NewsLeader

December, 2003

NewsLeader

Issue # 4 


 Alfredo Behrens
 Editor

This is a space for quick conversations on management and society. Our interests gravitate around issues of leadership, management of workteams, technology, creativity, emotional intelligence and most issues which should be shared to shape a better world.
  

 
In this issue you will enjoy reflections on the role of religion and technology on business progress, on the leadership training offered at EMBAs; on the dearth of Human Resource management in Brazil and a book review on entrepreneurship.

 

Many Brazilians sigh nostalgic when recalling the short-lived XVIIth century Dutch invasion of Recife. Those Brazilians frequently argue that the Dutch brought civility to the region and that Brazil might be “better” off today had the Protestant Dutch remained longer in Recife, instead of the Catholic Portuguese.

There is no doubt that the civil Protestant Dutch were in many ways a blessing; yet they stayed for three more centuries in Surinam, without turn it into something much ‘better” than Brazil. 

The alleged symbiosis between Protestantism and Capitalism lies at the root of the misleading inferences. They can be traced at least as far back as Max Weber's genially misleading book "Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism," first published in 1904, but widely distributed in the Northern New World in a 1930 translation by Talcot Parsons.

During this coming year publishers and academics will no doubt celebrate and idict the 100 years of Max Weber’s book and perhaps autorities will also wish celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Prince of Nassau, who managed the short-lived Dutch colony in Brazil. Read more below and forget not that you first heard of this while reading Newsleader, long before the fireworks. 

Leda Machado - a PhD from University College, London - and  from the height of an unusual carrier combining academics and Human Resource management, contributes with a spirited onslaught unto the prevailing HR practices in Brazil, which preach high strategy and fail to deliver the basics.

Liesel Mack Filgueiras, with a Master’s degree in business and a rich experience in entrepreneurship, contributes with a review of Eduardo Bom Angelo’s book, in Portuguese: “Empreendedor Corporativo”.

If you are interested thinking about the leadership training business leaders get at EMBA's it cannot do you any harm to read the Editor's own reflections on the matter.

To NewsLeader, 2004 begins next March. Max Weber was not completely wrong, Asceticism does not prevail in Latin America and NewsLeader will take a prolonged holiday. Enjoy whatever religious and pagan festivities you may engage in until then.


IN THIS ISSUE

 

 

Software outsourcing 

 

 

NewsLeader is structuring partnerships with Brazilian software factories to offer outsourcing of software development for Latin America, the US and Europe.

   

Shed even a small outsourcing project to us and we will offer you some of the World’s most competent software developers in your own time zone, in a peaceful region of the World, for less than you pay developers elsewhere.

 

Technology and entrepreneurial leaders: a match made only in Heaven?

 

Alfredo Behrens

 

 

In 1904 Max Weber offered what would later be taken for a quick explanation for Latin America’s half-hearted embracing of Capitalism: Latin America is not predominantly Protestant.

 

If conversion to asceticism would do the trick we might as well relax and wait, for Protestant sects are growing faster among our poor, who, under an acute proselytizing spell, might turn into relentless tinkerers, develop profitable technologies and save more to implement them; ending-up by enhancing the competitiveness of our XXIst century evangelically-driven Latin-American corporations.

 

Yet I am sorry to say it might not work, as it is unlikely it did even for the USA; where slavery took hold more firmly mostly in the Protestant states and entrepreneurs founded, in predominantly Catholic states, most of the largest USA corporations alive today!

 

Truth, as usual, is more complex and it is not the purpose of this short essay to bore you with details, but to remind you that there is no development without increased productivity, which largely stems from technological progress. If you are truly interested in enhancing your business’ competitiveness, conversion to Protestantism and a lot praying may help, but you might as well also invest in developing and deploying technology. The latter is what the early American entrepreneurs did and leading entrepreneurs still do, even at the largest corporations.

 

On the other hand, in Latin America, most technological research is carried out at public universities and only some research manages to find its way to industry. When it did it led to a successful aeronautical industry, to high crop yields and to low-cost steel. Yet of the current growth in Brazilian scientific research is now happening in areas where Brazilian industry is led by multinationals. The latter’s executives are managed to sell, not to buy, least of all, to buy technology. Exceptions aside, like those of Motorola, Siemens and Rohdia, multinationals in Brazil have traditionally been poor adopters of local technology, which makes them unlikely channels for deployment of future Brazilian technological innovations.

 

Why, then, would universities research? Why would anyone be researching into technology with no clients? Perhaps for the same reason that led local entrepreneurs to build industries with no technology of their own: a style of development based on import substitution under tariff protection. This development led to public universities divorced from the manufacturing sector of our societies because local entrepreneurs relied on foreign turn-key projects whose technology once could be paid through the high short term profitability assured by tariff protection. The taxing of artificially profitable business then funded the universities, mostly keeping professors and students happy in their classrooms and laboratories; away from industry and the streets.

 

Now that tariff protection is largely gone, the vulnerability of Latin American industrial competitiveness has become seriously exposed: it now relies mostly on labor while it is cheap, and in environmental advantages while they are significant. Consequently, universities’ research budgets have shrunk and Brazil’s predominantly urban manufacturing and service sectors’ competitiveness may stagnate at a time when over three quarters of the population seek  work in cities.

 

Well-established Latin American business leaders do not come from an easy entrepreneurial school, but the region’s manufacturing future is largely in their hands. Latin American business leaders may pray that their business remains competitive; but they should also seek the help of the universities.

 

There is a matching game to be played; and while praying may help business to remain afloat, it is largely in the hands of the business leaders to play the matchmaker between the problems and their solutions.

 

Further reading: Max Weber’s "The Protestant Ethic and the 'Spirit' of Capitalism" is a must. It is knowingly and incisively written, fully worthy of your time; even a century after its publication. But if you are short of time and can only afford to read one book try, for a more modern perspective,  David Lande’s (1999) “The"Wealth and Poverty of Nations..."  Lande’s also very interesting (2003)  "Unbound Prometheus..." is focused on Europe’s technological development since the XVIII century.

 

 

 

 

Conversations to foster leadership

 

 

Alfredo Behrens

 

Training of business leaders is found lacking

A pilot Fecap research project pointed out that Human Resource directors hiring mid-level executives looked for attributes that lied primarily in the field of Human Sciences rather than in the technical or conceptual fields favoured by most business schools.

 

During a September roundtable at Fecap, top head hunters and HR staff showed their frustration with the shortage of candidates with team-leadership skills.[1] Head hunters and recruiting personnel are increasingly screening candidates for skills which are not taught by Executive MBAs (EMBAs). It appears that EMBAs do not succeed in preparing top executives for some of the most important demands that they would face as leaders of companies.

 

Why is this happening?

Business organizations have become less pyramidal; requiring more self-driven individuals; more intra-firm negotiation for resources and targets and more work team efficacy. The latter requires more individuals with initiative and negotiation and leadership talents. Yet EMBAs typically devote less than 20% of their curriculum to developing these skills.

 

Many of the business school clients for EMBAs come from an engineering or scientific background and find at EMBAs a short-cut for the technical and conceptual skills they lack to further their managerial carriers. This provides a steady income for the top business schools that see little point in innovating; partly because of the low barriers to entry and the insidious mimicking that goes on in the area.

 

What can be done?

EMBAs fill a need and are here to stay. The issue is not as much how to start different EMBAs but how to complement what they already teach well.

 

Can leadership be taught? Probably it cannot be taught, but it can be honed;  by inducing a process of increasing self-awareness in order to improve relationship skills is sure to help.

 

How is the leadership issue being dealt with?

Much of the current effort in training for leadership revolves around studying the personalities and best practices deployed by proven leaders, in the business field or even elsewhere. This is why the Antarctic explorer Shackleton was dragged into business: for his teambuilding and leadership know-how. Some companies choose to involve promising young leaders in sensitive high-level decision-making environments. Yet many of those companies later regret seeing their promising trainees go, to deploy their talents elsewhere.

 

All these efforts have a role and a clientele. Some happen to be too slow or expensive and perhaps even only moderately effective.

 

Re-mapping the problem

Leaders are most likely the product of their environment. Born to their roles or not, in business they ushered up into positions of leadership by a mixture of forces involving their managers, their collaborators and their followers. The leaders’ capacity to understand themselves and their environment, including the people they are called to lead, is most likely the most crucial attribute to be developed by effective leaders. This requires that leaders both know themselves and that they develop the ability to communicate effectively; which also includes the frequently overlooked ability to listen.



 
Hot Tip

Leading should come naturally, you mostly need to provide the right environment to identify who to choose as leaders of workteams
 

 

Focus is adamant, narrowness is not.

Professor Zeldin argues that Western society’s drive towards specialization is curtailing people’s natural ability to communicate and learn from one another. Public broadcasting technology has also ensured that people are being spoken at more than ever before, turning most into spectators rather than actors. As meaningful conversation looses ground, society and business are deprived of its natural way of breeding leaders; partly explaining why a remarkable share of USA political leaders are drawn from the entertainment industry.

 

Specialization may help to ensure that some people have more to say about a topic than others wish to know. To be listened to a person must have something to say, but the person also needs to know how to say it to draw attention. The necessary learning involves not only learning skills from one another, but also learning about oneself and one’s partners. Focus, so essential to business, need not imply in narrowness.

 

The tool to redress narrowness.

How can this be achieved? All self-awareness exercises are all useful, but portraiture, in the Zeldin sense, involves creating essays about oneself and one’s own history and desires in a way that is both low-cost and useful to business.[2] These portraits, unlike the backward looking CV, are oriented towards the future, towards what one would like to turn into; and work with. The experience in creating one’s own portrait and in reading, watching or collaborating in building others’ portraits is geared towards enhancing one’s own awareness as well as one’s own communication and listening skills. These qualities are essential to leadership, for the leader must:

 

·       Be aware of his (or her) own potential

·       Understand his (or her) team’s expectations and potential

·       Must be able to galvanize the team into action.

 

While meeting all the above does not make a leader, honing these qualities should help. Promoting transparency and developing deep conversational skills, which can be stimulated through portraiture, is crucial to the necessary communication that must exist within a company team to breed effective leadership.

 



[1] “Customized executives” was the roundtable of Deptember 30th, 2003 at Fecap, São Paulo; chaired by Alfredo Behrens with the following collaborators: Ana Paula Chagas of Heidrick& Struggles; Angelo Meniconi of DBM Brazil; Leda Machado of FAAP’s EMBA; Jose Luiz Weiss of Coca~Cola FEMSA and Robert Wong of Korn, Ferry. I am very grateful for the collaboration of all the above; yet I remain exclusively responsible for the views expressed in this short paper.

[2] Look-up at Oxford Muse for more on Professor Zeldin’s proposal regarding portraits.


 

 


A poem by Richard Costello

Mistake

after Cavafy

My clients may not see it,
but when I think of our kiss

in that grimy hallway where,
finding ourselves suddenly alone,
with quiet, unguarded eyes
we offered our mouths?

I get lost, and may utter a small, desperate sound
they mistake for acknowledgement.

Richard Costello lives in Greensboro, N.C. (USA), and works as a physician assistant. Duirng your next visit you will surely give your dentist another look, for it is now obvious to us all that a heart beats even in the chest of dentist (d’aprés João Gilberto).

Listen to Richard Costello reading this poem. Posted Tuesday at www.Slate.com , Nov. 25, 2003, at 8:57 AM PT  

 

Resenha:  Empreendedor Corporativo

  

Empreendedor corporativo: a nova postura de quem faz a diferença, por Eduardo Bom Ângelo, na Negócio Editora, Rio de Janeiro, 2003. ISBN 85-7589-001-8. 250 páginas.Com contribuições: Herbert Steinberg; Marco Aurelio Klein; Ricardo De Marchi; Victor Mirshawka Jr.

 

Eduardo Bom Ângelo, em seu livro Empreendedor Corporativo, alcança seus objetivos de diferenciação: exclusividade, exposição de seus conhecimentos e geração de valor aos leitores. Com abordagem mais múltipla do que holística, contudo definitivamente transdisciplinar e transtemporal,  o autor consegue nos mostrar “how deep the rabit hole goes” (Matrix, 1999) no mundo maravilhoso do empreendedorismo e do intra-empreendedor. Com sua escrita caleidoscópica – em que cada página apresenta nova configuração, composta por imagens diversas, referenciais teóricos mistos e ousadas analogias – Bom Ângelo explora as principais questões ligadas ao empreendedorismo, aos perfis do empreendedor e do empreendedor corporativo. Perpassando todo o livro percebe-se a preocupação do autor com a pessoa do empreendedor, sua atitude: considerando os aspectos cognitivos, afetivos e  comportamentais. Para tanto, o livro se encontra dividido em 3 partes: (i) empreendedorismo corporativo; (ii) conteúdos correlatos ao tema (criatividade, liderança, marketing, qualidade pessoal/ estilo de vida) e (iii) perfis de 4 empreendedores corporativos. Na primeira parte, o empreendedorismo e o empreendedorismo corporativo são contextualizados e conceituados. Também se explora a ambiência corporativa necessária para o incentivo, desenvolvimento e atuação de intra-empreendedores. A segunda parte traz a contribuição de especialistas, articulando aspectos teóricos e práticos dos conteúdos tratados. Na terceira e última parte, acompanhamos as carreiras e atitudes de 4 intra-empreendedores que compartilham com o leitor o aprendizado de suas vidas. Com escrita fluente e linguagem coloquial, o livro representa uma fonte de informação, entretenimento e inspiração para empreendedores de todos os tipos.

 

Liesel Mack Filgueiras é Mestre em Administração pelo IAG/ PUC-RIO. Graduada em Psicologia pela PUC-RIO com estudos realizados na UC-Berkeley. Atualmente é coordenadora adjunta do Ensino de Empreendedorismo da PUC-RIO e professora das disciplinas Atitude Empreendedora e Empreendedorismo Social. É consultora em planejamento estratégico de empresas com e sem fins lucrativos. liesel@alternex.com.br

 


What makes or breaks an entrepreneur?

Besides income, what is the difference between a young entrepreneur and the young-at-risk of falling into crime? Louise Earnshaw, at the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, is working to tell us the difference. Her preliminary findings indicate that the two groups (entrepreneurs and kids at risk) share a number of unique similarities but show personality differences to successful non-entrepreneurial professionals. Her work may turn out to be most important in shaping social policy and in helping us understand how to promote entrepreneurship.

To further her research work Louise needs your help in the way of filling out a questionnaire. This is your chance to reveal the traits of your personality which have turned you into a successful entrepreneur or professional. Help Louise and help us all by filling her questionnaire. She has promised to share her findings with NewsLeader.



 

RECURSOS HUMANOS ESTRATEGICOS:  FICÇÃO OU REALIDADE?

 

Leda Machado

 

Infelizmente o que mais temos no Brasil são empresas que no discurso falam da necessidade e importância de um RH estratégico, mas que na realidade possuem uma área operacional desvinculada do negócio, entendida como apoio para os problemas dos funcionários e nem sempre respeitada pelas outras áreas da organização e alijada dos processos decisórios.

 

O que vemos freqüentemente, é o RH ser percebido como a seara dos ‘do gooder’, ou seja o departamento que acolhe e entende como nenhum outro as dificuldades que surgem do relacionamento entre os profissionais. O RH é o pronto socorro para a solução das crises.

 

A questão que tem sido colocada, é que devido à relevância da área para o desempenho da empresa, a mesma não deve se restringir a um papel primordialmente  operacional mas sim assumir um posicionamento estratégico. Quantos executivos discordariam desta afirmação? Provavelmente poucos.

 

Mas o que acontece na prática?

Quantas empresas conhecemos que  possuem uma área de Recursos Humanos realmente estratégica? 

 

Mas o que seria uma área de Recursos Humanos estratégica? Para ser estratégica precisa entender do negócio, do mercado, dos clientes. Assim ela poderá  fazer parte ativa do desenho e da implantação  da estratégia da empresa.  O RH seria não mais área de apoio, de solução de problemas criados em outras áreas, mas sim parte do core.

 

Mas,  será que é possível pensar em Recursos Humanos estratégico no Brasil? 

 

De acordo com Evans et alli (1) a área de RH tem  três papeis (ou aspectos) relacionados  ao desempenho das empresas.

 

São eles: o de  ‘builder’, que seria a construção dos  fundamentos, o de  ‘change partner’ que seria contribuir para o realinhamento da organização sempre que houvesse mudança na estratégia da empresa e finalmente o de ‘navigator’ que seria o de contribuir para evitar as ameaças que as constantes mudanças trazem.

 

Ainda hoje, no Brasil nem todas as empresas têm desenhado e implantado os fundamentos (base) de RH.  Por fundamentos entenda-se os processos  e todas as políticas de Recrutamento e Seleção, Desenvolvimento e Retenção dos profissionais, alinhados ao contexto da empresa.

Além dos fundamentos do RH, quantas empresas tem uma estrutura  de RH que possa contribuir para o realinhamento da organização sempre que haja uma mudança na estratégia da organização?

 

Mais, quantas têm condições de contribuir para evitar ou amenizar as constantes ameaças que as empresas sofrem?

 

Poderíamos falar de apenas algumas empresas nas quais suas áreas de Recursos Humanos desempenham esses três papeis e portanto são  realmente estratégicos.

Voltando ao começo, temos um longo caminho a percorrer para que o RH Estratégico, no Brasil, deixe de ser uma ficção para se tornar uma realidade.

 

(1) Evans, P. et alli (2002), “The Global Challenge”, McGraw-Hill, New York

 

Leda Machado é PhD pelo University College, London, leciona no EMBA da FAAP, foi Diretora de RH na OESP Mídia, na Deloitte Consulting e Diretora da área de Lideranca e Consultoria  da Gallup Organization. É consultora na área de RH para instituicoes com e sem finalidade de lucro. lmachado@terra.com.br

 


Provocative insights under 400 words long will receive our attention more apidly. Larger pieces may be abridged without consultation with the author. Guest authors may wish to submit contributions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French or Italian. Please use Arial 12 font. With each submission please include a statement indicating the work submited is your own. Please also submit your affiliations, email address and CV or Oxford Muse like portrait.  Authors will only be notified when their contributions are selected for publication.

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Copyright 2003: Authors retain copyright of their work. Alfredo Behrens is entitled to all other rights concerning NewsLeader, except the template design. You are encouraged to make use of the views and information provided herein, as long as you appropriately give credit to the author and quote this Newsleader's issue number and date.

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Alfredo Behrens
abehrens@terra.com.br 
Phone +55 11 38713363
São Paulo, SP
Brazil

Alfredo Behrens is an economist. He holds a PhD by the University of Cambridge, has lectured at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, at FSU and at PUC-RJ. He has broad experience in advising high public officials, shareholders and board members of banks and large corporations on issues such as: governance, corporate relations with governments, M&As and strategic planning focused on the internationalization of companies. He has worked in or with the private and public sector in the Americas, East and Western Europe and Southern Africa. He was awarded the MacNamara Fellowship by the World Bank, the Hewlett fellowship by Princeton University and the Jean Monet Fellowhship by the European University, Fiesole, Italy.

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