Thursday, February 16, 2006

Leadership and the Problem of Bogus Empowerment

Blogging has been fairly light. I'm quite bogged down in administrivia, so I'm hoping to surface from that one of these days. However, we all know how that goes long term...

Anyway, I wanted to sit down and write my notes about a lecture I listened to in my car which is called Leadership and the Problem of Bogus Empowerment. The lecture was from the Chatauqua series, and was by a Richmond University biz professor called Joanne B. Ciulla. She had many good points, and the link above is pretty much the same text as the one I listened to. She was engaging and a good speaker.

Regarding the substance of the talk, like I said, there was much I found to agree with. The problem of bogus empowerment pretty much sums it up: you can't claim to empower people and then not do it. A lot of the examples of employer-as-body-snatcher were funny.

I think, however, that this is not very forward-looking, and maybe that's just because the material is going on ten years old. But, as a comp lit professor of mine said, things should stand the "tooth of time." (Who knows who he was quoting.) Not very forward-looking, like I said, because she's very focused on the big, bad company. Not a lot of room for personal responsibility there, not a lot of faith in humanity. Which I think is bad.

Also, she comes off schizophrenic in her views on the utility of labor unions (background). In my opinion, unions have been very necessary in the past to get our society where it is. In the future, they may be very necessary again, and we definitely are in need of protective labor legislation. But there's no denying that older companies tied to the union model are not supple and are not competetive. They are also failing in huge numbers. She was kind of pollyanna-ish on this issue, trying to sidestep those failure rates, etc. During the question and answer period this came out quite a lot as questioners attempted so suck up to her.

Not to bash her talk, I thought in the ensemble it was quite interesting, and I learned the acronym BOHICA.