What is Leadership? There seems to be something about great leadership that appeals to us, inspires us and draws us in. Sometimes it is charisma but more often it is something that is not superficial but intangible and yet so externally apparent. Across the centuries, the world has seen the rise and fall of leaders. Even notorious leaders like Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin had leadership qualities that they chose to abuse and use to their advantage instead of for the good of their people. This of course doesn’t make the leadership qualities in them intrinsically evil. They were used toward an evil purpose. Leadership traits like ‘courage’ and ‘determination’ are neutral because they can be exercised for morally good pursuits but also be abused in the pursuit of morally wrong endeavors. Traits like ‘truthfulness’ and ‘honesty’ are intrinsically good attributes that many leaders do possess.
In general most leadership skills, provided they are exercised within a legitimately good framework, bear good results. Leaders intuitively understand the responsibility they bear on their shoulders and feel a sense of duty toward those they are obligated to lead or serve. It may seem like an oxymoron to use the word ‘serve’ in the context of leadership but businesses today are beginning to understand the indomitable value of those leaders who make it their primary concern to serve those who follow them. This is leadership by example.
The most obvious avenue for leaders to shine is in relational areas. This would seem rather obvious to some but it can easily be overlooked in an age when social barriers are erected through media and technology in the name of getting connected. Leaders show people vision, trust, responsibility, honesty and conviction by their mere actions and words. That it must be genuine would be a no-brainer I would suppose. And yet in the most intuitive way, people sense these leadership skills and are captivated by them. Companies today understand the power of these incredible traits and constantly try to incorporate them into their Leadership Training Programs
I read an article recently that said, according to the ASTD (American Society for Training & Development), the US spends over $170 billion dollars on leadership curriculums, specifically focusing on Leadership Training. However, the article went on to say, that the investment never really pays off in the real sense of actually creating leaders. These ‘leaders-to-be’ start off with great gusto and grandiose ambitions but quickly burn out when the going gets tough. I couldn’t help but smile sympathetically, not at the financial payoff (or lack thereof) of the program but the sheer misunderstanding of a fundamental concept – leaders are not trained, they are developed.
The first question that tends to come up now is if this is really a matter of semantics. Are we just playing word games? Are we just being equivocal about the way we use terms? The honest truth in response to the above-mentioned questions is “NO”. There are foundational differences between Leadership Training and Leadership Development. And it is these differences that we’re going to focus on in this blog:
- Training is objective while Development is subjective
Training generally tends to adhere to a preconceived set of ideas, rules and systems that were created based on past experiences and administered within controlled environments. Development on the other hand is custom-made for the individual based on his or her individual traits in preparation for future and possibly unforeseeable circumstances.
- Training is ‘system oriented’ while Development is ‘people oriented’
Training tends to focus on methodology, system and manuals. It generally adheres to fixed standards and operates within a rigid framework of repetitive efficiency. Development on the other hand focuses on the people involved and works with the aspects of individual character and personality to develop maximum potential.
- Training aims to ‘indoctrinate’ while Development looks to ‘educate’
Training generally looks to the immediate application of specific methodologies. It is transactional in nature and focuses on maintaining a certain performance trajectory. Development however focuses more on the future adaptation of the individual being developed and looks to educating the employee for maximum efficiency through potential.
Modern Leadership Training Programs however have discovered the subtleties between training and development and try to bridge the gap with a more comprehensive approach to grooming an employee with leadership potential.
Life is full of problems but what really matters is how we react to those problems. We have various options – to become hard and miserable or react positively to the various situations that life throws at us. Then, “What is leadership?” Leadership is all about handling life’s difficulties with courage and forbearance. Business leadership is being able to handle organisational problems with the right attitude.
“Giving people self confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do because then they will act.” – Jack Welch
Recently I read a thought-provoking story about a young woman who learnt a revolutionary lesson from a simple demonstration from her father. She was once complaining to her father that her life was full of problems and that she did not know how to handle them. Her father, who was a chef, listened to her patiently. He did not say a word to her but took her to the kitchen. There he took out some eggs, some potatoes and some coffee beans. He immersed them in separate bowls of boiling water. After a short while he asked her to touch all the three ingredients and share her observations. She noticed that the potatoes had become really soft, the eggs had become hard and the coffee had a rich aroma to it!
The potato, eggs and coffee beans had all faced the same problem– that of the boiling water. However, each one responded to the adversity differently. The potato went in hard but came out soft and weak, the egg was frail when it went in and emerged from the water harder than before. However, the ground coffee beans were different! After they were exposed to the boiling water, they created something positive about the experience – fresh, delicious coffee!
“Which one are you?”, asked the chef. ”Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
A leader should be like a coffee seed. When he faces problems he should see this as an opportunity to transform.
In life problems are only 10%, 90% is about how you handle these problems. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, one should be able to develop leadership skills that enable one to adapt to uncertainties. Leadership qualities that help one to make predictable the unpredictable are critical in the 21st century.
Leadership training programs that help to develop the blind area and the unknown areas of the Johari Window are the programs that one should attend. It enables one to develop the untapped potential that helps to traverse unchartered territory.
In a genre where businesses are led not only through competitive wars, but by cooperative approaches as well, companies are digging out ways for building the team to bring about unity among members. Here are some reasons why corporate companies in today’s world are resorting to team building exercises like fun-filled games and team vacations from time to time.
Motivation and Building Rapport: Team building activities and training trigger feelings of motivation when members of a team feel motivated to do more after succeeding in a particular task as a team. Motivation from other members of a team also helps individual members gain confidence in themselves. Participating in such fun-filling activities as a team helps build rapport among team members.
Develop Problem Solving skills: Team building exercises involve problem solving whereby all members of a team gather to solve an issue together. Such techniques are geared towards developing a sense of unity and responsibility for facing troubled situations or issues together.
Increase in Productivity: As is known, a task done by a number of individuals together is accomplished quicker than when it is worked upon by one person. By working as a team, members can make optimum use of resources, incorporate their own creativity, improve on the flaws and accomplish the tasks much faster.
Stress Busters: Team building activities act as stress busters to members who find great satisfaction and relief in participating in something other than their regular course of work.
Improves Communication: Team building activities develop a better communication system within your team, thus helping leaders convey messages without much hassle. Activities like train-the-trainer help identify good trainers within teams and thus do away with the need for recruiting personnel from outside the organization.
Team building training programs at MMM Training Solutions help in self-assessment of members helping them contribute as a team. Want to be a part of MMMTS? Visit us at mmmts.com
As I was creating a customer service training program, I was reminded of an interaction that I recently had with a customer relations person and decided to reflect on the learning.
I walked into a Microsoft flagship store, to check out the new Lumia 950. As I entered the store, it felt as if I was at the right place to make the decision. I looked out for somebody to help me in the decision. After waiting for a minute, I saw a lady emerging from the other end of the store. Upon noticing me she bellowed out, “What do you want?” Without waiting for me to answer, she went to the end of the store and sat on a stool behind a counter. Since she was not expressing any desire to help me, I walked around and looked at the products on display. As I did not see Lumia 950, I asked the lady if she had a demo handset for Lumia 950. “No sir, we don’t.” pat came the reply. I asked her, if the handset was in stock. “Sir, if we don’t have the dummy with us, how do you expect us to have the handset in stock. For every handset that we have in stock, we have the demos available as well.” she said, as if, it was something every customer should have known. Undeterred by her attitude, I enquired when they would get fresh stock. “There is a possibility, that we might get it tomorrow. You can come in and check.” was the reply to my question.
Being a soft skills trainer who conducts a plethora of programs on enhancing customer service, I took some time to ponder about why this transaction left me so angry and frustrated. Reactively I had even decided that I was not going to another Microsoft phone.
As I replayed in my mind the kind of customer focus interaction that would have left me desiring to wait to buy the Lumia 950 from the same store, the below listed ways to improve customer satisfaction surfaced:
- I would have liked the customer service rep to walk up to me and express interest in what I was looking for.
- I would have liked the rep to apologize for the lack of availability of the product I was looking for.
- Managing Customer Expectations
- I would have liked the rep to understand what I was looking for and suggest alternatives, as Lumia 950 was not available.
- I would have liked the rep to tell me that she will call me back once the product was available.
- Going that extra mile
- I think the rep should have taken my number and volunteered to call me as soon as the product arrived.
- I think the rep should have found out if the product was available at their other locations.
- I would have expected her understood my expectations and suggested alternatives.
- I would have expected her to confirm her understanding of what I shared.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Customer service is all about managing customer expectations and relationship building. My experience helped to drive this central theme in the Customer Service Training program and the participants experienced tangible benefits in their interactions.
And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own hometown.” – Luke 4:24
Let me explain the reason why this verse from the Bible has left an indelible mark on my life.
Jesus performed the least number of miracles in his own hometown. When he conducted meetings and the lame were healed, the blind saw, the deaf heard and the dead rose. The audience marveled at His abilities and did not doubt that He was the Son of God and that He is ‘extra-ordinary’. Then someone said, “Is he not the carpenter’s son?” Upon hearing this, they swiftly lowered Him from the extra-ordinary to the ordinary! The wonder turned to skepticism and the belief turned to doubt thereby hindering the manifestation of the miracles.
We are leadership coaches who are endowed with the responsibility to see the extra-ordinary in the ordinary and to see the super-natural in the natural. But so often we hold people imprisoned to the picture we have drawn of them and we are unable to lure them to the realm of possibilities.
I wonder if the Wright brothers would have created a functional airplane or if Edison would have persisted till the bulb emitted light if they had relied on the leading of such leadership coaches? The ability of a coach to look at a new day as a fresh canvas filled with opportunities and disconnected from the pictures of yesterday is what enables the coachees to connect to the infinite! The executive coaches that have the rare and uncanny ability for painting a fresh depiction in each encounter are the ones that enable the manifestation of the super-natural from the natural and the extra-ordinary from the ordinary.
“Visionaries see the “impossible” as the inevitable.” – Robin Sharma
Hence I say, “Executive Coaching is a privilege!”
We’ve all done it plenty of times in our lives. The complaints usually all sound the same – “If only there was more than 24 hours in a day”, “Where did all the time go?”, “Why does time fly when you’re trying to get something done” and the endless list continues. What is it about time that is so elusive? Why does it always seem like it moves slowly just when we want it to fly and flies when we want it to move slowly? It almost seems like it has a mind of its own! But we’re the ones with the minds.
Time Management Training programs are especially crucial for companies where every man-hour made or lost is directly proportional to money made or lost. The more efficiently a company manages it’s time through resources, systemizing or personnel, the more cost effectively the company operates by saving on time wasted.
Time Management, it turns out, is not really one of the unsolved mysteries of the Earth or rocket science that is beyond our comprehension. It takes some organizing and some discipline, the two key ‘ingredients’ to successfully manage your time. Lets look at how those aspects interplay with each other:
This is the first step to begin with. To-Do lists are generally not very efficient because they only keep getting longer and after a while can get overwhelming. It is also important to set not only the ‘type’ of goals to achieve but the ‘number’ of goals that need to be done as well. Setting a goal of 5 things to do in an hour maybe more efficient than 20 things to do in the same hour. The more realistic the goals, the more achievable they are. ‘How does one manage time more effectively’ is a great article that gives you many simple, yet effective, techniques.
This goes hand in hand with goal setting. Some people attempt to just get ‘chunks’ of work done without prioritizing them according to importance. Consequently sometimes these are the very same people who just never seem to have time to do the things that actually matter. Prioritizing the goals that need to be achieved is the best way to maximize the efficiency of the limited time available.
Next it is important to actually put these priorities down on a schedule or calendar. Especially within a business context, there are often numerous tasks that may sometimes require our attention at the same time and having our priorities scheduled will help in allocating them into available slots through the workday.
This is the rivet that holds every other piece of the time management structure together. If this isn’t managed, everything else mentioned above falls flat on its face. Once the system of goal setting, prioritizing and scheduling is setup, it takes a lot of hard work through diligence and discipline to keep the system running smoothly. This is often the area where most people falter. If discipline is maintained within our time management skills, we will discover rather quickly that time need not be our foe but can actually be our friend.
Here are some of our recent blogs on Managing Time:
- 3 Tips To Preparing For A Good Presentation
- The Cost of Clarity in Communication
- How NOT To Deal With Stress
Communication Skills Training is a vital component of streamlining correspondence within any organization regardless of what size they are or what business they are into. Such soft skills training programs equip the people that matter with the skills that matter even more. Even Fortune 500 Companies understand this well.
Every employee has at least one story of working under a manager who was just a poor communicator. I have my own story too. It was a long time ago, but the emotional wounds from the experience make me feel like it was only yesterday. The manager I worked under was, by all polite standards, an enigma. He wasn’t clear about what his expectations were, his feedback (whether positive or negative) was always vague and ambiguous and his instructions were confusing to say the least. Simply put, he had poor communication skills. This caused problems in every area of his job – poor rapport with his subordinates, lack of camaraderie with his peers and animosity with his superiors. Surprisingly, his stint lasted longer than it should have. My guess is that it took the company a few years to figure out if whether he was so smart that they couldn’t figure him out or if they were so dumb that he couldn’t get through to them. Clarity eventually won the battle and he left. But his departure left such a huge ‘crater’ of confusion that the entire company revamped its method, mode and policy for communication across the board. In the aftermath, the new communication policy was VERY clear!
So what communication skills should a good manager have anyway? What makes him a good communicator? Managers carry a great deal of responsibility on their shoulders that encompass actual job responsibilities, manage production output and quality, marshaling personnel and resources and all the while keeping the whole game within the satisfactory limits of the administration’s watchful gaze. Lets look at a few aspects of good communication that a manager should keep in mind:
• Managers with good communication skills make sure they are very clear about their goals, expectations and vision.
• They give clear and consistent feedback through the whole process of execution so that the required parameters of performance or quality are adhered to with minimum margin of error.
• They communicate any progress or deficiency clearly to higher levels of authority so appropriate decisions can be made accordingly.
• However the work culminates, they make sure to give adequate encouragement and feedback to the team on a job well done, inspiring a spirit of excellence for the next time around.
For more information on Communication Skills Training, please refer to this article:
The Science of Non verbal communication
Handling Difficult Conversations – A Leadership Essential
Most managers would agree that one of the most challenging tasks for a manger is to give constructive feedback and ensure the team member take appropriate action. Effective solutions to such challenges are addressed in our Performance Appraisal Training and Leadership Training programs. The challenge is not so much in giving the feedback but in making it constructive. It is common to hear feedback that is vague and contradictory. For example: “Shyam you have put in a lot of work on this project, but I feel….” This is a classic feedback gaffe. While the first part of the sentence is an appreciation, the second part is a criticism. Feedback that uses ‘but’, ‘however’ and ‘although’ mostly evoke mixed feelings and spoils the chances of taking corrective actions. So, how does one really give constructive feedback?
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” – Frank A. Clark
Effective Leadership involves understanding why people resist critical feedback. It is then, lot easier to give constructive feedback. Neuroscientists have found that our brain is designed to resist negative feedback. Our brain acts as a defense mechanism and protects us from threats to our ego and self-esteem.
The main objective of performance appraisal is to help people grow and develop. So create an environment of discovery where people discover their areas of improvement. Here are few steps that can help you give constructive feedback, especially during performance appraisals.
Be in control of your own emotions. This will help in giving feedback that does not come across as a threat.
1. Prepare the recipient’s mind for feedback. It is important here to understand the science behind resistance to negative feedback. The amygdala, a very small part of the brain near the thalamus, hijacks the rational brain as it senses danger and triggers the fight, flight or freeze response. In order for the recipient not to perceive danger, it is important for the person to get the permission from the recipient to give the feedback. This prepares the mind to receive the information without being threatened.
2. Use the technique of feed-forward in your performance dialogue. Before giving feedback ask the recipient these questions:
1. What are your thoughts on how you handled the situation?
2. What did you do well?
3. What could you have done better?
Responding to questions help them overcome amygdala hijack and gets the pre-frontal neo-cortex, the thinking part of the brain, to respond. This ensures that they are now ready for feedback.
4. The feedback should focus only on the area that needs improvement and not on the person. Avoid judgmental language and display empathy with the body language and tone of voice that shows concern. It is important to avoid sarcasm while giving feedback.
5. End the feedback with a mutually agreed upon action plan. Here again, it is important to allow the recipient to design his own action plan as he/she has to own it and commit to the actions. The person giving feedback can ask questions that will enable the recipient to explore various options.
Managers will lead teams more adroitly only if they realize that an open mind is a must for receiving constructive feedback; the objective being, to create an opportunity for people to improve and grow.Understanding the brain science of constructive feedback will help people move seamlessly from a state of impasse to a state of insight. David Rock, in his article, ‘Managing with the Brain in Mind’ explains this with great thoroughness. Being insightful allows effective action planning. Implementing the action plan extensively, forms a habit. Giving constructive feedback is an integral part of our Leadership Training program to ensure their team cultivates productive habits.
For more such interesting articles please see the link below:
Empathy – A Necessary Trait
Shifting Limiting Mindsets – A Leadership Essential
Authenticity – A Leadership Essential
The internet changed the world in more ways than we can imagine. With the power of the web, we can not only access information with the simple click of a button but we can also transmit information, whether it is upload a photo or share a document, just as easily. But the biggest impact the internet had is in the area of communication. With the advent of email, letter writing has virtually become obsolete and long gone are the days when a person had to wait for weeks to get a letter from their family across the ocean. Writing has continued to be the staple form of communication though. And in the business world, there is a clear set of unwritten rules that actually even dictate how writing ought to take place. Hence business writing skills training is an important corporate training program. In this blog we will look at 3 simple areas where some basic business writing skills are needed:
Being clear is one of the most important aspects of business writing. Often business documents or articles tend to use sophisticated jargon or terminology for the sake of sounding professional or eloquent. But if that takes away from comprehending the article well, it has not served it’s purpose in communicating its message. Longer sentences must be avoided when shorter sentences will work just as well.
Especially when writing emails, it is better to get straight to the point. If the opening paragraph doesn’t get to the heart of the matter concisely, it is better to start over. Business correspondence must be direct so that the intended message drives home instantly. It helps to ask yourself, before you compose the email, what exactly you want the person reading this to do and if that comes across in a simple manner.
There is such a thing as professional etiquette of communication even if it is over the internet via email or other mediums. Short-hand must be avoided as must other slang like smiley faces. It is also considered polite to not over use capitalization or exclamation marks to make a point.
Business Writing Training programs are employed regularly by companies to help equip their employees to adhere to current corporate standards of business communication.
For more information on Email Etiquette Training and Business Writing Training programs, please refer to these articles/blogs: