When the storm breaks

June 4, 2015

The storm around FIFA reaches a new intensity as President Sepp Batter prepares to step down, and revelations of corruption by Supergrass Chuck Blazer are made public IMG_1409

3rd June 2015

Three days after his defiant acceptance of reappointment as President, Sepp Blatter stands down ‘in the interests of the organization’. What might have changed?

The news came in a rapidly-convened and unexpected press conference. Blatter The President suggested that his change of mind was a result of realizing his appointment was unacceptable to players, fans and to others in the great game of football.

He also indicated he would drive through the radical changes needed. This is if anything is as implausible now than when he made similar claims on his reappointment. His statement has presented a dilemma to an incoming leader and others in and outside FIFA. How will a new leader have freedom to introduce independent change if the outgoing leader is intent on initiating the process?
This suggests that Mr Blatter will not be able to cling to this proposed interim position.

The Tipping Point?

Consensus among commentators is that a critical incident has occurred maybe in the last few hours prior to the press conference. The emerging criminal investigations, particularly from the United States, are producing the butterfly wing flap that triggered the storm.

Another possible explanation is favored in an article in the Independent. This involved a bribery claim before the vote which appointed South Africa to hold the 2010 World Cup.

The Guardian suggested that Blatter had been urged by close aides to change his decision. A possible trigger point came from reports from America that Blatter was among those to be investigated for money laundering and tax evasion.

June 4th 2015

The storm breaks

LWD correspondent Paul Hinks noted:

As we keep saying, there will be more to come from this story. Suspect we’ll hear more from the accused, Blatter himself maybe dragged into the corruption allegations and questioned.

I keep thinking about President Bush’s reference to ‘Axis of evil’ … perhaps Blatter had an ‘Axis of evil’ or and ‘Axis of corruption’ that underpinned his power play.

I heard on Radio 4’s news this morning that Greg Dyke has suggested that FIFA bring in forensic accountants to go through FIFA’s books and trace the ‘lost’ funds? Good idea; FIFA desperately need to rebuild and regain trust; not easily achieved.

There’s also a nagging part of me that wants to recognise the good in Blatter’s (/FIFA’s) vision to encourage football development in countries like Africa … it’s just Blatter failed the ethics test in attempting to realise his goal.

Now [June 4th 2015] there’s the breaking news that Chuck Blazer [FIFA exec and US Supergrass] knew about the bribes: Fifa crisis: Ex-official Chuck Blazer details bribe-taking

June 8th 2015

FIFA official says that evidence of corrupt practices in the bidding process may be result in new votes for 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

June 11th 2015

Unconfirmed reports that Sepp Blatter is reconsidering stepping down.

European Parliament to intervene in FIFA constitutional crisis, and asks Mr Blatter to step down.

July 16th 2015

Various stories have developed in the last month concerning FIFA officials facing charges over financial dealings and corrupt practices. FIFA returns for first meeting since May to consider radical reforms.

July 20th 2015

BBC story that Michel Platini has been asked to stand as next president of FIFA, with adequate support from all FIFA regions.

To be continued


Dating site wins battle with Mozzila over gay rights stance of CEO Eich

April 4, 2014

The dating site OkCupid launched an on-line attack on the web-browser Mozilla for the perceived anti-gay stance of Mozilla’s new CEO Brendan Eich. Within days, Eich and other board members of Mozilla resigned

I noted this story as I am a user of Mozilla’s Firefox browser. I am also interested in the dilemmas behind leadership decisions, as these offer excellent starting points for making sense of leadership stories. Is this a moral stance or a publicity-seeking piece of PR, I wondered.

A dilemma

Here’s my personal dilemma. I approve of the overall philosophy behind the ‘open-source’ policy of Firefox. The browser serves my purposes reasonably well, with one distinct advantage over rivals who seem increasingly activating business models blatantly putting their commercial interests over the needs of their users. So there are ethical and pragmatic reasons for me to continue to support Mozzila’s Firefox.

It’s April Fool’s day

I came across the when scanning for April Fool’s day stories, and was suspicious of its authenticity at first. If it is a prank, it had been widely reported.

An ethical dilemma

So the ethical issue for me is an example of what Susan Sucher of Harvard calls the right versus right dilemma.

A tipping point?

I hesitate to use the term tipping point, but that’s how the story developed. A few days later, [April 3rd, 2014] pressure from its own Firefox users was followed by the resignation of the CEO and other members of the board. Here’s how the BBC’s Dave Lee reported it:

Brendan Eich was appointed just last month but came in for heavy criticism for his views on same-sex marriage. Mozilla’s executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker announced the decision in a blog post. Mr Eich, who co-founded Mozilla and was also the creator of the JavaScript scripting language, made a $1,000 (£600) donation in 2008 in support of Californian anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8. When the announcement of Mr Eich’s appointment was made [24 March, 2014] angry users voiced their opinions on social media. Several high-profile Mozilla employees also weighed in.

Three board members resigned in the weekend following Mr Eich’s appointment – but Mozilla said the events were not linked. But the most damaging act of protest came via dating website OkCupid. Users who went to the site using Mozilla’s Firefox browser were greeted with a message that read: “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla.

I didn’t see that coming.


The America’s Cup 2013 and the Ainslie effect

September 27, 2013

America's Cup 2013The victory this week by the American team Oracle, in the prestigious America’s cup yachting competition was hailed as one of the all-time great sporting recoveries. It coincided with a leadership intervention. It is tempting to see a simple cause and effect relationship.

Background:

The BBC account [September 26 2013] recorded the astonishing comeback:

Sir Ben Ainslie’s Oracle Team USA sealed one of sport’s greatest comebacks when they overhauled an 8-1 deficit to beat Team New Zealand [The Emirates, Nexpresso] in the America’s Cup decider in San Francisco. The holders won eight straight races to triumph 9-8 after being docked two points for cheating in the build-up. Oracle surged to victory by 44 seconds to retain the Cup they won in 2010.

The Kiwis won four of the first five races, making Oracle modify their boat and call Ainslie from the warm-up crew. The British sailing legend, 36, a four-time Olympic champion, was drafted in as tactician in place of American veteran John Kostecki and was instrumental in the US outfit’s resurgence.

“It’s been one of the most amazing comebacks ever, I think, almost in any sport but certainly in sailing and to be a part of that is a huge privilege,” said Ainslie, who combined superbly with Oracle’s Australian skipper James Spithill and strategist Tom Slingsby, another Australian who won Laser gold at London 2012, to drag the syndicate back from the brink in the most remarkable turnaround in the event’s 162-year history.

The New Zealanders, with impressive early pace upwind and slicker boat handling, opened up a seven-point lead (six to minus one) as Oracle’s crew and equipment changes took effect. But the US outfit, bankrolled by software billionaire Larry Ellison, were soon up to speed and won 10 of the next 12 races to lift the oldest trophy in international sport.

The Kiwis, led by skipper Dean Barker, came within two minutes of glory in race 13 in uncharacteristic light winds before organisers abandoned the race because the 40-minute time limit had elapsed. In the decider on San Francisco Bay, Team New Zealand edged a tight start and beat Oracle to the first mark. The Kiwis stayed clear around the second mark but lost the lead to the Americans early on the upwind leg. After briefly retaking the advantage, the Kiwis then watched as Oracle stormed ahead with remarkable upwind pace and remained clear for a comfortable win.

The ‘Ainslie and momentum’ story

One story is that faced with a deficit of 8-1 in a first to 9 match, the Americans called for Ainslie, and Oracle won eight straight races. Ainslie described how ‘momentum’ had swung in favour of the Oracle team during the fight back.

An alternative analysis

After four straight losses, the Oracle team introduced a whole series of changes, including serious technical modifications and personnel adjustments. Increased competitive performances followed, but another four races were lost. Then a win, almost certainly seen as a consolation before eventual capitulation. Even with an edge in performance, Oracle would have to survive all literal and metaphorical ill-winds for all eight remaining races. The team was close to losing the match in race 13, which was abandoned, boats becalmed, with their opponents well ahead. That would have ended the beautiful story of a glorious fight back.

In this alternative analysis, a series of changes both of technical and behavioural kind resulted in a significant improvement in performance. There was no identifiable tipping point, although one seems likely to be created in hindsight as the appointment of Ainslie.

Implications

Beware of simple causal explanations of change processes. Test theoretical explanations based on terms such a a tipping point or a momentum swing against the evidence of what happened in practice. In the UK the team has been regularly described as Ainslie’s team. The notion of distributed leadership has a long way to go.


How will Google deal with the threat of the smart phone?

October 21, 2012

Google’s biggest threat may be from changes to personal search habits triggered by mobile phone users

Weaknesses revealed in the Facebook financial model at its Initial Public Offering [IPO] recently, are now suggesting related problems at Google.

Google’s business model under scrutiny

For Facebook, the weakness in the valuation of its shares was considered by commentators as difficulties in converting its billion or so friends into means of selling advertising opportunities to commercial clients. Google’s business model has also come under scrutiny, after last week’s embarrassing leak of its financial figures [18th October, 2012].

A tipping point?

A minor operational error at Google last week involving a premature release of poor financial figures resulted in a stock-market blip. But the blip is now being taken more seriously. and has been tagged on to wider criticisms of the Company’s business model. If you believe in tipping points (and I’m not sure I do), it’s a tipping point.

The doom scenario

Such times call forth the doom scenario. On 20th October 2012, The popularist Daily Mail newspaper in the UK asked whether Google could disappear completely

As Google suffers a catastrophic nose-dive in its market value, analysts are already predicting its demise as the world’s lead Internet search engine.
Advertising revenues are falling — and will continue to fall — for Internet companies because consumers are increasingly migrating to mobile applications and advertisers aren’t willing to pay as much for [advertising through mobile phone platforms]

Realisation is dawning

Realisation is dawning that what is happening to Facebook is part of a wider economic shift.

“I keep saying Facebook isn’t the only one that has a mobile issue — Google does, too,” Colin Gillis, an analyst for Boston Consulting Group, told CNBC.com. “I keep saying Facebook isn’t the only one that has a mobile issue — Google does, too. If you are an investor in Facebook, ‘mobile’ is priced into earnings. I don’t think mobile in Google is priced in.”

The deepening story

The deepening story this week brought news that a dispute in Brazil has resulted in Brazil’s National Association of Newspapers [ANJ] saying that all its 154 members are following its advice to ban Google News from accessing content free.

Since 2010, the ANJ had experimented with giving Google News free access to its first few lines of stories. Google had sold them the idea that the arrangement would grow traffic for the Brazilian sites. But it turned out that it has, if anything, reduced traffic.

If the ban continues, Brazilian Internet users will still be able to find content if they use Google rather than Google News in searches. But Google says newspapers and news aggregators should be able to reach a negotiated solution to the problem.

Charging the taxi driver

Google’s Public Policy Director, Marcel Leonardi, suggested that the ANJ’s demands are like charging a taxi-driver for taking tourists to eat at a particular restaurant. But Google says newspapers and news aggregators should be able to reach a negotiated solution to the problem.

Page remains upbeat

Unsurprisingly, Google co-founder Larry Page was more upbeat, telling investors [19th October, 2012] that the company was uniquely well-placed to exploit mobile phone technologies, which he saw as in a transitional stage leading to multiple screen usage.

Page was making his first public speaking appearance since June 2012, a silence which had begun to produce health rumours.

Google executive arrested in Brazil

In another story, a senior Google executive in Brazil was arrested [Sept 26th 2012] for failing to comply with a judicial order to take down You Tube materials ruled to be in violation of the country’s electoral law.

Update

August 17 2018

The turbulent events covered in this post may (or may not) have contributed to the restructuring of Google into Alphabet


Mubarak watch

February 5, 2011

The events of political turmoil in Egypt in the first two weeks of February 2011 are followed and evaluated for lessons of leadership and the management of change

Saturday February 11th Mubarak is gone. For Egypt there will now be a lengthy period in which the speed of change slows. Mubarak watch concludes. For status reports see
The Los Angeles Times
Aljazera
The Guardian/Observer

Friday February 10th

Friday mid-afternoon. Mubarak’s resignation announced. Much more to follow.

Mr Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the high command of the armed forces.
“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said.

Thursday evening, the world’s media turned to Tahrir Square. News was the Mubarak would speak to the nation to announce his resignation. Crowds expecting victory. Then dismay as Mubarak offers little. Confusion. Anger. “God help Israel now ” one commentator remarked. Fears for the next 24 hours.

Thursday February 9th

Intelligent discussion on BBC’s Newsnight. Historians plus activist spokesperson from Cairo. Lessons from history: revolutions result in emergence of ‘the strong leader’. Overnight, news of further initiatives, strikes in various parts of Egypt said to be ‘spontaneous’. Newsnight tested proposition that the protest could not bring down the Mubarak regime. Not easy to reduce to a logical proposition. Practically, Mubarak authority has been seriously and irrevocably damaged. He has lost unconditional support of his powerful ally the United States.

Wednesday February 8th Overnight view is broadly that there had been renewed efforts (if only in numbers) by the protestors in Cairo yesterday. Worth checking on the country-wide situation. A wikileaks view assembled by The New York Times mostly confirms what has been written about Mubarak’s negotiaons for US aid in return for his claimed ‘stong’ policies maintaining peace in the region. He viewed the removal of Saddam as a huge mistake which he believed made his own continued rule even more critical.
Tuesday February 8th In search of a leader? Aljazeera reports freeing of Google executive Wael Ghonim, whose facebook page has been considered to have triggered off the protests in Cairo.

Monday February 7th Overnight news indicates that the situation in Cairo has reached an impasse. The New York Times suggests it presents a dilemma for the Obama regime. Stock exchange opening has been postponed for 24 hours, as the government attempts to sell $2.5bn in short-term debt.

Sunday February 6th Muslim brotherhood in talks. Aljazeera suggests these to be ‘critical’ to next stage of events in Egypt. US sends mixed messages regarding the need for Mubarak to oversee a smooth transition of power. Brief opening of banks reminds us of the financial crisis running with the political one.

Saturday Feb 5th Yesterday’s ‘day of departure’ is now evaluated as no clear tipping point. Around 100,000 rather than a million people were reported around Tahrir Square. The possiblity of a longer struggle is now firming up.

One of the leaders of the protesters, George Ishaq of the Kifaya (Enough) movement, told the BBC they intend reduce their presence in Tahrir Square, holding big demonstrations on Tuesdays and Fridays.
“Protesters will remain in Tahrir Square on all days of the week,” he said on Friday [4th Feb, 2011]. “But each Friday, there will be a demonstration like today.”

Friday Feb 4th This was the day announced in advance as the day when a million protesters would symbolically end the Mubarak regime. But the tone of reporting of a few days earlier has been somewhat muted. There is greater concern that there is more of a temporary condition of stalemate.

Another voice was raised in support of Mubarak, President Berlusconi of Italy, himself facing a struggle to survive politically. Like Tony Blair he considers the merits that stability of regime has brought to the wider Middle East.

Feb 3rd Situation is confused. Voice of America suggests that the Pro-Mubarak forces are gaining ground. The BBC however reports gains by the opposition demonstrators. What is clear that there have been fatalities acknowledged. Prime Minster Ahmed Shafiq broadcast an apology for the fighting, which has killed nine and wounded hundreds and promised an investigation. Tomorrow is the scheduled ‘day of a million protestors’.

Feb 2nd Reports a few days ago were talking of repid removal of the President from power. Now the tone is of more organized efforts to resist the revolutionary forces concentrated in Cairo. Jeremy Bowen of the BBC described events

Since I arrived a week ago I have seen no significant demonstrations for President Mubarak. But from the morning there were thousands of his supporters on Cairo’s streets, mobilised presumably by the ruling party, the NDP. The pro-Mubarak demonstrations were well organised, not spontaneous. Numbered buses unloaded supporters. Many placards looked as if they had been made by professional sign writers. Their opponents claim that they are paid to demonstrate. For an authoritarian leader like Hosni Mubarak, the sight of so many people in Tahrir Square calling for his removal must have been deeply humiliating. He will have wanted to reassert his authority over his capital city – and his supporters were given the job.


Pakistan’s Floods and Mr Zardari’s Leadership Dilemmas

August 9, 2010

Floods in Pakistan are producing one of the major humanitarian crises since its formation. The President on an overseas trip has come under intense criticism from the country’s media

President Zardari appears to be severe political pressure [August 2010]. As a young man in his early 30s, he married Benazir Bhutto in 1987, who became Prime Minister of Pakistan shortly afterwards. Zardari was appointed a member of the National Assembly, later serving as investment and environment minister. However, he quickly became a politician who repeatedly faced personal setbacks.

Mr 10%

Zardari’s opponents later began using the controversial nickname, “Mr 10%“, referring to the charges of corruption levelled against him. According to a BBC profile,

After a change of Government he was imprisoned on charges of corruption and murder (charges of which he was later cleared). He spent two separate terms in prison totalling eleven and a half years. At his swearing-in ceremony, Mr Zardari said he was accepting the post of president in the name of his assassinated wife, Benazir Bhutto. Mr Zardari had long lived in the shadow of his late charismatic wife, who was twice Pakistan’s prime minister and head of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – a position Mr Zardari inherited upon her death in December 2007.

The Current Controversy

The BBC picked up the story again recently:

The Pakistani media’s criticism of President Asif Ali Zardari over his visit to the United Kingdom has been unprecedented. Newspapers and television news have criticised him for being absent when Pakistan was struck by the worst floods in living memory. The absent president has been criticised by the international media for his apparent indifference. But in Pakistan, the media’s scorn has a deeper meaning and motive. It hints at tensions between the country’s civilian democracy and the powerful military establishment. The current anti-Zardari campaign in the media started before the floods hit the headlines. The criticism began after British Prime Minister David Cameron made remarks in India on 28 July [accusing] some in Pakistan of “looking both ways”, exporting terror to neighbouring countries.

A Leadership Dilemma

Political leaders accept repeated attacks from their political opponents. They have to judge the impact of any of their actions in terms of consequential damage to their position both at home and internationally. From countless examples in history, leaders are reluctant to be absent from the epicentre of events. So why did Mr Zardari not curtail his period overseas as the domestic crisis deepened?

BBC’s Ilyas Khan offered various possibilities. The actions of Mr Zardari suggest the trip was in part to achieve dynasty-building, advancing the political career of his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Furthermore, to cancel the trip had its own undesirable consequences. He risked being portrayed as vacillating, and perhaps also being seen as fearful of the power of his adversaries in Pakistan’s military establishment. In short, Zardari faced a leadership dilemma. To proceed according to intentions after the scale of the humanitarian crisis in his country became clear. Or to return earlier than planned, which would protect him from accusations of insensitivity but expose him to charges that he was a weak leader engaging in gesture politics.

A Tipping Point?

In analysing business events past or present, it is simplistic to assume there are simple explanatory cause-effect chains at play. Leadership research has increasingly examined critical incidents in terms of sense-making. Any action can be mapped on to a prior belief system. Rather, it helped those opposed to him to confirm their view that he was acting according to their beliefs.

Students of leadership might consider whether the recent actions of the President will become regarded as a tipping-point which change the political fortunes of Mr Zardari. Or whether they were no more than a convenient way for his opponents to explain their actions in seeking to displace him.


Murray v Federer: A Glimpse of Momentum

March 3, 2008

andy-murray.jpg

Update

Wimbledon 2008. Murray beats Gasquet in the third round [Monday 30th June 2008]. The match had similarities in momentum swing to his victory over Federer in Dubai, earlier in the year

The Original Post

Andy Murray defeats Roger Federer in Round one of the Dubai Tennis Open. I never really understood momentum in sport, but this afternoon I glimpsed how it might be a matter of filling in the dots [Sense making].

I have difficulty with concepts such as motivation, empowerment, and momentum. The terms are used often when no more specific explanation can be offered, in sport as well as in business and politics.

This afternoon [March 3rd 2008] I watched a thrilling tennis match. It was transmitted from Dubai, where Roger Federer was widely expected to confirm his status as World number one. He was playing in the first round against the improving young Scot Andy Murray. Murray indicated in advance that he was likely to learn a lot from the game, which is not the most positive statement ever made before a sporting contest.

The first set lived up to expectations. Murray is a promising but volatile young talent, likely to improve beyond his ranking at present. He kept pace with Federer in the first set, which went into a tie break, with neither player dropping service.

Murray grabbed a lead in the tie-break, then dropped it, and Federer as smooth and cool as ever, won a tightly contested first set.

That’s it, then. Federer to go on to win. He had won twenty five of the last twenty seven matches he’s played at the Dubai tournament. During that first set he played to the high level expected of him, also finding exceptional shots from time to time.

Murray survived the Federer onslaught, and even showed some flashes of improvised brilliance himself. His service has been improving in fits and starts as he made his rapid climb up the rankings over thr last two years. Today his serve was as solid and as powerful as I have ever seen it.

What happened next?

What happened next was very unexpected. The near- immaculate style of Roger Federer began to seem less awesome than usual. His was still finding those brilliant winners. But he was also playing a few shots slightly off-balance, and making unforced errors.

I don’t watch tennis with a notebook to hand for blog posts about sporting leadership. But something rare was taking place here. I found a scrap of paper and scribbled a few notes. Here are the unedited scribbles which began at the start of the second set:

F has changed the way he played. Indication of a drop in intensity. Got to 1:2.
Lost serve for first time. Momentum lost by RF. Murray keeps his cool and wins set.

Momentum now lost by RF. Still a bit down [in intensity]. If it wasn’t Federer [playing] you’d expect M to win now.

Murray gets to 4:2.

Will Murray win? Still not totally sure …

Murray 5:3

RF is out of gas.

Wins his serve to 5:4 but Murray is not going flat out. Willing to take it to his serve.

Wins serve. Wins match. He didn’t get down on himself at points lost, even ‘unlucky’ line calls.

Momentum, intensity, or what?

Here’s what I think. Momentum is difficult to pin down because it is a process not a single event. We may be jolted into awareness by a single surprise event, and quickly ‘fill in the dots’ of other events close in time to the ‘tipping point’, and anticipate what will happen in the near future.

I think the tipping-point for me was a clumsy missed backhand by Federer, accompanied by what I described as a drop in intensity.

I didn’t write it down, but I even formed the impression that the great man was, well, a kilo or so visibly over weight.

That’s the sense made of what I was seeing. If I observed anything that could be corroborated, it was those loose shots, evidence of a Federer not in complete balance and control.

Murray played to his best, and several outstanding points. These were particularly noticeable as he was closing in on the win in the third set.

A tentative conclusion

Andy Murray won a closely contested match in which Federer seemed to lose momentum that he might have been expected to maintain after winning the first set. The result seemed to have come about because a great player had a dip in intensity in his play, and another potentially great player who didn’t.

At the time, spectators make sense of what is happening as if they have figured out the plot in a movie. As the oracle might have put it … ‘And a great man will taste defeat’.

In other words, momentum is a story created in the minds of the observers, based on our ‘filling in the dots’ of what we have observed and remembered.

All this is a lot less exciting than the actual match was. By maybe, just maybe, it offers a clue into that elusive process of momentum.

Acknowledgement

Image of Andy Murray from wikipedia commons


Leading in theory and practice

February 11, 2008

death-of-nelson.jpgThere’s an old joke about how academics view the world. On learning of some leadership achievement, they are inclined to remark ‘That’s all very well in practice … but does it work in theory?’

Theories of leadership abound. It’s finding ones to support leadership practice that turn out to be the more challenging assignment …

Here are four topics explored at Manchester Business School [February 13th, 2008] by Vice-Admiral Charles Style with an audience of business, military, and sporting leaders. I’ve provided a few of those ‘does it work in theory’ footnotes to go with the rich mix of shared experiences of the practitioners.

Leading in dynamic and challenging circumstances

The buzzword here is turbulence. For much of history, great leadership has been mythologised as the exercise of exceptional skills under extreme and unclear circumstances. More recently, the theories have explored the nature or turbulence, with attention to unpredictability under so-called chaotic conditions.

The mathematical models sometimes gave way to middle-range theories such as the Tipping Point at which an old system flips over to a new one.

One of my favorite books came from The Center for Creative Leadership, and Stan Gryskiewicz who described Positive Turbulence. Stan has more recently founded an institute for the study of the subject.

Delegation and empowerment in others

Delegation became a cornerstone of modern management theories. Perhaps wrongly, I assumed it had seen somehow sidelined from Business School courses, perhaps dismissed as too trivial a concept to be worthy of mention any more. Perhaps it is mentioned in the behavioral model of Tannenbaum and Schmidt

The practicing leader must find pause for one of the toughest questions ‘what must I do do myself, and what am I better leaving to others to do?’. This is what T&S suggests. Another question might me ‘If I don’t do it myself, how can I influence others to do it?’ This is a question to which the model doesn’t give too many answers.

Empowerment remains a buzzword, but to me there is too much rhetoric, and insufficient encouragement to accept that empowerment poses leaders with similar dilemmas to that posed by the delegation questions.

The human dynamics of leadership and strategic implementation

After a hundred years of trait theories ‘what leaders are’ we became interested in the dynamics of leadership ‘what leaders do’.

One of the more important issues is what effective leaders do. Strategic leadership is a particularly important arena in which these matters are played out.

The leader’s personal value added

This brings us the last question. What price can we put on good leadership? The Resource Based Theory (RBT) of the firm has brought a fresh perspective to the question.

RBT teaches us that an organisation succeeds by utilizing ‘hard to copy’ resources, which usually refer to skills and knowledge residing in its people including leaders.

Leading in theory and practice

The Manchester Business School has directed its attention on a leadership approach which combines theory and practice. Whether this comes under the rubric of Manchester Method, Action Learning, or Leadership development is less important than a commitment to leading in theory and practice.


Cruz missile ditched at Morgan Stanley

December 4, 2007

zoe-cruz.jpg

Zoe Cruz of Morgan Stanley is the latest high-profile financial leader to depart in the wake of the sub-prime turbulence. The current bloodletting increasingly appears to be more symbolic than rational

According to Forbes

Zoe Cruz was promoted to acting president in 2005, after a glittering career in the company she had joined twenty years earlier. Her promotion occured at a time of considerable board-room battles.

She was regarded as a supporter of Philip Purcell who controversially replaced President Stephan Newhouse and appointed Zoe Cruz and Stephen S. Crawford as Co-Presidents. Several senior figures left the organization at the time, presumably caught up in the in-fighting. Subsequently Crawford also left, and Cruz became the sole ‘acting’ president.

Capella University’s useful executive remuneration site reports that her compensation package amounts to $17 million, hardly big potatoes in these times for someone whose bonuses had pushed past $7 million a year in the recent past.

Financial correspondent Tom Bawden suggested that

The departure from Morgan Stanley of Zoe Cruz, Wall Street’s highest-paid female executive, has heightened fears that the firm is poised to unveil further mortgage-related writedowns. Her exit comes just three weeks after John Mack, the bank’s chief executive, is thought to have reiterated that she was his favoured successor. However, Ms Cruz, 52, was responsible for the division which made the loss-making mortgage investments and appears to have been sacrificed as the latest high-profile Wall Street victim of the credit crisis.

According to the report, the epithet Cruz missile is a reference to her combative business style. However, Mack had publically acknowledged her significant role in the company’s success over recent years.

Her departure has resulted in speculation that the dismissals have also created opportunities for the pool of available and talented executives such as Cruz. Mention has been made of Citygroup.

The BBC quotes a senior financial analyst, David Easthope

“The captains are going down with the ship. Whether they are rising stars or not doesn’t matter. The losses are so large and embarrassing to the organization that they are getting rid of people to satisfy the public perception that they are fixing things.”

Echoes here of tipping point theory of change.

The theory of tipping points, which has its roots in epidemiology, hinges on the insight that in any organization, fundamental changes can occur quickly when the beliefs and energies of a critical mass of people create an epidemic movement toward an idea.

leadership questions

Can we learn more about the nature of leadership as a symbolic process through study of the well-documented demise of high profile leaders?

Might the case anecdotes also permit an evaluation of the nature of tipping points within periods of change?