Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why we should go home on time

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, March 30, 2006

Let me share with you this e-mail from Meralco Executive Ernie Cabral.

Narayana Murthy is undoubtedly one of the most famous persons from Karnataka. He is known not just for building the biggest IT Empire in India but also for his simplicity. Almost every important dignitary visits InfoSys campus. He is one of the 50 Influential People of Asia according to Asiaweek and also the new IT advisor to the Thailand Prime Minister.

Extract of Mr. Narayana Murthy’s Speech during Mentor Session in another IT company in India: I know people who work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, or more. Some people do so because of a work emergency where the long hours are only temporary. Other people I know have put in these hours for years. I don’t know if they are working all these hours, but I do know they are in the office this long. Others put in long office hours because they are addicted to the workplace.

Whatever the reason for putting in overtime, working long hours over the long term is harmful to the person and to the organization. Being in the office long hours, over long periods of time, makes way for potential errors. My colleagues who are in the office long hours frequently make mistakes caused by fatigue.

Correcting these mistakes requires their time as well as the time and energy of others. I have seen people work Tuesday through Friday to correct mistakes made after 5 p.m. on Monday. Another problem is that people who are in the office long hours are not pleasant company. They often complain about other people; they are irritable, cranky, or even angry. Other people avoid them. Such behavior poses problems, where work goes much better when people work together instead of avoiding one another.

As leaders, there are things we can do to help people leave the office. First is to set the example and go home ourselves. I work with a manager who chides people for working long hours. His words quickly lose their meaning when he sends these chiding group e-mails with a time-stamp of 2 a.m., Sunday.

Second is to encourage people to put some balance in their lives. Here are helpful guidelines:

• Wake up early, eat a good breakfast and go to work.
• Work hard and smart for eight or nine hours.
• Go home.
• Read the books/comics, watch a funny movie, dig in the dirt, play with your kids, etc.
• Eat well and sleep well.

This is called recreating. Doing steps 1, 3, 4 and 5 enable step 2. Working regular hours and recreating daily are simple concepts. They are hard for some of us because that require “personal change.” They are possible since we all have the power to choose to do them.

In considering the issue of overtime, perhaps some people put in such long hours because they don’t want to miss anything when they leave the office. The trouble with this is that events will never stop happening. That is life! Things happen 24 hours a day. Allowing for little rest is not ultimately practical.

So, take a nap. Things will not happen while you’re asleep, but you will have the energy to catch up when you wake.

Hence, love your job, but never fall in love with your company because you never know when the company stops loving you.

Apt reminder from Mr. Murthy, indeed. It is summertime, get off your office chair and get out with your family and friends. There are so many places to visit and enjoy here in our lovely Philippines.

ASTD 2006: Aside from Jack Welch, other interesting speakers and topics at the American Society for Training & Development International Conference and Exposition are: Ken Blanchard on Leading at a Higher Level; Sharon Jordan-Evans, Improve Workplace Satisfaction; Mette Norgaard, Stories @ Work and R. Roosevelt Thomas, Taking Diversity to the Next Level. Email or call 0917-8996653 for details on how to attend the conference.

Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. Her e-mail add is

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Leaders leading leaders

Business Times, p.B2
Thursday, March 23, 2006

“Success is not counted by how high you have climbed, but by how many you have brought with you.” Will Rose

Many times we find ourselves in a position where we lead other leaders—in our family, business, civic, church, social organizations. A ticklish and very challenging situation, indeed.

Author Jeswald Salacuse wrote in his book Leading Leaders, “The leaders you are called upon to lead may be other executives, highly educated experts, investors, board members, government officials, doctors, lawyers, or other professionals. The potential contributions of these elites to any organization are vital, but the likelihood of friction is also high you don’t manage relationships carefully. In any case, they are people with significant resources—and strong opinions. How do you leverage the assets of the talented and powerful while making sure that egos remain unbruised?”

Of course, we have read about Morgan Stanley’s Philip Purcell, Hewlett-Packard’s Carly Fiorina, and Disney’s Michael Eisner who were put out to the curb by their boards—ostensibly because of failed strategies, shareholder lawsuits, and missed earnings. However, according to Linda Tischler (Fast Company September 2005), on close scrutiny, it was really their management styles that tripped them up.

Tischler writes, “Purcell was an autocrat who treated his own employees with contempt. Eisner was smart and creative, but also paranoid and unwilling to share power. And while Fiorina was great on the hustings—the queen of keynote—she was so inept at minding business back at the mothership that her successor, the consummately hands-on Mark Hurd, is being heralded as the ‘anti-Carly said.’

“Fiorina and her ilk certainly didn’t lack management style. It’s just that their styles have fallen out of fashion. Boards have been burned too often by self-proclaimed titans whose personalities so dominate an organization that they shut out alternative challenging points of view. So charisma is out. Imperiousness is so five minutes ago. Autumn’s hot look for bosses is the ability to rally the troops behind the organization’s mission and objectives. Heard of it? It’s called leadership.”

The new model, says Sydney Finkelstein, professor of strategy and leadership at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and an expert on why leaders fail, is someone with “the highest ethical standards, who can lead by example, and who can build a strong effective team around him or her. Those are the hot buttons now, rather than the cowboy riding in to provide the magic answer for the company.”

I say that the true leader is not the leader who goes around saying, “We started with a big bang, and we’ll finish with the loudest bang.” In the case of Purcell, Fiorina and Eisner, the big bang finish was the sound of their fall. Leaders who are led are not amused of the bang, bang, bang and are not a bit afraid of it. Leaders of leaders need to give equal importance to bottom-line results, customer satisfaction, internal process and human satisfaction indicators. Balanced Scorecard, remember? People in the organization—leaders and those who are led—are the enablers of any organizational success. In moments of truth, people can make or unmake your organization.

Successful organizations have leaders of leaders who inspire respect, loyalty and even affection, rather than fear according to Tishcler. “They are the CEOs who are farsighted, tolerant, humane, and practical. And they have the courage of their idealistic convictions. And if these too-good-to-be-true paragons can also deliver the goods, it’ll be the best change in management style since casual Friday.”

ASTD 2006. We are forming a delegation to the American Society for Training & Development International Conference & Exposition this May 7 to 10, 2006 at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. Former President and CEO of General Electric and author of the inspiring book Winning, Jack Welch; best-selling authors of Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner; and retired US Army Brig. Gen. Clara Adams-Ender are keynote speakers. For other details on the conference and travel package, please log on to or send an email to

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. Her email addy is

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Team leadership and diversity

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, March 16, 2006

William Wrigley Jr.: “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

A team is composed of people with different backgrounds and gifts. A skilled team leader should be able to leverage such dynamic treasure trove of varied ideas, talents, potentials, thoughts, emotions, intentions, inclinations, persuasions, experiences and insights. Woe is the leader who doesn’t even realize this.

Walter Lippman: “When all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

In their book Leadership Skills for Every Manager, Jim Clemmer and Art McNeil wrote that “ironically, many managers who profess to be able to do their jobs proficiently cannot bear to have their ideas challenged. There is a contradiction here. To be a leader, to manage teams, managers must learn how to tie their own egos into the success of the people they manage. Although, intellectually, many managers understand that innovations are the results of free expression and joint action, they lack the skill to create such an engendering environment.”

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman say that what the team leader decides to do in relation to bringing his or her people together is not as important as how he or she goes about doing it. “Whereas ineffective team leaders dive deeply into the task at hand and overlook how the team works together, effective leaders pay as much attention to process as to content.

Clemmer and McNeil continue: “It wont always be smooth sailing. Whenever different people with different points of view get together, problems can and do arise. But skilled team leaders are able to keep people focused and on track. The foundation for dynamic results is laid by first getting each member to dedicate himself or herself to a common purpose, not a series of individual achievements.

“Diversity, therefore, is a ‘group rule,’ something to be encouraged whenever possible. Similarly, all new ideas ought to be carefully considered independently of the person who first proposed them. Often, we judge ideas on the basis of the person’s past performance. Ideas should stand or fall on their individual merit.

However, diversity can be taken too far. “Whenever a conflict appears, focus on the common areas first. Ironically, you may find that everyone agrees on what they are most upset about! That’s fine: reminds a team what its function really is. Each point of disagreement should then be analyzed and clarified. Steps should be agreed upon to deal with the problems. Finally, once these steps are followed, the attention of the group ought to be focused back on the original business of the team.”

“In pulling the team together, a skilled team leader doesn’t shun diversity or resistance. He or she welcomes it because he or he knows that energy, if managed, can be used to produce a better result. The skilled team leader is like a black belt ‘judoka’ who turns resistance to his or her advantage by redirecting the energy of the adversary.”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter finds that segmentalist, low-innovating organizations have these qualities in common: They regard ideas from below with suspicion. They criticize freely and they let employees know they can be replaced. They see problem identification as synonymous with failure. They make decisions in secret and then spring them on people. They delegate lower-level managers to implement any threatening decisions made at higher levels. Finally they believe that senior managers already know everything there is to know. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be senior! Ha?

The leader sets the culture of a team, and the standard for the quality and quantity of ideas, results and the quality of team functioning. Ortega Gasset cautions, “tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” And Francis Bacon, too, “He that gives good admonition and bad examples builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.” Leaders, take heed.

Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. Send her feedback at

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Weak leadership undermines teamwork

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, March 09, 2006

Neil Isford, VP of e-Business, IBM, believes that "there's power in bringing people together instead of dispersing them."

Leaders are enjoined to mind their teams. Internal conflicts, lack of trust, uncoordinated efforts, focus on personal interests and lack of participation can be traced to heavy-handed and insincere leadership and weak team-leadership skills. A team is a microcosm of the entire organization it belongs and an organization is no better than the way its teams work together.

Business Week once asked on their cover story: “If teamwork produces such good results, why haven’t more organizations tried it?” Many so-called teams are really just collections of individuals. Establishing a really participative environment requires leadership skills and walking the talk.

Many leaders think that you simply announce new programs, dangle the carrot and expect members of their team to work. They look for quick results, but what they don’t get is lasting results. Giving people organizational tools such programs or thrusts, committees and policies doesn’t create teamwork anymore than blueprints and building supplies can create a house. Skilled and committed leaders and builders are needed.

Many team leaders have never experienced the power of effective teamwork. To compensate, they seek personal loyalty, rather than loyalty to the customers and the organization.

Signs of weak team skills are often subtle and insidiously linked to other problems of the organization, not to mention the personal value system of the leader and his personal agenda.

Jim Clemmer and Art McNeil identified some common symptoms of team failure as:

· Ineffective meetings. Somebody once said that “many poorly run group sessions are a meeting of the bored.” A meeting is a microcosm of the team. Meetings mirror how well the team is functioning.

“A meeting is the ultimate catalyst to people power, an opportunity to bring different viewpoints together, exploit diversity for the good of the group, establish strategies, and obtain commitment to action.”

Andrew Grove, former president of Intel, says “the output of a manager is the output of the various organizations under his control and influence.”

Educator Harry Overstreet says “the very essence in all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate. The mind that can do that has a powerful leverage on his human world.”

· Technomanagement. This is a matter of manipulation versus participation. “For many leaders teamwork means asking for participation in a decision that’s already been made. Accompanying this attitude is usually a thinly disguised contempt for the ideas of others, especially from so-called “unqualified” sources.

“Another symptom is the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ approach. Technoleaders too often see team approaches as techniques to be exploited rather than skills to be developed. Rosabeth Moss Kanter calls this approach ‘where the top orders the middle to be participative to the bottom.’

“Shooting the messenger’ is also cause for concern. This occurs when visible or vocal team members are routinely shot down (or quietly kneecapped) for contributing divergent views or unpopular information.

“When ‘grunt’ work is all an organization delegates, team effectiveness suffers. It is difficult to empower a team by handing them only other people’s dirty work.,”

· Loss of vision and abdication. Poor team leadership skills are often compounded by the absence of vision within the organization. “Groups that meet by rote with no purpose is moribund. When an organization loses sight of its reason for being, it becomes deathlike or bureaucratic. Real teamwork is sparked by shared purpose.

“Another cause of team failure is ‘abdication.’ Sometimes, in a futile attempt to encourage participation, unskilled leaving minority views and weaker team members unprotected. Their lack of skill invokes ‘jungle law,’ which allows group members to attack each other and play politics. The result—bruised and battered individuals and occasionally a clique. Inevitably, unhealthy competition displaces cooperation and politics replace performance.”

To add my own, when a leader is so focused on dangling “rewards and citations” at the end of day, the team concentrates on earning brownie cookies rather than becoming brownies, on counting time rather than making the best of time, on apple polishing rather than doing real work and working with the whole team.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Leadership and listening

Business Times p.B2
Thursday, March 02, 2006

The book Wisdom for a Young CEO is becoming one of my favorites. I strongly recommend that all aspiring and incumbent leaders read this book from cover to cover. President Arroyo could definitely use the lessons from this book.

Nineteen-year-old author Douglas Barry shares with his readers “incredible letters and inspiring advice from today’s business leaders” and his own lessons learned. Here are some striking thoughts:

H. A. Wagner, Air Products & Chemicals Inc.: Effective leaders are good communicators. You should work to develop good communication skills and become a good listener. (Underscoring is his) Leaders are certain to fail if they ignore input from colleagues and direct reports.

Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble Inc.: I try to hear things through the ears of others, and see things through their eyes.

Errol B. Davis, Jr., Alliant Energy: My sense is that leaders lead because people are willing to follow. No one will follow you if you do not listen to his or her concerns

Jack M. Greenberg, McDonalds Corp.: I have found that the two best qualities a CEO can have are the ability to listen and to assume the best motives in others.

J. Kenneth Glass, First Tennessee: Surround yourself with capable people who will challenge your ideas and decisions.

Carlos M. Gutierrez: What gains the support of your fellow employees is hard work, fairness, good listening ability, courage and being right on the issues.

Judith Rodin, University of Pennsylvania: Leaders are most effective when they make everyone who works for them feel valued. That is why forward-thinking businesses put a premium on creating an environment that encourages employees to share ideas, analyses or advice that lead to successful outcomes.

Jack O. Bovender Jr., HCA: There is nothing worse in a job environment than a bullying boss.

William Stavropoulos, Dow Chemical: A leader seeks and cultivates diversity of ideas, style, culture, gender and race. Leaders know that ideas are what count, and that they come from all over.

Charles M. Cawley: MBNA America Bank NA: First, the people of your company do not work for you—you work for them.

Uichiro Niwa, Itochu Corp.: The importance of being humble. What I mean by “humble” is not being obsequious, but that you listen to others’ opinions respectfully. I have encountered many people who were very confident of themselves without listening to others. Those people invariably failed in whatever they did.

R. Keith Elliott, Hercules Inc.: One must have self confidence but be humble enough to realize that true success is the ability to harness the best ideas of the team.

Don H. Davis Jr., Rockwell: Learn to be a good listener. Value and respect the opinions of others. Ask questions (e.g. who, what, where, when, why).

Jay M. Gellert, Health Net Inc: True leaders are always listening and learning.

Lessons learned from Douglas Barry: Close-mindedness is never conducive to the learning experience. The greatest of all thinkers and philosophers have borrowed ideas from another and expanded on them. A good leader learns from the mistakes he or she makes, and from the mistakes made by his or her peers, and works hard to better a situation based on those past failure or even past accomplishments. The person who admits weakness and ignorance, and works to better that weakness, succeeds more often than the person who believes the learning process ceases after and outside of school or the workplace.

Indeed there are “leaders” who refuse to listen and admit their mistakes because they derive their power from their position or title. Careful—positions aren’t permanent and titles, without moral action and stand, are empty.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. Send your feedback to