Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guilt-Free Schadenfreude

Dana Kennedy has been running a squeaky clean campaign for Phoenix City Council, rejecting donations from people who might, in the future, have a matter before the City Council. By contrast, her incumbent opponent, Sal, readily accepts donations from real estate developers who have matters currently in front of the City Council. Perfectly legal, and business as usual.

Yesterday, the Phoenix New Times exposed that Sal has taken his self-interests a step further. He has been working with a committee towards a freeway extension that directly benefits two large parcels that he leases, without revealing his financial stakes. Oops.

The odd thing is that there are no laws in Phoenix or even much public scorn for public officials working towards their own financial interests - as long as they are transparent. Sal's donations from local developers shows that Saul doesn't see a problem with members of the public paying for politicians to look kindly on their projects. So, why should it be a problem for himself? What's good for the gander isn't good for the goose?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Leadership Training ROI

A recent study shows that companies with greater investment in leadership and sales training have higher stock prices the following year. At my Vistage meeting last week, our presenter, Dan Barnett made the case that every company must have a a single "Make or Break" strategy that drives the company. Jack Welch's make-or-break at GE was leadership development. Welch was personally involved in every aspecte of Leadership development and training, including building GE's training facility, building the leadership curriculum and teaching leadership classes every year. He visited employees all over the company and his number one question was "What are you doing to develop your leaders?", both one and two levels down. Jack Welch's singular focus on on leadership development resulted in a valuation increase from $14billion to $450 billion, the largest increase on record. Most organizations can do a lot more for their growth with more leadership training.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Women's Financial Insecurity Driving Dissatisfaction?

With our high level of cultural navel-gazing, studies about happiness have large audiences. Add a gendered comparison and the country is riveted. Maureen Dowd wrote in her September 19th column about a recent study showing women’s declining happiness (as compared to men) over the past 40 years. Her piece shot up to the #1 slot on the NYTimes top ten most e-mailed list and remained on the top ten list for five days, the longest I’ve noticed.

The research shows a consistent finding across nations, women are less happy then men and their happiness declines with age. Marcus Buckingham posed an interesting question in a blogpost on Huffington Post about this research: Why?

The reason that men are getting happier, it turns out, is their greater prosperity. I found the results quite surprising. Over the past few decades, our culture has celebrated the shaping of positive attitudes and women seem particularly invested in developing these resources (think of Oprah’s audience). Despite this greater awareness, women’s worrisome financial security is at the core of their declining happiness. Women spend more years in the financially inefficient state of being single, lose wealth and income if they divorce, and earn 80% of what men earn. With the risk of an episode of unemployment or a major health crisis, many women are not far from financial quicksand. And, what happens when all these women age into retirement?

We need a more integrated approach to increase women’s financial security and this may well become a major policy issue in the coming decades. And, it will most likely be addressed when more women are in public office.