The Effective Leadership

  • March 16, 2019

When some junior of yours says that he/ she has learnt a lot from you, try to understand from him/ her what has he/ she learnt. Concepts are all there in the books, knowledge is something that can be acquired from a dozen sources. So what should a leader try to teach his junior, colleague or anyone for that matter, be it your child? I think the only skills a leader should try and teach are the six skills given  below:

  1. Using one’s own mind: If you are an experienced person, you would have people coming to you with problems to be resolved. Chances are that if they keep getting solutions, the number of people coming to you will only increase with each passing day. You probably give them a piece of your mind and tell them what to do. This will bring them back to you tomorrow when they have another problem. How about changing this around and asking them for possible solutions and not giving them solutions? How about getting into the role of a facilitator rather than being a solution-provider? When you do that, you are asking people to think and use their own minds and stop working on borrowed minds. This in my opinion is the biggest gift you could give to people around you.
  2. Analyzing data: Basic data analysis atleast needs to be taught to people. You probably need to teach people to analyze their options carefully and meticulously before coming to a decision. Most people make decisions without properly weighing pros and cons of a given situation. A lot of rework and rethinking therefore has to be put in much later to correct things going wrong. One must attempt to get it right the first time. Discussing things again and again is a waste of precious time. This could also be resulting in a lot of resources being spent without any gains, both men and material. I am also averse to decision paralyses. So, I am not asking to think and dwell over things so much that critical time gets lost. There has to be a time frame in which a decision must be made but that time should be used for proper analysis, if possible, on paper for major decisions. If one is venturing into new businesses, no matter how lucrative they may look like, must be carefully analyzed and researched.
  3. Being relationship driven too: It is one thing to do your job well but another to be a star performer in one’s organization. As a leader you must teach people that for people to succeed, it is important to be great in your job but equally important to be people friendly. If one is not, there are relationship issues among colleagues, teaming issues and so on. Don’t teach your people to blindly tow the line of their seniors irrespective of which line the seniors take. However, teach them how to massage ego when needed, as also to be a little flexible when they have to get the work done but not when the values are in question.
  4. Teaching to give in order to get: When your subordinates become managers, it is important for them to learn that all praises are for their team and all criticism is for the manager. They have to learn to give a lot before expecting a little in return. It just doesn’t work the other way round. The only way to make it truly happen is by practicing this yourself to begin with. You must pump up your people so that they learn to pump up theirs. Any reference to “I” must be killed at first sighting. Any reference to “We” must be hugely rewarded at the first sight too.
  5. Time management: I learnt early in my life due to my leaders that time saved is money. Teach your people to save time in every activity they do. It keeps improving your efficiency. Someone who cannot manage his/ her time effectively would be struggling to complete the work on time and thus will not be able to value add to the work done by him. For example, we teach our children to finish their syllabus a few days early so that they can revise their subjects before their exams. Similarly, we need to teach our subordinates to create a deadline before a deadline so that they can go through it once before submitting. Believe me, when you do that, you get different insights each time you do that because you can examine your own work critically.
  6. Be a student all your life: As a consultant I meet a lot of people and also a lot in the HR fraternity who have stopped learning and feel they have already achieved nirvana. When one doesn’t learn, he/ she gets totally outdated, keeps repeating the age old concepts which may be irrelevant today. Socrates said,” True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing”. I think we all need to understand that we need to constantly learn to grow. That is a precious gift that you can give to your family and colleagues.

Happy learning!!!

Performance Management System (PMS): Handle with care

  • March 13, 2019

If there is one system which has the potential to be the most destructive of all systems, it is the Performance Management System (PMS) and here is why:

1. The results of Performance Management System (PMS) are known to all bosses before the process even begins. All they have to do is adjust the scores to make sure that their perception gets validated. The faith in the system thus gets uprooted for all times to come.

2. Results could be so demoralizing for people that people can even leave their current jobs and look for perceived greener pastures.

3. Team working would take a beating because two great employees will compare their work and if they find it equal and someone gets a bigger pie than the other, it will give birth to unhealthy competition from thereon.

4. HR usually gets the tool in their hand which at times they use for punitive measures more than rewarding measures. It is the power that sets in.

Some suggestions to overcome the challenges in Performance Management System (PMS) are:

A. It’s high time to get rid of the bell curve. It labels people and does no good to the organization.

B. Measure performance, if you must but on a continuous basis, every month atleast and it should not remain a bi-annual process as is the case with most organizations.

C. Potential appraisal should be given a significant weightage and increments should not be based solely on past performance.

D. Delink increment from feedback in the Performance Management System (PMS). Appraisal discussions do not carry much weightage when the increment sword is hanging next to every person’s neck in the organization. Time feedback and increment differently and do not make them a part of the same process.

E. 3600 feedback is not enough. Give the power of increment to subordinates, peers and customers as well.

Do Not Ignore the Clutter

  • March 4, 2019

I was talking to Rahul when I realised this was probably the tenth time that I was listening to the same old story from him. I was discussing with him a new opportunity that was knocking his door and he was trying to tell me how it was not an opportunity but a threat to his existing status. While I
tried to facilitate this discussion using logic and his past achievements, he continued to look at the dark side of the same thing.

After a few minutes when I was about to lose my patience, I mentally decided to change my strategy. I joined him and started feeding his negative behaviour. He initially took it as a reinforcement of his beliefs but soon jumped on to the other side and started showing me the brighter side of the whole story. I was enjoying this now in my own mind. I realised in those negative moments of his, there were spurts of positive statements as well. That’s the opening I was looking for as a coach. I grabbed that opportunity. Each time I used positive statements, he would turn negative initially. However, consistent and prolonged use of positive statements finally helped.

What I realised during my discussions with this client of mine were some of the interesting aspects of coaching:

  1. You get tested as a coach: The coachee tests you as a coach before he starts flowing with you. Those initial moments may not look very logical to you as a coach but they are critical to establish you as a coach.
  2. Positivity and negativity are not consistent behaviours: People do not stay in either positive or negative frame of mind during the entire argument. They keep looking at different perspectives while being engrossed during the discussion.
  3. Positivity can be tapped during an intensely negative discussion: When a coach sees that light of positive frame of mind even when the coachee is in an overall negative frame of mind, he should tap the positivity immediately but smartly. Even if the positivity gets tapped by the coach, the coachee will still want to go back to the negative frame of mind. The coach must consistently use the positive statements to bring the discussion on a positive track to achieve results.

Initial sessions may have a lot of clutter but it is here where the rapport gets built between a coach and a coachee. It is important for the coach to go through this irrelevant data to establish trust and confidence in him. If you ignore the clutter, it will be difficult for you to find your way.

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