July 06, 2014

is there a school for leadership?


I recently read a friend's blog who wrote about what comes first amoung a list of things that included leadership, asset management etc to name a few, when starting up our own business. Undoubtely leadership is the most important thing to drive the whole organisation to give its memebers/followers a direction of what to do. So in essence a leader is one person who controls the fate of the company and its people, like a master puppetier!

Thinking about it that way made me realise that having a leader or following a leader is not as simple as it sounds. Who choses this leader? Yes I know leaders can exert positional power or have a strong follwership because of their charismatic personality. But is it enough? Is it enough for a person to have just these or similar attributes to lead other peoples lives as well? Where do these leaders come from? Are there any certified leaders than we can trust our futures with? The future of companies, of our countries with!


Now when we get sick, we just don’t go to any random person with a little bit of knowledge on medicines, we seek to go to a specialised doctor who have studied, qualified, holds a degree and acertification on what he knows. Thus that builds our trust that our life is in safe hands. If we are so concerened about chosing a doctor that way then why should it be any different for leaders? So then if doctors go to medical school for X number of years and then followed by house job practice and only then they are allowed to practice on people and their lives. Then my point is where are such leadership schools? Because clearly a leader is as important a person as a doctor or even more since he is playing with numerous lives and their future simoutaneously. Thenw hy don’t we have certified leaders? Just a thought!


the case of coffee!


Knowledge sharing poses ethical responsibility as well. I think it is not wise just to focus on promoting a culture of knowledge sharing but more importantly it is important to have knowledge about what is important and valid. It is important that companies sift knowldge before spreading it around. have a knowledge station where people can get together and discuss what all they know. They should then be asked to validate their knowledge, back them by evidence so that this activity is progressive for the company and doesn’t end up like a Chinese whisper game in the end!

Or even worse, if such knowledge sharing could affect the standardisation of product/service procedures and hence end up making their customers dissatisfied. Lately i went for a freppe at a coffee shop and it was inetresting to find out that every time i ordered one it didnt taste the same. I noticed that they did have a standard recipe for their employees to follow and yet there was something going on. May be that was because each one of them was trying to find an easier way out at times or improvise with the recipe. Whatever it was, i felt there was a lack of knowledge sharing culture among the staff of that coffe shop. Though more or less people are on shifts and maybe dont get to meet the others but if they try to improvise the recipies on their own, i feel they need to share them with other employees as well so that the consistency be maintained and custoemrs like me remain happy!


knowledge sharing and yet not knowledge sharing

knowledge sharing is quite an interesting phenonmenon when it comes to organisations and not academics. Having spoken to a few emerging entreprenuers, I figured that they did not have a complete pricture of what knowedge sharing was or could benefit them. People facour knowledge sharing as long as they are able to get information across to their employees. The source of information generation or knowledge generation has to take a top down approach.


Well then come to think of it these are just orders being passed down, which wont instill creativity, employee engagement or loyalty among the workforce. While feedback is only welcome when asked for. In such a work environment I think employees are more likely to form informal teams to share share knowledge among themselves. To find what is common and what could make them stay with the company. However, interesting enough employers especially SMEs and micro firms see informal teambuilding as a threat to the company. Where I think teambuilding in organisation and knowledge sharing among and through teams can prove as a healthy activity for the company. I just feel it is sad that even today employers try to restrict team formations just because they feel the team would acquire more skills and knowledge together and hence migh leave the company and start up their own venture. Well they would leave any way if not given the opportunity to form workplace bonds! I feel this culture needs to change.


June 08, 2014

KM


We have been discussing about knowledge being confined, drained and obsolete due to not being shared.

Despite technology at hand one of the core reasons of lack of knowledge sharing practices as i believe is due to lack of people's willingness to share knowledge. However, thinking about the willingness to share, i now also think that one of the reasons behind lack of knowledge sharing could possibly be due to ignorance of people.

People can be ignorant of the importance of knowledge they have and hence may not feel the need to share. In such instances we would immediately jump in to suggest that probably informal meeting and discussions are needed. people to be chanelised and so on and so forth.

However, an interesting analogy can be seen in a father-son buisness, where the son takes on his father's business sucession. And at a very young age, he would have more knowledge about the business world, environment than his father, although much less in experience. This is one example where no knowledge is considered as obvious or apparent and hence the father shares every little even obvious information, knowledge with his son so a sto make him succeed.

So does that mean that we consciously even try to extract information stored in our unconscious minds for people we want them to succeed and do well? So complete knowledge sharing is then an act of altruism and love for people.

It is this kind of attitude that is required among people in organisations to enable a flourishing knowledge sharing culture. Where one would want the other to stand above him, support him and serve as a strong support pillar in other success. This however, cannot come from training i believe, or any technical support.

Where i realise it is extremely difficult to establish such a culture, i believe it is very much doable. People will be willing to share knowledge and would want others to succeed and out perform as long as they are content with their own jobs, incomes, status.

Hence, i believe, what Paul always said that people should be paid enough , where money should not be a worry or concern for them. I can now see how it can work in knowledge sharing and learning organisations. Where a culture of rewards would hinder and ruin Knowledge sharing. It is essential to let people feel free from money matters and feel content with their jobs, which eventually might lead to an altruistic act of knowledge sharing.


March 21, 2014

MBE, RDM

Decision making tools though seemed simple to apply at first; however later during the group work the first task was to decide upon which tools to adopt out of the entire pool of tools available. The decision to adopt certain tools was arrived after all the group member read through all the tools and the Waverider’s case study, the decision process was more of a vote, where despite being cautious about the biases it is not difficult for group think or anchoring bias to occur thus distorting the decision in the first place.

However, while conducting decision tools like AHP or decision tree a whole new stream of knowledge and decision making criteria and aspect were introduced. AHP as a decision making too I felt was quite robust due it its multi- level hierarchical structure where the capacity to deal with a number of alternative and sub criteria through a paired comparison highlighted the priorities in the decision making criteria which was largely due to the weightages assigned. Though the weightages are subjective in nature and thus chances of irrational decision making are there, however the important element to learn from this exercise for me was that most if not all decisions are subjective in nature in the business world, thus a rigorous qualitative measure is required to minimize the biases and ensure a consistent decision in all aspects in order to ensure that system 2 thinking have been applied. Thus maximizing consistency, which could be reflected in the sensitivity analysis. This tool I feel could be used for almost any business decision from where to locate, to which product or marketing mix criteria to focus on, what sort of segmentations to adopt or even how to change placement or design an office space that could enhance the productivity and attention span of the employees.

However on the other hand, this module led me thinking that maybe rationality is just a phenomena that doesn’t exists in reality. While making a decision, one could try to be extremely careful and not let any bias interfere and may wrongly assume that they are making the right decision or If not the right but are taking a rational approach; however what they may not know is that actually their decision is a victim of over-confidence bias or maybe they are being harsh on themselves or the circumstances while making the decision and wrongly assume that being strict would lead to a rational decision.

So in effect, what we can do is to be aware of our biases and try to minimize that to make a better informed and calculative decision in our own capacity; which may not necessarily be the right decision. It is then the faith and confidence of the decision maker and that of the followers in that decision that either makes it a success or a failure. So yes, a calculative decision is a must but that alone would not do until the organisation cannot obtain employee commitment and engagement beyond compliance level.

Reflecting back at the group work, I feel I learnt the most during our group works, due to group members bringing in their ideas and concerns. Especially so when applying decision trees. Though I was familiar with the concept of decision trees before but when applied in this context, we ended up making three different yet somewhat similar trees, each of us having a different perception of the situation and hence the tree. Though eventually we all settled onto one, however surprisingly, none of the groups had the same decision trees when presented; which came as a shock to me since decision tree is a quantitative tool in nature. Thus subjectivity or perception bias could also play a huge part in distorting even any quantitative decision.

So I could say, that the most important lesson learnt in RDM apart from the tools in itself are the biases. We not only need to be thoroughly aware of the biases but also should be able to recognize and point out a bias in our own decision making styles, which would mean being self-aware to another higher level altogether. More information and practice on biases could have helped us in making a better decision in this presentation while it would also help us in future decision making situations


February 26, 2014

LE

Learning is a never ending process but truly one learns only if he or she is keen to learn, observe and grasp from the actions of others.

Leading the Hotel exercise was one such experience, where as a team member i contributed my best that I could have in that situation but what I gained from that exercise was far more than just playing my part; I observed how different people behave differently when given a target, time frame and a position if put in the same circumstances. What really emerges a person as a leader in such a scenario is when he/she has a clear vision of what to achieve; in this case from making the right bid to running the hotel profitably with devising appropriate marketing budget/strategy, HR strategies, budgeting, basically what all it takes to run a hotel. The exercise was great, but what I will take from it, in fact I can say what I took and later put to practice from it was importance of making a plan, giving your people a direction and sharing your vision whilst at the same time giving them importance and asking for their expert opinions to refine the process/decision – which is synonymous to Hoshin Kanri’s catch ball approach. And it worked!

I took this lesson learned and applied to the leadership style exercise, which was more of a role playing act. As much as I was shying away from autocratic leadership, I was to role play the very style of leadership! My immediate reaction to being assigned this style of leadership was only of disappointment and feeling unfortunate as I did not see myself as an autocratic leader. Took it as a challenge and a learning point and applied all what I learnt in the Hotel exercise to this simulation. With a clear vision, I planned a strategy and assigned tasks within the team. Surely it wasn’t easy to draw my-self out of the discussions within the team and making my team stick to the goal and the plan; giving my team room for some improvisation only just to not let feeling of resentment follow. The result ; goal and objective achieved well within the time! I wouldn’t say that it all happened because of the autocratic style; yes partially that was the cause but more so because of having a clear vision, plan and a strategy before walking up to my team members and briefing them.

So I guess this is what is meant when its said opportunity favors the prepared! Lesson learned- have a clear strategy to begin with!


February 25, 2014

Hate Mondays?


Can you willingly spend 27% of your life years in Prison?!

Give it a thought, because some of us are doing that though they may be oblivious about the ratio of years.

Doing a simple calculation during a conversation with Paul the other day, we came found that an astounding 27% of years of our life we spend on our jobs/ work. That’s quite a lot!

The first thing that popped into my mind were all those people who’d post cartoon images with ‘I Hate Mondays’. Im sure you’re familiar with the images below.


I hate monday


The question arises; why do you hate the job that you are in? what is stopping you from turning it the other way round?

Come to think of it, If we hate going to work in the first place, we can never be a good team player and a follower let alone a leader. A person with headship i.e. positional power can prove most dangerous as he would himself be the Walking Dead in the organisation and making the life of his people a living hell, in fact creating a whole team of people who equally hate the thought of Monday.

So how impacting would be the motivational efforts in such an organisation where people either have an inherent dislike for work or are being forced to dislike the work/working environment/detest working under the leader. Can monetary incentives motivate such a herd of Walking deads?

I would argue otherwise, money cannot make you like the job, yes additional money can surely make you get up on a Monday morning with an attitude that you hate going to work…but whatever it is just 5 days of misery before the shining light of the glorious weekend.

So the question of Why and What arises yet again. Unless one likes self inflicted misery; Why don’t we make an effort to find an area of interest the organisation that we would like to work on? Why don’t we try to convince our immediate boss/supervisor to give you a chance at it? So basically put in every effort to find your true place and position in the organisation, which for sure is not easy and requires a lot of courage to raise your voice but think about the Long-term and not the weekend! On the other end, organisation should also provide opportunities for training and self development so that people can identify their strengths and prefernces and thus steer their efforts in the right direction. This would save both money and wellbeing for both the parties in the future, leading to a work life one woulf look forward to and where the organisation would benefit by over and above compliance level performance.

Just a thought... we have to effort in to ensure we dont spend our lives in misery. So If you respect and love yourself, you won't be willing to spend a large fraction of your life; that too your prime years in a Prisoner like situtation. I think, to succeed and lead we neet to be true to ourselves first, thus align your purpose with the values and beliefs!


February 12, 2014

Leadership ..further thoughts

Further thougts on Leadership....

The more I talk to people about what they think leadership is, the more insight i get into different requirement of people. As individuals we are unique in our own aspects and it is no surprise that we all think, react, act differently even if put in a same situation. So it is but natural to expect that our leader should have traits and characteristics that are dear to us. A leader however is no super natural being to possess all the traits people expect him/her to have.

So the question arises, are there any common characteristics/traits that are a must have?!

According to my observation, one thing that is common in us all is that we demand respect! No one, wants to be looked down upon. Hence the key to lead the hearts and minds of people is to respect them, respect their values, ideologies and try to develop connections with them. An effective leader is one who takes into account the values and beliefs of people, values it and provides them with a purpose of common good which identifies with their values and belief systems.

Equality is the key, the leader is a leader only because there are 'fans' who would like to support him/her. But come to think of it, would you be happy to follow someone who looks down upon you or treats you inferior? I certainly wouldn't! For me, a leader is one who thinks of others as NO LESS than him/herself and hence is concerned about the esteem needs of people around.

In continuation to my last blog, I would add that a leader should recognise and appreciate skills and talents of people as I believe we all are leaders in our own walks of life, some of us like to have narrow span whilst others are comfortable leading, motivating, coordinating a wider span and hence gain more popularity and the world considers these latter leaders as better, strong or powerful leaders.


February 11, 2014

Leadership

What is leadership?

Leadership for me.... is not about making people commit to a certain task or achieve an outcome, it is about people themself willingly wanting to commit and out perform. Leadership is about people wanting to be around someone, with whom they can associate or trust and would like to follow in his/her footsteps.

A Leader is one who recognises individual differences among people and provide opportunities to allow them to explore their strengths, flourish so that they eventually emerge as leaders themselves or strong followers in their own aspect; which ever attracts them the most.

If one thinks he/she can dictate and be in a commanding postion, i would beg to differ there. Where immediate term results in terms of followership due to fear or increased profits, whatever the goals is, may be achieved, i am confident that it wont sustain and will be extremely short lived. Thus for me, leading is not dictating but letting people do what they want, what they are good at, with the right sense of purpose, direction and providing necessary resources that would facilitate them to achieve shared goals and self actualisation.

I believe that all of us studying L.E module are leaders in some way or the other. It is just a matter of recognising our own abilities. Some may wish to lead a large group whilst others may chose to lead a small group,some may provide the big ideas that turn companies into market leaders, or some may inspire other people with their confidence, values, interpersonal skills and personality to do contribute in the society. We all have the potential of being future leaders and as Paul said, we have an opportunity to explore ourselves in this safe environment of Leadership and Excellence module without having anything to loose.


January 20, 2014

Elicit Judgement


On Friday, Ian James introduced a very new topic; Elicit Judgement- a process that helps to engage all the people in organisations. Even though this seemed common knowledge but it did something very important for me. It gave me a perspective of why all the tools and techniques we learned in PEUSS were even more so important.

Getting into the very details of PEUSS was over whelming and over powering. There was also a moment when i thought that maybe it was additional knowledge for me, that only people with an engineering background can relate to and will benefit from and this module might not be of much good to me. This was untill I attended Ian James lecture on Elicit judgement and scorecards.

After attending this class, i realised how i will be able to facilitate and lead a whole team of people from different expertise including engineeers without me having any such technical expertise. Not only will i be able to channelize and steer discussions but now whereever i work, I will be able to add value to the team due to the tools and techniques learned in PEUSS. I now know what it takes to make a product successful in the marketplace and what all effort is required and what all resources go into designing the product, more importantly how to gain advantage of expertise and expert judgements and use them effectively in the organisations by syncronizing the valuable input gained from the eliciting process into well presented formats thus facilitating effective decsion making.

Surely, this was quite a challenging but interesting module that taught me a lot which I am going to take back.


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