Thursday, July 2, 2015

Practicing “Tai Chun”

There is no martial art with the name Tai Chun. I just melted names of two arts to form a new expression:  the first word from Tai Chi (Tai chi in the leadership world -1) and the other from Wing Chun (Wing chun in Leadership; Wing Chun basics 4 Leadership). So, why did I combine those two arts?

For several decades now I have been practicing different martial arts and came to conclusion that at the top level of any martial art there is a very similar if not the same knowledge and performance.

Why is it so?

PersonPeople like to think we are different. But, what I like to point out is that as people we are all the same. We have almost identical “hardware” (two legs and hands, one body, head …) that moves in the same way. Well, one is taller and the other is heavier etc. but there is no big difference when it comes to how we sit down, walk, eat or fight. We use the same musculatures, joints or/and bones. Our “software” is pretty similar as well (we have fears, we are happy, we are angry …). Our brains work through the ‘same’ neurons and have same regions for processing vision, thoughts, and emotions. Therefore, our thoughts are produced, stored and retrieved in the same manner. And the same goes for our  cerebellum system where our reactions are ‘memorized’ and fired from.
Shifu

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Can Obedience nurture Trust?

Someone told me that blind obedience nurtures trust (my post Disciplines of execution). Let me elaborate this a little more.

I was told once that obedience is the basic issue to foster trust in organizational structure!

power and controlI was kind of surprised by such unilateral thinking and explanation of the working environment and could not figure out where from this way of thinking comes. In all my years of working experience I never thought that obedience can or may nurture trust. Just the opposite: I believe that obedience is a one way communication. And trust is definitively a two way issue.

Let me review what I have already written about to clear my position on the subject.

In the post Loyalty at work I stressed that in strictly traditionally hierarchical organizations (companies or even countries) there is only one way of implementing the will or preferences of the leader or owner - it is called a command!

Well I can argue that even in such hierarchical organizations at different incidents employees should always be (are) treated with respect. It is the obligation of the organization to see that individual leaders or managers do not abuse their power or mistreat their subordinates.
squeezing last drops of effort
In another post Leadership and trust I expressed that trust is vital and is one of the fundamentals of any kind of cooperation between two living beings! I can definitely claim that it is very difficult to expect the trust in leaders that are practically squeezing last drops of effort out of employees with a command.

If we look even on broader scope – our environment – my post To trust the Capital? goes even beyond trust of any living being: can we trust the systems we are implementing and having as the only solution today?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Disciplines of execution

Not long ago I met a young upwardly mobile professional. While discussing his views on management practices his position was clear: the subordinate has to do as he is told by his manager no matter the consequences! I kind of disagree: what if this ‘command’ costs company a bad reputation or money or lost customers. He was clear again: regardless, a subordinate has to follow what he/she’s been told to do! Lower ranked people have, most probably, less experience, less information and no broaden picture about the final goal. I was kind of surprised by such determined stand point, but had to point out that a company is not a military organization (even there some flexibility is possible). If a subordinate cannot execute the order then a manager cannot trust him/her, was his prompt answer.

A bit of a shock for me: from blind obedience to trust issues.
blind obedience
I have been managing and leading different teams in different environments. I do not remember ever expecting my co-workers (not subordinates) to execute blindly what I had ordered. On the contrary, I was trying hard to stimulating their own opinion(s), their own way of doing it but with the notion to take responsibility as well. I still follow what Ken Robinson said: “The role of a creative leader is not to have all of the ideas; it is to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued!”

I’m positive that the true threats to humanity are not the Hitlers, the Dahmers and the Mansons but those that blindly obey. As those that order cannot do it by themselves they can achieve it only through the means of obedient people. Therefore, I am strongly against the situation when a person in authority makes a decision or gives a command, that decision or command should be followed without questioning simply because a person in authority gave it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Leadership Development

In my post Are Leaders Born or Made? I expressed my belief that the best leaders have some preconditions but they learn later on how to lead. By getting a leading position it should never be the end stage of learning and changing phase: to be (stay) in shape and understand the working environment constant learning and developing is what is needed and necessary.
When we already occupy a position of a leader what more should we learn, what competences should we develop and how do we do that?

leading positionMost leaders (I should rather use the term managers) begin and end their learning process by visiting MBA programs and maybe some additional courses. Unfortunately, traditional management practices (taught in a typical MBA program) are usually not very helpful in the field of innovation process (read more: Leading a team). Innovations foster any kind of development that is much needed in the very competitive business environment of nowadays therefore innovation is the key to success for any leader.

leadership developmentAny organization’s future success depends on identifying and evolution of the next generation’s leaders. Organizations that fail to do that sooner or later experience a loss of its high-potential talent that is usually at the time already in short supply. In a study by Laci Loew and Karen O’Leonard, Leadership Development Factbook 2012: Benchmarks and Trends in U.S. Leadership Development (July 2012) was acknowledged that US companies alone spend almost $14 billion on leadership development annually.

Why do then so many companies ignore proper leadership development? Is it because companies too often demand a wish list of ambiguous qualities like creativity and innovation that fail to align with organizational needs? Or is it due to assumption that ‘one size fits all’ and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of the strategy, organizational culture, or leader mandate?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Avoid or not office politics inside the company?

Politics are as old as civilization is. We are all aware of that. The fascination with politics increased in the 16th century when Machiavelli wrote thesis on how to acquire and retain power The Prince.

The question is if politics are meant only for politicians? To be used only at a state (region, city) level? Or are there underlying politics going also in many other fields, say also in organizations?
We know there are. Some of you may have heard or experienced this: ‘There's too much wrangling, gaming and maneuvering going on – I just hate this organizational politicking?’

office politicsThere are very few employees and even less top managers immune to gossip, having their ideas stolen or being set up by others who want their jobs or statuses.

Very rarely employees or senior managers are reluctant to take part in what is called political games, because most people want to advance their careers or ideas, have job security, earn more and get more recognition.

The term office politics often has a negative connotation. On the other hand the brute truth and reality is that to ensure your own success or your ideas or projects you must navigate the minefield of office politics.