Thursday, September 30, 2010

"5Cs" of Leadership in the 21st century

Leadership is becoming more and more critical for all the businesses as they change rapidly with the time. Researchers have proposed many leadership models over the years in an attempt to develop theories that describe, predict, evaluate, and develop better leaders.  These efforts to develop leadership theories have been only marginally successful and thus new and more complex theories have continued to evolve in an attempt to fill this void. In this article, I will focus on five important concepts of leadership, which might help you to be a better leader.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking and problem solving
: Today’s organizations are highly dynamic, and variety of problems can arise on a given day. Thus, it is important for a leader to be able to identify critical problems and resolving them in timely manner. Today’s leaders should look beyond the immediate issue and identify the source of the problem, so that it doesn’t happen again.

Creativity and innovation: Creativity is not necessarily about become another Einstein or Picasso. Creativity can be as simple as new ways for old situations. For example, on the board or with management, you might get new energy by changing meeting formats, or seeking to solve old problems in new ways. This approach has worked for many big companies like Google, Apple and Twitter; and it can definitely work for your business too.

Team WorkCollaboration and teamwork: In today’s complex businesses, collaboration is becoming really important. For example: TCS, an Indian I.T. consulting firm, has more than 100,000 employees and more than 40-50 verticals. With collaboration between these large pool of employee base, TCS can share its best practices within these different verticals and employ efficient processes all over the organization.

Cross-cultural understanding: With existing virtual teams and increasing outsourcing in the businesses, today's leaders need to understand the importance various cultures. When communicating with people abroad, leaders need to know both the strategy and structure in cultural and communication  patterns. As a leader we need to develop a strategy to foster cross cultural ideas and opportunities.

Communication of information: In today's business, it is important that an organization’s leader get beyond providing information and direction. Communication is an act of gaining understanding and commitment from individuals, in order to learn from others and build an exceptional organization. Thus, as a leader we should use tools such as the intranet, emails from the Leaders, All hands meetings and blogs as a means for the Leaders to communicate with employees. This will definitely help you in creating the best organization.

I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. - Bhavin Gandhi

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Manager's triplets for today (Part 1)

If you've stepped one foot inside an office these days, you'll probably be struck by the diversity of people inside. There are young and old coming together. Introverts and extroverts go about their daily business shoulder-to-shoulder. There are simply all kinds of people, motivated by different things. If you're a manager of people, you likely already know this. One of your employees might be totally self-sufficient, easy to work with, and take criticism well. Another may not be able to get over the fact that you went with TFS 2010 when they wanted a different product, and now they're letting you know about it. In this article, I will provide few tips for better managing your employees.

[caption id="attachment_117" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Communicate"]Communicate[/caption]

Better communicate: Businesses are changing drastically, those days are gone when Managers were just focusing on the day-to-day operations, and still performing well.  In today's businesses, Managers need to effectively communicate with cross-functional teams, customers, clients, and stakeholders to survive and thrive.

Cross-train your people: As a Manager, have you ever been in to the situation where you had enough man power to accomplish certain task but you didn't have the required skillsets? I am not sure about you, but I have been in that situation before. At that time, it becomes really hard to justify hiring of one other resource. Thus, it is very essential in today's businesses to cross-train your team.  Cross-training will provide you with the team of people with multiple skills, who aren't qualified for just one narrow task, and who can be redeployed as the situation demands it.

[caption id="attachment_118" align="alignleft" width="89" caption="Boss"]Boss[/caption]

Be a colleague and not a Boss:
In tough economic climate like this, manager's involvement in their employees goals and career is becoming more and more critical to empower your employees to deliver their best. As a manager, you can no longer afford to be seen hiding in your office and ordering your employees. It is really important that you get along with your employees to give them confidence and build trust. If you are successful in recognizing yourself as their colleague instead of their Boss, then you would be surprise to know the positive result in your team.

I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. - Bhavin Gandhi.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Learn Leadership from the fundamentals of Physics

Picture of PhysicsYesterday was - one of those days, where I was helping my nephew with his 5th grade physics homework. While explaining him the fundamentals of physics, I got to realize that there are many similarities between physics and leadership. What is physics, after all? Physics is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves. And Leadership is about analyzing people’s abilities, and encouraging them to contribute in making something extraordinary happen. In this blog, I am going to talk about - how physics can teach us a great deal about leadership.

One of the fundamental laws of physics states that “for every reaction there there is an equal and opposite reaction”. The same is true for leadership, “for every action a leader takes, there is a corresponding reaction from followers”. As leaders we often underestimate the influence we have over our followers. Thus, we need to make sure that - we ask the right questions, tell the right stories, and set the right example. We should be conscious about what we say and how we act.

Have you ever proved/disproved any hypothesis using scientific method? The method is very simple: you just need to find out one observation to disprove the given hypothesis, if you can’t then you proved the hypothesis. This scientific method of proving hypothesis is directly related to leadership. Leaders are always under the microscope. People will only need one observation to hurt the reputation of the leader. Look at BP, Toyota, and Tiger Woods for examples. It only took one bad incident for them to destroy their brands. Thus, as a leader - we should be consistent in what we do, not often, but each and every time.

Basically, leaders should always be cautious about what they say and what they do. As a leader, we should try to set a good example for our followers.

I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. - Bhavin Gandhi.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Improve your business by being kind

In the past, I have talked about - how businesses/organizations are changing in the 21st Century. And it is clear that the 21st Century is not for the unprepared, rigid, or weak organizations. To be a successful organization/business in today’s fastest changing environment — characterized by technology, intense competition, global market forces, and escalating expectations — organizations need many things: customer centric approach, courage to change, continuously improving processes, and best leaders.

But I guess, I forgot to mention the personal aspect of the business - people. In today's businesses it is becoming more and more critical to be kind with your employees. One might ask, does this even matter? Its business. What does kindness have to do with the business? Often people see business as a choice between being kind and being successful. When one couples a caring attitude toward others with a strong and savvy business approach, kindness becomes a business asset. I am sure that some of you must have experienced some kind of performance improvement in your employees when you were kind to them for some reason. Am I right? There must have been some incident, when you said "Good job" to your employee and saw some kind of performance improvement, right? Actually, the fact of today's world is - we can no longer conduct business as usual and expect it to be successful. To be more successful in your business, we need to be more personable. We need to care about our employees to get better results. Kindness works both ways.

Lack of kindness can cost tremendously to any business. Often thought of as poor customer service, low kindness capital causes customers and clients to flee rapidly, and usually permanently. Particularly now, in the electronic age when there are so many choices, clients will simply move on if they suspect they are being treated poorly. They have many options. They will buy elsewhere, even at an elevated price, if they do not feel cared for. Companies that fail to develop kindness capital are not as successful as their kind counterparts. Highly skilled employees are also highly sought after, and they will move on too — to companies that practice corporate kindness.

So, one might ask: "I understand the importance of kindness. Now, what should I do to develop that?" Answer is very simple. Following are few ideas that you can try on:
1. Build your reputation as someone, who cares about their employees, customers, stake holders etc.
2. Give and garner reciprocal kindnesses and favors from others.
3. Learn to be someone that others like. Develop a helpful approach.
4. Be appreciative of others. Try to find good in everyone.
5. Connect with others and build a strong network.
6. Treat everyone like your own. Treat people in the way - you want to be treated.

I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. - Bhavin Gandhi.