Thursday, May 25, 2006

Leading the generations

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, May 25, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Leading the generations

LAST column we discussed different global business paradigms throughout the ages. This time, we’ll explore how to manage and lead the generations according to Amy Glass of Brody Communications, Ltd.

In her presentation at ASTD 2006, Amy differentiated the various generations, their traits, key motivators and defining events. I added my own.

First, do answer these questions with your learning buddy: What is your generation? With what person do you struggle to maintain a healthy relationship? What generation is he or she a part of, to the best of your knowledge? What advantages might this person’s experience and/or perspective bring to the relationship? What challenges have you face because of the differences between your experiences and perspectives?

The different generations are: Patriarch (born 1940 or earlier, 65 years old or older). Baby Boomers (1941-60, 45-64 years old). Generation X (1961-76, 29-44 years old). Millennials (1977-1992, 13-28 years old).

Let us skip the Patriarch because by now they are already retired or retiring from the world of work, most likely content to live the significant and useful role of mentor, coach and counselor. Let us give them space to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Who are the Baby Boomers? Amy described them as willing to go the extra mile, optimistic, positive, have love/hate relationship with authority, idealistic and want to have it all. Their leadership strengths are participative style, leadership with a heart and politically savvy. However, they need to master soft leadership skills, deal directly with conflict and practice what they preach. Their bosses could get the best of them by recognizing their experience and contribution, providing them opportunities to give back and giving them cash, rather than stock options.

The defining events in their life are: Post-WWII, prosperity, television, suburbia, civil rights and women’s lib.

Most people in top leadership roles today are baby boomers. They were coached and mentored by the Patriarch. That is why there is emphasis on the organization being a family. On their own, they are driven and competitive.

Those who belong to Generation X could be depicted as fiercely independent, results oriented, skeptical, concerned with work-life balance, self-reliant and pragmatic. As leaders, they thrive on change, are competent and straightforward and are not intimidated by authority. They need to handle tact v. brutal honesty and corporate politics well. They give their best when given flexible work involvement and learning and development opportunities.

The events that shaped their worldview are: Watergate/Iran-Contra, latchkey kids, MTV, corporate layoffs, the events that led to and the eventual declaration of Martial Law.

Generation X comprises most of middle leadership positions today. They bridge the gap between the Baby Boomer and the Millennials, being the middle child. They are outspoken and are set to get ahead in their chosen career. In the chaotic times they were born and grew up, they have learned to value their freedom and fiercely protect it.

Millennials are idealistic, confident, collective, socially minded and active, achievement oriented and structured. They are very dedicated at work and are optimistic in the face of overwhelming odds. They need supervision and structure and are intimidated by conflict. To keep them motivated, their boss could help them see the meaning in their work and to provide them opportunities to contribute and to move up the corporate ladder.

Computers, Internet, martial rule, EDSA Revolution, Diversity, extracurricular activities and the early 1990’s economic boom defined the world for them.

Millennials seem to be everywhere as groups, not individuals. They congregate at and populate malls, vacation places, entertainment events, the night scene and almost every nook and cranny of the world. The call center industry is their domain. They learn and master the computer and the Internet even without the instructional manual.

The final questions in leading these various generations are: What do they value at work? How can you be flexible in your interactions with them? What could these persons do to be flexible toward you? How would you ask them to do this flexing?

Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp, could be reached at

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Global business paradigms

Business Times p.B2
Thursday, May 18, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Global business paradigms

ACCORDING to authors William A. Guillory, Christopher Harding and Daniel Guillory, a successful organization of the future needs to be driven by quantum leadership.

They call this high performance organization as future perfect organization that dynamically recreates itself in response to future projected business environment, anticipated customer expectations and a workplace context for exceptional performance.

But first let’s backtrack a bit and trace the historical progression various societal and business paradigms.

In their presentation at the recently concluded ASTD 2005 in Dallas, Texas, and in their book The Future Perfect Organization—Driven by Quantum Leadership, these authors described the global business paradigms through ages.

First, the thousands of years of the hunting and foraging age. Then, the paradigm that redefined living groups was based upon agriculture. “In this paradigm, power was based upon land ownership.

Next came the Industrial Revolution that began in England in the mid-1600’s and lasted through 1950 or a total of 300 years. Many innovations of the Industrial Age revolutionized Western business economy. Among the major inventions are locomotive and automobiles. “Power during that age was based upon capital or money.”

The Information Age crept in the mid-1900’s to 1990 for about 40 years and the operative word was “speed.” “Information is generated by drawing conclusions or making deductions based upon interrelated data. For example, weather forecasts (information) are the result of the speed of weather patterns, directions and other intervening weather fronts (data).

The major event during this era was the invention of machines called computers that could efficiently store, retrieve and process large amounts of information. Power in this more recent Age was based upon having and processing information needed in making strategic business decisions.”

Remember floppy disks and Wordstar?

Of what value is information if they are not transformed to something useful and profitable? Overlapping the Information Age was the Knowledge-Based Age. “Computers are products of the Information Age and software programs are products of the Knowledge-Based Age. Power was based upon an organization’s ability to create new knowledge that continually produced new products, services and ways to be successful.

Knowledge is generated by the creative integration of information.” The major implication of the Knowledge Age, spanning the years 1900 to 2000, is managing and leveraging intellectual capital.”

“The present paradigm [2000-2005] is based upon values and ethics in terms of personal choices, workplace functioning and societal expectations.” There is an increasing need to balance workplace demands and personal responsibilities. “Individuals are now being forced to make personal choices about what’s really important in their lives.” The ultimate source of resolution of such choices is their innermost personal values based upon the importance of family, faith, service and their personal well-being.

The workplace leaders need to become more sensitive and responsive to the personal needs of employees as they attempt to adapt to a 24/7 world. “Divorce [annulment in the Philippines], single parenting, elder care and family responsibilities all “spill over” into workplace performance and create the need for new facilitative competencies.”

Likewise, business and society have created both high professional and ethical expectations based on values such as honesty, respect, equality, integrity and trust. Power in this Values-Based Age is based upon the recognition of people as an organization’s only sustainable resource, in good and bad times.

The Guilorys and Harding predict that the next paradigms will be the Age of Connectedness, dominated by cooperation and collaboration. “This way of operating will emerge as the most powerful mode of achieving exceptional business performance while simultaneously ensuring the long-term well-being of people. Global interdependence will continue to accelerate. Now, we will need quantum leadership.

Moje, president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp., can be reached at

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Effective leadership

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, 2006

We're here in Dallas, Texas, USA—home of the cowboys. There are six of us Filipinas attending the ASTD 2006 International Conference and Exposition, May 7-10. Plus Bing de Dios, who is working in Thailand. There are about 12,000 delegates from 70 countries attending some 250 simultaneous sessions, 3 general sessions, 10 certificate programs and 10 pre-conferences workshops.

Whew! The program itself is as thick and heavy as the PLDT telephone directory. I am thankful to my friend Leloy Cuyugan, former UP professor and PAL trainor, who brings me around Dallas after conference hours.

And I am picking up lots of materials for this column and for my training and consulting services.

Let’s start with David L. Goetsch’s book, Effective Leadership.

Goetsch writes about 10 steps to help technical professionals (doctors, lawyers, military, sports, government, politics and others outside of the world of commerce) develop the knowledge, skills, insights and attitudes they need to be effective leaders. These are:

• Develop a vision and commit to achieving it.
Study visionary leaders and consider the possible. Establish your context. Examine the present. Study the future. Identify the ideal condition within your context. Ask the legacy question or how you will be remembered when you are gone. Write your vision statement and test it.

* Project unquestionable integrity and selflessness.
Integrity builds trust, leads to influence, establishes high standards, establishes a solid foundation rather than just an image and builds credibility.

• Establish credibility and good stewardship. Set the example.
Support your people. Admit mistakes. Follow through. Be consistent.

• Develop a can-do attitude and seek responsibility.
Manifest and inner conviction that asserts: Whatever the job, I can get it done. Whatever the challenge, I can meet it. Whatever the obstacle, I can overcome it.” A can-do attitude exudes optimism, initiative, determination, responsibility and accountability.

• Develop self-discipline, time management, and execution skills.
Self-discipline is the ability to take control of one’s personal choices, decisions, actions and behaviors. This entails ability and consciousness, i.e. a choice not a trait that one happens to have.

• Be a creative problem solver and decision maker.
Solving problems promotes teamwork, leads to continual improvement rather than just “putting out fires,” and approaches problems as normal by-products of change.

• Be a positive change agent.
Be smart and empathetic. Have a clear vision. Establish incentives that promote the change. Continue to train and develop people.

• Be an effective team builder.
Be clear on your team’s mission. Identify success criteria. Be action-centered. Establish ground rules. Share information. Cultivate team unity.

• Empower followers to lead themselves.
Empowerment is “employee involvement that matters.” It is the difference between just having input and having input that is heard, seriously considered, and followed up on whether it is accepted or not. Empowerment is not abdication.

• Be an effective conflict manager and consensus builder.
Conflict is unavoidable and normal when people work together; no matter how committed they are to a common vision because of limited resources, incompatible goals, role ambiguity, different values, different perspectives and communication problems. Consequently, leaders must be proficient in resolving conflict and promoting agreements while respecting diversity.

Indeed many technical and professional experts find themselves upheld in leadership positions-at work, in the community, in social and civic groups, etc. They are encouraged to think beyond the narrow scope of their field of expertise and become adept at producing results through others. Finally, Goetsch stresses, “leadership in any field is about strength of character more than anything else.”

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

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Self-leadership competencies

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jose P. Rizal. Andres Bonifacio. Manuel L. Quezon. Oscar M. Lopez. Jaime Zobel de Ayala. Fiorello Estuar. Fe Hidalgo. Joseph R. Mcmicking. Corazon C. Aquino. Avelina Salvador. Ninoy Aquino. Rolando Hortaleza. Manuel Pangilinan. Lino Brocka. Steven Spielberg. John Gocongwei. Antonio Cojuangco. Claro M. Recto. Mother Theresa. Pope John Paul 2. Jack Welch. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Mario Nery. Edilberto B. Tato. Benita Fernandez-Ramos. Manuel Sy Peng. Haydee Yorac. William J. Clinton.

These names are synonymous with successful and charismatic leadership. These names are brands by themselves: considerable role models, held in awe and respect, signifying strength of character, inspiring nobility in others and evoking high achievement and creativity. They, at once, stir up intellectual discourse, a bias for action, a passion for excellence and a strategic outlook.

They develop and cultivate other leaders using competences such as visionary, people-oriented, superb decision making, communication, idea supporting, being focused and having initiative.

Likewise, they all possess a set of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that center on personal effectiveness and self-management. They reflect a certain aura of energy and self-awareness that magnetizes others.

Lisa Aldisert identified these competences in her book, Valuing People, as:

Self-confidence. Strong leaders believe in themselves and their capabilities, even when things aren’t going well. It’s easy to be self-assured when things are going right but much more difficult to transcend adversity and maintain certainty when things aren’t going too well.

Resilient. This is the competence that allows people to bounce back after set-backs and move forward with unshaken confidence. Although leaders need this to survive during turbulence, it also sends an important message to the rest of their people.

Initiative. Leaders need to take the first step, which is often uncharted territory. The drive and ambition that underlies initiative is one of the things that separates leaders from others.

Self-responsible. Leaders admit when they have blown it and take the heat themselves. This doesn’t mean they become sacrificial lambs for every mistake. Rather, they admit mistakes, learn from them, and move on.

Ability to overcome adversity. Many obstacles bar the path of a leader. The ability to surmount these hurdles and impediments is an important element of self-leadership.

Respectfulness. Strong leaders show respect to themselves and to others. They understand the importance of maintaining dignity and honoring the uniqueness of others.

Trustworthiness. Trustworthy leaders inspire trust in others. They do what they mean and mean what they say. They hold this attribute as a high personal value.

Humility and humanity. Humble and humane leaders remain in touch with reality and are always grounded. They know, understand and accept themselves. They recognize their weaknesses and limitations while they use their strengths and opportunities to the fullest.

Aldisert wrote that the competences just described provide a framework for understanding leadership capital. “Obviously, some organizations and industries may require other competences, but these characteristics are central to effective leadership capital. Given the brutal time constrains under which leaders operate; those who master these traits will be better positioned to survive and thrive when issues become more complex. By developing these traits, they enhance their own human asset value as well as their leadership capital. Leaders who strive to achieve their potential raise the overall value of human capital in the firm.

“Leaders need to cultivate their best competences so they can more effectively serve their various stakeholders. They need to master traits for interacting with employees, shareholders, customers, other leaders, suppliers and others. They need to establish a personal development program that is customized for their specific competency objectives.”

They concentrate on the big picture and on developing other leaders instead of burying themselves in details and the work at hand. As Tom Peters points out, leaders are rarely the best performers; they are better at getting the most out of others, not doing it themselves.

Moje, president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp, can be reached at