All entries for January 2012

January 31, 2012

The Flight of Ducks

Another exciting day on the Leadership and Excellence Module.

I have really been enjoying working with my team mates so far. Today, we got together to conclude on our first presenation, on the definition of Leadership.

What I found interesting, was the fact that after using the Leadership matirx to grade definitions, the definitions with the highest scores were not neccessarily the ones that had caught our attention in the beggining. I think initially, we had all been a bit taken with the short, concise and cleverly phrased definitions with a clever play of words. As the exercised progressed however, it became more ovbious to me that perhaps they had been a bit too concise, and were in fact lacking some crucial words and phrases necessarily to effectively capture all the characteristics that define the concept of Leadership.

The definition we came up with is certainly not short or catchy, but, I am comfortable that we were able to capture all that we wanted to say.

The reflection session today in class has so far been the longest of such sessions we have had in the past. I think we did get a bit side tracked a few times and veered off topic, and as is usually the case in such situations, the more people had to say, the more other people had to say in form of a response or comment.

However, the discussion that stuck with me was the debate about the need for a leader to have followers in order to truly be a leader. My personal opinion, is that until a person's ideology has been adopted, accepted and or practised by others, he/she cannot really be said to be a leader. Many definitions of leadership allude to influencing others and being able to communicate ideas across to a group of people, often, the word followers is used in the context. Even indirect leaders have followers, there are a lot of scientists today whose work is based or grounded on the principles and theories laid by Albert Einstein. These people are in fact, essentially his followers.

The other argument was that it might be counterproductive to have more than one active leader in an organization as they may have conflicting opinions. I beg to differ with that assumption. I believe, that as long as an organization has a clearly defined vision as created by the overall leader, then, if the people in positions of authority had leadership skills and abilities, they are more likely to be more effective and efficient workers. As long as they are able to craft a vision, that is based on the overall company vision. A sub-vision if you like, that aims towards accomplishing the whole or at least a part of the company vision. As long as the sub-visions are in line with the overall aims of the company, then, there will not be any conflicting ideas leading to confusion or disruption of the businesses work process. The "Junior" leaders could play a supporting role that will inspire employees to work towards attaining high results.

I'll end this post with a leadership proverb that I stumbled across.

"Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow"

  Chinese Proverb


January 30, 2012

Why Kim Kardashian is an effective Leader

I really have been looking forward to the Leadership and Excellence module, and I have to say that with such an interesting start im sure it will live up to my expectations.

The first thing that struck me in class today, was Paul's distinction between an effective leader and a good leader. It was a point I had been hoping to address at some point during the module.

I knew that although Leadership has been largely celebrated and encouraged especially in the business and academic communities, it did infact have it's negative side. When a leader uses their power of influence to encourage people to perform atrocities or acts that may not necessarily be in their interests or the interests of a larger community, I often wondered whether they could or should be considered as Leadership role models.

Given Pauls answer today, I think the answer to that question should be yes. I think that people can learn from a bad leader who has been effective in his leadership. Citing the Hitler example, I read somewhere that when asked how he (Hitler) was able to so effectively convince his people to embrace Nazi Ideology, he laid emphasis on the power of consistent communication. I believe he said somehting along these lines:

"Put a man in a room and tell him something. Repeat it to him every day for 30 days. Then for another 30 days, ask him to repeat the words back to you, at the end of 60 days, you can convince a man of anything"

I find this insight to be remarkable. If used within the right context and for the right purposes, I think that Hitler's principles could certainly be very effective, after all, they worked for him. It is just most unfortunate that he chose to use his power and ability to cause so mych destruction.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, now that I understand the distinction between a good leader and an effective one. I can seperate intent or goals and result from leadership strategy, the vision from the principle behind it.

So, even though it pains me to say this. I will grudgingly have to agree that a lot of celebrities in the entertainment industries are in fact effective leaders (e.g Jay-Z and Kim Kardashian). I may not agree with the values or lifestyle that they are peddling, but I must admit that they have been able tosucessfully convince their target segment of the society to buy into their image and brands. Why else would so many young people be willing to pay obscene amounts of money for 'celebrity' endorsed clothing and other paraphernelia?

January 05, 2012

Why is Six Sigma still so popular?

My decision to do a rework on my PMA has proved to be helpful.

I decided to go over more journal entries and research papers that discuss the implementation of six sigma. Most of them give a largely positive opinion of six sigma, but there are a few who mention shcolars that are not impressed by the six sigma methodology at all.

Reasons given mainly centred around the fact that they did not consider it to be a new idea. Also, they had encountered some organizations that had not found six sigma appropriate to meet the unique needs of their company and had thus abandonded it in favour of methods they had developed within themselves.

At the end of the day, the goal of Six Sigma is to enable companies to perform better, if an organization can develop a way of performing at optimum levels without applying six sigma methodology, then they really have no use for it.

Then why is SIx sigma still so popular if this is the case? Well, i think that at the end of the day, organizations like that described above are few and far in between. Many companies will not be able to design such appropriate methods to improve their business processes, thus, having a structured tool such as Six Sigma implemented will provide them a good shot at improving their business performance

January 2012

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