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April 07, 2011

Is it All about Tools?

Is making bad decisions all about using tools? Managers have to make lots of decisions on a daily basis that are very important because they affect productivity, time, relations, and other personal aspects and hence the work itself. these decisions are made in a second which does not allow a person to use a tool. 

in this sense, robust decision making can be a personal trait that can be developed as it is the case in leadership. to illustrate here are some of the bad decision that people make daily suggested by decision-making-confidence:

  • saying yes when you'd rather say no
  • doing things that you don't want to be doing
  • making decisions so other people think well of you
  • spending time with people you don't want to be with
  • making decisions so others can feel OK but you have to sacrifice in some way
  • allowing others to treat you poorly
  • letting others make decisions so you're living the life they want you to live

someone might think that these are related to personal and social issues. yes, but I would think that business is a social environment where people interact and many of the previous bad decisions can lead to failure for a manager who is perfect in using decision trees.

I think that studying decision making as a subject that is related to personal traits is as important as teaching decision making tools.

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 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.

February 27, 2011

Why Do Leader Fail?

While the answer to the above question can be very long, one of the sources suggests some  reasons of this failure which are listed as follows.

1. Inability to Organise details. some leaders claim that they are very busy for arranging and initiating plans. and this leads to failure.

2. unwilling to do humble duties. a successful leader should be ready to perform any task when it is required.

3. ask for reward on their knowledge rather on what they do. this has been common especially based on the education system that give importance for the degree over the achievements for example. 

4. Fear of competition from the followers.

5. selfishness.

6. Disloyalty.

7. emphasis on the authority they have.

the above are some of many other suggested reasons of leaders failure. however, I see in them an attempt from a leader to both control and fulfil his ego. moreover, I think they are main contributors to cause the leader to loose his authority in the team.

Team Conflicts

conflicts among team members or between a team member and the leader are not rare to happen. it is embarrassing for team and drops down the team's productivity and might result in a complete failure.

all teams are usually made out of different people who have different characters and different experiences. understanding the uniqueness of each individual is crucial to avoid or at least to decrease  the possibility for conflicts to occur.

other factor that decreases conflicts is a professional leader. it is the responsibility of the leader to be professional during meetings and more importantly when conflicts happen. Being professional regarding dealing with conflict might include being open, clear, have the ability for discuss objectively and overcome the personal judgements and feelings.

many conflicts are initiated by misunderstanding. therefore, being open and professional and are very important characteristics of a successful leader. 

Final Word

many wonder if the final word should be the leader's. being a leader does not mean being a boss or a person who controls a group. on the other hand, being authoritarian and make decisions does not always mean that the leader is being selfish and practising repression against the followers.

every situation is unique. being autocratic  (having the last word in team) can be necessary in some cases; when a decision has to be made urgently for example. however,  the conditions that requires an autocratic leadership are rare usually.

there are many leaders say that authoritarian leadership is suitable when the team member are new employees who are motivated to learn. I would argue that even new employees have critical thinking skills and thier unique understanding  of the world. it is not fair to judge a person's ability to make a judgement based on him being new employee.

I personally prefer the participative style where everybody contribute to the decision. it involves sharing information with all members and engage their perspective, understanding and suggestions in the decision made which will make this decision more robust . however, even in this style and in any other style the decision is valid only when the leader authorise it.

February 21, 2011

Implicit Positional Leadership

If we assumed a situation where the team's  appointed leader is not effective and do not contribute to the team work and all members feel that they do not have a leader, what would we expect the logical result of that? would we expect a new leader to emerge among team members? or would they just do the task without a leader?

Focusing on the second scenario, why would they complete the task without a leader? it is because either they do not feel the need for a leader or they still consider the ineffective leader their leader. 

Again focusing on the second case, why would a group of people consider an ineffective person as their leader? it can be either because they have a personalities that do not like to be led and they are happy with the situation or because they feel the positional power of the leader and they do not want to resist it.

The second possibility expresses the influence that the positional power have on many people even though it is not presented in authoritarian way or by a dominant person who likes to practise their authorities.

February 18, 2011

Leaders and Managers

The way I would look at leadership is as a human- human hidden communication. Management is different. 

While the definition of manager in business dictionary is related mainly to their position and responsibilities the definition of leader in the same source is " Person or thing that holds a dominant or superior position within its field, and is able to exercise a high degree of control or influence over others" . leadership definition here is connected with knowledge and personal characteristics.

I would assume that a manger's responsibility is to manage, and managing people is one of these responsibilities.

Do these two positions clash? the question is valid when the two positions are practised by one person or by more than one.

What about this: "the integration can be a person who influences people in order to manage them effectively!"

February 15, 2011

Situational Leadership

Many definitions of leadership assume that leadership in situational; in sense that it emerges in a specific situation. accordingly,  we can define many situations such as transitive, emergency, and many others. 

This leads to assume that there are different types of leadership; each related to the situation that it emerged from. so we could have transitive leadership, emergency situations leadership an so on. this in turn leads to many questions:

Do leaders emerge in the same way in all situations?

What happened after the situation is over? will followers start looking for another leader who is suitable for the new situation?

What about the long-term leaders? long-term might include many situations. does this mean that some people have the ability to change their characteristics and respond to what people want/'need'? 

February 13, 2011

Participative VS Autocratic

some approaches to leadership seem to be judgemental. They are either black or white. They emphasis the benefits of personal participative  leadership and stress the weaknesses of positional leadership no mater what the situation is.

however, will the situation itself forces the people who believe in participative leadership to practise an autocratic leadership? for example, what happen if the time limits are critical ( the case of war for example)? will the officer make a vote among soldiers whether they should attack or not?

Another example, how would a manager behaves when they know that a building will collapse soon or a laboratory will explode? or what happened in the case of urgent financial decision? it is actually realted to saving situations or lifes.

is there cases when participative leaders were asked by their followers to behave autocratically? 

It is hard to judge an autocratic leadership unless we understand the leader (person) and the situation.

February 11, 2011

Emerge of Leaders

Here is a statement that can be debatable "when people feel threat, fear, and anxiety they start to look for a leader" this expresses that being a leader can be defined by people/followers rather by the person itself. 

some pshycological theories suggest that if a person was treated as if they have charisma or even a sex appeal they would start showing these features.

Accordingly, when there is a "situation", will people/followers start searching for the best person that can lead them and decrease the anxiety?  will they start to treat them as a leader and this will make them reveal some human characteristic that is hidden and consequently become a leader?

On the other hand,  is it possible that followers will decide that nobody has the leader characteristics and therefore they would go the journey without a leader?

February 09, 2011

Leadership Definitions

It was said that leadership cannot be defined but can be described. It is something that people felt  before any science came to life. It is something that can be recognised in animals too. It is felt and its effects are seen rather than defined.

The supporters of this idea claim that any definition of leadership or leaders came through observation of naturally emerged leaders and describing their characteristics and why they have followers. Accordingly, leadership definitions show confusion and are varied according to the writer experience. 

Trying to turn leadership into a science that can be measured or taught is valuable and adds to the management and social science. But can any definition describe all existing leaders regardless who they are, where they are from, and  if they are  leaders of the uncontacted tribes?

February 08, 2011

People Importance

It was interesting to know that there is a big debate about the importance of people in any organisation/business. the competitor of people in importance for many in money. and I would like to give some thoughts about the importance of people as an asset. 

Money/ cash is very important for a business because, according to many, it can buy the highest technology, best assets, best raw materials, and hire the 'best people'. That might be true, but does the mere having the best of everything lead to an excellent successful business? can the financial indicators of a small simple restaurant be higher that a five star one which has the best of everything? if there is such  a possibility , what is the factor that can drive this?

A last thought, if we assume that money can buy the 'best people', can it buy their enthusiasm, commitment, and loyalty?

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