Category Archives: Leadership

Notes from Leading by Heart

These are notes from the The Economic Times  – Corporate Dossier article named “GuruSpeak – Is there is a relationship between Emotional Intelligence and effective leadership?” from the Emotional Intelligence Guru, Daniel Goleman. I like the following thoughts from the article since it offers a new perspective on leadership. This new perspective is more intuitive and easy to grasp and apply, than most leadership frameworks offered by various other management experts.

Notes –

What makes a good leader is high degree of self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy.

Self-aware leaders are those who are in touch with their emotion are better able to gauge how their own feelings affect them, their co-workers and their own performance.

Apart from self-awareness, emotional self-regulation matters a lot in today’s environment. Secure executives who are on top of their feelings and impulses create an environment of trust and fairness. In today’s stressful business reality, managing your own distressing emotions means a leader can think more clearly and be better able to help followers stay clear and focused as well.

Empathy is the third important quality that a leader needs – without it, he wouldn’t be able to survive in an era where the use of teams increasing, the pace of globalization is growing and talent needs to be retained.

To operate successfully in the complex web of relationships that modern businesses have turned into, social skills have become critical.

A leader’s motivation will be useless if he cannot communicate his passion to the organization. Social skills allow leaders to put their emotional intelligence to work.

It is a fact that negative criticism lowers morale, affects productivity, and hinders communication.

The artful critique starts with a positive statement about the person, and then names a specific failing – specific enough so the person knows what to do about it – then suggests how he might have done better or could do so next time, and also ends with encouragement.

Six leadership styles are – visionary or authoritative, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pace setting, commanding or coercive. A good leader uses all of these as need be.

While a group can be no smarter than the sum total of all specific strengths, it can be dumber if its internal working don’t allow people to share their talents.

Modern day leaders often forget they are a group’s emotional guide and that others look up to them for assurance, clarity and getting things done.

CEOS are hired for their intellect and business expertise and fired for their lack of emotional intelligence.

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Four types of employees

(Note: This is a theory that I developed and views are personal. This blog post is not intended towards any specific company but it is merely one of the ways to look at employees and their contribution to the company.)

All employees in a company can be categorized into four broad categories based on the capabilities they have and the ambition they carry. The four categories are clockwatchers, delegates, floaters and conquerors.

Let us plot them on the basic geometrical axes in two dimensional space i.e. X and Y axes. It is pretty simple as you can see. Ambition is on X axis and capability on Y axis, both increase in their respective positive direction. Divide the space in four quadrants. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q1: Clockwatchers – Clockwatchers have low capability and they have low ambition. Clockwatchers are hard to teach since they don’t want to learn. They can be non-combative but in an indifferent way. Things don’t matter to them. They only want to come to office in the morning and leave in the evening. They complain about how hard life is if they are asked to work on weekends. Concepts such as dynamic work-load and being there when needed, have no meaning for them. These are people who stay in groups, never speak up and look confused. They don’t ship, they don’t lead and they don’t care. They aren’t needed in the company. Managers have to look for what they contribute. It isn’t obvious. They often say “I am not responsible for that”, “That is not my problem”, ”This is beyond my scope of work”, “There was no one to teach” or “I don’t get paid for that”, “ I am very busy, don’t have time”, etc.

Q2: Delegates–Delegates are one degree above the clockwatchers. Delegates have good capability but lack ambition. Delegates like what they do and they manage to do good work, but they don’t want to boast about it (in the right way of course!) or monetize it. They are shy and unexpressive. But they manage to give all the right answers. They know. Managers can depend on them. Give them work and it will be done. And that is the point. They have to be given work. They take pride in delivering what they promise but they never over-promise. There is no question of over-delivering. Life for them is countable. They usually avoid adverse situations. Their last answer almost always is “I did my part.” They don’t do anyone else’s part willingly. But they are needed in the company. They carry out daily chores and keep the company running. They contribute by sustaining the existing process and process needs them.

Q3: Floaters–Floaters fly around and are sometimes entertaining. They have low capability and high ambition. They talk big but don’t deliver that much. They boast about smallest thing achieved and make it sound like a big deal. For them, even routine is over-delivery. They try to be good to everyone because it falls into their idea of leadership. But most people around them know that they are floaters. They jump at answers and blurt out incorrect facts, only to apologize later. They are socially savvy and sometimes gregarious. They are bad listeners. They are initially impressive but don’t seem to sustain that. They also kiss ass invariably, that is because deep inside, they don’t have the confidence that comes from thorough knowledge. Deep inside they know that they don’t know but don’t have patience to gain knowledge. They are afraid of others usurping their position and hence resort to manipulation, which is often unsustainable. They poke into other people’s work and take pleasure in finding mistakes. They comment on issues that don’t relate to their work. But on the good part, they are enthusiastic about new initiatives and get things started. Since they are socially connected, they are naturally good coordinators. They are good delegators of work, since they know that they don’t have to do much after that.

Q4: Conquerors –Conquerors have both, high capability and high ambition. They take initiatives and lead them through. They conceptualize and implement business plans. They spend time in research and reading before presenting a proposal. People look up to them for right answers and right direction. They lead tribes and ship. They ask the right questions and speak up. You never see them blurting out but they make a point when they speak. They seem to know about a lot of things. Bosses talk to them for important things and they seem to have answers. They are usually well dressed and well behaved. People want to hear from them. They bring in new technology and new ideas. They are the brand ambassadors of the company and that’s why they are usually made responsible of internal or external expansion. But they also want recognition and reward. Mundane things bore them out and if it happens for a long time, they look out for greener pastures.  They are ready to take challenges and win them over, but if there are no challenges, engaging them becomes a challenge. They usually work well with bad bosses and eventually become bosses. They are the ones who can take the company to the next level. They often say “Let make it happen”, “Let us find out”, “We are good but how can we be better?”, “How can we do it faster?” etc.

So what should a successful business manager do? Redefine job roles for clockwatchers, encourage delegates, train floaters and reward conquerors with both good work and good money.

Google, the influential company!

This is post is not only for techies or academicians. It is also for mayors, governors, politicians, sociologists and musicians.

Published by TechCrunch, it outlines the interest of communities in cities to be associated with Google.

In order to be their experimental ground for broadband fiber optic services, cities are taking initiatives to vie for Google’s attention.

I strongly recommend everyone to read the post and click on each link to get a feel of the community initiatives. This is interesting! Can a company have so strong an influence that crowds jump over each other to be associated with it even of experimental basis? Such confidence in the abilities of Google!

Four things you need to impress recruiters during campus placement

Recently, someone from one of India’s leading business school’s (ISB) presently graduating batch, posed this question to me. I answered the question and I would like to share my thoughts on this for others to read.

Specifically the question was how to stand out and make a great impression on recruiters during campus placements. At the time of my placement, although I didn’t follow these recommendations consciously, retrospectively thinking, these were the pillar of my job search.

There is surely a difference between the activities related to on-campus placement of graduating MBAs India as compared to the US. Since I graduated from a US business school, Thunderbird School of Global Management, I am not fully aware what exactly happen at Indian MBA institutes, but I am 100% sure that basics remain same.  At Thunderbird, there was really no placement week as such but there were job fairs. It may not have been true during recessionary times, i.e. 2008 and 20009, but historical record shows that companies visited our campus in search of global talent routinely, at least seasonally.

For those who are unfamiliar with the institute, Thunderbird School of Global Management has been consistently ranked #1 for Global Business Management MBA, around the world by most surveyors. The institute stands strong to maintain its reputation even today and I am sure that such will be the case in future.

Coming back to the question of how to impress recruiters during placement activities, I would like to start from the basics. It is needless to mention that personal hygiene, impeccable etiquettes and power dressing go a long way in providing a strong cosmetic support and you can find out more about this from various job sites such as www.naukri.com and www.monster.com etc.

This blog post will address the “content” part of the issue, for those who want to get it right. Here are my four suggestions for striking gold during MBA campus placement, either in India or abroad.

1)      Research: We live in a digitized world and company HR teams expect you to be tech savvy or at least web savvy. And since most people on campus will be so (If you aren’t, you serious need to catch up!), they expect you to have all the freely available information on the web at the time of interview. So don’t forget to do thorough research about the company as well as the interviewing managers. Use as many tools as you can, starting from Google, Yahoo, Bing to LinkedIn, Facebook to company websites and industry blogs. As you start the research, you will encounter a ton of other websites. You may also want to take a sneak peek at www.glassdoor.com or www.jobvent.com for what former and present employees have to say about the company.

2)     Genuine ideas: Victor Hugo once said “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”. I am a firm believer of great ideas and their potential to change the world. I am not asking candidates to forcibly come up with revolutionary ideas, although if you have one there is no harm in pursuing them. By genuine ideas, I mean practical and applicable solutions to business problems. Ideally, this should be a natural result of your research but in most cases, identification of problem is a big challenge. Try to focus on the job profile that you are seeking in the company that you want to work with and the industry it operates in. Try to list 5 generic troubles at functional level, company level and industry level and come up with practically implementable solutions. This will offer you a good picture of where the industry is headed. Believe me, there is nothing more impressive about a candidate than a solution to a problem the company has been trying to solve. Don’t worry if you solution will be implemented or not, this is only to demonstrate that you can think at a strategic level.

3)     Powerful communication: So now you have researched the position, company and industry and you have great ideas about how you can make a difference. Now, your concern should be how to powerfully communicate them and how to make a lasting impression. Creating an impact should be the aim (Mind you, not a physical impact!). Compress your ideas in 4-5 sentences; use the STAR framework for it if needed. Star stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Please don’t sound boring while using it and feel free to customize it to your own framework, for instance PSAI (Problem, Solution, Action and Implication….just invented!) etc. This is paramount. Being able to communicate powerfully in a short period of time to make a lasting impression will surely make you stand out. There are no quick fixes, this you will have to learn by practice. After all, practice makes a man perfect! (Oops…what a cliché!)

4)     Rationality: Last but not least, common sense is very uncommon in common people.  (Sorry…couldn’t resist saying another cliché!). Rationality is a respectable virtue and without doubt, the single most sought after aspect of managerial decision making process. Isn’t it a surprise that so many of them routinely go wrong? The point here is that the solution that you propose or ideas you have should exist within the limits of rationality. This also depends on the problem being solved. For instance, hiring a hot star for promoting a soft drink is historically successful thing to do, but will the brand afford such a move? Instead, creating a low profile viral video with an enticing concept and putting it on YouTube or Facebook might be a better idea. Justifying what you are saying will build a sense of security around your candidature from a hiring perspective. Believe me, managers are looking for people who can provide good ideas with strong reasons and they are also trying to manage risk of hiring you at the same time.  Some may dismiss this suggestion as a conservative approach, but for those who don’t have a business plan for the next hot gadget; this is a good way to think.

These are my 2 cents (4 actually!) on standing out in the job race. Tell me what you think.

Regards

Tanmay Saraykar