Sunday, October 30, 2011

MOSAIC 101 – How To Get The Best Out Of The Summit

I can imagine the excitement amongst the delegates gearing up for the Summit just 2 weeks away in Qatar. A lot of you must be having goose bumps imagining about the summit and the rest would be chilled while waiting to see what happens. Well I must say whatever happens, will be one of the most exhilarating time you would have ever spent. But, having said that, there is a way you can even proliferate the fun. And the core rule for that is, “Be Proactive”. 

I just finished the entire round of introduction with my group, what a pleasure to know so many enthusiasts with such diversity. While having this first level introduction I came across quite a few questions and thought to write this post to share some experiences from 2010 and help you all get the best out of the time you will spend during the summit. 

1. Be Proactive – As I said, you can get the best out of the summit if you are proactive. You need something, ask it. You have a question, ask it. You want to connect to someone, ask it. You want some information, ask it. You want some help, ask it. You are not feeling good or facing any challenges, tell your group lead. Being proactive will help you being most effective during the summit. This is the golden rule and rest is all a derivation. 

2. Know Your Group Members Early – Earliest the better. You will be closely working with your group during the 10 days spent together. It’s always better to know them as early as possible. By now, your group leads would have gotten in touch with you and you have a fair chance to introduce yourself. Use this opportunity as an ice breaker. Introduce yourself fairly and share as much as you can so that rest of the group members is able to connect to you. Extracurricular details like, interests, hobbies, and past experiences help identify synergy easily. 

3. Be Receptive – You will be meeting with almost 100 different people in 10 days. On average knowing 10 persons a day. This can be overwhelming but it’s a great chance to network. You may not be able to spend much time with everyone, but try to talk to most of them. Get to know about them a little, share contacts and don’t forget to follow up. There is a great probability that you have a home and a host in 17 different countries by the end of a summit :)

4. Be Punctual – The sheer pace of the summit can put you on the back foot. Be very cautious about time keeping and being punctual. Your slight delays can make you miss out some wonderful opportunities to listen and connect to some wonderful people. I am sure you don’t want to be in that situation. Best thing is to be on time during all the sessions given in the agenda. And least to say, being punctual is the first step towards leadership. 

5. Cram the Agenda – You will be given the program time table and a pack of file when you arrive and register at the summit. Make sure you get some time to look at all the details and mark your game plan. All the sessions are very important, do not miss them. Mark those that are of your interest and if possible explore and think about them a bit before time. This will help you connect a lot of dots. 

6. Participate and DO NOT SHY away – You will be listening to a lot of different speakers and will be going through some workshops and activities. You MUST participate and interact. Remember, we all are here to learn and do not shy away asking any tempting questions or sharing your views. It’s a collaborative place and everybody who participates is respected. And this is one good chance to overcome your fears and shyness. 

7. Make Notes – You will be receiving bits and pieces of very unique learning’s that is worth noting. There is so much going on that its always good to write notes and probably jot down the pointers that you can later reflect upon and connect with. I am sure you will have a list of lessons and learning’s that you would like to keep as your guiding principles in future. So don’t miss out, keep your pen and paper handy. 

8. Leadership – The main theme is leadership and you must all be excited to learn some leadership lessons. But honestly, half of your learning’s will be your actions and experiences during the summit; how you respond to various situations, how you deal with your peers, how you react to various scenarios. So be self critical, and reflect on your daily actions and outcomes. Where you did well, where you did not and how you can improve. Don’t forget, you are all a part of a bigger Mosaic, so play your role well. 

9. Don’t Panic - There is so much happening in a day that most of you may not be used to. Don’t panic, rather take it as a challenge and try to participate as much as you can. In case you miss out anything unfortunately, just move on. Being IN is the name of the game. 

10. ………………………………………………. 

Well I have left that empty for my peers to fill in :) Come on Mosaicers 2010, I am sure you would like to contribute some Suggestions from your wonderful experiences during the summit last year. Delegates from 2011 are waiting to hear some real time experiences; I just collected some of my thoughts, please add yours. Its a good time to reminisce as well :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ineffective Leaders - 7 Common Traits

The article is written by Paul Morin and copied from Company Founder Blog

This list of seven traits is not all-inclusive, nor is it in order of importance. These are simply seven traits that I see all the time, which undermine the ability of leaders to help their organizations and themselves achieve all that they can.

I also want to point out that not all the following characteristics are intrinsically “bad”. There are certain situations that call for some or all of them. In “everyday” leadership scenarios and organizations not in crisis though, the following seven leader traits are not likely to result in an optimal outcome.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #1: Micro-Managing

Wait, are we talking about leadership or management? Sometimes the line becomes blurred. My favorite metaphor illustrating the difference between management and leadership is from Stephen Covey’s story of a logging crew working in the forest. The crew is working hard and someone yells from atop a nearby mountain (paraphrasing), “Hey, you down there” … “What? We’re busy making progress, don’t interrupt us” … response: “You’re in the wrong forest”!

The effective leader is not the one that goes around “getting into everyone’s business”. Rather, the effective leader makes sure the organization and everyone in it is in the “right forest,” then let’s them get their jobs done.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #2: Unclear Objectives

Many, if not most, organizations do not have clear objectives for where they are trying to go. The leadership of the organization has not taken the time to define where the organization is trying to go or what it is trying to achieve. In other cases, the objectives have been clearly defined, but they have not been effectively communicated to the members of the organization. Following on the forest metaphor above, the organization may even actually be in the “right forest,” but due to poor communication, the team may not know whether they’re supposed to be cutting it down or planting more trees.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #3: Frequent Direction Changes

There aren’t too many things more demoralizing to someone working hard toward an objective, than having it change, constantly. We’ve all seen, and some of us have had the displeasure to work in, organizations where the direction and objectives seem to change with the capriciousness of the wind. We all start “rowing in the same direction” only to be informed, or worst yet, find out second-hand, that the objectives have changed and we’re supposed to be rowing in an entirely different direction. If you want to be an effective leader, don’t do this to your team on a frequent basis, and if it’s absolutely necessary at some point, explain it well. Your team will hold it against you a lot less if you communicate with them as openly and honestly as possible regarding why all the work they just expended “was for nothing”.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #4: No Culture Of Accountability

Once you have clear goals in place and have communicated them effectively to your team, it’s critical to develop a “culture of accountability”. Your team must understand that they have their part to do, in order to help the organization achieve its goals. This “part” must be well-defined, with milestones and target dates for completion. Progress toward the milestones and overall completion must be tracked and reviewed on a regular basis. Variances or deviations from plan should be explained and if necessary, course correction must be facilitated and monitored. Without a “culture of accountability,” it’s too easy for members of the team to get sidetracked “putting out fires” and to never quite complete their “part”. If this happens systemically, the organization will never reach its goals and the leadership will have failed.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #5: Don’t Walk Their Talk

There are some leaders who are tremendous talkers. They can “wax eloquently” on most any subject and they inspire confidence with their bold pronouncements. The issue arises when all the hyperbole does not coincide with reality and specifically, when the leader displays behavior that is inconsistent with what he or she is “preaching”. Leaders, as persons who are supposed to inspire confidence, like it or not, are held to a higher standard. If you aspire to be a “great leader,” it’s important that you “walk your talk”. Don’t make eloquent pronouncements, then contradict them with your behavior. That will be the quickest route to lose the respect and confidence of your team and other relevant constituencies.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #6: Run People Over

Ineffective leaders, frequently unable to persuade with logic or emotional appeals that make sense to their team, often just “run people over”. That usually takes the form of “you’ll do it because I said so”. This approach can be necessary in certain situations, particularly where a team member does not want to listen to reason, or simply cannot be given enough information to fully grasp the rationale for a particular mandate. However, if this approach is used as a matter of routine, then it is likely to alienate many members of the team. This point is highly related to the point above regarding effective communication. If you communicate effectively as a leader and you have selected good members to your team, you typically will not have the need to “run people over”. That would be ideal, because when intelligent people get run over, they typically find a way to use their formal or informal power within the organization to make you “pay the price”. They undermine you every chance they get, even if just in a passive aggressive way.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #7: Take Credit For Everything

If something works well in your organization, give credit to your team. Why? Well first, it’s the right thing to do. If you are playing a leadership role, while you may have put everyone in the “right forest,” it’s highly likely that the remainder of your organization did the execution necessary to “make it happen”. Second, you will look and feel a lot better if you “give credit where credit is due”. Even if the reward is not monetary, pretty much everyone appreciates a pat on the back for a job well done. Remember the adage, “praise in public and criticize in private”. Don’t be shy about highlighting the tremendous performance of your team and certain individuals with your team. While some underperformers may get jealous, the achievers will appreciate the recognition and are likely to continue performing at a high level, for you and for the organization.

So there you have “7 Common Traits of Ineffective Leaders” and some ideas on how you can avoid those traits and continue on your path to becoming an effective leader. As I said at the outset, I realize that this is not an all-inclusive list and I realize that in some situations, these “bad” traits may be necessary.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When Leaders Leave But Their Name Lives !

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011) will be remembered among generations. Few may not agree, but his contributions remain unmatchable. He made millions happy, either because of the products he developed or because of the ecosystem for livelihood he created around his product line. He spent an eventful life from the day he was born and least to say he contributed some priceless lessons from those events which still stays fresh no matter how many times you go through them. 

The famous Stanford speech is all over the Internet, especially after his death but I found it worth saving ad sharing again. 

‎" You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever." - Steve Jobs

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” - Steve Jobs 1993

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true." Steve Jobs 2005