Posts Tagged ‘leader’

Doing what is Right Vs. Being the Best

by Brian Beedle on September 27, 2010

Defined by Webster’s Dictionary, the word “Best”:

of the highest quality, excellence, or standing: the best work; the best students”.

Every day in business, we are faced with challenges that require us to act quickly and to react even quicker.  As leaders we are expected to make pivotal decisions; we are exposed to different types of challenges, and are expected to accurately address problems each and every day. These challenges we are faced with often take us outside of our comfort zone, and require us to take on responsibilities and make decisions that we sometimes feel go beyond our areas of expertise.

As a manager, I always strive to do things right and deliver a high quality product to my customer, whether internal or external.  But is “doing things right” necessarily enough? Or should management go beyond “doing things right” and strive for ONLY being the best at what you do?

Coincidentally, I had a conversation with my son today who recently began his freshman year at college in August. We discussed the challenges that he is currently facing in college and how the effort that he is putting forth today, lays the groundwork for later success in college, and the successes that he will encounter as he lives the life he chooses as an adult. It was very obvious to me that he was frustrated with the conversation, but later in the evening, it was even clearer that he agreed with me and understood my point.  A BREAKTHROUGH!

The following are some points to keep in mind:

  • As a parent, it is important to instill values in your children during their formative years.  Teaching your children that “doing the right thing” is not only important but necessary. Being aware that one is doing the right thing will ultimately pave the path for a productive, ethical and value based lifestyle.
  • As a student, it is important to identify one’s successes and identify the challenges that exist. The level of competition today for graduates of Generation Y is far greater than those of Generation X.  Being able to assert yourself and have the ability to identify the fine line between doing the right thing and knowing what it takes to become the best at what you do, is critical. Developing this skill set early will yield significant advantages, and make the transition into the workforce, and ultimately becoming a successful manager far easier. Providing young people today with the tools to be able to understand what it is to exceed beyond “doing the right thing” is necessary.  Students must subscribe to the teachings of the leaders within our colleges and communities, and identify mentors to coach Gen Y in developing the skills to become the best at what they do.
  • As a manager, it is important to continue to learn and develop one’s skills. As technology and business changes, it is necessary to maintain the competitive advantage and remain current on today’s business needs. Many top companies enlist the practices of Six-Sigma and ITIL as part of the company’s culture. Enlisting a quality program will assist in removing the effects of errors and to minimize the inconsistency in business processes.  A Six-Sigma program is a huge commitment for a company and not only requires major changes to business processes; it requires a change in culture.  If a company is not prepared to set forth on the Six-Sigma adventure, it is possible for companies to employ certain aspects of Six-Sigma into their business to improve business processes.

In today’s economic environment, it may be more of a common place than not for companies to cut corners in order to save a nickel or dime, yielding a lack of quality.  Now is the time for businesses to focus on quality and set the standard for providing the best possible product or service possible.  Businesses must continue to redefine and work to establish themselves as the business segment leader, as well as the leader in quality and value, when a favorable economy returns.

Get Out of the Forest, Onto the Hill

by Guy Ralfe on October 14, 2009

Tallest Tree in the forestHimanshu wrote on the blinding effects of Task Orientation earlier and it led me to think a little further regarding this on Projects. I have just been immersed into a project that has been running for a few months in a European office. Like everywhere in the world, it feels like they too are trying to achieve more with less resources and still expecting consistent satisfactory results.

Entering afresh in to the project mix and not having being part of the stories that the project team have been living in up to that point, I came on board with a different perspective on the project, entirely. However, it became apparent to me very quickly that the project situation was dire after only a few hours of orientation. The reasons for my assessment aren’t relevant to this article but what I found fascinating was how people were waking up every day and just kept trudging on. When I challenged the project decisions the response was mostly met with “I am glad you see that, I have tried to …<insert concern>… with no success/response/ownership” etc. While I assessed that the poor situation I saw in the project could be resolved – those in the project had resigned themselves to the situation and saw no opportunity to change the course.

I don’t want to appear critical, but rather sympathetic to this situation as I know exactly what it is like to be in the trenches – to be battling along, working harder and harder every day just to hope you are going to power through this mountain, out the other side… only to be met by another mountain and the disaster repeats itself.  I am sure this T-Shirt is sold out!

The paradox here is that from the outside there were issues, but none that couldn’t be addressed. For those deep in the project, that have traveled the project road over the last few months, there was just a mess around them and to them, it was  a case of survival. They did not see any opportunity to challenge how they got to where they were and continued living in the mess until they could get out the other side – OR what was probably thought but never spoken, that the project just dies and the mess goes away with it! The paradox is that we are not talking about two similar projects, these are two views of the exact same project.

It is only human to get into this situation and to try and power our way through. We have been brought up in a tradition that is deeply rooted in the virtue called “hard work” where we are taught that hard work and hard work alone is enough to be successful. This might have been true in the industrial revolution where productivity was a direct measure of the output of the power driven machines but today, with the advent and accessibility of computers, productivity is as much a measure of “knowledge” as it is of “hard work”.

What happens on projects is that we become attached to the strongest story at any time and we interpret that as a reality from which we build up perceived truths about what can and can’t be done. These truths build up on top of each other and become like walls that start to channel our thoughts into a narrow passage of possibilities (like blinkers on a horse) when in reality all the possibilities still exist (everything was a possibility as a new project team member).

This was once described to me like this:

“when you are in the forest it is impossible to see which tree is the tallest, but from the hill overlooking the forest it is easy to spot the tallest tree”.

In today’s knowledge age we need to manage ourselves to make sure we survey the landscape from the hill and not from within the forest – this is not just for projects but everything that we direct our energies towards. We have to constantly notice our “vantage point” and rigorously challenge the perceived truths we create for ourselves that limit our opportunities.

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I would like to acknowledge Steen Andersen who has had to take me out of the forest more than once, thanks – you can’t believe how clear it is from up here on the hill!

Are you well Grounded?

by Naveen Lakkur on July 13, 2009

Do the following statements sound familiar to you?

“I have not been lucky enough”

“My efforts being put and the results that I have got are no match”

“I am really trying very hard, not sure why I am not achieving what I am set for”

“Not been able to have a breakthrough”

“I am not sure where to start from”

One of the reasons for this conversation/situation is that, the person is not grounded well, from the context where he/she is operating from at that point in time. Their expectations and actions taken are not aligned at that point in time and hence the results are not great.

Success is a function of Context, Time, Plan and Action.

Let me introduce you to a personal assessment technique to get well grounded. Thus providing a platform to have access to great results.

The Personal Grounding Chart shown below has 4 quadrants: (i) Student, (ii) Specialist, (iii) Employee and (iv) Entrepreneur;

… spread over 2 dimensions: (a) Involvement and (b) Responsibility

Grounding-Chart

Guidelines to plot yourself on to the chart:

1. Set your context and the time and see how involved you are/want to be AND what responsibility are you taking/ready to take in that area of work/initiative that is important to you and your life.

a. Plot with the context and time being set.

b. DO NOT pre-determine your interest of quadrant before plotting.

c. It’s important to know that whichever quadrant you are in, you are fine, whole and complete.

2. Once you have plotted, three aspects gets accomplished:

a. Realization: it gets you grounded and fetches you to the platform of Reality

b. Equips you for right skilling

c. Provides the right space to set new goals, have an action plan, take action, set right expectations and enjoy the results

3. It’s important to know that you can migrate from any quadrant to any other quadrant at any point in time by altering your involvement and responsibilities in that context of work/initiative.

4. The Intrepreneurship area in the center deserves a special mention. It is a virtual space which is available in all the four quadrants. It’s the space where the individuals have a very special responsibility and involvement, operating within a structure.

Let me illustrate the usage of this chart with an example:

In my life, I have been a serial entrepreneur in the Information Technology space. However, if I am interested in the space of healthcare or want to perform surgeries I assess myself as incompetent in performing surgeries at this point in time. In this context, I cannot get deeply involved in it nor take lots of responsibility. I move to the ‘STUDENT’ quadrant. Now, being well grounded, I can have a plan and take action accordingly and set a goal to migrate to the ‘SPECIALIST’ quadrant at a set timeframe.

Get Grounded; Set Right Expectation; Go Take Action…

GiveHelpBI don’t know about you, but this certainly makes my head spin!

Before we set out on our little quest to untangle this, lets start by stating a core truth of life. Everyone needs help. [If you feel you do not belong to this category, try living 1 day of your life without using the bridges (built by others), electricity (discovered by others), food (grown in farms by others)… you get the drift].

What I just said is so fundamental, it is worth repeating again. Everyone needs help. Now, lets begin to untangle the first part of the title of this post…

    “Help yourself… by helping others”.

Given that everyone needs help, so do you. The question then becomes: How do you get good help? The answer lies, ironically, in the question: “How good of a help can you provide others?” This is indeed, quite logical as the better help you can provide others with, the more they will be willing to help you, in return. Pick your favorite leader or entrepreneur and read their autobiography (or biography); you’ll find many stories of how much help they gave and got back.

Time to untangle the final portion, now…

    “helping others … by helping yourself, first”

This simply means that before you provide good help to others, you must increase your own capacity to help. In other words, you need to help yourself first by investing in your education, your skills and your knowledge. Once you are an expert in your field of work, you can help others… and once you help others, some of them will help you back! Lets go back to thinking about your favorite leader or entrepreneur… and you’ll notice that they would have been always working to learn more, gain more knowledge and increase their competence in what they do… so that they have the capacity to help others.

That’s how you get good help… by helping others… but, start with helping yourself, first!

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