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April 04, 2011

LE– The leadership PMA that was

LE PMA although very exhausting,  was a very enjoyable and engaging. Not only did we learn so much about the theories, it gave us the freedom to explore the application of these theories. Often what happens  is that we sit and rephrase all the knowledge that already exists in the literature, But with leadership it was different! we created our situations, we made our own assumptions, we defined leader's personality, we described what leadership theroy will suit him the best and how to apply it. From the start till the end, there was so much learning taking place, infact the whole PMA was critical evaluation and application of everything that we had learnt about leadership so far (And trust me thats a lot!!)

There was just one problem, leadership has so many aspects to it, it is never ending. You can never learn everything or even close to enough about leadership..There is just so much of research and literature that exists that its very hard to compile  the crucial points you'd like to cover. Sometime, you get diverted and start exploring some other aspects of leadership that you read and find interesting. Its very hard to produce a PMA and that too in 5000 that sufficiently covers important bits. The more you reasearch, the more point you'll find.

The best part about the PMA that I find is that it gave us the opportunity to be creative. I actually realised that creativity in PMA can actually make it much more appealing and interesting to write. During the post module work, learning was constantly happening. There were times when I would just sit with friends and somehow we'll end up discussing leadership for hours!! Also, there were so many behavioral aspects of these leaders that I could personally relate to. By reading and analysing these theories I could create a picture of the type of leader that I'd like to be.

I am thankful to Paul for giving us the opportunity to experience Leadership and Excellence! An excellent module that it was!!

April 01, 2011

LE– Leaders are everywhere

I'd like to share with you something interesting I read about leadership today, its something obvious but I found out it quite interesting. This is how a Navy commancder describes leadership....

The USS San Antonio stands 694 feet long, 105 feet wide, 13 stories tall and 25,000 tonnes and can be quite intimidating to us but not to Commander Brad Lee, a 40 year old officer from the Navy. He is responsible for approximately 400 soldiers, twice as many Marines, numerous smaller vessels, fighter aircrafts and vehicles and also the tactical support team for the marine Air Ground Task Force. For him “Every sailor is important and success is never a one-man mission”. According to Lee, leadership is about making a difference to the lives of the others and the society. It’s about having love and passion for what you do while trying to create a better world to live in.

Most of us when we think of leaders, we tend to think about historical figures and “big names”, however Leaders like Brad Lee are make difference in their own ways. Leadership can be applied anywhere, in any organisation in any organisation and at any scale. In our individual way we can contribute towards our society by leading some kind of change.

LE– how to apply theories?

With whatever I am reading about leadership theories, they seem to be extremely theoretical (ofcourse they are theories, thats why)!! Although, these theories part vast knolwledge, they somtimes seem too idealistic and bookish knowledge. Why is it so difficult to find practical application of these theories? You can find leaders who are a perfect example of such leadership styles, but is hard to find a model which suggests the practical way to achieve such leadership styles. I want to read a book which identifies effective leaders of today, and how did they achieve that, did they use any leadership theories? were they just born this way?? etc etc

Motivate employees, how? Be a role model, how? Be charismatic, how? Improve your communciations skills, how? Identify the needs of the employees, how? Its interesting to read about these theories, but it'll be more interesting to actually find out how to do it in realistic terms??

LE– Need for leadership in Libyan protests

Leadership is needed everywhere, its not just restricted to organisations. This makes me reflect back to something interesting that I witnessed a couple of days back...

Few days ago I was watching Sky News, the reporter was taking interviews of Libya's civilians who particapate actively in mass demonstrations and protests again Gaddafi. Mind you, these civilians possess  all sorts of fire arms, weapons and ammunitions. He asked them a simple question:

Reporter: When you want to carry out protests and demonstrations, who leads you?

Civilian (a software engineer holding a gun) : We just randomly start attacking when we want to...

Reporter: Okay, so who is your leader/commander:

Civilian: I don't know

Reporter: Does anyone here know who their leader is.

No civilian knows the answer.

What we see here is although thousands of  Libyans are passionately and voluntarily fighiting for their rights against an autocrat and bully, much of their effort goes in vain parrticularly because there is no guiding force to direct them. There is no one to give orders. No leader? There is so much of chaos everywhere!! Won't there efforts produce better result if there was a leader? It is important that the civilians elect a leader for themselves if they want to be successful, else it can be very difficult. Their rebel will have a much more powerful impact with effective leadershsip. Leadership is needed everywhere!!

LE– Leaders are not born, they are made

While doing my PMA, aa question that often arises is whether the leaders are born or made. In my understanding, the way people behave, their personlity and their nature is not esentially by birth. I think its the learning that takes over the years is what moulds us to be the way they are today. I strongly believe its our upbringing, our observations, the mistakes we makes, the values taught to us by our parents, peers, school, education etc etc that is responsible for the basic fundaments/elements of our behaviour. Will I behave the same way if I had different parents, different kinds of friends, or if I went to a different school?? Yes.

Moreover, I think my thinking is also influence by the fact that I dont believe in destiny. I think whatever happens to us if not our fate, its the result of our actions. We are the creators of our destiny. We control our destiny and not the other way round. Same way, I think that when we are born, we are like clay and slowly moulded by external and internal factors into what we are today. Also, I like the flexibility and the openess of the idea that leaders are made and not born, this makes me believe that anyone can be a leader (whether situational, motivational, charismatic etc.), anyone can transform, continuous imporvement is always happening. We are not what we are just by nature, we make ourselves! We are the creators.

March 28, 2011

LE– A popular topic

Over the last few days I have been going over the literature for Leadership. I find that Leadership is such a hot topic in the modern day orgnisations. organsiaitons are slowly trying to learn more and more about this subject. Within such a broad topic, What I find is that there are so many different thinkings and perspective on leadership theories. If few authors support a perspective there are many against it. I'm finding it quite hard to sum up all the information in the PMA, yes ofcourse there is no end to learning and acquiring knowledge but this doesnt seem to end. I have already started writing my PMA but with each book or journal I find new information that I need to take into account. Everytime this happens I am back to square one and questioning the fundamental aspects of PMA. 

The real problem is that even though there is so much literature that is useful, its very difficult to pick up the appropriate and relevant bits. Leadership is such an interesting PMA and I want to write it well. Whats motivating me is that Im thinking it in real terms. I view each aspect as how my recommendations and suggestions will affect the actual perfomance of a company. Infact this is precisely why I wanna get this right,  you can't afford to make mistakes when you're consulting an actual company. Our role as a consultant hold a lot of responsibility, our suggestion can either excel a company or proove disastrous...

March 08, 2011

LE – Me, the Leader

I'd like to trace back my experience of leadership to one of the in module simulation. I had the opportunity to play the role of leader for simulation in which we had to bid for the hotels. Althought at first I wasn't too comfortable getting into the shoes of a leader, I was inspired by the events of the previous day. There was a comment from one of my group mates who said that anybody can be a leader, we just need to give it a go, just breakfree from the comfort zone and try it and everything will then fall into place. His words in particular did influence me, they  motivated me to go on and do the role play. Its quite interesting to see how simple motivation from peers can be so effective and can help us grow.

As the days events unfolded, I observed and reflected my behaviour as a leader. Its so easy to sit in a chair as an employee and complain about all the things that go wrong in the organsiationbut its so difficult to actually be a leader and run the organisation. When I started off as a leader, I was extremely nervous. I didn't show it but I knew I knew how badly I wanted to get this right. I felt responsible for the entire team, for its success and faliures and its not a very easy feeling to cope up with. I strongly believe that whatever we achieved as a team was because of the contribution of each and every member. We are what we are  because of our team. I was fortunate enough to work with some extremely supportive, intelligent and efficient team memebers. I also discovered that the approach that works the best with me for leadership is to be a democratic leader. I believe that my expertise and skills cannot always be the best in a team. I have to trust others and believe in them. Therefore, we took a collective decisions from a sytemic point of view rather than being autocratic and independent thinkers. And as a team we did great. But I do sit and wonder that if I hadn't got a good team would we still achieve the same results?? Is being democratic always good?? Are we successful cause of the decisions we take or does luck play a big role in this? What is there are urban terrorists, am I capable enough to tackle them?? Ofcourse, you cant just become an effective leader in a day. Its a journey. Even the smallest experience can teach you a long. I believe that as I take this road in MBE, i would have fortunately taken some very long strides in this journey :)

February 08, 2011

LE–Can we really define Leadership ?

Our first task for the module was to define leadership. Although as a group we were able to make sense out of the matrix and use it an effective way, it was very hard to create a precise and accurate definition for leadership. Defining leadership was just not as straightforward as it first seemed. It was a great help that Paul had already provided us with some very good definitions given by academic authors. However, every definition although similar in nature constituted of different elements that the authors considered important. The question was can we really provide a single and a concise definition to leadership?

I believe leadership is subjective in nature. For example, in the activity that we performed on the first day of the module (the boat example) in which each group had to select a leader and a deputy leader, there were variations across groups on who they think should be the perfect leader. In the end, there was no correct or incorect answer, leader was chosen based on our perception of and expectatitions from a leader and resultant, groups in general had different combinations. Therefore, definition of leadership would vary across organisations, situations.

Also,a leader has to deal with employees. Employees are human resource and humans in nature are unpredictable. We all are different individuals and we all think differently. Therefore, how we perceive a leader to be and what we expect from him may be different from the others viewpoints. As a result, in my view there is no such thing as an ideal' or a 'perfect' definition of leadership. It may be easy to establish what we think should be the qualities of a leader and in what way should he ideally act in an organisation  but it is impossible to give a single definition to leadership.

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