April 16, 2012

Making Decisions is the hardest art of it all

While doing the PMA, I have realized that making decsions is in fact the hardest art of it all and yet it is everywhere. Every small or big thing, we are required to make decisions but even though we make decisions almost daily in our lives, we can never master this. Everytime you look back at a particular decision, I do feel there were components or things attached with the decsion that I forgot to consider or the thing that could have had a big bearing on the decision I took. These arethe decisions based on the gounds of the information that is available to you or the things you think you know about...heuristic decsions. However, when we move onto making rational decsions based on some tools and techniques, it becomes all the more harder, first to make a decision as to which technique to use and even harder to make decisions while working with a particular technique to apply that i the right manner. And as always with all the decisions, you certainly do feel that you could considered a certain thing here or there that could have led you to choose something else or to work with a tool in a better way. So, I wonder even though we do practice the art of decision making so very much, can we ever be satisfied or perfect when we do make our decision. I guess maybe satisfied to a certain extent but not perfect. That is why I feel decision making is the toughest art of it all. 

March 25, 2012

Perfect leader?

Is there any such thing as a perfect leader? Yes I know there has been a lot of effective leaders over the years who have achieved amazing feats in their lifetime. But after going through the leadership theories, I felt that it is not possible for any leader to have all of those traits and capabilitites. I feel it is not possible for anyone to possibly be so complete and develop so many skills. But going through them made me realize how each one of them may be necessary in different situations. So I feel even if there are leaders who really are effective currenlty, will they have been so effective in a different situation with different followers?! Can there be a leader who has the skills to completely change and become accustomed to a different situation? I cannot think of anyone who can have the drive or skills to be effective in any situation. There may be leaders who are great and effective in the things they have achieved, it was because of their passion that was driving them. However, it is possible for them to be so effetive in a completely different scenario as no one can be passionate about every situation. That is why I feel that there is no such thing as a perfect leader. Leaders may be effective but in a particular situation where they have their passion that is drivin them towards it. However, if you just put any past or present leader in a different situation or possibly swap their roles amongst them, I am sure they would be not so effective. They would possibly fail.

March 06, 2012

Decision Making tools can be made biased as well!

Today while using one of the tools I realized how difficult it is to remove biasedness from a decision. Earler I thought that there are just certain biases that exist within a person's mind and it is upto him to think logically and overcome any bias that he may have got due to his experiences and knowledge.

However, today when we were using one of the tools to make a decison on the excercise we were set I realized that the tool is as unbiased as the person or the team ants. The tool itself can be made really bias if the team is adamant on making one decsion or wants to make a certain decision. These decision tools require the team to select the factors that they want in the decsion making tool and it is upto them to give the importance they feel about that factor. Now, if a team thinks that one of the option is better and wants it to score higher than the others, there is a lot of scope of providing arguments where one can give higher weights to factors in which a certain option/alternative is better than the others and automatically the decison making tool will give you the answer that yes, that is the correct alternative.

This thing really surprised me as I never had thought that a decision making tool could be altered according to the needs of an individual and it just undermines the importance of them for me. Two different person given the same kowledge and assumptions asked to use the same tool could very easily arrive at opposite decisions just by the way they intepret different factors that influence the decision.

It made me realize that even if we see any decision made with the help of a certain tool, no matter how good that tool is, it should be our duty to check if that was indeed made unbiasedly, if the person or the group really had no favourites while they were making the decision. It just tells you how inherent biasedness is in any decision and it just make me wonder if it is indeed possible to make any decision without it being altered in any way possible according to an individual's liking.

March 01, 2012

Group Decision making…how effective is it?

Earlier I felt that group decision making is not at all useful and is a waste of time and energy and a single person should take a decision. On MBE, I realized how important it is to have different views and perspectives to a single problem and how it may help generate so many alternatives so that you could be confident that you have looked at all possibilities and considered them properly. But now, RDM has shown some light on the problems that exist in the groupthink as well and how one may try to tackle them so that it really becomes as efficient as we consider it to be.

Well there has been a lot of debate whether working in a group is the right way to take a decision and even under that there are a lot of options like leader being autocratic in taking the decision, then leader consulting with the group and taking a decision, taking a decision in a democratic way where everyone's vote is counted as equal, or else making a situation where each group member tells his points to the leader and to each other and then finally leader takes a decision based on his judgement and the information he has gained from his group members.

Generally, there a lot of problems associated with groupthink.The major problems include that when the majority of the members are having one point of view, the minority or it could be a case where one person find it difficult to put forward an opposite view which may be of relevance and the group loses out on a very important consideration while making the decision.

Also, there may be the case where an introvert person who generally finds it difficult to speak in groups may hold back his views or any doubts back in his mind and the group remain unaware of his considerations. Furthermore, there may be a case where the group members are from different departments and might be biased in their point of views and might exagerrate on certain things that would be a positive for their department but not for the organization as a whole.

We need to take into account all these factors when we are deciding to depend on a group to come to a decision. Generally, in group decisions it is preffered not to have the democratic or the extreme autocratic decision making as democratic decision may be wrong and may contain a lot of biasedness and autocratic is just the opposite of group thinking anyways. So, it is best to have a group making a decision where everyone is putting forward to every other member and the leader itself and the final decsion is made by the leader based on the the learning from what he hears from his group members in an unbiased ay. Also, it is important to have a devil's avocate in a group who challenges any points put forward by the other members so that whosoever puts forward a point can really make others understand his point of view and the leader can be sure if that person really has a logic behind it or not. Also, it gives the leader an opposite view to consider and he can see both sides of the coin while making the decision.

So, a group consultative method I feel should work in the majority of the situations and can help reach group the most optimal decision based on the data and facts available.

February 29, 2012

Decision–making requires a lot of thinking…

Decision-making..it is tougher than I thought it to be. We learnt in class how most of us use our System-1 in making the imporant decisions in life. Is it good? Forget it being good, it is awfully horrendous. According to so many studies, we are deceived by our eyes, by our ears, by our understanding of quantative methods, probability and even logic. Our systems-1, our intutive being cannot be trusted. It is really unreliable. People can play so many games with you and it is possible to make someone see something, make him hear something; it is just funny and very surprising how easy it is to manipulate thinking, visuals, hearing,etc. of someone. Yes, they are not always wrong and we should trust them more often than not, but to take important decisions, well hell no. We need to have to fall back on our systems-2 thinking for making decision. We need to follow so many logical steps to arrive at an important decision. We need to have a proper mechanism which we should follow and critically evaluate our options against one another to reach to a certain decision.

Even then, there are so many biases that we are suffering from. We suffer from these biases even when we know about them and somehow just cant do anything about them. We are biased towards issues that we have heard of. We try to recall the information we have heard about a certain topic and tend to take decision on it based on any small bit of information we have about it without going into its roots or trying to find out everything related to that situation. We even take decisions based on our moods which is far from being logical and represents mood congruent bias. We sometimes decide on a certain situation based on our past experiences without taking into account whether better choices are avilable right now or has the situation changed in any way. There are so many more these kind of biases and they all just lead to sub-optimal decisions. We need to be careful of them while getting to any decision.

And then there are fallacies that we need to be careful of. They are just arguments people have based on baseless facts without any proper data or proof to back them and is more often than not an individual's point of view that is itself biased. People tend to argue against certain points based on the person that is proposing that issue, using colourful language to try and make people against it, stating baseless points against it in different ways, restating the same baseless points in a loud tone,etc. These are just certain ways that people try arguing about topics. We need to be careful of such arguments and make our decision with no influences from these sort of arguments.

So, we can see that there are just so many points to consider when we take a decision and there are just countless opportunites where one can go wrong and may be influenced in any manner. We should learn to keep our minds unbiased while coming to any decision having researched properly about the subject in a logical way. It is only then one can aspire to take the optimal decision. Even if I think of taking any decision in the past, I find myself suffering from so many biases and would have really changed atleast the approach to come out with a decsion if not the decsion altogether. It is the approach you take to come to a decsion is what matters and is important to come to the most optimal choice.

February 17, 2012

Charismatic Leaders

While going through the literature on various leadership theories, I read about the charasmatic leadership. I was really intigued by this particular leadership style. I really felt that a chrismatic leader could be really good for a company to get the employees energetic and oriented towards the company's vision and goals. The thing that really interested me was the way leader gets the employees on his side and the amount of influence he excercises over his followers. The trust and understanding he gets from his followers is very necessary for the organization to achieve its goals. This particular leadership style is not really the most democratic way of working but I feel that for the organization to be successful, it is not really necessary to have a very democratic leader. The important thing is to understand the problems of the employees, provide them the right environment to work in, and in addition make the employees realize the importance of the goals of the organization, why it is necessaary to work towards it, and why they should put their souls and heart in it. A charismatic leader achieve this really well because of his character and personality. Also, the energy levels of the leader and his risk loving nature helps the organization to think out of the box and make the leader really popular amongst the employees. A charismatic leader usually enjoys divine fellowship which is very useful as the leader gets the belief and confidence of his followers.

One of the best examples of a charismatic leader which comes first up in my mind is the Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho. He has always been a charismatic leader. If we look at the Real Madrid team, we can see how much influence he excercises over the team players. Every player just idolizes him and you can realize the achievement it is given the great players with so much egos in the squad getting together as a tam and finally coming together and looking like the side that can overthrow arguably the best side of all time, the current Bacelona team. So, this really inspires me that a charismatic leader can really commit the followers towards the vision and can cheive more than 100% from them. Possibly, more than they themselves would have thought.

That is why I feel that I wold like to try this in my own company one day and I feel that it can really reap great benefits for the organization. The thing that can be against this kind of leadership is that if it is applied for a negative vision it can be really destructive. However, if applied morally and in the right direction, I feel this can be really great for the organization.

February 11, 2012

Important to take criticism though not really easy

During the week, we were made leaders for the various class activities and at the end of each task we were told by our team to debrief the leaders on how they performed and what was their strengths and areas for improvement. Firstly, when I was debreifed on my first task as leader, my self assessment and of my team members were more or less the same. I identified my areas for improvement and that was what my team member's perception was, so when I was 'critised' by them on some of my characterisitics, I could take it really well and tried to work on it on the next task. I could understand why self-assessment was being done, and it was important to do this excercise as this allowed the leader to really look at his leadership chracateristics and how the team was likely to meet this kind of style in future as well. Now, in this situation it was not very difficult to take the crticism.

However, on one of the next task that I took the leadership in, I did try to lead the way I thought the perfect leader was suppose to. According to me, I did quite well. However, there was difference between me and my team mates on my assessment on certain things. It is in these type of situations is where I realized that it is indeed very difficult to take crtisicm and I understood why is that some people dont like to be criticized or dont take it really well when thrown at them. It is when, they themselves have a completely different perspective of their performance than what others think. I listened to the crtisicm but I know that I did not take it really well. I thought it is not really the case and that I was good. But then one of my team mates really explained his perspective is when I realized that yes, maybe I am wrong and I should have done this particular thing differently. If it was not in the module, maybe I would not have cared to listen to his views after he started criticising me and would have lost a different yet very important insight on my performance. I understood how important it is to have critiques to continuously improve. I realized that it is difficult to take criticism from others when you yourself think that you have put in your best but there are mostly areas for improvement for everyone and it is important to identify them and work on them to continue to the journey of becoming 'excellent'.

February 09, 2012

'Embracing' the emerging leaders…

Today while doing one of the excercises, a really important question came up from one of my friends Jonathan as to how should a leader reach and do when he sees that there is an emerging leader in the team he is leading and is really doing a good job and has certain innovative and constructive ideas. What the leader may be enticed to do is to suppress this person who is emerging as the leader as it can take away the limelight away from him or he may fear that this emerging leader may take his poistion.

But the question over here the leader should ask himself is whether it is the best available option for him. Is it the right decision? Well, it is not. Not only that it is bad for the organization, if we see it from the point of view of a business, as it can lead to failure of realizing some potential breakthrough opportunities, it is bad for himself too. Believe it or not, it is the truth; suppressing the emerging leader is bad for the leader himself. I say that because he doesn't realize a simple fact that a leader himself cannot be an expert in each field. Leader has to understand that there may be smarter people than him around and if he gives them a chance and allow them to come up with their ideas, it will just improve the organization's productivity. It has great benefits for the organization. It may lead to that person take up the leader's job but the important thing is not on his expense. The leader here is likely to get promoted to a higher poistion as it was the leader who created such a ennvironment where everyone could be creative and come up with ideas. It was the leader who provided this platform. So the organization would surely recognize his skills and promote him to a higher post. It is important for the leader to understand that it is a part of his leadership characterstics to grow new leaders, to provide a platform for emerging minds/vision and make new leaders. An organization will definitely realize the worth of this leader for the company. So, he needs to stop worrying about suppressing emergin laders and ''embrace'' them. It is indeed a blessing rather than a curse to have emerging laders in your team. It just adds so much value to the aim you are working for and makes your team more efficient. Supporting them and giving them the opportunity is what leaders should do as the benefits are there for the organizaion, leader, his team and the emerging leader to realize. It is in fact an ideal situation which is a 'plus-plus' for everyone.

It is important for the leaders or in this case managers to realize this as what I have seen is managers generally try to get rid of such members. The managers all around the world should start thinking and realize this that this is in fact a great opportunity for them. The organizations all over the world have just lost on so many opportunites in this regard and the sad thing about this is it is still very much prevelant in the organizations. It has kind of become a part of the system. What is required to hange this thinking is really a bit of common sense. I have already identified so many reasons as to why the leaders should grow more leaders or embrace emebrging leaders and we have not yet gone to the ethical part of it as yet. Phew!

February 08, 2012

Leading is not really that easy..

Today I had the chance to lead a team in a hotel simulation game where we took over a hotel and made some decisions so as to make the hotel as profitable as possible. At the very start, Paul reminded all the leaders that he is not so concerned about the end profit as he is about our leading capabilities or the way we go about our leadership. I had that in mind but as soon as I got the brief for the hotel excercise, being a good leader was probably the last thing in my mind. I kind of got carried away with the game and just thought of winning the game. When I went back to my team I did perform some tasks which were expected out of me as a leader, however they were more natural than a delibrate effort.

There were times when I got the flashes of Paul's words in my mind and I started to look at it as a leadership excercise and tried to bring others to contribute and keep the energy levels high and all that which is as it is very necessary for the better functioning as a team but this was a delibrate effort at leadership whenever I could remember Paul's words.

The thing that I most learned from this excercise was that it is indeed true that leadership is a qaulity that may be natural to you but you will have to keep developing it through practice. It is pretty easy to read stuff that is written on leadership and talk about being a good leader, identifying all the characteristics it is altogether a different ball game when you really are in a real life-like situation. The situation can pressurize you, and when you are in a real competitive situation, the only thing on your mind is winning. It can lead you to believe that it is you who have got the best idea and it is indeed very tempting to be autocratic and deploy headship instead of leadership.

It has really opened my eyes and now I can understand Paul as to why he said that leadership is something that is useless to give lectures on and why we will keep learning it all our lives. It is something you cannot just become a master at even when it comes to you naturally and you just to keep evolving and developing your leadership skills and practice them regularly.

February 06, 2012

Rewards or recognition..what is valued more?

Today, we got into a disussion in class if as leaders we should give a group member recognition or a reward. As Paul told us that there is a lot of diference between the two and how differently they are perceived when given to people. Recognition is something like when a leader recognizes someone for doing good work, maybe just saying a 'thank you' or 'well done' and reward mainly refes to monetary benefits or bonuses given to the employees. Now, one may feel that rewards is a better option as money can get employees motivated. However, it is on the contrary. Recognition is something that a person values intrisically. It is something that people do not tend to forget so easily and can really be an inspiration for them to keep working hard. Ig you give an employee a reward he may be happy at that point of time but he would just not be attached to the organization. It may lead for him working harder but then the expectation level rises and he will just expect more and more rewards each time he feels that he is working hard. The point is that it is as it a duty of an employee to work hard for he company and do his job properly. Why should the employer give rewards to him and moreover, it has a very negative effect on his team mates and other employees as they might feel that even they deserve the reward and can really demotivate them. To reward a single person can lead to inter and intra team conflicts and in suc an organziation everyone starts to work for himself trying hard to grab the attentin of the employer so that he can be rewarded. In such cases, organizations should forget that people will work in teams.

Giving recognition to individuals really ties the employees to the organization and make them believe that they are a part of it. It makes them feel that it is their organization as well. It really makes them value the principles of the organization and really work for the organization whole-heartedly. It promotes team work and employees of the organization work together for he betterment of the organization. It is true that currently the organization or I should say majority of the organizations work quite the opposite way by rewarding people instead of giving them recognition. It has kind of become a norm. However, as Paul very correctly mentioned it is our duty as future leaders to bring this change in the system. It is we who can deploy the policy of recognition and really help organizations reap benefit out of it. It can change the way people think and can really help organizations worldwide enjoy benefits that they currently are unaware of at the moment.

I too initially had the viewpoint that giving rewards is the right and the only ay of unlocking the motivation of the people. However, now I realize how wrong I was and it is a well known fact that if there are rewards involved, you can hardly see any team work in the organization. People personally may give their best but it doesn not mean that it is the best for the organizations as it just increases conflicts between the employees and weakens they very foundation of the organization. That is why I am really looking forward to deploying this strategy of recognizing people as it is recognition that people dont forget and remember it all their life.

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