Fountain of Wisdom

February 18, 2011

Rose & Robert Skillman Library in Detroit has engraving “The Fountain of Wisdom Flows Through the Books“. To drink from this fountain, I continue to read books and here are some that I have completed recently and would like to share with my subscribers and visitors.  I have more detail posted here.

These 3 books are totally unique but fit in for a balanced approach towards any leadership or managerial role that you play in your life.

  1. Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Press, 2010
  2. Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t Jeffrey Pfeffer, HarperBusiness, 2010
  3. It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships Tommy Spaulding, Crown Business, 2010

Why Should You Read These 3 Books?

Buy-In:  A leader or manager has to sell the idea, proposal or get an agreement.  Getting people buy-into is the critical task.  You will learn two things – first, how to protect your good ideas from being shot down and second, how to win the support of stakeholders when it really matters.  Naysayers will use 4 strategies of fear mongering, delay tactics, confusion and/or ridicule to derail the idea.

As we all know that good idea alone will not survive. This book offers 24 major attacks or objections (that people use time and time again) and how to handle them properly. Link provides 24 responses to these attacks.

Skillman Library in Detroit

Skillman Library in Detroit Courtesy: Wikimedia

Power:  For a leader or manager, being power less is not an option. If you can influence any decision, you got some power. Projects and initiatives of people who are associated with people of authority gets their way in any organization.  Some might have the different opinion of the use of power (i.e. Machiavellian style), but lets use the perspective that if you have power, you can do more good to your cause, organization and society. I will add quote from Baltasar Gracian:

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.  The Art of Worldly Wisdom, 1647

This book contains excellent advice and analysis about gaining power in corporations and politics.  You may not agree with all that is said like perception is reality (but for how long?), but its a good read and use what you feel appropriate with good intentions.

It’s Not Just Who You Know: Leaders and managers accomplish a lot by building rapport at all the levels, they are resourceful and get the work done for greater good.  This book fits right where both other left.  If you believe that great relationship in life make all the difference, you will enjoy it. Author does not give out any specific formula but shares his own experiences and then elaborates on how one should apply them in life. I used this book to learn from someone’s life how genuine interaction helps build great relationships.

This book is not you scratch my back and I scratch you back type but follows Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends…

Author shares many inspiring stories and all underscore that relationship building begins with your genuine and sincere attention on the others and it’s not about you. Do not push for the things that you want, figure out what they need.  Also, author stresses that exploiting relationships for quick personal gains or favors will eventually ruin the foundation and it soon becomes transactional business relationship.

As a leader, you do not want to accomplish a lot in business but also would like to have strong relationships similar to great balance sheet or super annual report.  If you miss out building genuine and sincere relationships at all sectors of life, work and business included, you will be alone at top.

References:

  1. http://www.kotterinternational.com/KotterPrinciples/BuyIn/AttacksAndResponses.aspx
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Change : Three Fish Story

March 21, 2009

Change is inevitable.  In every person’s life, opportunities for change come and go.  If person avoids change, nature creates circumstances in one way or the other, and change becomes unavoidable.  As per human nature, some will embrace the change and act positively, some will accept reluctantly and some will  completely deny the fact.  I hope you remember the classic fable on change by Dr. Spencer Johnson ‘Who Moved My Cheese?‘. 

Here is one similar story* by Rumi, draw the conclusion yourself.

In a lake somewhere, there lived three big fish.  One of them was intelligent, another half-intelligent, and the third, stupid.

One day, some fishermen came to the lake with their nets and the three fish noticed them.  The intelligent fish decided at once to leave, to make the long, difficult trip to the ocean.  He thought, “I won’t consult with these two on this.  They will only weaken my resolve, because they love this place so.  They call it home.  Their ignorance will keep them here.”

The wise fish saw the men and their nets and said, “I am leaving.”  So the intelligent fish left and suffered greatly on its way, but finally made it to the edgeless safety of the sea.

Now about the half-intelligent fish thought, “My guide has gone, I ought to have gone with him, but I didn’t, and now I’ve lost my chance to escape.  I wish I’d gone with him.”

Second fish mourns the absence of his guide for a while,  and then thinks, “What can I do to save myself from these men and their nets?  Perhaps if I pretend to be already dead!”  I’ll belly up o n the surface and float like weeds float, just giving myself totally to the water.  So he did that.  He bobbed up and down, helpless, within arm’s reach of the fishermen.

“Look at this! The best and biggest fish is dead.”  One of the men lifted him by the tail, spat on him, and threw him up on the group.  He rolled over and over and slid secretly near the water and then, back in.

Meanwhile, the third fish, the dumb one, was agitatedly jumping about, trying to escape with his agility and cleverness.  The net, of course, finally closed around him, and as he lay in the terrible frying-pan bed, he thought, “If I get out of this, I’ll never live again in the limits of a lake.  Next time, the ocean!  I’ll make the infinite my home.”

Thank you for reading.  Everyone handles the situation in a unique way and that makes our world interesting. *paraphrased

Source: The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, 2004


Fast, Cheap AND Good

August 5, 2008

Good, Fast or Cheap

Can’t pick any two? You also need all three – fast, cheap and good? 

It has been very commonly used set of options in I.T. when offering an alternative or usually when dealing with issues from outsourced service.  Someone will come and say – “Pick any two!” 

Sometime ago I was involved in a project where we had to pick any two options and it was very hard to leave out the third one.  Many times we had to leave ‘cheap’ and other times ‘fast’,  for us ‘good’ was essential and paid the price accordingly.  We had to compensate for third left out option through continuous improvement.  I kind of thought that this is the  dilemma every one will be facing.  But it is not the case as I am finding out.  Things are getting better.

Read the rest of this entry »


Practical Wisdom – three types of people

July 14, 2008
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar @ Detroit

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar @ Detroit

I attended “Practical Wisdom For Getting the Most Out of Life” seminar by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Detroit on July 9th.  It was good to see and listen him in person.

His way of talking is like giving sutras (formula) for something.  I know condensing some information and giving it in the short form is not easy.  Some people enjoy detailed discourses and some enjoy condensed info i.e. sutras.  Remember, different strokes for different folks.  His daily sutras (link) are available in many languages.

On the lighter side, when someone asked the secret of happy married life – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar summed up for men – “nurture the emotion of woman” and hint to women – “pump the ego of man”.  We did some breathing exercise, learned about Surdarshan Kriya (a form of yoga) as well.

Here is a short paragraph from one of the books that I picked up “Celebrating Love“; –

“There are three types of people – the wise, the crooked and the immature.  The wise man continues doing good work whether he is scolded or praised.  Crooked people need to be praised to get them to do good work.  And from time to time immature people need to be both praised and scolded for them to do something good.”

(isn’t it a good management tip from a spiritual guru?).   Here are some links if you want to explore more –

Official website – http://www.srisri.org/
More info          – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Sri_Ravi_Shankar
His initiative     – http://www.artofliving.org/

Thanks for reading and have a good day!


The 7 Habits For Managers

July 11, 2008

Stephen R Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is classic and most of us have read and learned from it. 

 This week, I listened to his another audio book The 7 Habits for Managers: Managing Yourself, Leading Others, Unleashing Potential. Its based on ‘classic 7 habits’ and with focus on management. 

I would recommend to listen to this audio book to refresh 7 habits and learn how managers can apply these habits.  If this is new to you,  here are classic 7 habits and start with reading ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

Habit 1 – Be proactive
Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind
Habit 3 – Put first things first
Habit 4 – Think win-win
Habit 5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Habit 6 – Synergize
Habit 7 – Sharpen the saw

These habits are to be used as pointers for our actions.  We got to make sure that our employees understand the value of these habits and learn from these. 

Thanks.


DiSC model – Management Styles

June 30, 2008

I completed DiSC (stands for Dominance, influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) training last week and fount it interesting.   DiSC confirms one thing, different strokes for different folks.

DiSC is a system to help you find out similar and unique characteristics among people.  It also shows person’s behavioural preferences and helps to identify different management styles that can lead to obtain better results through interaction. 

According to the DiSC model, there are four management styles – by Dominance, by influence, by Steadiness, and by Conscientiousness.

Series of questions lead to a specific DiSC profile, that tells you what is your score and what is you dominant style of management and what are your supportive styles. 

D – Dominant : these people are active and questioning; these are direct and competitive in nature.  These people want to ‘get it done’.

i – Influence : these people are active and accepting; motivated, enthusiastic, sociable and lively. 

S – Steadiness : these people are thoughtful and accepting; patient and even tempered, accommodating. 

C– Conscientiousness : these people are thoughtful and questioning; kind of private with analytical abilities and task oriented.  Main objective is to ‘get it right’.

As we know everyone is unique and all have different ways of interacting.  Imagine, I interact with a person who has dominant  style of ‘Conscientiousness‘ (private and task oriented).  I pretend to be of ‘influence‘ (sociable and enthusiastic) dominant style; my interaction with that person can not be productive as I may not be providing the specific instructions that other person needs. 

Why is that?  Because people with dominant ‘infulence’ style mix personal talk with business discussions, becoming informal and emotionally expressive leaving the ‘Conscientiousness’ style person unclear or confuse as Max requires specific task oriented info and does not express himself emotionally.

How it will help me?  It lists what are key strengths, what things are overused, what could be the limitations and what changes should be made in management style that make one more effective.

Have you ever taken DiSC and Meyers-Briggs assessment?  What are your thoughts? Did you benefit from it?  Please share your thoughts.  Thank you for reading. 

More info –

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment 
  2. One of the best books on the application of DiSC is by Keith Ayers titled “Engagement is Not Enough.

Lao-tzu on Leader

April 4, 2008

I attended Wayne Dyer’s presentation in Toronto on 28th April 2008.  He spoke about his book  Living the Wisdom of  the Tao

I am quoting from this book.  Lets see what a philosopher, Lao-tzu, said in the 17th verse of Tao Te Ching  some 2500 year ago about the Leaders.

With the greatest leader above then, people barely know one exists.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.

When a leader trusts no one, no one trusts him.

The great leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self-interest and leaves no trace.
When all is finished, the people say, “We did it ourselves.”

In the case of this post, we got to keep in mind that verse talks about ‘greatest leader’. I think- there are still people who exhibit such qualities and making people’s life better.  What you think?  What did your interpretation of this verse?

Thank you and have a wonderful day!


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