All entries for Friday 21 February 2014

February 21, 2014

Of economy of actions

In tune with the rest of the team exercises, the 'leadership challenge'today afternoon also came with its own lesson. The one of managing a rather complex task inside a short time period where you don't even have all the information about it was, well, challenging. The unique challenges were added onto by the fact only the leader knew all the information that was available and needed to communicate this effectively onto his/her team-members. As we know, no team was successful in the challenge but as Paul pointed out, teams have actually done it in the past and I was wondering what they could have done different.

The idea I have hit on is this:Simply put tobe economical in your actions.

Let me explain this one. To meet the main requirements of the challenge, it was necessary to choose which path to take to reach them. This would have involved not only choosing the most important things that needed to be done but also choosing not to do certain things which would have been lower down on the priority list and then ensuring that the team worked optimally in getting these tasks done. This would translate to the leader doing two things effectively: (1) prioritisation of tasks (2) delegation of tasks.

1) Prioritisation
The leader has to identify the key tasks ASAP while also identifying the ones that would go lower down on the priority list. This would involve a mental map of things that need to be done, retaining a sufficient level of detail while at the same time ensuring that the detail itself does not become overwhelming. Having done this, the leader than proceeed to prune all the detail to reach the core of the problem.

2) Delegation
Delegate the duly prioritised tasks to the team members so that the team can benefit from the combined human hours of the team as a whole. Though the exercise was for only two hours, given that each team had 5-6 members it would translate to 10-12 human hours in each team. With optimal delegation this could have been made better use of. Does anyone think that they could not have finished the task in 10 hours? While I do speak of an ideal situation, I believe the team if it performed effectively could generate enough work equivalent to around 5 hours of individual effort.

So the bottom line looks something like this: a lean operation of the team ensuring optimal performance.

Maybe someone who has another crack at a similar exercise could further develop and implement this thinking and generate some feedback. Till then, general discussions and comments are welcome.

Of knowing when to step back

The treasure hunt exercise thought me something very important about leadership. The leader of the team I was in, stepped back in between the exercise and let others lead the team. This was possibly the most important learning I had from the exercise as I realised that a leader does not always have to ensure that he/she is seen at the forefront of activities a team is doing. It is perfectly fine to step back as long as an overall view of the performance of the team in reaching the objectives set for it, is kept. What this has done is introduce me to a style of leadership that I was not familiar with. A leader, does not literally have to 'lead' all the time in order to be effective. I believe identifying such situations and being decisive about where to step back and when to step in and direct the team is highly important. Kudos to Vincent for opening up this entire line of thought in my head!

Can we develop a process for leadership?

Yesterday's discussion led me to reflect on whether it would be possible to actually formulate a process for assuming leadership that could encapsulate most of our reflections in class over the past two weeks. This does make assumptions of the nature of the task and of its relative simplicity and/or complexity however. However, I believe the idea itself can be developed with discussion among people. Comments and thoughts welcomed.

  • understanding the task

  • the group can be utilised to augment learning of the task

  • developing a vision

  • understanding the team

  • team building*

  • delegation of tasks

  • monitoring or reviewing progress

  • actively engaging team members

  • updating goals and vision in tune with progress

  • repeat

*Depends on the situation. For long term projects, team building exercises can be crucial in my opinion and should be practiced. A camaraderie or a chemistry and trust between team members could be crucial to a successful outcome in the long run.

February 2014

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Most recent comments

  • Thanks a lot for the comments Jaat and Kleanthis. I would like to suggest a few things as well. 1) W… by Abram Kakkozha on this entry
  • Exactly Jaat…and we could connect the work environment with this..or other factors where have impo… by Kleanthis Katsikas on this entry
  • Kleantis, It's true the followship needs to be very actively involved as well, but the trouble I had… by Shujaat Alikhan on this entry
  • Prioritization and Delegation should be done in a parallel manner I believe, such as Prioritizing ea… by Shujaat Alikhan on this entry
  • According your thoughts how these two teams achieved to finish this task on time…I want to add som… by Kleanthis Katsikas on this entry

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