Thursday, February 23, 2006

Innovation, candor and leadership

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, February 23, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Innovation, candor and leadership

One important enabler of Innovation and candor is leadership.

I am happy to find this book, Wisdom of a Young CEO, at Book Sale, written two years ago by 17-year-old Douglas Barry who aspires to be a chief executive officer of a major corporation. As he set started his journey toward his enormous goal, he sought the advice of men and women who have reached the peak of the corporate mountain. He sent letters to top executives of more than 150 major corporations, asking them the basic question: What does it take to become a CEO?

Barry said the respondents are those whose names we read about in newspapers every day and were themselves just kids once with big dreams. “Most of them were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. All of them faced great adversity and achieved even greater accomplishments in their own unique ways.” And here are some lessons he learned from today’s titans of industry.

“I always had the impression that ‘the boss’ was someone to be respected and feared, because if you get ‘the boss’ upset, you’ll lose your job.

“Respect, I believed, was mostly reserved for and given to the person in charge. I also thought respect in the workplace was a one-way street, with all of it going in the boss’s direction and none coming back toward the employees. But I have learned through these letters that, to get people motivated to reach for individual goals and to share in an overall vision, the leader has to respect others to receive it back from them. Only by being conscious of employees’ needs and challenges, and serving them, will the leader in turn earn their people’s respect.

“Also, as these letters echo again and again, it’s clear that it is the average workers and not the higher-up executives that make an organization prosper or fail. The leader who does not recognize this fact is in for a tough time.

“Mr. Jack Greenberg offered an interesting spin on the leadership position that resonated with me. He used an interesting metaphor to explain how a leader’s visible accomplishments are only possible with the behind-the-scenes support of his or her team. And he made it clear that these ‘invisible’ team heroics can only be expected when the leader is well respected. As successful CEO’s will tell you, a well-respected leader becomes such in only one way; by earning it. In other words, if you respect and treat people as individuals and get them to respect you, they will do amazing things for you, and for themselves.”

The problem with some leaders is that they consider all contrary opinions as an attack to their person and an insult to their position. They command, without giving, respect.

Well, such leaders will never learn and will never benefit from the fruits of the diverse talents, temperaments, persuasions, inclinations, preferences, methods, background and dreams of their peers and subordinates. They will always be busy answering perceived “accusations” and campaigning for sympathies.

Congratulations to the new officers of the Philippine Society of Fellows in Personnel Management: President Barbie Atienza, Secretary Lulu Fernando, Treasurer Danny Pancho, PRO EG Ong and IPP Lucy Tarriela. I am vice president.

PSOF is the association of accredited personnel and human resource management practitioners and whose level of professional competence are certified by the accreditation council and recognized through professional titles FPM and DPM.

The Board of Accreditation is led by Chairman Met Ganuelas and Vice Chair Lourdes Orosa, with members Oscar Contreras, Ernesto Espinosa, Salvacion Estrada, Ramon Medina, Virginia Mendoza, Luz Co-Lagitao and Rogelio Flor Tarriela. In 25 years, PSOF has recognized about 140 Fellows. All HR practitioners are enjoined to apply for accreditation and recognition.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. Her e-mail addy is

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