Leadership blog 5: My vision of Leadership

Fear is the only thing that makes everything real, It drives us towards our goals. Fear of missing out, Fear of losing, Fear of never having even tried. Fear helps me achieve. Fear helps me evolve. What does fear do for you ?

– Pratham Amitabh

Time really does fly when you’re having fun, But it flies even faster when you’re trying to get work done. I think everyone who really works hard with whatever activity they are currently pursuing, it can be their jobs, a masters programme, a hobby or even a charity that they might be organising, will agree with the above sentence. When you are really involved with your work you do not realises the speed at which time passes by and that is why, Time management is one of the most important skills a great leader must master.

IMG_6623The last ten weeks, that is since the beginning of this Leadership module, I have noticed that time management is the skill I can most improve on, as it directly impacts all my strengths and weaknesses. Before I could work on ways to improve my time management skill, I first tried to identify the factors causing the lack of time management. I was able to identify two major factors affecting the mentioned skill and they are procrastination towards work not involving any reward and short time spans of attention for tasks, that I do not find challenging or those that do not involve any creative thinking. So to over come these factors I was able to devise a plan that would help me gradually become more time-effiecient and over the weeks I can say I have noticed significant improvements.

Now to talk about my style of leadership. At the beginning of this course, I would employee a mix of autocratic and transactional styles of leadership to get my team to complete our tasks to meet the end goals. I am very goal driven individual and I take my work very seriously, as I always want to win. But then I noticed some drawbacks to this style of leadership, I was not becoming better, I was not evolving, I was just getting work done. But that wasn’t my aim, I want to learn while I do my work, otherwise I don’t see the point of doing anything. So I started to talk less and listen more, I started to go out of my comfort zone, starting talking to people I wouldn’t usually interact with, I started to challenge myself. This is when the change started to take place, I was learning new concepts and ways of thinking from other people that I could now incorporate into my daily life. So my leadership style changed to a more transformational approach, I now had the ability to identify peoples strengths and weaknesses and was there by able to motivate and inspire then using the needs that appealed to them the most. I want o inspire people to do more and utilise their skills and abilities, to achieve their complete potential, If I am getting better at something and improving everyday, I want others to improve along with me.

We all want to be better in life, we want money, power, fame and whatever else that may have a certain appeal to us. But how can we do this effectively ? I found that having a role-model or a mentor works best because they are someone who has already experienced what you will experience in life and can guide you through the process by pointing you in the right direction. My mentor, as most of you would now know by reading my previous blogs is former Apple Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs. He embodied every quality and skill that I wish to have and some of which I already do. He was a visionary, inspirational and out of the box thinker who revolutionised technology for many generations of individuals. He is also a genius when it comes to marketing and a perfectionist. I am inspired by him and aspire to be like him and will work hard towards achieving that. The following video is what inspired me the most and I suggest you all watch it with great interest.

To conclude I would like to say, find your passion, if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, listen to your heart and intuition they will know when you have found what you love and lastly don’t ever let failure stop you, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

References

Smallbusiness.chron.com. (2016). 5 Different Types of Leadership Styles. [online] Available at: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/5-different-types-leadership-styles-17584.html [Accessed 24 Jun. 2016].

Belbin.com. (2016). Belbin Team Roles | Belbin. [online] Available at: http://www.belbin.com/about/belbin-team-roles/ [Accessed 24 Jun. 2016].

Harvard Business Review. (2005). Seven Transformations of Leadership. [online] Available at: https://hbr.org/2005/04/seven-transformations-of-leadership [Accessed 24 Jun. 2016].

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Leadership blog 4: Leadership and change

“Change is nothing new and a simple fact of life. Some people actively thrive on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist any change. It is all down to the personality of the individual and there is little management can do about resistance to change” (Mullins 2010: 753)

The above comment can be divided into two parts. The first part being “Change is nothing new and a simple fact of life. Some people actively thrive on the new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist change”. These two sentences are ones I completely agree with. I prefer change as it drives me to challenge myself to do something new, learn new things and constantly keep challenging myself to improve. According to me if change does not occur at regular intervals of time, daily life would become very monotonous and we would all be very content with ourselves. Without change their can be no improvement. The main factor driving Innovation in most industries is change, the desire to want something more or something that doesn’t exist yet.

While there are individual in our society that thrive on constant change or new challenges, there are also certain individuals who completely resist any form of change. They resist change due to many factors, some of them being, anxiety, moving to a new environment, meeting new people, etc. This can prove to be a big challenge for managers to tackle. To help managers identify how they can help these individuals get involved and feel more comfortable, we will be using Mckinsey’s 7s framework.

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This framework involves seven independent factors, which are then divided into two sub categories, Hard and soft. The Hard elements consist of systems, structure and strategy and the soft elements consists of staff, skills, shared values and style. Lets look at the hard elements first. The first hard element is Systems, which involves the daily activities and procedures that staff members engage in to complete their given tasks. Structure talks about how the hierarchy in an organisation works and who reports to whom. Strategy involves how the organisation would tackle its competitors and what strategies it would use to gain a competitive edge. Now we’ll talk about the soft elements. The first element is , Staff, it talks about the employees of the company and their capabilities and skills. The next element is Skills, which talks about the actual skills and core competencies of each employee of the organisation who are working for the company. The next element is shared values, also known as super-ordinate goals, when this model was first developed, these are the core values of the company that can be seen in its corporate culture and work ethic. The last soft element is style, this element refers to the style of leadership that is being adopted in the organisation.

Now to look at the second part of the comment, “It is all down to the personality of the individual and there is little management can do about resistance to change”. This sentence is true, as some individual within the organisation and in real life too cannot be reasoned with, the harder you try to change them the more they resist. It is in the management’s best interest to let go of these individuals as they disturb the balance in the organisational structure. The following video talks in-depth about why employees resist organisational change.

References

Catherine’s Career Corner. (2011). 12 Reasons Why Employees Resist Change in the Workplace – Catherine’s Career Corner. [online] Available at: http://catherinescareercorner.com/2011/07/26/12-reasons-why-employees-resist-change-in-the-workplace/ [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Mindtools.com. (2016). The McKinsey 7-S Framework: Ensuring That All Parts of Your Organization Work in Harmony. [online] Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

SearchCIO. (2016). What is organizational change management (OCM)? – Definition from WhatIs.com. [online] Available at: http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/organizational-change-management-OCM [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Businessballs.com. (2016). change management principles, process, tips and change theory and models. [online] Available at: http://www.businessballs.com/changemanagement.htm [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Leadership blog 3: Leadership styles and management

We have always been told that leadership cannot be learnt, you have to be born with the skills required to influence people and make them see things from your point of view, you have to have a charismatic personality to get people to like you, which makes them more agreeable. But then does that mean we can all be managers ? To become a manager, we must have a certain set of specialised skills and the knowledge required to use those skills in the workplace. But these skills can be attained by anyone who wishes to become a manager, but not all of us can be leaders. Atlas thats what we think. Lets first try and look at what is that exactly differentiates a manager from a leader.

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There are few key points we can take a look at that can help us understand what a manager  does differently from a leader. The first being, a manager helps maintain the work environment, whereas a leader helps to develop it. A manager focuses on the internal components of a company such as the systems and structure, a leader focuses on the further development of the human component of the company. A manager does exactly what he’s told by his superiors, nothing more, nothing less, he/she has a short range view of things, a leader looks at the long term implications of all his/her actions and decisions. A manager will mostly be seen as a authoritarian figure by his sub-ordinates, he/she relies on control, whereas the leader is a figure of inspiration to his or her sub-ordinates and relies on inspiration. A manager will always ask how will it be done and by when will it done, they do not care about the methods used, they just care about achieving a result, a leader will always ask his sub-ordinates, What was done to achieve the desired result and why it was done in that manner, his or her focus is on understanding the logic behind the working. A manager will always try and imitate the work of others and whats been done by someone else previously, they do not have the desire to be more original or creative, but on the other hand a leader is always looking to stand out from the rest, do something that has never been done before, his entire working is based on the basis of originality and be as creative as possible. A manager will never question his superiors even if he thinks or knows they are wrong, because a manager believes in maintaining the chain of command within the organisational structure of the company, whereas a leader will always challenge authority not because he wants to break the chain of command but because he believe in doing, the right thing. A manager will always be on who has as a herd mentality and does not really try to state his or her own opinion, they like to maintain harmony, mainly because they are not driven by the desire to prove themselves, a leader on the other hand is an individual, he or she will love for others to see things from their point of view.

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So now that we have a basic understanding of what are the differences between a leader and a manager, lets look at the different types of leadership styles. The first style we will look at is Laissez-faire, a leader who follows this style is one who lacks direct supervision over his employees and fails to provide them with any feedback, this style can lead to lack of control and increased costs. An autocratic leader is who one allows managers to make most of the decisions, this style deters creativity. The democratic style of leadership involves the leader seeking input from all his sub-ordinates, this style boosts employee morale. The transactional style of leadership involves performance based rewards and punishments, this style induces stress into the environment. The transformational style involves very high levels of communication, leaders will choose to focus on the bigger picture and delegate the smaller tasks.

We can see these different leadership styles being applied when we look at a company like apple. Former CEO Steve Jobs was a visionary leader, who brought ideas to life and followed the autocratic style of leadership, whereas current CEO Tim Cook follows a more transformational styles of leadership and just wants to see the company achieve its set targets. The following video tells us more about the difference of styles used between the two CEOs.

References.

Buzzle. (2016). Autocratic Leadership Style. [online] Available at: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/autocratic-leadership-style.html [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].Guides.wsj.com. (2016).

What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership? – Management – WSJ.com. [online] Available at: http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/what-is-the-difference-between-management-and-leadership/ [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Smallbusiness.chron.com. (2016). 5 Different Types of Leadership Styles. [online] Available at: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/5-different-types-leadership-styles-17584.html [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Sutton, B. (2016). [online] http://www.linkedin.com. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20131216160520-15893932-management-vs-leadership-a-dangerous-but-accurate-distinction [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). Steve Jobs or Tim Cook? Who’s the better CEO.. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gedo2Fe6xHE [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Leadership blog 2: The challenges of managing a diverse team.

“I believe in the essential unity of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one person gains spiritually, the whole world gains, and that if one person falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”

–  Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

It is almost inevitable for us all, that at some point of time in our lives we meet people from a different background, culture or from another country altogether. I speak for most people when I say this that those were some of the most interesting conversations or experiences with some of the most interesting people we have met in our lifetime. In some cases those people have directly influenced our way of thinking and our personalities, they might have even helped as us grow as human beings and the way we look at the things present all around us.

Now lets try and look at this from an academic point of view. Geert Hofstede, who is a world renowned social psychologist, has created a framework to help us better understand diversity. This framework is called Hofstede’s 5 cultural dimensions.

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This framework is very well structured and helps us easily understand the different dimensions into which all our cultural differences fit into. If we were to look at power distance, this dimension can be explained as the degree to which people are comfortable with influencing others, Masculinity-Feminity is explained as a masculine society has different rules for men and women, this is less so in feminine societies. Individualistic/Collective, this dimension talks about the needs and wants of the individual vs the needs and wants of the group/organization. Time orientation tells us about short term planning for goals, perseverance values and long term planning of goals. Uncertainty avoidance can be explained as how willing people are to change from an environment where they know everything and are comfortable with vs changing to a completely new one.

As for my chosen industry which is E-commerce, I would like to point out that as of today Yahoo has the most diverse team of employees, with almost half the company being migrant working professionals from mostly Asia. The company’s diverse work environment has proven to be one of the contributing factors towards the company’s overall success with its ability to appeal to the masses with its offered products and services. That being said they can work towards employing more women.

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I speak for my self, when I say that when I given the task of managing multi-cultural team for the first time, it had to be one of the most difficult situations in my life I have had to deal with, thats because at first I thought that we had nothing in common and hows’s this going to work. At first I tried to get the team to do things my way as that’s what I knew best and as I slowly began to find out that my way wasn’t going to work, as it was only a one way channel of communication, I was able to quickly identify my mistake. So I decided that It was better if we first get to know each other and break the barriers to effective communication. As we were introducing ourselves, I was able to identify each team members strengths, weaknesses and most importantly what motivated them to do work in an efficient manner. As per what I had learnt from our little introduction session, I was able to communicate better with my colleagues, as I was hearing what they had to say as well as give them my thoughts on it as well. This lead to me being able to assign the right job roles to them and have the entire group be more productive. Another positive outcome was that I was now able to look at any situation from multiple perspectives.

References.

Pinterest. (2016). Hofstede. [online] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/arno007/hofstede/ [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Geert-hofstede.com. (2016). Dimensions – Geert Hofstede. [online] Available at: https://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

Levy, K. (2016). Yahoo’s Diversity Numbers Are Just As Terrible As The Rest Of The Tech Industry’s. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/yahoo-workplace-diversity-numbers-2014-6?IR=T [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].

 

Leadership Blog 1: Leadership & Ethics

 

Ethics or simple honesty is the building blocks upon which our entire society is based, and business is part of our society, and it’s integral to the practice of being able to conduct business, that you have a set of honest standards.

– Kerry Stokes

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Let me begin by asking you, What are ethics ? Can they be defined as doing the right thing or doing something right ? Are they a set of rules that one has to strictly abide by ? or are they just guidelines, which we may or may not follow or implement when, where and how they seem fit. As we all know by now that there no one straight forward definition for ethics. The word itself is referred to by many in a very incognisant manner.

So let us see if we can try to define ethics or being ethical from a scientific point of view. There are a few theories that we can use to help us understand the word, ethics. The theories that I found helped me best understand what ethics means are as follows, the first being the ‘2 factor theory’. This theory is by Frederick Herzberg. The theory tells us that there are two motivators, which are extrinsic and intrinsic, which contribute directly towards employee motivation, which in turn directly impacts employee productivity.The extrinsic factors being those which are tangible such as job security, salary, fringe benefits, etc. The intrinsic being intangible factors such, recognition, relationships and growth potential. Now, intrinsic motivators tend to create motivation when they are present, whereas extrinsic motivators tend to reduce motivation when they are absent (Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, 2016). So a leader who has a good understanding of this theory would try to make sure that the intrinsic motivating factors are always present as to encourage the employees, keep the company’s productivity at a high. But does that make him/her an ethical leader ? If so can anyone be an ethical leader just by having access to the right theories ?

Let us have a look at the other I would like to talk about as Herzberg’s theory doesn’t clearly define what being ethical means. The other theory I would like to talk about is the 4V model of ethical leadership by   Dr. Bill Grace . This model focuses mainly on the  4 key components of the theory to explain  what being ethical means. The 4 key components are,4-v

Values and vision, which identify the group. They give the group purpose and direction. Keeping the values and vision is the most essential dimension of leadership. Giving voice to values and vision brings any group its dynamic. Any concerted, effective movement by a group toward the realization of its vision requires the articulation of vision and values in practical, understandable terms. Effective leadership requires the ability to give voice to the values and vision. Virtue is a blend of principle, sensitivity to relationships, and commitment to the common good. So now we are starting to have some more clarity on what exactly the aspects are that form being an ethical leader.

Now I would like to give an example of a leader that I found to embrace all the above stated  4Vs. He is currently the CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world. This company is known to be a pioneer in the portable devices/technology industry, it’s brand image is known and recognised the world over, the person I’am talking about is none other than the CEO of Apple Inc., Tim Cook. He is known to be a radical thinker, always think outside the box and coming up with concepts which never existed before. One of the incidents that is fairly recent that I would like to point out is, when Tim Cook put himself and his company front and center in a national debate on digital privacy, when he decided Apple would not comply with a federal court order to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists (NPR.org, 2016). Cook took a stand to protect the right to privacy of the users of iPhones. This is considered to be very ethical from the user’s point of view, because we have all of our personal data and information on these devices, which are basically an extension of our very selves and with the recent cases coming to light of government snooping, it would have been highly unethical of the company to allow backdoor access to our devices. I would like to share a short video of Tim Cook, where he talks about being an ethical leader.

To conclude this blog, I would like to say that being ethical is a choice that is upto to each individual/organisation to make and encourage others to as well. Being ethical is the right way to deal with the many issues that arise in our daily lives and within the workings of an organisation and if we are to provide a healthy environment in which we would like to growth and productivity, we must follow ethics.

References 

Grace, B. (2016). Concepts and Philosophies. [online] Available at: http://www.ethicalleadership.org/concepts-and-philosophies.html [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory. (2016). Boundless. [online] Available at: https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/organizational-behavior-5/employee-needs-and-motivation-46/herzberg-s-two-factor-theory-239-6609/ [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].

NPR.org. (2016). Apple’s CEO Takes A Stand — And A Risk. [online] Available at: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/02/26/468134880/apples-ceo-takes-a-stand-and-a-risk [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].

Term 1 comes to an end.

We have finally reached the last week of the first term, everyone is busy doing their assignments and collecting data for them. Most people are rushing back and forth from their tutors to the library to show the drafts that they have prepared. We have three assignments in total to submit by the first week of April, which is only a few days away. In APS we have a submit a complete portfolio, includes our VAK test results, PDP, Screen shots of our blog and other things, In Strategy and Marketing we have to submit our reports for coursework 2. Also this week in class we learned how to do career planning, this is done by analysing our skills and abilities to help us pick the most suitable career we would be good at.

This week saw me mostly doing my assignments, so that I had enough time to collect my data and analyse it, so that I can combine it with my report and present my findings and recommendations. The other crucial part of the report that most people forget to take into account when planning a timetable for doing their assignment is, the amount of time it takes to edit your report, Since we have to follow a very particular format for our reports, editing the report takes up a lot of time during the preparation of the report. So the whole week went by just preparing the reports and portfolio and mostly lazying about.

Learning about planning & organising.

We’ve nearly reached the end of the first term and are mostly done with all the modules that were to be taught to us in this first term. Some of the most important topics,such as learning how to plan and organise all of work, which includes all our daily chores as well as the academic work we do at University. By learning this we are able to manage our time more efficiently which has a direct impact on all the work we produce, it also helps improve the quality of the work produced, the content and the format in which it has been presented. This was a very important topic to learn as it has a significant impact on our daily life and everything that we do on a day to day basis.

As for the things I did out of the class this week, includes going to visit a long time friend in Brighton, which is a beautiful city I might add. He then showed me around the city, which is beautiful, we visited the pier, went to the beach, which is a very unique beach and is made up of black pebbles and other smooth stones and does not have sand like most beaches. We then went and had some lunch at Nando’s, which is one of my favourite food chains. Later we spent the night at his place just playing pool and watching some movies on Netflix, the remainder of my time there I just used to relax and catch up with him, all in all it was a very good weekend.