Wednesday, December 11, 2013

*Golden Nuggets of Leadership – Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Reflecting on the death of Nelson Mandela, one of the political leadership icons of the world, I, along with others, have learned a crucial lesson – the value of forgiveness and reconciliation in bringing about leadership excellence. Leave alone in such a tormented leadership historic time and scenario as that of great Mandela, we as lay professionals have personally several times experienced and witnessed that forgiveness is not something that comes very naturally to humans, especially for someone who bestows us great harm in one way or another. Despite being one of the defining core Christian values, most of us abysmally fail in practicing forgiveness and reconciliation however frequently we have been told to take this amazing gesture on a daily basis in our lives since our childhood. Why? I believe because it is not that simple to forgive and reconcile as much as it seems apparently. Besides, I guess the closest response for most of us when we are harmed by an individual, group or an institution is, unfortunately, retribution, even when we know that the other party (in this case the "prey") has already fallen victimized in our hands. After all, a leader can exercise his/her power in whatever ways he/she wants against his adversaries who greatly hurt him/her, and have been blocking his/her way. However, learning to take a completely different course of action other than retribution as response to one’s boundless impairment and harm is the one vital constituent that defines leadership excellence. That route, which I take pleasure to call the golden nuggets of leadership, is the act of forgiving and reconciling. The height of far-sighted grasp of leadership is to maintain the winning side in the face of physical and mental anguish. The epitome of leadership excellence is, hence, to keep on being a winner all the way through by living with forgiving and reconciling state of mind. I know this is easier said than done, to put it candidly. Is it then attaining such golden nuggets of leadership something unachievable or impossible to practice? Well, in short, I believe it is possible to stay focused on such a resolve but only by taking one huge step - daily sacrifice of the self over the greater end in mind.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

*Leaders would Rather Fail with Honor

My recent round table encounter with a couple of line managers and a CEO of a company has prompted me to write this article. In response to one of the straight forward manager’s reports, the CEO suddenly blurted, “I know you’ve tried your best, but your best isn’t good enough as it didn’t yield any fruit.” (From his careful wording and vivid body language, I felt that the CEO was mocking at the manager’s integrity as he was unable to generate the expected financial returns, perhaps even at the cost of deception, rather than reporting to him such a “ludicrous” monetary benefits). Our experience with the real world reveals that leaders undergo stormy periods, as well as several zenith epochs. Both of these times are considered momentous chapters from which all ought to learn a great deal. I believe successful leaders are measured not merely on their discernible efficacious outcomes; rather, the litmus test for them is how they manage and react to the inescapable failure. While this is believed to be the morally right (honorable) leadership principle, I really don’t know why some have nowadays overlooked high standard morals, such as truthfulness and honor. At such a time where the ostentatious (mere financial gains) is customarily valued, leaders find it hard-hitting to accept failure with integrity. I know that leaders are there to create, among other things, economic value. Nevertheless, pragmatic experience tells us that sticking to the right path alone does not always guarantee them to reap monetary achievements ☺! At the end of the day, I think, we need to be able to appreciate more the priceless value tagged in a leader, such as uprightness, humility and honor, instead of just the commercial benefits he/she has generated, or not generated. Although failing to achieve what a leader intends from the outset could have disastrous repercussions, I think there are a lot of other things to gain in due process if one discerns with caution. For instance, one could learn the root causes for the past failure that serve as foundations for future gains. I am surprised why the worth of a leader is neglected when he/she fails with dignity. I believe Sophocles, the ancient Greek literary figure, was wise when he said, “Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud”. Leaders can teach a lasting virtue by failing with honor rather than bidding to shine with scam.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

*Systematic Break from Engagement – A Leader’s Requirement for Rejuvenation

Most writings about leadership point out things leaders should do while engaging in their day to day tasks. Or, what they ought to be as individual frontrunners, the charisma they must be endowed with, or some kind of eccentricity they’re expected to exhibit. They seldom emphasize the necessity of orderly break from their work, an impelling cause that enables them to return and act with robustness and wisdom. And a potential reason for their failure in performances. Maybe I overlooked their articles ☺ Let’s look at some of the common corporate leaders’ responsibilities starting from strategic to operational ones: leverage opportunities and resolve issues, develop a long-range course of action or set of goals to align with the organization’s vision, identify and exploit opportunities for new products, services, and markets; And, specifically, on a regular basis: absorbing daily briefings from their assistants and co-workers; come up with hard and swift decisions that require much deliberation on their part. In short, these responsibilities involve in doing more with less time. In other words, these put a lot of pressure on them. As a result, not all leaders can make all the routine moves successfully and fail to yield as per their followers’ expectations. That’s why most surveys show that many companies are not confident in their CEO’s capability to effectively perform their duties and responsibilities. Also, their determination not to fill strategic leadership positions for a number of years could be accounted for this. I think among the possible pragmatic explanations for this failure in their roles is that they don’t methodically free themselves from their daily engagement so as to come back revitalized both in their bodies and minds. All including themselves believe that they must and should incessantly engage. This seems a common attitudinal snag across the board. It’s virtually unthinkable for most leaders to alienate themselves from the ordinary routines or engagements- even for a single day. How could distancing from work be thinkable, even if it’s momentarily? For them it’s simply something uncharacteristic. After all, there are always issues to decide, discuss and resolve, overlook and evaluate. Joe Robinson, the author of Work to Live cites that "One of the downsides of being eternal action figures is that we never arrive anywhere.” Regular intervals for reflection and relaxation allow all humans (not excluding leaders) to sustain high levels of effort more of the time. If leaders never pause to take stock, savor accomplishments, evaluate the series of decisions they’ve made and maintain a sense of fun, it's hard to experience job satisfaction and productivity. Intense, prolonged time on task simply squeeze the joy out from their usual work and make them ineffective in their performance. Why take a break? Well because leaders are not robots loaded with programs and software. As long as there are uninterrupted power and proper installation, the latter can perform efficiently as expected. But not leaders who are humans! So, systematic break from engagement is really a leader’s requirement for rejuvenation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

* Two Marks of great Leadership - Living with Competition and Complementariness

I think understanding the merits of the two C’s - Competition and Complementariness- is vital as they’re the hallmarks of great leadership. Just because the two concepts are divergent, it doesn’t mean they can’t go together. It simply requires exceptional leadership to appropriately utilize them for various purposes. First of all, there’s a lot of virtue in positive competition in business. Here, I’m not referring the ones that deceitfully scheme in order to win and those that often compromise moral principles and ethical standards. That’s why ‘positive’ intervenes. Management in some organizations uses competition as a crucial tool in bringing out the best out of its personnel; and thereby increases productivity. Rewarding outshining staff or/and team is always appropriate, as the individuals deserve appreciation in having brought something worthy to the organization, striving all the way long. This scheme not only drives workers to excel, but most importantly, serves as an instrument in identifying great leaders and talents who could potentially be part of the core management. Quality service/product has been rendered to customers thanks to the neck-in-neck competition among the various similar services or product providers. Dr. T.P. Chia said, “We live in a world that is competitive in spirit and action. We cannot run away from competition, and we have to pay a heavy price for being uncompetitive.” We, as customers, would otherwise be obliged to compromise and take whatever is “thrown at” us had it not been for fierce competition out there. This is very common as this is usually practiced in the fleeting absence of this phenomenon called competition. The higher the quality provided, the better the market share and profit - economics 101. The intent of modern day innovation and great strides in technology, in most cases, was, not always necessarily aimed at resolving difficulties per se; it’s sometimes bent on to be able to thrive in the ever changing fast economy, and most importantly, from the urge to stand out among comparable services and products. I don’t think I’m becoming too harsh on other innovations . So, in this context, competition is virtuous. A wise man once said, “I wasn’t born to follow and I’m not sure if I was born to lead, but what I’m certain is that I was born to fight my way through life and win”. On the other hand, I believe that there’s a greater virtue in understanding complementariness among similar services and products. After all, in the world where our popular culture, such as reality TV, emboldens to become faultfinder, it’s very difficult to appreciate the value of complementariness of similar services and products. The very core idea that two competitors came into being to serve customers is consciously overlooked; also the fact that both products and services have been utilized in some way by the same people at different times is snubbed; it’s willfully sidetracked that both have been appreciated for their timely worth. After all, natural complementariness is an absolute necessity in business, just as free meter in poetry or polyphony in music.So,rather than mislaying potential talents just for another win-lose battle, it would be wiser to accommodate competitive individuals or teams and foresee what they could possibly bring about as an innate complimentary force. After all, the winning side has learned a great deal from the losing one, without whom couldn’t have come up with the innovative service/product. Referring to organizations, you might find some staff that seem to have been utterly in disarray and are unheeded. I strongly believe that it takes a great leader to drive these provisionally defeated forces into still potentially great winners, instead of looking for fresh ones by replacing them. Living with these individuals may not be an easy journey, though, but leaders should be able to dine with the “losers” whom I call complementary, as much as they want with the winning ones in order to reap fruitful results.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

* Intimacy as a tool for Authentic Leadership

When thinking of leadership per se, what comes to me first is the Biblical illustration that describes the relationship between shepherds and the sheep – leaders and followers. It’s their strong bond and intimacy that constituted the vivacity of their daily business. The shepherds named their sheep, gently communicated to them each day, and patted them on the head to settle them down each evening. Rather than distancing themselves and monitoring their followers by some other means, (if, at all, they had any) they ensured that they stayed close enough to observe their followers’ activities. In short, referring back to these illustrations would enable us to see that staying amicable, vulnerable and intimate with their followers were the crucial leadership tools leaders implemented to attaining their goals then. Can't we use these models, today? I bet we can. 

One might say that for the 21st century leaders, patting their followers on the head may be taking things a bit too far. Yet, don’t you think leaders need to understand the nature of the trust that binds them with their followers and utilize by strengthening it? Do you think isolation from one’s followers, be it in one way or the other, clears all of the leader’s dirty linen and earns him/her due respect? I don’t think so. It seems difficult, if not impossible, to build positive long-term relationship with your team, support many-sided human interactions, help people survive conflict, build trust to retain valuable employees if we merely continue to focus on the outcome of business.

In my opinion, chumminess with followers alone isn’t a sole factor that could bring about impertinence from them. On the contrary, a leader’s detachment from his team or followers is a source for conflict and misunderstandings of various sorts. What most matters for a leader in the eyes of his/her team or followers, so it seems, is whether the leader walks his/her talk; his/her true character and tenacity toward achieving his/her company’s or department’s goals; his/her role as their leader to help them move en route for attaining those set goals. These are the dynamics of a leader that serves as a designating feature of true authentic leadership. Tamara Sulistyo, in her simple but true reflections on this subject says,

Intimacy stands for "in-to-me-see." To what extent do you let people see into you - by being open enough to share your likes, passions, values, hopes and dreams?”   
I couldn’t agree more. How about you? What do you say?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

* Attitude

Attitude as defined by the as a manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind: I believe my disposition with regard to a person or thing matters whether I would succeed in what I want to achieve in life. If my mind believes that I could really do a certain task despite its challenges, I am sure I would attain it…. maybe it could take more time than I first thought, but eventually, I would succeed. This is because I set my disposition in the direction of success, so the force that attempts to push against my will doesn’t have the power to crush the building stones I gather toward my destination. On the other hand, if my state of mind, what we actually call ‘attitude’, toward that particular task I mentioned above considers that I don’t have the guts and will to do so, I could easily be defeated. This is because my attitude was originally crippled. In this case I'm defeated even before I started the game. Hence, our attitude is everything for our attainment. And one more tip could be if our attitude is always positive, then the individuals surrounding us would be encouraged, too. On the contrary, if our disposition is negative, we would share the same to others. Dennis and Wendy Mannering once said attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?
I also saw this interesting score of the relation between success and attitude: It says:
A small truth to make our Life 100% successful
If: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Is equal to;
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26



12+15+22+5 = 54%

12+21+3+11 = 47%

None of them makes 100%.

Then what makes 100%???

Is it Money? NO!!!

Leadership?  NO!!!

Every problem has a solution,
only if we perhaps change our "ATTITUDE".

1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

It is therefore our ATTITUDE
towards LIFE and WORK
that makes our life 100% Successful..!!