Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Old Glory – A Flag of Liberty!

Clan Meeting July 2005

We write and read leadership articles about organizations, most times without specifically mentioning those who are in Government Leadership of our great Country. I think we have to remember and read about those great leaders and leadership who were responsible for the progress and longevity of the United States of America.

After watching President Obama’s Inauguration today, hearing the patriotic songs and Beyance’s singing of the National Anthem, as well as remembering a recent Linked In post on goods and others of past President’s inaugural address, I felt compelled with a patriotic need to post a poem I wrote about our Old Glory, which includes some historical leadership significance and symbolism. I hope you enjoy it.

Old Glory – A Flag of Liberty!
David A. McCuistion
President, Clan Uisdean, USA
U. S. Navy (Retired)

Just a ragged piece of cloth some say,
With no real significance in any way.
Just a rag that in the wind doth sway,
Just an ordinary flag they say.

Then help me understand why,
After so many years and battles does she still fly?
After so many deaths she reigns so high,
And around the world she refuses to die.

Please tell me why if you will,
Her National Anthem gives such a thrill,
When remembering her raising on Iwo Jima’s Hill,
That very sight gives such a chill.

Tell me why citizens cherish her so
And stand ever ready to take up arms and go
Defend that Divine Principle of which we know
Helps the Tree of Liberty continually Grow.

What reason can be found
For rushing to defend her world ’round?
What keeps her from decaying on the ground?
I ask you, can’t you hear the sound?

That sound of Freedom that so loud doth ring!
The sound of God Bless America as we sing!
That sound of courage of Eagle’s wing!
That sound of liberty to which we cling!

This Flag, flown proudly in every American town,
Says civil and religious liberty can be found.
This Flag raised daily to fly above the ground,
Exalted, revered, protected by citizens all around.

Just a ragged piece of cloth some say,
With no real significance in any way.
A Flag of Liberty like no other, I say!
Yesterday, today, always!

Just like Leadership we need to remember, it is not about me, it is not about you, it is about the American way of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, as well as the organizations we lead and the articles that we write and about which we speak.

Thank you for your comments.


8 Simple Steps to Extreme Personality Productivity

I recommend to you the following website and article by Jeff Hayden on the subject of improving your personal productivity and in your leadership advances and endeavors.

Enjoy and I sincerely hope this helps improve your personal leadership principles and practices.

Change – Just Do It!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was that easy. During my Navy career it was just so because the change normally came in the form of an “order or command” that was quite naturally and robotically followed. There was no discussion or reasoning behind the change. It came from the top and us in the middle and below followed the order, regardless of the impact on the person(s) accomplishing the change.

However, people-paradigms have changed, even in the military, from the old style of control directed through a rigid hierarchy, with employees treated like uneducated children to reach short-term goals, to a new paradigm with the following characteristics.

    • Openness
    • Employee Empowerment
    • Employees Treated Like Knowledgable Adults
    • Cooperation & Collaboration
    • Relationship Building
    • Values of Integrity, Trust and Respect

Under this new paradigm, change is championed from the top leadership throughout the organization. Modern-day leadership, especially practitioners of Servant Leadership, understands that employees at all levels desire to be involved in the decision-making, including change, in their workplace; especially if it involves the way they have to do their job.1 

Dr. Janet Jackson (2006) says organizational change initiatives fail because of four important factors.

1. The primary focus is on the technology of change.

2. Organizations overlook the importance of people in the change, and they do not fully address their concerns.

3. Systems perspective is ignored thinking the change only impacts a portion of the organization.

4. Leadership and management fails to acknowledge the difference between change, transition, and transformation.

When people and systems are ignored in the change process, there is employee push-back to the change, which further exasperates the change process.

Dr. Jackson identifies three types of change: Developmental Change; Transitional Change; and Transformational Change.  Each requires specific strageties for implementation in order for the change process to be successful and effective.

Developmental Change pertains to a particular situation within the organization, which could include basic policy changes, new boss(es), moving to a new location or a procedural change for a current policy. Developmental change is described as the exchange of one thing for another, the improvement of a certain skill, method or something that requires improvement because it is not meeting a prescribed standard.

Although it is considered the simpliest of the three changes, i.e. a first-order change, nontheless, it requires specific strategies that include:

    • Training – both technical and personal, regardless of the level of supervision and/or management;
    • Team Building and Problem Solving;
    • Improving Communication;
    • Conflict Resolution;
    • Survey feedback;
    • Job Enrichment.

The aim of these strategies is to reduce personal stress toward the change and the impact of the change on daily work requirements and schedules, while instilling acceptance of the change in employees.

Transitional Change deals with replacing what is currently in place with a new concept, procedures, equipment or policy. It begins with the recognition of a problem within the current framework that cannot be resolved with a simple developmental change. The purpose of the change is to improve productivity, efficiency and/or quality of service to meet emerging demands.

Old State—————————>Transition State————————–> New State

Dr. Jackson describes this as a second-order change because it is a planned and intended change to implement a new direction in the organization. It requires thought, a predetermined need for change coupled with an in-depth and critical assessment of the purpose of the change, which will result in the desired outcome and intended improvement of the change within the overall organization.

Drawing on past research and writings, Jackson outlines specific strategies relative to Transition Change, which include the following:

  • Clearly establishing and communicating the need for the change;
  • Developing a clear plan for implementing the change;
  • High involvement with those impacted by the change in designing and implementing the change;
  • Allowing local control of the implementation of the plan; and
  • Providing adequate support and integration time to ensure that people are succeeding in the new state.

Additionally, these strategies need to include training to develop new skills, continual communication throughout the change process to allow for realignment, and renegotiation, if necessary, to form new coalitions to insure successful implementation of the change.

Another important strategy to improve motivation and maintain focus on transitional successes is to create transition rituals that not only mourn the past, but also celebrate the future.

Transformational Change is by far the most complex and difficult change to implement. Before this type change can be implemented, several analyses must be completed to examine what they were, what they are, where they need to be and how to get there. This type change is much more than a straight-line or linear change with simple procedural or policies differences in the organization. People must change transformationaly, from what they were doing, to a whole new way of thinking about what they do as well as how they may be doing it.

Transformation change involves several periods of adjustment:

    1. Birth of change, upward growth period, followed by succes and leveling off period;
    2. After a period of succes, chaos emerges that causes a decline in performance;
    3. Change stops and requires a shift in vision and focus;
    4. Re-emergence and slow growth as visioning and learning is enhanced;
    5. Process continues until transformation occurs and change is fully implemented.

Successful Transformational Changes requires all the implementing strategies of the above two change processes. Additionally and most importantly, this process may require the hiring of an external Organizational Development (OD) expert to manage the change process. OD experts are more skilled in the process and assists management work through the process smoothly.

As can be seen from this discussion, change by command is no longer a plausible method of implementing a change in an organization. The process needs to be fully and thoroughly explained to employees throughout the organization, employee by-in is imperative and requires strong leadership with superior communication skills to overcome push-back. To be completely implemented the change must be championed by top-down leadership throughout the process — each one serving the needs of the other for successful completion.

I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

1 Jackson, Dr. Janet Cooper, 2006. Organizational Development: The Human and Social Dynamics of Organizational Change. University Press of America, Inc., New York.

Building a Leadership Dynasty

As I reflect upon the “Roll Tide” fever that is rising throughout Alabama, even in some television commercials following their third National Championship, I am reminded of my own coaching successes, and some of the foundational ideals of leadership and organizational sustainability. Several words are being thrown around in the sports media that speak to the long-term growth of Alabama Football  — “Dynasty” and “Legend”, each which brings to mind leadership legacy.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, post-game and season interviews, outlined several of the factors that have contributed to the Alabama Dynasty, not just during his era at Alabama, but over the years going back to Paul “Bear” Bryant in the 1950s. As I listened to him after the game, in his “Gatorade” soaked shirt, and during his next-day news conference, I thought about the leadership required to build a dynamic, sustainable program in any arena.

Successful organizations have a Program

Foundation – Character, Standards, Expectations

There is a foundational ideal around which any successful program is built that becomes the character, the heart, of the organization. It is based on the moral authority of the primary leader, the CEO, Head Coach, President, etc., which becomes the standard of ethics for the organization.

The leader models the acceptable behaviors for everyone, inside and outside the organization, thereby dictating the value system that must be accepted and incorporated into the personal value system of employees. People and other organizations observe these traits in the daily operation of, not only the organization as a whole, but also, in the performance and behaviors of the team members. Furthermore, leadership holds everyone accountable to these standards, taking necessary corrective action when necessary that upholds the standard.

Coach Saban exhibited his leadership by sending two players home a day after the team’s arrival in Miami because they failed to adhere to acceptable organizational standard of conduct. By doing so, he re-enforced the team expectations, enhanced his respect level, which inspires trust and confidence in his leadership. Coach Saban referred to his action as it related to the “program” of the organization.

Organizational Vision

Leadership establishes a vision of the organization; not the primary leader’s vision, but the vision of the organization. The primary leadership — Coach, Trustees, shareholder expectations, etc. — collaboratively says, “This is how we want to be perceived outside the company”. The collaboration continues down through the organization to establish buy-in and build the vision into the core of everyone in the organization.

Southwest Airlines vision of low air fares, flight safety, better Customer Service than anyone else with on-time flights has not changed since their inception in the 1970s. As Colleen Barrett, CEO Emirates of Southwest Airlines, says we are a Customer Service company, we just happen to fly air planes. The vision of Alabama Football, which reflects the University’s vision, states, “A Tradition of Champions – A Future of Leaders.” Everything they do, on and off the field, directly relates to their vision.

A strong, value-laden vision is crucial to success and sustainability.

Learning Organization 

There are five qualities of a successful learning organization: Standards; Instruction; Practice; Feedback; and Release. Obviously, these apply to Universities and competitive teams of all types. It can also be applied to all organizations as well — Corporations, Companies, Religious, Community Service, Youth, etc.

Leadership for long-term sustainability and success needs also to follow this line of reasoning.

Standards – unarguably a foundational attribute for structure, teamwork, commitment, and performance.

Instruction – life-long learning is a requirement for personal and organizational growth to prevent stagnation and decline. Change management is necessary to maintain viability in economic terms. Likewise, leadership training is essential for leader growth.

Practice – expertise requires practice. All teams require practice. whether it be for equipment operation, competition, emergencies or new procedures.

Feedback – helps improve performance and growth. Employee feedback improves procedures for competing tasks. Feedback is essential to prevent mistakes that are costly to the organization. Employee mentoring is a form of feedback and affect several aspects of organizational performance.

Release – empowering employees to make decisions relevant to their position in the workplace improves confidence, teamwork and individual leadership. Alabama Football vision reflects this aspect of the learning organization.


Greenleaf called foresight “The Central Ethic of Leadership” and that it is “the lead the leader has.” For Alabama football this is evident  in their recruiting program. Leaders must also exhibit systematic foresight to stay ahead technologically, in the market place, fulfilling customer and employee needs, and implementing the almost daily change requirements to remain at the forefront in their business world.

Dynasties are built by leaders who maintain the foundational character of the organization; who keep the vision alive to both the organization and to those who are on the outside looking in; who create a learning environment that is passed on from generation to generation; and who visualize with a systematic foresight of the future. Changing when necessary, updating the system and employee with the required training and instruction, and maintaining a open line of communication up and down the organizational structure.

Dynasties have immense PRIDE – a Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence. Likewise, Leaders demonstrate PRIDE – a Personal Responsibility In Developing Everyone. Furthermore, leadership builds PRIDE – a Personal Responsibility In Developing Ethics.

The future leaders they develop will live the ethical value system embedded in them from their association with the organization; who in-turn develop leaders, as so on.

I appreciate your feedback and comments.

Leadership Resolutions for 2013

Have you made yours yet?  You know, those helpful and highly successful New Year’s Resolutions for the coming year. People routinely make resolutions to lose weight, start a work-out routine, exercise weekly, the list goes one. However, if surveyed, most people never achieve their resolution quest; many never even start.


 This year I am making the following 2013 Leadership Resolutions.

 1. I resolve to improve my personal Emotional Intelligence as written by Daniel Goldman in What Makes A Leader? I resolve to improve in four areas:

            a. I resolve to become more self-aware of my emotional control in dealing with confrontational situations. I resolve to accurately self-access through daily reflections of my interaction with other people. I will be a seeker with determination to improve daily my inner being in order to “know Imagemyself” in a more intrinsic realm.

            b. I resolve to manage the control of my emotions, my enthusiasm, my interactive communications with others and my drive for excellence.

            c. I resolve to be more socially aware in my relationship-building with others, making a sincere and concentrated effort to exhibit the deepest level of empathy attainable in my listening habits. I resolve to live a purposeful “service oriented” life, providing a high quality, calling-driven attitude in my interactions with others.

            d. I resolve to be more influential toward others with inspirational and developmental leadership to all with whom I work, mentor, communicate and teach. I resolve to be flexible toward accepting change even when I may not like or approve of the new ideal. I resolve to build a solid bond with those on my team, being collaborative with those whom I lead, and manage conflict with a vision of making results better for all parties.

Image2. I resolve to be a seeker of leadership ideals, practices and purposes that will improve the manner in which I speak publically about leadership in general, and organizational success specifically.


3. I resolve to be more dedicated to those within my circle of influences, who are leadership seekers in their own realm, by providing ideals, principles, and practices that will enable them to better lead in their own organizations, families, and in their personal endeavors.

 4. I resolve to lead with a highly moral and ethical standard of moral aImageuthority that will be worthy of respect, will inspire trust and confidence, and will maintain a high level standard of performance. I resolve to empower others to lead within clear and firm, yet flexible boundaries within moral and ethical standards of performance.

 5. I resolve to follow John Maxwell’s advice and “Treat everyone like a 10” as I would want to be treated. Image

6. I resolve to live by the Golden Rule by leading others in like manner as I would want to be led; i.e. “Doing unto them as I would that they in like manner would to do unto me.”

 7. I resolve to proactively mentor other leaders with leadershipSL From Within PRIDE: “Personal Responsibility in Developing Everyone.” I resolve to make a difference in the lives of others that I mentor and lead.

8. I resolve daily to lead with a “Level 5 Personhood” quality, empowering others to grow as leaders, respecting others to build an uncompromising level of trust.

9. I resolve to be a Servant Leader, practicing Greenleaf’s principles of servant-hood, stewardship and dedication to others first, always remembering that my leadership is not about me, but about others.


10. I resolve that I will every day, not just for 2013, but for the remainder of my time on earth, evolve toward my Servant Leadership Vision, and hope that my legacy will be that of sustainable leadership that is being passed down from leader to leader as Greenleaf envisioned.

 We are all seekers for different reasons. I believe leadership comes with an ethical responsibility to continually attempt to make a difference, not only in the organization in which we work and lead, but also in the lives of those whom we lead.

 What is be your leadership resolution for the coming year, or years?

 I look forward and thank you in advance for your comments and thoughts.