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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Focus on Outcome and Invest in Process

October 19, 2010

“What do you have to get in order to be happy?” is the question Dr. Srikumar asks.

I found this talk on TED where he asks to plug into our hard-wired happiness.  We spend most of our lives learning to be unhappy, even as we strive for happiness. The way we learn to be unhappy is because we buy into a mental model.  When we accept the universe as it is at that moment happiness occurs.  Listen to the talk where he answers the question that he use to open his speech. Dr. Srikumar stresses to focus on outcome and invest in process and not the vice versa which is prevalent.

Some time ago I read Dr. Srikumar S Rao’s ‘Are you ready to succeed?’.  It was one of the best book that had big impact on my thinking and living. I think you will enjoy it.

Here is the complete speech on TED : http://www.ted.com/talks/srikumar_rao_plug_into_your_hard_wired_happiness.html


Quotes for Leaders

July 29, 2010
  • In risk, if you perform, it produces great opportunities. John Hammergren, CEO McKesson Corp
  • You just can’t get too focused on what’s going to happen in the next quarter. You have to worry about where the business is headed long-term.  James Sinegal, Founder & CEO Costco
  • If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. Jack Welch, Chairman & CEO GE
  • Capital isn’t scarce; vision is. Sam Walton, Founder Wal-Mart
  • Sometimes size is an asset. Sometimes, it’s a liability. Marco Provera, Chairman & CEO Pirelli Group
  • Communication is the only task you cannot delegate. Roberto Goizueta, Chairman & CEO Coca-Cola

Community Leadership – Lessons Learned

March 3, 2010

How do you play shows some of your character, how do you win or lose shows all of it. – Anonymous

For last couple of months, I have been quite busy with community leadership related work.  I had an opportunity to mentor and advise leadership team on the issue that was dividing the community. I  also had to stand up against the group of people whom I found was neither acting fairly nor was impartial. Per my research, it was abuse of power and leadership role.

It is now over and resolved satisfactorily, but it was a learning experience for me and I would like to share my lessons that I have gathered from both sides, without referencing to any incident.  One side was new and young group of individuals who was selected to lead the community and other group had been in control for over 16 years was not giving up the power and resisting the change.

When I reflect on my decision to support the new and young group get their right, I feel great that I could serve the community. 

Here are some of the common sense lessons I learned from both sides of the issue –

  1. As with each problem, understand the issue; background of politics & people involved and their agendas;
  2. Always be fair, remain truthful and act impartial towards all – if you want to be really helpful;
  3. Read any relevant document being referred; do not just believe what is being told;
  4. Don’t sit on the fence and enjoy conflict, become active if you are passionate about the issue and can contribute;
  5. Talk to leaders and offer your help to mediate; negotiate with win-win mental model;
  6. Not every effort to resolve issue will be welcomed, negotiations will fail miserably, stay hopeful – any conflict has its own life cycle as well;
  7. Expect rumors, allegations and indirect threats – do not waste all of your energy on addressing these;
  8. Talk to community members, educate about the issue, tell the truth and share the facts;
  9. Keep all doors open for compromise; find out what price are you willing to pay to keep community together;
  10. Find influencers in the community, get them on your side and ask for help, validate your interpretation of the issue;
  11. Do not quit or bend against pressure if you know you are standing for the truth and justice, you will face lots of pressure and many curve balls;
  12. Whatever you negotiate, offer or communicate, make in writing;
  13. Do not go negative; don’t get involved with personal attacks on opposite group;
  14. Deliver response to any negative propaganda with facts and positive tone – remember truth is like the Sun and false propaganda as clouds, the Sun will eventually shine, the truth will always prevail;
  15. Do not get into reactive mode, expect urge to say negative – but control it;
  16. Remember truth has to go through tough test before it wins;
  17. Keep your head high, keep thinking positive and stay visible in community or group;
  18. Always remember that difference of opinion is natural human behavior, other people might be thinking you are wrong;
  19. Seek lawyer’s help if needed, you need to get involved in fund-raising, planning course of action is key to success;
  20. Do not twist the facts, do not talk out of context, do not exhibit attitude towards people who aren’t agreeing with your opinion;
  21. Always seek advice of people who can tell the truth and fact of the matter, not your supporters only who speak your mind and tell you one-sided story;
  22. If what you hear is truth and is contrary to your belief, consult and reflect that you are not manipulating the situation;
  23. Establish a core group who offers views of issues without any prejudice;
  24. Listen to truth and act upon it, keep your mind open to everything but attached to nothing;
  25. Do your best in every circumstance even if no one is watching you, do not do things to impress others;
  26. Expect victory if you are truthful, impartial, positive, open and just towards all;
  27. Do not give advice to score point or take credit, keep it simple and make it team effort;
  28. Expect confusion in your group, keep all informed and motivated;
  29. Once you get what you want, do not demean other group but let it go;
  30. It will take some time to heal the divide, but keep focused on delivering value to community;
  31. Do not cling to power but work on empowering others to lead;
  32. Power is to serve community not to rule, you may have to make tough decisions;
  33. When you are serving as a leader, it’s not walking on red carpet – you are there to take on challenges; and
  34. Any choice or decision should be based on good for all not only for you.

When I talked about the issue in my community with friends in other communities, all told me one or other kind of similar story in their community or organization.  I hope my lessons will help or guide someone someday.

Thanks for your visit and comments on the post.


5 Quotes for Leaders

January 14, 2010
 

  

  1. Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.  – Tom Landry
  2. People ask the difference between a leader and a boss . . . The leader leads, and the boss drives. -Theodore Roosevelt
  3. Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. – Karl Popper
  4. Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy. – H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  5. The man whose authority is recent is always stern. – Aeschylus

  

 

 


Quotes from Twitter

December 9, 2009

I am on Twitter (follow me) and its very useful tool.  I review tweets on my Nokia E71 Smartphone during my lunch break and keep myself updated.

I get to read very interesting and inspiring quotes along with information that people share on Twitter; and I also thought of sharing some quotes with my readers.  Here they are:

  1. You have three choices 1) complain 2) walk the extra mile or 3) create your own highway. – Rajesh Setty/@UpbeatNow
  2. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department generally uses water. @mlomb
  3. If God didn’t want us to smile, he would have given us black teeth. @NarinderSingh
  4. Countless studies suggest that much more often than not, people reciprocate. So give, smile, love and help. @sanderssays
  5. Have courage. It permits you to accomplish things even when they take longer than you thought. That’s what life is all about. @kenblanchard

Let me know what your thoughts are and if you are on Twitter.  Thanks.


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.


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