Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Competent leadership capital

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, April 26, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Competent leadership capital

Leaders distinguish themselves through their interpersonal skills and competencies that develop human capital, asserts Lisa Aldisert in her book Valuing People (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2002). She identifies and defines these as:

Visionary. Leaders see the future and are able to envision the big picture before others can. They are savvy about trends and what affects the environment of their company, both from a business and personal perspective. Visionary leaders know how people can make the difference in the success or failure of a firm’s strategies.

People-Oriented. People-oriented leaders are optimistic about their people and what they expect of them, holding them to high standards and rewarding them for jobs done well. They are willing to delegate and involve others in decisions that affect them. Their people like working for them.

Superb decision-making skills. The ability to assess information and circumstances and come to conclusions within a reasonable period is an essential leadership trait. When leaders waffle, they lose momentum and eventually lose the attention and respect of their people. Most important, the decisions that leaders make should have positive consequences for their people; if outcomes are negative, leaders can lose their people forever.

Communicating excellence. Leaders need to know the best way to get their message across. Whether making presentations to their boards or having a one-on-one conversation with a secretary in the hall, their ability to communicate effectively is essential. Part of this ability to communicate is stylistic. Strong leaders can be charismatic, and this contributes to effective communication. They can also be optimistic and thus engender trust. Some of them are direct and to the point, while others are friendlier and more persuasive. There is room for individuality in communication style. Its effectiveness will be measured in part by how people follow through on their messages.

Leaders need also to know how to listen. People have to know they are being heard. One of the most frequent criticisms of leaders is they don’t listen.

Idea supporting. Strong leaders facilitate idea generation. They give their people the environment and opportunity to explore ideas that lead to innovations. They are comfortable taking risks with new ideas that are consistent with, and support, the company’s values, mission and core competencies. Leaders run into problems when they stray outside these areas and try to add on or build without regard to how the innovation fits within the organization.

Focused. Leaders stay focused on their goals and objectives so they can achieve results. They don’t initiate actions without following through and ensuring that the actions have reached a conclusion. Leaders don’t rely on others to control their actions. They act independently and put whatever time is needed to get the job done.

Intuitive. Intuitive leaders have the potential to bring human capital development to new levels. They have an innate sense about the value of people and will do what they can to match the right people with the right situations. Intuitive leaders use this skill for the strategic development of the organization as a whole as well as individuals.

According to Ms. Aldisert, the other competencies of leadership capital are ability to cultivate future generations of leaders, intuitive, and possessing self-leadership skills. We will discuss these next column.

ASTD 2006. A bonus for those who will attend the American Society for Training & Development 2006 Conference & Exposition, May 7 to 10, Dallas, Texas, is the Conference Mentor Program.

ASTD is debuting something new for ASTD 2006! We’ve created a Mentor Program to help attendees connect with seasoned practitioners for onsite consultation and six-month mentoring partnerships.

To join the ASTD conference, please e-mail or call 0917-8996653.

(Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp, waits for your feedback at

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Leadership brand and capital

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, April 20, 2006

CONSIDER leadership a brand and a capital. Like product or institutional brands, leadership means the differentiation that makes a leader excel, credible and easily recognizable. Like money and other resources, leadership produces excellent results and has multiplier effects. Leadership brand is a type of capital investment.

An organization could be said to be an excellent one due mainly to the excellence and depth of its leadership. An organization is the collective success stories of its leaders at all levels.

An example is the Lopez Group of Companies, a long-established family (some of the companies under the group have gone public) business by the brothers Eugenio Sr. and Fernando Lopez. The Lopez brand and capital dominate the Lopez Group of Companies. The sum total of the unique stories and leadership brands of Eugenio Lopez Sr., Fernando Lopez, Eugenio Lopez Jr., Oscar Lopez, Manolo Lopez, Gabby Lopez, Precy and Steve Psinakis and Jake Almeda Lopez are behind the story of the Lopez Group of Companies.

Today, when you think of Meralco, you think Manolo Lopez. ABS-CBN is Geny and Gabby Lopez. First Philippine Holdings Corp. is Oscar Lopez. This is spiced up by the stories of other leaders who come and go and leave their own “lovemarks” in the organization. The different Lopez companies singly and collectively have become “lovemarks” in Philippine business themselves.

The Lopez Group has experienced extreme ups and downs in the course of its business life. It has been toasted and vilified on various circumstances and times. It is the love affair of its leaders to its business that has sustained the Group through 50 years of existence. The story of the Lopezes reveals a “never say die” attitude and a deep concern for public service not only in the business they are in but also in the way they conduct business.

The issue with leadership brand and capital is how to track and measure it meaningfully to achieve projected results. All organizations have traditional financial measures, but practically no nonfinancial measures that enhance the value of the organization’s intangible assets such as human and leadership brand and capital.

Ergo, it becomes important that organizations establish a leadership capital management system responsible for tracking and analyzing information about its leaders and other human capital with potential to become leaders.

Some call this program Career Management and Succession Planning. Sadly, when the topic pops up in conversation with leaders (in business, government, the academe and others) and human resource professionals, the topic is soon changed to more nonthreatening and familiar topics. Leadership development and succession planning seems to be a new and forbidden territory for many companies here in the Philippines.

The first step to Succession Planning is for current leaders to accept their humanity and let go. Succession Planning requires initiative and blessings from the very top.

The second step would be to start tracking and measuring nontangible assets like human and leadership brand and capital.

The third step is to identify leadership competencies and talents—knowledge, skills, values and attitudes—that enhance the value of the organization. These competencies must be tied tightly with your organizational strategic and operational plans.

Fourth, mind your attracting, hiring, educating, training, developing, compensating, recognizing and firing people.

Last, create a culture of candor, celebrate mistakes, cultivate diversity and reward innovation.

ASTD 2006. The American Society for Training & Development International Conference & Exposition—May 7-10, Dallas, Texas—offers different experience levels: Essential Skills (for entry-level practitioners); Professional Development (for mid-level practitioners) and Senior Staff/Executive Programming (for experienced practitioners responsible for staff, new initiatives, planning, development and business processes. For details, contact or (0917) 899-6653.

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

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Leaders brand your organization

Business Times p.B2
Thursday, April 6, 2006

AN organization is a story by itself. This story is the sum total of all what the people of that organization accomplish. The subplots are the unique experiences of every person in the organization. It is not about productivity levels, bottom line, turnover, sales records and the like. These are merely numerical measures of how well the organization stacks up against set standards. They are soon forgotten when new numbers come up; after a few years, you dispose of all these records lest they eat up precious space.

The individual and collective stories of people, though, leave an indelible mark in the company’s identity and potential. For example, one company started long before it was formally organized. It started as a dream of the owner, a future of what she personally wants her life to be. It is fueled by her desire to better her family’s circumstances and to acknowledge and use her own talents and capabilities.

She tested the water, so to speak, and started to do things informally. She does her business on her days off from work. She would do small jobs for her friends. She experimented, innovated on what the masters were doing, came up with fresh new ideas and persevered. Sometimes her only payment was a cup of coffee or a big thank you hug and a promise that when he (her friend) becomes successful then he will again engage her services and pay her appropriately. Just the same, she did her best and delighted her customers.

Then—with enough capital, energy, confidence and commendable successes with initial clients—she registered her business as single proprietorship. She came up with her strategic initiatives and action plans. She hired people to help her implement her dreams and plans; appropriated the family room as her office; bought the requisite office equipment and furniture and she was off to the big world of business.

She had many exhilarating experiences and an equal measure of frustrating and excruciating ones. Along the way, she fumbled and even tripped on her own feet, made incremental improvements and courageously took a few quantum leaps. She made big and small decisions based on her plans on most days; under certain circumstances, she improvised or simply used her intuition.

There were days when she needed to dip her business fingers into her family savings to meet payroll requirements. Some other days, she happily ran all the way to the bank. There were times when she had to hire extra hands to meet huge commitments. There were occasions when she had to let people go for one reason or another.

Although not a sales person, she kept trying and honed her marketing skills. One thing she never sacrificed was her values system. She would rather not do business with people who do not share her values. She was not all about money, she was out to satisfy the needs of her customers and build long-standing business, even friendly, relationships.

She valued her employees. She might not rate in the top 10 of highest paying employers, she spent time to rigorously train and develop her employees and gave them the opportunity to fail, succeed and excel.

Hers is one of the stories behind the company. But her story stands out and is critical to the continued success of the company. She is the leader. She provides the most important capital of her business—leadership. Her story reveals her brand of leadership, which becomes synonymous to her company’s brand and the way her employees and those outside her company (customers, suppliers, community and others) perceive her company.

What is leadership capital and leadership branding?

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. E-mail or call 0917-8996653 for details on how to attend the conference.

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