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February 14, 2011

Seminar 1: How can we change the mindset of leaders in an organization?

Obviously, it is always difficult to change the mindset of leaders. Gardner presented seven methods in changing the idea of people: reason, research, resonance, representational redescriptions, resources & rewards, real world events and resistances. And these approaches should be effective in changing leader's mindset. For example, it is important to indicate a good reason in order to get the support from leaders. Of course, research can seldom be overlooked in justifying your ideas as words alone are no proof and it is hard to let leaders to believe you just according to what you say. Also, resonance is really helpful in mindset change. Without generating resonance with your leaders, it is not necessary and not willing for them to change their mind. It is not hard to understand the contribution of the rest elements to the mindset change of leaders. However, they are our leaders so that we cannot suppose to change them as what we did to our friends and families. Through the seven elements, we can see that communication is quite important in change decision making. Besides, action that shows the benefit we may gain from the decision is another effective way in affecting leaders.

February 12, 2011

what are we learning?

How about if what I learned in UK is not compatible to my future job in my country? Paul raised the question on Friday because concepts in leadership and management appear different between eastern countries and western countries. However, I remembered he said in the first lesson in leadership, you would never learn leadership in the class. So does it really matter what I'm learning now and do I need to concern about it if things become conflicted in some day. Sometimes things just turn out to be ridiculous. For example, most people agree that there's no relationship between a good student and a good employee. Meanwhile, most students work hard on their lessons in order to learn more and get good marks. But no one can guarantee they will be successful employees let alone effective leaders. Brush once said in Yale, those who did well in their grades were excellent and those who did poor in their courses would have the chance to become the president. Churchill got really terrible results in his marks and Gates even dropped out school. But finally, they all proved to be great leaders. Does it make any sense?

My mom came across some undergraduate colleagues and master colleagues. Generally speaking, she believed people who did master degree had better ability at work. Was it because the masters had more knowledge in his job? I don't think so because most of them did their degrees in totally distinct areas compare to their jobs. The masters turned out to be more excellent just because they were more capable at learning, especially at learning new things. We learned a lot about chemistry, biology and physics, etc. However, a large number of people will never face any problem that relates to the above fields. Why do we still need to learn these things? Yes, you can say we learn them as we need to get our degrees and do well in the college entrance examination. Forget these, are these lessons useless and do they waste our time? I think the most significant benefit we got from what we learned was not the knowledge itself but was the learning ability we obtained. For example, this year I'm doing the MBE course. But the most important thing I'm learning isn't leadership, CBE and six sigma, etc. I'm learning how to learn. Come back to the question, it doesn't matter whether it's compatible or not because we are learning how to learn to be a leader instead of how to be a leader.

western vs eastern

It is widely acknowledged that leaders in eastern countries and western countries usually lead their people in different ways. I agree with what Shi-wen said that it was because of the differences in education. Someone had made a comparison between the education in both America and China and claimed America nurtured its children to become "wolves" which had the ability to strive for their ideas while China trained its students to be "sheep" which lack of the capability of initiative and creation. This could be one reason to explain the differences. However, I want to add more points. The differences may generate because of distinct systems of organizations. I'm not familiar with western companies whether leaders should obtain the support or vote of their followers. But in China, leaders just need to be responsible to their leaders, for example, top leaders. It is because only your leaders can decide whether you can get promotion or whether you are suitable to your currently position. In this case, it is not necessary for Chinese leaders to consider or be care about their employees' conditions because the followers can change nothing even though they really don't like their leader. Beside, the concepts and philosophies between China and UK are different as UK tends to support Deming while Drucker gets more votes in China. But it is difficult to say which one is better and to conclude whether leadership in western countries in more effective than in eastern countries. Management in some developed countries seems more scientific and cares more about human nature, however, according to napoleon: an army of sheep, led by a lion, is better than an army of lions, led by a sheep. But how about if a lion leads an army of lions?

February 09, 2011

some reflection of today's discussion

Today, someone argued that 'followers' is not a proper word in defining leadership because it might generate some confusion. However, as far as I see, once we used the word 'leader', the word 'follower' naturally followed. If we don't have followers or no one wants to be a follower, how can leaders come out?

And yes, I agree change is the enemy of leaders, but what I'm thinking about is change may be a friend of someone who is presenting to be a leader. For example, when Obama was presenting for the vote, change was the most frequent word he used in his speech. Obviously, people were encouraged and motivated by the change.

Paul said it was quite easy to rule or to dominate a country if the ruler had total authority, however, I'm afraid I'm going to doubt this statement. Take Egypt for an example again, were the pharaohs rulers instead of leaders? Did they control their people totally by their sovereign authority? I heard some arguments about the construction of pyramids. They claimed that it was difficult and painful work which was impossible forced by the command of pharaohs because where there is oppression, there is resistance. They believed there should be something else that led the slaves felt willing to do it. Some of them deemed it was the faith of god and others still seeking for it. Also, in ancient China, all the emperors had the supreme power and everyone must obey them. Was it easy to be an emperor and was ancient China easy to be control? It seemed the answer going to be no as most of the dynasty only existed for about 200 years and destructed by revolts. The longest one, Chou dynasty, lasted for no more than 800 years.

We don't need micromanagers

We got different choices in the lifeboat exercise because of different assessment standards. This may explain why, in real life, someone who can only be a deputy in a company but get a chance to act as a manager in another company. Most of the time, it is the top manager who selects their followers to be managers in branch office or in departments. In this case, an old saying comes to my mind: every emperor has a cabinet composed of his own favorites.

Some teams chose an expert at navigation to be the leader but some teams didn't, of course, there could generate lots of arguments in it. In my opinion, it is possible but not necessary that a leader should be an expert in the area that he leads. It is not leaders' responsibility to check every accessory is working properly, every picture is correctly. Take care of every single thing personally is not a way that is worth popularizing. Micromanager is a term that is used by American to criticize their boss frequently so that we can see that this kind of leader is not welcomed by his groups or followers. In early days, workers didn't have enough knowledge in their works so it was a useful way to generate some micromanagers to make sure workers was doing the right thing. However, nowadays we have a larger number of chances to get education and micromanagers aren't suitable in today's management as the voice of calling for flexibility is increasing. Under flexible management, some excited ideas can come up and employees work happier.

I can see lots of companies have a department that is called technique department. People in that department are responsible for every technical problems and issues. These employees seldom have chance to be leaders and perhaps they will be technical workers throughout their lives. But their salary can be very high as a result of wonderful outcome. What leaders should do is to decide future plans according to followers'suggestions. You may ask, how can leaders trust them if himself have no idea about these solutions. Then I will pick up another old saying, that is, never doubt the person you hire, never hire the person you doubt.

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