Friday, November 8, 2013

Workshop on Leadership - Ace Designs

We did the first part of a four session program on leadership development for a group of Project Leads and Managers at ACE.

How important is leadership?
We tried to understand how important leadership was. Everyone agreed that it can make a 40-50% difference to a team performance.

The 3 stages of leadership.
1) Leadership by position - no process, insecure leader. Most become leaders like this without training and experience and have a negative effect on teams. They are either senior or better performing, but that does not make them a good leader.
They may make the team perform on par or in most cases, lose good members of the team and end up in the negative.

2) Leadership through some process - training, some idea of how to lead, a more secure position. This can be brought in by a basic understanding of what the leader should know, what the leader is expected to do and how.
By some training and understanding of the leadership process, these people can become more secure and perform better. There will be a small improvement in performance.

3) Inspirational leadership where the leader is secure and evolved. These type of leaders come with clarity and understanding and a genuine need to help people grow. Their team performs beyond expectations.

We decided that we would like to move from stage 1 to stage 2 and then try and understand stage 3 as well.

 Understanding the purpose
Once again we tried to understand the purpose of why we were there. Apart from the other answers, we zeroed down to the most basic one which was relevant to them as leaders.
 - They were all there in that position because the company thought them best fit to promote its goals and missions with their abilities and skills

1st responsibility
How do I best help the company achieve its goal?
This question brings three answers
- Giving my best as Project Leader
- Getting the team to give its best as a team
- Getting the team to give its best as individuals

Why Should I Do That?
This is where normally all companies get stuck. The all important WIFIM - or - What's In It For Me?

The concept that your individual growth is far more when the team grows was explained to them. The gains you get as an individual versus the gains you can get individually as the member of a successful team are very different. Examples of how ordinary employees in companies that grew large - Infosys, Lowe Lintas, IDBI, my own cricketing experience and rewards of winning the Ranji Trophy - were shared.

It was agreed that it is best that the team wins because it helps the individual grow much faster and much higher. It is therefore in everyone's individual interest as well that they be part of a successful team.

The Concept of Giving
We dwelt a bit on the concept of taking the higher risk. Of giving first. We looked at what 'giving' our best first without looking at the return can do - better performances, more learning, better decision making, taking more responsibility, increased confidence, better utilization of knowledge and skills. The concept of giving as a creative thought, as the thought of a leader was explained.
Leadership was about giving, about growing the team. It is about going beyond the normal give and take which stops teams and individuals at a petty level.

We understood how 'giving' grows both individual and the team and how focus on 'taking' limits and restricts the individual and the team. It is in their own interest that they learn to 'give' their best and grow.

The qualities of the Ideal Leader - As They Would Like Him To Be
Know the job
Man management
Decision maker
Clarity of thought
Good communicator
Tactically and strategically strong

Other qualities
Lead from the front
Deliver performances
Support and back team
Be action oriented
Give confidence
Transparent/ No double standards
Be open to suggestions
Be patient
Good teacher
Have team's and individual's interests at heart
Strict on work ethic
Creates a vibrant, interesting and challenging atmosphere

Once the list was made, I asked them to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 and see where they stand. One of them suggested feedback from their teams and I told them that if they felt confident enough to do that now, they could. All in all we saw the ideal manager and saw where we rank against him.
Now to find areas to prioritise and improve in the next session.


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