Tag Archives: CEO

Six leadership lessons highly worth learning from psychology of a physician

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Be your own physician?

We all know that medical practice in any field is a noble profession; but what is little known are unique lessons that we should learn from the mindset of a medical practitioner. We are talking about just a good physician, leave alone successful ones.

Let us look at what does psychology of a physician teach us:

  1. Managing conflict of interest
    Getting into medical profession entails lot of efforts, time and money worldwide. It is natural that motto of getting into this field for most is earning name, fame and wealth.
    It is also clear that every visit to or by a physician fetches a fee for him/her.
    Now, a physician is faced with conflict of interest – treat his/her patients or customers for self-interest or serve them selflessly. Good doctors would always manage this conflict by rising above self and greed, and serve customers keeping in mind their interests. They prescribe minimum medicines and pathological tests and discourage patients to make frequent visits. Many have grace to charge less fees from those, who can’t afford.
    Let us draw a parallel to above the stock options scheme in corporates for employees and top management. Such options have a singular motive of driving employees to perform well, so that company profitability improves, which in turn would reward employees with more options. But, when it comes to top management, conflict of interest creeps in – should company performance improve to increase value of his/her substantial stocks or should it improve to increase values for customers and employees, even if it means slight dent in company’s profitability? Many CEOs allegedly and subtly act in favor of the former – serving self-interest.
  2. Maximum availability
    A physician is available 24×7 to his/her patients, at least in India. Their work-life balance is heavily tilted towards work.
    I am not suggesting that it is good for them, although it is good for their customers. What is more significant lesson is that they don’t make any excuse for non-availability. Their dedication for duties is total.
  3. Memory management
    Did you notice that a good doctor’s memory is very good. He/she would remember history of his/her patients correctly, correct medicines’ name, spelling (usually complex), potency and names of manufacturers for innumerable number of ailments and case histories of other patients.
    What is the key – inbuilt sharper brain or they pop up some pills to sharpen their memory? Not any of these. It is registering the information without any conflict in mind and recalling it without any stress.
  4. Motto of service to customers
    A physician’s actions are completely oriented towards his/her customers and obtaining the results for which they have approached him/her. They never compromise their attitude to serve.
  5. Maximum confidence and concentration
    Successful practitioners give their advice or prescription with total confidence and rarely side or back track. Their focus on duties is deep.
    They are never shaken by patient’s condition, however adverse and do maintain their composure effortlessly. They are attached to their duties but detached from their customers while serving them unflinchingly.
  6. Marvelous understanding of their own body
    In leadership programs or schools, reference to this quality is by and large missing. It is extremely important to understand how you or your body would react to different situations, what triggers your emotions and how to manage the same.
    Doctors do very well on above count and hence, rarely fall sick or fall prey to sickening situations.
    A good leader needs to understand his/her body (including mind) well in order to be robust, consistent and persistent in his/her pursuits.

So, a good physician is a great case study at business schools and organizations!

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What drives you – Incentive or Inspiration?

When you are inspired! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Instantaneous response of majority would be that Inspiration is at the back of their drive; but in reality, it is Incentive!

Lot of people loves game of tambola (housie). If prizes of cash money are taken away, who would then like to play this game? Probably, none! So, is it liking for tambola or love for prizes?

I have seen lot of employees claiming that they are inspired to build their careers and competencies. But, that claim goes for a toss, if they don’t receive expected raise in salary and/or promotion. Fat variable pays or bonuses linked to performance have become a common practice with most companies across world. It is a key driver to achieve performance targets by employees, which is good! But, does that change the character and competence of an employee? It does not!

There are many powerful and pushy CEOs, under whose pressure employees lose sleep to strive and improve top and bottom lines of their companies! If employees perform, balance sheets of companies improve and so is shareholders’ value. That also results into increase in value of CEOs’ shareholding and bonuses!! It is difficult to figure out, how much interest in their own incentives encourages CEOs to push their employees or they do it out of their sacrosanct intentions or inspiration for good and growth of employees and company!

Few years back, I checked into a hotel of well-known international chain at Pittsburgh, USA. I was very pleased to see a slogan at reception – “Customer service is our inspiration”. It was a severe winter. In the middle of night, heating system of my room stopped working. Hotel front desk staff expressed their helplessness to repair it, as there was no technician available at that time nor they had any portable room heater. To my dismay, no vacant room was available. Next morning, I went to hotel general manager. He was very apologetic and tried to pacify me by waving off room charge for one night. I asked him is it how they are inspired by offering incentive to customers or do they really improve their services? He had no convincing answer to offer!

So, most of us tend to confuse drive due to incentive/s as inspiration!

How Incentive helps!

Incentive drives nearly whole world! Naturally, people see merits in incentives, some of which are:

  1. Incentive sets an objective target.
    It is the objective nature of incentive, which people are able to relate easily.
  2. Objective targets develop a desire to achieve.
    It is this desire, which creates a drive!
  3. It creates sense of purpose, though limited, and its direction.
    This brings great clarity in efforts required to get there.
  4. It promotes competitive spirit.
  5. It encourages team work, if target or incentive demands so.
  6. It induces hard work and faster learning.

How Incentive hurts!

But, drive by incentive has its down sides:

  1. Incentive is always aimed at you and hence, it creates paradigm of self-serving!
  2. When you get used to drive by incentive, then you lose self-drive.
    In practical life, all work cannot be incentive oriented. So, when incentive is absent, you tend to lay back or find your work monotonous.
  3. Incentive creates a limited purpose and hence your vision also becomes limited!
  4. For the risk of losing, you would be tempted to take known routes in your work and hence, your competencies would not broaden.
  5. If you lose incentive, despite your drive, your disappointment and disillusionment would be drastic and draining!
  6. It promotes total materialism!
  7. When you work for incentive, you have to brace for hope and despair, win and loss! Many times, quantum of incentive may not be commensurate with quantum of efforts required and you may then lose drive!!

How Inspiration changes the game!

There is copious confusion over what inspiration is! Many think it is motivation; some believe it is drive generated by emotions or incentives. It is none of these. Inspiration is a state of mind triggered by a singular thought to perform an activity or achieve a goal, which is beyond you. This state translates into unique focus and force with total dedication, decisiveness without any doubt, dithering or conflict of thoughts/interest!

Look at how inspiration makes a difference:

  1. Inspiration is a driving as well as a guiding force!
  2. It is impossible that inspiration can ever fail you to reach your goal!!
  3. It makes you supremely confident and conscious.
  4. Inspiration makes you highly innovative.
  5. It creates self-drive and makes you man of initiatives.
  6. Inspiration has positive influence on results of your efforts!
  7. When you are inspired, you don’t have to chase incentives; they chase you.
  8. As inspiration takes you “beyond you”, your vision becomes very broad.
  9. Your learning becomes very broad and solid.
  10. Inspiration invariably excels you in every endeavor you make!

World has plenty of motivational speakers and writers. But, the real need is for inspirational speakers and preachers. That would make our society very different and decent.

Inspiration is a true game changer! So, why not go for it and learn how to get inspired?

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Why profit or power pushes you near God; but loss pulls you down near grave!

Inherent strength makes Fall & Rise equally invigorating! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Is not it ironical that inherently all leadership laurels, saintly sermons, pious preaching and quotable quotes revolve around values, virtues and quality; yet our addiction and admiration for profit and power always reign supreme? If a CEO of a company takes fat salary and bonus, a promoter garners millions of dollars of fund in initial public offering of his start-up, top boss manages his company to make handsome profit or a political leader ascends to high power, media, press and general public would adore and elevate him next to the God, go gaga for what he speaks, wears or eats. Have you not observed that such persons, who sit on profit and/or power, are being made by media and press heroes of nation, saviors of societies and even visionaries of Universe? Are such sycophancies justified simply for reasons of money and muscles of power? May be that media and press are unable to sell their stories to common public without bringing profit and power in limelight! But then, same media or press would raise flag against sycophancy and be seen as upholder of moral values!! So, there is a big contradiction!!!

Let us assume that some of above leaders or bosses are indeed deserving but unable to deliver in difficult time, what happens then? Everyone would simply dump them! Most of personal growth materials, motivational discourses or moral essays talk of success and failure as two sides of the same coin i.e. life; but it goes for a toss, when it comes to exhibiting or executing it in open. We seem to be only concerned with what would sell to fraternity and get us profit and publicity! Is that not true?

We always love to talk and read about story of a successful person when he or she has got success after failure. However, we write off same person, when he/she fails after success! Is not it an intellectual bankruptcy that we term failure an opportunity; but fight shy of welcoming it or at least talk of how that person is fighting a failure and surviving to get success?

Look at events of charity held in most countries. These are generally presided over by who are popular or powerful, but not charitable! It seems it is public, which supports cause of who holds chair or cosmetic charisma; rest is secondary and is good for lip service!

Further, you can observe some of leaders, who have lost power. They appear dejected and disillusioned. They seem to have forgotten that loss is meant to revitalize and resurge. They might be the ones, who orchestrated that power is poison! So what is the deal, if power is lost? Contradiction is also true of employees in most organizations – if their bête noire becomes their boss, suddenly they would not only like to become his blue eyed boys/girls, but also idolize him! Present generation of employees believes in high standards of conduct but would not hesitate to clap for sub-standard expressions or writings, if coming from bosses!!

Research shows that what you support would also swarm you! So, if you are a party to contradiction like above, it would also become part of your life taking you through cycles of success and setback, highs and lows!!

Points to ponder!

Shake your conscience; most likely you would not like the above state, which our society has come to. Please challenge yourself with following questions:

  1. Unknowingly, have you started following double standards?
  2. Though you talk of virtues; do you walk with vices?
  3. Has “living in contradiction” become part of your character?

How about trashing any or all on the above, if true? Take a constructive and consistent view of every situation and you would turn a new leaf in your life! You would usher in change the way you think and do things, like never before!!

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Sure signs, if long term health of organization you serve is not sound!

When Organization is in sound health! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Is not it a sound idea to check time to time how sound is the long term health of the organization, you are serving or managing? If yes, top management as well as employees could do well to make following reality checks and then seek a change or solution:

  1. Top rated performers leave organization earlier than 10 years for better prospects or serve it for more than 10 years in same unit or hierarchy.
    If an organization can’t offer challenging and attractive roles to its top performers and can’t retain them for at least 10 years, either its management lacks sparks or policies are not solid!
    But the problem could be much more serious, if top performers continue to serve in the same unit or hierarchy beyond 10 years! Either top performers are not truly top ones and it is a faulty appraisal system or they were top rated in earlier years and have got into comfort zones or become lax in recent years!! If someone is a strong performer, it is unlikely that he/she would not seek a change within or outside of the company.
    Every organization’s dynamics demand that role of their high performers remain dynamic!
  2. Under-performers have not improved in max. of 5 years.
    If such employees do not better their performance within 5 years, then company is heavily short of leaders and strong human resource manager. It also shows lackadaisical practices of the organization to accept under-performers (with no sign of change) and less effective bosses or supervisors, who are unable to inspire improvements!
  3. In good times, organization is growing only vertically.
    In boom time of sales or profit or both, if a company confines its growth in same business segment or product range and does not carve out forays into adjacent areas or horizontal growth, it spells faulty business strategy. It is bound to become vulnerable and top heavy in the ensuing years, only to get toppled!
  4. In bad times, company does not or has constraints to invest in inorganic growth.
    A well-managed company has to have contrarian or opportunistic approach. Be bold when going is bad! Grow when time is grim!!
    In a bad economy, bargain buys are possible. If companies do not convert challenges into opportunities, it signifies lack of foresight by management or weak financial muscles even after having had good times.
  5. Management cadre does not visit customers, who don’t have currently new projects or business proposals.
    Most company executives chase fruit of business, when it is ripe, rather than investing time and efforts to sow seeds of business, when ground is fertile and customer would plan to plough his profit. Such companies miss competitive advantage and lose firm feet to walk away with business.
  6. CEO or head of unit is not among first few to come to work in morning.
    Top bosses are trend setters for their employees. If they do not practice what they preach, employees are unlikely to take them seriously.
    So, organizations, where bosses do not lead by examples, do become laggards!
  7. Human Resource Manager (HR) believes in penalizing rather than promoting employee values.
    In many companies, what HR advocates, it does not administer, especially when it comes to empathy, addressing grievances or development of weaker performers.
    It is important for HR to act like a promoter of compliances, rather than administrator of rules and regulations. Its primary focus should be to develop employees, rather than making efforts to retain. Will it not serve as a terrific tonic for company’s health?
  8. More than 10% of employees on an average work for 2 hours beyond normal work hours on any day.
    Does not it imply that company rewards extra work hours more than smart work? It is also an indicator of skewed work-life balance of employees.
  9. More than 5% of supervisors perennially evoke their position or lung power to get things done rather than encouraging employees to be passionate in discharging their duties.
    Practically speaking, even 5% supervisors in this category can make company’s water muddy; but it is hoped that they can be mentored to change their style.
  10. More than 20% of employees do not wear natural smiles on their faces!
    Natural smile reflects satisfaction level among employees and enviable environments of company!!
  11. Management has no bent of mind to ensure that company premises and utilities are kept up-to-date.
  12. Ex-employees do not feel enthusiastic to pay visit to company; nor management shows any care or concern about them.

Good news is that above indicators are fully reversible. It is imperative for management and employees to comprehend these in time and have courage to make corrections! This would then raise company’s credibility and make it a happy and healthy family like!!

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Beauty and Banes of becoming or being Big!

 

Size and figures matter to all of us. Notion of what size or figures are appropriate or optimal varies from things to things. We would try to explore whether there could be a universal definition or norm for what is right.

Companies, which are small in size, find it hard to survive in face of bigger ones. When these companies start to do it right, they get success and grow to become big. But, things that they do to get success are precisely what are put by them on the back burner after becoming big! This is what has happened with several companies like Dell, Ford Motor, Siemens, BlackBerry etc.

What is orchestrated below may not be new; but what is surely new is extent of damage the banes can do to the beauty of an organization or even individual!

What bring small size a success

Everything is small in size to start with. Size should not deter anyone to pursue what delivers results. Experience shows that if small organizations focus on following, apart from sound skills and initiative, success do chase them:

  1. Personalized touch
  2. Flexibility to changes
  3. Identifying with customer issues
  4. More listening and less leaving things to chances
  5. Courtesy and openness

So, if you do it right, reward comes as a matter of your right. No one can prevent you to grow and take a prime position.

Blooms and glooms of becoming big

Becoming big has a beauty and bliss! It has a trail of success stories. There are many positive aspects – cost competitiveness, growing opportunities, talent development and several others. I would sum up these in just 2 points – a. Ability to set trends and traditions b. Breadth of product range and depth of services.

But, nature does not allow anything to survive unipolar! So, a beauty has its ugly side too; right is accompanied with wrong and positive can’t exist without negative. So, a big size organization (or even an individual having big image) has its share of shortcomings. Things like greater inertia due to hierarchies and structures, loss of transparency, life becoming more mechanical and rule oriented, work-life imbalance, financial figures and on line forms ruling more than 80% of employees’ life, rivalries and politics are some among many, which big size companies struggle with. Let us deal with 3 issues, which in fact mushroom into many.

Loss of Simplicity

Complexities increase in direct proportion to the size! It is very difficult to “keep it simple”, despite sermons of top CEOs.

Organization’s structure and systems to quality assurance assume a complex form with increasing size. After all, there are experts for everything and their jobs can’t be justified without making things complicated. Loss of simplicity is gain for inertia and loss in decision making.

Problems of one bring privileges for another! This is how consulting firms have also become big in backyard of their big clients!

Loss of human touch

This is single biggest cause of employee frustration.

I have been privy to 2 organizations growing from smaller scale to large scale. Employees in these organizations increasingly found their top bosses inaccessible. Feedback system and most development programs going online stimulated their isolation and fury. Their fate would hinge on a single yearly appraisal system. Story is no less grim on touch with customers and hence market!

Gain of arrogance and ego

Let us face this bitter reality – size of ego and arrogance of many employees, especially with sales and marketing or customer facing functions, goes hand in hand with size of the organization they serve! If successful organizations start to face heat and heap of problems, this is one major factor to blame!!

Supervisors and subordinates alike are vociferous in defending their delays, slippages and mistakes. Moreover, as an example, I have observed employees of big consulting firms exploiting faith put on them by their customers, securing business by creating fear psychosis and demanding undue premium on their services. Fault, no doubt, also lies with those organizations, which have love for size, but not skills; swear by name, but not by merit!

How to accentuate Beauty!

Most companies worldwide boast of hosting numerous programs for development of leadership, personality and various other attributes. Factually, these are all aimed at developing a style but not a character. It is for this reason that these programs trigger euphoria but not a change.

What we need is a program to build character of every employee, whose output should be measured by “degree of Seriousness, Simplicity and Sincerity”. It is absolutely plausible to do it.

When this is done, size of an organization would not matter. Imagine charisma of a beauty (of any organization or individual), which is preserved without time line; but its banes managed all the time!

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