ASSIGNMENT FRONT COVER | | | |Module name: Class # 790 – Organizational Behavior | |Assignment title: Midterm Exam | |Assignment deadline: November 12th 2012 | |Effective number of words used: 1471 | |
Table of Contents Question 1: Understanding Human Behavior is critical to organizations – discuss the benefits of self evaluation/self assessment as it relates to leaders today . ………………………………………………………………… 3 Question 2: Prejudice can be hurtful and destructive – discuss how you can personally reduce prejudice in your workplace – please provide an example ………………. ………………………………………………………………. 5 References and Bibliography………………………………………………………………… 6 Question 1: Understanding Human Behavior is critical to organizations – discuss the benefits of self evaluation/self assessment as it relates to leaders today
In today’s ever changing environment, organizations need to continuously adapt and transform, not only in order to succeed but even just to survive. While it takes a capable manager to efficiently run a business in steady-state, it takes a leader to successfully drive an organization through change (Kotter in Robbins and Judge, 2009: 385). Dealing with technology, economic and legislation changes isn’t new for organizations. The speed of change has however substantially increased in the last few decades as has the disruptive nature of these changes.
Leaders today are faced with challenges such as globalization and instant communication that were not present until recently. The words and actions of leaders are broadcasted across the globe within seconds and are heard and seen by individuals who will perceive and interpret them through the filter of their own values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations. In this accelerated environment, effective leaders need to be able to swiftly read trends and anticipate change, adapt to new situations, fine-tune their actions and continuously inspire others towards the pursuit of a compelling vision.
In order to do so, they need to be perceptive of the environment around them and detect when discrepancies between their assumptions and reality arise (Clawson, 2001: 14). An example of business failure due to the mismatch between leader’s assumptions and environmental reality is Polaroid. When in 1977 Polaroid launched its instant-video product Polavision (an innovative instant movie camera that used an additive process to generate color), it experienced the first of several product failures that eventually forced the company into bankruptcy.
The mistake that Polaroid’s Leader Edwin H. Land made was to assume that the market-follows-technology approach that had been successful for the previous 40 years was unchangeably valid (Lefler, 2010), despite the skepticism expressed by many within the company. Simpler and cheaper videocassette based alternatives were released at the same time by Kodak and other competitors. These “non-instant” products responded to markets’ trends better than Polaroid’s ground breaking instant-video solution, condemning Polavision to irrelevance and Polaroid to massive losses (Giambarba, 1977).
I think Polavision is the story of a self awareness lacking leader, failing to identify his blind spots and driving the organization to failure. In my opinion Mr. Land failed to question his assumption in a changing marketplace and to openly listen to others, consequently ignoring precious feedback. Had Mr. Land listened to the concerns expressed by others around him, including Polaroid’s president Bill McCune, things could have possibly gone differently. Self evaluation is what allows individuals to identify those blind spots and weaknesses and to put measures in place to compensate them (Musselwhite, C. 2007). Through self evaluation, self awareness is achieved. The benefits of self evaluation and self awareness for a leader in today’s organizations are significant. By understanding your strengths, efforts can be focused on them, hence developing a greater potential for success (Roberts at all, 2005: 1). By recognizing your weaknesses you are in a better position to accept them and deal with them effectively. In the case of Polavision, Mr Land’s product and technology strengths were overshadowed by his marketing weakness. For his leadership to be effective, Mr.
Land should have commissioned a market research to validate his assumption that the public was ready and willing to consume the product he was developing. Self awareness is the basis of self management and social awareness (Goleman, 2000; 80). The ability to read and manage your emotions, reactions and feelings, helps seeing yourself and the world under a different light. This in turns enables you to shift your point of view and identify opportunities and solutions that were otherwise impossible to imagine (Covey, 1989: 86). In the case of Polaroid a more socially aware Mr.
Land would have valued the input of the Polavision skeptics and maybe redirected his creativity towards developing a product more in line with current market trends. Moreover, acknowledging your limits and not hiding them induces trust. You are perceived as human and people relate to you better. When trusted, you become a more effective leader as people feel safe when they follow your direction. Your behavior remains consistent in different situations and the influence of the environment on your actions is weakened. You develop charisma. You become authentic (George, B. et all, 2007: 7).
Self evaluation implies asking for feedback and actively listening to what you hear. As you learn from asking questions, people around you also feel more comfortable doing so. This ignites a virtuous learning circle that drives personal growth. The biggest asset of organizations is their human capital. An engaged, motivated and virtuous human capital is the engine behind organizations’ success. In particular, by developing an environment where it is OK to ask questions, to challenge status-quo, to try new things and to make mistakes, innovation forces are unleashed (Musselwhite, C. , 2007).
Conclusion Self Evaluation develops self awareness. Self awareness promotes personal growth and enables behaviors that are associated with charismatic leadership. Charisma is what inspires others to follow the leader. They trust her, share her vision and feel empowered and motivated to work towards a common goal. Charisma is a crucial element of effective leadership, but it is often not sufficient to drive organizations, particularly large ones, to sustainable success (Nadler and Tushman, 1990: 85). Self awareness developed through self evaluation, allows a leader to also understand and address this.
By recognizing her limits, a self aware leader will develop an organizational structure that complements her strengths and, through alignment, effectively works towards the set vision. The most prominent benefits of self assessment for leaders today in my opinion are therefore the enablement of charismatic and institutional leadership, both of which are necessary to effectively guide an organization. Question 2: Prejudice can be hurtful and destructive – discuss how you can personally reduce prejudice in your workplace – please provide an example
Prejudice (prior judgment) implies forming an opinion about the personality traits, expected behavior, skills and capability of a person, without that opinion being backed by empirical evidence. These pre-formed opinions are often very strong, deriving from values and beliefs that are deeply embedded in our psyche. As such they are hard to remove. We may even unconsciously reject evidence negating the pre-judgment in a self affirming effort to confirm our assumptions. The end result is a diminished ability to appreciate the full range of qualities and the potential of the impacted individual.
Prejudice and the corresponding discriminatory behavior, including institutional prejudice, are major issues for organizations today. Increasing cultural diversity in the workforce and the global reach of markets require organizations to actively strive for integration rather than assimilation or differentiation (Thomas & Ely, 1996: 1). In my opinion, the onus of promoting an effort in that direction lies mostly on managers. As a manager I have a moral and professional duty to address prejudice in my organization and I have taken specific steps in that sense.
I started with doing introspection to identify my own prejudices. I focused on my upbringing: who were the most influential figures in my childhood? What messaging did I receive from them and from the environment around me? What stereotypes derived from this? Being of white, catholic and Italian origin, I could immediately identify how anything outside of that archetype, was subject to some degree of prejudice, even if involuntarily. The good news is that “Prejudice is externally sourced” and “since it s learned, it can be unlearned” (Clawson, J.
G. & Smith, B. , 1990: 5-6). I then realized that most likely everyone in my work environment have similar preconceptions. For example, some people talk to me with the typical Italian-American mafia accent from The Sopranos probably thinking it is hilarious. It doesn’t bother me, but I can definitely see how it could be bothersome to other Italians. I made treasure of these realizations and determined that these are ignorance-based preconceptions that can be resolved by increasing inter-cultural knowledge.
I therefore resolved to take steps to encourage people from different backgrounds and cultures to interact with each other. For example, recently I included two international team members (Bryan the reporting manager who is Chinese and Manish the systems analyst who is Indian) in a 4 person project team based in the US Midwest, dealing with the integration of systems and processes from our Company’s latest acquisition. I personally facilitated the first few meetings and encouraged open participation by listening to and publicly valuing everyone’s contribution.
I then assigned tasks in a way that required interaction and cooperation. The effort paid off and the team succeeded. The system and process integration was completed in record time, with wide consensus and to the smallest details. References and Bibliography Books Robbins, S. P. & Judge, T. A. (2009). Organizational Behavior. 13th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people. USA: Free Press. Internet Resources Lefler, P. (2010). Polavision – Polaroid’s disruptive innovation failure. [Webpage]
Available from: http://www. spruancegroup. com/blog/bid/32860/Polavision-Polaroid-s-disruptive-innovation-failure [Accessed on Wednesday, November 7th 2012]. Giambarba, P. (1977). [Webpage] Available from: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Polavision [Accessed on Wednesday, November 7th 2012]. Musselwhite, C. (2007). Self Awareness and the Effective Leader. [Webpage] Available from: http://www. inc. com/resources/leadership/articles/20071001/musselwhite. html [Accessed on Wednesday, November 7th 2012]. The Online Etymology Dictionary, word search: prejudice. [Webpage]
Available from: http://www. etymonline. com/index. php? term=prejudice [Accessed on Thursday, November 8th 2012]. Wikipedia, word search: the sopranos. [Webpage] Available from: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Sopranos [Accessed on Friday, November 9th 2012]. Journal Articles and Written Course Material Roberts, L. M. , Spreitzer, G. , Dutton, J. , Quinn, R. , Heaphy, E. , and Barker, B. (2005), “How to Play to Your Strenghts”, Harvard Business Review, January 2005. Goleman, D, (2000), “Leadership that gets results”, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2000. Clawson, J. G. 2001) UVA-OB-0652 Leadership and Intelligence, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Darden School Foundation. George, B. , Sims, P. , McLean, A. N. , and Mayer, D. (2007), “Discovering Your Authentic Leadership”, Harvard Business Review, February 2007. Nadler, D. A. , Tushman, M. L. , (1990) CMR-024 Beyond the Charismatic Leader: Leadership and Organizational Change, California Management Review, Harvard Business School Publishing. Clawson, J. G. & Smith, B. (1990) UVA-OB-0381 Prejudice in Organizations, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Darden School Foundation. Thomas, D. A. Ely, R. J. (1996), “Making Differences Matter”, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1996. ———————–  See the “Online Etymology Dictionary” (http://www. etymonline. com/index. php? term=prejudice)  From Wikipedia (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Sopranos): The Sopranos is an American television drama created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads.
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