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March 09, 2010

Leadership Development

I read a book about Leadership, where the author proposed that there should be a leadership development program for those who want to be an effective leader.

In the book which states, "A useful starting point in leadership development is to understand what stops people – managers – from becoming effective leaders." 

This gave me a lot to think about. It didn't use the expression of that "understand what MOTIVATES people......leaders."; instead using "what STOPS people". Sometimes in life we hardly recognise that how lucky or how wellbeing we are. We have comfortable life and we don't see the obstacles or difficulties in front of us. Or sometimes we think that won't hurt so we easily ignore the problems so that we can escape from what we don't want to know or learn. In the Art of the War, Suen-Zi said "We must understand our enemies." To me, being a leaders not only need to know who our enemies are, what we are fighting for, but most crucially - "What/Who we are to be able to Lead."

We won't lead well if we don't understand ourselves or what we want. We won't lead effectively if we don't believe in ourselves. Challenges are everywhere, everyday. We must continue leading ourselves forward so that we can show others the right way to follow.

Therefore, I learned that as a Leader, must be always self-motivated. (psychologically, emotionally, behaviourally). Because Leaders a lot of times may feel lonely coz the people around them are followers. Sometimes the environment or the people around may not be inspiring or encouraging to the leaders, but leaders need to find a way out. Always understand the importance of self-learning, and a sense of determination. When the people around you feel depressed, as a leader you can't! When the people around you want to quit, as a leader you must fight until your last breathe is taken away! As a leader, we must be professionally and emotionally intelligent and STRONG. Then we will be able to walk towards the door of success.

March 06, 2010

Reality vs. Dream

Recently inspired by some incidents and people in life...

Always face yourself and the fear inside. Honesty to oneself would truly open the light of life.

LEAD yourself to the future where you want to be, one must clearly understand oneself, and all the purposes one's being working hard for. Sometimes in our lives we thought we're walking on the right path or doing the right thing; yet some of the times we're just fooling ourselves and being MANAGED by the world around us. That way, we won't be able to live out our true selves.

"People want to be led, not managed." (Bennis) -- Universal Rule.

and in life, People want to lead and manage themselves...... without interferrence. -- Also Universal Rule.

But what leads us? -- Our ability, knowledge, experience, relationships we build - lead us to the opportunities we thirst for. When the opportunities come, we need to be ready. Ready to battle!

Battle for our fame, fortune, loved ones, or simply - our dream.

Day after day I'm not leading myself well enough, how can I lead others?

"If you must change, change yourself; if you must lead, lead yourself; if you must manage, manage yourself." (Lavinia)

February 05, 2010

What kind of leader I want to be

While reading other coursemates' blogs when they share which kind of leaders they wish to become, I have been thinking about this for myself as well.

I think, A kind who talks not much, but every word I say is a decision or a direction; an inspiration or a motivation.

Leadership Challenge – a Life Learning Inspiration

I have a lot of inspirations today in class that got me thinking about massive of things. I've been constructing my thoughts in my mind and try to write them down making clearly sense. Let's start with the learning points from the exercise itself.

·        The importance of Debriefing and English ability

I agree but still find arguable point of what Paul commented on our English ability - that we should forget about our language accuracy and let our mind flow, coz sometimes a not-so-good-language speaks a God-damn-GOOD-Idea! I AGREE 100%, however, I still find improving our English ability is essential. Because with a not-so-good-language, one may not be able to well-communicate with the audience, then the idea is not delivered in the best way it could be.

I majored in languages myself in college, and I know sometimes wording can cause confusion. I've been trying to improve my English every day, and I know there're endless things to learn in a language, such as vocabulary, slangs, usage, etc. But I also believe in language is just a tool to communicate with people. As long as you can deliver your ideas to one another, then it's good enough. Yet, sometimes I find when communicating with people who have different levels with mine, I get confused, or not able to communicate our ideas freely, or the whole communication process is slowed down because we all try to understand what the other person is trying to say.

So I think, English is still very important and we all should try to improve our languages as a life-long task.

And because of the English ability, it affects our debriefing skills during the exercise as well. If I can understand the content in due time and able to organise all the information at the same time, won't we be able to debrief better? It is the basic skill we should have, and we should enhance it for our own sakes if we want to become a leader in the future.

·        What to debrief? 

So far that I can think of (maybe there're more) from this exercise is that 

1. Organise the information - Key words/info (eliminate unnecessary info)

2. What do we need to do - find out and distribute each task

3. What kind of people we need for each task - categorise

4. When is the deadline for each task - time plan

5. Possible cooperation in each individual/team - organise the responsibilities


Leader and the expectation

Everybody has certain expectation to the leader as leader has his/her own expectation to others. I think it is better to clarify and make valid communication in the beginning of the task. So everybody knows how to adopt according to different situations.

If I'd do the exercise again, I'll make sure each task is distributed to the best suitable person if possible. And have the people designing the route work together with the people in budget control. Firstly I would make a decision on which places we are going or we are not going as a leader's decision making. Then everybody focus on completing their tasks within due time and budget. After all, the leader is the one who has more knowledge, and in this situation, totally hand-off or free style is not suitable under this task. And the leader, as the one who is most knowledgeable, should at least confirm and evaluate the final route the team makes.


Personal enriched learning points

The reason I named this article - Life learning inspiration - is because to me, I learnt something old again, and something slightly new :-) To me, this means so much coz my dream is to build a school that helps poor or people who has any kind of potential in what they are good at to be well educated and utilize their skills in every possible way – to make their dreams come true. I've been planning this since I was 17, and one day I will make it happen.

When I was in college in Taiwan, a mentor told me - "Don’t let your passion fade away. Coz it can lead you to do great things." And I think this is something the real world kills over time and I need to remind myself that. I'm very grateful that my college in Taiwan let me learn and experience a lot of leadership skills since 15, we have presentations every day, group work in every subject, public presentations, exchange programs overseas, running student council, found a student club, etc; and once again, all skills and knowledge should be reviewed and re-learnt from time to time. (Life-long learning process)

My college is the only and a leading language institution in Taiwan, but probably the worst profit maker in education business. School is in huge debt because we charge reasonable tuition, and give all our students the best learning environment, professors, facilities, opportunities that we could possibly get. Even the government refused to let us go bankrupt. Its motto is to educate language professionals in Taiwan with "knowledge and personality". Every year, our mandatory courses will have Personality development. This is the quality I found similar from Leadership and Excellence module in WMG. I'm soooo content to realise again that "Knowledge or education which matters is the essence of that you can remember for the rest of your life and spend time on practicing it."


Lastly, the definition of leadership to me:

True Leadership comes from within. You can't fake a style, not for long.

Meaning: Try to enrich ourselves......... in all possible ways......

January 28, 2010

Thursday Hot

The first learning point for today is actually a very difficult but realistic one -- People.

As Paul mentioned the Urban terrorist - high energy, low attitude: this kind of people will meet us at least once in a lifetime. I've met quite a few :-) They have a lot of opinions, judgements, that sometimes surpress the leaders and challenge their power in public. As a leader, this kind of people or situation has to be carefully handled! When Urban terrorist starts to influence others more than a leader does, then it reflects that the leader is incompetent and also the leader will be forced sometimes to use 'position power' to take over control of the chaos.

Again, I think the ability to solve this requires experience and personal charisma. Experience might be being able to know how to handle the situation will harm the leadership the least, or even getting every respect back. Charisma can be for instance, good at talking at people and persuading people to believe in what he/she say. (Charm the followers)

The 2nd learning point is that either during the practice or real life, we still tend to solve the problem and ignore about other factors. Or sometimes we want to solve the problem so much so that we can fool ourselves that everything will be better. But what we do everyday may be keep solving different kinds of problems but still keep having new problems. Therefore, as a leader, I think he/she need to develop the ability of seeing the future or bigger picture of the whole situation. Dr. Deming says, "Leaders should think/solve tomorrow, not today." This applies to this as well. Leaders should think about what to do tomorrow, today's tasks leave to the employees to achieve; but we all need to know what's gonna happen tomorrow.

The third learning point is that leaders or company should try their best to take the responsibility of hiring a new person and not firing any of the employees if they're not performing well. Of course here doesn't mean that we don't fire at all, we fire those who's not appreciating the system; but we try to understand those we appreciate the system, but just fail to do things right. We should help them, assist them understand the problem. Coach them, guide them, not creating fear for them. One of the ways I personally support is to avoid firing people but to re-allocate them.

Paul mentioned a strategy that's very similar to my thinking: Help people find a job when they don't fit in the company, either a new position in the firm, or elsewhere. I strongly agree that we should have this kind of service in my company. I think the company partly shares the responsibility of recruiting people but find out they don't fit in. We know their skills, we believed in their skills, that's why we hired them in the first place. And when they can't perform well or they don't feel comfortable working for us, we should think of something to help them. Another benefit for this is that the employee will respect your company and in the future the benefit may exceed your expectation. Because maybe you changed his life, for that he's appreciated; or he becomes a more successful person than you, and you might be the one who made him the him today. :-)


Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss it….it's a great view! (TUE)

I'm very glad that this module we have a tutor to assist us. He said something that quite hammered my head: "You're at a masters level, so do the masters level's work." also "there are so many theories introduced for you to learn, but YOU have to be the one who take these theories into a higher level and into practice." I think...I forgot how to be a student afterall. :-)

I need to lead myself on the way where I want to be, as well motivate myself to be the one that I can be!

Life's about searching, learning, leading and doing. 'Bad Workman blames the tool'! If I didn't success, I'm the only one I should be blaming at. Not how hard the courses are, not how difficult the people are, not how boring the books are, not even how less the time we've got. Because we're our masters, we make decisions, we live with it. I'm always not a person who likes to give excuses. Maybe sometimes the causes can be external, nothing I could have controlled, but I always find a way to solve it. Eg. the bus at my stop don't stop at all becoz during morning rush hour, it's fulled before it gets to my stop. or sometimes people refuse to move to the back so the driver won't take more people on. I think it's rubbish. But I chose to take the bus, I could have waited at the bus stop 1 hour earlier, or I could take a taxi when I'm really running late, which is what I did sometimes. I mean, there's always a way or a solution. It just depends on if you wanna choose it or not. You LEAD YOURSELF to the decision, so if the decision is made by you, you don't have excuse. that's me......

So in today's presentation about Hoshin Kanri, we didn't carry out a specific plan. and next time, I'm sure we will.

On Tuesday in class, Paul said when employees (bottom) have problems (work related), as Leader, we should see the problems as OUR problems instead of just the employees'. It's just like Hoshin Kanri's catchball process' purpose. From Top to bottom and bottom to top, we need to understand the barriers or why the targets aren't or can't be achieved. We need to help people to identify and contribute again. The company can also learn from the process. Afterall, we can never force people to do the things they don't agree with, nor blame them for not being able to deliver the tasks we ask. Therefore, Dr. Deming's SoPK and PDCA are so important for continuous improvement...... really is...


In the Hotel simulation, I volunteered to be the leader. My teammates think I lead well, and I can always improve. From my own experience in this practice, I reminded myself again that A good leader may not necessary be a profit maker. He/she may not be smart enough to make money, but a good leader can make people who can make the money work for him/her is enough :-)

An example of my previous manager, he's 60, very experienced business people, acting lazy at work, but always kissing boss' backside. BUT, he's VERY SMART, and knows how to FULLY UTILISE each individual. I admire him very much when I observed that. Everything he did or showed the boss comes from me, he gave me the credit a few times, not always, but he knows HOW TO USE ME. :-) coz I was young, energetic, and willing to take all the challenges to prove myself. (well....I'm still young!) So basically he doesn't have to do the actual work. Which is exactly what we talk about these days: MANAGERS MANAGE, WORKERS DO! I didn't envy him or dislike him at all for not doing work, because I know he's doing strategic things...which I yet to deliver.

And I think in our lifetime, we shouldn't be jealous at others when they do well or when we think they could have done more to get what they have now, simply I think sometimes we don't always know how they have contributed to the company/society. Everybody has their own skills, and my manager's happened to be "understand what my boss want, deliver it, use people to achieve it". Which is brilliant :-)

So I think we can always set a goal for ourselves, lead ourselves to it. Don't assume too much but try to understand the situation first before we make any decision, tell others what to do, or even criticise their behaviors.

Build up Charisma

Tuesday we discussed about a point of How to inspire leadership effectively. During the discussion, we reminded ourselves that A leader should provide a vision whilst others can follow the vision as well as believe in the person who's projecting the vision.

A good visioin, if it's being told or led by a person who has a bad name, nobody would believe it. (or at least it's more difficult to make people believe) However, if it's a good leader, maybe the vision or the ideas are not well established, people still would contribute their efforts and make things work (better).

When building up the leadership skills or styles, culture and people are so important. They're the variations in the company. A leader has to learn or to be flexible to apply different leadership styles or approaches according to individual or followers' needs. Leader should also be SENSITIVE enough to OBSERVE and SENSE the surroundings and what is happening, or even FORESEE what WILL HAPPEN. 

I think these skills have to be learnt and practiced over time and experience. or simply some people are just born with it. Some people are born to be a leader, some people are not. Some people learn and grow from experience... (personal view, no reference) I think if my teammates ever think I'm sensitive and able to get people involved is because of these two reasons: experience and nature

Naturally, I tend to be very understanding since I'm little. I cry when I see people cry. I feel sad when somebody is sad. I'm very easily to fall into someone elses' emotional status. I think part of that is I'm being very imaginative as well. Coz whenever somebody's reflecting something, for example, sorrow, I can imagine what he/she's being throw, and I can feel the same sorrow as she does. Maybe not as real as hers, but close enough to make me feel something.

PS. A story of myself: When I watched the movie "Finding Nemo", I cried SO MUCH. Because I can imagine if i'm the father, and I can't find my Nemo, I'm going to be SO SAD and SO DESPERATE. SO whenever Nemo's daddy shows up swimming in the sea and shouting "Nemo! Nemo!", I just burst into tears right away. :-p Part of this is because of experience as well. That the stories and love between me and my father, also made me more sensitive upon these kind of things.

So my point is, these elements are the ones I think are important for a leader to possess, on the other hand, can be learnt from experience. Yet part of the skills still come from the nature self. And we can always try our best to be who we really are, and the best we can be! :-)

January 14, 2010

Leadership appears everywhere

This is another discussion we had during team discussion about the definition of leadership.

In the Matrix, the last category is "Leadership occurs within a situation". I think it's so true when I relate it into daily life. This is debatable since another teammate disagreed. Yet, I think we're just looking at this from a different angle. Open discussions are always welcome :-)

If we think deeper, leadership appears everywhere. Whenever there is a situation, you can track leadership. A very simple example I gave yesterday: A group of friends, we don't know what to eat for lunch, we discussed for 10 mins but didn't reach any conclusion. Now, one of the friends proposed: let's go to Rootes building! and then it initiates the other friends to think about it and maybe just follow it, or not. To me, that one person was showing a leadership element. Because he's being initiative and constructive, meanwhile, he wants to lead the group to decide on something or agree on a common matter. he's leading the group to have a shared goal - a decision. And if people agreed, they will follow him to the Rootes for lunch.

Maybe I will come up with more or better examples, yet to me, I think in our daily lives, we are all trying to lead something or somebody. We might not be a great leader or lead a group to do great things that leaves track in the history, but we ARE leading our own lives.

As previous stated, some people might not agree with this, coz maybe you think it's not leading, it's just gathering, discussing and trying to reach to a common ground with people. But as I said, I think we're both correct in our own angles of viewing this.

Discussions are welcome. Leadership is just a huge topic.... exciting!

Discussion about "managing the change

Yesterday, my teammates are debating about few key expressions/definitions. One of which is "managing the change" or "leading the change" as what a leader should be able to do.

These are relatively two different concepts and angles to look at leadership. In this article, I'd just talk about managing the change shortly.

As we all agree/know as a fact that the world is changing rapidly, consequently, an effective leader should be able to cope with the ever-changing environment and lead the company to an endless future. Leaders should be able to foresee the change, adapt it, analyse it, and further manage it!

It's not about you have to change your company all the time coz maybe your company is working fine, then obviously there's nothing needs to be changed. But you do have to adjust whenever there's a situation or condition that is different from the past.

For instance, the market has changed, then must you have to be able to foresee its coming, adapt it/accept it, and provide plans to manage the situation.

One of my teammate mentioned if something in the company has changed, it must mean the behavior of the people changes. I think if one thing changes, another thing that's related to it would change either way. Just like the policy of the company changes, then it affects to people so people start to behave differently. And as a leader you need to cope with the problem.

Therefore, it is a very important skill to have as a leader -- to manage the change. Coz the only thing that doesn't change is the world keeps changing everyday. So we all need to learn this, to adapt new things and react fast...

What Leadership mean to me

This is one of the most exciting and practical modules in the course that I know.

Sometimes I would wonder what a good leader should be like or should do? There's never one single answer could justify all the achievements a leader creates. Just like IVAN's group inspired, there are so many different kinds of leaders, many different ways to do things, and at the end, the result is satisfying so the people believe they lead well. Sometimes it doesn't matter how you do things, as long as the result is what most people want, then you have succeeded. Sometimes your words or your philosophy mean nothing, but once you achieved something, people will believe that you are right. So I think there's not a perfect definition for leadership, because it always depends on what kind of people that you're leading. If there's no people/follower, there's no leadership. On the other hand, whenever there's a follower or a situation, leadership appears - even in a daily life, simplest occasion.

As I debated with my group members during the discussion of leadership definition, the top 8 categories imply different meanings to us. For example, creation of expectations. To me, I'm the kind of person I think many things don't need to have a rule -- possibilities are everywhere. Therefore, the expectation can be from the leader to the followers, or from the followers to the leader. It's different and can be different.

From the leader's view, she/he's setting up expectations for his followers to see the future, to know there can be a future if people follow her/his way. She/He let people know what people can get and what people can expect from her/him. He may provide wealth fare, health care, bonus, etc. Reversely, leaders can create expectations from the followers, to demand what she/he expect from the followers' performance and behaviors. Maybe in this case, it's more likely what a leader should show what she/he can bring to her/his own followers. Simply because if you don't do so, people are not motivated, they see no future and they fail to deliver, then the leadership becomes pointless when you can lead or motivate no one.

Overall, this is such a huge topic that can be discussed endlessly. And I'm sure the definition or experience would change constantly over time. Yet, positively thinking, an effective leader should always see what's in people, see the resources/talents/potentials in people, utilise them, and show your personal power to continue pushing the team towards a great future.

The leader I wish to become:

caring&understanding(less distance to people), upfront(decisive, efficient active), realistically optimistic, diplomatic socialable, effective motivator, good speaker, leading by being able to perform by myself if necessary.

I still have a lot to learn :-) as always~

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  • You're certainly right Srisuda (Keng). It would be the ideal way to be able to achieve that. I was j… by Lavinia on this entry
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