Archive for May, 2008

I was out on the street today and witnessed something i was itching to write about

      I was out on the street today and witnessed something I was itching to write about. I saw a woman and her son walking on the sidewalk. They approached the street and the child stopped while his mother continued to cross. (I notice that this kid is probably old enough to cross himself.) After about 5 steps she realizes that her son is still on the curb. He holds his hand out expecting the mother to come back to grab his hand to lead him across the street.

The woman said: Come on, you’re 7 years old. You know how to cross the street yourself, you don’t need your hand held.”

So the boy looked both ways before crossing and proceeded on his way. This reminds me the way a true leader handles situations in business. Leaders are not hand holders. They don’t steer the ship, they choose the course.

I remember my first day of high school. Right before I walked out the door on my first day my mother told me she wasn’t going to do my laundry anymore or make my breakfast in the morning. I thought: “What? Why does my mother hate me?”

Looking back today, I am so glad that she said that. She let go of my hand and basically told me to grow up without actually saying it. Now it’s the things like this that have made me a better person in regards of taking more responsibility for myself and have definitely helped me in my business adventures over the years.

You see, leaders inspire followers to not only perform as expected, but to exceed expectations. They don’t have to “hold hands” to in order to lead. They don’t really have to persuade for others to follow.

Let’s look at the difference between a manager and a leader. A manager will “tell” you what you need to do in order to climb the corporate “ladder” to reach success. Managers a lot of times are also “hand holders”. A leader, on the other hand, leads by “doing”. They make sure that “ladder” is leaning on the right wall. Look at the mom who didn’t allow the child to hold on to her hand. In a way, she’s a leader. She knew her son was very capable of crossing the street without her assistance. She had to let go, just like my mom did.

I consider my mother a leader because she stopped “holding my hand”. I had to grow up quick and learn things for myself and now I thank her for allowing myself to find my own way when I had no idea where to go. This has made me into a stonger person and a better businessman. I encourage you all to either stop “holding someone’s hand” or let go of the one you are holding!

We all agree that working in groups is not effective

We all agree that working in groups is not effective. Right? Having to compromise ideals and ideas, meetings about meetings, communicating amongst different personalities and then there is always that bloke. You know the guy I mean, too many buttons undone on his shirt; always getting drunk and a little over friendly at work events; the guy that tells people outside of work that he is the boss – even though he absolutely isn’t.

Working on your own is surely better. I, for one, feel like working on my own, preferably in my own office, at my own computer with the phone disconnected and the blackberry on silent, means more work is done and to a better standard. It’s just human nature right? Give us a problem to solve on our own and we are much quicker at finding the answer, right? Wrong!

On a study of 760 students, researchers from an American university tested the relationship between group size and performance by comparing how a number of problems were solved in groups and by individual participants. The students, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, solved two letters-to-numbers coding problems firstly on their own and then in groups of one, two, three, four and five. The study concluded that people solved problems both more effectively and more efficiently in the larger groups, with groups of three, four and five consistently solving the problems quicker and more accurately. Meanwhile, even the individuals that scored the best results, on the same tasks, underperformed the worst groups.

The psychologists attributed this performance to the definitive ability of humans to work alongside one another and generate good combined techniques and eventually better ideas. You know, it’s the old “two heads are better than one”; although this in fact proved that “three, four or five heads are better than one or two”.

Working with other people helps groups to: “reject erroneous responses and effectively process information,” said lead author Patrick Laughlin, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

So, is this really the case? Leading by example, Kelloggs uses teamwork consistently throughout their infrastructure to maximise production. Brandon Cornuke, Northwestern, who will graduate from the Kellogg apprentice initiative in 2010 recently admitted to Business Week that: “Teamwork and collaboration are cornerstones of the Kellogg experience. We do practically everything in teams here: we study in groups, plan events in committees, attend class in “sections,” and run for offices in “slates.” In the fall, packs of about 30 incoming students travel all over the world as part of pre-term orientation.”

Working in teams is an extremely effective way to ensure that objectives are met, and according to the latest research, spending time improving the way your business uses teams plays a very important part in increasing productivity. So, what solutions do we have to ensure that your teams are working cohesively? Tom from Freshtracks.co.uk, a team building and team development company, explains that: “Because the potential performance of a team is greater than the sum of its parts, it is important to get all the participants together to understand these theories as well as the importance of their team and the benefits of working together.”

Companies which successfully utilise teams benefit from “team responses”. These include a heightened level of responsibility for decisions, greater synergy, higher levels of commitment, clear and honest self-evaluation, and a team willing to seek new approaches to challenges as well as increased positivity, productivity and decisiveness. But how do you know when your team is not working effectively?

Performance psychology looks into how variables affect the performance of teams or individuals. Indicators of teams that are not working effectively include staff moaning and complaining, inability to deal with issues, small cliques developing within teams, over reliance on team captains and a lack of individual/team commitment to projects. These clues indicate that the group has lost sight of the goals, or responsibility towards the project as a whole.

Tom continues: “Once players have realised the importance of teamwork the next stage is to foster an environment which is fun, where people choose a positive attitude and relationships are more than skin deep. We have run many team building programmes focusing on these three key principles of teamwork and the outcome is that participants involved are more able to deal with the stresses and strains of the modern working environment.”

Terry Orlick, Ph.D., the president of the International Society for Mental Training and Excellence, describes companies which suffer from low team effectiveness as: “trying to pick up a pencil with only one finger…Even if that one finger is extremely strong, it will prove almost impossible to pick up that pencil unless you use your other fingers or some other part of your hand. Teamwork is a bit like using all of your fingers. Each one is unique and contributes something different, but they unite in pursuit of a common goal.”

Who still agrees that working in groups is not effective? Through teamwork we can all connect and consequently become more decisive, more productive and more profitable. A good team should drive a company through the winning posts and ensure every challenge is met with a positive and excited stance.

I used to have a little male doxie dog that was as fast as a greyhound

I used to have a little male doxie dog that was as fast as a greyhound. I also had two female doxies and the male ran the females ragged. Talk about a leader, this little dog eared boy would take off running the length of the house with the females trying to catch him. As kids it was a game we called follow the leader. This little dog was much more high-spirited then we were, but then he had those girls to inspire him. Soon the females would be yapping and carrying on but they were never successful in catching him. If they got to far behind he would circle around and run right in front of their noses. It inspired the female’s to try even harder.

I got to thinking, a successful manager is like that little dog eared leader of mine. Leaders stay in front of the pack and if the pack slows down, he/she is right there letting them know they have to work harder to keep up. He/she never expects the pack to be in front because that would mean he/she would have to push them and it’s always easer to pull than to push. From the leader’s point of view it is clear sailing because the pack is behind him/her and in front is only the challenge of the project. A good leader knows the pack will support him/her when the going gets rough.

Where does a successful leader come from? Society breeds followers not leaders. Social rules are a test for a person to be a leader. It’s the unspoken rules which determines his/her aptitude and ultimately points him/her in a suitable and accepted direction. Out of the masses only few true leaders emerge. A person with charisma, strength and determination who is willing to grasp the challenge at hand and wrestle it into submission. Leaders were the white knights of old and now only one out of hundreds, are willing and able to take on the task as very little consideration is given to an individual and his/her true creative possibilities.

As children, boys tend to be drawn toward hero figures while girls are drawn toward domestic fulfillment or motherly illustrations. This is why more boys turn out to be leaders and girls tend to be homemakers. As a child leadership abilities are usually considered as being aggressive; an unfavorable trait. Leadership becomes club managing and a hobby not as a possible vocation. This mindset is true to the dominance of the mind by authoritarian factions. The fact is you are being subjected into a certain mindset from birth. You are being controlled by powerful and deliberate forces into submissive behavior. Government, parents, schools, religion, media, and industry develop guidelines or patterns for the populous to follow for acceptance into their particular society or culture. If you break the rules, you are subjected to the punishment society deems as fitting. Society will reject resistance while embracing the submissive. Leaders must be self determined and driven to overcome the resistance of the masses.

When I was a kid, I was told by the older kids, how great beer was. When I had my first beer it was nothing like what I was expecting so it became a disappointment to me. I preferred not to drink beer and was always considered the odd ball of the group. The result was not being invited to parties and other gatherings. Later I became the leader and out of respect they followed. Even though I was somewhat of an outcast I still had their admiration. It was the same with sex, I couldn’t wait for my first encounter. When I finally did have sex for the first time, all I could think of was, “is that all there was to it.” Another disappointment. Family, friends, society, TV, advertising, movies, all portray a fantasy world. Beaver Cleaver’s world only existed in the imaginary mind.

In true life, there is strife, and anxiety, heartache, rejection, loss. etc. Some grapes are sour and just taste bad while others are sweet and pleasurable. Loved ones get hurt and die and time goes on indifferent to present goings-on. It gets hot and rains and flowers don’t always bloom. The air is polluted and there are too many UV rays to lie in the sun. The fact is, reality is a revealing of a contaminated world and is not perfect. Out of all this the leader recognizes the truths which lay at the base in which we all function is flawed. If there is a flaw in anything it becomes unpredictable and untrustworthy. A flawed world brings conflict and confusion, but the true leader steps forward out of the gloom ad gathers his/her charges into his/her protection. Truth never changes, strength of mankind always prevails.

Even flaws become laws and are constant in their nature. 2+2 is never 3 but mistaking it for 3 results in an inconsistency which will always be 3. If the flawed equation is used in a formula it will always produce a flawed but same outcome. A leader sees the flaws and brings direction back into the equation. People know that, and depend on the leader to keep them in line. When truth is projected, its’ result will stand the test of time. Never expect what is not there, because if you do, you will be disappointed.

A leader must realize with the understanding of reality comes a certain burden. Those people he/she commands have a perception which is personal and depends a great deal on how they decipher information. This perception of reality is as varied as there are personalities. Each reality is a personal experience and the leader must understand how to engage each personality on a personal level. Each experience of life should include satisfaction, worth, contribution, and creative expression. Expansion of the mind is part of the total life experience. In gauging possibilities the leader must be prepared to take calculated risk because it is an element of the possibility.

Let’s face it, a leader cannot expand his/her experience without some risk. Each forward step includes the possibility of one step back so, striving for success also contains the possibility of failure. This is not a bad thing, it is only in the experience one may achieve at all. Success or failure each contain wisdom in their discovery. The incentive to try lies in the reward of the result. It doesn’t make any difference if you become rich in material matters because all experience always leads toward wisdom.

In the face of adversity lies strength of character.

I once knew a man who could not leave his home. His fear of the unknown included every encounter of every sort. People he knew became adversaries and the simplest of things were threats to his being. He couldn’t function outside of his comfort zone. Many of us are the same way, I don’t mean to the extreme of hiding away in your home, but we do fear facing new challenges. We will not step in front of the crowd for fear of humiliation and failure. As a public speaker, I experienced that at first. When I went on stage, I would shake and my mouth would dry up. After a few moments, I would calm down and proceed without problems. Now I don’t have any problem at all. It has become as second nature and the audience senses my confidence and responds accordantly.

Many people will not try anything new like change jobs or move to a new location or even make a decision on their own. They are followers and they like the comfort in letting someone else make the choices for them. The world needs followers to do the tedious functions that would bore leaders. Creative people can’t follow they have to step out ahead of the pack and take control. They strive for the challenge and excitement of the project. They are the movers and shakers that are innovative in nature and unsettled in demeanor. They strive for change and are at home with challenge. Jumping from airplanes and shooting rapids are their idea of stimulating play while they can be just at home on the golf course or the race track. Nothing gets past them because they are alert and ready for anything. One of the biggest test they face is making a big enough contribution to their fellow human being and the world. They spear-head fund drives, and adopt orphans in their thirst for making a difference in the world. They seek and anticipate God’s power and revel in the strength contained there. You will find them in the debts of the jungle and in the labs, mixing elixirs of healing. Money is not a factor in their quest for taming the unknown it’s only by the fulfilling of an inborn burning flame; will the restlessness in them be quenched. Many become very wealthy in the process but it is not their main reason for doing what they do.

What motivates You? How are you stimulated? Are you a follower or a dog eared leader? Do you need to be motivated or are you the motivator? Do you run in front of the pack and challenge them to catch up? Do you face challenge head on or do you run and hide when challenged? Maybe you are a seeker. A seeker is a person who is always looking but never seems to find. They don’t know what they are looking for, they just go around looking. They are looking so hard for something significant, they pass over the real treasures of life.

Don’t look for what’s not there, feel it. It’s a feeling in your gut, it touches your heart. It motivates you to act. Yes, through years of suppressing it, it will no longer be recognized as important at all. It may take effort at first to get it moving, but like a train on a down hill track, once it starts moving no one can stop it. It becomes a burning desire that nothing can quench. Then and only then will you know your true self. Then you will know what you are made of and your true potential will boil to the surface and erupt into a force of undefeatable power.

Release mental chains of desperation. Nothing can hold you back. And why should it? You were created by God, in His image. How great is that? It doesn’t get any better. What then can possibly hold you back? If God is with you . . . what can be against you? Man was given dominion over all of God’s creation, so it’s not a matter if you can do it, it’s a matter of will you do it. It’s you, who are the deciding factor, not circumstance or happenstance or any other stance. You, make it happen. You are the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega the cause and effect and the yeng and yang. There is no other contributing factor in your success. As a leader you have everything you need, to succeed including inner convection and motivation. It’s a matter of correct mental response which in turn will control a course of action to be applied under various circumstances. If you do make a mistake, you will be able to recover — analyze the source of difficulty — and with renewed determination, move on to new and more exciting endeavors.

The dog eared leader and the dynamics of a positive attitude. No one ever said life would be a rose garden. Life is full of stress and negative events, there’s no getting around it, at times, life stinks. Relationships, jobs, financial matters, physical fitness, religion, all pose questions and all present challenges. Each phase of life will present complexities unique to that particular period in life. No stage will be completely free from challenges. Each life event can be met with the confidence and assurance that you can triumph, you can emerge as the true leader you were meant to be. It is important that in the face of adversity you maintain a positive attitude. Anything can be overcome with the right attitude. Attitude without a doubt, is the one most important thing you have and guess what, you are in control of it. It’s up to you how you greet the world and everyone in it. Positive is met with positive, and your positive attitude will reflect a winning personality. Let’s face it, success and failure are the same, only on opposite ends of the rule. It’s the law of cause and effect. If effects are to be changed, the cause must be altered. It’s the law, nothing personal, it’s the same for everyone.

How do you maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity? First off, if you know yourself, you know that nothing really effects you. Each event is met in its’ true form, as you look at it from a disconnected position. Do not let an event become personal, keep it in its’ prospective. Nothing is really personal so don’t act like it is. If you maintain this position, you will not be affected. No effect can affect your inner self. You control the event, the event does not control you. Many people go around taking everything personal. An event is an impersonal happening. It can only play out as you allow it.

If your attitude is maintained at a constant, it can’t change. Events are only challenges not personal attacks. The event can’t effect your attitude, but your attitude can effect the event. I was a security officer in a hospital for a few years. There were many times when belligerent people would come into the emergency room and I would be called to control them. I would simply face them straight on then let them holler and yell at me while I said nothing. After a while they wouldn’t have anymore to say. They would simply run out of steam. As long as I kept my composure and did not let their hollering become personal, they would run out of something to say. Then I would calmly ask them to set down and talk about it. They always complied. The thing is, I did not let their aggressive action become mine. I stayed aloof and waited for the situation to become less explosive. Even though I wore a badge, I would keep it covered so as to stay as neutral as possible. Many times the police would bring people into the emergency room and they would be frothing at the mouth because they were so agitated. The police would leave and I would have to control the agitated person. I always took the same stance and let the person run their course, no matter what they called me. They were not mad at me, they were mad at the policeman and he was gone, so what they were mad at was no longer there. I would not let them transfer their anger to me, and soon they would become calm.

No event is personal until you make it so. It’s always your choice. You take control through positive transference. Transfer your positive attitude to the negative force acting upon you and naturalize it. The key word is control. If you control yourself, you also control anything acting upon you. Negative can’t penetrate where positive is. The one will not receive the other. Negative has to have negative to maintain its’ energy. Positive is not a fuel source for a negative foundation. Leaders are positive people and those around them know it. That’s why people are willing to follow, because they feel the calmness in their leader. Leadership – Part One.

Organizations need to change their functioning and way in which they conduct their business and services

Organizations need to change their functioning and way in which they conduct their business and services. The reason behind these changes might be external forces in economy, needs of customer or marketplace. These changes would affect whole organization and it can be known from level of opposition of leadership and employees.

For any organization, if change takes place then it’s essential for all employees to understand three preliminary steps in the process. These three steps are as under:

1. What is needed to change?
2. What needs to happen to make it a reality?
3. How can we make it happen?

The fact is, not every employee of the organization follows these principles in same way. But, understanding these concepts has really helped many organizations to successfully bring an effective change.
Why individual opposes change?

• People are insecure about loss of control by change
• Lots of insecurities are being created due to change affecting the status quo
• People are used to working in a particular laid down manner since long
• Change requires hard work
• There had been bad experience in past due to change.
• Changes are forced upon people without any valid explanations.

Reduce the conflict and build loyalty to change
Reduce the resistance by providing obvious picture of change. Change should be step by step, planned and estimated. Engage people in this process and do inform them regularly. All you need to do is to reduce disruption through efficient planning. Leadership at every level should express people’s dedication to the change. Appreciate them for their involvement in change process and also give award to earlier pioneers.

Key to effective change
As a leader, one important thing is to study present culture of the organization and to know where you are. It is also necessary for a leader to identify employees who want change and those who are not happy with change. Take example from existing model that has effectively implemented change and also communicate with them regarding their experience with change. Don’t completely change existing culture immediately, but take advice from people about ways to implement the change and methods to solve the problems while implementation. Vision may help you in change, but this is not the only way.

Steps leading to successful change
Find out, what is taking place in areas, where changes have taken place by involving persons who will be in charge of results. Analyze the conditions with the representatives. Make strategic planning that leads towards success after change in organization. Continue activities with involvement of employees that will help in solving problems and also in improvement of change process. Finally measure, examine and estimate the change.

Involvement of Critical Factors
Collaboration and good communication is essential and plays important role in process. All processes, practices and functionalities give more values to customer, goals and performance for achievement of goals. There should be internal solutions. Horizontal, Vertical and multi directional interaction must be carried out before change in organization.

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