make choices that would be best for both themselves and the organization. Managerial effectiveness consisted of a thorough understanding of decision making.

6. Contingency Approach, the good managers (and employees) analyze the situation and choose the most appropriate action because they believe that effectiveness varies according to the particular situation. They converged on the idea that there was no “one best way” to manage, and they tried to identify which variables would be successful for particular situations.

Each model suggests a mode or type of organizing. Manager must be able to analyze a situation, determine what pattern of leadership behavior is needed to influence processes that are important for optimal performance, and then carry out the behavior in a skilful way (Yukl, 2002). The writer understands that effective organizations exhibit different kinds of leadership. None of the leadership theories offers a perfect solution for all contexts. Each suffers limitations that may make it inappropriate in a particular situation. It can be concluded that appropriate leadership depends on a broad range of internal and external factors. A fruitful approach into choosing an effective leadership theory or theories is for the individual leader to carefully diagnose the situation and choose a leadership approach that best fits the context. Ultimately, our leadership will be judged as effective or ineffective not by who we are as a leader but by what leadership we induce in others.


Denzin, N. (1970). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods. Chicago: Aldine.

Kolb, D. A., Osland, J. S., Turner, M. E., & Rubin, I. M. (2007). The Organizational behavior: Behavior reader (8th ed.). Upper River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Stam, H. J. (2000). Theoretical psychology. In K. Pawlik & M. R. Rosenzweig (Eds.). International Handbook of Psychology (pp. 551-569). London: Sage Publications.

Yukl, G. (2002). Leadership in organizations. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River. N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Humility-Inducing Experiences

Organizations are much more than only a means for providing goods and services. They create the settings in which most of employees spend their lives, and they have profound influence on employees’ behavior. When employees join, they have a very deliberate process of socialization, where they learn the culture and the present organization. Organizational socialization has been defined as “the process by which organizational members become a part of, or absorbed into, the culture of an organization” (Jablin, 1982, p. 256), “the process by which a person learns the values, norms, and required behaviors which permit him or her to participate as a member of the organization” (Van Maanen, 1978, p. 67), and “the process of ‘learning the ropes,’ being indoctrinated and trained, and being taught what is important in the organization” (Schein, 1968, p. 2). Socialization is the process by which organizations bring new employees into the culture.

Organizational socialization is the process of showing new people in an organization what the organization is about--the how and why of the way things are done in that particular institution, and getting the new people to understand and accept this. Organizational newcomers typically have high uncertainty regarding how to do their job, how their performance will be evaluated, what types of social behaviors are normative, and what personal relationships within the organization might be beneficial to them (Miller, 1996). Socialization of new employees consist of learn role, and appropriate values and behaviors. Socialization of new employees is crucial. It fulfilled expectations correlate with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and the intention to remain with the organization. Effective socialization reduces these uncertainties, helps newcomers cultivate productive relationships at work, and ensures that individuals and organizations benefit from their working relationship (Jablin, 2001). Consequently, newcomers and experienced organizational members typically engage in formal and informal organizational socialization activities before, during, and after their entry into the organization.

Socialization often starts with a humility-inducing experience that shows the person that they really do not understand how things work. Humility is the state or quality of being humble; absence of pride or self-assertion (Webster’s Dictionary, 2010). This is followed by an in-the-trenches immersion that inculcates the culture. In solidifying culture, the use of humility inducing experiences causes one to question their values and beliefs and whether to accept them. Humility-inducing experiences that cause newcomers to question prior behavior, beliefs, and values. Humility-inducing experiences promote openness toward accepting organizational norms and values (Gibson et al, 2003). Humility-inducing experiences show the new worker that they still have a lot to learn, especially the organization’s pattern of beliefs, expectations, and values as manifested in organization practices.


Gibson, Ivancevich, Donnelly and Konopaske, (2003). Organizations: Behavior, Structure, Processes, McGraw Hill.

Jablin, F.M. (1982). Organizational communication: An assimilation approach. In Roloff, M. E. & Berger, C. R. (Eds.), Social cognition and communication. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Jablin, F.M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In Jablin, F. M. & Putnam, L. L. (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Miller, V. D. (1996). An experimental study of newcomers’ information seeking behaviors during organizational entry. Communication Studies, 47, 1-24.

Schein, E. H. (1968). Organizational socialization and the professional management. Industrial Management Review, 9, 1-16.

Webster's New World College Dictionary. Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

Van Maanen, J. (1978). People processing: Strategies of organizational socialization. Organizational Dynamics, 7, 18-36.

Friday, April 9, 2010

We are now moving from the Industrial Age to the Information Age in an increasingly integrated global economy (Clawson, 2010). In management, administrators now in the midst of a major managerial paradigm shift that is changing the way they think about management, the way they organize to manage, and the problems and dilemmas that management presents. Understanding and becoming effective in this emerging new context requires a fundamental shift in management thinking and modes of leadership. Principles of organization and leadership are being replaced with new principles based on new assumptions about people, economies, and how to organize. Understanding this new paradigm is essential to becoming a leader in the world of today leading to tomorrow (Clawson, 2010). Due to this paradigm shift, leaders with their knowledge are expected to post a change within their work setting that reflects social responsibility. It focused on the role and responsibilities of a leader as an ethical role model, decision-maker, and teacher. The new paradigm also demands of its leader that they develop some new core values and skills (Clawson, 2010). Administrators should be able to add new concepts, new principles, and new ideas to their present skill sets to enhance their effort to lead and be more effective leaders.

Administrators are regularly call upon to make ethical judgments, and expected to demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fortitude in all of the public activities in order to inspire public confidence and trust in the university. In order to do that, administrators must oblige to develop civic virtues because of the public responsibilities that they have sought and obtained. Respect for the truth, for fairly dealing with others, for sensitivity to rights and responsibilities of citizens and for the public goods must be generated and carefully nurtured and matured. Administrators are responsible for the performance of others, share with them the reasons for the importance of integrity, hold them to high ethical standards and teach them the moral as well as the financial responsibility for public funds under their care.

Administrators must accept as a personal duty the responsibility to keep up to date on emerging issues and to administer the organization with professional competence, fairness, impartiality, efficiency, and effectiveness. According to Brown and Trevino (2006), the practice of ethical leadership is a two-part process involving personal moral behavior and moral influence. Ethical leaders earn that label when they act morally as they carry out their duties and shape the ethical contexts of their groups, organizations, and societies (Johnson, 2009). Both components are essential. Leaders must demonstrate such character traits as justice, humility, optimism, courage, and compassion; make wise choices; master the ethical challenges of their roles; and also responsible for the ethical behavior of others (Johnson, 2009). Leaders act as role models for the rest of the organization. How followers behave depends in large part on the example set by the leaders. According to Johnson (2009), ethical climates promote the moral development of leaders as well as followers, fostering their character and improving their ability to make and follow through ethical choices; while ethical environments have safeguards that keep both leaders and followers from engaging in destructive behaviors.

Administrators must know how to use the strengths of opposing views to improve the process of finding the best decision. They must also know how differences should be taken not as threats or competitive factors in finding answers but as opportunities to increase one’s knowledge and broaden one’s understanding. Administrators have to be aware of the methods for handling decision-making situations in which people share similar values but have different assumptions and situations in which people share assumptions but have different values. They must always remember that empowering employees through trust, guidance, and ethical standards goes a long way to making the organization a good place to work for all concerned.

They must also remember that ethical reflection can empower people and increase their responsiveness to important organizational and social issues. Last but not least, they should know that engaging in ethical reflection as a learning process and can create learning and changing organization. Each and everyone need to learn to be responsible, have a role to play in the organization, and know that they are accountable for their actions. Each organization should be run ethically and treat their employees with dignity and respect. According to Brown (1990), the best ethical guides do not tell people what they should do; rather, they show people how to discover the best course of action for themselves; the purpose of ethics is not to make people ethical; it is to help people make better decisions. All these changes would benefit the organization and the university as a whole.

Brown, M. E., & Trevino, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. The Leadership Quarterly, 17, 595-616.

Brown, M. T. (2000). Working ethics: Strategies for decision making and organizational responsibility. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Clawson, J. G. (2002). Level three leadership: Getting below the surface (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Johnson, C. E. (2009). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow (Edition 3). Los Angeles: SAGE.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Decision Making

Leaders are regularly confronted with problems that require decisions. A number of approach, tools, and techniques have been developed over the years to help leaders improve their decision-making capabilities. Robbins and DeCenzo (2007) composed a seven step process that provides a rational and analytical way of looking at decision. The steps include identification of the problem, collection of relevant information, development of alternatives, evaluation of alternatives, selection of the best alternative, implementation of the decision, and follow up and evaluation. Leaders may face three conditions as they make a decision: certainty, risk, and uncertainty (Robbins et al., 2007). Certainty exists when the outcome and every alternative is known. As we know, most leaders’ decisions aren’t as clear-cut as this. A far more common situation leaders face is one of risk, in which they must estimate the likelihood of certain outcomes. Leaders are said to be making a decision under a condition of uncertainty when they are not certain about the outcome, and can’t even make a reasonable probability estimate.

Based on the above information, how to utilize this within my organization to assure effective decision making in human relations? I would prefer decisions in my organization being made by groups rather than by individual. In my opinion, if the adage “Two heads are better than one” translates into groups, it would be able to generate a greater number, and potentially a more creative set, of decision alternatives. Furthermore, it’ll provide more complete information, generates more alternatives, increases acceptance of a solution, and increases legitimacy. When members of a group meet face to face and interact with one another, they create the potential for groupthink. Robbins et al., (2007) suggested three ways of making group decision making more creative: brainstorming, the nominal group technique, and electronic meetings.

I should try to understand each other’s styles so that I can get along better. Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand those with different views. It would be ethical to try to figure out why they said what they said. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. It should be alright to be provocative, but it would be better not only on one side but on all sides and with a fuller view. Let people listening to each other and changing their views in the process of reaching a “common ground.” We should have been less in confrontational format and change to a more positive and learning format by trying to learn something from the other person, even though we don’t agree with them. With a greater understanding of these differences, rather than collide, our words can come together in greater harmony, cooperation and collaboration. Differences do not have to create separation and tension. With a clear and positive understanding of our differences, mutual respect and trust between us increases and all levels of the discussion are enriched.

Group members must believe that the discussion will be fair, and trust one another in order to increase understanding of the issues, the organization, and themselves. People need to think about their personal values and the group’s values and beliefs. Inclusion allows for gathering information from significant stakeholders and we become aware of our own previously unknown assumptions. According to Brown (2008), different stakeholders can help to question strategic assumptions. Role flexibility allows for switches in roles, and enables the group to see the issues from different perspectives. It will also bring new understanding and the discussion itself becomes more public because the group will search for common values, reliable information, and shared assumptions.

I believe that through public discourse, participants have the information necessary to make a decision, that the arguments and reasons that determine the outcome are available to all, and that everyone has the opportunity to participate. Then decisions are made solely on the basis of their outcomes or consequences, and to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. The right view given is concerned with respecting and protecting the basic right of individuals—for example, the right for free speech. It also requires individuals to impose and enforce rules fairly and impartially so there is an equitable distribution of benefits and costs. This justice perspective protects the interests of the underrepresented and less powerful, besides it can encourage a sense of entitlement that reduces risk taking, innovations, and productivity (Robbins et al., 2007).

Besides establishing the right conditions, training is also important for the organization to practice ethical reflections (Brown, 2000). Training will enables decision makers at all levels to acquire appropriate skills and tools that are necessary for participation in the process. The right training can ensure that the decision makers understand the decision-making process as a process of choice and aware that it involves choosing one of several alternatives; therefore, they must consider a variety of options and develop arguments on issues that interest them. With a right training, the decision makers will able to handle opposing views, examine the merits of different position, become proficient in the argumentative strategy, better understand the issues and hence more confidence in making decision. As mentioned by Brown (2000, p. 204), “if its members become competent in argumentative analysis and ethical reflection, then organizational ethics will become a creative and innovative human activity in the organization.” From the writer’s view, ethical reflection must be part of the process in decision-making. Thus, the members will become competent in argumentative analysis, and ethical reflection then organizational ethics will become a creative and innovative human activity within the organization.


Brown, T. (2000). Working ethics: Strategies for decision making and organizational responsibility. Berkley, CA: Basic Resources.

Robbins, S. P. & DeCenzo, D. A. (2007). Supervision Today! (5th. ed.). New Jersey: Upper Saddle River, Prentice-Hall.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Gathering valid and honest information, especially at the executive and managerial levels, is difficult (Denton, 1994). Individuals within an executive’s circle of influence are often reluctant to give feedback openly for fear of reproach. As a result, many top executive do not receive the feedback necessary to change and improve their performance. Thus, it is necessary to have leadership skills assessed in order to find skills and behaviors that need improvement, and 360-degree-feedback instruments are the most effective type of leadership assessment available by providing a complete picture of performance and effectiveness. What we call “360-degree feedback” is a method of systematically collecting opinions about a manager’s performance from a wide range of coworkers, include peers, direct subordinates, the boss, and the boss’s peers, along with people outside the organization, such as customers, suppliers, and in some cases even family members (Chappelow, 2004). These instruments are designed to provide feedback on managerial strengths and weaknesses, and provide more accurate evaluation and effective communications. Three techniques for assessment are offered here: psychological testing, multisource assessment, and individual competence assessments. In addition, 360-degree feedback has many psychological aspects: person perception, impression formation, individuals’ conceptions of self, impression management, and behavioral change.

Developmental activities using 360-degree feedback is now widely used by human resources professionals and in leadership development programs, and has become one of the most popular methods for developing managers in organizations. More and more organizations are using this process to help improve the effectiveness of their managers. When a 360-degree-feedback instrument was used, besides showing managers their strengths and weaknesses, it will also assist managers with an individual development plan. The instruments decrease bias and provide candid data to channel managers into appropriate training programs or interventions. One of the more important ways that employees can develop is to receive ratings of their performance from their co-workers—bosses, peers, subordinates, and others. The 360 degree-feedback is a self-other rating agreement, and is the degree to which self-perceptions are congruent with the perceptions of others. It shows that very positive individual and organizational outcomes are expected for individuals whose self-ratings are in agreement with others that their performance is good.
Along with the increasing use of multi-rater feedback for development, there is an increased use of feedback for appraisal and decision making for pay and promotion. Bracken (1994) mentioned that a successful multi-racer process: (1) is reliable and provides consistent ratings, (2) is valid because it provides job-related feedback, (3) is easy to use, understandable, and relevant, (4) it creates positive change on an individual and organizational level. Feedback, once provided, will enable individuals to develop along these standards. Performance standards not only are essential for individual development, but they represent the link to organizational strategy. Carey (1995) asserts that 360-degree feedback can create productive relationships between managers and employees. These assessments can assist career planning, leadership development, cooperation and communication between individuals and departments, as well as foster preferred leadership styles. It also provides executives with understanding of the difference between performance and expectations. The purpose of 360-degree systems is not only assessment but also to provide feedback to stimulate improvement and to promote an organization’s strategic business objectives.

Each rater possesses a unique and valid perspective from which the performance of the focal manager can be assessed. When valid performance ratings from multiple perspectives are linked to developmental planning, goal-setting, and organizational support, the 360-degree feedback process can lead to positive outcomes for the focal managers as well as the organizational as a whole. A comprehensive 360-degree approach provides the opportunity to identify critical behaviors and the opportunity to determine qualified sources of feedback that can provide valid and useful data (Bernardin, Dahmus, & Redmon, 1993). The trend toward using 360-degree feedback allows employees to have control over evaluations. By the way, the appraisal system and the feedback assessment must fit within the organizational culture (Budman & Rice, 1994).

The implementation of 360-degree-feedback systems requires “ample planning and precaution.” The experience has shown that 360-degree-feedback can be a powerful tool, but it must be used wisely. Careful preparation will allow users to implement a 360-degree system that will meet organizational needs. Coates (1996) discusses his seven suggestions for preventing 360-feedback assessments from losing impact and effectiveness: (1) Learn the technology before inventing in it. (2) make sure the organization is prepared for the 360-degree process. (3) Use sell-researched and well-constructed survey items. (4) Protect the confidentiality of raters. (5) Use skilled facilitators to implement the process. (6) Follow up with developmental activities. (7) Separate developmental feedback from personnel and compensation decisions.

In the writer’s point of view, managers would be more concern on accountability when ratings by the rater. The outcomes will improve employee satisfaction with the work environment, significant behavior changes aligned with the organization’s objectives, and better individual and team performance that extends to external customers. Regardless of how it is collected, feedback should provide information about appropriate behaviors that can be recognized and changed. Organizations are best served when they provide employees with information necessary for their own leadership development, and this can best be achieved with multi-rater feedback. Organizations should encourage managers to take initiative in self-development and consider mandating extensive development-planning sessions for 360-degree-feedback programs. Receiving 360-degree feedback was generally helpful, but follow-through on development was the most critical factor in improving skills. How do managers’ skills develop after feedback? What affects the level of effort managers put into their development?


Bernardin, H. J., Dahmus, A. A., & Redmon, G. (1993). Attitudes of first-line supervisors toward subordinate appraisals. Human Resource Management 32: 2&3, pp. 315-324.

Bracken, D. W. (1994). Straight talk about multirate feedback. Training and Development, September, pp. 44-51.

Budman, M. & Rice, B. (1994). The rating game. Across the Board 31:2, February, pp. 35-38.

Carey, R. (1995). Coming around to 360-degree feedback. Performance, March, pp. 56-60.

Chappelow, C. T. (2004). 360 degree feedback. In MacCauley, C. D. & Van Velsor, E. (2004) (Eds.), Handbook of leadership development (pp. 58-84). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Coates, D. E. (1996). Multi-source feedback: Seven recommendations. Career Development International 1:3, pp. 32-36.

Denton, W. E. (1994). Developing employee skills to match company needs. Credit World, May/June, pp. 19-20.

Velsor, E. V., & McCauley, C. D. (2004). Our view of leadership development. In MacCauley, C. D. & Van Velsor, E. (2004) (Eds.), Handbook of leadership development (pp. 1-22). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.