Apr 30, 2011

Habit #4 - I-M-C Syndrome

Inspiration, Motivation and Collaboration are means for achieving ends i.e. vision or mission. Failure to use these powerful tools undermines a leader’s ability to achieve goals/mission as he becomes solely dependent on his position and power to make people do what he wants them to do. People follow because they don’t have a choice and that is bad leadership.

This could happen because of four reasons:

1. Not believing in capacity of people to raise to the occasion, team members are seen either achievers or non-achievers.

Apr 25, 2011

Habit #3 – Passion, Missing!

If fetish for low hanging fruit keeps a leader permanently anchored to low performance, lack of passion takes life and inspiration away from leadership – it is akin to a pond with no water.

Passion is a critical ingredient, litte else matters without it! With a leader who doesn't take risks, doesn't believe in learning or discovery, doesn't pursue meaningful goals,  effectiveness...the outcome is not entirely unfamiliar. These leaders never get out of beginners' zone, beyond a threshold that sucks!

This is a perfect environment for people...

Apr 19, 2011

Habit #2: Temptation of Forbidden (Low Hanging) Fruit

Low-hanging fruit are easy to get, bring in early gains, they are good to start with, enthuse people, change perceptions for good, improve morale, I give you that!

But once morale is pepped, perceptions are set right, you need real results...only real battles give real results, you need to go after damn good fruit, not just low hanging ones, that’s where the money is!

Beyond early gains, leaders ought to set right direction, nudge their teams in right direction  away from small stuff on to changes that nurtures long term growth sustainable gains - it is the primal function of leadership. A bad leader fails in this basic function, to set right direction.


Bad leaders get hung up on low-hanging fruit,

Apr 12, 2011

Habits of Highly Ineffective Leaders

Internet is teeming with articles and blog posts on Leadership. Google search ‘Qualities of a leader’ yields 21.3 million results in 0.14 seconds whereas search for “Qualities of ineffective leaders”, gives just 1.73 million results but take 29% more time – are we ignoring the unpleasant side of the leadership coin? Granted that it is charming to be a great leader, but I think it is easy to be a bad leader than being a good one. Probability of being a bad leader exceeds that of being a good one. Like a consultant Kent Romanoff said   “... [we get to see] a spectacular cavalcade of incompetence...” so spectacular that I can’t help but rant about it. 

Attitudes and beliefs are influenced by culture, they give leaders a distinct local shades of behavior patterns. Here are some common symptoms of bad leadership in India, one at a time:

Habit #1 - Coterie Complex
: bad leaders nurture a coterie around them - this is devil’s temptation, nothing less, an age old failure function that leads to inevitable decay. History of India is replete with stories of kings, their fiefs and their deputies indulging in this suicidal orgy, building coteries of yes men around them -
sucking up to someone has never gone out of fashion!

Like bacteria infested water,

Apr 7, 2011

Documentation Conundrum

Take a sample poll in any organization, ask people what they think Quality is about. Few can talk about Quality with reference to documentation. Insistence on paperwork to verify compliance led people to believe Quality is all about documentation and paperwork. If paperwork is in order, reality is (naively or conveniently) assumed to be just fine. Sometimes it looks as if Quality is more about documentation and less about customer - that predicament still bugs many of you like it bugs me. But is documentation and paperwork really necessary for Quality?

In sensible servings, documentation is beneficial: as reference and as communication tool. Policies and high level processes should be documented. But traditional approach for pushing documentation for consistency, accountability, completeness is outdated. Documentation (in its traditional sense of paperwork) is as necessary as cheques are necessary to withdraw cash from your bank account. There are better and more effective ways of bringing in accountability, consistency and completeness, just as there are faster and convenient ways of withdrawing money using an ATM, electronic transfer/clearance etc.

Focusing on Quality rather than Documentation

When processes are seamlessly unified with requirements for workflow automation, built into a workflow tool, documentation takes different, more effective form . Benefits of documentation are achieved, but differently, through automating and implementing the processes. When document changes automatically mean workflow changes - changes become seamless needing minimal manual intervention. Business can focus on service provision and Quality can get workflows to reflect processes. This opens up a host of other possibilities too and focus shifts to Quality from documentation.

For this to happen, processes should directly address business requirements, not requirements of a standard. Often, processes are designed to comply with a standard and to get a certificate (The argument is not against certifications - in fact, no standard requires processes to be defined in a particular way, only broad guidelines are laid out). When certification is the goal in itself, business needs take back seat.

Even when that is not true, requirements for workflow automation are something and processes are something else. Quality owns processes and somebody else owns workflow tools and automation requirements – their goals are not common. Often these people don't see eye to eye, perhaps even be at logger heads with each other – and business needs take back seat. It comes down to a silly turf war, yet, no one dares ask executive management to intervene and to break the silos. Consequently, Quality remains a back office that can’t reach out to the end customers, cannot influence the way services are provided.

If ineffective leadership, egotism, personal agendas (like personal brand building) take precedence over everything else, paperwork and other trivial stuff takes precedence and Quality remains a back-office business.

What are your thoughts? You agree? Disagree? Just share your opinions (you don’t need to login to comment)

Apr 3, 2011

Mindless vs. Happiness

Seth (Nicholas Cage): What's that like? What's it taste like? Describe it like Hemingway.
Maggie (Meg Ryan): Well, it tastes like a pear. You don't know what a pear tastes like?

Seth: I don't know what a pear tastes like to YOU.
Maggie: Sweet, juicy, soft on your tongue, grainy like sugary sand that dissolves in your mouth. How's that?
Seth: It's perfect.

~ City of Angles (1998) 
Just when elevator doors are about to close, two other people entered the elevator. I smiled at one of them and greeted, "Hello!" He scowled, as if offended and turned away.

All of us have our own experience being mindless ourselves and mindless behavior of others. Locking ourselves out of house, cars, forgetfulness, daydreaming, callous behavior on roads, in offices... It is estimated that people spend nearly half the time thinking about something other than what they are doing, and that is what results in mindlessness...doing something and thinking about something else.

Mindlessness is a coping mechanism, coping with stress and anxiety of decision making, coping with information explosion, pressures of modern life like unpleasantness of driving through a messy traffic jam, having to take decisions under pressure and so on. It is the way our mind protects itself from overload – like tripping mechanism of a fuse, by distracting us from work at hand. In that case, why bother? Mindlessness is not a simple annoyance, there is direct positive correlation with stress levels. More mindless one is more stress one is carrying and consequently less happy one will be deep inside, less one will enjoy life or work or whatever that they are doing, at the moment.

If we want to be aware and happy, here are the symptoms to watch for: worrying about future, day dream of yester years, too inflexible or too flexible with rules (especially those set by oneself), beliefs, ethics, norms, processes (eg. open and blatant disrespect to traffic rules and admiring crooks etc.)

Mindfulness on the other hand means being open minded, empathetic, aware, being in the present, non-judgmental and non-reactive. The memorable scene from the movie City of Angels portrays this idea. Maggie Rice goes out to fetch some more pears after that never returns (becomes an angel)!

What are your thoughts and experiences?