Leaders’ Involvement, an Essential Practice for Trust, Learning, Effectiveness and Innovation in Highly Specialized Firms
44 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2013
Date Written: March 9, 2012
High-trust relationships are essential for effective management of highly specialized organizations. Executives who choose involvement in problem-solving with employees and who become vulnerable by exposing their ignorance of employees’ unique knowledge, especially tacit know-how acquired by experience, problem-solving and innovating in communities of practice, endanger personal authority but they gain trust, learn, make better decisions, and regain authority provided they have primary source knowledge and interactional expertise for such learning (Collins and Evens, 2007). New executives without such knowledge and expertise, and/or with habitus of detachment and/or personalized leadership, especially outsiders, use detachment to avoid vulnerability, often causing vicious distrust circles that keep them ignorant and fail them in jobs although perhaps not in careers. Others whose knowledge and habitus encourage involvement tend to cause virtuous trust circles, achieving effectiveness and innovativeness. A semi-native ethnography of an outsider-managed automatic plant exposed the decisiveness of vulnerable involvement even more than having insider knowledge. By involvement outsiders gained trust, knowledge sharing, learned, and succeeded like inside-outsiders (Bower, 2007). The findings explain the prime advantage of insider successors differently from Bower (2007): their relevant knowledge encourages vulnerable involvement, engendering trust and learning. These findings offer new yardsticks for decision-making concerning succession.
Keywords: involved managers, executives’ ignorance, inside/outside successors, virtuous trust circle
JEL Classification: J24, J54, L69, M11, O30, P32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation