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    Susan M. Osborn, Ph.D.
    LifeThread Publications
    sosborn@ix.netcom.com


    Q: "I am researching theory that baby boomers are responsible for the shift in management styles from control and command to shared decision-making, TQM etc. Boomers rebelled against authority in the workplace so that systems have had to change. Need some source material to support theory -- any help?" A: "In regard to the issue of boomers being responsible for a widespread change in management style I think one has to use caution. A cause and effect relationship is too simplistic (as is the case in any situation that involves a system.) What data indicates that a monumental change is in process? I haven't seen any substantive research results. I certainly don't see a huge change in the works when I talk with employ- ees. As more people become contractors due to massive downsiz- ing efforts, they have less to say about everything. Start-ups in Silicon Valley have their own culture of camar- aderie but as they grow, many turn into frantic Motocross firms with fast-charging, highly directive leaders or King of the Mountain organizations with autocratic leaders who retain most of the authority for themselves. Research documenting differences in leadership style dates back to a study conducted with Boy Scout leaders in 1938. Kurt Lewin & Ronald Lippitt suggested that leadership behavior could be classified in terms of how much in- volvement leaders have with people-related vs. work- related issues. They developed a model based on boss- centered vs. employee-centered leadership. Robert Tannebaum & Warren Schmidt wrote a seminal article, "How toChoose a Leadership Pattern," that appeared in HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW (May-June, 1973). They created a continuum with three points depictingthe amount of authority exercised by leaders: autocratic, partipative, and free-rein. Paul Hersey & Ken Blanchard maintain there is no one best way to lead because leadership is situational. Effective leaders exhibit sufficient versatility and flexibility to adapt their behavior to the changing and contradictory demands made on them. Hersey/ Blanchard created a matrix (1977) depicting four quadrants: high structure, low consid- eration for people; high structure, high consideration; low structure, high consideration; and low structure, low con- sideration. Robert Blake & Jane Mouton (1978) developed The Management Grid, a framework for depicting concern for both the product- ion and the people dimensions of leadership. Key grid posit- ions are: 1. Authority-compliance: maximum concern for production; minimum concern for people. 2. Country Club Management: minimum concern for production; maximum concern for people. 3. Impoverished Management: minimum concern for both produc- tion and people. 4. Middle-of-the Road: do job but conform to status quo. 5. Team Management: integrate concern for production and people; seek to gain optimum results through participation, involvement, and commitment. There have been many studies of gender differences in leader- ship style. Rosener, for example, concluded that men tend toward a command-and-control style. In contrast, women tend toward a transformation style, relying heavily on inter- personal skills. Cooper found that men tend to manage by punishment and women by rewards. He said, "Women are more participatory in their management style and are seen as more caring than their male counterparts. In practical terms, this means that men's style of management contributes to stress by putting much pressure on people and stopping them from producing their best." Q: "I was shot down for a job because of the color of my hair(semi-gray). A job that I knew I was the most qualified for. Can you help?" A: Let's face it. Age discrimination is alive and well. Due to corporate cost-cutting efforts there are fewer jobs and older, more experienced employees are shunned simply because they cost more. What to do? 1. More than ever before, access to jobs is depen- dent on who you know rather than what you know. Net- work at every opportunity. Attend meetings of profess- ional organizations. Look for events posted in the news media and attend as many as you can. Watch cable TV and write down the names of local experts. Arrange to meet them as a way to become part of their circle of contacts. 2. Develop avenues to entrepreneurship. Find ways to makemoney independently by offering products and services that people want and need. Learn how to market yourself and your unique gifts/talents effect- ively. 3. Form a support group online or a discussion group that meets regularly. Energize each other by sharing success stories and exploring non-tradi- tional methods of job search. 4. Find out what people older than you are doing. Talk to people at senior centers, members of Gray Panthers, and representatives of AARP. Join their efforts to call attention to agism. Become part of a movement for change. Q: "I am looking for information on the benefits of having older employees (like myself), both at lower and upper level management. Can you help?" A: There are many advantages to having well-seasoned managers. First, older employees know the ropes. They know how things are done and who can do the best job. Second, senior employees tend to be more stable and are less likely to take things personally than younger people do. They have learned to roll with the punches. Third, their seniority gives them credibility. Direct reports are likely to respect older managers be- cause they have a wealth of experience. Q: "I am at a point in my life where I do not see any advancement in my career. I am too old to start over again out at the same time, too young to retire and too frustrated to go on this way. Can you please tell me what is the best thing for me to do?" A: This is a perfect point to take stock of where you are and ask yourself, "What do I really want to do with the rest of my life?" Perhaps you have been trying to meet the expectations of others like your family, your friends, or your bosses. There comes a time when it's important to be clear about what makes you satisfied, excited, and motivated. Getting in touch with the real YOU deep inside can open the way to paths you never thought were possible. Susan M. Osborn, Ph.D. LifeThread Publications sosborn@ix.netcom.com Publisher of: THE SYSTEM MADE ME DO IT! A LIFE CHANGING APPROACH TO OFFICE POLITICS. ISBN: 0-9655368-0-7 "Dilbert" tells it like it is. This book tells what to do about it. Check out: www.netcom.com/~sosborn www.amazon.com
    Susan M. Osborn, Ph.D., is a speaker, consultant, and author of THE SYSTEM MADE ME DO IT! A LIFE CHANGING APPROACH TO OFFICE POLITICS. She can be reached at sosborn@ix.netcom.com. Dr. Osborn's articles in High Tech Careers - Western U.S. Edition:
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