Archive for July, 2011

So Who is a Good Leader?

July 19, 2011 5 comments

“Leaders have to take their followers with them and vary their style to suit the different situations they face.” Duncan Brown

In this Podcast, the Leadership concept is explored. It looks at the role of HR in finding and or building leaders of today and the future. Rajan Datar leads the discussion and interviews a good number of Business Leaders who share their experiences and thoughts on Leadership.It takes a lot to lead an organization properly and it takes even more to be able to deal with the shortage of leadership today.

This write-up gives an overview of why Leadership is a very important issue for companies today and how HR can nurture and develop it.

Duncan Brown (Assistant Director General of CIPD) presents Leadership as a big issue not only for HR but for everyone. People continue to analyze the concept today just like they did centuries ago and to date no universally accepted model of leadership has been identified. I remember reading in history about good and bad leaders. Today I still talk about good and bad leaders. In the news we hear day in day out about how Political, Religious and Corporate Leaders are being boxed in a corner. He goes further to explain that many companies are confronted with three burning questions.

1. The ‘why’ question – Why does the organization exist?

2. The ‘what’ question – The resources, systems and skills needed to achieve the mission

3. The ‘who’ question – who are the leaders we need to meet this goal, how do we develop and keep them?

According to Jim Harrogate (American business consultant, author, and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability) the ‘who’ question remains the most important. And this remains a critical part of HRs job, finding, developing and keeping the individuals who shall lead the business to success.

Being an old concept, it may be good to know what has changed about leadership as per yesteryears. Well, the concept has not withered. Why? Because as we strive to get the best form, we sustain it. Today, Leadership has moved from the kick-butt, top-down leader/manager style of the 1980s and 90s to a more consensual, context driven, culturally aware and more participative method.

So who is a good leader? Gareth Jones and Adrian Moorhouse (Gold Winning Olympic Medalist and now MD of Lane Four) summarize as follows: Charismatic, visionary, Someone who is not at the centre of every decision scenario, Open minded and communicates with his team as per their duties, Authentic role player (can adapt and play different roles when confronted with different situations). In one sentence, “Someone who inspires people and creates something compelling enough for people to follow him.”

Baroness Susan Greenfield (Director of the Royal Institute) orients the debate. To her Leadership is very simple, “To lead you must have the respect and confidence of people, believe in what you are doing and finally transmit your passion and excitement to others.

It may therefore seem easy for HR to find such people. No, it is a daunting task Why? Simply because many Leaders have not developed that clear vision captivating enough for others to follow. Secondly, Leaders do not want to be open-minded, they believe they have everything figured out and tend to isolate proposals from collaborators.

With this in mind, the million dollar question that concerns us all comes up. How can HR develop leaders? Well Duncan tells us there is no magic, no universal formula for leadership or leadership development. The concept should be incorporated in an organization’s culture. To me, the best answer is – Training, Development and Succession planning. Providing people within the Business with development opportunities that create positive leadership change.

There is certainly plenty of food for thought about how leaders can be developed and retained. Of course Leadership is not something you can bottle and distribute with the payslips but it certainly sounds like there is a role for HR in developing business leaders.

I respect those who say “leaders are born” but I strongly believe leaders are “made”. Adequate training and development performs that magic.


Got A Career? Get A Career!

July 18, 2011 Leave a comment
Former basketball player Michael Jordan

Image via Wikipedia

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Michael Jordan

My HR Director recently asked us all in Team HR to start studying HR related articles and sharing a few learning points. To this, she recommended that we follow the CIPD Podcasts and make summaries. It is a good thing. With this we shall have the extraordinary benefits of knowing more about HR and keeping our pulses with HR Trends.

In these Podcasts, Rajan Datar talks to leading HR Managers and explores many aspects of Human Resources. These range from training, recruitment and selection, interviews, leadership, staff development and motivation, succession planning, payroll management. The topics are many and are of course related to my career.

These leaders share with us practical information related to the understanding and implementation of the topical issues mentioned above. Why do they feel comfortable sharing this knowledge? Well because they have over the years practiced these things, learned a great deal from their experiences and have succeeded and they feel sharing their success stories and thoughts can get us to the same success as well. They have built “Careers.” Good of them. This makes me remember a certain quote; “A Candle loses nothing of its light, if it shares its flame with another candle.”

Well, I will be sharing the things I learn from the Podcasts on this blog. However, today I would like us to reflect on this word Career. To me it is a course, or progress through life and can relate to work or education.

Many of us grow in life without knowing what we would like to do. Well we just work for the sake of it or to earn some money or to say “I got a PhD and bla bla bla”. These are common where I come from.

To change this, we need to find what we are passionate about. What we will spend endless nights pursuing, what we would not hesitate to talk about irrespective of the time, something each time it is mentioned we glow and everyone can see our dynamism and energy – we become fired up.

Once we know it, let’s focus on developing ourselves and talents there in. Get relevant training, speak with relevant people, who have succeeded with similar things, be their friend (if we can), learn from them, acquire as much knowledge as possible on the changes taking place in our field, read the stories of those who may be far away from us but who have had the same success we would desire. This way we are bereft of surprises.

15 Suggestions for the Weekend!

July 15, 2011 1 comment

 ‘A diamond cannot be polished without friction, and a person can’t be perfected without trials’. We all want to live stress free without having to work at it, but it can’t be done.

So, look at these 15 suggestions:

1. Take time each day to pray and read God‘s Word; it’ll transform your outlook.
2. If you still look like your old passport photo, take a holiday; you need one!
3. What goes up must come down, so cut back on caffeine and sugar!
4. Eat right – a balanced diet isn’t having a cookie in each hand!
5. Exercise three to five times a week for 30 minutes; it’s nature’s magic bullet for stress.
6. Develop better time management habits: ‘use it or lose it’.
7. Make room in your life for fun and relaxation.
8. Get eight hours of sleep when possible.
9. Maintain your sense of humour: ‘A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired’ (Proverbs 17:22 TM).
10. Start counting your blessings. The Psalmist said, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits’ (Psalm 103:2 NKJV).
11. When you talk to yourself, say the right things. Your words affect you more than others.
12. Simplify your life by eliminating clutter. If you haven’t used it for two years, you probably don’t need it.
13. Develop a sense of purpose by seeking God and setting personal goals.
14. Forgive; grudges are too heavy to carry: ‘If you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive [you]’ (Matthew 6:15 NLT).
15. Read the last chapter – we win!

With this, we shall always be spared from the brink of utter failure

From my friend and brother Timchia Evance. Have a great weekend!

Coach Yourself to Success – Final Step, Be Persistent!

July 15, 2011 Leave a comment

      “The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” 

James Whitcomb Riley  

When you meet an obstacle, do you give up? Do you see it as a sign that you’re not meant to continue, so you stop?

If this is the case, then it’s worth remembering success stories from the past – such as Colonel Sanders, who created Kentucky Fried Chicken. He didn’t fulfill his dream until he was 65 years old. It’s said that when he tried to sell his chicken recipe to restaurants, he was denied 1,009 times before he heard his first yes.

And what about Walt Disney? He was turned down 302 times before he got financing for his dream of creating “the happiest place on earth.” The success stories are endless and there are more in the making.

In Cameroon we revere people like Fotso Victor, kadji Joseph, Cheif Mukete, Cardinal Tumi, Professor Bole Butake, Bernard Fonlon, Roland Kwemain for the success they achieved in their respective fields.  Trust me I saw some of these people walk through “the dip” and because of their persistence achieved this success. 

So, if you hit obstacles and doubt whether you should continue or not, decide if your goal is worth having. If it is, then be persistent. If it isn’t, go back to Step 1.

Key Points:

For complex career or personal issues, there’s no substitute for working with a qualified, experienced coach. But for smaller issues, if you understand the approach that coaches use when working with their clients, you can often go a long way toward working through problems and challenges on your own.

First of all, you need to make sure you’re clear about what you want – and turn that into a goal. Then you must identify the actions you need to take to make that goal happen. And you need to be passionate and persistent about working on it.

Good luck coaching yourself to success!

Coach Yourself to Success – Step 4: Be Passionate

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

“A strong passion for any object will ensure success,

for the desire of the end will point out the means.” 

William Hazlitt

Choose to do what you really care about, and really want to happen – otherwise, you know you won’t do it! Short, something you love.

If I asked you to list 5 people you admire and aspire to emulate or surpass, we may on that list have way more than five names. We have idols, mentors – short, people we love.  Why do we identify ourselves with these people? Probably because they are successful at what they do and have to varying levels motivated others to follow suit.

To register this level of success, you must be passionate about what you do. The idea is to do what you love and love what you do (familiar?)

Once we discover our passion, the rest falls in. My big sister Kibonen Nfi is passionate about fashion. After a few good corporate jobs in Cameroon, she went further to explore American education and business life. While there she developed a passion for designing and image consulting. Guess what, thanks to her passion she and another hardworking woman Anrette Ngafor started and are developing KiRette Couture, a mixture of contemporary style and traditional embroidery. The passion and work they are putting in already gives me glimpses of the success that shall come their way. They are rocking! We too could be like or even go beyond them. It’s up to us.

Always think you will succeed. This way you find yourself approaching your new objective with much more conviction and determination. I am fond of that. I see myself all the time delivering training sessions of epic proportions. These thoughts enable me do my best to “show” each time I have the opportunity.

As you get on, keep replaying memories of successes from the past, thinking about your idols and focus on those while you plan. Until you see yourself as successful, and until you remind yourself that you’ve achieved many things in the past, you’re unlikely to achieve your goal to the degree you really want. This is because many of us seem to have a natural tendency to focus on the negative, and on our perceived failures.

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Coach Yourself to Success – Step 3 Take Action!

July 13, 2011 Leave a comment

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” Peter Marshall

It is quite easy to decide the actions you need to do to meet your objective.  Trust me it is easy, all you need to do is THINK.  Take some time to do some thinking.  Many of us rush into things in a haphazard way.  When we fail to think we misdirect our efforts and end up giving up on our brilliant objectives.  All of a sudden things become hard and difficult.  It is recommended that we think  in a step-by-step manner.

To do this we need to:

  • Determine what needs to happen to move you towards your objective:
  • Know if you need to get a particular qualification, or sign up for a training course?
  • Know if you need help from someone like a personal trainer or mentor or coach?
  • Identify the things you need to sacrifice or the people you may need to part from.

In James’ case, he will sign up for a short course on presentation skills,  so that he can know the different types of presentations,  know how to analyze his audience,  understand the structure of an effective presentation and finally  practice a few presentation techniques.  That way after a few sessions, he will gradually overcome his stage fright.  That is what I call in simple words “Taking Action.”

Choose actions that will take you slightly out of your comfort zone.  Allow yourself to take more risks, because the limitations we experience in life are often  ones that we create for ourselves through fear and sometimes lack of confidence.  If you had no fear of failure and you believed that you would succeed,  what would you do? So what do you need to start doing today? You got it! Take Action because it’s up to you!

Coach Yourself To Success – Step 2: Set SMART Objectives

July 12, 2011 Leave a comment

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might as well never get there” Anonymous

Looking back, we learned the first way to success is to know what you want and learn to help yourself to get it. Let’s understand step 2.

In “The Little Book of Coaching,” Ken Blanchard and Don Shula say, “A broad target that’s easy to achieve leads to the ‘puddle’ of mediocrity.” So, the next step is to express “what you want” as a clear and precise aim.  Each and every one of us has goals in life. Our goals are broad and only clearly defined objectives can get us to achieving these goals. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s really important. A properly defined objective will act as a motivator. It will help you prevent yourself from backing away from the things you SHOULD be doing, but perhaps don’t really WANT to do.

Use the SMART acronym to help you structure your objectives. SMART stands for:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Achievable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time-bound. (I shall publish another article on How to Set  SMART Objectives)

Setting a time frame is very important, because it’s easy to delay dealing with difficult issues. You would want to get rid of them as soon as possible. Your objective should be realistic and challenging: if it’s too easy, you’ll get bored and give up, and if it’s unrealistic, you’ll feel overwhelmed… and give up. You must make sure you have the resources and skills necessary to meet your objective.  The secret is to choose a date in the future that you know you can reach – this should be a date that will stretch you a little, but not add to your stress.

Write your objectives. This helps you clarify your thoughts, and it helps you see your progress as you look back over the various steps you’ve set for yourself. These steps are in other words known as milestones. Each step or milestone you attain is an important measurement for you reaching your objective. This way, you can see if you’re on track or not and evaluate your progress.

For example, James cannot talk in Public. He might set this objective: “By the end of the month, I’ll have taken a training on “Public Speaking” that will enable me overcome my stage fright and develop a structured presentation. Then I’ll make 5 Presentations to evaluate my progress.”

Take some time and think of your objectives. Try following the SMART Acronym. Evaluate just how far you have gone and make important decisions as per the future path you would take. If you have no clue, then start by identifying your life’s goals and writing down the objectives that would get you there

Step 3, can only get better. That comes up tomorrow

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