Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Experiential Case Study of Leadership Issues Within The Organization

 An Experiential Case Study of Leadership Issues Within The Organization
Mr. Valerian B-K. Masao II

Introduction to the Organization and Its Leadership

This student is working for a Not-For-Profit (NFP) organization that was established in 1833 providing a caring culture to support needy women and children through a foundling asylum program. The NFP organization’s initial programs have changed over the duration of time, but the needs of the clients, communities and families are still the same; i.e. to feel dignified, to receive comfort, to obtain guidance that mature, flourish quality and include productive human values. The mission of the NFP organization is to empower children, adults and families to build brighter futures; whereas its values are within its team of employees who are loyal and represent pride respect, optimism, accountability, leadership and service to others. The NFP organization leadership aim is to have a vibrant and learning organizational culture. For example, Fagiano (1994), talked about requirements for creating successful corporate culture change that is not only part of statements or philosophies; but rather from leadership and management collectively to consistently back up what they say with their actions strengthening the “change” attitudes at all levels and on the daily activities.
The NFP organization has numerous professionals who are responsible for the collective makeup of the organizational values i.e. nurses, nurse aides, social workers, counselors, psychologists, behaviorists, social workers, direct care workers, qualified mental retardation professionals, clinicians, behaviorist, medical doctors, healthcare information technologists, teachers and teacher aides. These are certified and licensed professionals who run the NFP organization’s school campus, group homes, diagnostic units, residents, day treatment center, community services and other official programs. When these skillful professionals are able to visualize and align their values with the NFP organization it has the leadership’s credibility utilizing its “Best Human Asset Management” context (Fitz-Enz, 1997, p. 13), by tapping on its professionals/employees’ skills through optimizing team development and general organizational performance which are the leadership aptitudes that embrace team building, team player and having the competence to choose the right team players (Levasseur, 2011).
The NFP’s organizational goal is to empower youth who are developmentally disabled individuals and families to build perkier futures, and to endure with such valuable commitment in sustaining the lasting service and care to the communities the organizations serves. Certainly, leaders of the organization must have an ambitious purpose to influence people’s lives and must have good moral guiding values and principles (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).
At this NFP organization leadership is to be ethical, competent, have good character and moral values because leaders are responsible for culture change, which is the reflection on how things are done in the organization/society (Brown, 2011). Since its establishment, over 175 years ago, the NFP organization leadership team has been able to take charge by acting and influencing others to follow their directives toward common goals, objectives, and purposes.
According to Kouzes & Posner (2007), leadership is when someone assumes responsibility of him/herself inspiring others to accomplish common goals and extraordinary tasks. Thus, the NFP organization has had exemplary leaders who have strong beliefs about leadership values, which guide them as principles with unwavering commitments to this organization’s values, something that they managed to keep alive for over 175 years of service (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). Its leadership model and current model, is leading-by-example with personal accountability because the NFP organization’s employees, clients and families, government authorities, and surrounding communities depends heavily on the leadership to provide quality care and services.
The current NFP organization leader understands that successful leadership in this era is through shared visions and requires everyone to take leadership at his/her station and level. It means that anyone with the capacity of mobilizing and influence decisions that enable him/herself or others to act, inspire a shared vision, model the way, challenge the process and encourage the heart to bear the leadership responsibilities of him/herself, others and or an organization. Therefore, in this globalized world organizational change is inevitable and exemplary leadership practices that are inventive, supportive and comprehensive are compulsory for the leaders to manage the constant organizational change (Bennis, 1999).

The NFP Organization Leadership and Professionals Ethical Dilemmas

An experiential case study of leadership that this student has seen in his current organization is the ethical dilemma that leadership runs into every time when certified and licensed professionals have practiced their professional tasks yet at the same time align their values to those of organizational values. Any NFP organization leader must well align his/her values with the organization’s values because it will more likely prevent ethical dilemmas and clashes that can cause conflicting interests. The alignment of values and ethical standing points are the grand values within the NFP organization and it is sentimental for the NFP organization leader to have them because leaders must have a resilient basis of peculiar ethics, values and principles (Graber & Kilpatrick, 2008).
The NFP organization leadership orders the NFP management to manage care and services at the required levels both efficiently and effectively. Whereby the licensed and certified professionals go to the next level of ethical guidelines that require them to make sure they don’t do any harm and to serve the best interest of the clients/patients/individuals. These values tend to clash with the leadership values, through management, because the licensed and certified professionals are not meant to solemnly manage efficiency and effectiveness, if to do so will do harm or not serve the best interests of the clients/patients/individuals.
At the setting of the NFP organization the order from leadership can be ethical or unethical depending on the circumstances; such as who is executing such decisions, when and at what capacity. Given the cumbersome nature of implementation of such leadership order and back and forth clarification that is needed between the professionals, management and leadership, the level of care and services the NFP organization offers become imbedded with dilemmas. The ethical dilemma that leadership is facing involves executing its leadership and management decisions when it comes to the general welfare of its clients/patients/individuals and when licensed and certified professionals are involved. Therefore, leadership assessments should be an ongoing practice that can function as a continuous process that evaluate and mediate the outcomes for further regenerative assessment, knowledge base, and preparation for what the future may bring (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).   
During the 2008 economic meltdown, as the NFP organization was recovering, the management staged itself perceiving that it was always right, knew everything and was above these professions on everything; in result, some members of management entered the stage of denial, especially when there was a conflict between ethics, values and the code of conduct of these licensed and certified professional workers (Benzel, 2008).  Several times it ended up backfiring management by having full blown investigations by local and state governments through its governing agencies.  It was then that leadership understood the ethical dilemmas that were problematic, so they aligned their values with those of the certified and licensed professionals followed by management. The ethical dilemma that caused the investigations never became a problem since then. 
 The NFP organization’s licensed and certified professionals are confronted with values and ethical dilemmas when confronted by conflicting values such as when leadership or management interferes with their professional codes of conduct or their decision making process’ simply because they are not profitable or they are not aligned with leadership values. Often managers who initially did not do work as the above professions tend to overstep and overlook the input and values of these professional workers. For example, Saban & Wolfe (2009), researched schools across the America and they found that principals are facing an unnerving leadership duty and for them to become successful they need all kinds of support including the local, state and federal government leadership support.
Another value and ethical dilemma that NFP organization leadership got caught up with is the benefit and compensation adjustments that the organization had to make during the 2008 economic meltdown that eroded the NFP’s investments and those of its employees. Some professional employees left the NFP organization all together and some had to recheck their values and realign them with the newly adopted organization values. For the NFP organization management to retain such a functional number of professionals without operational set-back, sets a powerful testimony that leadership’s ability to establish a process of sharing aligned personal and organizational values can become the roadmap to sustainable, creative, and dynamic dealings among employees at the work place and during difficult times (Kouzes and Posner, 2007).
The value and ethical dilemma is when leadership decided to cut benefits and compensation of its professionals during the tough times and when the NFP organization lost its employees’ investments through the Wall Street gamble. It sent a signal to many professionals/employees that no matter how long they have committed their services to the NFP organization, leadership was not considerate, especially during the time of their need to lien on NFP organization for financial, employment, healthcare and sense of confidence that the NFP organization got its employees’ back. For example, a research found that organizational values as a more important prognosticator of job satisfaction than personal values; for instance if organizations stress on justice it may personally satisfy employees, and when they stress on harmony it extrinsically satisfied employees; thus, an organization has to focus on combined factors in order to gratify and encourage employees to become more effective producers (Kumar, 2012). This sounds like a balanced approach that advocates for good leadership values and ethics.

The Exemplary Leadership Values

Through its mission, vision, values and goals the NFP organization founders and leaders were able to foresee the future by predicting the opportunities it brings and understand that the care and services it provides are noble, ideal and unique images of the shared vision for the mutual benefit of the individuals, their families and the communities (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). The NFP organization has had exemplary leaders that benefited both the organization and communities it serves. This is consistent with the research findings by Kouzes & Posner (2007), furthered that leadership has five exemplary leadership practices, which are common amongst all leaders i.e. enable others to act, inspire a shared vision, model the way, challenge the process and encourage the heart.
When it comes to ethical dilemmas like above examples, the NFP organization leadership need to resolve the conflicts by using what this student uses, the open door policy, which allows him to coordinate multi services and care the NFP organization provide by have a long and short term strategies in the biweekly treatment team meetings. Working with professionals and employees is the winning strategy because there are sets of rules, values, ethics moral characters and expectations enticed in these professionals. According to Benzel (2008), leaders have a number of ways to establish and maintain credibility i.e. by stating conclusions cautiously, learning from others without rush to judgment, honoring others with respect and dignity, acknowledging when not knowing the solutions, and expressing regret for errors on pitiable decisions.
NFP organization leaders need to have exemplary leadership values aligning their values to the NFP organization and learn quickly adjusting from common errors that can create ethical dilemmas. An exemplary leader here will need to modernize the NFP organization’s short-term and long-term viewpoints by asking and answering questions that accentuate on the employees growth and their motivated convictions that contest the status quo; whereby managers administer leadership’s directions by probing, emphasizing on the system, upholding and assuring control that implements short-term leadership viewpoints (Reynolds & Warfield, 2010).
At this NFP organization, leadership states conclusions cautiously, learning from others without rush to judgment, honoring others with respect and dignity, recognizing when not knowing the solutions, but striving to get one, expressing regret for errors on pitiable decisions, thriving to optimize a brighter future, and learning from the past mistakes (Benzel, 2008). This is an evolving and regenerative leadership process. Thus, employees, members and management are subjected to answer to the leadership’s directions.
The NFP organization understands well that leadership assessments are processes used to improve and empower a leader’s ability to lead with confidence and self-assurance in an unstable, ambiguous, complex and during crisis situations. Therefore, leaders must be experienced and knowledgeable to formulate organizational culture, because this position is the powerful driving force that creates organizational culture change through strategic leadership (Fitz-Enz, 1997). It’s about the leader’s performance to create the environment and culture of employees to welcome change and challenge by combining their effort to attain common goals; also successful leaders transform the employees and the organization’s “values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations, separateness into solidarity, and risks into rewards” (Kouzes & Posner, 2012, p. 3-4).
It is necessary for the exemplary leaders to manage the image of the organization and also to stir the direction of the organization toward the path of growth and prosperity. Therefore, it is imperative for leaders to follow the laws and adhere to society manners and ethics that help them to mediate between their association and moral identity to avoid conflicts of unethical behavior and bad relationships (Mayer, Aquino, Greenbaum, & Kuenzi, 2012). In this case study the NFP organization’s leadership is the proven evolving factor that demonstrates magnifying positions that need improvement, especially when dilemmas arise and lessons are learned. Exemplary leaders need to have shared visions and to learn quickly, while aligning their values in this constant changing environment and reflect to the contemporary change.


According to Kouzes and Posner (2007), “Leadership is everyone’s business.  No matter what your position is, you have to take responsibility for the quality of leadership your constituents get.  You – and that means all of us – are accountable for the leadership you demonstrate” (p.339).  Therefore, successful and exemplary leader is someone who is able to empower everyone as a team to take personal pride and responsibility of personal leadership that makes extraordinary things to happen. Consequently, distrusted employees and or distrusting leaders put the entire organization at risk of becoming unproductive. This sums up the importance of what Groysberg & Slind (2012), articulated leadership as the ability to physically, mentally and emotional communicate values and goals to the employees without distortion.
What this student finding attests in this experiential case study of leadership issues, while working with the NFP organization, is that values and ethical dilemmas caused between the leadership and licensed and or certified professionals were because of power struggles among the involved parties. Often values and ethical dilemmas happen when parties did not take leadership and or responsibilities. When incidents like these happen leadership’s credibility becomes untrustworthy and it puts a negative environment for the entire organization through the leadership and management that is responsible for working with these professionals to achieve the organizational goals. Thus, it is imperative for leadership to understand its traits, visions, values, mission and goals because together these make up a theory that clarifies leadership efficiency and effectiveness by its natural features and abilities to connect the dots, others to align with the vision and support the employees/members to apply the mission and attain the organizational strategic goals (Oyinlade, 2006). It is also equally important for all to know that leadership is taking personal responsibilities and responsibilities of others through sharing visions and values at all levels by everyone to do his or her part accordingly.
Bennis, W. (1999). The end of leadership: Exemplary leadership is impossible without full inclusion, initiatives, and cooperation of followers. Organizational dynamics, 28(1), 71-79.
Benzel, D. (2008). Establish your credibility. Credit union management, 31(1), 13. Link:
Brown, D.  (2011). An experiential approach to organization development, 8th Ed. Upper saddle river, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Fagiano, D. (1994). Altering the corporate DNA. Management review, 83(12), 4.
Fitz-Enz, J. (1997). The 8 practices of exceptional companies: How great organizations make the most of their human assets. New York, AMACOM.
Graber, D. R., & Kilpatrick, A. (2008). Establishing value-based leadership and value systems in healthcare organizations. Journal of health & human services administration, 31(2), 179-197.
Groysberg, B., & Slind, M. (2012). Leadership is a conversation. Harvard business review, 90(6), 76-84.
Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B. Z. (2007).  The leadership challenge (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley and Sons.
Kumar, N. (2012). Relationship of personal and organizational values with job satisfaction. Journal of management research (09725814), 12(2), 75-82.
Levasseur, R. E. (2011). People skills: Optimizing team development and performance. Interfaces, 41(2), 204-208. doi:10.1287/inte.1100.0519
Mayer, D. M., Aquino, K., Greenbaum, R. L., & Kuenzi, M. (2012). Who displays ethical leadership, and why does it matter? An examination of antecedents and consequences of ethical leadership. Academy of management journal, 55(1), 151-171. doi:10.5465/amj.2008.0276. 
Oyinlade, A. (2006). A method of assessing leadership effectiveness introducing the essential behavioral leadership qualities approach. Performance improvement quarterly, 19(1), 25-40.
Reynolds, J., & Warfield, W. H. (2010). Discerning the differences between managers and leaders. Education digest, 75(7), 61-64.
Saban, J., & Wolfe, S. (2009). Mentoring principals around leadership practices. Catalyst for change, 36(1), 2-6.

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