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
Advertisements

Elected President of the Chapter

September 28, 2010

I am extremely pleased by the confidence that Board has expressed in me to take PMI-GLC to next level of volunteer and stakeholder engagement, trusting me with opportunity to formulate and lead operational vision, strategy and direction while working on to provide higher membership. 

Last night at Skyline Club in the board meeting, I was elected president for 2012 term by Board of Directors of Great Lakes Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI – GLC), one of the largest project management member association in Michigan.   I will serve as President Elect for 2011.  I have been involved with the chapter earlier as Direct of Webservices and then as Vice President of Communications.

I look forward to enhancing our strategic relationships with organization and businesses leaders to highlight the importance and benefits of Project Management and role PMI-GLC plays in the region.  I hope to engage more stakeholders to broaden our network of practitioners, while continuing to support a passionate and dedicated volunteer community.

I would encourage all professionals to get involved in their community or professional organizations, it benefits both, the volunteer and the community/organization.  And, if you are a professional living/working  in Michigan or Metro Detroit area, please get in touch with PMI-GLC at www.pmiglc.org.  Let find out how can we make project and program management work for your community, organization or for you.


Building Brand Through Follow-up Actions

June 10, 2010

Everyday we make so many commitments talking near water cooler, during networking event, in a meetings or over the phone.  Some of our commitments are urgent and important and we follow-up properly.  There are other few commitments that we know are not so important for us or our job since we made those casually by saying that, ” I will get back to you on this” ….. and then we drop the ball. 

While searching my twitter handle using online tool called topsy.com, I found out that Tim Sanders had selected my retweet and asked to have him contacted (How a retweet can enrich your library) to give out a book.  This was a contest he ran during September 2009, and I found out about results in May 2010.  I follow Tim on Twitter and had retweeted him.

Anyhow, I sent him a note in May 2010 referencing the contest and asking if I can still get the book although I was very late to contact?  Guess what, I got an email from Tim enquiring about my mailing address so that he can ship me the book.  I provided it and almost forgot about it.

Few days ago, I got another email from Tim checking if I have received the book or not?  I actually have not.  But the point is taking the time to follow-up.  This follow-up raised Tim’s stock in my mind even higher.

Going the extra mile (by a person who might be super busy and owes nothing in return) reflects that person practices what he preaches. He is true to his brand.

Here are 4 points to remind us on closing the loop on our commitments we make casually – 

  1. Always make a note of your commitments: I keep a small notebook handy and make a note against a hand drawn box that can be checked (kind of to-do list).
  2. Prioritize and record follow-up action: I evaluate what can wait and what should be attended right away based on my schedule.
  3. Take the action or delegate it: Do it and check the box on notebook by recording observations.
  4. Check that commitment is fulfilled: This is what I will be implementing.  I will follow-up after I fulfill the commitment. If you delegated the task, verify that person delivered the results.

If you have made a commitment and its low in priority or you have found out that you can no longer fulfill it, just inform the person expecting from you and close the loop.  Remember to follow-up and close the loop.  Do not leave anything with loose ends. I guess this is one of the key ingredient to build brands.


7 Step to Effective Networking At Any Event – For Starters

April 26, 2010

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 –

  1. Setup your agenda for the event & find what unique perspective you bring.
  2. Choose your sessions in advance if its multi session event and jot down your questions on the topic.
  3. Arrive early to meet people; also participate in the sessions by asking questions or sharing your perspective.
  4. Sit with strangers and introduce yourself – don’t wait for others to make move.
  5. Initiate conversations – go beyond “Hi, how are you?”.  Show interest in others and listen.
  6. Share expertise and help people solve issues discussed, make note of what you offered to the new contact.
  7. Follow-up with your new contacts after you get home.

Other Useful Link –

http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_12_Tips_for_Shy_People


Power of Social Media and Customer Service

November 11, 2009

You might have heard that someone got very bad customer service one day and no one would resolve the complaint at this company.  This person gets upset by the treatment received and decides to write a complaint letter to the president of the company.  In few weeks he receives a note and the issue is resolved by president’s interference.  Everyone gets back to business and few people in the town heard of the story and thats it.

Now go to Web 2.0, someone got bad customer service and received no reasonable response  to the complaint.  This consumer feels mis-treated as his complaint is not treated fairly.  This person sings a complaint song, and shares it on YouTube.   Word about this customer service story circulates the internet through the song shared on YouTube, people in millions watch it and it hurts the organization’s bottom line (over $100 millions) and the brand.  And then this individual gets an apology from the company and complain finally gets  resolved.

This is the power of social media if used correctly. It works both ways.

Here is the complete story  about singer Dave Carroll incident and whose guitar was broken by United Airlines (Link to Huffington Post story) . Watch the  song. 

Here are some key points (and some Customer Service/Help Desk experts can add more) –

  1. Consumer expects good service all the time, although doesn’t give reward or recognize it publically, but indirectly rewards by doing business again and again.
  2. Consumer is generally prepared to handle good and bad customer service; in case of bad service, do not expect more business.
  3. Consumer is wowed by exceptional service only and you can find 5-star reviews online and strong brand following is built/maintained. Facebook Fan page and twitter following of brand can tell something.
  4. Consumer is offended by horrible customer service.  You can find 1-star reviews online and some dedicated websites to complain about product, brand or service can be found.  Some may get creative like David Carroll and make a dent on your brand.
  5. If not sure how to handle the complaint or issue, do not just say No.  Let your boss help you.
  6. If you face customers, genuine attitude determines consumer behaviour to a bigger extent.

I have noticed that consumer tolerance to bad service is inversely proportional to size of brand or organization.  Bigger the brand or name of the organization, higher the expectation of consumer in terms of service.

 Here is another blogger with the same story- http://adgablog.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/how-to-ruin-a-reputation-in-4-days-on-youtube/

What are your thoughts, please share.  Have a great day.


How does it go up the communication chain?

October 15, 2009

In the beginning was the plan, and then the specification.

And the plan was without form, and the specification was void.

And the darkness was upon the faces of the implementors;
And they spoke unto their managers, saying: “It is a crock of cow manure, and it stinketh.

And their manager went to the second level manager, and he spake unto him, saying: “It is a crock of excrement, and none may abide the odor thereof.

And the second level manager went to the third level, and he spake unto him saying: “It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide before it.

And the third level went to the division manager, and he spake unto him, saying: “It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength.

And the division manager went to the assistant vice-president, and he spake unto him, saying: “It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong.

And the assistant vice-president went to the vice-president, and he spake unto him, saying: “It promoteth growth and it is very powerful.

And the vice-president went before the president and spake unto him, saying: “This powerful new product will promote growth of the company.

And the president looked upon the product and saw that “It was good!

What lessons can we draw from this funny tale?  I am interested to know.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Reference- ‘Project Planning, Scheduling & Control’ by James P Lewis, Irwin Professional Publishing, Burr Ridge, IL.


11 Principles of Leadership

August 20, 2009

 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. 

  1. 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.
  2. Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.


%d bloggers like this: