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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.

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.

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.

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