Saturday, September 12, 2009

Real leaders blend personal humility and political will


Business Times, p.B1



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Real leaders blend personal humility, political will


I remember being an accredited trainor for meeting management sometime in the Eighties and, ever since, I have been teaching how to facilitate effective meetings. My point is people don't seem to mind—from the '80s to the present, meeting organizers and attendees do as meeting organizers and attendees do. So meetings have remained boring, unimaginative, time wasting, inconclusive, etc. Many jerk bosses still manage by meetings after meetings. And I still teach and write about effective meeting management.


Let us tackle more serious things. There is a raging and heartfelt discussions going on in Facebook and other social networks about our May 2010 presidential elections. The two issues that surface are: general hatred of this GMA administration, they simply want to change this leadership and who will lead the change. So far Noynoy Aquino is winning (or maybe because my friends at FB are all colored yellow).


In his new book, How the Mighty Fall, my idol Jim Collins wrote about what makes for the "right people" in key seats. I am quoting here the exact words of Jim but you apply it to your process of choosing your presidential bet.


1. The right people fit the company's core values. Great companies build almost cult-like cultures, where those who do not share the institution's values find themselves surrounded by antibodies and ejected like a virus. People often ask, "How do we get people to share our core values?" The answer: you don't. You hire people who already have a predisposition to your core values, and hang on to them. (We need to elect a president who shares the good old values of social responsibility, integrity, excellence and professionalism and love of God and country. Right now our country is in moral decay as modeled by the decisions and actions of our elective and appointive government officials and as exemplified by shows like Wowowee and its host Willie.)


2. The right people don't need to be tightly managed. The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake. If you have the right people, you don't need to spend a lot of time "motivating" or "managing" them. They'll be productively neurotic, self-motivated and self-discipline, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it's simply part of their DNA. (Why spend a lot of time ranting at the sins of GMA and her cohorts? Our current government officialdom is motivated to steal and lie without blinking an eye. What has come out of all those Senate investigations?)


3. The right people understand that they do not have "jobs"; they have responsibilities. They grasp the difference between their task list and their true responsibilities. The right people can complete the statement, "I am the one person ultimately responsible for . . . " (Who is responsible for our "sinking" maritime industry? Who is responsible for the mushrooming of informal settlers everywhere? What, no hands up? Must be the people for electing all these irresponsible people now occupying critical seats in government.)


4. The right people fulfill their commitments. In a culture of discipline, people view commitments as sacred—they do what they say, without complaining. Equally this means that they take great care in saying what they will do, careful to never overcommit or to promise what they cannot deliver. (I will never vote for candidates who say, "I am running for office because I want to serve you." Wattah! You don't have to be in office to serve your fellow Filipinos!)


5. The right people are passionate about the company and its work. Nothing great happens without passion, and the right people display remarkable intensity. (Love of country and countrymen. Service above self and family. I remember Lito Lapid saying he has never read the Philippine Constitution when he was already running for a senatorial position. He did not even know what a Constitution is or looks like. Then he went to the White House with GMA for a photo opportunity with Mr. Obama on taxpayers money. Passionate for what?)


6. The right people display "window and mirror" maturity. When things go well, the right people point out the window, giving credit to factors other than themselves; they shine a light on other people who contributed to the success and take little credit themselves. Yet when things go awry, they do not blame circumstances or other people for setback and failures; they point in the mirror and say, "I'm responsible." (We have a culture of blaming. Instead of looking for solutions, people look for solutions, they look for who to blame. Was it Rep Suarez, Rep Daniel Romualdez who paid for the Le Cirque dinner in New York? Is McDo not a decent enough place for a president to dine in? What is the real problem here, people, and how do we solve it? The real problem here is that 80 percent of our people are poor and more than 50 percent are hungry everyday while our president and her cohort dine on lobster, caviar and pricey wines.)


 As in business, let's elect a president (and other candidates) who are ambitious first and foremost for the correct values, the country, the responsibilities of the presidency—not themselves—and that they have the fierce resolve to make good on that ambition. They have a blend of personal humility and political will.


BTW, if you go malling regularly, you will notice that mall stalls change ownership regularly. Meaning, more and more small and medium businesses are falling. Our entrepreneurs could use these same generic characteristics in hiring their people and keeping afloat. After all, the most important asset of your company is your people: hire people with noble values and train them for competencies.;

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Spend less time on meetings and do more


The Business Times, p.B1

Saturday, September 05, 2009



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Spend less time on meetings and do more


FOLLOWING the example in the book, The Hamster Revolution for Meetings: How to meet less and get more done by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Time Burress, this is my suggestion for a powerful meeting invitation. It is simple, useful and saves time because meeting participants will be better prepared and would know how to contribute to the success of the meeting.


With the traffic in Manila, our consultants find it onerous to come to the office for a short meeting. Also, we do not want to take them away from whatever projects they are involved in.


Subject: Paradigms & Paradoxes Design Planning Session

Location: Web conferencing via Skype

Date: September 17, 2009

Time: 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.


Objective: Review and affirm plans for design of two new training programs for targeted clients for 2010



1. Review current design and delivery strategies—Adrian, 10 minutes

2. Review current trends and opportunities from ASTD 2009 International Conference—Moje, 10 minutes

3. Identify content and delivery methodologies for two new training programs—Team, 30 minutes


Logistics: Skype Code


• Review existing designs of similar training programs

• Share successful experiences with team via e-mail


Here are more helpful tips for ensuring the success of your meetings:


• Stick with a hard start and stop time. It means start and stop meetings as scheduled. It creates a sense of urgency that keeps the meeting on track.

• Schedule 20- or 50-minute meetings instead of 60 minutes. Participants have 10 minutes to get to their next meeting or have time to collect their thoughts and materials for the next meeting and time to squeeze in that important phone call or give urgent instructions to their staff.

• Plan to arrive five minute early—build a buffer zone into your schedule for some unexpected event, e.g. traffic jam, a phone call, a technical glitch, etc.

• Agree to a small penalty, like paying a small amount of money to a team charity, for being late.

• Have 5- or 10-minute meetings and hold them standing up. That would create a sense of urgency!

• Schedule a follow-up meeting at the end of the current one. Do not just suggest, schedule it to avoid hassles of nailing down a time and place that works for everyone later.

• When setting a meeting with a client, always provide the invitee with a minimum of three meeting dates and times. All they need to do is select a date. Don't leave the invitation open-dated or there will be a lot of back-and-forth communication about the date.

• Don't cram every imaginable item into your agenda. That will be time-consuming.

• Avoid distractions. Hang a "Quiet Please" sign on your office door during important meetings. Lock your meeting door. If you are in your home office with no door, establish hand signals to let your family members know when they must be quiet. Temporarily move your pets out of your home office so you can sound more professional during the meetings. Turn off your television set.

• When doing virtual meetings such as teleconferencing or web confe­rencing, disable pop-up reminders and incoming email dings. Increase the time before your screen saver triggers. Silence office phones and turn cell phones into vibrate. If you're hosting a web conference, log in 30 minutes early to test the web and phone connection. Make sure that all the log-in information and interactive tools you plan to use are working fine. Actually the pre-check will only take five minutes, but when things go wrong, you might need 10 to 20 minutes to isolate the problem, reboot your computer, contact the help desk and figure out an alternative plan.


Honey, we can't be meeting this way all the time. So let's have more effective meeting techniques next column.


Register for the 2010 elections: If you are a new voter (18 years old and above and voting for the first time), an overseas Filipino worker or a temporary resident abroad or a dual citizen (Filipino and American, or whatever) or if you changed your residence and you intend to vote in your present location, please register so you could vote in the crucial presidential elections next year. The elected president and vice president will serve (or use the office for personal interests) for six years from 2010. Every single vote will make a difference.