Priceless reputations

Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace was quite fast after so many years of ‘here’ status thanks not just to his cycling prowess but also his successful battle with cancer.

Organisations can fall from grace just as easily, and just as quickly, and generally for the same reason – loss of their ethical credibility. Some, like the Australian Wheat Board, never recover. Others, like Apple and Nike, manage a comeback, as if their ethical breaches were an illness to be battled and overcome, like Lance Armstrong’s cancer.

Thanks to social media, falls from grace are more likely, and more rapid, than ever before. (Just ask broadcaster Alan Jones.) 

Questions for discussion

What steps can organisations and individuals take to protect their priceless reputations? Are you and your staff fully conversant with your organisation’s code of conduct? When was the last time you reviewed it with your team?

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Maverick leadership

Chapter 9 considers various styles of leadership and here’s another: maverick leadership.

According to Dr Elliroma Gardiner from the London School of Economics and Professor Chris Jackson from the University of NSW, these are the creative, daring people whose ideas change their industry and even the world. They’re risk takers and goal-oriented and they can be hard to work with and hard to work for–just ask anyone who worked with the brilliant but difficult Steve Jobs, for example.

These maverick leaders (Sir Richard Branson is another) are also quick decision makers, extroverts and, although low in agreeability, persuasive communicators.

If you have a maverick on your team, give them a bit of leeway to test out their ideas. If you’re a maverick, monitor your behaviour and your effect on others to make life easier for yourself.

Questions for discussion

What other maverick leaders can you think of? What would happen to an organisation with no mavericks in today’s volatile marketplace? What would happen to an organisation with a lot of mavericks?

Leadership qualities

I recently saw this news piece featuring Boris Johnson – the charismatic and likeable Mayor of London. The story references a recent British poll, which showed that Brits would prefer to have Boris Johnson as their Prime Minister than David Cameron.

Considering it’s unclear what Johnson’s policies would be if he were the British PM, it seems that many people look to personality and character alone when assessing whether someone would be a suitable leader.

Questions for discussion

How important do you think charisma and personality are in being a good leader? Just by watching the above video, what personality traits do you think people recognise in Boris Johnson that make them think he would be a good leader? What character traits are required to perform well in a leadership role?

Take a look at Chapter 9, pages 248-254 for more information about leadership skills and personality types.

The PM takes sick leave too…

When you’re the Prime Minister, it’s difficult to take a sick day without being noticed. But the reality is that everybody gets sick, whether you’re the Prime Minister, a pastry chef or a park ranger. According to the National Employment Standards all full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave annually, if they, or someone in their care falls ill.

When absenteeism becomes excessive it can be a difficult problem for a manager to deal with. Take a look at page 476 of Management: theory and practice 5E for some tips on absenteeism counselling.

Questions for discussion

Apart from illness, what other reasons might there be for excessive absenteeism? As a manager, how would you deal with an employee whose absenteeism began to effect their performance and workplace relationships?

The power of body language

In this video social scientist, Amy Cuddy, talks about her interesting theory that body language doesn’t just reflect our character and feelings, but it just might actually shape them.

Questions for discussion

What do you think about this theory? How might Amy’s ‘power pose’ exercise help in management situations?

And the winners are…

Grocon Constructors, a Victorian company, was the winner of the 2012 7th Annual Safe Work Australia Awards for Best Workplace Health and Safety Management System, private sector. They have integrated their safety management system across their entire organisation and created a solid safety culture through all levels of the company. In the public sector, the award went to Energex, which manages energy distribution networks in South East Queensland. Their ability to successfully manage large and unpredictable events such as the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, testified to the quality of its health and safety management systems.

The Australian Reinforcing Company (ARC), which manufactures and distributes reinforcing steel to the construction industry, won the award for the Best Solution to an Indentified Workplace Health and Safety Issue for their innovative solutions to three hazards in manufacturing steel. Their solutions addressed manual handling, falls and crushing and can be easily applied across the steel and construction industries.

Best Workplace Health And Safety Practices in a small business went to South Australia’s The Hub Fruit Bowl, a small family business. Consistency, rather than any earth-shatteringly clever innovations, underlies their award-winning approach: ensuring every employee is properly trained in the comprehensive health and safety system they developed, and encouraging them to ask questions about safety and report hazards.

Seaman Natalie Irvine of the Royal Australian Navy won the award for Best Individual Contribution to Workplace Health and Safety. She identified a number of errors in safety instructions and, demonstrating perseverance to overcome the barriers of rank, ensured they were fixed, improving the safety of Australia’s fleet.

Questions for discussion

Congratulations to the award winners. How award-worthy are the health and safety systems and practices at your workplace? What can you do to make your work team more safety conscious and strengthen its safety culture?

Continuously improving safety

Writing in the July 2012 Safe Work Australia newsletter, Minister Bill Shorten notes Australia’s progress in improving the health and safety of our employees. but, with 216 people dying every week from work-related injuries (2009 – 2010 figures), we still have a long way to go.

The Minister points to communication as a key driver in improving workplace health and safety and reminds us that employees need to feel they can raise safety issues without fear of discrimination or ridicule and in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and dealt with promptly.

The ‘inside knowledge’ of the people doing the job too often remains an untapped resource. Teams that abide by the continuous improvement imperative discuss ways to make even small improvements to everything they do and how they approach their work, and this includes health and safety matters as much as anything else.

Question for discussion

So let’s add to our continuous improvement questions (How can we do this better? Cheaper? Faster? More easily?) another question: How can we do this more safely?

When was the last time you and your team discussed how to improve the way you work and how to make your work safer?