Influence tactics of David Siegel to combat employee smoking and obesity in the Central Florida Investments company
Wart and Suino defined leadership as the ability of a person to influence other people to do things that they may not do without the influence (Wart & Suino, 2012, p.90). People with this ability are referred to as leaders and are found in different settings and contexts. In an organizational context, leaders are responsible for planning, coordinating, and controlling organizational functions and activities towards the attainment of organizational goals and objectives (Sims, 2007, p.56). Being a leader means more than being a team leader. It involves getting things done and doing them well. It is a show of positive attitude and involves various aspects like influencing followers, the commitment of individuals to goals, aiding group cohesion, and spearheading change in organizations (Daft, 2008, p.18).
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There are various tactics which are used by leaders and managers to influence the behavior of employees. The tactics may be used independently or may be combined, depending on what the leaders want to achieve. In the case of CFI Westgate, David Siegel appears to be using a combination of tactics in his attempt to combat smoking and obesity in the organization.
The first influence tactic is legitimacy. With this tactic, leaders use their positions of power and authority to make their followers do what the leaders want. In some cases, leaders may use coercion to push through decisions which they consider as important for the stability and success of their organizations (Borkowski, 2011, p.65). Examples of such decisions include decisions which touch on employees’ welfare, organizational targets, mergers, and acquisitions.
As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organization, Siegel has the legitimate power to control the organization and make decisions about the conduct of employees. By virtual of being the CEO, his decisions must be obeyed by all employees who are below him in the organizational structure. In 2003, he used his legitimate power to end smoking in the organization. As reported in the case, he appears to be determined to apply the same legitimate power to end obesity among the employees. If he were not the CEO, it would be extremely difficult for him to spearhead the campaigns against smoking and obesity in the organization (Nelson & Quick, 2012, p.23).
The other influence tactic used by the CEO is rational persuasion. With this tactic, leaders act as examples for others to follow (Singh, 2010, p.45). When the organization introduced the weight-loss program, the CEO was actively involved and as a result, he lost 20 pounds. He did that so as to inspire the employees to embrace the program for it to be successful. This tactic appears to be very powerful because it is reported that in the first year, some employees who participated in the program lost up to 60 pounds. If the CEO could not have participated in the program, perhaps not many employees would have embraced it.
The other influence tactic used by the CEO in his attempt to combat smoking and obesity at CFI Westgate is inspirational appeal. With this tactic, leaders use some incentives to appeal to their followers to do what the leaders want. The tactic is not to be confused with bribery because it involves the efforts of the employees and the leaders. It is based on the principle of give-and-take and for it to be successful; there is need for the employees to be highly committed to organizational core values (Drory, 2006, p.67). It is reported that the organization has in place a weight-loss contest, where those who participate and lose weight stand a chance to win cash prizes and vacations.
Suggestions for Siegel to be more successful in influencing employee weight control
Even though Mr Siegel has tried to come up with some initiatives to influence employees’ weight, there is still room for improvement. It is important to mention that the concerns which were raised by bloggers and commentators regarding the discrimination of overweight workers were not based on facts. The reason is that it is clearly stated that the organization does not penalize overweight or obese workers at the present.
One of the suggestions which I may offer to Mr Siegel is to make body weight part of the recruitment criteria. What I mean is that the organization should recruit employees who are passionate about physical fitness. If that is done, employees would be aware from the outset that overweight is not encouraged in the organization. As a result, those candidates who are not passionate about physical fitness would not accept to be employed in the organization. In the long-run, there would be minimal resistance to the campaign against overweight, which would cushion the CEO from the criticism by bloggers and commentators over violation of employees’ rights.
The other suggestion would be to introduce lessons on the dangers of excessive weight among the employees. For this suggestion to work, the CEO needs to hire health specialists to train the employees on balanced diet and its benefits. Such specialists would also create awareness among the employees on the dangers of being overweight. If the employees are sensitized on such issues, there would be little resistance on the campaign against overweight. When the training is combined with the weight-loss contest, the end result would be a highly informed workforce on matters of health, which would enable the organization to meet its objective of having a healthy and productive workforce.
Daft, R.L. (2008). The Leadership Experience. Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.
Drory, E.A. (2006).Handbook of Organizational Politics. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar Pub.
Borkowski, N. (2011). Organizational Behavior in Health Care. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Nelson, D.L., & Quick, J.C. (2012). Organizational Behavior: Science, the Real World, and You. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning.
Sims, R. (2007). Human Resource Management: Contemporary Issues, Challenges and Opportunities. Greenwich, Conn: Information Age Publishers.
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Singh, K. (2010). Organizational Behavior: Text and Cases. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
Wart, M.V., & Suino, P. (2012). Leadership in Public Organizations: an Introduction. Armonk, N.Y: Sharpe.