I recently came across a research study by the Six Seconds organization (www.6seconds.org). They wanted to find out what creates exceptional leadership today. Let me share with you their main findings: 1. Stand-out leaders have a strong focus on others. While for high performing leaders, “others” is associated with effective work, then feelings and needs, for the highest performers, “others” is associated primarily with caring about people and clients. Top performers go deeper emotionally – not just caring, but personal caring. Not just a good attitude, but giving the energy for people to smile. 2. The best leaders start with caring, then create the “right” emotions for success. Top performers have strong “people-first” skills. The highest-performing leaders are generating results with and through people – and emotions. They create emotional conditions for people to thrive. 3. Emotions drive people, people drive performance. The best leaders are focused on people, not tasks. They are creating a context, or climate, for high performance. They create effective emotional conditions. They motivate through passion, energy, and genuine care. Let me add some more points based on my own experience. – When you hire people, hire for attitude. Make sure that the people you recruit have great interpersonal skills (high EQ = emotional quotient). – When you promote people, make sure that you promote people with great people skills rather than “only” were top performers in their previous function. Gallup, an American performance management consulting firm, has stated that companies fail to have the right candidate with the right talent for the job a frightening 82% of the time. They apply a flawed methodology for selecting people into management. Companies typically base decisions on an employee’s past performance and then give them an entirely different role. – Communicate across your organization that great people skills are the key criteria for any promotion and for any managerial position. – Watch out for team players in your hiring and promotion process. Eliminate the “big ego” – guys. – Don’t focus only on your company’s shareholders. Take also genuine care of your employees, customers, and the society. Like this, you have developed a 21st century leadership approach that helps you to provide meaning and purpose to your employees which in turn increases their motivation. If you take great care of your employees, customers, and society, stand-out results for all stakeholders will follow, including top results for your company’s shareholders. – Make employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction a strategic goal of your organization. – Develop a genuine care culture across your company. Give your employees respect, praise, and recognition. Always be positive. Address the human needs of your stakeholders and make them feel good. Create momentum in your organization. Leadership guru John Maxwell says: “Managers solve problems; leaders create momentum.” If you create momentum, “The Big Mo”, as he calls it, the organization picks up steam. Maxwell, who refers to momentum “a leader’s best friend”, states that only a leader can create momentum. Followers catch it, and through momentum, get inspired to perform. What we can learn from all that is that a strong people focus and soft values drive exceptional hard results.
When I facilitate any workshop, one of the first order of business, after rapport has been enhanced with the participants, is discovering expectations. I have found investing time in discovering participants’ expectations is to ‘begin with the end in mind’. As a facilitator, I am responsible to strengthen the skills, attitude and knowledge of those who have entrusted their time with me. Bringing out the expectations for either a one, two or three day workshop produces value and benefit for the participants. I begin from the initial hour of the workshop to model the rest of the invested time towards fulfilling these expectations. During the last workshop that I facilitated, the first participant who walked into the room, came up to me and asked why is it a two day workshop rather than just one day. I asked her what is it that she wanted the outcome of these two day be for her. She went through a list of areas for improvement she would like to see set in motion towards skill development. At the end of the workshop, she approached me and thanked me for not defending with the merits of the two-day workshop but opening her mind towards what would be her return on investment for the two days by stating her expectations. She mentioned that this brought focus to what she can do and how she can benefit during the workshop. People Development is an art of bring out the best in people. To do so, my three decades in coaching, consulting and facilitating has taught me some simple reminders. Set Expectations Open the mind to positives Concentrate on people orientation rather than process driven Recognize and appreciate every improvement that participants make Enjoy and have a good time
As a leader, you are required to set direction, to energize, to inspire, to motivate, and to serve and develop others. And, of course, to deliver results that matter. When it comes to leadership, we are in the relationship and connection business. Leadership is all about people. Your ability to connect with people can make all the difference between great and poor leadership, and between achieving the desired results or failing to achieve them. You have to make a strong emotional connection in order to inspire and motivate your people. A great way to do that is to tell them your own authentic leadership story. That implies that you know who you are and who you want to become as a leader. Your subordinates or others might often think: “What drives this guy?” In his book “Your Leadership Story – Use Your Story To Energize, Inspire, And Motivate”, Timothy J. Tobin recommends to let your people know w h y you do what you do. What provides you with a sense of purpose? Where do you want to go? What inspires and motivates you? What are your values as a leader? What are your guiding principles? How do you want to get results? What will you not tolerate? In order to find answers to the above, you need to ask yourself first a few reflective questions: – What has been most rewarding in your career? Why? – What is your quest or challenge as a leader? Where and how do you want to make a difference / have impact? – What is important to you as a leader? Why? – What inspires and energizes you as a leader? – What would you like to accomplish as a leader? – What are you known for as a leader? What do you want to be known for? – What is the leadership legacy you want to leave behind? – What impact do you want to have on others? – What do you want to do for others? To successfully connect and bond with your team and your colleagues, share with them your personal experiences, books, stories, incidents from which you have gained your own definition of leadership and your own leadership insights. Let them know your significant personal milestones: people and events that had a major impact on what you value and how you think as a leader. Hint: very often these are people from your family rather than business people. There is a popular saying that “Leadership is a journey”. We are all at different points in our leadership journey, but the important thing is to realize that we all still have a lot to learn. You should clearly communicate to your team who you are as a leader today and who you want to become. As Tobin states, “this shifts you from a static mindset to more of a learning and growth mindset, and it adds a level of humility by assuming that you still have something to learn as a leader.” Sharing your leadership story with your team and others will hold you accountable. And it can be a first step to encourage your colleagues to think about their own leadership story and to share it too. This will greatly enhance understanding and cohesion among team-members and will ultimately lead to a higher performance.
Recently I attended a funeral prayer meeting for the mom of one of the facilitators that I have had privilege of working with for the past two and half decades. Over the years she has spoken to me about how kind, understanding, loving and caring her mom has been. Sitting in this prayer meeting and listening to family, friends and relatives who echoed the life of the deceased was a good reflection of what I have experienced over the years. Lesson learnt here is to leave a legacy, a character, and a mean to the life we live. In a business context, this is also meaningful. As a leader, lead your people who will be your followers. Once again, when you are gone as a leader, your legacy stays on. At this same meeting, while prayers were being intoned and chanted, a very serene atmosphere transpired. The serenity also ushered in a meditative mood. Everything was so peaceful and I was delighted to have attended this prayer meeting. Then it happened. Someone’s mobile phone rang. Disruption and mood change could be felt. The individual whose phone rang must have considered it a privilege and honor to receive the call and had the audacity to sit there and speak like as if he was the only one in the hall. The staring and and non verbal signs by others did not deter this individual to turn off his mobile. Lesson learnt here, be courteous, be humble, do not disrupt the peace and quietness that others are experiencing. A similar incident occurred again this morning when I was at my physician whose phone rang while he was diagnosing me and he just proceeded to receive the call. I realized from his conversation that he was talking to a patient. At the same time my mind wondered off to years gone by. No way would a patient be calling him directly. They would have to pass many channels before they would be able to talk to a physician. The problem is not modern technology but the use of it. Once again a lesson learned is to be considerate of others and when explore a business context this too is applicable. As a leader, be considerate of others. Doing so would put others at ease to communicate with the leader.
Earlier on this year, the Cicero Group commissioned by the O.C. Tanner Institute published the findings of a recent study about how organizations can drive employees to do great work. For this study, “great work” was defined as work that is productive, innovative, and makes a difference that people care about. The research was conducted across all industries in the United States in companies with over 1,000 employees. 980 respondents completed the online survey and were included in the analysis. In order to find out what organizations can do to cause employees to produce great work, an open-ended question was asked: “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does (or could do) that would cause you to produce great work?” The answers were distributed into nine categories as follows: Most important drivers of great work: 37% “Recognize me” 13% “Nothing, I’m self-motivated” 12% “Inspire me” 12% “Give me autonomy” 7% “Pay me more” 6% “Other” 6% “Train me” 4% “Give me a promotion” 3% “I don’t know” 37% of respondents identified recognition as the by far most important driver of great work. Please note that the participants answered an open-ended question giving them the chance to respond truthfully in their own words, unrestricted by preconceived options. The respondents didn’t state more money or extravagant perks and benefits like e.g. free access to gyms, free food, or open work space, but they rather identified performance recognition as the most important factor for great work. As one survey participant put it: “When someone recognizes you for something you did or gives you appreciation, I feel that it hits the heart more than anything. Sure you can get a financial gain or perk, but if someone actually comes to you and recognizes you for what you do, that stands out more than anything. It is more personal.” The good news is that you can provide recognition easily and almost at no cost (except the factor “time”). Nevertheless, the number one excuse why managers don’t recognize their people, it’s always time. But that’s just a faulty assumption and excuse. It takes only a very short time to recognize someone or a team publicly. I recommend you make it a priority to recognize your people. After all, performance recognition is not only the key driver for great work, but also a strong driver of employee engagement which in turn is a key objective of high performing companies around the world. Performance recognition improves relationships between managers and employees. It is also highly effective at increasing employees’ confidence in their skills. Therefore, I suggest you follow the recommendation of motivational guru Brian Tracy who states: “Praise is a powerful people-builder. Catch individuals doing something right.” And management consultant Marcus Buckingham said: “Great managers don’t need to be reminded of the power of praise. They seem to know instinctively that praise isn’t merely a reaction to great performance; it is the cause of it.” Knowing now that recognition is the number one thing a company or a manager could do to cause great work, let us make it a priority to praise our people.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a taxi to a shopping center near where I live in Bangkok. As usual, I greeted the taxi driver with a smile but the driver just ignored and with a unhappy voice asked where I wanted to go. So I told him to the Future Park Rangsit. His first response was it was going to be a long journey because the traffic is very bad on the main road. To comfort his irritation, I said it is ok and I am not in a hurry. His face relaxed a little. What followed was not expected at all. He started his barrage of criticism of our present society, the state of our economy, of corruption. It went on forever. I was feeling uncomfortable. What would elevate the situation to a more amicable one? I decided to be a good listener for the time being. The listening did help me to relax and be more patient towards his concerns. The listening also helped me to be more positive where I directed myself towards a solution to the situation. As he was finishing a sentence about the stagnant nature of the taxi fare, I jumped in and asked him a question. What do you like about your life? He looked at me with a stare, his face relaxed, a smile appeared. He went on to talk about his family, his son who will graduate from a very reputable university in May this year, a daughter in high school and the best part of it all is they live together in the outskirts of Bangkok. He never stopped talking about his family. The sound of his voice was filled with emotion, happiness, joy and throughout the rest of the drive, there was a smile on his face. I was glad that I did not criticize him when he started complaining. Everything ended with so much happiness and goodwill. All this happened only because I asked him the positive question “what do you like about your life?”. Such a strategy can also be used when somebody is very negative in an office environment. Just find a question where your colleague is likely to answer in a positive way, and you will see the change of mood and climate.
Thinking of an idea to change the world for the better? I suggest you put it into action. The act of forgiveness can affect our lives when showing kindness to strangers or people you have come to know, especially when dealing with your colleagues in the office. Sometimes it can be contagious and create an unexpected phenomenon. The first company I worked for, was filled with 60% British colleagues, a mixture of some 30% international colleagues from various countries, and 10% Thai employees. Due to cultural differences, working in a multinational company can create arguments and daily conflict. One day, a British colleague with whom I never had a conversation with, stormed into my office and complaint on things I did not do. He thought I was the one who issued that certain letter to the client and it was a total mess. He cursed and said many things. I tried to explain but he refused to listen. When he found out the truth the next day, he came to my office and apologized. It was spontaneous when I told him, “it’s okay, it was yesterday”. That was a turning point when we both realized we do not hold grudges and move on. Leave the conflict behind and focus on the work itself. Because if we give importance to all little details and gossip in the office, the organization would not be as productive as it should be. The result of that encounter? I gained respect from my colleagues and we worked together in harmony. When you are optimistic, people will judge you. Sometimes you will encounter disgraceful and unappreciated people along the way and be cautious of those taking advantage from you. They know that you will forgive, that is when they keep on doing harm against you or continue with their bad attitudes and behaviour. Learning to “Forgive” the unforgivable is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Your enemy may not deserve to be forgiven but you deserve to be free of this evil. Forgiveness Tips: 1. Realize that the hate you feel toward your opponent does not harm him or her in the way that you want. 2. Understand that the best revenge against your enemies is to live a successful and happy life. 3. The second best revenge is to turn the evil into something good. 4. List the good things that emerged as a result of this awful experience. 5. Seek for the helpers. 6. Be compassionate with yourself. 7.The aramaic word for “forgive” means literally to “untie.” 8. Learn to balance trust with wisdom. 9. When your enemy and his or her evil actions come to mind, send him or her a blessing. Wish your enemy well. “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” Thomas Szasz
On January 27, 2015, I attended a forum organized by Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, on the topic “Shaping and Sharpening the Future Roadmap of Thailand and ASEAN’s Human Capital Management”. The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Dipak Jain, Dean of Sasin University (formerly, he had also served as Dean of Nortwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, U.S.A., and as Dean at INSEAD, France). Jain described in his presentation the evolution of the global business model during the last 500 years. He stated that until the 19th century, countries were the key players. Their business model focused on land acquisition, mainly through colonialism. Those empires that had colonised the highest number of countries were considered the most succesful ones. In the 20th century, it was no longer countries invading countries, but rather corporations invading countries. The focus moved to free market competition and capitalism. Profit became the metric to gauge the success of those corporations. In the 21st century, the focus is on human capital development and entrepreneuralism. The key players are citizens. The metric is shifting to having a purpose. And behind purpose, there has to be significance which means making a positive difference in the lives of people. Jain emphasized that management education should focus on business ethics, sustainability, and CSR (= Corporate Social Responsibility). He summed up his keynote speech with the catchphrase “PERFORMANCE & PURPOSE”. I was so happy at the end of Prof. Dipak Jain’s key note, since his proposed business model for the 21st century is fully in line with my own approach. Not only that I had given a few years ago a talk at a German university on sustainable leadership titled “PURPOSE / PASSION / PERFORMANCE”, but his recommendation for the business model for the 21st century is exactly what we had practised and lived at my previous company, Merck Ltd., Thailand for the last 15 years. We had moved away from focusing only on shareholders, but we rather produced results for all stakeholders. We helped our employees to find meaning and purpose in their work. We took very well care of our customers. Volunteering activities that we had created for our employees and our customers as well as the long-lasting partnership between Merck Thailand and the NGO Raks Thai Foundation / CARE Thailand had a positive impact on the society. Employee and customer satisfaction surveys showed very high levels of satisfaction and engagement. At the same time, our company was very profitable and produced excellent financial returns for our shareholders. That, by the way, has to be always a given. Without reasonable profits, no company can survive. As we have already proven over a long period of time, taking care of all stakeholders (employees, customers, society, and shareholders) and delivering great results for all of them is absolutely possible (and the only way for sustainable business success in the 21st century). This model works! So how is it going at your company? Do you have a business model to ensure sustainable success not only for shareholders, but for all stakeholders? If not, you better start working on it.
I bring out my extroverted feeling attitude when I am in a communication mode. This mode is caring towards the listener accompanied with patience, understanding and warmth. This also brings happiness that enables effective communication. This has been my communication behaviour for as long as I know. Everything changed for a short moment a couple of weeks ago when I was in a meeting. I have known the participants in this meeting for more than a decade. We have sat in numerous meetings and they have always been amicable. This latest meeting that happened a couple of weeks ago, started as usual with pleasantries. About half an hour into the meeting, my mode of communication moved from extroverted feelings to extroverted thinking where the sound of my voice was harsh, every word was emotionless and a very tense atmosphere began to hang on. In addition to that, the conversation in the meeting was among three people only and the others were quiet and did not contribute to the meeting. My demeanor brought about more speechlessness, I guess. I could feel the tension and realized what I have brought about. I just could not shake it off and the meeting came to an end with others bringing more cordiality. As the meeting came to a close, I apologized for my behaviour to the chairperson and later that night wrote him an email with more apologies. It was a good lesson learnt and felt better after admitting to my wrongful attitude.