All entries for February 2016

February 27, 2016

Receiving Feedback

Since I was leader 4 times this week (lucky me) I had the chance to receive lots of feed back and I learned that giving and receiving feedback is a process of caring and love, because the person giving you feedback only wants the best for you, that person is taking the time to think about you and what things you have done well and what things you need to improve to be even better.

I know sometimes can be difficult to hear which are the improvement areas, but if you just receive them with gratitude, with a possitive mentality they can become focus points to be better. Anyway excellence is a journey sorrounded by the need of continuous change, so by taking your feedback as an input of the process of improving yourself and changing to better, you are just being a living representation of what excellence means.

The leadership and excellence module have thought me lots about humility, transparency, caring and love. At the end, being a leader has lots to do with human aspects, and even though I am task oriented-person, I am more than convinced that there must be a balance between reaching goals and constructing an enviroment in which my people want to work, not because I autocratically impose it but because they want to.


The leadership Challenge

Yesterday was the last day of the module, and once more I had the opportunity to lead, this challenge was more diffucult than the others, since as a leader I was the only one who had read the rules, requirements and characteristics of the task. I was a bit afraid when the excercise started because in the preparation time, I could not finish reading the rules and I had no time to make a plan of action, I came to my team without all the information and without a full understanding of the what to do or how to do it. At the end of the activity the goal, which was to was to identify in one and a half hour, the routes and stops from one city to another, spending only the budget and days allocated while earning at least 1800 points, was not reached.

So, we actually could not win the game. However, now that I reflect on the experience I can see some of the good points I made and also others I need to improve:

First, good ones:

1. Honesty is something really important in a leader, so the first thing I did with my team was tell them that I could not finish reading the rules, that I was sorry about that but that and that I will go back and ask for the folder later and finish reading.

2. I am clear when I explain requirements, so I explained clearly what was the objective of the game, the way to earn points and the rules.

Second, areas for improvement:

1. I need to be able to not follow the details and let the team work more without me, I think this way I empower them more.

2. There was too much discussion and we were moving forward really slowly , I believe it could be better if since the begining, the team was divided into two to define the two routes.

3. I need to control my body to not show my stress, the team should not notice that I am stressed when things are not going as expected. My job as a leader is provide vision and motivate my people to reach that vision.

4. Time management, we did not follow a plan on when to finish certain points, and at the end we were runing and we did not finish the task.

As a conclusion, in any activity that you lead, you need to make the most of the resources you have (information, money, people, time...), and your role as leader is to motivate, inspire and help your people picture the where we are going and get there, without you looking stressed or without you getting into the details of the task. I know the way the leader acts should depent on the situation and the people; however, I am learning that the idea is not to run as a crazy person knowing how to do everything, you need to understand the big picture, the goal, your people but all the solutions dont need to come from you, there is a team with you composed with people with different talents that you must assess so you put them to work in the right area or problem.

There is no need to overstress, explain the objective, empower, motivate your people and trust them. Provide vision, support when they need and learn to step back to see the whole picture, analyse when things need your action and when they dont, and remember your people is valuable and inside them there is a lot of potential to get things done.


Employee loyalty to the firm

During the module there was this seminar about how to make employees loyal to the firm and not to the leader and I link the answer of that question is related to the organisation culture. If the organisation has a culture in which people's intrinsic motivations are addressed, people's carrer and personal grow fit within the organisation's goals, people is valued and recognised and there is respect for the individuals, people should be loyal to the firm. But there is loyalty to the firm because the aspects mentioned above come from the company, its policies, normes, etc., because they are embebed in the way the company lives day to day.

When is just a leader and no the company who provides the culture, then there is a risk that when the leader leaves, the people will want to leave the company too. I have heard about many cases in which when a good leader leaves he takes many of his followers to the new company with him, and for me this happens because it is he and no the company the one addressing the employee needs.

So the challenge here is to help our companies create the culture in which no matter what leaders leave, the people stay because they enjoy working here and they feel valued.


February 24, 2016

Coaching class

Today we had our coaching class with Greame. I worked coaching Nilsu, which made things a bit easier since we are close, so we could jump the establish rapport point.

I summarise here some of the things I learned with the excercise:

- The key of coaching is asking questions to help people open up and talk.

- Coaching is not about you, it is not about what you thing is the person problem or what you think they should do to solve it, it is about them finding out what they need to solve and defining a solution they believe in.

- The objective of coaching is unlocking people's potential.

- Avoid using the question 'why' ...why did you do this? why did you react this way?..this type of questions can make people feel defensive.

- Be patient, listen and summarise what the coachee is saying.

- Gain commitment to change and define next step, without this the whole process is lost.

I particulary like the coaching class because I links with the idea that effective leaders care about their people and are concerned about developing them, so couching fits great with this line.


February 23, 2016

My leadership experience today

Today we had the hotel excercise...at the begining I had to play the observer role in my initial team...it seems that life is teaching me to be more quiet, observe more and listen more...at the end we have only one mouth, two ears and two eyes!

After my quiet moment, I was changed to a group and became the leader and sice the group was doing well already, I felt like I had the pressure of maintaing or improving the performance of the hotel...I appreciate so much working with this group, not only because we increased profits but for the learning experience they provided me. My learning points after the excercise were:

1. Make decisions based on facts...not on guts.

2. Listen to your people ideas.

3. Keep a good time management.

4. Ask the opinions of your team members before making decisions.

5. Keep an open mind even if the ideas are different from what you conceive as the right call.

6. Make effective use of the information available.

7. Step back sometimes, when you get too much time inside the details you can lose the vision of the whole picture.

8. Summarise points to see if everyone is understanding what is required.

9. If you are new, ask what is the current situation, what are the roles people is playing, how things are working.


Thank you very much guys for your feed back! It is nice to see the good thing and the areas for improvement...I apreciate it a lot.


February 22, 2016

Some thoughts of today

Today's leadership leasons for me:

1. Get ride of the blame culture, we are a team..there is no point of blaming one another when there is a mistake.

2.Voting does not require team work, consensus and debate is much better.

3. Give feedback in private but celebrate achivements in public.

4. Effective leadership is not about being loved or popular, it is about making the best decisions for the greater amount of people.

5. You have to balance people and task elements, reach the obejectives but dont tear your team down for the sake of achiving goals. Take care of your people while pursuing the goals.

6. It is not good to hide things from your team, be open and transparent.

7. The leader is responsible for the decision, but it is his//her job to listen the team and based the decision in all the input received.


Leadership Styles

Today we had the leadership activity related to leadership styles, and from the 4 styles (charismatic, laissez-faire, democratic and aristocratic) I got to play the laissez-faire role with my team. This style of leadership is about letting the people work with very little interference from the leader, so I had to give little direction, give the team lots of freedom of choice and action and support the them when they asked.

For me, the role was a bit difficult to play bacuse it forced me to step back and let people do whatever they want and personally, I am the kind of leader that gives direction, looks for agreement and gets involved in the process. So for the first time in my life I had to be quiet, trust people, let them work without much guidance and just see them from outside.

I was scared we would not get anything done, I was afraid no guidance and too much freedom could be a bad thing, but when we finished the activity the result was pretty great, the fact that I was quiet and steping back allowed the team to be more creative, they figured out how to work well together, leadership from Aya emerged and they built a really beautiful castle without me controling the process.

Until today, I thought if laissez faire leadership was not actually a leadership thing since the leader doesnt do that much (if the leader is like me, holding yourself is doing a lot...jejeje); however, now I think that it is a leadership style that can work very well in situations in which people need to be creative, it is like giving freedom to people so they have no constraints or frameworks on which to base their ideas. Today I learn that being quiet can also allow me to see more, I could see they might need colors or to analyse what was going on and how they were doing.

Today I learnt that there is no a perfect way of leading, everything depends on what needs to be done and who is the people you work with, some people might need lots of guidance to do anything, some other need to be left alone, some tasks requires precision, some others creativity and the way the leader behave in each of those situations must be different.


February 14, 2016

The Leadership Paradox

The paradox of leadership if that It is based on serving others, it is not about being a friends or being nice, It is about the idea of putting your ego aside and ask your people: 'what can I do for you?', It is about thinking of how as leaders we can provide our team with the environment and resources to not only do their job but to grow.

An inverted organizational structure is the representation of a service attitude through all the organisation, If each superior level serve its bottom level, the the biggest beneficiary of this service chain is the customer.

But since real life is not like the picture above, what we need to do is create this way of working in our team, being interested a bit more in our people and their needs, create a microcosm where human factors are as importan as the achivement of tasks.


February 10, 2016

Leadership Definition

Leadership is incomplete without the achievement of a goal but is pointless without putting effort on undestanding and building trust with your team, so it is like a coin with two sides: achievement of goals and caring about your people.


Are leaders born or made?

Natureversus Nurture

Some theories of leadership suggest that leaders are born since they possess some inherit qualities, some others that they are made, because many qualities can be learned by training and experience. In what position you are?

Since I am one of those people who thinks that a musician is 20% talent and 80% studies and practice, I go for the idea that a part of the leader composition are his/her inherit characteristics such as passion and drive plus a bigger part that is result of that person's learning experience and training.

I believe as human beings, we always have the opportunity of learning and growing, so our leadership skills can be nurture into our way of being (if that is what you want). There is a phrase we use in Colombia "nadie nace aprendidio" which means noone is born learned, we have our whole life for learning, and if being leaders is what we want, we will have several opportunities for sharpening our skills and become the leader we want to be.


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