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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?
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Chapter 7: Anglo/US Public Companies

Gayle C. Avery


The previous chapters have shown that leading European, Scandinavian and South African organizations, exhibit Rhineland practices and philosophies. Family businesses also display many Rhineland features, including the USA. But what happens in Anglo/US public firms? This chapter will show that some successful American, British and Australian enterprises already follow the Rhineland practices identified in the Sustainable Leadership Grid. Certainly, outstanding Anglo/US organizations that Collins and Porras reported on in their book, Built to Last, display many elements of the Rhineland model. This has been corroborated in similar studies in other countries, with research into Australian ‘winning’ organizations,466 and global best employer studies.467 Box 7.1 shows that successful organizations in Australia exhibit many Rhineland elements. These include taking a long-term perspective, team-based leadership, developing leaders and promoting internally, an emphasis on training, social responsibility, staff retention, teamwork and adopting a stakeholder approach. In what follows we consider the potential for sustainable leadership among Anglo/US public enterprises. Probably the greatest challenge for publicly listed corporations lies in resisting pressures to conform to the Anglo/US shareholder value model. This applies particularly to those companies that are professionally managed and no longer associated with their founders. This chapter highlights the good news that some outstanding Anglo/US public companies exhibit many Rhineland features. First, two US public companies that are still associated with the founding family reveal how closely they fit the Rhineland leadership elements. Then six Anglo/US public companies that are no longer associated with the founders show how it is possible...

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