All entries for March 2011

March 27, 2011

Psychology and Leadership

Nearly all good leadership courses around the world aims at creating self-awareness more than going through leadership theories and techniques. having the ability to understand the self enables the person to adapt to many situations which is necessary as a leader.

understanding others behaviours and the expectation in different situations is also important to support the leader self-awareness. for example, understanding the reasons which make followers resist is crucial to be able to use self-strengths and knowledge to handle it. 

Having a clear and agreed-on vision is important but, in my opinion is not enough because it does not, as is the case for other leadership personal traits,  create sustainability. having a vision, charisma, self-awareness, enthusiasm, and communication skills can make a leader but it does not guarantee that this leader can lead in different situations which is the case in real life under the continuously changing environment.

Psychology in my opinion, although it is frightening word for many, is important to deal with multi-cultural people, change, and to make more robust decisions.

March 19, 2011

Simulation Bias

Simulations are widely used in companies and factories. it is argued that simulation is not a decision tool but it is a tool that can work out 'what if' analysis and then people have to decide among options. if we look deeply inside the simulation process, we can see that the system does many decisions and assumption before it gives the final options that we have to choose among. there many 'what ifs' going along a route before it going to a final result that we can see.

An example of that was the simulation that we have done in the leadership module. we had to make decisions and give some numbers and the system/software would estimate the profit. the software would not be able to make such decisions without being programmed with many human assumption that covers many situations. these assumptions are holding the programmers' bias.

In my opinion, simulation is an automated scenario analysis to a big extent. it is very useful and can predict future results and situations, but its accuracy is related to the bias used by programmers.

SSM as a Decision Tool

Introducing Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) as a decision tool was interesting. SSM is known as a sophisticated methodology that involves collecting perceptions of many people and takes long time to be applied. however, I am thinking of finding differences between perception and bias. Bias is the preference towards a particular perspective or idea because of objectivity or somebody's own belief. this belief and objectivity comes from experience in life and the knowledge that this experience generates in people's brains. But, is not this what SSM is trying to do? collect the bias from everybody? their bias describing the real world and their bias in designing conceptional models and then compare the two? is not it what decision makers try to avoid?

The literature mentions that SSM has proven to be very effective approach in the development of many organisations and businesses. but I am not sure that it can be considered a decision too itself or many decision tools are integrated within the methodology. 

Decision Tree

Among the tools that we used for the mini-project, I found that Decision tree is the most convincing tool when it comes to presenting to board of directors. the systemic and systematic ways that decision tree show both quantitatively and visually can make more sense for the receiver. 

its strength over some of the other tools, the grid for example, is that the logic behind it appears to the surface and it is not as debatable as others. human mind was educated to deal with systems that can be split into parts and it seems that it is ready to understand and accept such approaches more that others.

Decision tree was used in all presentations which indicates its rationale and user-friendly nature. moreover, while there were no issues in applying the approach except for taking another routes or assumption, we could indicate unjustified or inappropriate use of other tools.

although all tools are important when they are used in the right context, decision tree seems to appear in every sophisticated  decision making.

Decision Making Tools Selection

It was interesting to know that such a big number of decision making tools exist in the business environment and the literature. while every tool has its significance, I think that this significance comes from the user judgement and rationale behind using a specific tool. here again come bias to play a role even before using the tool. 

many people tend to make their decision more robust by using sophisticated tools rather than using the appropriate tool. there is no correlation between complexity and effectiveness and robustness. users who tend to forget this reality tend to use many tools to confirm the result of using previous tool; or even to justify using a specific tool.

I think that it is better to use the simplest tool that does the job. all tools has bias involved in them. accordingly, trying to justify a bias with a bias does not make sense.

March 17, 2011

Leadership Example–Video

I would like to share this leadership example because I experienced a real situation, in an organisation, that look similar to the example; except for dancing and being silly :)

This video highlights the importance of obtaining the first follower who in turn will encourage others to follow.

March 14, 2011

Followers Choose Leaders

Leaders are usually defined by followers if we excluded the formal and positional leadership. followers decide the leader who they want to follow and they have the power to make any officially appointed leader fail his job.

Different followers would choose different leaders. it is argued that when followers do not have strong concept guiding their behaviours they would search for someone who has a charisma and they would accept their offers. this would appear as a controlling type of relationship where followers are told what to do. On the other hand, when followers have strong concepts, high self-esteem, and motivated to protect those concepts, they would look for a leader who has a vision that comply with their values and respect their concepts.

This discussion points to the importance of understanding followers' psychology in order to be able to make use of leadership theories, approaches, and tools. Although many do not believe in charismatic leadership as an appropriate approach, they may find themselves among followers who are searching for such a leader. hence, adapting this style, even as a transitional stage, might be necessary.

March 11, 2011

Productivity or Balance?

It is argued that the role of leaders is to get the maximum of their team either in quality or quantity. Most successful leaders are defined by the outcomes of the team.

One of the dilemmas is: should leaders be keen to ensure that their subordinates have a balance in their lives or leaders should make sure that subordinates' productivity is the maximum?

I think a successful leaders must ensure that their subordinates have a balance. High productivity can lead in some cases to loosing momentum or energy. I would like to quote Thomas Stewart's statement as it expresses the situation. He says that in the long-run "work and no play makes Jack a sitting duck"

March 05, 2011

Where are Leaders Made?

The theories that are represented in the literature focus on the traits of a leader and what leadership is as it is naturally obtained traits to be explained. there is a debate about whether leadership can be obtained by leadership courses in the universities. 

Jimon Ibrahim a businessman and the chair of Nicon group in Barrister claims in a speach to Saturday Tribune  that there is a lack of leaders in Nigeria business environment because there are no leadership courses in the Nigerian universities. all the existing leaders have become leaders in their companies after they have gained experience.

The previous creates some confusion. why could not any of Nicon's experienced individuals become an effective leader in the eyes of the CEO? is this really about education? or about the company's culture? or both of them?

March 04, 2011

Charismatic Leadership

"Charm and Grace is all that is needed to create followers"  is an assumption of the charismatic leadership. but how long would charm, grace, self-confidence, and other personal traits last? 

First impression is something very important becuase people tend to create an impression by the first look or spoken words. 

I think this could work for a rock singer or a dancer, but in a business context, where there will be many arguments among followers and decision to be made, charismatic leadership is not enough. A business or social leader has to have knowledge, fairness patience, and the ability to actively listen and to understand the other.

I think it would be a vital mistake when senior managers select their organisation's leaders based on charisma. because many real leaders can feel offended and loose the trust in the organisation.

March 03, 2011

Communication Quality

Almost every researcher in the leadership emphasises on the importance of communication between the leader and the follower. some go more deeply by focusing on the quality of the communication. they claim that the volume of communication is not as important as the quality.

Without searching in the meaning of quality of communication, it is reasonable to question how can this quality be measured?

Whatever measurement tools or methods that some researchers might suggest , they will be questionable.

However, from a practical point of view, setting a communication process and trying to measure its quality is worth applying. there will always be a space for improvement. it can be a first step for developing a unique communication quality that suits an organisation's situation.

March 2011

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