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Being the Boss: The Importance of Leadership and Power.

Being the Boss


This book was not written for association executives, but it contains much of value for them by enabling comparisons with the chiefs of corporations and in its analysis of leadership.

To author Abraham Gitlow, dean emeritus, Stern School of Business, New York University, New York City, corporate leadership requires "intelligence, initiative, desire to lead, strength, resoluteness, foresight, and competence." Since these qualities are similar in many respects to those of top association executives, I wonder that executive search firms have not tried to move more association heads into top corporate positions. Perhaps less risk taking and more of an inclination to share views with committees and subordinates characterize association executives. Yet increasingly in business enterprises, the trend is away from hierarchies or pyramids to participative, weblike forms.

Gitlow states that a chief executive has authority because of his or her position in the organization, which imparts power and enables the CEO to influence others, whether they like it or not. To be a leader, however, a boss must also have the respect of his or her people. "Leadership resides in and emanates from the individual. Effective communication and wise decisions, proven by subsequent experience, buttress and validate authority born originally from position."

A healthy ego and good character are two or Gitlow's ingredients for successful business leaderss. "I am convinced that integrity is vital to true leadership and the correct exercise of executive power," he writes. "It is not a matter of Leo Durocher's infamous dictum that 'nice guys finish last.' It is a matter of having and leaving a good name, of having a reputation for honesty and honor. And that is something society still holds high, and properly so."

Gitlow continues: "An ethical, strong CEO will quickly make clear to everyone in his organization that no cheating or chicanery will be tolerated. Much more, it will be made clear that the organization must be and is dedicated to serving the public good, and will do so by producing only the highest-quality product and selling it at a reasonable rate of return."

Compare the basic traits valued in corporate culture with those of association culture. Gitlow sees these as work ethic, honesty and integrity, a desire to serve others, and a sense of individual worth or personal dignity. He adds as derivatives: quality of product or service, customer satisfaction, pricing policy, job security, and participative management.

One chapter is devoted to "Executive Power and the Expanding Role of Women in Organizations." Gitlow sees no economic or moral justification for differences in compensation between men and women who are comparable in job performance. He lists among the barriers to the advancement of women in management the motherhood desire and in the two-career family the pressure of primacy. At the same time the proportion of women in executive, administrative, and managerial positions has been rising steadily. And more CEOs are thinking creatively, says Gitlow, about the need for child care centers, leaves of absence, flexible work hours, and even flexible work locations.

Fortune magazine, reports Gitlow, in a 1985 study of MBA graduates, observed that women were not assigned as much to important operating assignments as to purchasing, personnel, and public relations. One reason given for the lack of female CEOs in trade associations came from Kinsey Green, who once chaired the ASAE Board of Directors. She said that, aside from machismo and traditional discrimination, women seldom occupy finance and government relations positions in associations, the launching pads for the top posts. Instead, women are in communication, education, conventions, and membership. Women head many individual membership groups but not major manufacturing trade associations.

In distinguishing between managerial and nonmanagerial women, Robert L. Dipboye wrote (in the book Working Women: Past, Present, Future, cited by Gitlow) that managerial women show stereotyped masculine traits of aggressiveness, tendency to dominate, and competitiveness. The nonmanagerial women are significantly different. Gitlow cites a 1986 survey of female executives by the executive search firm of Heidrick and Struggles, Chicago, in which 79.8 percent indicated their belief that "such female qualities as intuitiveness, sensitivity, and a preference for cooperation over confrontation are becoming more important as our economy shifts from an industrial to a service emphasis."

Not too much difference appears between association and corporate CEOs when it comes to retirement. They both suffer the deprivation of secretaries and other aides. Gitlow writes, "In the final analysis, no matter how desperately a chief executive seeks to hold on, the board has and will eventually exercise the power to retire or remove him. Efforts may be made to obscure or sugarcoat the reality of the divorce, and there may be 'rich' going-away settlements, but retired is finally retired, and out is out."

My own view on this is that the umbilical cord should be cut sharply, and the former CEO should stay away. Both association and corporate CEOs have for the most part enjoyed a good, satisfying life with healthy contributions to society. And they still have many useful things to do.

Being tho Boss: The Importance of Leadership and Power. By Abraham L. Gitlow, 1991. Business One Irwin Publishing, 1818 Ridge Rd., Homewood, IL 60431; (800) 634-3966; 211 pp., $24.95.

Samuel B. Shapiro, CAE, is president of Samuel B. Shapiro Consulting, Inc., Miami Beach, Florida.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Off the Shelf.
Author:Shapiro, Samuel B.
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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