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August 26, 2009

Survey Closed

The survey was closed today and analysis of the results will be published on http://cprisks.blogspot.com/ shortly.

Thank you for your participation.

Barbara Brandt

June 29, 2009

Survey on Risk Management and the Influence of Culture in Collaborative Projects

I am an MSc student in the “Programme and Project Management” course at Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), University of Warwick.

In my master thesis I am looking at project risk management in international collaborative projects and aim to explore the influence of culture differences of the partner organisations.

Within the course of my studies I designed a questionnaire which aims to facilitate an overview of how organisations approach risk management when entering into and/or performing in international collaborative projects.

Questionnaire "Risk Management and the Influence of Culture"

If you have any experience working in international collaborative projects, I would be grateful if you could spend a few minutes to take part in this survey. Your answers will be treated as strictly confidential. The survey consists of four sections, each containing about seven questions.

Please be assured that the data obtained will be used for the purpose of this research only.

If you have any questions or concerns about this survey, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Barbara Brandt

MSc Programme and Project Management
WMG, University of Warwick

June 14, 2009

Effective Teams

I beleive that a part of leader's responsibility is to improve his or her team's effectiveness. I have not thought of it before but what is an effective team? What makes a team effective? 

I found my answer in chapter 10 of 'Inspirational Leaders' by Ronald J Burke and Cary L. Cooper. In the book, team effectiveness consists of 2 components: team performance and team viability.

Performance relates to teams ability to successfully deliver an output. Where as the concept of viability is future oriented and includes continutity (maintaining core team membership), commitment (to shared goals), cohesion (unity between team members) and capability (developing competencies to achieve shared goals).

So to maximise effectiveness of a team, a leader must attend to both performance and viability of the team.

June 08, 2009

Servant Leadership

Spears (and no I do not mean Britney :) ) identified 10 characteristics of a servant leadder in Robert Greenleaf's book - 'The power of Servant Leadership.' These are:

1.      Listening

2.      Empathy

3.      Healing

4.      Awareness

5.      Persuasion

6.      Conceptualisation

7.      Foresight

8.      Stewardship

9.      Commitment to the growth of people

10.  Building community

The above points 1-3 is about how to effectively manage people. Listening to them, empathising with them and healing relationship between co-workers and friends.

Awareness is about being aware of one's strengths and weaknesses as well as the surroundings.

Persuasion is about how to effectively approach people and motivaate them in the long run. Using powers of reason and logic to persuade other rather than one's positional power.  

Conceptualising and foresight is about identifying an appropriate vision, strategy and goals for the team/company, and being aware of the consequences of the actions that one take to achieve set goals.

Stewardship is what I beleive is the essense of servant leadership style, it is about 'first abd foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others.' And this links in with the 9th point, investing the the growth of individuals both from intelectual and career perspectives.

The final point, is about aiming for more than just successful achievement of a goal and creating an effective team, it is about creating a great environment for everyone.

I really this model because it shows the several dimensions of leadership as well as describe a leader as more than just as someone who leads others.  

June 04, 2009

Where did all the big leaders go?

During the LE module, someone raised an intersting question - Why we no longer have big leaders like Nelson Mandela or Gandhi? Leaders that can capture the imagination of an entire nation and motivate a whole country into action. Where did they all go? Why we do not have this type of leaders anymore?

I found that answer in Warren Bennis's book - 'On becoming a leader'. He states that the problems that companies face are significantly more complex than compared to those faced in the past. Therefore, no matter how effective and knowledagble leader is he/she cannot solve today's problems effectively on their own.

Bennis's soultion to today's problems lies with teams of talented individuals with varied knowledge and skils who are lead by an effective leader(s). So, we might not have a BIG LEADER, but effective organisations have at least several effective leaders.


May 29, 2009

Leadership = Vision

Kotter in his many publications states that creating a vision, getting people to accept it and implement it through appropriate strategies and annual goals is at the heart of leadership. Kotter also states that each team leader and his/her team within an organisation must have a personalised vision that is in line with the overall vision of the organisation.

Applying this to the LE PMA, I am considering using the vision that we created during the lectures for the CEO. Guiding the CEO to coming up with relevant guiding values from the overall vision and using it to facilitate teamwork between his MDs.

CEO greatest challenge as a leader is to generate teamwork and communication between his MDs. I beleive that this will be used as an effective example of teamwork that should be created and sustained between the different departments throughout and at all levels of the organisation.

The second step is to generate 'a second level' vision for the MD (my choise is financial director) that will be in line with the main vision but will be more specific to finance department and its personnel. For example - 

Provide quick and reliable assistance to our colleagues in matter of finance and cost management.

So just like the CEO, FD use this vision to motivate and engage her managers to take necessary action.

The idea is that CEO with the MDs act as an example of effective team and as such inspire the rest of the organisation to follow suit.  

May 26, 2009

PMA Approaches

I just started to read up about leadership for the PMA. Since there are several ways in which this PMA can be tackled, I was considering listing some of them:

  1. What happend during the coaching  session with the MD and the CEO
  2. What is happening as the coaching is occuring?
  3. What are you planning to do when you meet them?

Basically, write before, during or after the event. Any other suggestions?

May 05, 2009

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR: powerful marketing tool or unshakeable corporate values?

Once walking along the shelves with variety of products, I eventually recognized symbol of "red heart" on Procter&Gamble’s (P&G) product. Advertisement where P&G products labeled with "red heart" told that some part of money received from “red heart” labeled products would go directly as donations for children with heart diseases. My hand turned toward the product with “red heart” label …

This is not only one story where one tend to buy products that advertised with relation to donation activities. Before tackling mini-project about CSR, I had thought that companies just “pretend” to spend part of money from such products. I had thought that they just encourage customers make “indirect donations”. Even I suspected them in being unfair toward their willingness to donate. However, I think that customers unconsciously buy such products believing that they are contributing “indirectly”. I’ve thought those kind of advertisements are marketing tools to gain customers attention and psychologically influence their buying behaviors. After mini-project completion, I was glad to know that I was wrong.

Natural Resources Canada presents about 10 case studies of companies that established themselves as the best Canadian Corporate Citizens. Particularly, Husky Injection Moldings company (2nd in top 25 Corporate Citizens, May, 2002) are known as company that views sustainable development as the mix of three: economical, environmental, and social. Company’s main goal is to lead in all these three aspects of sustainable development. Husky incorporated it Purposes and Values into company strategy and “live out” these purposes and values in business. Most interesting thing for me was that Husky company in financial difficult time, where figures indicated obvious decline in profits and need for strong generation of cash in order to survive, CEO of company, R. Schad did not cut off any activities related to SCR. I found this fact as the evidence of unshakable values incorporated by company. The values that reflect them as corporate citizen, who reflects its intention to improve state of the world by actions.

Haizhen argued during mini-project discussion that in order manage essential CSR activities, any company should have strong financial position. I totally agree with her. Again making link to leadership, it seems for me that leader as individual who should be “rich enough” to help group members or followers to cope with challenges. “Rich enough” in my interpretation incorporates the best personal characteristics as well as intelligence and knowledge. And again, as in case with Husky company, real leader will unshakable to his values and purposes and try to help others even in difficult time for him.

May 03, 2009

Optimum number of team members

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meredith_Belbin

Meredith Belbin stated that an effective team must have at least one of the following:

1. Plant

2. Resource Investigator

3. Co-ordinator

4. Shaper

5. Monitor-Evaluator

6. Team-worker

7. Implementer

8. Completer-finisher

9. Specialist

Linking this with what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book - 'The Tipping Point' - it raises an interesting question what is the optimu number for people in an effective team and what a leader must do when the team exceeds that number. Malcolm Gladwell wrote an individual can only have continuous, regular and meaningful contact with maximum of 12 people. An individual rarely can exceed that  number because everyone is limited by time and energy.

In our in-class discussions we assumed that the team we are talking about are about the same size as the one we had for all the modules that we attended i.e. between 4 and 7 team members. In teams of this size, it is easy for a leader to keep contact with everyone and address each team-member's problem(s) as they arise.

However, what happens if we as leader(s) must manage a team of 50, 100 or even 347 people. How do we keep at least the majority of them motivated and working hard towards the set goals. I beleive that in order to achieve this a leader must develop sub-leaders or lietenants who can supervise the sub-sets of teams. The leader will lead his lietenants who then will lead their team-members. 

This is the structure that most organisations adopt. Although it does enable the leader to manage a large sized team, it does create an additional problem of how to ensure that the message does not get diluted or skewed as it travels down from the leader to the lowest team-member.

I beleive that there are 2 things that leaders must to do to mitigate this:

1. Have a clear, short vision that easily be converted into strategy and specific operational goals.

2. Ensure that there is a clear communication channels that allow open feedback.

To summarise, an effective team must not be above 12 people and if there are more than 12 people in a team they should be broken down into sub-teams according to specific goals and/or tasks.

April 30, 2009

Reply for Sue's Comments

Reply for Sue's Comments on previous entry: Actions not Words!

Hello Sue,

Sue, you make me laugh with your comment number 1. Very skilful point against my thoughts! Thank you. But, what do I mean is that from my personal experience, some people talks a lot, even can draw draft of beautiful and reassuring picture of future actions. But when time to realize that actions comes, you understand that it was only messy draft with beautiful words, and any attempts to convert this draft into feasible picture not taken.

When people around you, the life of who are important for you, understand logic of your actions and understand that your actions reflect their vision and their values, then they become with you. They start listening you. I do not argue that individual should not speak out; I believe that actions should outweigh words (concerning comment 1).

Yes, you are right Sue, (concerning comment 2), it is very useful to explore yourself from different sides and see what kind of person you are. Significant person in Kazakh literature, writer and great thinker, Abai Kunanbayev, told “every night before going to sleep you should analyze and report yourself what did you do today”. May be I cannot interpret his message in right way, but it means for me, that individual should analyze his action and be strict with himself in order to improve and be better than today. Day ends and you should learn from each day, you should explore yourself as individual. Every day gives you an enormous chance and possibility; you should be just open and ready to accept them. What is the link between these consideration and leadership? I believe that life is learning, and successful leader has to improve himself everyday. There is no limit for perfection. The best way to improve as individual is to assess yourself and critically examine you behavior and actions at the end of the day. Again, coming back to previous comment (number 1), I want to reflect again: words not actions. I may naturally resist to share my own “report” with world, because it is very personal and I may be want to reflect improvements as individual nor verbally, not by writing, but by my actions.

Develop yourself

Sue, unfortunately, I can not access your blog to explore your thoughts about life and experiences (concerning your comment 3).

Finally, (concerning comment 4) I think “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” justifies itself in hockey world. Bit in world, can individual afford himself mistakes that are too costly? Of course, at least you will have experience and gain some lessons and may be perform better in next time. But what if the cost for that mistake is very high? What if the cost counts with invaluable unit as human live? Can we afford such actions? Maybe answer is yes, when you know what you are doing and believe that the possible results worse to do it. Live is action and it is worthwhile to act and try. Try with High intelligence, Hot heart, and Brave heart.

April 29, 2009

Actions not words!


I have now  realized that leader is the person who REFLECT VISIION OF SOCIETY DREAMS AND VALUES OF SOCIETY. We have had tendency to interpret leader from prospect of leader in group. If we go broader and diminish borders of group we will find the life with real people, with real life situations, where you will not be given "notes". Here we play in "safe environment". What is the recipe for successful leadership in real life? I was thinking about this during seminars and after. I remembered history. I remembered significant figures of past. I found that nowadays people remember them and respect them because that persons were leaders. They were leaders with hot heart and high intelligence. They Challenged environment and rules and intended to create new vision and environment which were dreamed by society. "Real leader"  does not want to seek for praise and status, Leader seeks for creating "the best" environment for people. Only highly intelligent person with "alive heart" can lead society towards to possibilities of life. I belive that this kind of leaders works hard and continously improve themselves and find the ways for people hearts through their actions not words. Word has power when they come from individual who justified his credibililty by "real" actions. Things will not be done with words, they will be done by actions.

Promotions and firing policy

Hello everyone,

I hve attached presenation of "Promotions and firing policy" (group 2). We have not time to present it properly, please, have a look.

Thanks, Peripresentation.ppt

April 28, 2009

Thoughts after seminars

"What if............? But what if..............? And if............?"

These kind of questions were running simultaneously in my head, while seminars were in progress. Different aspects of leadership were discussed during seminars.It seem for  me that there is endless questions linked with each question of seminar. For example, gender issues in leadership: Does gender effect the leadership? And again flow of information, flow of viewpoints. More we delve into clarifying this question, more questions arised in my head. It seems to me endless flow of discussion. I agreed on point with Paul that we can not generalize each topic disccused in seminar: we can not theoretically cover all aspects and situations linked to any question. We can not present "framework" that says this WRONG this is RIGHT in leadership style. I belive that real experiences matter. Of course you should be aware of theories and possible solutions for different situation. But can we act according our "knowledge of situation" in similar situations? the best way to experience it and analyse each experience afterwards. Analyse and gain "wisdom" from just "knowledge".

April 23, 2009

How to Be a Leader

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

Be a Leader

1.    Begin with praise and honest appreciation

2.    Call attention to other people’s mistakes indirectly

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

4.    Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

5.    Let the other person safe face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Ways to Talk Tough Without Creating Panic

Source: Harvard Business - Management Tip of the Day

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

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

Definition of leadership

Writing about web page leadership

What is the leadership?


During our first mini project "Definition of leadership" I came up with my own definition as:

Leadership is art of individual to mobilize the activities or thoughts of group to achieve goal above compliance.

Firstly, why is the art? Art is the superior skill of human being. Art is the skill that you can learn by study and practice (wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). There is various styles of leadership, as the skills of leading is different. Individual with superior skills of leading can mobilize and influence activities or thoughts of group to achieve goals. Successful leadership style can be determined when followers strive to achieve shared goals "above compliance".

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence... What do you think?!

April 22, 2009

Leader and Follower

After today's discussions in the class on definitions of leadership there were many questions in my head unanswered as my friends in the class gave tough arguments on whether the word FOLLOWER should be included in the definition of leadership.

After the arguments thoughts which revolve around in my mind are:

Is being a follower a bad thing? should the term follower be considered as a negative term? can or cannot a follower go against his leader? does being a follower means he cannot challenge the leader if he is wrong? does the follower has the right to say his thoughts? is the follower bound to follow his leader irrespective to what he thinks is right or wrong? is relationship between leader/follower is like of a master/servant or owner/slave? do followers have the freedom and independence to express themselves or are they compelled or forced into decisions? is follower just a human resource which can be used in what ever required?

In the blog entry main stress is laid on followers but the truth is leader and follower goes together without follower the leader cannot be defined. Followers choose their leaders.

Three days left

Writing about web page leader team building


I have never had my own blog. This is opportunity to share my ideas and the way I perceive the world. Exciting experiment!

Three days left since the beginning of module "Leadership and Excellence". Three days left since I created but have not typed some ideas in my blog. Ok, let me have a chance to do it!

Monday "Am I building the team?"

I really enjoyed the team building exercises, especially with making giraffe from newspapers. The purpose of team building, from my point of view, is to help members to get to know each other better. In friendly and funny atmosphere, I believe, it is easier to establish sense of group belonging. Also it is valuable experience as you can see your peer as not just “serious” student, but from funny, lively and interesting individual.

However, it does not happen always as it sounds. Although there was not appointed leader for these exercises, ideas how to tackle problems were generated randomly. I have noted that some members of our group were more initiative, whereas others were not. Those individuals, who were initiative, seem to have experiences and intentions to lead and direct group toward goals. I wonder how any conflicts were not happening, as more than one potential leader exists in one group. Possible answers are:

1. Although there was more that one potential leader for team building exercise, they have common goals and shared ways how to tackle the problem. Thus helped to work in synergy.

2. Maybe time constraints and “artificial” environment (not real world) make each of them to relax and support each other without demonstrating any conflicts in decisions.

I believe that in real life situation there are often more than one potential leader. There can not be more than one leader in a group. For example, in wild world, lions have only one leader who lead his tribe, it has to fight in order to take such responsibility: the strongest lion is a leader.

Lets come back to human world. I believe that in case of several potential leaders emerging in one group (society, country, etc.) leaders may confront to each others view and hence split the entire group. In case of common vision and shared goals of individuals, only one leader can emerge, the leader who are trusted and believed to lead in most efficient way. I believe that the last case is possible when personal characteristics of individuals and interests go far from own self-interest, when individuals acknowledge that it does not matter who lead provided that the end goal and shared vision will be achieved.

Psychology of Persuasion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 21, 2009

Does a Team Need a Leader

Does a team of peers need a leader? Or can it go as a synergic team?

It is very common in teams of peers to claim that no leader is needed and that things can go well amongst them. But is this the case in reality? Are successful teams "headless"?

I believe, out of noticing teams and working in them, that teams with no leader weree always unproductive, uncontrolled teams which no decision can be taken easily and effectively. I believe, that each team, whether of peers or a hierarchial one, needs a leader to facilitate the team work and, in case of urgencies, have the final word.

Some teams on the other hand, would say that they managed to do well without a leader? Would that be true?

It is quite noticeable, that teams that contains members of strong personality and good leadership skills would witness emergent leaders within them. Those leaders, emerging either because of personality or skills, would have a recongizable strong influence on their peers. Nevertheless, such teams (specially bigger ones) would always facs the risk of conflicts if more than one leader emerged, creating circles of power within the team which might bring the team's efficiency to the grounds.

February 18, 2009


When you go to a grocery shop or a superstore in England, you would find freezers and refrigerators that contain packs of readymade meals. Meals that you only need to put in the microwave for some minutes, and afterwards you can enjoy a nice lunch. You will find a huge variety of meals from various cuisines. You can find British “Fish and Chips”, Chinese “Noodles”, Japanese “Sushi”, Indian “Chicken and Curry”, Pakistani “Biryani”, Italian “Pizza”… But until this moment, I did not find any readymade Arab meal, I did not find a readymade Jordanian “Mansaf”, a Palestinian “Msakhan”, a Saudi “Kabsa” or even Mediterranean “Yalangee”, and I was always wondering what things do we have in the Arab world that are readymade to be put side-by-side with the other international items in these stores, and could not really find an answer until few days ago. So what was the thing I found few days ago that can be put in this “International” environment?

Few days ago, I realized that we have readymade certificates we issue, not academic certificates, but certificates of loyalty and treachery. If you are Fateh, then those who disagree with you will be immediately issued a certificate announcing that they are “the agents of Iran”, if you are Hamas, the certificate will be the same, but “Iran” will be replaced by “Israel and the United States”. So goes in Lebanon between the “14th of March” and the “8th of March”, in Jordan, in Egypt, in the whole Arab world.

Why cannot we accept that there is another opinion? If someone supported Hamas in the war, it does not mean that he is patriotic, and if another person thought that Hamas was mistaken, it does not mean that he is a traitor also.

After the end of the Israeli invasion to Gaza, I received some emails “quoting” the Israeli foreign ministry site talking about a list of “traitors” who dared to write articles against Hamas (and there is no real way to know if the quoting was correct or not, because it was only written as “quoted from Zionist newspapers”, no names, no dates). Not only had the emails described them as traitors, but also “Zionists” and “Israeli Ambassadors”, although some of them had a well known history in the literature of resistance against Israel and is married to one of the famous Palestinian women who was resisting Israel years before Hamas was even founded. And this made me wonder, if those writers were decided to support Hamas tomorrow, would that change them to patriots?

When are we going to accept the existence of a different opinion? When are we going to accept that those who promote violent resistance and those who promote peace negotiations are both patriots, but are having different opinions and different approaches?

Maybe when we realize that, we will gain the world’s respect again… and then we can get our rights back.