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August 29, 2014

Succeeding in New world of Management - II

Recap: Emerging trends in management may sound unnerving but remember only way to success is by embracing change. Best strategy to succeed is not to wait for change but to anticipate and adapt change. (What is this noise about holacracy....)Integrity and passion are foundation. Being able to motivate and inspire coupled with problem solving complete the Top three. Predictability is right there with humility sharing honours in our Top 5. (Succeeding in New world of Management - I)
Businesses exist to meet customer needs. When I joined GE Capital’s outsourcing business in India, on very first day I saw this poster displaying GE Cap’s vision – “Satisfying customer needs, profitably.” It remained with me. Articulation of last word “Profitably”    is   nothing but “Business Acumen”. Many times executives, engineers and management professionals get carried away with first part Satisfying customer needs (or employee as managers and HRMs) that they lose sight of “profitably”. Does this feel counter intuitive? In world full of various scams and frauds filled with greedy corporate stopping at nothing to bolster their bottomline and bonus payout. Problem is with perception that desire for profitability is equal to greed. Business Acumen has two components – understanding how business makes money and being a technologist. In Duncan’s words – “Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices”. Today’s businesses operate is environment of convergence, a term no longer restricted to ICE (IT, Communication and electronics). Leaders need to know and understand technologies and their impact on wider spectrum. Knowing about their own industry and products are no longer enough. It’s not about being a nerd and knowing the buzzwords, it’s about understanding how various parts move in sync and what winds of change can cause turbulence.

You have to be nimble footed; you can’t succeed by responding to situation but anticipate and be prepared to respond. See and sense complete environment. What you don’t see, hear, feel and sense becomes your weakness. God is in detail. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says that one of Steve Jobs’s salient traits was his ability and desire to envision overarching strategy while also focusing on the tiniest aspects of design.

Organizations with new structures are becoming like Silicon Valley with scores of Dot Com start-ups. Each team/committee is like a start-up. Only difference is that instead of diverse source of capital, all start-ups are being backed by one organisation. Benjamin Franklin said, “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” While we talk about what it takes to succeed, let’s remember there will always be few not crossing the finishing line, failure rate is going to be higher; ability to survive and bounce back from failure is going to be key differentiator. Resilience as part of organisation culture will become more and more important. “I am not concerned that you have fallen -- I am concerned that you arise.” - Abraham Lincoln 

You can’t, not communicate. However, importance of listening keeps growing. There is flood of articles on net about how organisations are recognizing need for listening more to their customers, introverts making better sales people in era of social media etc. Lead link or team leads have their work cut out with cross functional, cultural and generational teams minus advantages Managers have in traditional organisations. Same people playing different roles at different levels across various teams will put tremendous pressure on their communication skills. Leaders will need far superior listening skills to meet this challenge.

It’s much more than sensitivity. It is about tolerance. It relates to pluralism, where more than one idea is accepted. (Diversity: HR Focus and Trends 2014). For past couple of decades in order to become more diverse and global, organisations kept pushing sensitivity as remedy and skill. It’s important for us to be sensitive to others, different cultures, styles etc and act accordingly. But importance doesn’t make it easy or feasible to execute. However, it is much easier for us to be tolerant of other’s behaviour at times not in line with our methods, beliefs, culture and styles.

Steve Job’s famous words – Stay hungry, stay foolish. No matter what organisation structure, generation and technology era, world will always belong to people who continue to learn, unlearn and relearn. Path to success and excellence is iterative and continuous. It’s important to ask yourself which competencies are going to be most critical in the future for next job or assignment. Demonstrating those skills in your current job and organisation provides evidence that you will be successful in next assignment.

Signing off with - "I never stopped trying to become qualified for the Job." --- Darwin E. Smith, ex CEO of Kimberly-Clark

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With best regards,

August 21, 2014

Succeeding in New world of Management - I

Continuing from earlier post (what is holacracy....); let’s explore what it takes to succeed in new world order of management.

In a recently  article,“The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level” -Jack Zenger, and Joseph Folkman (HBR blog); top three competencies required by leaders are - Inspires and motivate others, displays high integrity and honesty, followed by solves problems and analyses issues. Add Predictability, a key competency looked by Google during hiring of managers, to complete the set.

These findings are based on current organisation structures. Imagine the world where existing tools and support systems (management structures) are no longer available and complexity of relationship among colleagues becoming far more complex. Leaders (Lead links, team leads etc) will need far superior skills to inspire and motivate teams. 

Leadership is about casting a vision and allowing it to seep into others so they follow the lead. Management is about dealing with situations such that results become tangible. You can manage people but only because you have the authority to do so bestowed upon you. But you can lead from anywhere, by example, influencing others regardless of your position or authority, they follow what you say. Leadership is best by example. Do what you say in such a way that others can do it too. Management is best an expertise. Do what others cannot so you gain authority over them. Mahatma Gandhi said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

Let’s not even spend time reemphasizing value of Integrity and importance of passion. World is never perfect and constantly changing. This in turn creates problems as well as opportunities. Businesses thrive by solving these problems for their customers. To quote Indira Nooyi, Chairperson PEPSICO, We look for people who are able to understand and work around geo political environment quickly and surround themselves with great talent. Who are agile, can work with scarcity of commodities (read resources) and make something out of nothing.”

Google looks for predictability as key attribute in future hires because predictable leaders provide best environment for innovation and risk taking. People feel most empowered when they know what to expect from their leaders in a given situation. “Variation is enemy of Quality”. Six Sigma and other methodologies focus on providing tools to eliminate variation in order to improve quality and productivity. Same applies to people, irrespective of product, services or leadership behaviour; final evaluators of quality are always people in some way or other.

“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.” - William Temple. We would have seen or heard about mid air refuelling. When a fighter jet or any other plane has to be refuelled in air, irrespective of its capability and flying altitude it has to descend at lower altitude to receive fuel from tanker. Similarly, smart leaders connect with people gathering information and knowledge. Being able to appropriately use every small bit of information gives them advantage over situation. To quote Mahatma Gandhi - “It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” 

I signoff part I quoting Einstein  “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”


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With best regards,