February 05, 2012

Leadership in Family–run businesses

I intend to work in my family business at the end of this course. I just had a thought that how difficult it is for the leaders to manage leadership in family-run businesses. If we look at leadership in this context, I feel the leaders faces a more complex task over here. Leaders do not only have to fulfill all the qualities of a good leader that is expected out of them normally, but here they need to be extra careful as in family-run businesses there is also an issue regarding hurting the feelings of the family member and risking injuring the personal relationships with them. According to certain greats, people should fully distinguish between their personal and professional life but in reality it is not always the case so. It is a known fact that whatever happens in the business can come back to home as well as the world really does not function in the prescribed way of 'whatever happens in office, stays in office.' So, here I believe is where the leadership gets more complex. A leader is facing a much tougher challenge here as there is a possiblity of hurting his personal relationships while doing his job or what is expected out of him. Such a situation can be a nightmare. It adds up to his responsibility and he just have to make sure that he is treating everyone objectively and based on merit and taking decisons that are best for the businesses' result rather than trying to keep his personal relationships attached against the interests of the business. I know that this is what is expected out of a good leader and a good leader should able to find a way where he makes his family member understand as to why is he doing such a thing. However, if he is unable to convinve that memeber,I do feel it is difficult for him and there is always a great tendency for him to bend towards his personal relations. It is this tendency which a good leader have to overcome and should always work towards the betterment of he business. I know saying it is difficult but actually following such a thing really need a lot of will power and determiantion and I could just hope that I never in my life have to experience such a situation.

February 02, 2012

Corporate Social Responsibility

Today we had an enlightning lecture on CSR which gave me an understanding of what corporate social responsibility is and what it aims to achieve. What I believe is that there are many ways with which organizations aim to achieve CSR and for varying reasons. Some do activities related to CSR just to show its customer base that it takes full responsibility of the society on an environemnt or a social level and that they are fulfilling their duties towards it. While some pay attention towards CSR just to look good in the eyes of the society as well as to use it as a kind of marketing strategy. Some do it to attract the sponsors as some of the big sponsors already have CSR in their policies and would only sponsor others whi employee it in their policies as well.

What was the most intriguing statement I saw was that following CSR helps the company to retain and employee the best employees. According to our lecturer that an individual would tend to bow towards an organization for work which does something for the society. However, I tend to disagree with this statement. I dont quite think that it is fair to generalize this for all employees. Personally, as an individual if I am seeking a job then the primary thing which I would be worried about is how does the company treat me. I dont think I will be much concerned about its policies towards corporate social resposiblity. If the company has a good environment to work in and is offering me a good pay, the policies regarding CSR would or should hardly effect me. In fact, for me as of now, I can say that if there is another company that has the same offer for me which have a good policy regarding CSR, I would still be more or less indifferent towards both companies. That is why I really dont know how valid is the statement 'that a company following CSR can employee the best employees' is.

Leadership and Headship

Today in class we tried to arrive at the best definition of leadership. Each of the 4 groups came out with a definition which in essence highlighted the same points. Leadership involves influencing the followers towards a shared goal , inspiring them to get motivated to achieve some defined goals. Now, the meaning of leadership is starting to get a little clearer in my my mind and more than that now I can distinguish between leadership and headship.

Earlier, I did not really think there was much of a difference between the two. I had the perception that a person who was given a position of importance results in that person automatically becoming a leader. However, it turns out that a leader is completely opposite to that. A person who is a leader does not really need to have a position of importance. He becomes a leader because of his vision and how well he influences others to align his followers' vision to the same as him and how then he inspires them to achieve the defined goals. A leader may have to resort to headships in certain circumstances, however, his leadership skills have nothing to do with his position in the company if we talk about leadership in business context. The personal power defines a leader's leadership skills and it is only him who can get the best out of his followers. Positional power is only headship and in such a scenario the person is most likely to get the compliance of his subordinates but there is almost a 0% chance that he can get them to put their souls and heart in the project. It is a very important difference and I am glad that I could see it now so early in my life. Considering leadership and headship as one is the major problem in today's world or that is what I feel atleast based on my personal experience. In companies I have seen, I have never had the opportunity to see a manager using his leadership skills, more often than not the managers in today's world resort to headship over leadership. This can never let you achieve the trust of the employees and can never 'really' have them by your side. When I will get the opportunity to be a manager in future, I will try and make sure that it is leadership which I show to my team rather than my headship. I can already feel that it is one of the most important lessons that I have learned in my life which can really help me transform my organization and make it more successful. Headship is really tempting and an easy way out, however, it is leadership which can really bring the change and make the organization successful beyond doubt.

Another point which I want to highlight here is influencing and manipulation has a dark sense attached to it or atleast that is what most of the people perceive including me. However, now I can see that manipulation or influencing people does not mean that you are blinding the other person and take him to a path which he does not really believe, in fact, in the good sense influencing the person would mean pressing the right buttons in order to get that person see the reality and the vision you have in your mind so that he can make the right decision for himself.

January 31, 2012

Creating Excellent Leaders

Today, marked the start of the Leadership and Excellence module which I was personally really looking forward to attend. The class excercise really made it pretty evident as to why leadership is indeed a very difficult field to teach anyone. You cannot make leaders by asking them to read some theories on it and just abide by certain 'rules' in certain situations. Leadership is something that you get when you are actually asked to come into a situation where you have to lead a certain group of people. The class excercise resulted in all of us coming to a conclusion different from each other. This really made me wonder how different are the psycologies of people in comparison to each other. And if people are so different from each other, it is just not possible to treat each and everyone alike. Different set of values and beliefs exist for each of us and the job of the leader is to identify the unique personality of each individual and how to motivate him and get to align his vision with the one of himself. As Paul puts it, it is very important to know just the right buttons for each individual in order to get his focus and motivation up and make him see the vision the leader himself has in mind.

It was a very big lesson for me as I aspire to be a manager in a business in India after the completion of this course and the fact that you need to treat and deal with everyone on an individual basis is a very important. Every employee will perceive you in a different manner and to come with the terms of them is the real challenge. It would be upto me to identify different personalities and motivate them to achieve the goal I will have for the organization. As a leader, it becomes very important for you to make sure that everyone is on the same thinking lines and is working towards the same common goal. Also, it gives me an insight in to the fact that if I say someting or any of my actions may have different impacts on people and it is not really the inability of the employee to understand me in the way I want them to, it is just the fact that each of us is different and it should be in my capacity to make sure that I get my point across to each of them.

In addition today's class brought out a very important point that a person aspiring to be a leader or wanting others to see him as a leader, should have a leader like ''appereance'' as well. Even though it may not be a very important characteristic, nevertheless, it makes it easier fo you to convince people about your leadership capabilities and potrays an image in other's mind which makes them take you seriously.

Lastly, a very important lesson learned was to understand the impacts a person have when he uses his positional power as a leader and when he uses his personal power. Using the positional power cannot motivate the employee to gives his all for the vision/goal, the employee just tries and do enough so as he is not picked upon by his leader. However, a personal or a born leader can really motivate an employee to give his all for the organizaion and makes him feel important which makes the employee give more than the 100%. This is very important for me as it allows me to focus on the personal level leadership from now only as this is the real deal which really motivates people. Anyone can develop positional leadership skills if he is at a good post, however developing personal level leadership is very essential as this is the thing that ties your emplyees with you in a trustworthy relation and gives them the incentive and motivation to give all of his knowledge and skills to the organization.

The first day itself brought out so many lessons that it has really inspired me to give my full attention to the module. But more than the lessons, it has raised so many questions in my mind like can someone develop leadership skills? Am I a good leader? To what extent is gaining experience important before becoming a leader in a partical field? What is a leader? What are the charcteristics of a good leader and many more. I hope to get some kind of an answer to them till the end of module as I am sure there is no definite answer to any of these.

November 14, 2011

Six Sigma Improvement Exercise

Today, we were introduced to the six sigma improvement excercise during our lectures. The task was to produce Meccano airplanes. Mecanno airplanes is basically an engineering toy which had a certain few steps in its production. We were required to produce them in a certain time period or else we were penalised both for early as well as late production. Certain operators were chosen who worked on the production line and others were there to study the process, make note of how the process could be improved and keep the time.

It really was a very interesting excercise. Although it was a very simple production we got a real insight as to how a manufacturing process works. It gave me a real time experience as to how different stages of production are interlinked and how important it is to have a good relation with each other. Just by observing the process I could see a lot of areas for improvement in the production. It was evident that there are unlimted oppurtunites for waste in this production. I could not even begin to think how closely the real manufacturing processes would be taught before implementing. It did give me a reason to believe that even if we observe a manufacturing process in reality, we are bound to notice a lot of areas for improvement. Today, was really a good learning point. Moreover, it was my first encounter with the six sigma. We are on our way to applying it in our excercise. We are at Stage 1 of the DMAIC cycle where we have define the process.

What was really interesting is that we are currently at 0 sigma where we produced 100% DPMO. So, the only way forward is upwards. From tomorrow we would countine with six sigma improvement process and hope to reach our targets. I am really looking forward to it and successfully complete my first six sigma project. It will be a great learning process and I am sure it will help me in understading the six sigma process much better than the literature.

November 09, 2011

Importance of Variation

Today, we had a class on variation where we were told about how to distinguish between a common cause and a special cause variation. A common cause variation is which is in built in the system and is uassignable whereas a special cause variation occurs because of a particular reason outside the system. It is assignable and it should be identified and eraicated as soon as possible.

In organizations what managers usually do is consider a good produce one day as good work done by the workers and a comparatively lower prodcue during the next day as workers being inefficient. To consider the different produces of each day, we cannot just see the flow chart and see how we are doing. What is necessary is to identify the variation in production each day as common cause variation or a special cause variation. If the thing being produced is withing the limits of variation, we identify it as common cause variation where the ups and downs in production are not really due to the workers' effort but ae in built in the process of production. If we want to reduce this kind of variation we need to change the system as a whole. If a point comes outside the limits of variation, then we may see that it is because of a special cause. Production may be unusually low due to the absence of some workers or due to a machine breakdown! In such a situation, immidiate action must be taken to eradicate such cause and bring the production inside the limits.

What I really found useful in this lecture is how often even hoighly experienced managers do not understand the concept of variation and try to reduce the common cause variation by taking acions as if it was a special cause variation, thus, making the variation all the more out of bounds. I really understood the concept of first identifying common cause variation and then bringing our production inside this common ause variation so that our system becomes stable. Only after this is where we can thing of applying tools like six sigma to make a breakthrough and improve the production and reducoing even the common cause variation.

Today's lecture really provided me an insight as to how important it is to develop an understanding of variation before we even think of going for an innovation or improve our systems. Without understanding this concept any changes to the system more ofthen than not lead to a step backwards rather than forward.

October 29, 2011

First Module Over– Already learnt so much!

Well our first module Creating Business Excellence has come to an end. It was a great learning experience. Just the style of teaching this module gave us the oppurtunity to learn. Barring from the contnet of the module, it helped me improve so much. It has trigerred me to do reflective thinking which is so useful and really allows me to see how better I could have behaved or decided in many situations in the past if I had thought it out through. I had never given a presentation in my life and it gave me a tremedous oppurtunity to do so. I was always scared of doing it but once I did give a presentation I realized it is not so much of an issue. I dont know how I did but I felt really good after doing it and it was really an amazing barrier to overcome for me.

Well this module taught me so much already about how organizations do so many things incorrectly and there is so much room for improvement in all the work. The policy to just overcome the current problems rather than disposing off from its root is a practice almost all organizations are accustomed to and should give up. I realized the importance of a leader. One who leads with power is not a real leader and could never get the most out of is employees. One with a vision and an attitude towards excellence , who understands his workers and treat them with respect can bring about a positive change and take an organization on the path of success. What organization should aim for is continuous improvement. There is no one perfect and everyone should just continue to improve. Gaining knowledge and learning are so important aspects and are essential for organizations who want to move on the path of continuous improvement.

This is just a gist of what I have learnt. I am absolutely enjoying this learning and am sure I will find a lot of important stuff when I start with my Post Module Assignment. All this seems like common sense but this is what we all neglect. When I began to think I realized how this thing fitted every kind of organization in this world. This even was true for football clubs. Leaders and team efforts, Continuous improvement and learning on a day to day basis are the core values for becoming a successful Club. This is just so true for every organization.

October 28, 2011

Learning Environment created in MBE

It has been four days into the study week and I have come a long way. When I started with this course, I found it really different and thought it to be fun and hard. Well it has surely lived upto its expectations as it has turned out to be both hard and fun. Hard as it had required quite a bit of time for research and fun because I did not find it a burden on me to be studying or doing research or attending the ever interesting meetings with Paul( our Module Tutor). Yes, I prefer to call them meetings and not lectures.

Well, from my school and throughout my undergraduation I was always hesistant in asking quetions or even answering questions. I always used to avoid doing that. I used to hate lectures where there was a Q&A round due to take place. Well it has all changed here at MBE. Paul has encouraged us all to ask questionas or give comments to any point of discussion. It ha really created a learning environment where we now look forward to discuss within ourselves and ask questions amongst ourselves. It is not a liability now but something that has become a part of our learnong where we seek for discussion to take place. I must admit that these discussions really make me understand the topic really well. Everyone sharing their real life experiences really gives you the insight how this point can be used in reality and how useful it will be when I start to work. Paul said today that he was really happy that a learning environment was created in MBE and was impressed by us but I would like to thank him for making it possible to happen. Always encouraging us to make comments and raise questions and maintaining the safe environment which he talked about since starting.

It has really made me come a long way. Now I am no longer hesistant in asking questions or put my viewpoint to test. It has really given me a sense of security and the belief that questions and comments from your classmates or colleagues just help you further understanding the topic and correct you if you were thinking on the wrong lines.

October 26, 2011

CBE–Study week

Well we are two days into the study week and I have really found the experience quite enlightning till now. Yesterday, our first task was to prepare for a real life situation where managers from different departments had 20 minutes to prepare for a meeting and discuss the issues in a 45 minute-long meeting. It was quite fun and at the same a good learning experience as it gave us the oppurtunity to feel like real managers discussing real issues prevailing in a hotel. It really taught me how easily the meetings that organizations have doesnt end up with the solutions to problems. There is a tendency to drift from the topic and things could get really messy. At the same time, our team did give good oppurtunities to each of the members to put forward their issues and suggestions . It made me realize that if meetings are done keeping in mind the interest of the organization and not just your department, there is ample of time even in a 45 minute short meeting for everybody to discuss the issues and come out with solutions. This experience was of great essence as it did give me certain points to keep in mind if ever there will be a meeting for me to attend or a chance for me to call a meeting. What our module tutor (Paul) does amazingly well is he discusses each point of study afterwards. It made me understand certain points about conducting meetings which I did not think of on my own. Views from my classmates and Paul's own contributions really made me aware of things which can go wrong in a meeting. Most importantly, every meeting should have an agenda to begin with. It should begin with a clear objective to attain. Then an important point is to have someone noting down minutes of meeting so that one could know what everyone had to say and later reflect on each viewpoint. The most important thing for me was to understand that meeting is not where we are to work on problems together, the main point of a meeting is to take decisions! So, it was really quite a learning experience.

Today, we presented a presentation on the comparison between ISO and EFQM frameworks. While working on the presentation during the past few days I really got the art of a learning organization where how everyone can share knowledge with each other and learn from one another. It is not a place where we are competitors but are a team where each member complements each other. What was amazing was that the amount of research we did on the presentation and we still had so much to learn from the 3 other teams' presentation. It really seemed as if an entire picture could be developed if we added the different presentations together. It is all about sharing the knowledge and making people around you more aware. More you share, more you gain. This is what should happen in real world , where employees and managers should stop each other as competitors. They should get together as a team, share knowlege amongst themselves, complement each other and work for the good of the organization as a whole. Atleast, I have got this art and practice clear in my mind and will try and make this kind of environment whereever I work in future.

There are still plenty of things to learn and I am looking forward to the rest of the week. I can say that I am finally beginning to adapt to this kind of learning and it is so clear in my mind how much more I have learnt this way rather than just sitting for long hours in lectures. There is a kind of excitement about the discussion we have amongst ourselves and it is so wonderful to learn from the experiences of my classmates who have already worked and faced these issues and not to forget vital incidents shared by Paul himself. If this can continue for an entire year, I can see myself taking some of the most important knowledge with me from here, not only proffesionally but even personally.

October 21, 2011

Organizational Learning–Not confined to benefit organizations only

I have been studying a lot of literature on Organizational Learning from past 2-3 days for my mini project. While reading the literature, a question popped up in my mind is learning only necessary for an organization or just help the organization alone?

Learning is surely necessary for an organization if it has to be a successful one in the long run. An organization has to have a vision, a certain goal in mind if it has to reach the summit. But with organizatinal learning come a lot more than the good for organization. Organizational learning helps the empoyees, the people involved as much as an organization. A company gets the right direction if it is learning correctly but what it brings to an individual is much more greater. The first step for a learning organization is for its people to have personal mastery. Now, during the development of personal mastery an individual can become lear of his own goals and vision. It is a kind of self searching for him where he can see himself doing certan things 10 years down the line. This can really add meaning to an individual's life which is missing in most of our lives in today's world. This vision and the zeal to achieve his goal can drive him to lead a meaningful life and develop his skills to achieve the goal. This can be the turning point of life where he can see the reality and look how is he doing now in comparison to his goals. He develop the ability to reflect on his doings and enhance his abilities and capabilities to reach his goal. Thus, when an organization asks its employees to achieve personal mastery and gives them a good environment to do that, it is just not beneficial for the organization but it is for the employee as well. Employee learns the importance and art of continuous learning and to face the changing world rather than resisting the change. So, as much as organization learning important for an organization, it is for the employees as well as it gives their life a direction to take their life to.

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