Thursday, July 31, 2008

Improve your leadership skills.

This one is for those gearing up for leadership roles. Some tips for improving your leadership skills.

Great leaders are born and not made. While this may be true, there is nothing to suggest that no one can acquire leadership skills. Though not easy, it is not impossible also. But yes, leadership is not so easy to practice. There are no schools and colleges that can make you a good leader but there are certain ideas and practices that can put you on the right track.

Leadership is all about behavior and soft skills. Good leaders are people who are trusted and respected by their staff and followers not because of their college degrees and qualifications, but due to their behavior and ability to inspire others. While Management relies more on planning, organizational and communications skills, Leadership is different. It relies more on personal skills and attitudes. A good leader is known for his/her qualities such as integrity, honesty, humility, courage, commitment, sincerity, passion, confidence, wisdom, determination, positive attitude, compassion and sensitivity.

Every good leader has his own style of working and it is not necessary that what works for one will work for other also. The situation and condition should decide how and what leadership style should be followed.

Renesis Likert explained four broad styles of management as

Exploitative – Authoritative,

Benevolent -- Authoritative,

Conservative and


In the exploitative style, the manager or the leader takes decision and the subordinates have to follow his instructions. He does not allow any room for suggestions or discussion and the motivation is characterized by threats.

In the Benevolent style, although the leader is again the supreme authority, the motivation is characterized by rewards. There is no team work and lower level employees do not feel any responsibility.

In the third one that is the Conservative style, leader shows some trust and delegates some responsibility towards lower levels. There is limited amount of involvement.

But the last type – Participative is by far the best as in this style as the name suggests there is equal participation by employees and the manager and the leadership role is reduced to that of a mentor. There is complete confidence on subordinates and motivation is through economic rewards based on goals which have been set by equal participation of both parties.

How to be a good leader: To be a good leader, cultivate a style that suits you and your personality best.

1. The first thing is to develop a reliable and attractive mission statement that people will understand, respect and believe (that is not impossible to achieve). Communicate your ideas and vision clearly and show people how they are going to affect them.

2. Believe in yourself and others will also believe you. But if you are unsure yourself, you cannot hope to inspire confidence in others. And needless to say, that your leadership has to be backed by exemplary track record and reputation such that teams members and peers respect and value.

3. A good decision making ability under intense pressures is a must and for this make sure you have all the facts and figures before taking decisions. Do not be impulsive or take decisions emotionally.

4. Team building is another area where leaders excel. They have an eye for good workers and never fail to appreciate good work. A leader always set his sight on target and does not allow temporary setbacks to distract him from achieving his goals. Work confidently towards your goals. Persevere and keep encouraging and motivating your team. Lead by example and people will follow you.

5. And the most important thing is to never ridicule or show arrogance to your subordinates. No one likes to be bossed around. Respect your people even if he is a clerk or a peon in the office. People always support leaders who support them and so make sure to be there in the times of crisis and see how you develop into a great leader.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Me, my maid and my communication lessons (2)

I finally won! She seems to be responding well to me now. Guess, what I did differently? Nothing, except that I have started talking to her more than the usual. I am actually, a very quiet kind of a person and do not talk to people unless absolutely necessary. In all my dealings with people I stick to the normal and strictly related to work kind of attitude. I guess, it is different in workplace and at home. So, I decided to open up a bit more with my maid and results are encouraging to say the least. I asked her about her kids and family -- and she immeditaley responded though a bit surprised at first since I have not talked about family and personal things to her since I employed her 6 months back. But she did start talking - -- and I was surprised to learn that though she herself is illeterate , she is leaving no stones unturned to ger her two grand children study well. Actually, her daughter is also in same profession that is as a house maid , but she is determined that her daughter's kids study and get better jobs. Actually, our converstaion reminded me of long forgotton -- but timeless book -- How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carneige. In his book. he had mentioned that a sure shot way of getting close to a woman is to talk to her about her kids. How true ! Having experienced it first hand myself -- I am now even a greater fan of Mr Carneige. All those, who have not read it -- I reccomend it very strongly.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Me, my maid and my communication lessons

I know, its tough managing a boss. But if you really liked my note on them, do drop in a comment.

Btw, I was just arguing with my maid over the cleaning work she is supposed to do. She just does not seem to listen. I must have told her a thousand time to clean properly but she just smiles back as if I am talking about rocket science. Now this is what I call a communication failure. A few days back i published an article on communication skills in one of the local newspaper. If you are interested , it can be seen at

So, you see I conside myself a bit of an expert on these skills. And that is why when my husband dear started laughing when he saw me arguing with my maid, I knew I had to do something about it. I tried all the techniques , I knew but to no avail I am really at a loss now -- can't really boot her out -- I have no heart to do all the cleaning myself and maids are hard to come by these days. She seems to have better sense on this issue and is exploiting the situation pretty well. But I am not going to give up --

Friday, July 25, 2008

Boss giving trouble? Manage him well !

The biggest trouble we face in our workplace is from bosses. It is always a problem to know what he/she is thinking about. Read on for some invaluable tips for taking the bull straight on !

When we think of managing someone, we usually think of managing our team members or subordinates, but managing our boss does not come into mind. But the relationship with our boss is probably the most important relationship we have at work. Proper boss management can lead to better performance and working life with job satisfaction.

What to do ? Read on.

1. Simple, make your boss look good. It is obvious that if subordinates do a good job, the bosses always reap the benefits. Of course, some of them never give credits where it is due but most of them do. So, if boss is happy, the subordinates will be happy. Before criticizing them , do remember that sometimes, they pay for your mistakes. The top management holds them responsible for not meeting deadlines or sloppy work, though it may not be entirely their fault. Thus they too have their own pressures and bosses and they too need a helping hand. So, instead of becoming one of their headaches, be prepared to help them sort out problems and they will help you in turn in achieving your goals and targets. Always remember, that they are the only person who can actually help you make a career if they want to and could be the person who may ruin your career if they want. So, why be on the wrong side of the picture. It definitely helps to make his/her life easier.

2. Be prepared. Always remember that they have other subordinate and other obligations besides your project, so do not expect them to be fully involved in your project. Be always prepared with facts and data for discussions or for filling him in. Do not try to overwhelm by giving all the technical details, overall summary and specific points are enough. Provide details only when asked. Give them the summary so that they know what you are doing. They will appreciate if they are kept in loop regarding your project without them asking for it.

3. Manage your small problems yourself. Do not waste their time by presenting small problems which you can handle at your level. A short note on the problem and how you solved it would be enough for them. But of course, highlight your contribution so that they know that it is because of you that the project is going smoothly. Do not try to capture their attention all the time, but on the other side, do not fade away either.

4. Make them their decision making simple. When you need a decision, make it simple for them by presenting the situation in a concise and factual manner. Do not give them hundred of pages to read, but provide summary. Suggest your solutions and give input and let them give the final decision. Once the decision is accepted by you , do not ever try to shake it off when things go wrong by putting the blame on the manager. Defend it as your own decision.

5.Do not focus on problems only. Do not be the messenger of bad news all the time. If you keep bringing only bad news, little by little you become the bad news yourself. By always focusing on problems, you tend to project yourself the problem creator. And yes, do not try to hide problems either. The boss will come to know of it sooner or later. So, it is better to keep him informed rather than let others do it for you or let him ask for it.

6. Managing boss is a subtle art. If you overdo it, it will look like that you are trying to impress and you will be alienated from your coworkers and colleagues. And even the boss will not take it kindly. A good boss never encourages flattery. The best possible route is to do it subtly by doing a good job, being responsible and aligning your interests with his priorities. Keep him informed and offer solutions along with the problems. In short, make his life easy and he/she will make your easy.

Importance of soft skills.

Hi friends,

I have been writing about soft skills and behavior skills in life and workplace eversince I chose to become a full time mother to my beautiful kids and started working as a freelance writer.

I have always felt that they have been given a rough shoulder by degrees and diplomas that we all rush to get and slog for all our life time. But if we see around the world many of the top businesses and best ideas have come from people who have been school drop outs. One of the most famous example being Bill Gates himself.

This is not to undermine the traditional eduation methods and wean people away from gaining their degrees and certificates , but a general thought about what those people had who succeeded without the formal education or what we -- having so many degrees and diplomas and certificates with us -- have been unable to achieve.

Of course, hard work and determination is important but a daily wage labourer also does a lot of hard work -- but he reamins where is -- probably all his life. So, what is different in them -- those who succeed ? There is no single theory that can explain -- it could be their creative ideas, their zeal for work, or even an eye for opportunity. But one thing I am sure, you will all agree -- they all possess excellent leadership qualities along with wonderful communications and interpersonal skills. All such qualities which are not taught at our prestigious B-schools and universities.

Stay tuned for some tips on these very special soft skills.