Najeeb Al Awadi's Blog

Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

I will be speaking at the Australian University in Kuwait to the beloved students. I thought of sharing my brief with you. My intention is to speak to them for 30 minutes about leadership. I don’t want to give them a usual speech from a leader to its audience. I want to get them to be passionate and I want to be contagious and pass on my skills to the future leaders and hope to find new leaders in my audience.

Much of my professional life has been in the direction of leading. It started during the school days at university, with my roommates, with my classmates, with friends and colleagues.

Leadership skills have now been universally recognized as the key ingredient. In management, a good manager is by definition a leader. Equally, a good leader will also be a manager.

Is it possible to develop your own abilities as a leader?

My answer loudly is: Yes.

One word of caution: nobody can teach you leadership. It is something you have to learn. You learn principally from experience.

You will most probably work for five to six organizations in your career, and none of them will be quite as committed to your long-term development as you are. Can you think now how you will be able to develop yourself as a leader?

There are no set rules, or set systems that you can rely on. You as a person are a unique with a desire and a distinctive path of leadership in front of you. Nobody can teach you the way: you have to find it yourself. If it was so easy a path to follow, a lot more people in leadership roles or positions would be showing their leadership skills.

All I can do here is to share with you some practical suggestions and reflections that you may find useful to accept/adopt and implement in your lifestyle to encourage yourself.

Be Prepared

The door into leadership has “Confidence” written upon it. You have to have the want to be a leader. It begins with a willingness to take charge. If you hate the idea of taking responsibility then leadership is not for you. Remain an individual contributor.

The more prepared you are, the more confident you become. Remember, as a leader or leader-to-be always look confident, even when you may not be feeling it from inside. People will tend to take you at face value.

Be Proactive

Organizations do have a vested interest in your development as a leader. Because they need such leaders. Share with them your hopes, intentions, and ambitions.

Take courses, read, stimulate, and take up any such offers to grow.

Be Reflective

Most leaders are action-centered and fairly well immersed in their work, not least because they tend to love it.  Of course you need to withdraw from time to time to take a helicopter overview about the organization. This reflection should include your own role performance as a leader. List things that are going well and identify some specific areas for self-improvement.

Always look for feedback which is a bit of a guidance mechanism in a rocket. If you receive it with an open mind, looking for the truth in it, it will guide you on your path to excellence in leadership.

The only way for you to move from being a good leader – where you are now by any means – to becoming a very good leader, even an excellent or great leader, is by aiming higher.

Final word, develop yourself day after day, be confident. Use all sources around you, superiors, colleagues, team members, friends, and family. Use them to improve your leadership.

It does take time, for there is no such thing as instant leadership. Therefore, be patient with yourself. Aim to take a step forward each day. Do something differently tomorrow as a result of reading or attending a speech or a short workshop. Even if it’s a small step, you will be on your way.

Try again and again; it will help you in moving forward. For me as a true leader, I believe that you should be a warrior. Be a happy warrior to make it happen.

I will share with you my dear readers my findings and thoughts about them after my speech.

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Salam readers!

It been quite a while since we touched base and life has been hectic. But somehow I have found time to write again and hopefully you will see me more active on the blog and we can connect again. It’s always been a pleasure to share thoughts with you.

You know recently I was watching this amazing clip and it is something which comes along once in a while. I was so impressed that I decided to share it with you. When you hear the clip or read it below (I transcribed it for you and I personally feel you will enjoy reading it more than hearing it) you sense a surge within you. Here is the link to the clip

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

The talk is by Simon Sinek who has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers — and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.

Well here is the entire script and hope you have a roller coaster ride reading it. I surely did. After reading do share your thoughts and post comments.

Enjoy

———————————————-Clip Transcribe——————————————

“How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, after year, they’re more innovative then all their competition. And yet they are just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent, the same talents, the same agencies, and the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. And he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him? And why is that the Wright Brothers were able to figure out control-powered, manned flight when there were certainly other teams, who were better qualified, better funded, and they didn’t achieve powered man flight, and the Wright brothers beat them to it. There is something else at play here. About three and a half years ago I made a discovery, and this discovery profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked. And it even profoundly changed the way in which I operate in it. As it turns out – there’s a pattern – all it turns out, all the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether its Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, they all think act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it. And it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the golden circle.

Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why” I mean: what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? Well, as a result, the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations, regardless of their size, regardless of their industry, all think, act and communicate from the inside out.

Let me give you an example. I use Apple because they’re easy to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this. “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” Neh. And that’s how most of us communicate. That’s how most marketing is done. That’s how most sales are done. And that’s how most of us communicate interpersonally. We say what we do, we say how we’re different or how we’re better and we expect some sort of a behavior, a purchase, a vote, something like that. Here’s our new law firm. We have the best lawyers with the biggest clients. We always perform for our clients who do business with us. Here’s our new car. It gets great gas mileage. It has leather seats. Buy our car. But it’s uninspiring.

Here’s how Apple actually communicates. “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” Totally different right? You’re ready to buy a computer from me. All I did was reverse the order of information. What it proves to us is that people don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

This explains why every single person in this room is perfectly comfortable buying a computer from Apple. But we’re also perfectly comfortable buying an MP3 player from Apple, or a phone from Apple, or a DVR from Apple. But, as I said before, Apple’s just a computer company. There’s nothing that distinguishes them structurally from any of their competitors. Their competitors are all equally qualified to make all of these products. In fact, they tried. A few years ago, Gateway came out with flat screen TVs. They’re eminently qualified to make flat screen TVs. They’ve been making flat screen monitors for years. Nobody bought one. Dell came out with MP3 players and PDAs. And they make great quality products. And they can make perfectly well-designed products. And nobody bought one. In fact, talking about it now, we can’t even imagine buying an MP3 player from Dell. Why would you buy an MP3 player from a computer company? But we do it every day. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. Here’s the best part.

None of what I’m telling you is my opinion. It’s all grounded in the tenets of biology. Not psychology, biology. If you look at a cross-section of the human brain, looking from the top down, what you see is the human brain is actually broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with the golden circle. Our newest brain, our homo sapien brain, our neocortex, corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains. And our limbic brains are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language.

In other words, when we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior. When we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from. You know, sometimes you can give somebody all the facts and figures, and they say, “I know what all the facts and details say, but it just doesn’t feel right.” Why would we use that verb, it doesn’t “feel” right? Because the part of the brain that controls decision-making, doesn’t control language. And the best we can muster up is, “I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.” Or sometimes you say you’re leading with your heart, or you’re leading with your soul. Well, I hate to break it to you; those aren’t other body parts controlling your behavior. It’s all happening here in you limbic brain, the part of the brain that controls decision-making and not language.

But if you don’t know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how you ever get people to vote for you, or buy something from you, or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do. Again, the goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hired people who believe what you believe. I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears. And nowhere else is there a better example of this than with the Wright brothers.

Most people don’t know about Samuel Pierpont Langley. And back in the early early twentieth century, the pursuit of powered man flight was like the dot com of the day. Everybody was trying it. And Samuel Pierpont Langley had, what we assume, to be the recipe for success. I mean, even now, you ask people, “Why did your product or why did your company fail?” and people always give you the same permutation of the same three things, under-capitalized, the wrong people, bad market conditions. It’s always the same three things, so let’s explore that. Samuel Pierpont Langley was given 50,000 dollars by the War Department to figure out this flying machine. Money was no problem. He held a seat at Harvard and worked at the Smithsonian and was extremely well-connected. He knew all the big minds of the day. He hired the best minds money could find. And the market conditions were fantastic. The New York Times followed him around everywhere. And everyone was rooting for Langley. Then how come you’ve never heard of Samuel Pierpont Langley?

A few hundred miles away in Dayton Ohio, Orville and Wilbur Wright, they had none of what we consider to be the recipe for success. They had no money. They paid for their dream with the proceeds from their bicycle shop. Not a single person on the Wright brothers’ team had a college education, not even Orville or Wilbur. And the New York Times followed them around nowhere. The difference was, Orville and Wilbur were driven by a cause, by a purpose, by a belief. They believed that if they could figure out this flying machine, it’ll change the course of the world. Samuel Pierpont Langley was different. He wanted to be rich, and he wanted to be famous. He was in pursuit of the result. He was in pursuit of the riches. And lo and behold, look what happened. The people who believed in the Wright brothers’ dream, worked with them with blood and sweat and tears. The others just worked for the paycheck. And they tell stories of how every time the Wright brothers went out, they would have to take five sets of parts, because that’s how many times they would crash before they came in for supper.

And, eventually, on December 17th, 1903, the Wright brothers took flight, and no one was there to even experience it. We found out about it a few days later. And further proof that Langley was motivated by the wrong thing, the day the Wright brothers took flight, he quit. He could have said, “That’s an amazing discovery guys, and I will improve upon your technology,” but he didn’t. He was first, he didn’t get rich, he didn’t get famous, so he quit.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe. But why is it important to attract those who believe what you believe? Something called the law of diffusion of innovation. And if you don’t know the law, you definitely know the terminology. The first two and a half percent of our population are our innovators. The next 13 and a half percent of our population are our early adopters. The next 34 percent are your early majority, your late majority and your laggards. The only reason these people buy touch tone phones is because you can’t buy rotary phones anymore.

We all sit at various places at various times on this scale, but what the law of diffusion of innovation tells us is that if you want mass-market success or mass-market acceptance of an idea, you cannot have it until you achieve this tipping point between 15 and 18 percent market penetration. And then the system tips. And I love asking businesses, “What’s your conversion on new business?” And they love to tell you, “Oh, it’s about 10 percent,” proudly. Well, you can trip over 10 percent of the customers. We all have about 10 percent who just “get it.” That’s how we describe them, right. That’s like that gut feeling, “Oh, they just get it.” The problem is: How do you find the ones that get it before you’re doing business with them versus the ones that don’t get it? So it’s this here, this little gap that you have to close, as Jeffrey Moore calls it, “crossing the chasm.” Because, you see, the early majority will not try something until someone else has tried it first. And these guys, the innovators and the early adopters, they’re comfortable making those gut decisions. They’re more comfortable making those intuitive decisions that are driven by what they believe about the world and not just what product is available.

These are the people who stood on line for six hours to buy an iPhone when they first came out, when you could have just walked into the store the next week and bought one off the shelf. These are the people 40,000 dollars on flat screen TVs when they first came out, even though the technology was substandard. And, by the way, they didn’t do it because the technology was so great. They did it for themselves. It’s because they wanted to be first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy what you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe. The reason that person bought the iPhone in the first six hours, stood in line for six hours, was because of what they believed about the world, and how they wanted everybody to see them. They were first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

So let me give you a famous example, a famous failure and a famous success of the law of diffusion of innovation. First, the famous failure. It’s a commercial example. As we said before, a second ago, the recipe for success is money and the right people and the right market conditions. Right. You should have success then. Look at TiVo. From the time TiVo came out, about eight or nine years ago, to this current day, they are the single highest-quality product on the market, hands down, there is no dispute. They were extremely well-funded. Market conditions were fantastic. I mean, we use TiVo as verb. I TiVo stuff on my piece of junk Time Warner DVR all the time.

But TiVo’s a commercial failure. They’ve never made money. And when they went IPO, their stock was at about 30 or 40 dollars and then plummeted, and it’s never traded above 10. In fact, I don’t even think it’s traded above six, except for a couple of little spikes. Because you see, when TiVo launched their product, they told us all what they had. They said, “We have a product that pauses live TV, skips commercials, rewinds live TV and memorizes your viewing habits without you even asking.” And the cynical majority said, “We don’t believe you. We don’t need it. We don’t like it. You’re scaring us.” What if they had said, “If you’re the kind of person who likes to have total control over every aspect of your life, boy, do we have a product for you. It pauses live TV, skips commercials, memorizes your viewing habits, etc., etc.” People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.

Now let me give you a successful example of the law of diffusion of innovation. In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed up on the mall in Washington to hear Dr. King speak. They sent out no invitations, and there was no website to check the date. How do you do that? Well, Dr. King wasn’t the only man in America who was a great orator. He wasn’t the only man in America who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. In fact, some of his ideas were bad. But he had a gift. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around and told people what he believed. “I believe. I believe. I believe,” he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and they made it their own, and they told people. And some of those people created structures to get the word out to even more people. And low and behold, 250,000 people showed up on the right day, at the right time, to hear him speak.

How many of them showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel in a bus for eight hours, to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August. It’s what they believed, and it wasn’t about black versus white. 25 percent of the audience was white. Dr. King believed that there are two different laws in this world, those that are made by a higher authority and those that are made by man. And not until all the laws that are made by man are consistent with the laws that are made by the higher authority, will we live in a just world. It just so happened that the Civil Rights Movement was the perfect thing to help him bring his cause to life. We followed, not for him, but for ourselves. And, by the way, he gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech.

Listen to politicians now with their comprehensive 12-point plans. They’re not inspiring anybody. Because there are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority. But those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with “why” that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.

Thank you very much.”

———————————————-End——————————————————

I’ve read an interesting article, once, in the Business Harvard Reports. It shows what the management style is, and suggests how it should be, for better time management. I thought I can share with you, today, some parts of it…

Ever wondered why you have too many problems – too many monkeys – on your back?!

Ever noticed that all too often, you find yourself running out of time, while your subordinates are running out of work?!

This is the case of an overburdened manager, who has unintentionally taken on all of his/ her subordinates’ problems/ monkeys, which is in clear conflict with time management.

Who’s working for whom?

In accepting a monkey, the manager is voluntarily assuming a position subordinate, to his/ her subordinate. By which a manager accepts a responsibility, promises to provide a progress report, and is being supervised thereafter when asked: “How is it going?”.

The more monkeys a manager takes and gets caught up, the more he/ she will fall behind. The manager is eventually caught in a vicious circle…

Getting rid of monkeys

A manager should believe that; at no time while helping subordinates, that their problems become his/ her own. And that in those rare cases, he/ she with the subordinate will together determine if the next move should be the manager’s.

This way, the manager is transferring initiatives back to his/ her subordinates, and keeps it there.

Also, a manager and his/ her subordinate cannot effectively have the same initiative, simultaneously. A monkey may not astride two backs.

Care& Feeding of monkeys

Here are five strict rules governing the care& feeding of monkeys. Violation of these rules will cost more time loss:-

  1. Monkeys should be fed or shot. Otherwise, a manager will waste valuable time on resurrections

  2. Monkeys’ population should be kept below the maximum number a manager has time to feed. It shouldn’t take more than 5-15 min. to feed a properly maintained monkey

  3. Monkeys should be fed by appointment only

  4. Monkeys should be fed face-2-face or by telephone, but never by mail. Documentation may add to the feeding process, but it shouldn’t replace it

  5. Every monkey should have an assigned next feeding time& degree of initiative. Never allowed to become vague or indefinite

Bosses are found that they cannot just give a monkey back to their subordinates, and then just merely get on with their own business. Empowering subordinates is a hard& complicated work.

Empowerment often means that you have to develop people. This is initially much more time consuming than solving the problem on your own. But more important about empowerment, is that effective delegation, which depends on a trusting relationship between a manager and his/ her subordinate.

Thus, executives need to establish a running dialogue with subordinates, establishing a partnership. After all, if subordinates are afraid of failing in front of their bosses, they’ll keep coming back for help, rather than take initiatives.

Further, working on time management requires people to categorize their activities according to urgency& importance.

Those who spend half or more of their time on matters that are urgent but not important, are trapped in an endless cycle of other’s monkeys. Yet, they’re reluctant to help those concerned take their own initiative.

Wrapping up this post, I’d like to conclude with these questions„

Bosses; How effective is your delegation in reducing the passage of monkeys to you, and why?

Subordinates; How often are you passing your monkeys to your bosses, and why?

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