Sunday, February 20, 2011

Al Gore and Path Goal Theory

When looking at the environmental crisis as a whole, I couldn't help but to think of the path goal theory we had recently learned about and discussed in class. The focus of this theory is how leaders motivate their followers/subordinates to follow them. One of the biggest obstacles in this crisis has seemed to be the incapability of any leader to effectively motivate the population to follow. We've seen an array of tactics used by leaders including all four leader behaviors (directive, supportive, participative, achievement oriented) from the path goal theory.

When realizing this and applying the theory to the countless "environmental leaders" we've had in our society, I'm left wondering if any of these behaviors would be any more effective than the others in this situation? Or is the issue too large and the followers too diverse to simply use one leadership behavior? I feel with such a diverse following an environmental leader would have, that it would leave them unable to effectively motivate the followers.

I wanted to apply this theory in more detail to Al Gore and his role in the environmental crisis. I felt that he would be a useful leader to apply it to because he has been one of the most active, influential, powerful, and popular leaders throughout our country's focus on the environment. He has lead in all types of situations and has tried using various tactics for motivating his followers (the American public). While he's now not as much focused on being in the public eye but instead focuses on investing in new eco companies, he still is an influential leader and is someone our country is going to most likely want to have around when we decide to start acting aggressively on the environment.

Al Gore has done many things for the environmental movement and is constantly trying raise awareness on the topic. While his actions have hit on each of the leader behaviors in the path goal theory, I feel the two we see the most out of him have been supportive and participative. One could argue while in office his influence on environmental policy making could also be considered directive behavior, but with policies and laws including so many people I feel that unless they're highly unpopular or "ground-breaking" they really shouldn't be used to define a leader. I feel he shows the supportive behavior through his actions after his time in office as vice president. His books and movies have made him seem more approachable (far from the truth with his celebrity status) simply because they make him come off as trying to make the world a little better and pleasant for us. The conversational style and feel of the movie and books have made him seem more down to earth rather than the politician-writer-actor-celebrity that he is. While you can argue he isn't approachable or "supportive" because the follower could never get in touch with him, but I feel for someone of his stature the supportive behavior has to be applied differently simply because of the amount of followers. I feel it should be instead measured by how supportive his followers feel he is and how well they think he hits on the points of being a supportive leader. I also feel Gore has been showing participative behavior through the release of his movie; "An Inconvenient Truth and his two books on the environment. Gore was able to utilize the media in the best way for getting the information out to his followers and for showing them how to get involved. I think he did an excellent job at this because he was able to realize which media forms were going to be most effective for him and he also was able to spark huge media attention to his movie thus brining in even more followers.

But Al Gore now handles investments for eco companies? I'm afraid that maybe he's realized that there really is no way to motivate the followers and that even as countless environmental leaders use different leadership behaviors, that there really is no effective way to motivate such a large and diverse group of followers?

Which behavior from the path goal theory do you feel would be most effective in getting the American public motivated to make changes?

Is the path goal theory applicable when your dealing with situations like this where the characteristics of the subordinates are too diverse? How can a leader choose the most effective behavior if their leading millions of people?

-Daniel Salsinger

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Most of us have recently noticed the feel-good, sustainability-targeted commercials on TV, always focusing on a character who thoroughly appreciates the joys of nature. These comical clips are provided by Ecomagination, a project sponsored by General Electric. It was started in 2005 with a mission statement being "to develop tomorrow's solutions such as solar energy, hybrid locomotives, fuel cells, lower-emission aircraft engines, lighter and stronger durable materials, efficient lighting, and water purification technology". Ever since the launch, Ecomagination is consistently developing new projects encouraging people to live by more environmentally-conscious means. The company seems to have calculated exact solutions to our planet's emission problems and have developed models to support it. Mark Vachon, who has been with the company for twenty years, was appointed to be the leader of ecomagination and had the task of efficiently utilizing the initial $5 billion investment in clean tech research and development.Vachon has been taking all the right steps considering the $70 billion revenues just five years after the former investment. While the green movement is popular among area for businesses to part in, most do it on a small scale basis for the purpose of positive pubic image. Ecomagination on the other hand, keeps attacking major areas of concern while also establishing very high goals, truly set out to make a significant difference. General Electric's upper mobility is difficult to achieve considering the number of years expected to have had invested in the company and the numerous leadership development  programs one must graduate from. Vachon has so far succeeded to achieve and exceed the set goals example being "In 2009, GE invested $1.5 billion on ecomagination R&D, reaching the commitment to double our annual investment by 2010 one year ahead of schedule. GE continues to be committed to unleashing new technology. Therefore, in 2010 GE is introducing a new commitment to invest an additional $10 million in ecomagination research and development by 2015."
General Electric thrives on strong leadership development through which Vachon was able to establish his own tactics. Referring to situational leadership, I would associate him with highly-directive and highly-supportive leadership style. This style requires for the leader to both, accomplish the goals and to satisfy subordinates' socioemotional needs. The company's progress through innovative initiative is based on being open to all and any ideas of the public,which they demonstrate by asking their website visitors to submit ideas for further sustainability projects. The highly structured nature of the company and the magnitude of decisions made by Vachon suggests the importance a good balance of directing and supporting styles of leadership in order to be able to achieve goals while remaining on an appropriate social level.

Related Articles

Mingaile Orakauskaite

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CEO of Aston Martin leads by example

 Dr. Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, is leading his company into the future the same way he's been leading his life, by being environmentally friendly. Dr. Bez says that he's been going green since he can remember. For example, his house is built from renewable material, and he doesn't let his car idle when it is stopped at traffic lights. As for his business, he has introduced a new model of car called the Cygnet. The Cygnet has a one-litre engine, and the lowest fuel consumption of any Aston Martin. However, he did scoff when he was asked about the idea of an electric Aston Martin. He stated that his current solution is an honest one. He said that if you're going to go green, you have to be honest about it. Electric cars have had a history of not being able to accelerate very quickly, nor have much horsepower, two specifications sports cars must have to sell. People don't buy Aston Martins because of their low gas millage and low emissions, they buy them to be fast and powerful. Dr. Bez is a great example of a leader who leads by example. Not only is he turning his company into an environmental friendly automaker, he lives his life that way. This shows people that he's not just going green for his company's public image, but he actually believes in what he's doing. Dr. Bez shows both position power (power a person derives from a particular rank in a formal organizational system) and personal power (the influence capacity a leader derives from being seen by followers as likable and knowledgeable). His position power comes from the legitimate power he has. He is the CEO of Aston Martin, and therefore has formal job authority. His personal power comes from the referent power he has. People like and admire a leader who leads by example.

Do you think turning a sports car, like an Aston Martin, into an environmentally friendly car is a smart idea?
Do you believe Aston Martin may one day produce an electric car?
Is Dr. Bez's leadership style a good fit for Aston Martin?

Source of article:

Posted by: Jerret Baker

South Korea's Lee Myung-bak

As CEO of Hyundai, South Korea's largest conglomerate, during the 1970's and 80's, Lee was able to rebuild most of post- war Korea, transforming a poor, farming country into a recent success story. After his CEO position at Hyundai, Lee moved on to be mayor of Seoul in 2002, and then eventually, using his popularity, president of the Republic of Korea. Using his recently acquired position power, Lee has made a commitment to environmental and economical sustainability and has launched a new energy conservation program. Some of the details in this plan are labeling electronic devices that use more than one watt during stand by mode with a yellow sticker and forbidding car owners to drive on one designated weekday, with violators being fined. Becasue Lee was able to prove himself to the Koreans as a leader in the past and show them the economic benefits of environmental sustainability, much of the Koreans have increasingly prioritized environmental issues alongside their president. In fact a recent poll taken in South Korea indicated that 53% of the people in South Korea actually think environmental protection is more important that economic development.

Lee is an excellent example of many types of effective leadership and leadership styles.

First being his excellent use of Social Judgment skills. Being involved with the South Korean government and its people for such a long time, being CEO  of Hyundai and as mayor of Seoul, Lee was able to gain the capacity to understand and relate to the people of South Korea as well as gain their acceptance as a leader.  This enabled Lee to work with his followers an establish rules and regulations he knew the citizens would be more than willing to abide by, and in fact, support. This also better enabled him to implement a change program within the framework of the country that is embraced by most. It allowed him to gain a perspective on environmental issues that deeply coincides with that of the average South Korean. Most importantly his social judgment skills allowed him to formulate environmental sustainability programs to help solve the extremely complicated problem that is global warming and environmental degradation.

Lee is also a great example of an Achievement-Oriented leader, who by definition, challenges his followers, (South Korean people), to perform work (Environmentally sustainable programs) at the highest level possible. Setting strict rules, such as designating a specific weekday that an individual cannot drive is a great example of this approach. He has set an extremely high standard of performance for his followers (south Koreans), and expects them to follow through with his guidance. More importantly than expecting his people to follow through with his environmental programs, Lee is confident that the South Koreans have the ability & capacity to accomplish these challenging goals. Otherwise he wouldn't have presented these environmental initiatives to the people of South Korea with such broad confidence.

Do you think Americans would ever go for these types of environmental control regulations??

By: Jarett Diederich       

Recycled Railroads

This link tells the story of a major American railroad company purchasing a $15 million contract for recycled plastic railroad ties.  The ties are purchased from Axiom International, which focuses on innovative ways to use recycled plastics for durable, eco-friendly products.  With this contract, Axiom can expand their operations and hopefully develop many new products with this technology.

Axiom's co-founder, Chief Technology Officer, and leader is James Kerstein, and his leadership style is probably essential to the vision of Axiom.  Axiom's business model relies on innovation with products that by nature are not generally thought of as being constructed from recycled material, so for followers to follow Kerstein's vision takes a very specific type of leader.

So what type of leader would Kerstein need to be to thrive with his given situation?  According to Path Goal theory, Kerstein would need to exhibit achievement oriented leadership.  Path-goal theory offers four different types of leadership, which are directive, supportive, participative, and achievement oriented.  It then measures several different types of subordinate characteristics, and then measures task characteristics.  Path-goal theory claims that leaders need to choose a leadership style that best suits the subordinates and their tasks.

Kerstein should practice achievement oriented leadership for two reasons.  First, the subordinates he leads have high expectations and a need to excel.  They need to create innovative, cost-efficient, and high-quality products from plastics and polymers that are rather revolutionary, so subordinates are definitely challenged and need to have a sense of confidence to achieve their goals.  Second, the tasks are rather ambiguous and challenging.  The level of innovation required to satisfy market needs in terms of products that currently are not thought of as being green is extraordinarily high.  As a result, tasks are very complex, and subordinates need to be challenged and have confidence that their efforts will lead to better results.  These facts all say that Kerstein would need to be achievement oriented.

What do you think Kerstein needs to do from a leadership standpoint?  Can this organization be a trailblazer for other industrial products?

-Jonathan Lucento

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mitsubishi Goes Electric


Above is a picture of the new Mitsubishi "i" MiEV, or Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle. This model is one of six new electric vehicles the automaker plans on introducing by 2015. Because of weak sales and concerns for government regulations on vehicle emissions, Mitsubishi has decided to focus more on hybrid and electric vehicles for the future. The company has developed three specific, measurable goals to be achieved by 2020:  Achieve a production volume at least 20% of which is comprised of EVs (electric vehicles), cut global lineup CO2 emissions by a weighted average of 50%, and reduce per-vehicle CO2 emissions during production by 20% over 2005 levels. This "green" strategy is the kind of leadership all CEOs should be involved in. Koichi Komatsu, the main person behind this strategy, is not only the CEO of Mitsubishi International Corporation, but is the Chief Sustainability Officer for Mitsubishi Corporation’s North American operations. Mr. Komatsu has shown a strong commitment to lead his company into a "green" future. This is the kind of commitment all auto industry leaders should be involved in. He is not just a manager because he produces order and consistency, but a leader because he produces change and movement. He is leading his company into the future of the automobile industry. He establishes direction in his company by creating a clear vision for the future. He has developed a strategy to become a "green" automaker by producing more hybrid and electric vehicles. In order to achieve this strategy, he has clarified specific goals and deadlines to his employees. These are the kinds of things which make him an effective leader.

What is your opinion on electric cars? Do you believe that Mitsubishi can reach its goals? Why will the electric car succeed today when it failed in the past? Do you believe Mr. Komatsu is leading his company in the right direction?

Links to related articles:
Exclusive: Mitsubishi's North American CEO Details New Electric Vehicle Strategy

"Mitsubishi Motors Group Environmental Vision 2020" Roadmap Announced -"Leading the EV era, towards a sustainable future" -

Koichi Komatsu Appointed President & CEO of Mitsubishi International Corporation

Posted by: Jerret Baker

Masdar City

While going through an article on Yahoo about the world's most visionary cities, I came across a project being built in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emeries) named Masdar City. Yahoo described it as:

"Eco-warriors, meet Mecca: once completed, Masdar City promises to be the world's most sustainable urban locale. The city will be powered by solar and wind energy; recycle the majority of its wastewater; and try to reduce its waste to zero via unorthodox methods such as transforming biological waste into soil and fertilizer. A perimeter wall surrounding Masdar will keep desert winds at bay, while shaded streets combat the blazing sun. As for gas-guzzling cars, they're eighty-sixed from city limits (electric vehicles are allowed), replaced by mass transit and pod-like vehicles that travel underground. Some systems are already operational, but the city will come online fully in approximately 2020."

The city was supposed to be done in 2009 but due to financial reasons and advancements in environmental technology they've now been able to fully finance the project and save around $2 billion. The complete project is supposed to cost an estimated $17-19 billion. They anticipate being able to house 40,000- 50,000 people and to also have multiple corporations headquartered inside (some who will focus on manufacturing and engineering new environmental technologies). Some people are saying that Masdar City has the potential to be the metropolis of the future and can end up being the first of many fully sustainable cities being built. 

As i continue learning more and more about Masdar City and other sustainability projects going on throughout the world I find myself wondering a few things...

-Why hasn't the U.S. done something as extreme as Masdar City or at least begun to push the limits in sustainability? 

We have all of the resources to complete a project of this magnitude and to even take it a step further. As being the leader in energy usage, shouldn't we also be focusing on being the leader in creating new energy to help sustain us in the future when our current resources deplete? 

-What type of people should be allowed to live in this city? Can anyone live here or if the demand is high enough could the government only allow certain people in? 

While I think this is a great idea and wish that I could see our own country attempt something like this, I feel the people could become either a major downfall or success for the project. They plan on having a university inside which I think is a great idea because it will provide the city with young, eager to learn, and ambitious people. Besides the university however, I was unable to find anything else that would point to putting the right type of people in the city. I personally believe that the "right" type of person for this city would ultimately be someone who buys into the project. While it can be argued that only leaders, people of a certain intelligence, or "ideal" individuals should be allowed in, I think that the power of leading by example is the best chance for success. If everyone in the city is bought into the project's goal, it will lead to people doing what they're supposed to do in the city and leading by example to the one's who don't buy in or who hurt the project's success.  

-Would you support the same type of city being built in the U.S.? If so where do you think the ideal place for it would be and who should inhabit it? 

Daniel Salsinger 

Obama's Environmental Concerns

Perhaps one of the most terrifying issues facing the world right now is environmental sustainability. This is an issue that can not be resolved unless the entire WORLD is working together. One country's pollution and over consumtion effects the rest of the world.President Obama's determination to bring the U.S back into the international, environmental fold has been inspiring to say the least. His willingness to tackle such a daunting and complex crisis is a testament to his extreme amount of motivation and leadership qualities. During his campaign, Obama talked about ways to create new "green" jobs intended to revamp the country's energy economy and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. Using his ability to persuade and influence followers, along with his capacity to structure social interaction systems to support the goal at hand, Obama signed into action many new environmental acts and policies.  One of which being...

The "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" included "$80 billion dollars in the generation of renewable energy sources, expanded the capacity for manufacturing "green" technology, advanced vehicle and fueling technologies, and started the creation of a bigger, better electrical grid." All of these measures are steps in the right direction to further our efforts of saving this "planet in peril", as the president mentioned in his speech on election night.

Another great example of Obama's exemplary leadership is when he signed an executive order on federal sustainability. Leading by example, Obama committed the Federal government to "reduce its carbon emissions by 28% by 2020, increase energy efficiency, and reduce fleet petroleum consumption." By holding his "organization", the Federal Government, along with himself responsible for his environmental agenda, he showed the American people that this is a group effort. Furthermore, by showing the rest of the world that the U.S is taking the issues of environmental sustainability and climate change seriously, now we can all start working together to help solve this global crisis. 

Do you think the American government has done enough to show the extreme gravity of this environmental crisis?

Does America do enough to keep up with other "green" countries like Switzerland or Sweden? Why or Why not? link to Newsweek's 'World Greenest Countries" list. 

Jarett Diederich

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Empire State building taking the green step

Environmental sustainability can successfully progress only with smaller scale businesses making the right steps along the way. Article found at,0  discusses recent developmental changes in New York's major attraction the Empire State Building doing just that. Building owner Anthony Malkin is taking initiative by making architectural changes in the building while saving millions of dollars and showing a great example for other businesses to follow. Malkin mentions a few basic but essential, energy conscious steps when leasing facilities for businesses. It is imperative for us as business students to comprehend importance of environmental sustainability as well the impact we will have as future decision makers by utilizing innovative methods being implemented such as ones by Anthony Malkin.

Mingaile Orakauskaite

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Leader in New York

The three links above tell the story of New York governor Andrew Cuomo's quest to transform the state into an environmentally sustainable machine.  Upon his election, he promised to be a friend to the environment and push for legislative reform to prioritize sustainability.  His agenda can be found at this link (

Campaign promises are easy, but Governor Cuomo proved that he is more than just talk by taking a look at his proposed budget earlier this week.  His budget maintained the Environmental Protection fund, and neither the Department of Environmental Conservation nor the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation will lose any staff members.

So why is this so important?  In these tough economic times, budget cuts are at a premium.  Governments in danger look to slash costs any way possible, but Governor Cuomo is in essence issuing a statement that says New York simply cannot afford to ignore the environment or the possibilities of  sustainability.  He is unwilling to sacrifice the future for the short-term present, and he believes fully that an energy-conscious New York is the future.  His agenda stresses the economic and global benefits of a green New York, and he is unwilling to put that vision on hold for short-term relief.

Governor Cuomo is currently  practicing assigned leadership, but for his vision to take off he will need others to come forward and take on some emerging leadership roles.  Assigned leadership refers to occupying a position where leadership is appointed.  As governor, his job is to lead the people of New York in whichever direction he sees fit.  The journey towards a green New York will take emergent leaders as well, however.  Emergent leaders are not necessarily assigned;  they are recognized for their individual behavior, beliefs, and actions, and are then followed over time.  Governor Cuomo must attend to the other needs of New York as well, so other leaders will need to step up and adapt this movement. 

We would be slightly premature in judging or speculating as to the nature of Governor Cuomo's leadership, but it will be interesting to monitor the progress, mindset, and allocation of resources for New York in the coming months and years.  According to Harvard business professor John Kotter, establishing a vision is an essential component of change leadership.  Governor Cuomo has laid out the challenge and communicated the vision, and now we can watch his vision unfold.

What do you think of Governor Cuomo's vision?  Should he have put it on hold to address some of New York's more pressing fiscal issues right now?  What type of leader do you think Governor Cuomo will be?
Feel free to discuss or follow up on this story.

-Jonathan Lucento

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This blog is created, designed, and operated by Illinois State students, and its purpose is to provide commentary on leaders' decisions, strategies, and current events regarding both the green movement and environmental sustainability.  We will discuss revolutionary ideas, organizations' shifts towards environmentally friendly policies and practices, and several leaders that are transforming business culture towards a globally conscious approach.  We encourage active discussion from both Illinois State students and visitors to our blog, so feel free to discuss our posts or alert us to new discussion topics as you see fit.  Thanks!

Blog writers:
Jonathon Byrd
Jerret Baker
Jarett Diederich
Jonathan Lucento
Mingaile Orakauskaite
Daniel Salsinger