All entries for April 2009

April 23, 2009

How to Be a Leader

The below points are from a book that I recently read called "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. It is available in the library and I recomend everyone to read it. Library Ref. No. QZ 820.C2 

Be a Leader

1.    Begin with praise and honest appreciation

2.    Call attention to other people’s mistakes indirectly

3.    Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

4.    Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

5.    Let the other person safe face

6.    Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.

7.    Give the other person a fine reputation to leave up to.

8.    Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9.    Make the person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Dale Carnegie states that applying the above principles will help one to be a more effective leader.

I was chosen to be a leader by my team for the second assignment and I beleive that we made a good progress today. We achieved the following today:

  • Identified a vision for Waverider company that is in line with our chosen strategy. We do realise that it is supposed to be the other way round
  • Broken down the strategy into department specific goals
  • Agreed on preliminary presentation structure
  • Assigned responsibilities to each team member, including the leader, which must be completed prior to the next meeting

I beleive that the above progress was achieved because our team is dedicated, innovative and motivated to succeed. We all learned from our past in-module experiences, on what is required to be both an effective leader and team member.

As a leader, my job was to facilitate the idea creation process and play to team member's strengths.

For example, Jeries - IT skills, Pepie  - Resourcefulness, and Konstantina - Innovativeness.

From the above list of principles, I applied the principles 1, 4 and 8 (minus the mistake part). In addition to this I also did the following:

  • Write everything on the board to ensure that everyone could visualise and clearly see each other ideas
  • Encouraged everyone to contibute and ensure that all ideas were heard
  • Kept track of time to ensure that all work would be done by agreed deadline
  • Resolved any doubts and issues which lead to better decision


4 Ways to Talk Tough Without Creating Panic

Source: Harvard Business - Management Tip of the Day

The below are four points for effective communication with a team, especially during these challenging times.

  1. Pause before you speak. A well-used pause conveys calm, thoughtfulness, and seriousness. It also gives you time to think before responding.
  2. Don't blame. While certain senior managers may be more culpable than others, singling out individuals does not instill faith. Instead of pointing fingers, honestly address the situation and describe a plan of action.
  3. Avoid exaggerations. Using words like "catastrophe" and "meltdown" can cause unnecessary panic. To de-escalate tensions, use words like "serious," and "tough" to make your point.
  4. Tell it like it is. Tough times demand tough talk and you owe it to your people to be honest and truthful. Don't gloss over serious concerns, but do focus on facts.

April 22, 2009

Psychology of Persuasion

Today, during our presentation of leadership definitions, we stated that leaders need to know how to influence and motivate their team members. Nilakant and Ramnarayan, in their book 'Change Management: Altering Mindsets in a Global Context', mention the work done by Robert Cialdini who developed 6 principles of persuasion.

Cialdini stated that these principles work only if they are used for ethically acceptable and morally valid reasons. The 6 persuasion principles are:

  1. Liking
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Social Proof
  4. Consistency
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity

The first principle asserts that we tend to like people who are similar to us and who praise us. Therefore, a leader can influence people by honestly praising them and showing interest about people's concerns. Leaders can also identify his/her supporters who are similar to those he/she trying to persuade and mobilise those supporters to gain the acceptance of others.

The second principle, reciprocity, leads people to repay in kind what they receive. As the saying goes - treat people the way you want to be treated. Therefore, if a leader wishes that his staff help him, he must help them first. Employees are more willing to trust managers who are perceived as helpful and benevolent.

The third principle states that individuals looks for clues in their surrounding environment and people to decide how to feel, think and act. Basically, people who surround us influence our thinking. This is in line with what Paul stated on Monday, motivate people by creating an appropriate environment. So an individual can be motivated if the team that he/she belong to is motivated, therefore, a leader can engage and motivate individuals by targeting the team as whole.

Consistency, the fourth principle is about a human need for consistent pattern of behaviour. People rely on others to be consistent, so a leader must be consistent in his/her behaviour to gain the trust of his team.  

The principle of authority claims that people tend to be influenced by people who they perceive to be 'experts'. Therefore, to be effective a leader must be competent and be able to demonstrate his/her competence through his/her actions.

The last and sixth principle - scarcity - claims that people want more of what we can have less of. So when things are made less available, their perceived value rises. The other implication of this principle is that we are more influenced by potential losses than by our potential gains. So if a leader makes the negative impact of not taking some action known, the team members are more likely to be influenced to act. Mind you this is not about coercion, but rather about how lack of action can impact the organisation e.g. making it less competitive or leading to it incurring a loss.


April 2009

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