February 28, 2016

Handle power or Never Give up?

I hold my own view before I did the Jungle exercise. Without being offensive to other views, I am personally convinced that a leader should step back in any time he/she feels loss in his/her capacity of leading.

In my appointed role as a leader for mini-project, I started my position from being a stranger to someone who is welcomed by my adorable team mates due to several principle qualities I carry with. From building trust by respecting all their contribution to lifting them all up with opportunity to shine, I have shared the leading role to various members in particular mini tasks set. I can see the enthusiasm of my team mates in leading, and they all did the best I appreciated the most. This rewards me to be well respected due to this quality- the decentralized power to others. Is not it that worth?

Nevertheless, this concept of mine contradicts with Jungle exercise when a situation where a leader was supposed to give up is not the correct answer. From this point of view, I start to question myself that whatever is right when you can find a good reason behind that. However, a leader should make sure that the reason should not be utilized to protect his/her EGO.


Know when to step back and circulate leading position to others

In LE, A1 team has grabbed mutiple chances to work together with at least 7 projects, from selecting a lifeboat leaders and strategies, to working on leadership definition and seminars, as well as the mini-project of three presentation. Instead of solely leading the team by one person all the times, I appreciate being a follower by circulating the leading power to the rest of the team.

Therefore, during the entire two-week module, everyone has a particular task where he/she is highly responsible for leading. This is because I obviously understand the gap of understanding one hardly has all the times. For example, my mates are more working well on Deployment Policy that cannot be that successful if to be addressed by me. So some of the team members took their lead, inspiring brilliant ideas to the team. If a leader is too insisting to get hold of every task, a team might end up in a crash one day.

By this experience, I build up my sentiment not to even regret giving up my power as a leader if I am sure I am not doing good in any particular task out of my experience and knowledge.


Lifts people up with opportunity to shine

Too often people debate on whether leader is a born spirit or a created talent via learning and practicing. Whatever belief out of the two assumptions, I wish to challenge that ‘ How can one become a leader if he/she is even not given a chance to do so?’.

I then can see that it is only the opportunity given to each individual can test whether that one is born with leadership talent or not. Therefore, lifting people to shine is another task of leader as leader creates leader.


Trust me, we are all leaders!

Though a bunch of leadership characteristics makes a fool of our decision to hardly pick the most relevant one, I voted for TRUST as the most serious concern to bear in mind when leadership takes place. Without trust in their leader, the followers may not be easily convinced. People may say ‘it takes time’. This is true, obviously. Lacking of Trust can be in the form that the leader’s ability to lead is questionable, and it can also be in the way that followers do not feel safe their contribution is appreciated.

To build trust in leadership then suggests a number of effective appliance. First, let the followers start the game and appreciate their efforts when they produce the outputs. But when they bump into difficulty and lose direction, the leader shall jump in. I remembered the team shared a wide variety of brilliant ideas where everyone got his/her points to back up his/her argument to pick up the best lifeboat saver. However, the decision was not possible to be made when many good options were limited to only one final choice. I, in my capacity as Team Leader for Mini-project, understood it is the right time I should jump in with some proposals. The request is to work out on the criteria the team believes a leader in that situation should be based on. Then we produced a list while rating scale is a medium of selection. The overall score then gave us an unanimous results of selection while conflicts were possible to consolidate.

I feel so good when the team started to trust me in a way that all their ideas had been appreciated and taken into consideration of the chosen mechanism. By this sense, I feel optimistic about the value of making everyone influences in the team as we all deserve to be the leaders.


Challenging is good but risky !

Stepping in a class of about 30 new faces I had never met before, I set myself up in one of the tables right in front of the lecture zone. This was Leadership and Excellence class, and I was so sure those people are future leaders in whatever careers they aspire to be. Instead of the young look they hold, I could see their talents are precise through their professional contribution in the class.

Beside their warm smile, I could still feel the distance in this joint table. This kept me isolated for a while. Still, I challenged myself by pushing my hand up when the students were asked if they wished to be leaders in a mini-project. I bet people felt inexplicable of what this stranger was doing. Honestly, not only them, I was also feeling not comfortable when I did it. This is because I did something in a new environment where no one had ever known me before. I took a risk- a risk of being challenged by my peers, and most of all, a risk of being hatred and ignored. It is really common for people not to trust anyone they just see the first time. What is worse, when they need to follow someone who is entitled as a leader to lead them afterwards.

I was in the middle of leadership battle, but I am sure I am inspired by a sense that a leader is someone who wants to lead. And leading is challenging!


Ask me, please!

Assuming everyone understands well is one strategy to fail in leadership. People have different of capability of seeing things and conclude them in a way a leader may want.

From the Salvage the Black Swan, approximately 30 cards and other 3 pages of information to be retrieved may confuse the followers to some extents. This advises safe environment where followers can ask questions shall be highly appreciated. There might be times people ask same questions without paying to the fact that the questions were already answered before. This sometimes does not create temptation but anger of a leader. When anxiety is not well responded, the commitment of the team decreases dramatically. So understanding emotional control is critical in leadership.

To save time and avoid this issue, leader can facilitating the followers’ understanding by providing more illustration such as making used of flip chart or post-it. Allowing clarification such as reviewing can also make more sense to the success of leadership.


Embrace change before people change you from being a leader!

Resistance to change is not new concept. As its natural behaviour, change pushes people out of comfort zone and creates uncertainty of the result. However, without change, we are not going to end up anywhere better.

In hotel simulation, understanding how thing might affect the situation is of importance. Adding a restaurant to the hotel service? Equipping internet connection? Boosting more services like shopping corner? All of these should not be ignored. It is common that change might be costly and requires a great demand of effort and time. This is not comfortable to do at first. However, this does not mean it is not possible to do. Giving thorough and identified study of issue of change is worth looking at before taking action. By this context, allow sufficient contribution of the team to share their ideas should be a good respect of change as change has to be adopted by everyone. This suggests a leader may learn to be a follower in some circumstance and learn both perspective as leader and follower.

By doing this, if the change has gone wrong, everyone takes part in the consequences. Though things fail at the end, at least you as being a leader have shown your interest in changed, otherwise people might change you for being too conservative.


Just Do It or we will fail!

If linked to the castle exercise when we needed to build the most attractive and tallest château, leadership is about motivating the workforce to participate the most of their energy and creativity. However, this is under pressure of time constraint. Thus once again, it is not ideal for any type of voting system. Instead, it should be more focus on direction where each individual shall be assessed and given a specific task to deal in a time limit. For example, someone who works on designing (drawing the paper), who deals with construction ( matching the plastic glasses), who facilitates the operation (cutting the scotch tape)…etc. By this, delegation is of significance for any situation but even working best in a condition where a leader has no experience in a particular task to be handled.


Making a salad bowl of your style!

If referring to how to lead people, my immediate enquiry will be like ‘Autocratic is seen to be ridiculous, but why some leaders still enjoy being in that mode?’. The rational is the decision applied is worth seen as power, and the leaders themselves enjoy being known as Powerful Men.

It links to a concept of being Powerful is Respected. Just like a commander or a general who is very well respected by his comrades under his supervision. Former Singaporean leader Lee has been known for years as somewhat an autocratic leader. What is amazing about him is the change Singapore has made up to now with incredible development of his nation.

I then can relate to behaviour of some important persons such as school principals who are supposed to be Strict. Is not it a bad leadership styled? This can be arguable with democratic style where all the decision has to be consulted and contributed by making use of democratic voting system or consensus building. However, sometimes too many ideas is hardly compromised and may end up in nowhere specific. A laissez-faire approach to leave the decision and creativity to be made by followers is welcomed but may as well seen as leader being incapable or irresponsible.

What is worst, this happens a lot in real life when followers look down their leaders for not being involved but just leaving the tasks to be done by the team. Without referring the difficulty of being a transformational leader who inspires everyone with the vision, I vote for any style that may apply in particular situation. That is the job of an effective leader who knows what and when to apply it properly. Thus, do not being afraid of making your own salad bowl of leadership style when necessary.


Straightforward or Diplomatic?

Good intention is not always welcomed in some cases with different kinds of people, and thus one should be aware of it and learn to address it clearly in term of giving feedback. It depends on how sensitive or how close of the person you are giving feedback to. As a lesson learnt from the study week, I personally believe embarrassment may create a barrier to effective. The giver feels reluctant of what he/she is going to say as it is very well understood that the feedback may affect the relationship if it is not delivered properly.

To suggest, build rapport shall be a good start. The understanding of how sensitive a person is will help determine what the level of feedback should be handled. Facial expression is another combined tool during the delivering as it helps ease the situation if it is too tense. All these have to be done in the very beginning stage in combination with backup information and criteria of assessment.

I can engage the above situation by kicking off good communication while criteria of evaluation is presented to the receiver. I did this intentionally as I wish to ensure the listener to feel safe not to be offensive to understand that whatever I complement is within the areas of accessement criteria, which is not already set. As nature, human enjoys being praised, and this guides us to consider the balance of good and bad points. To be safe as the first-time feedback, I suggest a sandwich method to be considered. For sure, it is not balance as the worthy points may be double the room for improvement. However, this is a diplomatic way to enhance trust and serve as an open link for the follow up if one wishes to make the best use out of giving feedback.


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