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Leadership

The Peter Principle, Why things go wrong by Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull

With foreword by Robert Sutton

Let me have men about me that are fat
Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous
– Julius Ceasar, Shakespeare

We hire people after our own image. The authors cite Napolean who felt that people with big noses make better leaders. The Retrospective Decision making model predicts that we make decisions intuitively and retrospectively give a reason (possibly logically) for our decision.

We make judgments about people’s competence. Sometimes from brief interactions. The more powerful you are, the more impact. Interviewers sometimes take as fast as 30 sec to form impressions.

The Peter Principle predicts that many people are promoted to their level of competence.

Several examples of signs of people who posses this malady.

Papyrohobia
Cannot tolerate papers or books on his desk. Probably such piece of paper is reminder that he hates his job. He makes a virtue of his phobia by keeping a clean desk, creating the impression of incredible fast decision making.

Structurophilia
Obsessive concern with buildings, planning, construction, maintenance and reconstruction. But unconcerned about the work going on, inside the buildings.

Such as those with a compulsion to build memorial statues.

When i read this tiny book of 161 pages or halved if you put in A4 size, it was amusingly refreshing. Most bizarre types actually exist in organisations especially because the skill sets required for different levels of organisation from technical in front-line supervisors to political skills needed at higher levels of management.

What then is the solution?
As someone interested in productivity, I am curious about how to improve our decision making on promotion and hiring.

Unfortunately, beyond naming the crime as incompetence, this book sheds little light on how to solve the problem.

Perhaps its beyond my competence to read between the lines. Or frankly, no one knows. Management is as much an art as a science.

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Photo: 999 glass fishes at the Oceans Financial Centre Singapore.The work holds a message about strength from community and collaboration.
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Technology alone likely won’t deliver the uplift in performance that organizations seek.

There are three reasons to value human capital:

– People are the creators of technology – it does not create itself.

– People are the stewards of technology – they cannot control it but they can shape it and are less effective without it.

– People are the champions of technology.

Companies such as Airbnb and Uber, optimise technology but also have huge teams of people to service their customers. Humans know best how to partner with technology.

“What gets in the way is that there is an insufficient understanding of disruption, there is pressure from stakeholders and the strategy for human capital is not aligned with the strategic goals of the organisation.

Smartphones, data-collecting industrial parts and other innovations of the Digital Age are amazing, but none of them pack the productivity-boosting power of the lightbulb or the telephone. Indeed, apart from a short burst between 1996 and 2004, the digital technology revolution actually hasn’t boosted overall productivity.

Airbnb offers a strong example of what can happen when people are enabled rather than replaced by technology. The firm might have fewer than 3,000 people on the payroll, but it depends on tens of thousands of creative, ambitious and talented human hosts to supply those 2 million rooms worldwide. Technology may connect hosts to potential guests, but Airbnb has no business without the hosts.

The “Talent Trumps Tech” idea applies to the executive suites, too. Yes, the boss likely will be able to use technology to instantly get real-time data about the firm’s pipeline of sales, cash flows, threats from competitors, even the value of individual customers …. At the same time, it will be easier for CEOs to get concrete business options from intel- ligent software. These AI-infused programs can use current data and past experiences to identify trouble spots or opportunities and make recommendations to improve the business.

Making the call
However, no app or robot is going to make the final decision on what business strategy to pursue, or whether to open a new office in Austin or Amsterdam, or whether to merge with a rival firm. “I’ll never say never, but I can’t imagine CEOs giving up those decisions,” says Nels Olson, vice chairman and co-leader of Korn Ferry’s Board & CEO Services practice. “Artificial intelligence will be there to provide input.”

Excerpts from 2030: The Very Human Future Of Work by Hazel Euan-Smith & Russell Pearlman & Karen Kane in the series on “The Future of Work is Human”
– KornFerry Institute

https://www.kornferry.com/institute/2030-the-very-human-future-of-work

It’s human talent, not capital or technology or anything else, that is the key factor linking innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century, says Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. Work, he says, shouldn’t be a race between humans and machines, but a part of life that helps people recognize their full potential.

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An individual’s potential is not fixed—it can be influenced, enhanced and unleashed to the benefit of the organization.

As people grow in knowledge, experience and seniority over time, they bring even more value to the business.

In contrast, machines typically operate at a limited maximum output and depreciate over time.

Experts say human talent becomes only more valuable as technology grows. It will be humans, not robots or artificial intelligence software, who will brainstorm new ideas, inspire others and drive organizations to succeed.

Social skills—such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others—will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, according to a survey of chief human resources officers by the World Economic Forum in 2015.

Investing in skills, rather than just hiring more workers, is the key to successfully managing disruptions to the labor market for the long term. 

Excerpts from 2030: The Very Human Future Of Work by Hazel Euan-Smith & Russell Pearlman & Karen Kane in the series on “The Future of Work is Human”
– KornFerry Institute

What’s your take on whether robots will replace your job?

(Shared by my friend GK)
It’s Tuesday and I’m very tired. Thank God for this joke to get through another morning.  No offense intended.

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Corporate joke from a friend…

A woman in hot air balloon realized she was lost…

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Photos from my trip to Taitung during the Hot Air Balloon Festival.

She reduced altitude & shouted to a man  below “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend to meet him an hour ago but I don’t know where I am.”

Man below replied : You are in hot air balloon 30 feet above the ground. You are at 41 degree North latitude & 59 degree West longitude.

Lady : You must be an engineer.

Man : How do you know?

Lady : Everything you told me is technically correct but useless & the fact is I’m still lost.

Engineer : You must be in Top Management.

Lady : Ya. How do you know?

Engineer : You don’t know where you are or where you’re going, you have no technical knowledge.    You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep & you expect people beneath you to solve your problems..!!

😀😀😀😃😃😃😄😄😄

Leadership BS- Fixing workplaces and careers one truth at a time” by Jeffrey Pfeffer

I picked up this book at the library surprised at my find as Prof Pfeffer’s books are usually snapped up. But I’ve not seen this book displayed on booksellers list. It was hard reading and after one week, I decided to give it another shot. Afterall I’d Daniel Pink, Shawn Archor competing for my attention.

As his reviewers have commented, he offers no “feel good solutions”, he forces us to “confront uncomfortable questions about ourselves and our culture” rather than “rely on cool stories”.

This is not a review of the book, but excerpts of what I appreciate in this book as all other Pfeffer books on power and network. This book is highly recommended for introverts and SF and NF. It helped me reconcile the conflicts I’ve read in Leadership books and the biographies of successful leaders as well as others I’ve come across in my professional life.

1. Learning and adapting never stops.
Former US President John F Kennedy is widely considered as an inspiring figure and great speaker/ charismatic leader. (When I was younger, my dad would speak with so much admiration of this leader even though he’s never stepped foot on US soil.)

Thurston Clarke points our Kennedy was “one of the most complicated and enigmatic men ever to occupy the White House”: a man who compartmentalised different aspects of his life and who frequently said and did contradictory things. His most essential quality, the literary critic Alfred Kazin is quoted as saying, was “that of the man who is always making and remaking himself”.

With that perspective, I’m better able to reconcile the Kennedy of the speeches and the Kennedy from History class.

Great leaders, cite Pfeffer, including Mandela and Gandhi make and remake themselves all the time and adjust their behaviors to the situations they face.

Mandela can be at times a black nationalist and a nonracialist, an opponent of armed struggle and an advocate of violence, a hothead and the calmest mam in the room, a consumer if Marxist tracts and a close partner of Communists and in his presidency, a close partner of South Africa’s powerful capitalists.

Does that make them inauthentic? Pfeffer says, if so, who cares?

2. One of the most important leadership skills is to act like a leader, to act in a way that inspires confidence and garners support. Even if the person doing the performance does not actually feel confident or powerful. Acting is essential to effective leadership.

Harriet Rubin, writer and editor who knows many of the famous and iconic leaders such as Andy Grove of Intel, Howard Shultz of Starbucks said of the Intel leadership school.
The message: Act powerful and you become powerful.

According to Rubin, when people enter into leadership roles, they might not see the qualities that reside within them. Instead, people develop leadership qualities by practicing them, by acting then out and rehearsing them until they become natural and part of the individual.

Authentic leadership may not be desirable
Former Congressman and New York Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who sent pictures of his private parts to various women he met online, was if nothing else authentic. But in this case, his followers would require him to be inauthentic and practice self -regulation. It’s a good reminder to me, that at times when the other person makes me mad. I must practice self regulation and self control.

Another example would be when one goes through a very difficult time personally, but the organisation would require you to be true to your role, and your obligations regardless of your wants and desires, doing what will make you successful in the environment in which you are working. “After all, what if your real self is an asshole? ” (Note to self: I love this line.)

What does it really mean to be true to yourself? No one is born a doctor, lawyer, nurse or Olympic swimmer. (Hurray for Joseph Schooling.) We learn not only skills but also values and the culture that surround our particular jobs and organisations.

What does it mean to tell the truth?
By presenting our organisations as more successful than it otherwise is. Leaders affect companies ability to survive difficult economic circumstances. If employees believe that an organisation is going to fail, the best ones will leave first. Believing in success, people will expend more effort and exhibit more confidence and by so doing, thereby create success.

Many commentators would agree that one of the most impressive accomplishments of Steve jobs was to convince talented people that their working at Apple was the most productive use of their working time. The company would be successful and they would have a hand in changing the world. What is now known as “reality distortion”.

Is this self -fulfilling prophecy or not telling the truth depends on your view of ethics and rationale for lying.

First, what’s MOJO.

Its that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.

I don’t like acronyms and if you hang around GEN Ys, you get that alot.

FOMO, YOLO

So when I saw a title like MOJO, especially after a colleague used that work, I had to pick up this book.

MOJO by my favourite coach Marshall Goldsmith, whose “What got you here won’t get you there”. Like his previous book, Goldsmith is an executive coach for senior executives and his examples reveal many of such insights with Scorecards and questionnaires and frameworks.

Mind the GAP
There’s a gap between how you see yourself and how others see you.
We sometimes underestimate our great moments and overestimate the impact of our bad moments.

Does anyone ever really change from leadership sessions?
In true Peter Drucker style, Goldsmith answers through a survey of 250,000 respondents.
Very few people achieve positive, lasting change without on-going follow-up.

Unless they know at the end of the day that someone is going to measure if they’re doing what they promised to do, most people fall prey to inertia. (Known as “Hawthorne effect”).

Hence, try the reputation questionnaire

  1. Name six “great” personal moments in the last 12 months at work. (You can consult your calendar and family, but Goldsmith says you can’t ask colleagues. In my opinion, if you can’t even name it, then what’s happened to your personal appraisal.. uh oh.)
  2. What made these moments “great”?
  3. In what way, if any, did these moments resemble one another?
  4. Can you identify the personal quality embodied in that resemblance? Can you give it a name?  For example, if you cite two “great” moments when you went out of your way to help a colleague with advice, you would label that personal quality as “generosity” – which feeds into a reputation for being “generous”
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most well known, how well known are these “great” moments to people you work with?
  6. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most agreement, how much would the people you work with, agree with the personal qualities described in your answer to question#4.
  7. Name six “bad” personal moments in the last twelve months
  8. What made these moments “bad”?
  9. What did they have in common?
  10. Can you identify the personal quality they had in common? Can you give it a name? For example, if two “bad” moments involve episodes where you lost your temper, the personal quality could be labeled as “hot-headed”
  11. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most well known, how well known are these “bad” moments to other people you work with?
  12. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most agreement, how much would the people you work with, agree with the personal qualities described in your answer to question #10.
  13. Which answer, to question #4 or #10, is most likely your current reputation, or is it both?

If you work for a corporation, this is a useful guide to prepare for the yearly performance appraisal or performance management. Then compare it with the company values. Are you being effective or just busy.   How much do others appreciate what you’re doing?

Useful too, for interviews to get your next job

For those of us, working for ourselves, i.e. entrepreneurs or creatives. Very effective to think about the Brand or the Reputation you’re creating for #Brand You.

I’ve a rude wake-up call.

Consistency and Discipline though, is necessary.
If you’re known as a sarcastic boss, you have to bite your tongue for a long time.
Ask yourself: “Is it worth it?”

  • How much long-term benefit or meaning did I experience form this activity?
  • How much short-term satisfaction or happiness did I experience form this activity?

Change how you approach the same activity. It does not have to be with inertia.

For instance, if you’re about to attend a one-hour, mandatory meeting, your mindset is that the meeting will be a boring waste of time.

You have two options:

Option A: Attend the meeting and be miserable.
Option B: Make the meeting more meaningful and enjoyable. Observe your colleagues more closely or create a new idea to inspire others.

(Download the MOJO Meter)  http://debisilber.com/mojo-meter/

People don’t care what you know, but they know when you care. – John Maxwell