Week 1 Learning Activities
Week 1: Aug 22 – 28
Theme #1: “As we look ahead into the 21st century, leaders will be those who empower others”. – Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
The 21st century leader is one whose role it is to shape the organization’s future hurdling obstacles set by the challenges of the fast-paced, technology driven, global environment. The shift from a goods-driven business landscape of the 20th century to a people driven landscape of the 21st century brings challenges to leaders that are uniquely people centric and focused on change. The 21st century leader is the “enlightened warrior,” a person whose job requires adaptability, knowledge, worldly sophistication, authenticity and above all the ability to lead change.
Theme #2: Leaders and managers are the backbone of a business but their roles and perspective in an organization are significantly different.
The leader and the manager differ greatly in an organization. The leader’s job is to provide the vision, mission, values, organizational structure and culture of the organization. They empower employees and foster followers to make the changes needed for the organization to remain competitive and accomplish its purpose and vision. The leader focuses on the internal and external forces that exert power upon the accomplishment of the organizations goal. The leader’s perspective is to define the future of the company, its purpose, its values, and ways of doing business. The leader’s perspective is long term goal oriented and focuses on decision making and the people centric flow of the organization.
The manager’s job is to organize the tasks, processes and procedures that fit within the organizational structure to accomplish the long term goals set by the leader. They motivate employees to accomplish those tasks to move the company forward toward the vision. The manager encourages employees to commit to the culture and climate of the organization while completing their assigned tasks. The manager’s perspective is to maintain the status quo while working with the leader to make changes for the future. The manager is short term goal oriented.
Post your introduction
Complete the Academic Integrity module
Participate in week 1 learning activities – Initial response due by Thursday, follow up response due by Sunday.
WEEK ONE: 21st century Leaders
Learning Activity #1
Joe Jackson owned a saw mill in Stuttgart, Arkansas. It was a family concern that had not changed in 50 years. Having grown up in the business Joe had never really investigated the strengths and weaknesses of his position as Vice President. His father was always the President and he and his older brother Jacob were the heirs. The business was in turmoil because his father’s health was precarious forcing him to step down. Joe’s brother was expecting to step up to the role of Vice President but Joe knew that was a mistake. The business itself was quickly eroding because of the sustainability issues facing the world. Joe could see this but not Jacob. Joe needed to have a long talk with Jacob to make him see his reasoning. Either they worked together for the future or Joe would have to take the lead role.
Prepare an outline of points for Joe to make in his discussion with his brother. Explain the role of the 21st century leader and why it differs from that of the 20th century leader. Make sure to use the course reading material, citing and referencing to validate the points you make.
Learning Activity #2
Click on the link below and fill out the chart to include the individual characteristics of a leader and manager in the categories named.
Learning Activity #3
In his article, “What Leaders Really Do,” Kotter (2001) stated, ” Managers promote stability while leaders press for change, and only organizations that embrace both sides of the contradiction can thrive in turbulent times” (p. 3).
In the fact pattern below Juan Para must make a decision about hiring June Davies. Keeping Kotter’s ideas in mind complete the following tasks:
Define the leader’s and manager’s approach (mindset) to solving the dilemma.
Determine Para’s solution if he used the leader’s perspective and then if he used the manager’s perspective.
Do you see a difference? If so what differences? If not, why not? Could the outcome be the same and still benefit the company?
Protection Insurance Stays Alive
At 7:30 a.m., Juan Para hit the snooze alarm for the third time, but he knew he could never go back to sleep. Rubbing his eyes and shaking off a headache, Para first checked his iPhone and read an urgent message from his boss, explaining that Jack Nixon, chief security analyst, had resigned last night and needed to be replaced immediately. Frustrated, Para lumbered toward the shower, hoping it would energize him to face another day. After last night’s management meeting, which had ended after midnight, he was reeling from the news that his employer, Protection Insurance, was spiraling toward a financial meltdown.
Para scratched his head and wondered, “How could one of the world’s largest insurance companies plummet from being the gold standard in the industry to one struggling for survival?” At the end of 2007, Protection Insurance had $100 billion in annual revenues, 65 million customers, and 96,000 employees in 130 countries. One year later and staggered by losses stemming from the credit crisis, Protection Insurance teetered on the brink of failure and was in need of emergency government assistance. Protection Insurance had been a victim of the meltdown in the credit markets. The collapse of this respected financial institution sent shock waves throughout the world’s economy.
Within Protection Insurance’s Manhattan office, Para and his coworkers felt growing pressure to respond to this crisis quickly and ethically. But morale was sagging and decision making was stalled. New projects were on hold, revenues weren’t coming in fast enough, and job cuts were imminent. Finger-pointing and resignations of key managers had become commonplace. Strong leadership was needed to guide employees to stay the course. Para knew his first priority was to replace Jack Nixon. When leaving the meeting last night, his boss had told him, “It’s critical that we keep key managers in place as we weather this storm. If we lose any managers, be sure you replace them with ones who can handle the stress and can make tough and even unpopular decisions.”
Working up a sweat as he rushed into his office, Para began sorting through the day’s priorities. His first task would be to consider internal candidates to replace Nixon. He pondered the characteristics required of a chief securities analyst and scribbled them on a notepad: experienced in security and regulatory issues; strong decision-making skills; high ethical standards; able to make job cuts; comfortable with slashing budgets; and respected for calm leadership. Para immediately thought of June Davies, a senior analyst who had been vocal about her desire to move up and had recently shown steady leadership as the organization started to crumble.
Davies had worked her way up through the organization, becoming a respected expert in her field. She had developed a strong team of loyal employees and made training and job development a priority. She was likable, sensitive to her employees, and a consensus builder. While many managers within Protection Insurance had made questionable business decisions, June had held herself to a high ethical standard and created a culture of integrity. Davies was focused on the future—a go-getter who knew how to get results.
With the future of the company at stake; however, Para wondered if Davies could handle the tough challenges ahead. Although he valued her team-building skills, she could be soft when it came to holding employees accountable. A large part of her motivation was to have people like her. When she reported a shortfall in earnings in the last company meeting and came under fire, she became defensive and did not want to point fingers at employees who were to blame. In fact, Para recalled another instance when Davies recoiled at the thought of firing an employee who had developed a pattern of poor attendance while caring for her sick husband. She confessed a hesitation to confront poor performers and employees struggling to balance home and work life.
Para stirred his morning coffee and wondered aloud, “Is June Davies capable of balancing kindness and toughness during a crisis? Can I count on her to be decisive and focused on top- and bottom-line results? Is she too much of a people pleaser? Will it impact her ability to lead successfully?”
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