You carry five balls in the air; all but one is made of glass. Glass is health, family, friends, spirituality. Rubber is career. Juggle well.
Be passionate but not emotional.
Master hard skills early in your career. Master soft skills to get ahead later in your career.
Know when to ask questions – sometimes in a group, sometimes one-on-one. There is big difference in perception and outcome in these two situations.
Always do what you say you will do.
Take lunch – you are not that important.
Read the cover of sports page every day (no joke!).
I was reading Canadian Business magazine‘s The Next Power Elite cover story and found these gems at the bottom of the page. I could not resist sharing with my readers. Credit for the content goes to August-September issue of Canadian Business.
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 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.
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.
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 –
As with each problem, understand the issue; background of politics & people involved and their agendas;
Always be fair, remain truthful and act impartial towards all – if you want to be really helpful;
Read any relevant document being referred; do not just believe what is being told;
Don’t sit on the fence and enjoy conflict, become active if you are passionate about the issue and can contribute;
Talk to leaders and offer your help to mediate; negotiate with win-win mental model;
Not every effort to resolve issue will be welcomed, negotiations will fail miserably, stay hopeful – any conflict has its own life cycle as well;
Expect rumors, allegations and indirect threats – do not waste all of your energy on addressing these;
Talk to community members, educate about the issue, tell the truth and share the facts;
Keep all doors open for compromise; find out what price are you willing to pay to keep community together;
Find influencers in the community, get them on your side and ask for help, validate your interpretation of the issue;
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;
Whatever you negotiate, offer or communicate, make in writing;
Do not go negative; don’t get involved with personal attacks on opposite group;
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;
Do not get into reactive mode, expect urge to say negative – but control it;
Remember truth has to go through tough test before it wins;
Keep your head high, keep thinking positive and stay visible in community or group;
Always remember that difference of opinion is natural human behavior, other people might be thinking you are wrong;
Seek lawyer’s help if needed, you need to get involved in fund-raising, planning course of action is key to success;
Do not twist the facts, do not talk out of context, do not exhibit attitude towards people who aren’t agreeing with your opinion;
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;
If what you hear is truth and is contrary to your belief, consult and reflect that you are not manipulating the situation;
Establish a core group who offers views of issues without any prejudice;
Listen to truth and act upon it, keep your mind open to everything but attached to nothing;
Do your best in every circumstance even if no one is watching you, do not do things to impress others;
Expect victory if you are truthful, impartial, positive, open and just towards all;
Do not give advice to score point or take credit, keep it simple and make it team effort;
Expect confusion in your group, keep all informed and motivated;
Once you get what you want, do not demean other group but let it go;
It will take some time to heal the divide, but keep focused on delivering value to community;
Do not cling to power but work on empowering others to lead;
Power is to serve community not to rule, you may have to make tough decisions;
When you are serving as a leader, it’s not walking on red carpet – you are there to take on challenges; and
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.
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) –
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.
Consumer is generally prepared to handle good and bad customer service; in case of bad service, do not expect more business.
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.
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.
If not sure how to handle the complaint or issue, do not just say No. Let your boss help you.
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.