Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolution of following the resolution

Do you make the list of resolutions to be followed in New Year? The question is how to follow the same. I remember, when I was in college, I use to make the big list of resolutions.

From 1st Jan,
I will wake up early in the morning
I will start daily exercise
I will study at least one subject after the exercise
I will enroll for additional diploma
I will spend at least one Sunday with underprivileged children and so on….

When I look back and review why resolutions are not followed, I get simple answer and it is we do not commit to ourselves. We recognize the importance of resolutions. That’s why we make it. But it does not come from our heart as they are not priorities for us. You just check the list of resolutions people do. If you do not follow these resolutions, you do not suffer so much immediately. Unless we do not make them the priority we would not be able to follow them.

Second reason is we do not convert them into objectives and goals. And when you convert them into the goals, you are forced to put the timeline. Most of the times, it is wish list we make and label them resolutions.  

We have lot of excuses to break these resolutions. We do not plan them properly. Sometimes we do it for 15 days and then we forget…

So on the eve of last day of this year, at least make one resolution...

“Whatsoever, I make any resolution; I make it to happen.”

Wish you all Happy New year! May this New Year 2011 bring for you happiness, success, health, prosperity and wonderful surprises in your life!”


Friday, December 24, 2010

Do you expand your work to fill the time?

“People first” is the first requirement of any business, project, and initiative. This “people first” pressurizes the recruitment section. People are hired, they are trained, they do the work, and sometimes they are kept on bench. Most of the times, managers expect some initiatives from these benched employees.

In most of manufacturing industries, you can observe that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus the additional person hired for the production planning can make excel files, speaks with different people, mails these files, reminds to others on the feedback, after getting excel files, he punches the data in ERP system. In this way, he finds out the work to fill his eight hours.

It is applicable to all levels. Management sometime decides to accommodate the old nut in current set up. Now he is re-designated Director – special development or operations or corporate development or anything which does not exist in the organization. After declaration, the person puts the proposal of hiring secretary, then manager for managing the function and then his team. This newly declared director creates the job for him. He calls meetings, he calls others to understand their concerns, he checks reports (off course manager is hired for preparing this for him), He attends meetings, finally when he goes at home, he feels that he has done a wonderful job for the organization.

The normal tendency is to multiply subordinates and creating work for each other. Sometimes the manager feels that he and his team is overburdened. Weather this overwork is imaginary or real is different issue. Accordingly the team is expanded and work is distributed. When you discuss with the person on his time spending in the organization, you will get subjective answers like co-ordination, communication, feedback and follow up. In one organization, one manager proposed to hire one subordinate for taking follow ups! Now a days people write these all factors in their JDs!

To take an example of above so called director sir, what he does next? He creates so many work for others that other people come with the proposal of hiring additional headcount. He then uses the concept of conflicts and creates two teams corporate and operations, staff function and line function. He does not allow to do the job of corporate to line and vice versa. Lot of reports and documents are created. Organization goes towards bureaucratic way of functioning.

People do not want hire people who are smarter than them. Instead of hiring rivalry, they hire subordinate for doing the same job. The process goes on and on until the recession comes. You know the result then. 

(This write up is based on Parkinson’ law explained by Northcote Parkinson in 1955)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Inspirational leader! How you inspire your team?

Do you want to be the boss, manager or leader? You can be anything but at the end of the day you are expected inspirational to your team. The leader who does not inspire is river without the water. Position can not inspire, person can and hence leadership is not related to the position.

In past I have written about the qualities of bad boss Today I would like to throw some light on qualities of good boss. I do not wish to refer any leadership theory here. As a common man you just imagine what you expect from your bosses. Please treat the people in same way what you expect.

Leadership is a skill that can be acquired with the implementation of carefully thought of steps!
Following are some areas people see in leaders:
          Good boss guide others either by doing something himself or by directing a specific course of action.
          Believes on performance rather than experience.
          Focus on what went wrong & why.
          Evaluate each & every action that he performs.
          Accept the responsibility for consequence of his action.
          Never does something that goes against his conscience.
          Begins & takes a task to its completion.
          He is able to create a image of role model
          He does not let his subordinates feel their inferiority.
          The subordinates should be aware of what are the positive qualities of the leader & which, in fact, had led to the position that he is in.
To understand people concerns and exhibit the commitment towards resolving the issues, you can start following practices to inspire your team:
          Take frequent shop floor or cafeteria rounds.  This will help you to connect with all level people.
          Organize listening lunches – where the leader has a monthly lunch with staff at all levels.
          Just have a talk around. Management by walking about, just asking questions and listening.
          Organize fortnightly department meetings.
          Have a detail monthly talk with line manager.
          Monthly employee meeting bringing all people together.
          Communicate with them through department newsletters.
          Create the chat room or knowledge forum on website where anyone can post a question.
But be aware, if you heard issues, you need to change the situation also.
Besides this your main thrust should be on trust. Leadership is nothing but trusting your capable people. You can exhibit your trust by transferring you power in following way.
  • Allow your team to sign the documents like invoice, documents etc.
  • Nominate and allow the representation of your team members in at seminars, public speaking. Encourage them to participate in public events on behalf of the company.
  • Create no-blame culture.
  • Create right-first-time culture.
  • You have to allow the decision making process as low as possible onto the shop floor and trust employees enough to try and take those decisions for themselves. In Toyota, operators at the shop floor can stop the line if he see any quality problem.
  • Constant verbal appreciation and an appreciative attitude from your manager build a culture of appreciation, which has a longer-term effect.
  • Internal departmental or employee awards for excellence.
There are so many others factors which we will discuss later on. You know afterall, leadership development is dear to me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Are you culturally intelligent?

You all are aware about IQ and EQ. Right? What’s about CQ? I am not sure, because we do not bother much about the CQ or cultural intelligence. Off course, companies use this term frequently and use as catchy phrase in trainings and development programmes. Not so much old, it is a new approach to work in globalised world. Cultural intelligence is defined as the capability of an individual to work effectively across different national, ethnic and organizational cultures.   

If you are working in multinational dynamic work culture, you need to develop the CQ. In past this factor was not much considered, perhaps due to the limited interactions with diverse people. However now a days organizations function in matrix environment and have multiple reporting structures. If you are in a leadership role, then you do not have the option without being culturally intelligent.   

And if you are culturally intelligent, you may not get the opportunity to get the leading roles in such companies and this is applicable in Indian MNCs also. You may have training programmes on this. You may read books or column in some theoretical magazine. These all may give you the perspective on customs like food, greetings, gifts and sometimes language and behaviour. The main question behind cultural intelligence is, why do some people easily and effectively adapt their views and behaviors cross-culturally and others don’t? Your honest engagement with that question can determine whether or not you work successfully in our rapidly globalizing world.

What is right in Indian context may not necessarily right in other cultures. As even, in India, we have different cultures at different states and we struggle to meet the expectations of these people due to their cultural differences. You can consider challenges to be culturally intelligence.    

To go ahead, you need to assess where you are right now. You can check your CQ level and decide the strategy to be culturally intelligent. Second question is how you are keen to understand the CQ perspective. Do you believe and acknowledge the different cultures and diversity? If you believe in so, you need to show the interest in different cultures. There are different issues involved in diversity. CQ knowledge is your knowledge about the culture and its role in doing the business, performing your role.
You have to find out your ways to understand the culture, your strategy to adapt and act on the diverse issues in culture. 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Oh, change? Not again….

“We don’t know what actually happening in the organization!”
“It’s ok but how to do this? I have no clue?”
“What’s about me? Should I look for another job?”
“Oh, again new management fad!”
“This organization is so dynamic, that before we get comfortable to the change, another change comes!”
“Our MD/chairman/CEO must have met another company MD/chairman/CEO in party/flight and must have got this idea.”

Have you encountered with similar reactions? It happens in every organization. The change is vital. We all know and discussed a lot on change. Every qualified person has accepted the fact that nothing is constant. However when I see the implementation of such changes, the human factor is ignored. Sometimes, the main reason for high attrition is such changes. In fact if changes are not managed well, it may lead to the fear and this fear may lead to the job change.

After all, change matters more to the people rather than technology, machines and projects. Organizations which are going through the change due to economic boom, or recession, or technology can not ignore the Human factor associated with the change. Every change effort resolves around people. Every quality system, including TPM, TQM or six -sigma speaks about motivation and people development. This key factor categorically is not given due importance.  People’s involvement is MUST for implementing the new systems and technologies. People are initiator, catalysts and carriers of new initiatives.

The challenge is how to handle this involvement? Whenever I work on any project, I precisely try to work on following factors.
1)      Direction and Instructions: People need direction. I agree that they are self motivated, but you need to tell them what to do. You may have the discussion on how to do, but at large level, if not working you need to tell them how to do also. Choosing right people and giving clear directions through vision, mission statements, balanced scorecards help a lot to align them towards the organizational goals. People prefer to work with a clear direction in mind; and, when people are aligned, decisions are faster, easier and effective. You should find out your ways to keep people well directed.
2)      Communication and Branding: Communication and branding are vital issues. These factors help to parlay the scope of initiative. Lot of scope is there to improve on when we speak about communication. It involves spreading information across the organization.  While implementing balanced scorecard, I used the teaser campaign. Creating, Spreading, Sharing (the information) and branding the initiative will keep people engaged and motivated. People will be more interested to understand ‘what is in it for me (WIIIFM)”.  You need to show them “what is in it for them”. 
3)      Delegation & Authority: Each system pushes authority or power downward for better decision making. Pushing power- downwards to the grass root level greatly increases innovation, motivation, quality, and productivity. If not possible, sharing the authority in limited way may make some sense. But you should ensure that you push the power along with responsibilities.   
4)      Organizational Life: We call it culture also. Create the life vibrant and energetic in the organization. The belief and way of working can be changed and created.  

These all factors are interlinked to each other. If you work on this you will lead towards your desired goals. After all, a person who walks with his legs reaches his destination; but a person who walks with his brain reaches his destiny.

(Change: I refer here change as implementation of anything from large technical up-gradation, rationalization, quality programmes to small initiatives which has effect, positive or negative, on people in the organization.)           

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Other side of the talent

We always speak about employee engagement, employee satisfaction, talent management and everything about the talent. Off course, it is very important for success of the organization. However we rarely speak about employer satisfaction and employer expectations. We rarely speak about the human nature of indiscipline and the tendency of dissatisfaction. We rarely speak about the checks & balances on the talent and we rarely speak about the bottom 10 employees in the organization; and what’s about employees who are miscreants in the organization?

Recently one IT company in Pune filed a case against Sr. Customer Support Executive who absconded with laptop and data of the company. I have one case where one female employee (who worked with Wipro- Hyderabad as a recruiter) joined us. After joining she took the loan, applied for a leave for two months and then absconded at Canada with her husband. Such cases are increasing day by day. Employees expect that company should be transparent and open but they don’t want to be transparent with the company.   

Theory X and theory Y (of Douglas McGregor) explains the style of managing people. X type of style, believes that average employee does not like to work, people normally are not self motivated. They are undisciplined and they have the tendency to cheat the people. They can not work without supervision and they like wasting time and spent their time on gossiping. Still these people expect security. 

Y type of style, believes that by nature people like to work, they can be motivated if they are involved, they like to take responsibilities and they should be managed properly.

Employees come from different cultures; their behaviour is the result of influence of their family, school, surroundings. Human being has the tendency to be influenced by the dominated and assertive people. Trade unions, politics and social work are the best examples of this.  Even Big Boss is the best test lab for this. Majority of people in society and organization choose to be silent.

And this is the problem in society and even in organizations. The main challenge in talent management is to deal such different personalities. The first belief, we HR professional should have that every human being is unique. While dealing these personalities, general rules will not apply. You have to find your own style to deal such people.

The first check point, gate keeping is your hiring process. I think we need to go beyond the competencies and also assess the candidate on their behaviour which we normally don’t do. We assess competencies, we assess knowledge, skills, but we do not go beyond this. 

We also need to give the strong message to such employees.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Socially inactive

In the recent episode of Bigg Boss, Samir Soni and Dolly Bindra are evicted. I can understand that Dolly Bindra deserves for the same. But Samir Soni? Samir chose to be socially active and exhibited the guts and courage to confront Dolly Bindra. He was the only person among all housemates who took stand on time to time. But how many people have such courage?

There are lot of people who do not have courage and guts to come forward and speak on the issues they face. White collar people have the tendency to be anonymous. Society is the group of people; every human being in this bunch has their own disposition. Silent is the only common among all. They do not speak. They may be more concerned about themselves and their family which everybody should be; but they do not have any concern about the whole society. They do not know their own rights. If they know rights, they do not want to be accountable. They may speak about their rights and authorities, but hardly speak about accountabilities.

I term this as the attitude of Socially Inactive.

During my college days, I was leading one chapter of international social club. We had almost 150 members, but the active members were hardly 1%. Other members were only concerned about news in media. They would ensure that their name is mentioned in news.

In housing societies, nobody wants to sacrifice their Sunday for society work. They will not attend meetings, they will not even bother what’s happening around. But if something goes wrong with them, they will expect other members to come forward.

I surprise, when people do not bother about sad incidences happened in neighbor’s house. When somebody wants to do something, these are the people who will be anonymous and will criticize the other person.

Children observe this and their mind is conditioned that my parent are in their world, why I should be outsider.

They have lot of reasons, “We do not get the time.” Oh really?

Do we have a social responsibility? In corporate world the companies run the programme, “corporate social responsibility”. Unless you make the participation compulsory, employees will tell you lot of reasons for not attending or participating in such programmes.

I wonder, in future we all will be alone on this planet.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weird Management Styles!

“I am fade up with poor jokes which he cracks. I have to laugh unnecessary. I never liked that.” one employee had told me the reason behind his resignation. I don’t know the real reason behind his resignation. People sometimes share peculiar things about the organization, team and their bosses when you speak informally with them on a lunch table. Sometimes their comments are weird, but can help you a lot to improve the behaviour of managers.

“He is so perfectionist that I can not tolerate it more. Does the font size & colour matter? He asked me to rework 3 times on data due to this reason!” One employee shared. There are different management styles people follow. I am not talking about the formal and professional management styles. There are different customized styles; managers adopt to survive in the organization. Nourishment of these management styles are done by the culture of the organization.  

If you are in a canteen, cafeteria or near water cooler, you will listen comments similar as mentioned below.

“He likes YES MAN and I am not a YES MAN, hence I decided to change the job.” – Isn’t it Yes Sir Management Style?

“I don’t know what I am doing. He calls us for the meeting and speaks for a day. These all are sermons. Are we here for listening sermons? After the sermons, we ourselves have to do the work.” – Management by Sermon!

 “Whenever I go for asking something to him, he tells different reasons for not doing that. He has lot of excuses with him for anything.”- Management by excuses!

“He called me yesterday at home in the morning and wasted my 2 hours. He spoiled my Sunday. My husband was very unhappy with this.” One women employee had shared with me sometimes 3 years back. The person had to call employees (mostly female employees) to get the information about other employees. – Isn’t it Management by (only) Networking?

“See his style; he knows everything about his boss. He knows his favourite food, likes and dislikes. As he does this all for, he also expects same from us.”-  Management by cheering

“He does not know the market, he believes only on paper and everything in black and white. He should understand that there is gray colour also in this world. He knows only policies, procedures and rule book and insist them on us” – Management by rules? 

Employees try to adjust their styles with these management styles. But when such styles become habits of the person, employees get frustrated while tuning their style with others. This is tagged as unprofessional and can be the reason of leaving the job.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Women Power

Rajya Sabha passed the Women’s Reservation Bill in March ensuring 33% reservation. Lok Sabha has not arrived on the consensus yet to pass the said bill.
Cabinet is likely to take the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Bill for approval which will be tabled in this winter session.
In India, women are already making their identity in Panchayat Raj (ZP, Panchayat Samities, Municipal Corporations and Grampanchayats).
President of India, Speaker of Lok Sabha and President of major ruling party are Women and few of them are termed as powerful women.
CEOs of Most of the private banks are women. Women are really making their space in Indian society including politics and corporate.
In US labour force 51% are women. In India, still long way to go….but improving a lot.
Watch the TV commercials. The commercials are targeting women viewers.
Women make most of the purchasing decisions in everything from cars and computers, to real estate and tourism. They also are majority of Internet users and dominate the leading social media websites.
Fortune 500 Companies with more gender balanced leadership teams outperform their peers financially.
And most importantly, HR forums are dominated by Women.
All of these factors unite to create a huge and unmet opportunity: the massive arrival of women into the same economic roles as men. A whole part of the human population has been (rather suddenly) added to the sum total of human potential, innovation and creativity—for the very first time. And this shift is often seen as interesting but not paradigm-shifting. Yet it has consequences.
The subject of women and gender has long been discussed as an interesting but somewhat minor issue in the business world. It has been variously seen as a diversity issue, a Human Resource issue and an ethical debate about equality and equity. The growing economic, political and social consequences of women’s changing roles have not always been very clear to the people currently in power. Yet the issue of gender in the 21st century represents a major political, economic and social discontinuity. I think of it as one of the 2 W’s that is changing the lives of countries, companies and couples all over the planet:
1. Web: The technological revolution, the rise of the internet and the instantaneous inter-connection of people around the globe.
2. Women: the massive arrival of women into the economy and the resulting shift in gender roles and power, and the growth of the sum total of human intelligence
Getting these 2 W’s right is the key to unlocking huge opportunities and avoiding some of the biggest risks we have yet faced as a species. And getting them right will take the energy, understanding and commitment of both halves of the human population—the male and female.
The question is how to do this…..

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Synergy for survival...

You must have seen the movie, “Cast Away“ starring Tom Hanks. The film shows attempts of Tom Hanks to survive on the lone and uninhabited island after his plane crashes on the flight over the South Pacific Ocean. He uses remnants of his plane's cargo, as well as his eventual escape and return to society. He sees the friend in the creature, created with the help of debris available. He understands the importance of being in society.
Our life is not different. We live in the groups. We can not survive without other people. We need people in office, families. We give titles to the relations and try to survive in the world which is like ocean. But to survive, we need synergy.  What is synergy, how do we benefit from it, and how can we achieve it? Learning about synergy and achieving synergy is another key step towards success.  Imagine that we are using Chinese chopsticks or Japanese Ohashi and our objective is to eat. We must move our fingers and our hands to ensure the chopsticks are holding the food properly, applying the right amount of pressure on each chopstick. Our mind, our hands, our fingers, our chopsticks must all be working together properly. There must be synergy among them to accomplish our objective.
Many goals are achieved only by working with others in synergy. Synergy allows our vision, objective, or goal to be attained in less time, with fewer resources and with greater quality and effectiveness.
Excellence and success are achieved when there is synergy: the capacity of a system (a person, a team, a department, a company or a city) to align its components to operate in coordination and to produce better results than they would if working individually.
When working in synergy, one plus one equals to 3. The rules of mathematics are broken when the members of a team — whether in sport,  surgery, drilling for oil, singing or filming a movie — are able to value each other’s talents over and above their differences, and achieve greater and better results.
Successful societies have been synergetic when they pooled their knowledge, abilities, skills, attitudes and behaviors, placing them at the service of a common goal that benefits all members of that society, following a clear roadmap and acting in coordination.
Knowing that we have power as a team and that synergy leads to success, let's work at creating greater synergy among our teams and our members.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Employee Engagement: The great psychological connection

“Do you think that these employees will stay here for long time by celebrating such birthdays? There are lot of IT companies who do such things, still their attrition is more than 20%.” The traditional HR Manager asked me when I started my career as Management Trainee. I didn’t give up. The budget for cake was not approved; but I started to publish a simple notice wishing employees on their birthdays. Employees appreciated this small gesture.
Employee engagement is always a hot topic for the discussion. Every HR manager has to struggle to control attrition. Unfortunately line managers are not held responsible for employee engagement. There are positive indications on this in professional companies. But still we have to go a long way on engagement issues.
Compensation, work culture, relations with superior, career opportunities, learning opportunities etc are those factors which are considered vital in engaging talent. True, absolutely right. But don’t you think that there is another emotional dimension to the engagement? I have seen companies where all above engaging factors are available, but still the attrition is high! The main factor which is always ignored is treatment given to employees; the way seniors interact with their guys and the way they treat them.
Theoretically, we define employee engagement as “psychological connection with the boss, department and organization.” The question is what efforts we take to connect psychologically? Lot of employee engagement activities are conducted in organizations. But most of the times these are rituals. The reason is, only HR professional are made accountable for this; where is the involvement of other employees and their line managers?
I was working with one Media Company, responsible for almost 3000 employees. Company had lot of expansion plans in other verticals like TV, Web, and Multimedia. Lot of priorities, urgencies was on the table. On one Sunday, I had to call urgent meeting with my 7 team members. I decided to take the team outside. Team was reluctant coming on Sunday, but they had no option. Suddenly one Idea sparked in my mind. I asked office boy to buy 7 flower Bouquets and put the note with it “I am extremely sorry for taking your husband away from you on weekly off. I have done this due to extreme conditions but I know that your husband is successful in the organization due to your support only. Thank you very much.” Bouquets were delivered at home once husbands left their home.  
Our meeting was fruitful and team members were very happy. Somehow, their wives must have called them to report this. Afterwards, I enjoyed working with this team and we achieved lot there. I had not done anything different. That was a small gesture towards their support. This small gesture helps me a lot while working with the team. They supported me in everything what I did there. 
I personally think that at organizational level lot of activities can be done however it should not be done mechanically. HR practices at macro level like fair compensation, benefits, insurance coverage, fair performance management system, training and culture building helps a lot. But at micro level lot of initiatives can be taken and these initiatives should be taken on individual level.
When somebody achieves something in the organization, I send the letter with snap of the function to the spouse or parent mentioning details of achievement and requesting continues support. This initiative also helps lot in connecting employees with the organization. I received lot of response letter from family members thanking me and the organization.
By doing all this, still employees will not stay with you for a long time; they have lot of opportunities in the market. But wherever they are, they will die for you. It is up to you how you build the repport with them and exhibit how you care them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh... Expectations.....

When I try to resolve issues and conflicts, I see a clear gap between expectations of both parties. Most of the times, expectations are not made clear. In professional companies, you make the expectations clear in terms of KRAs & results. But when it comes to the appraisal, managers say, results are ok but still employee needs to improve. There are certain points discussed, which employees are not even heard in past.

There can be different stages in expectation management. It can be either in organization and even family. Imagine when new daughter–in-law comes in home, how expectations are set and managed. It is totally depend upon the culture and values of the family. The occurrence of the conflict is in mostly in expectation management. The vital factor is in communication and interpersonal skills. But it also carries a perception. I have seen one organization where the termination of employees was a common phenomenon. When we went into the details, it was the only one person who was whimsical. People were confused about his expectations. If somebody performs, he would object on something different.

Moreever expectations are the reasons behind any conflict. When there are stated expectations in the form of KRAs, Job Descriptions and Competencies, you can avoid the conflict at certain level. But it is upto the manager how he makes it more objective. There are lots of factors where it is very difficult to make the behavioural outcome in objective term and hence it should be related to some results. The results can be the outcome of certain behavioural expectations. Companies try to make it objective by competency mapping and assessment. But I really have a doubt how seriously it is done.

It is very difficult to manage the perceived expectations. Employees also have the perceived expectations from the management; however superior’s perceived expectations are also important to understand. At specific level it is perceived that the next person is matured enough and he understands well the perceived expectations. Everything can not be documented under KRAs, JDs etc. There are certain accountabilities which run between the lines in JDs.

To a large extent, bosses declare that projects/objects have either succeeded or failed based on whether it met their expectations. Few responsibilities fail, in an absolute sense -- they simply fail to meet individual expectations.

Awareness of an employee plays important role in success.  You are expected to be smart enough to understand dimensions of human behaviour and thereby perceived expectations also.

(Cartoon Source:  

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Values and ethics in your leadership style..... Challenge?

Ethics and values go hand in hand. Leaders are role model for the people. They watch their leaders, may the leader be political or entrepreneur. People always observe them and get influenced by their behaviour? That is the reason, why leader has more accountability to exhibit the right behaviour than followers.

Who is a good leader? There are lot of research, books and material available on leadership and we try to follow the same in our personal life. But there are some inbuilt traits which has the major impact on our personalities and consequent to that on our success. One of the factors is our values and ethics driven by values.

Hitler, Saddam Hussein are at one side, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King is at another side. All were leading somebody but what they gave to the society and their country? What ethical content should be given to leadership? What is ethics? What is leadership without values? Let's examine the power of ethics in leadership, a key success topic.

A leader is a person capable of influencing the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of other people. In order for a leadership to be ethical, that influence must be based on principles and values.

The charisma of many leaders such as Hitler and Hussein have led thousands and millions of followers to carry out atrocities and injustices, to commit crimes against their fellow citizens and against humanity and, in their actions, to contradict what they preach in their public speeches with such energy and “magic.”

However, this lack of ethics in leadership is not limited to the area of politics. Only recently we witnessed the serious consequences of the ethical flaws of business leaders, Raju in Satyam case. We had also the example of Enron and Andersen in the United States and the more recent case of HP CEO Mark Hurd.

If we begin with the definition of leadership as the ability to move other people towards a common objective that they would not achieve on their own, these three famous people in contemporary and current history, along with others, fit this definition perfectly. But, how ethical and value based is their behavior?

Ethics studies man’s behavior within a framework of common moral rules that have been mutually agreed to. Ethics is created by man, with a broad religious and moral foundation, for the purpose of facilitating coexistence.

I am ethical when I obey the rules and laws agreed to by society, the laws and guidelines for social behavior. I am ethical when I practice what I preach, when I base my behavior on moral principles.

Ethics plays a fundamental role in leadership because leaders inspire others to action, to achieve a vision with confidence.

Confidence grows from the credibility leaders inspire. And they credibility, in turn, arises from their integrity, from how close their walk matches their talk. If leaders promise something and fail to keep that promise, their integrity fails, they lose credibility and, consequently, their people lose confidence in them. The team spirit breaks and the possibility of making the vision a reality is weakened.

With so many spiritual and material temptations, we find it difficult to react based strictly on moral principles. External pressures can be pushing you to say YES when you should say NO.

We are not perfect, but as leaders, we have the responsibility to weigh our actions, no matter how simple they appear. In being leaders we are like a shop window, exposed to the eyes of our children, our loved ones, associates, employees, clients, providers, friends and neighbors.

Humility allows us to admit that we are weak and to ask for help to act with rectitude. Courage allows us to acknowledge our errors, forgive ourselves, express forgiveness, and be reconciled. Humility and courage help us improve the way we lead ourselves and others, to achieve inspired visions in our lives and in the lives of others.

What are your values? Under which principles do you act in your life? The impact of ethics in leadership is very high. Living a life faithful to what we endorse, "Walking the Talk,” practicing what we preach, is the great challenge. It is my daily challenge and I know that it is also yours. Be great in the small things and you will be a great leader.

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