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How do great leaders become aware of their organizations, themselves and others?
All when growing up we were under a care of somebody at a certain place, this began a relationship of knowing somebody and knowing environment before knowing ourselves. This lead to a situation of knowing other people as told who they are and knowing things as told what they are. More over it makes us to know ourselves as told who we are and how should we be.
It is in the institutions, schools and courts of these formative years where we are instituted, educated, prosecuted and judged of what we can be in the world. This appears to have been created by a stereotype of what and how the human species must be from a countless generations before us.
In this document an answer to break from this stereotypic barrier is sought through acknowledging my understanding of self and others related to learning preferences.
It will be in the same context of looking into my role of how the concept can be applied in my department.
How do I learn?
First and far most I am very pragmatic individual who believes in the approach of doing first at and understand it later. I get bored in following rhetoric manuals, theories and research methodologies. All what I take interest in is to know what must be done, how it is done and what application is needed to get it done. At work I always teach my team to be hands on and learn to understand by doing things themselves
Focus on attention
I always focus my attention on the situation I am facing and try to understand myself and my role in the situation. I tend to look for different kind variety and broad of interest before I settle down to work through something. It seems easy for me to get a solution when I talk and walkthrough a problem; I share it with people and tell them what I think of the problem.
I find it easy for me to fit in a topic even if it is discussed by people I am meeting for the first time and in most cases I would put in my opinion even before I introduce myself. I a very much opinionated individual and always present my arguments very energetically.
I have found that the fond of presenting ideas appeal to much engagement as in most cases it either accommodates or challenges people.
I have found though that when taking a different frame of approach, listen to more gregarious and talkative people it feels like irritant to somebody who thinks more of what is being said.
Acquiring of information
It seems that the first thing that captures my mind is what is at hand and happening now, I always want to see than to hear about it. At work when there is timing failure of a product I believe in simulating it and see it happening to get a better understanding of the cause. I appear to be very much comfortable with the real and practical situation or problem because I get the excitement to engage in it. I hold an opinion that everything has a point of accuracy which could be found if much energy is devoted in it. When working with machines I believe in precision that if a machine can produce one good unit is possible to be accurate consistently.
I hold the same view with people that they can perform to a constant and accurate level given that they working with a well calculate rate. This goes for the same with behavoiurs that a good and disciplined behaviour is possible for all individuals. When required to discipline members for poor performance and inconsistency, I refer to the experience where good was achieved.
I have also found that when listening to grievances in my department, I tend to incline to a fact like when people are saying they working in bad conditions. I would press them to be factual and single out a condition under which they would not have taken the job if they knew it prior and a condition under which they believe that the job is not worthy any more.
This I have found that it eliminates impossible demands and makes everybody to think real even with future possibilities. To me it becomes mind bogging to create a future somewhere and still be able to alter it even before is being realized. I do believe however in innovative situations mainly where the present is discontinued, altered or adapted.
In one situation I had to brief my team about a new master production planning model focusing on three month period where only maintenance and annual leave were considered for provision for lost of production. This sparked a huge dissatisfaction from the shop stewards about the non-consideration of sick leave and other un-avoidable absences including possible strikes and deaths.
For me it never came to be a factor because in reality there was no one who was sick, there was no one who was on strike and there was no dead corpse in the meeting. However in thinking it broadly there could be one sick, there could be a strike and there could be somebody dead in the future world even within the three month period.
The learning preference of other people in the situation forced me to reframe the situation by asking the work force to shape the planning model from the perspective of our competitors. The model from the angle of the labour force showed for more willingness to improve productivity by:
Recognizing operators who keep a clean attendance record for the three months
Train and assess operators on fixing minor breakdowns on the machine and pay those who pass the as
Decision making preference
When required to make a decision I tend to follow the objective logic view with analysis of the cause and effect of both the problem at hand and the solution that is sought. This I have found to be very much inclusive because it looks further than where the stone falls. I prefer to make decision based on what leadership aspires to i.e. justice and consistent principle.
I am of the view that consistent principle is good for managing a department structure than setting precedents continuously because it is easy to maintain policies by applying organization principle than applying precedents. To me reputation is build by consistency where there is an open door policy for exceptional circumstances than exceptional people.
By definition exceptional circumstance to me are all circumstances beyond a human control where the abilities of a responsible person fail or disabled in such that they cannot act in a way a reasonable person would act. I believe that reasonability is governed by acceptable laws, standards and justifiable acts. When holding safety meetings in my department I would always present the policy of zero tolerance to unsafe practices.
What I have found is that though everybody is capable of following the safety practices and know the consequences of unsafe practices, people would however still challenge the policy of zero tolerance. It appears that other people are of the view that the circumstance and merit of the actions of an individual are important.
I always persuade people to look at safety requirement from a perspective of a family who have lost a bread-winner through a lack of safety policy and discipline by the company. Mostly when their relative died through negligence by another employee but the company condones it by keeping that employee in its employ. Asking them to imagine how the policy would look like if that family was asked to write the safety policy of this company.
With that frame of mind everybody tends to agree with me that the best way of keeping zero tolerance is to adopt military style of discipline to everyone who disregards safety practices.
It appears that spontaneous and flexible working style appeals much to me because I take things immediately as they come and in most instances I leave them opened. I like the tentative approached where a space to manoeuvre is big enough for me to adopt things and to adapt to things. This has helped me to always look for some thing new on the way and would in most cases discover new concepts and new people that can be developed.
In my department I always encourage people to flow in things before making serious choices because I believe that experience is an open ended teacher. My view is that if have learned and experienced many things you likely to succeed with easy even in very hostile situations.
I seems to be challenged by a situation where I am bound by structural tenets and routine, which need to be adhered to as checklist of activities nevertheless I do believe in wide scope of checks and balances to ensure that goals are achieved.
Learning and development plan for my department
After gaining understanding of self and others learning preference I am required to apply my learning by designing a learning and development plan for my department. The plan is based on
The core of leadership function is to develop direction and purpose for all activities required to reach a desired destiny. The destiny must be well defined from the onset and as the leader I am required to apply the skills of interpersonal learning in identifying and harnessing all the available and different energies in the department.
A leader is well advised to have the view of the destiny at all times to be able to act above self-interest. A leader must walk the journey to the destiny through planning, leading, organizing and controlling.
Once at the destiny and having tasted the goodness of the destiny it would seem easy for the leader to work convincingly and tirelessly to get everyone on board to work towards the destiny. This can spark the passion of pulling and developing the people a leader is working with. A leader must be very much generous with knowledge and always want to share with the people.
Leaders who spend time with their people tend to develop good habits of learning from each character under their leadership. This usually makes the leader to be a very strong and able to lead with freedom of understanding his people. It appears that of such great embodiment the structure gets formed and strengthens since all the people occupy positions where they fits. This leads us to the next level where learning is vital i.e. the structure.
Learning the structure
The first learning needed is the learning of the structure and how it functions to deliver the required results. In most cases a structure can be cumbersome especially when used as a commanding and a ranking tool of people however if well understood it is the correct tool to achieve a purpose and reaching destinies. It is important to avoid the practice of using the department structure as hierarchy of ranks in order to enable self expression in full of all members in the department.
Learning takes place easily where people relates structurally because the structure gives a good guidance of what must be learned and how the work is inter-linked between people. This seems to be helpful in introducing the different roles each individual in the department plays. Since learning will involve learning preferences of self and others, it is therefore advisable to relate to one another with the expectations of different characters that fit the different roles
Sharing is about playing a leading role and communicating with others in the department. As leader will be required to meet and share with the people in the department and such meeting must assist in guiding the department to meet its expectations. My role as leader in the meeting will be to share valuable information of the business, strategies and requirements.
Progress report and update meetings where different roles participate in presenting and sharing their reports in their respective capacities. This meeting could be a vital tool for a leader to draw learning curves and experience from the from the department members. This could also help to keep all members posted about developments in the organization and learn from one another within the department
As leader I must be careful of not becoming a commander in chief by bullying team members but to enable all stakeholders play their meaningful roles in the meetings. It looks likes when people follow on free will they work hard than people who are coerced in following the direction of the leadership. The main job of a leader in meeting is to guide, inform, warn and urge members to pull together.
A role is always associated with a person or people, and then when playing my role as leader it would provide a way of learning about the learning preferences of the other people in the department. Another area of learning is learning the best way of communicating to the members in the team
Depending on the learning preferences most people respond differently in one form of communication and therefore as leader will need to learn a diverse form of communication. Another point to bear in mind is that information can be very much dangerous to other people depending how it is communicated. A leader must ensure understand people well in the department as others are unable to handle sensitive information therefore a great care and diligence is required when communicating.
Harmony emanates from acceptance of other people with their preferences and character which when achieved it enables the team to work like a well oiled machine. It is a well known fact that the people we know and meet with everyday now were once strangers when we met them for the first time. Meeting people for the first time generates perceptions that can either be cemented or change at later stages when a person is well known or understood.
Perceptions are believed to be developed from our previous learning and experiences and they normally form the first impression of our new experiences. Arguably in general life most people attest to the fact that perception and impression about other people tend to change or confirmed at after spending time and learning a lot about them.
It is very much important to control perception and impressions because though they are not enemies of harmony but they can develop the worst enemy of harmony which is stereotype. Stereotypic thinking will result to the malfunctioning of the team because the people holding such a view will be a problem in working with others
Harnessing the unique and different energies becomes difficult if the leader or other members hold a stereotypic view towards others. This is where interpersonal learning starting from the leader becomes vital to diffuse this time bomb of stereotype in organization. I believe that the best way of overcoming stereotype in the department is to apply oneself more on reframing situation because it always gives you the view of the purpose of your existence.
Stereotype appears to be encouraged by a comfort zone, success of the past, personal beliefs and conservative ideas of the good past. To me it all appears to be a complacency and failure to explore oneself, others and the environment more. To overcome stereotype and comfort zone leaders need to be always innovative and be ready to venture out of their conform ideas.
Success should be used to challenge one self and others to continuously stimulate the competitive ideas of taking the organization further. One of the greatest tools in challenging stereotype is using success as a learning where the behavoiurs and learning ideas of successful people is studied, challenged or adopted.
When stereotype is overcome the team can be able to play to strength by applying all the energies and harness them to the strength of the department. Great coherence will enable all team members to enthusiastically contribute positively to the success of the business. This will amount to ownership and pride from team members.
Acknowledgment, Reflection and conflict management
People like acknowledgement and feel ignored if feed back is not given after they have done something. Acknowledgement and feed back encourage more learning and identify gaps needed to be closed in learning. It helps people to reflect on what they have done and look for more room of improvement.
It will be important also to allow people to give feed back on leadership to help stretching the leader in accommodating all the different learning preferences in the team. A leader who is well capacitated in different areas of learning will be able to handle and manage conflict in the team without destroying the spirit of the team but by captivating all the differences into a unit.
Great leadership is the art that stems from the roots of learning and understanding self awareness.
Great leaders have learned about themselves, about others and about their environment.