Management Failures..

5 12 2007

Ever wondered what would that mean? I had a brush of it in the corporate context. I have seen some great teams collapse due to sad leadership. I could see some real gem of talent migrate to greener pastures and some great ideas being nibbed at the start due to management failure or ego hassles. Sometimes it feels hopeless to see all this wastage and negative energy happening around just due to the dearth of management and leadership skills.

Why is it so difficult to sense the potential of people around us, how difficult it is to give credit to people for what they have done, and how much time does it take to acknowledge someone’s contribution? All it needs is a little bit of listening, a modicum of concern, enthusiasm, energy and genuine warmth, which became like a rare phenomenon in today’s context. Placing trust has become so difficult on today’s managers who are driven by their goal sheets and checklists with little concern to the people reporting to them. Probably being a part and parcel of knowledge intensive industry, I can see how the manipulation of energies of the people can make or break businesses in the current day context.

What an intoxicator power or authority is! I saw it change sweet smiling people into work extraction units. Yes, I understand professionalism is about of focusing on outcomes, and being work oriented but why cant we have a sensitivity to the expectations of the people around us? Just because we have an authority to wield the stick, we can’t really expect to get the work done by throwing our weight around. I see a lot of intellectual racism in action with a lot of unproductive team meetings, where people engage in blame game due to lack of time management, role clarity, and lack of trust and focus from management.

I see different types of managers around me, but those who work on their personal learning while aiding to the professional growth of their team are quite rare. What I see are those people who engage in politics and credit snatching, those who rest on the shoulders of their team and hammer them down to rise taller. Guess one of the toughest challenges of the current organizations is middle management. And I cant deny the importance of organizational culture in developing team, people and management skills. We talk about business continuity, right? How much onus are we placing on the leadership for talent migration, team failure, productivity concerns and team motivation levels? Guess we need some soul searching there..

Chak De India

14 09 2007

The first thing that strikes about this movie is SRK and Yash Raj Films.. Honestly I expected a super romantic story with loads of good music. Must say I am delightfully surprised. King Khan delivers complete justice to this off beat de-glam role as he creates magic with his magnificent aura and charming presence. It is a special movie for many reasons and after watching the movie at the edge of my seat for a couple of times, I must admire the courage of Director Shimit Amin for coming up with a novel theme of women hockey game in this cricket frenzy India. Many fail to appreciate that Hockey is our national game and somehow it went into oblivion when the most glamorous cricket took over. I am most impressed by the fact that hockey stick sales went up by about 300% after the release of Chak De!

This movie brings out beautifully that ultimately when everyone is on field, its more than just a game. Its about getting ten odd players with diverse backgrounds to unite and stand as one. Its about a team playing its heart out for the love of the game, with a hope to win against all odds and for a chance to hold on to a dream created by belief.

Many times it so happens that we take for granted a lot of issues that are inherent in our country. Sorry Mr. Shaw, but I don’t believe that Patriotism is all about thinking my country is great as I am born in it, though I love the way of expression. 🙂

Its about appreciating the beauty and the values that I inherent from my motherland and taking a charge to preserve, or protect its identity. It also involves how much am I taking responsibility to introspect, or change for the betterment. Shimit has done a great job of highlighting a lot of issues that come in the way of the development of sports in India, like the unethical side of media in branding Kabir Khan as a traitor, the politics, corruption and the bias with in the selection board in dealing with coach and player selection, regional fanaticism within the players and the crowd, gender discrimination in India, selfish motives of the players, lack of mental training and encouragement. We always talk about Unity in Diversity, yet we seldom acknowledge the discrimination that we show to the minority classes or the south eastern states.

Whats sets this movie apart is that unique touch of Indian flavor, and well grounded realism. I loved Komal Chautala and Balbir Kaur in their well groomed roles. And it stands out as it creates hope and makes us believe that nothing is impossible when we set our hearts on it.

Namumkin? Wahi To Karna Hai!

Shades of Grey…

23 04 2007

I have always loved a rainbow. Since childhood, wondering at their splendor while dancing in the rain, I always wanted to catch one, and perhaps live on one. Life comes to a full circle while I watch them take shape and vanish like a dream. Guess I have always loved the idea of embracing life in vigor and color. Things are always how they appeared for me, either in black, white or mauve!

Until now…

Until I entered the corporate dog eat dog world, that is!

I have learnt to recognize a fib from honest verse, I have learnt not to trust empty promises, I have learnt how carrot stick approach works in reality, and I have seen this world in all its shades of Grey. Is it the burden of competition that makes people materialistic, or is it the opportunistic surroundings? Agreed, its a tough world and everyone has to make his mark. Yet, why do we forget in this maddening run that our actions have impact on others’ life? I see a dearth of leadership, a sense of confusion, lack of focus, especially in the middle levels where its vitally important to have a strong sense of vision. Its an age old crib, I know.. Or may be I need a better glass to look around!

Yes, I do understand the value of diplomacy, yet I appreciate the value of appreciation and honesty better. I wish to believe that we are not living in stone ages and everyone is entitled to have a version of the big picture! I have a vision to see everyone contributing for common beliefs, in their own uniquely gifted way. May be I am an idealist. Or may be I just hate the bureaucracy and the idea of working for work sake! Rainbows to corporate world..sounds like a disconnected journey, isn’t it? The word is out! World is insane, I am too!

Radical Leap..

21 10 2005

The Radical Leap
A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership

Author: Steve Farber

This was a book suggested by my boss and he asked me to read it twice! The first thing I enquired was the number of pages of the book! I just wondered how thick would that be..

Coming to the actual reading experience, the book is fabulous. This is a book written by Steve Farber which talks about Extreme Leadership. What exactly is an extreme leader? He defines him in one simple sentence, as a person who L.E.A.P.s forward; One who cultivates Love, generates Energy, inspires Audacity, and provides Proof.

The story begins at a beach where Steve, a leadership consultant meets a mysterious and wise character called EdG who defines leadership as an extreme sport. The book is about how Steve discovers the extreme leadership and how he helps to sort out his friend Janice’s problem at her workplace XinoniX. I loved the way the story unfolds and the style of writing of the Steve Farber. You can find the summary of the concept here.

One particular point which caught my eye is Why do I come to work today? Do I love what I do? Yes.. Truly, this must be the most important question of everyone’s life. Life is too small to be fretted away on things which we don’t enjoy doing. We need to find our passion and work our way to get it. That’s what I call self-expression. A feeling of pure joy..

We may not remember the top leaders of the Century or the Miss Universes’ of the World.. But we will surely remember the people who have touched our life. That’s the most interesting part of Leadership. Its about the ability to influence and make a difference to other people’s life; its about the desire to love and help others find their dreams too. This book is a great read which should not be missed. (Not because my boss told so!)

Lasting Leadership!

10 10 2005

I am just going through a book by name “Lasting Leadership” which contains of the profiles of the 25 Business Leaders. Its nice to see a snapshot profile of the some of the most successful leaders and read about what they have to say. I am planning to include a few points which caught my attention. Guess its going to be a long post.

The book is organized in chapters like

Andy Grove’s Leadership at Intel
-His management style, for embarking the famous Intel Inside campaign, for surviving the Pentium crisis and for the ability to stand for his convictions. He defines that a leader is one whom people would follow. Simple, isn’t it?

Leadership and Corporate Culture

Herb Kelleher(Southwest Airlines)
-For building a great culture, for persistence, for building team spirit and flexibility into the organization.
Mary Kay Ash(Mary Kay)
-For praising people to success, for building a family kind of structure in the organization, for the famous pink cadillacs!
James Burke(Johnson & Johnson)
-For leading J&J through the Tylenol crisis, for championing innovation across the company, for encouraging a risk taking culture and for emphasizing on the importance of Trust across the organization.

Truth Tellers

Jack Welch(GE)
-Known as the Neutron Jack for his restructuring plans.
William George (Medtronic)
-He says that “Leadership is about getting people to follow even if they have their own doubts. Authentic leaders are those who are committed to purpose or mission;people who live by values and lead by heart.”
Peter F. Drucker
-Defines management as an art which has the potential to transform “a mob into an organization, and human effort into performance. Known for coining terms like privatization, knowledge workers and placing emphasis on managing relationships.

Identifying an underserved market

Charles Schwab (Charles Schwab Corp.)
-For making his discount brokerage firm a huge success and establishing technology paradigm in the investment industry. Forbes calls him, “King of Online Brokers”.
John Bogle (The Vanguard Group)
-For inventing Index funds and by pioneering the Vanguard as the low cost leader.
Mohammed Yunus (Grameen Bank)
-For pioneering micro credit through Grameen Bank and making a difference to a lot of people across the world. With a vision to build a poverty free world, he is perhaps the only one who wishes that his target market eventually disappears.

Seeing the invisible

Steve Jobs (Apple and Pixar)
– For using creativity and innovation to gain on the face of a giant competitor
George Soros(Soros Fund Management)
-Believes in the principles of open society. Known for his ability to spot the trends, for self-discipline and risk appetite.
Ted Turner (Turner Broadcasting)
-This founder of CNN and TNT is known for acting on gut feelings and venturing into the unexplored terrains.

Using Price to gain competitive advantage

Michael Dell(Dell Inc.)
-For his strong sense of market and for cutting the middlemen.
Jeff Bezos(Amazon)
-For revolutionizing retailing with the power of the emerging networking technology and for building a brand through customer experience.
Sam Walton(Wal-Mart)
-For getting the cost-price equation right. Can anyone believe that he wore a grass skirt and danced the hula in 1984 on the steps of the Merill Lynch’s Wall Street offices after losing over the bet that Walmart couldn’t possibly hit a pre-tax profit of 8%

Managing the Brand

Richard Branson (Virgin)
-For his risk-apetite, persistence and fun loving attitude. He has successfully built the world most stretched brand Virgin based on his credibility and capability.
Oprah Winfrey(Harpo, Inc.)
-She claims that “Owning myself is a way to be myself”. With a constant focus on being better, she has built an amazing personal brand marked with genuine and disarming attitude.
Lee Iacocca (Chrysler)
-for his strong sense of personal credibility, for turning around the troubled Chrysler and for his charismatic leadership.

Fast Learners

Frederick Smith (FedEx)
-Known for revolutionizing the world of logistics pioneering the overnight delivery and tracking process.
Bill Gates (Microsoft)
-Known for his agility and ability to gauge the market. Famous for Microsoft’s ” Buy it or Bury it” sort of competitor’s policies.
Lou Gerstner(IBM & RJR Nabisco)
-For leading IBM successfully through troubled times. He says that a leader’s 90% of success depends on his ability to select, motivate, and encourage the team working under him.

Managing Risk

Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway)
-Known as the most successful investor of our times. Is a strong believer in Value Investing.
Alan Greenspan
-For efficiently dealing with uncertainty as Federal Reserve chairman.
Peter Lynch (Fidelity Investments)
-Known for picking the winner stocks. He says, “The stock market is counter-intuitive When the headlines are terrible, that’s really when you ought to start buying. The person who turns over the most rocks will win the game.”

Some excerpts from the book:

“In June 2000, John Bogle, founder and former CEO of The Vanguard Group, spoke about leadership at Wharton. As an avid group of executives listened to the man who popularized the principle of indexing – and in the process built the Vanguard Group into a firm managing more than $550 billion in assets – Bogle ended his speech quoting James Norris, a Vanguard manager, who wrote: “While it is revealing to consider what constitutes a leader, your search for understanding, for some kind of leadership formula, is apt to end in frustration. It is like studying Michelangelo or Shakespeare: You can imitate, emulate, and simulate, but there is simply no connect-the-dots formula to Michelangelo’s David or Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I suppose, when all is said and done, it really comes down to this: People are leaders because they choose to lead.

The heart of leadership is as simple as that: It is a matter of choice and determination. If this is true, then people who choose and are determined to become influential business leaders can benefit from observing other leaders and using their observations to nurture their own leadership style.”

Visionary Leadership in Aravind Hospitals..

27 09 2005

I never heard about Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy until yesterday. He is the man behind the renowned Aravind Hospitals. In this commercialized healthcare world, he comes out shining like a knight. What impresses me is his grit and persistence in his abilities even when he is suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. His principles of altruism, independence and leadership are awe-inspiring. Its good to read about such a selfless personality these days!

Hiware Bazaar..

4 04 2005

As a part of course in IMDR, we went to check out Hiware Bazaar and I was completely unaware of the place before. Here is the summation of my experiences that little trip has bought.

Hiware Bazaar is a village located in the drought prone district of Ahmednagar in Maharashtra State. The district receives little rainfall, approximately 250 mm per year ion the normal rainfall but since the past three years it has received very scanty rainfall as much as 50mm. The condition is worsened still by the perennially low water table in highly porous soils that hardly retains any moisture. Today, it not only serves its own needs of water but also provides drinking water to other neighboring villages. The villagers became self-reliant with their efforts under the able guidance of Mr. Popat Rao Pawar.

To deal with the water crisis, the watershed programme was planned and implemented. For soil and water conservation the villagers came together and offered voluntary labour to facilitate the implementation of the watershed programme. For this the near by hill is covered with CCT (continuous contour trenches), loose boulder structure, earthen bund, earthen nala bund and check dam. And all this reduce the speed of rain water and thus give it more time to seep down, and also checks soil erosion. The seeping of water helps in increasing the ground water table, thus making more water available for the people of Hiware bazaar.

Mr. Pawar said that Hiware bazaar is just like any other village, the only difference is in the people of Hiware bazaar and their values. With Mr. Pawar came the five principles that changed the game rules:
* Charai bandi (Ban on free grazing)
* Kurhad bandi (Ban on cutting trees)
* Nasha bandi (Ban on liquor)
* Family planning
* Shramadan (Voluntary labour)

The trip to Hiware bazaar is very inspiring and interesting. To listen to Popat rao pawar and see the work he has done is very memorable. I have seen some Development programmes, but Hiware Bazaar is the showcase for all the right and good things that a man of conviction can do. Changing the village with a bad reputation and with little resource into a self sustaining model of development is a mighty task. The efforts spilled by Popat Rao Pawar to educate and to empower the villagers marks the hallmark of leadership. He comes across as a very well-informed person. His knowledge is much wider and deeper in scope. It was refreshing to listen to a man who is completely satisfied by the work he did and the life he has in contributing to the betterment of the people.