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August 26, 2009

Survey Closed

The survey was closed today and analysis of the results will be published on http://cprisks.blogspot.com/ shortly.

Thank you for your participation.

Barbara Brandt

June 29, 2009

Survey on Risk Management and the Influence of Culture in Collaborative Projects

I am an MSc student in the “Programme and Project Management” course at Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), University of Warwick.

In my master thesis I am looking at project risk management in international collaborative projects and aim to explore the influence of culture differences of the partner organisations.

Within the course of my studies I designed a questionnaire which aims to facilitate an overview of how organisations approach risk management when entering into and/or performing in international collaborative projects.

Questionnaire "Risk Management and the Influence of Culture"

If you have any experience working in international collaborative projects, I would be grateful if you could spend a few minutes to take part in this survey. Your answers will be treated as strictly confidential. The survey consists of four sections, each containing about seven questions.

Please be assured that the data obtained will be used for the purpose of this research only.

If you have any questions or concerns about this survey, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Barbara Brandt

MSc Programme and Project Management
WMG, University of Warwick

May 05, 2009

The leader from another point of view

Yesterday I was watching a basketball game on the tv and I was trying to identify the behaviours the the coaches had. In my opinion head coaches are a very good example of leaders and their behaviour is worth mentioning.

The most important thing in order to be a good coach-leader, is to have the ability to identify how to change your behaviour in different situations (ex. Score difference) to achieve the wanted results. It was amazing how they were changing behaviour during the game, when the team was performing well they were encouraging and motivating by saying well done etc. But also they the team was doing mistakes they were yelling at them and they were seeming very nervous.

This made me realize that a good leader can change behaviours and the way he treats his/her team. The team will expect these changes and they will know how to react. It is important for the team’s performance to be able to understand what the change in the behaviour means.

May 04, 2009

Leadership and management of conflicts

In the seminar of how a leader can manage conflicts we analyzed his responsibility regarding the personal conflicts some if his/her team members might have. It requires a great deal of social intelligence from the leader to understand the importance of a conflict and know at what level he/she has to intervene in order to resolve it and secure the team's harmony. People especially in western societies prefer to have a team that works in harmony but what is the probablity of that when people from different backgrounds and usually different cultures have to work together.

In every job it is almost certain that you will have to work with someone that you don't like at all but how can you let aside these feelings and focus on the work only? Can a leader alone help you with that or it also depends on the team members involved or the situation? If a member does not want to cooperate should he/ she be excluded from the team and can a leader decide sth like that?

Leadership and coaching

During Day 6 that we had the coaching exercise, I realised how hard it is to coach someone. The hardest part is to elaborate the options to the person you are coaching. People tend to give advice and always think that what they have in mind is the best for the other person. Unfortunately, an effective coach should try to help the other realise alone his/her options and help in the evaluation without influencing.

But in the context of leadership the leader according to the definitions is supposed to influence the thoughts and actions of the followers. So is it possible for an effective leader to be able also to coach the members of his/her team or these are two different roles that one person cannot have the same time?

April 23, 2009

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence... What do you think?!

April 22, 2009

What is Leadership about?? Part 2

Writing about web page http://excellenceone.efqm.org/Default.aspx?tabid=345

Today it was I really interesting day. We had to work as a team and create our own definition of leadership. We tried to analyze the literature and figure out what is leadership about. Personally I found the some of the definitions a little bit “narrow” and maybe not so “modern”…… It is really difficult to capture in two lines the essence of leadership. I preferred the definition given in module notes “Excellent leaders develop and facilitate the achievement of the mission and vision. They develop organizational values and systems required for sustainable success and implement these via their actions and behaviours. During periods of change they retain a constancy of purpose. Where required, such leaders are able to change the direction of the organization and inspire others to follow." (EFQM, 2003)

During the discussion we had in our team we came out to the conclusion that you cannot define that characteristics that a perfect leader should have because it depends on the situation, the team’s maturity, team’s needs for motivation, task’s requirements etc. So the outcome was that a good leader should have the ability to identify each time what leadership characteristics he needs to show in order to take out the best from the team. We also thought what type of behaviour we would expect from our leader and with what behaviour we would be most motivated and effective.

And we come out with the conclusion that it is really hard to be a good leader. It is difficult for people to change their behaviour and adopt each time different leadership style in order to fit to the changing environment. Leaders need to inspire people, have a vision and communicate it to the team, identify what they want and motivate them, be good team players, be good listeners and also be able to give solutions to dead end situations, suggests alternatives, be innovative but most important of all is to be reliable and engage people to accomplish team’s common goals.

Leaders must have the ability to change their selves and influence and inspire others to follow them.....

April 21, 2009

What is Leadership about?

What is Leadership about?

I think it is important to identify two different elements of leadership definition. The first element is the definition of leadership and the other element is how a good leader should be.

In my opinion leaders are the people that in particular situation they have the power to influence others and take decisions that affects their lives.

The second element is a bit more complicated as the perfect leader; the perfect leadership style depends on the different situation. A mature team with qualified members that need to generate idea and be innovative, needs a completely different style of leader in comparison with a team that is under a situation of emergency and is not performing well. Also some times the same team/people need different types of leadership, depends on the situation and on the task/project they need to achieve. So it is obvious that a good leader is the one that has the ability to identify how he must behave to his people, in different situation and in different tasks, in order to manage and take the best out of them; what they need in order to be motivated and what is the best way to communicate with them his vision.

Does a Team Need a Leader

Does a team of peers need a leader? Or can it go as a synergic team?

It is very common in teams of peers to claim that no leader is needed and that things can go well amongst them. But is this the case in reality? Are successful teams "headless"?

I believe, out of noticing teams and working in them, that teams with no leader weree always unproductive, uncontrolled teams which no decision can be taken easily and effectively. I believe, that each team, whether of peers or a hierarchial one, needs a leader to facilitate the team work and, in case of urgencies, have the final word.

Some teams on the other hand, would say that they managed to do well without a leader? Would that be true?

It is quite noticeable, that teams that contains members of strong personality and good leadership skills would witness emergent leaders within them. Those leaders, emerging either because of personality or skills, would have a recongizable strong influence on their peers. Nevertheless, such teams (specially bigger ones) would always facs the risk of conflicts if more than one leader emerged, creating circles of power within the team which might bring the team's efficiency to the grounds.

Leadership and communication

Writing about web page http://www.skagitwatershed.org/~donclark/leader/leadcom.html

Clear, full and effective communication is critical for a team. The leader is responsible for communicating his vision to all the team members and clarify everything needed. In addition,  he/she should ensure and encourage that all the team members share their ideas but also listen to others'. Challenging the other people's views can only be achieved in an environment of good communication because only then can people combine effectively their ideas and improve the existing ones by commenting to what others say and have a proper discussion. Good communication can build brand new ideas because if the team members share their thoughts something new may come up that they never thought or was quite in the contrary of their initial approach. So, a good leader should encourage this kind of procedure and ensure that it takes place because the results can be very good. On the other hand, if effective communication is not achieved the team will probably experience many problems such as misunderstandings, different definitions of the team's objectives and no clear direction of what it is doing and why.This can lead to letting only a couple of members working and probably know what they do and the rest being confused and demotivated.

So, I believe that when I will have the opportunity to lead a team I will ensure that full and effective communication is achieved by encouraging everybody to share ideas and discuss upon them before making a decision. I will also try to communicate my vision as well as I can so everybody has a clear direction.

The attached website just gives some ideas upon the topic and refers to some of the problems in team communication.

February 18, 2009


When you go to a grocery shop or a superstore in England, you would find freezers and refrigerators that contain packs of readymade meals. Meals that you only need to put in the microwave for some minutes, and afterwards you can enjoy a nice lunch. You will find a huge variety of meals from various cuisines. You can find British “Fish and Chips”, Chinese “Noodles”, Japanese “Sushi”, Indian “Chicken and Curry”, Pakistani “Biryani”, Italian “Pizza”… But until this moment, I did not find any readymade Arab meal, I did not find a readymade Jordanian “Mansaf”, a Palestinian “Msakhan”, a Saudi “Kabsa” or even Mediterranean “Yalangee”, and I was always wondering what things do we have in the Arab world that are readymade to be put side-by-side with the other international items in these stores, and could not really find an answer until few days ago. So what was the thing I found few days ago that can be put in this “International” environment?

Few days ago, I realized that we have readymade certificates we issue, not academic certificates, but certificates of loyalty and treachery. If you are Fateh, then those who disagree with you will be immediately issued a certificate announcing that they are “the agents of Iran”, if you are Hamas, the certificate will be the same, but “Iran” will be replaced by “Israel and the United States”. So goes in Lebanon between the “14th of March” and the “8th of March”, in Jordan, in Egypt, in the whole Arab world.

Why cannot we accept that there is another opinion? If someone supported Hamas in the war, it does not mean that he is patriotic, and if another person thought that Hamas was mistaken, it does not mean that he is a traitor also.

After the end of the Israeli invasion to Gaza, I received some emails “quoting” the Israeli foreign ministry site talking about a list of “traitors” who dared to write articles against Hamas (and there is no real way to know if the quoting was correct or not, because it was only written as “quoted from Zionist newspapers”, no names, no dates). Not only had the emails described them as traitors, but also “Zionists” and “Israeli Ambassadors”, although some of them had a well known history in the literature of resistance against Israel and is married to one of the famous Palestinian women who was resisting Israel years before Hamas was even founded. And this made me wonder, if those writers were decided to support Hamas tomorrow, would that change them to patriots?

When are we going to accept the existence of a different opinion? When are we going to accept that those who promote violent resistance and those who promote peace negotiations are both patriots, but are having different opinions and different approaches?

Maybe when we realize that, we will gain the world’s respect again… and then we can get our rights back.