Reading a magazine’s very last page and very last item sounded very familiar to me in a different context. It quoted Emma-Jayne Winson, the first female jockey to win the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s oldest thoroghbred race, in 2007. Here it is from May 2015 issue of Canadian Business.
Ask a jockey: Is it hard to build a relationship with a horse you’ve just met?
“When I took lessons, I remember complaining that I wanted to ride this horse every week, and I never got the same horse. I always got a differet one. But being on horses that maybe I didn’t get along with taught me to be a better rider and to communicate better with animals that weren’t necessarily on the same page. It’s amazing how you can assimilate something so simple into everyday life.”
Now relate this story to the times when you wanted certain key people in your team, but couldn’t; or had to operate with constraints that you felt were slowing you down. I believe every challenge shapes us to be bit more flexible, innovative, disciplined, collaborative and resilient.
One mantra helps instead of complaining or whining, it is change the mindset. Accept that it is not an ideal situation (rarely ideal conditions exist in any environment, be it business or social), but how can you make the best use of it and what way you are going to learn from it. Usually, all such circumstances become good stepping stones.
Organization rise and fall based on people involved in leading, managing and supporting.
It has become a deciding factor for success in any organization to hire, nurture and retain the great talent. Organizations have in past gone out of way to attract key talented resources from competitors.
There might be fancy deck of powerpoint presentaton produced by HR professionals on available programs to do all that, but is it the reality on ground? Is it working? Are key people leaving organization or moving to different department? How can you ensure the success of your initiative if key talented resources do not want to stick around? As a project manager you get to see things first hand if policies or programs are working as expected.
Also, I think, it is not only HR’s function to attract and keep talented folks but project managers play a vital role in it. Job security, clarity of direction, level of engagment, opportunities available, benefits and work environment determine how talented resource make their mind up but Project Managers can also influence talented resoureces stay by –
Marketing the project, its benefit to customer and organization along with in what way it can help resource grow professionally;
Keeping the account of talent levels of each resource’s skills, background and career goals to make informed decisions;
Offering or arranging mentoring sessions & directing the focus of talented and motivated employees to groom and engage resources;
Delegating in light of what resources can or can not do, level of hand holding required, comfort level in taking risk for project success;
Keeping the communication lines open, first listen then guide and supervise so that resource feels connected and knows he/she makes the difference;
Accepting that mistakes will be made by resources, plan accordingly and anticipate to develop future leaders and managers;
Finding challenging and creative assignments for talented resources so that resources can grow;
Rewarding and recommending the resources in presence of key stakeholders;
Giving or arranging opportunities to attend conferences, meetings and training to sharpen their saws; and
Explaining how project management fits into the life cycle of product development or any project – it’s not asking for status and producing late tasks report.
This is a list of 10 points to start your thought process, please share what else should be added. Hope to find out from your valuable contribution through comments. Thanks for reading.
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.
Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down – John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Press, 2010
Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t – Jeffrey Pfeffer, HarperBusiness, 2010
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.
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.
I have been a shy networker before. I attended the meetings/conferences with many business cards in my pocket but I rarely exchanged business cards and developed any new contact. I had good questions in my mind to ask but hoped that someone else would ask. It wasn’t working out for me.
After reading many books, studying other successful people and learning from some of my friends – I found out where I was failing. I was mainly staying in the group of people I knew. I had objective to gain from the event but not to contribute something in some way. I hoped someone else will show interest in me and will strike conversation and only phrase I used to initiate conversation was, “How are you today?”. I got rid of shyness, gain confidence and equipped with knowledge by knowing that we all have unique styles of interaction and capabilities. Asking question or solution proposed to clarify any issue will not only help me but many others. We all benefit from each other thru interaction. Now, one of my friend says, if I am not working then I am networking. I guess, its good compliment!
It’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference. – Anonymous
Networking is the must-have capability for any professional these days. We all need good networking skills and should take advantage of connections we develop at any professional symposium or meeting. Networking is absolutely the primary technique that is used to find new job opportunities, career transition or career advancement. While we all attend various meeting, active on LinkedIn (and social media) and attend seminars with networking as one of the objectives; but many times it is not accomplished that well.
Here are 7 points to keep in mind for effective networking at any event –
Setup your agenda for the event & find what unique perspective you bring.
Choose your sessions in advance if its multi session event and jot down your questions on the topic.
Arrive early to meet people; also participate in the sessions by asking questions or sharing your perspective.
Sit with strangers and introduce yourself – don’t wait for others to make move.
Initiate conversations – go beyond “Hi, how are you?”. Show interest in others and listen.
Share expertise and help people solve issues discussed, make note of what you offered to the new contact.
Follow-up with your new contacts after you get home.
I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles. I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience.
Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well. Be a brand that people want to associate with.
Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow; guide them if they fit somewhere else.
Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
Look after the welfare of your employees– the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need. Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
Keep everyone well informed – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume – aks and tell.
Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how; goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.
“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps
Thanks for reading and welcome your input. Have a great day.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was a great leader, lived his life for others and his words of wisdom have given direction to many. Doesn’t matter what we do or where we stand in life, these 7 mistakes, if committed will result in ruined life or career. These 7 mistakes are called 7 blunders of the world.
Who does not know Steve Jobs? His vision and life has made a huge impact on our generation. I came across this post. He shares his life lessons with students at Stanford in 2005. No doubt he is wonderful person around and I wish him good health.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.