March 07, 2010

A hidden Leader

One of the most important quetos of leadership is by lao tzu, who said that :

“ A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. “

through that quote, it emphasis the point that people usually regard leaders as to those with autocratic strength that they are in the front page and leading everyone. While people didn’t reconigze who I will call the Hidden leader, that someone who can actually achieve all what other leaders do and yet his group members will think its they are the ones who did it in the end.

In my experience, and short working period, I have been playing the role of the leader in many events as I gave my fellow group member the support, motivation, guidance and one trick that always helped me is it when I really listen to their ideas and even though I might not agree with it, its always crucial to show to them that their idea worth something in the end.

Task oriented leader vs People Oriented leader

Something I have noticed in our leadership exercises reflective sessions after we finish the exercises. That some of the leaders were task oriented and others were people oriented leaders. Question is, is someone is better than the other or it depends on the situation or what !?

Basically a task oriented leader:

is someone who focus only on getting the job done, and they can be quite autocratic. They actively define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, plan, organize, and monitor. However, because task-oriented leaders don't tend to think much about the well-being of their teams, this approach can suffer many of the flaws of autocratic leadership, with difficulties in motivating and retaining staff.

While a people oriented leader is:

The style of leadership is the opposite of task-oriented leadership: the leader is totally focused on organizing, supporting and developing the people in the leader’s team. A participative style, it tends to lead to good teamwork and creative collaboration.

In our exercise, the task oriented leader has achieved the objective required with good performance, However, the tea members were seem to be suffering from high pressure and didn’t actually enjoy what they are doing. While for the other team who has a people oriented leader, they unfortunately didn’t achieve the objective they have set, but they maintained a healthy happy enjoyable climate ( which in real life, it helps to harvest ideas and encourage team creativity )

So it seems that, taking out the special situations that might happen in life, that a mixture of a task oriented style and yet mixed with the people style might sounds like the perfect balance to obtain the benefit of both styles of leadership.

positional power

Autocratic leadership can be said to be synonymous to dictatorship where only one person has the authority over the followers or workers. Their decision has to be taken as the golden rule and should never be questioned. Autocratic leadership seems like leader make all the effort and have all the knowledge to make their final decision without considering the other group opinions. Referring to history, there is no doubt that this style of leadership had huge success during the centuries, such as:

- Adolf Hitler

- Joseph Stallin

- Saddam Hussain.

- Marthe Stewart and many more.

After having a debate with a friend of mine of the power of the leaders, it made me realize that there are many people think that this style is the Macho most effective style of leadership ever existed, not realizing that what they are talking about basically is the fact of using the position power.

In my point view, as my style of leadership never been an autocratic style, that in order to motivate and influence the group members under me its very helpful to have such charismatic style, with an open minded path that creates a relaxed encouraging climate for the employess to share their idea and be innovative. At this moment, my debate friend ( lets just call him Friend X :D ) stopped me and said, but a leader need always to have his own idea to be proven in the end and not someone else idea ( as the leader is always the one with the right dicision and expertise !!! )

So in this blog, I wanted to share with you what I have told him about my point of view of leadership. Many managers( wont say leaders in this case) use their managerial power position to show who is the boss, as it seems that they should know better, otherwise that other person who has another good idea will be above him. This case of position power, In my opinion, came up from the un-security of certain managers that they think if someone has a better idea that means he might be in his position. Those people forgot the idea that they are actually in a position where they can move up, so if they want to think of that mentality, they should’ve see the whole picture that their position is actually not the top ( as there is no top position in the world as we all know “ the sky is our limit “ and that’s very true in the business world )

Leadership in the reality mind !!

In our post-module week, we had this mini-project to come with a definition of leadership. First it was a tricky job as we found out that even though leadership is un-doubtly one of the main factors of the success of many individuals as leaders and the success of companies as the leader in the market. However, many philosophers and leaders themselves failed to get the grasp of one definition that show the world what leadership is. But after analyzing all the definitions and getting the common factors of them in a matrix, it was very clear that even though the exact definitions WORDS were different, but the meaning was actually very similar. Our team definition of leadership was,

Leadership is the art of inspiring individuals and groups to maximize their effort and commitment to achieve a shared goal or vision by creating a healthy environment of communication. “

We all understand the concept of leadership as it envolves moivation, communication, ability to try and inspire, achieving a common goal etc etc.

After our team decided on this definition which we found the most suitable definition. A reality wave hit me at that point and i realised, wait a scond !! that’s not the definition I had in my head before !!? Is it possible that people have the wrong understanding of leadership, or is it me alone ??! As I always thought a leader have basically the duty of a manger, as a leader will be an outspoken personality, which happen to be autocratic most of the times, that lead a group of people to do his desired goal !!

So, I went around asking people outside our course, “ What leadership means in u definition ?!! “ and believe me I was amazed with the answers I got that were very different from our team definitions as most of them described a leader, as some of them confused a leader with a manager and described a leader who is someone that can manage a group of people and plan the process to achieve that goal. And some other people, explained leadership only needs someone who has a very strong personality that keep his team UNDER-CONTROL which it might be true to some extent but that doesn’t satisfy our definition of leadership.

After that reality slap, I realised that its my duty now as I fully understand what a leader has to do is to deliver that massege in wherever I work or perform. 

Back to the old Habits

Again, felt in the trap of digesting all the information in my head for all this period and now explode it all in a sudden. After the CBE module, i decided to go step by step with the leadership module and reflect my ideas through that process but once again i made the same mistake ( or shall i say old style or habit ). Since I was a kid, i used to observe and think about things alot and then just let all that energy in once, same thing happened to me with my studies during my academic year as i research, observe and study all the modules and at the end i let m energy to let it out. This style, even though it might seems wrong, but enabled me to really take the information ( PILE of information in this course ) and digest it in my head all the time, give it a great amount of thinking ( especially at night before i go to bed, i always reflect what i have studied and researched in my head ), so by going on with this style, it always gave me the time to take the ideas and apply it in my real life which helped me alot. However, this style has many disadvanteges such as, many of the reflective ideas in my head might have been forgotten by the end and they wont be mentioned. Second, it is unfair for my class-mates to share my ideas and disscus them during the module.

As everyone know, life is a learning process and by the time we get older we just confirm how true is that concept is. As we learn new things from experiencing the vast amount of interactions in life. At the moment, it became obvious to me that my old habits ( even though it had good benefits ) need to be combined with the ability of contiounly refelct and improve myself and keeping note of them ( that can happen by using the blog regulary instead of just explode like a volcano and share my ideas ).

October 25, 2009

study and APPLY

Alrightee, We just finished our first module ( CBE ) in our course after a very tiring 2 weeks. My personal reflective of what I have achieved are as follow:

1.    Due to the fact we didn’t manage our time very well, we found few difficulties to get all the mini-projects done.

2.    Importance of team work, we have learned much more by learning as a team as each member gave valuable information to there. And that’s what a LO leads to which is ( diversion thinking )

3.    The new style of the course is way much better than what I have done in the undergraduate, as a mature student it gave me the responsibility to look and research and made me even more hungry for more information.

It’s very important to implement what we have studied in our course in our own personal life. We been studying about quality excellence in companies, but what we shall really do now at the moment is to BECOME excellent in our quality by:

1.    Self assessment all the time, we need to find our ares of improvement and do our best to make it better

2.    Time management and dividing the work equally, in the working force in the future we will face a huge pressure so we have to learn from now how to manage our time to achieve our goals

3.    The importance of dialogue and becoming a LO with our class mates.

I can say for sure now, that I made the RIGHT decision of choosing this course. It will teach us valuable lessons in our career life and in our personal life as well.

Implement our knowledge to the market

How can we, as the new generation, apply our knowledge in our positions in the future!!?

One of the challenges we will face when we get in the working force is the OLD SCHOOL!!! Many management staff have the old fashioned leadership style which implement the POWER to the system and not to the staff. I came across many young leaders in Bahrian and young managers, and I saw the huge difference between the relationship between them and the staff to what the old managers tend to treat the staff like. The path to be a LO is basically be a happy family, they should not be a wall between the managerial force and the working force. We all know the importance of the workforce and what many companies tend to forget is that they are the EXPERT of their business so of course they have some great ideas to make the system better.

So, what shall we do basically is try to implement our studies to become a LO at least in our department. And by that force you can expand the circle. By making your department so close and tight, that will lead to a better productive department, hence it will give us more power to in the company and step by step we can expand our knowledge to the whole company.

One of the issues that makes many companies stay away from being a LO, is the LONG process. Many companies tend to go for the IMMEDIATE success, which from seeing other companies history that’s almost an impossible thing to do. Toyota for example took about 35 years until they reached the position they are now. Being successful is not a one week sensation, it’s a process of commitment and motivation to achieve the best.

Reason behind Multi–excellence models in the world !!

Total quality had achieved a lot since Deming’s theory and his total revolution in Japan in achieve quality. After that we had 2 of the most established excellence models ( EFQM and Malcolm Baldrige ) and their impact on many companies. The question here, why there are many excellence models all over the world and we don’t see for example the EFQM has many costumers in Australia, as Australian companies tend to take the Australian excellence model. Is it a cultural thing!!? Or what!?

After studying many models, it seems like the origin comes from Deaming as he gave the world the proper start to quality excellence, but because his philosophy is hard to implement by companies as it doesn’t include a specific self assessment tool to follow which require a very experienced open minded management team to work on it. Deming’s though gave Malcolm baldrige a GREAT vision to create his excellence model which focus on customer satisfaction, focus on people, leadership and link those to the results. The EFQM as well implement the same principle with few tiny differences. By studying all the other excellence models in India, Singapore, Australia etc etc. I Found out that they ALL have the same principle which they focus on leadership and the importance of the staff, and the linkage to the results. And what seems the reason behind each country adapting a new name ( same CONCEPT though ) to the excellence model is the trust it will give to the country it self, as for example companies in Singapore will find it easier to implement the country’s own excellence model than referring to other countries models.

measurement of results

Many organizations use to measure the performance by measuring the results and some of them do it by weekly meetings to compare the production volume of the 2 weeks going or with last year or whatever!!

The question arise here is it the perfect solution!!

Targets can be very odd on the behavior of the staff. When you set specific targets on the staff, the fear always come to mind, Am I doing enough!!? What if I saved some of my production volume this week to the next incase the production volume was below target!! All of that measurement of results effect the true meaning of the production. AS we have seen the red and white beans experiment that Deming used to prove variation in the results (“numbers can change even when the process does not”; (Wheeler 2000)), so measuring results is a very unfair procedure that is going in many organizations.

In our group discussion we came up with a solution which is a combination of balance score board and the EFQM model which there is a monthly meeting that discuss what area of improvement can be made in the process that lead to people results, customer results and key performance.

But after all the presentations and the Dr talk, we had a clear idea that Shewart’s approach to measure performance is debatingly the perfect way!! Whre he imphasis on the importance of variation in results. Where they are a upper limit line and lower limit line and from that area the company can see their production line are going on the right way or if something happened then they look at the reasons behind by referring to the last extreme point.

Important factors of becoming a learning organization !!

In order to be a Learning Organization, the staff and the management team shall implement many key factors. In this entry I would talk about 3 Main factors:

-      Dialogue!!! Everyone knows the word dialogue, which is a way of communication between people that involves an open mind to new ideas and sharing views. What happens in many organization is that the management team tend always to DISSCUS rather dialect with the fellow members) and that even apply with the staff!! Management team should encourage the idea of dialogue, and encourage the staff to share ideas and be open to hear other ideas as well. As I mentioned before in one of my entries, group thinking Is always better than individuality!!

-      Challenge: One of the things EFQM teaches that How can I make the current system better and improve it. BUT what the EFQM does not teach is the concept of challenging the system from the BEGINNING!! So instead of saying we have areas of improvement in the system and we need to improve that for a better process, staff and management team shall ask themselves, Do we have to this in the beginning, is that the perfect system, is there is another way to take!!? To implement this on the staff needs REAL courage, and many companies wont encourage that due to the fact of CULTURE!! many cultures including the old generations (taking Bahrain as an example) its always a pyramid of THE boss controlling the staff under him, and the staff at the lower level cannot argue with the SYSTEM!! To be honest it is changing at the moment when we see companies that has a young-ish CEO, as they always encourage the staff to come and discuss ways of improvement. So what seems like, the new generation are indeed adapting with the better way of being open to the staff.

Those 2 factors lead us to the main factor which is Divirsion thinking!! Giving the staff the power to be creative and innovative can lead to a very successful organization. And they are loads of examples when we see the staff are contributing heavily on changing the system, such as:

-      Apple ( I know I give lots of exampels about apple, apple fan here :p )

-      Pixar

-      Nintendo ( where the CEO always have a weekly gaming session with the staff to discuss and play the video games and see what can the company do to make it better )

-      Etc etc

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