It is believed that “ALL HEALING COMES FROM WITHIN”. Working to meet our means is as important as keeping a healthy body. But how many people really do take care of their body? Employees and working people sometimes abuse themselves by working too much and not paying attention to their health. This year, I lost a number of dear friends and loved ones; many of them died of heart attacks or cancer. Studies show that 85 percent of all diseases are rooted in our emotions. If we are taught to work on our emotions when we are sick–not only depending on medication- I believe we can save people from dying of heart disease and cancer. It is said that doctors have done thousands of experiments on placebos. One of the experiments, the doctor gave patient a pill with absolutely nothing in it and tell him it will remove his pain. The patient took the pill and he believed that the pain disappeared. The logic behind is because his body was producing natural pain-killers. Our body manufactures all-natural chemicals that heal itself. Yes, our body is more powerful than you think it is. Holistic approach and self healing process gives you the idea that you can’t heal your body without healing your entire being. If you want to heal your body, you need to heal your spirit, your mind, and your emotions as well. A holistic view means that we engage and develop the whole person in terms of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It’s the concept that the human being is multi-dimensional. Not just intellect, but emotion, instinct, and intuition. I believe we possess more than five senses, and this includes ‘common sense’ as well. I live in a very stressful environment. For sometime, I develop a heart disease, hypertension, and severe headache leading to depression. I sometimes can’t breath and need oxygen. Early 2014, I engaged myself with a life style change. I started to eat healthy, exercise, filter informations that I take in, and I keep a positive mind open to opportunities. It has an overall impact on my development through a natural healing process. Based on a study published by Psychosomatic Medicine in 2007, exercise is as effective as medication in treating depression, also help reducing symptoms of depressions in some cases. Research also showed that exercise causes biochemical changes in the brain that are similar to those produced by medication, including an increase in serotonin levels. Holistic leaders are the ones who acknowledge and honor their own complexity, who recognize that we all co-create our world, and who take responsibility of their actions. I believe holistic leaders are those who utilize their inner and outer natural resources which include intellect, insight, intuition, and imagination; a holistic leader is the one who maximizes the outer resources in their natural, social and political environment. So my little piece of advice for workaholic folks and those who think they are sick or have been sick for sometime now, please try a life style change by adapting a positive attitude, eat the right food, and get a regular exercise. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but in building the new.” Socrates
Managing change (72%), dealing with rising complexity (52%), and being a role model (44%): these are the three top challenges of leaders according to a recent study (November 2014). The Institute for Employment and Employability (IBE) in Ludwigshafen, Germany and Hays, a HR (human resources) consulting firm, had asked 665 decision makers (managing directors, HR managers, and department managers) in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. According to their HR Report 2014/2015, the most important tasks of a leader are to establish a feedback culture (71%), to motivate employees (69%), and to identify development opportunities for their subordinates (66%). Managing the day to day business (9%) came in last among the most important tasks for a leader. The survey also showed that the by far most important requirement for a leader is his social competence (78%), followed by method competence (14%), and professional competence (7%). At the same time, the survey participants saw by far the biggest need for action (72%) due to the target versus actual comparison in the area of social competence. The huge majority (79%) of the leaders in the survey saw “lack of time for leadership tasks” as the biggest stumbling block while more than half of the leaders (55%) saw ” a reduction of their control function and a switch to more individual responsibility of their subordinates (empowerment)” as the second biggest hurdle. Moving from “a being present at the workplace” – orientation towards a results – orientation came in third place (48%). What can we make out of the results of that HR Report 2014/2015? There needs to be still done a lot of work in terms of leadership in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and probably in many other countries too. It strikes me that 79% of the responding leaders state that they have too little time for leadership tasks. That’s what they were hired for in the first place and it surely is part of their job profile. To me, it looks like many of those decision makers have the wrong priorities. They prefer to splash around in the shallow water called “day to day business” (although only 9% stated that it is an important task for a leader) rather than entering the deeper leadership water where you sometimes will have to deal with currents and swirls. There are still by far too many “command and control” – type of leaders around. Many executives have problems in delegating responsibility to their subordinates and to empower them. And the focus has to shift from watching only the physical presence at the workplace to the results contributed by an employee. A lot more needs to be done to improve the social competence of leaders. After all, we know that your EQ (emotional quotient) is a much better indicator than your IQ (intelligence quotient) how successful you will be in life. While IQ is used to determine academic capabilities, EQ is a better indication of success in the workplace. Leaders who possess strong soft skills perform better at driving hard results while executives with weak interpersonal skills are rated poorly on their ability to deliver good business results, especially over time, and receive predictably poor ratings as people managers. Therefore, in my humble opinion, the development of soft skills has to begin already at schools and universities, not only at the workplace where people often get only their first interpersonal skills training after having been promoted to a supervisory role. Since we are at the beginning of the year, what are you going to do to enhance your leadership skills and how can you make a contribution to improve the state of leadership at your company this year?
For the past couple of months, I have been accompanying my daughter, June, while she researches her thesis on Thais living in the state of Kedah, Malaysia. My nephew here has been very gracious to drive us around places of interest and towns, cities and villages where Thais reside. It has been an eventful couple of months. I have observed June’s introversion and peaceful nature. June has a unique sense of concentration before pressing on the shutter of her Canon camera and her alertness to see details pertaining to her research. June also has a quiet way of communication in terms of her tone, inflection and her attentiveness to listening. She interviews Thais in Kedah for information on culture and the differences in it, their livelihood, kinds of jobs they do, challenges they face, how their children keep up with mastering the Thai language while going to local schools here. Yesterday, while we were in a village, in Pendang, Kedah, with a beautiful Wat (temple), she got the opportunity to interview the monk and a few of the members of the event organizing committee of the Wat. She would start by asking a question and as they answered, I would ask follow up questions for her. She would go quiet. She will then come back to another question, and I would do the same. This went on and the interview lasted for close to two hours. Our Google Map showed another village with Thais. Here we met with a librarian of the village. Here too I sat in the interview. This time around I was a good listener and observer. June finished her interview in less than half an hour, covering the whole scope of what she wanted. Her professor had given the range of information needed for her thesis and she kept to it and was able to get what she wanted with specific questions. The lesson learned here is to know when to be a good listener and let others do what they need to accomplish at a given time.
“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” W. Edwards Deming. I came across a seminar on ISO (International Organization for Standardization) in September 2014. We discussed a lot on the performance and standard issues. Looking at our organization as a living system, like people, we handle emotions and relationships like the process of growing and developing in every life cycle encountered. Performance at work and how one handle his or her relationship is quite similar in a way that can be discussed further into five categories, namely: 1. Accept your fault/failure : you must admit that you are wrong or something has gone wrong both with your best performance or in a relationship. You just didn’t reach the goal that has been set for you. If you cannot discuss or find out the root cause of your problem, you will never be able to accept the truth, the very core of the problem itself. However, take note that “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” B.F. Skinner. 2. Learn how to deal with it: sometimes we thought we did the best we could to save a relationship or to perform at our best in the work place. But in reality, it didn’t work that way. Rejection, jealousy, comparison, competition, back stabbing, rumor-monger, and many kinds of negativities can kill you. Learning how to deal with these factors will make you a better person. 3. You do not meet the required standard or expectation they have for you: talking about standards, each family, organization, and relationship imply different standards. How does one measure that standard? You never know, your performance maybe under or exceed the standard they have set for you. This is a very sensitive topic since expectation varies, who determines that standard? For instance, company owners, CEO, head of the family, and those who make decision are the ones who set and raise the standard. So if you do not pass his or her standard, then do not be upset; try working on with the ones where you can fulfill their requirements. 4. You are not meant to be, it is not for you: Not having your dream job just because you failed the interview, does not mean you are not good enough. It means the company does not want to hire you because you are not a fit for the job. Do not look down on your self-worth, keep looking till you discover the job that suits you. I was hired by the Institute of International Education Bangkok in 2001 but I never dreamed of working in the educational field. After working with them, I discovered that this is what I wanted. I pursued my passion and eagerness to learn. And that made me who I am today with my Ph.D. and interesting stories to tell and re-tell of my great time growing up with the company I worked for. 5. Do better next time: The word “Best” is the greatest and the most, or the fullest you have made your effort to achieve your goal either at work or in a relationship, you had given your “all”. However, in certain circumstances, you might be working with people who dislike you, or you might be in a relationship where your counterpart continuously is keeping distance from you. It means that you have to exit yourself from that work place or the relationship. Simply tell yourself, better luck next time! Winston Churchill said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.”
Whenever I ride in a taxi in Bangkok I try to practice my Thai language skills. Typically, I ask the taxi drivers where they are from, where do they live, how long they work already as a taxi driver etc. During a taxi ride last month I asked the taxi driver what time he started to work that day and what time he will finish. He told me that he had worked already for eight hours that day and that I am his last customer for today. To my surprise, he added that he also has a second job as a police officer and that after he has dropped me off, he will start his night shift work at the police station. Since he noticed a kind of surprise and disbelief on my face, he pointed out to me that the jacket of his police uniform is hanging right across his seat. After complementing him for working so hard, I asked him what motivates him to work 18 hours a day? He put down the sun visor under the roof of the driver’s side of the car. There, under the vanity mirror, he had clipped a picture of his two children. He told me proudly: “That’s my motivation! My son is five years old and my daughter is three. I want to make sure that they will have a better life than me. I want to send them to a good school where they will get a proper education enabling them to get a good job later in their life.” This taxi driver has found his “why?”. He is very clear about his motivation. What about you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? If you cannot answer that question immediately, take some time to reflect. When you have found the answer, your life will become much more meaningful.
AEC 2015, as known as ASEAN Economic Community 2015, is a uniting of 10 ASEAN countries, which are Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, and Brunei. AEC 2015 will bring a new era of economical cooperation to all 10 countries. Investors can invest anywhere in these countries. Workers can go work anywhere in these countries also with no tight restriction like before. Competition will get fiercer for those who are not well-prepared. To prepare for AEC, we need to first embrace all cultures. We need to learn the do’s and don’t’s so that we can get along with other ASEAN members more amicably. To do that here are some key cultural business tips to help us work effectively with a boss from another country. These are just a few of the basic rules to live-by. After reading, you may add more. 1. Demonstrate a can-do, problem-solving attitude and a willingness to innovate and take calculated risks. 2. Be explicit and straightforward in your communication style, while avoiding direct criticism or open conflict. 3. Focus on being decisive and getting things done quickly. Take the approach that time is money, and a missed opportunity is wasteful. 4. Take individual accountability for results; while teamwork has increased in importance, the individual is still the primary focus. 5. Expect to encounter an informal business culture. Most people in a workplace will be on first-name terms. 6. Make a good impression through a simple, but factual and persuasive, presentation. Selling is important, although delivering results is what ultimately matters. 7. Be punctual to meetings, stick to the agenda, and expect the outcome to be action items that can be implemented quickly. 8. Try to get to the main point in a discussion quickly; don’t feel you need to provide all the contextual background at once. Questions are likely once the main point has been identified. Let’s live happily and productively during the upcoming AEC Era.
If you see your employees frowning, it is possible that they are not happy or might be going through some form of problems. Vice versa, when you see laughing employees who wear smiles on their faces, you could sense the joy and happiness they have in the office. I enjoy working in an office environment where one can find co-workers turned friends. I always believe that “office mates who work and laugh together stay together”. When a company hires talented personnel, it is not just his/her talent that is sought after. In reality, teamwork counts. Humor is one of the happy factors that enhances teamwork and thus the team’s performance. I am a light hearted person who can laugh easily at jokes or stories. Therefore, from my own experience, I can say that when communicating with your team, laughter can be essential to team building, because your colleague finds you approachable. Laughter is a part of human behaviour regulated by the brain, helping humans to clarify their intentions in social interaction and providing an emotional context to conversations. Laughter is used as a signal for being part of a group as it signals acceptance and positive interactions with others. Laughter is sometimes seen as contagious, and the laughter of one person can provoke laughter from others as a positive feedback. According to research, an average baby laughs 300-400 times a day compared to an average adult who laughs only 15-20 times a day! This will depend on factors such as age, gender, education, language, and culture as to whether a person will experience laughter in a given situation. I laughed around 100 times a day!!! Laughter has been used as a therapeutic tool as a natural form of medicine. It provides benefits to a person’s physical, emotional, and social well being. It can relieve stress and boost the immune system. Laughter releases endorphins to relieve pain. It can help prevent heart disease by increasing blood flow and improving the function of blood vessels. Laughter diminishes anxiety or fear, improving the overall mood, and adding joy to one’s life. Dr. Sasithara’s thoughts for good laughs: Rule #1: Never allow yourself to get old. This includes how you maintain your looks, physical fitness and dietary, and a sharp memory. Rule #2: Never allow anyone to put you down. You must work hard to achieve your goal. Dream big, start small. Rule #3: Filter what you see and hear. You do not need to understand everything especially bad things that is happening to you. Instead, go ahead and count your blessings. Be happy with what you have. Keep your heart and head light. Scientists believe that laughter therapy has some social benefits such as strengthening relationships, improving teamwork and reducing conflicts, and making oneself more attractive to others. Try to laugh a little and lighten up your loads, then you may little by little discover that you create your own happiness and yes, it’s you who create a happy work place! Finally, we can say that laughter therapy can be a significant enhancement to our lives.
“Teamwork makes the dream work” is a popular inspirational quote. The fact that Germany won this year’s FIFA football world cup championship in Brazil proves that there is a lot of truth in the above saying. The main reason that Germany became world champion is that the whole team displayed great team spirit. It was a triumph of teamwork over individual brilliance. A tweet during the world cup of Steven Gerrard, England’s team captain, says it all: “Portugal have Ronaldo, Brazil have Neymar, Argentina have Messi. Germany have a team!” These three are by many considered the best individual players in the world. Germany beat them all, mainly due to its great teamwork! Germany put the team rather than the individual player first. It took Germany 24 years after their last football world cup win to succeed again in the most difficult task at a world cup: to select and blend a group of highly talented players into a team where everybody commits and contributes to the common goal of the team. When Joachim Loew, Germany’s football head coach, was asked in an interview a few months before the world cup about his biggest challenge he answered: “I have only a few weeks to prepare the team for the world cup. The biggest challenge is to transform players (who are all super stars in their individual clubs) from “I-players” to “we-players”. That mirrors what Phil Jackson, the most succesful professional U.S. basketball coach, wrote in his book “Eleven Rings”. His big challenge was to make Michael Jordan, the best basketball player in the world, going beyond being a star and become what Jackson called a player “who surrenders the me for the we”. Also in business, the most effective leaders don’t say “I”. They don’t think “I”. They think “we”; they think “team”. That creates trust and gets the task done. One more crucial success factor for teams is the bonding of its team members. The German football association had paid particular attention to this aspect. For the first time ever, the German football team didn’t live in normal hotel rooms during the one month football world cup tournament. The 23 players resided in Brazil in four bungalows in a sports and nature resort called “Campo Bahia”. Six players each lived in three bungalows and the remaining five players in one more bungalow. The bungalows were designed in a way that every player had his individual bedroom and his individual bathroom, but in the centre of the bungalow, there was a big “common room”. Like this, the players spent (by intention and by design) a lot of time together. As a result, the players (who originate from different football clubs) got to know each other much better, great team bonding took place, relationships developed and even some deep friendships evolved. You could observe during the matches how the players helped each other. Even the substitute players on the bench supported the ones on the field strongly, displaying great team spirit without any envy towards their mates on the pitch. Campo Bahia was a huge success and contributed immensely to the German world cup win. Team bonding is also very important in the corporate world. I remember how much stronger our leadership team became after implementing quarterly two or three days off-site meetings. We got to know each other much better and our relationship strengthened a lot. Being aware of the positive effect, we came up with internal and external events across the whole organization. The highlight was always our annual three days take-off meeting outside of Bangkok where we combined business with leisure. It was an ideal opportunity for team bonding, sharing the company’s vision, mission, strategy and goals among all employees. It created alignment and the ever so important momentum which many teams and organizations lack. Therefore, I encourage you to think about what you have done recently for your team and what else you should be doing to strengthen teamwork at your organization.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion on the future of leadership. The fifteen individuals in the discussion are senior leaders of a multinational company. 70% of these leaders have been with the company for more than a decade. They have grown and developed their leadership talents and skills within the confines of their company. Now they are curious on how to better lead the present generation where turn over has become unpredictable. They are very eager to learn and expand their comfort zone. These leaders have come to realize that all the opportunities to becoming better leaders are outside their comfort zone. With this in mind, they invited into the discussion and wanted me to lead with research on The Future of Leadership. I came across an interesting article from the Center for Creative Leadership on the same topic and as such we used it as our guide. Here are some of our learnings. The Current Situation – The environment has changed – it is more complex, volatile and unpredictable. (The leaders all agreed that this is very true and can be experienced in their organization). – The skills needed for leadership have also changed – more complex and adaptive thinking abilities are needed. – The methods being used to develop leaders have not changed (much). – The majority of managers are developed from on-the-job experiences, training, and coaching/mentoring; while these are all still important, leaders are no longer developing fast enough or in the right ways to match the new environment. The Challenge Ahead – This is no longer just a leadership challenge (what good leadership looks like); it is a development challenge (the process of how to grow “bigger” minds). – Managers have become experts on “what” of leadership, but novices in the “how” of their own development. The Skills Sets Required Have Changed – More Complex Thinkers Are Needed Reflecting the changes in the environment, the competencies that will be most valuable to the future leader appear to be changing. The most common skills, abilities and attributes cited by interviewees were: – Adaptability – Self-awareness – Boundary spanning – Collaboration – Network Thinking The most interesting outcome of this discussion was how the leaders felt comfortable talking about the current situation, the challenges and changes they are going through with acceptance and more changes that they have to adapt to in terms of leadership development. We will be going through further discussions and learn from the rest of the info in the article.