Leadership for Sustainable Futures

Leadership for Sustainable Futures

Achieving Success in a Competitive World

Gayle C. Avery

Many managers in the English-speaking world are seeking an alternative to the prevailing business model which promotes a short-term, shareholder-value approach. In this accessible and highly topical book, Gayle Avery argues that this Anglo/US approach to capitalism and business is seriously flawed and does not bring the quality of life to individuals and societies that many people seek. But what is the alternative and do business leaders have a different choice?

Chapter 4: Focus on People

Gayle C. Avery

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


This chapter considers seven elements in the Sustainable Leadership Grid that can be conveniently grouped together because they focus heavily on people. These elements are management development, ensuring a strong organizational culture, making people a priority, retaining staff even in difficult times, creating a skilled workforce, managing uncertainty and change, and fostering cooperative union–management relationships. MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT Many people progress up, only to fail at a senior leadership position, for which they are not prepared or well suited. (William C. Byham, CEO of Development Dimensions International243) Visionary US companies are six times more likely to promote insiders to CEO than other US companies.244 It is not the quality of leadership that most separates visionary companies from others, but the continuity of quality leadership. This continuity preserves the core values. GE’s celebrated Jack Welch reflected the continuation of GE’s 100-year track record of appointing leaders from within. The more common Anglo/US practice of hiring top management from outside the organization makes it hard to become, and remain, a highly visionary enterprise with a cohesive culture.245 Since a strong culture is central to Rhineland organizations, they prefer to ‘grow their own senior management’. A global study of CEOs leaving office concluded that appointing CEOs from outside the company is a high-risk gamble. The initially high performance of external CEOs slumps during the second half of their tenure and their organizations underperform those led by insiders by 5.5 per cent.246 The study concluded that over half the turnover among...

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