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Student Reflections on Integrative Leadership

By Bob Cherry

Students from the Spring 2010 "Integrative Leadership: From Theory to Practice" course, taught by Professors Jay Kiedrowski and Paul Vaaler, will post their reflections on integrative leadership throughout the course of the semester on the Time to Lead blog.

During the course, I found the following common trends in a few categories:

  • Trust and Perspective: In many of the cases where private business was "taking over" traditionally government roles, there was a recurring theme of the government workers not trusting the business and the business not understanding the problem from the government perspective. In most cases, better communication and more rigorous debate may have led to better results.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: In every case where business is involved with giving back to the community, you can ask: why are they doing this? Are they doing it for marketing reasons? Are they doing it because it helps build teams internally and makes workers feel good? Are they doing it just because it is the right thing to do? Are they doing it because their competitors are doing it? Are they doing it just because they can profit from it? GE and wind turbines come to mind. Are they really interested in clean energy or are they just making a business "bet" that the government will continue to invest in wind energy and they better keep up the eco-drumbeat so they can continue to profit from wind-turbines?
  • PR and Politics: A major concern for decisions about participating or not and how much to publicize a company's participation is a large PR question. Does a company want the public to be fully aware of their CSR efforts or keep it low-key so as not to seem braggadocios or fake?
  • Credibility: Whether earned or not, leaders must obtain or enlist others that bring credibility to what they are trying to do, particularly in politics. In the 3M case, 3M had established themselves as a good corporate citizen in terms of environmental issues over a long period of time. This gave them the credibility to participate in the special EPA program.
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