Saakshi Nagpal

Archive for the tag “Leaders”

The Leader as Coach

In this world there are two kinds of leaders one who loves to collaborate and partner along and second who loves to direct and are control freaks in nature.
If partnering and collaboration are more gratifying to you rather than directing and controlling then I hope next few minutes would be helpful for you and if you are among the second group, please pay attention ,  you may find something interesting.

Most of us see ourselves taking leadership positions in near future and some are already in leadership role and Toastmasters gives us platform to practice and hone our leadership skills. Among team management, time management, stress management, project management, some XYZ management and lot of etc etc imaginable managements ….. . the most important responsibility is to grow and develop the team.

Henry Kissinger, a German born Noble prize winner American writer has once “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. “

As a leader, you are measured, recognized and rewarded not for what you do, but for the accomplishments and achievements of the people you lead. If you want to achieve your goals, you must do everything you can to help your team succeed. If you consider present and past great leader they are alike in 3 areas.

  1. They provide a clear direction through their mission and vision.
  2. They foster collaboration through team building, delegation and coaching.
  3. They motivate team members to achieve by providing feedback, support, recognizing and by resolving conflict.

Many of the world’s greatest leaders say that their team growth is how they measure their own success. Dhoni is considered as the most successful Indian Cricket captain of all times. Not just because he ia great player & his hair styles are trendsetters, even his bald look is still in fashion. But because under his captainship India has won world cup , Twenty 20 world cup , so many series and has set records.

Following Henry Kissinger’s advice , when you coach others to reach their potential you are helping world’s future leaders to gain strength and skills to succeed. You are writing new success stories. People have more potential in them  than they currently show in their lives. If they only knew how to surface their potentials they would have already done so. But the ground reality is that most of them don’t. If provided coaching they get to surface their greatest potential.

Looking for the most convinciable example of being leader as  a coach & writing history, I am able to pick a name close to Indian hearts – Kabir Khan ( sattar minutes ….. Chak De India) . He proved his innocence, his capability , his patriotism by coaching women hockey team and lead them to the path less travelled …. Indian Women Hockey team won 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Some leaders are fortunate enough to get formal training in coaching skills, many are not. They have to develop these for themselves.

 If you  search the techniques on internet you will find numerous tools and techniques which will help you to learn to trust your instincts to become a better coach and so enhance your team’s performance.

 Does this sound daunting? Indeed it is.

 We are talking about how to grow the capabilities of a team and help them achieve what might they have just dreamt. After searching a lot , the easiest approach  to implement and to remember , I got was the GROW Model.

 GROW is an acronym standing for Goal – Current Reality – Options – Will.

 The model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring a coaching or mentoring session.

 A useful metaphor for the GROW model is the plan you might make for an important journey. First, you start with a map: With this, you help your team member decide where they are going (their Goal) and establish where they currently are (their Current Reality). Then you explore various ways (the Options) of making the journey. In the final step, establishing the Will, you ensure your team member is committed to making the journey and is prepared for the conditions and obstacles they may meet on their way.

 How to use GROW model ?

 Grow :

First , you will help your team member define a goal that is specific, measurable and realistic.

In doing this, it is useful to ask questions like:

  • “How will you know that you have achieved that goal?”
  • “How will you know the problem is solved?”

 Examine Current Reality

As the team member tells you about his or her Current Reality, the solution may start to emerge.

Useful coaching questions include:

  • “What is happening now?”
  • “What, who, when, how often”
  • “What is the effect or result of that?”

Explore the Option

By all means, offer your own suggestions. But let your team member offer his or hers first, and let him or her do most of the talking.

Typical questions used to establish the options are:

  • “What else could you do?”
  • “What if this or that constraint were removed?
  • “What are the benefits and downsides of each option?”
  • What factors will you use to weigh up the options?

Establishing The Will

By examining Current Reality and exploring the Options, your team member will now have a good idea of how he or she can achieve their Goal. That’s great – but in itself, this may not be enough! So your final step as coach is to get you team member to commit to specific action. In so doing, you will help the team member establish his or her will and motivation.

Useful questions:

  • “So what will you do now, and when?
  • “What could stop you moving forward?”
  • “And how will you overcome it?”
  • “Will this address your goal?”
  • “How likely is this option to succeed?”
  • “What else will you do?”

So ready to go  , hold on !!

Beware of common mistakes :

  • Assuming everyone is coachable
  • Overestimating the short term results from coaching
  • Assuming every situation provides the opportunity for coaching
  • Failing to establish rapport which creates the trusting space for coaching to occur
  • Failing to get others’ permission to coach them
  • Confusing coaching with training or supervision

 Benefits of Coaching

Again , investment done in coaching results in improved performance. This investment reaps other benefits too.

a)    High Morale : When everyone is working together and achieving goals, team members feel good about their work .

b)    Empowerment . People feel confident and willingly accept more responsibility.

c)    Development. Team members learn and improve. As they grow, they become more creative and are able to contribute even more.

Does it sounds good ? Here is lot more to it…… Team productivity increases, and the team complete tasks to your expectations . As their skills increase, you can delegate more so you have more time for other leadership responsibilities.

Win Win situation.

 Lets accept the situation, world needs strong , competent leaders now more than ever before. Effective leaders not only in government and industry but even in our civic organizations and toastmasters. At the end of every year, Toastmasters international rewards titles to every club –be Distinguished, Select Distinguished or President Club . The difference between successful clubs like this and unsuccessful clubs is the quality of leadership within the club. Being a leader its your duty to ensure you do everything possible to improve the performance of your team and……………………… to take them where they have not been.

PS : This article was my speech as one of the projects required for ALB (Advance Leader Bronze) Certification by Toastmasters. I hereby completed my ALB , yeah !!

Saakshi

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Resolving Conflicts

Just Imagine :

You’ve just arrived to your workstation which you share with a colleague, and it looks as if it’s going to be another frustrating day.

Your side of the office is neat as a pin and incredibly well organized. You take care not to talk loudly when you’re on the phone, so that you don’t disturb your office mate.

Your colleague, however, is the exact opposite. Empty cups and crushed biscuits wrappers litter his side of the office. He sometimes puts the music on while he’s working, which breaks your concentration. And hell breaks when he is chit chatting with others while you are on call.  Stationary items at your side of office are often misplaced, at times you dread yourself coming into the office every day, simply because you don’t like sharing your space with your colleague. He drives you crazy, and you often argue.

Can you recognize that there’s conflict between you two because the two of you have completely different working styles.

Let us try to understand this..

What’s Conflict?

It’s the difference of opinion with two or more people, real or perceived that is not resolved, worst if someone is getting aggressive.

All of us experience one or the other conflicts at work, personal life and even in Toastmasters. Members can have disagreements over programming, logistics, meeting styles and people.

Conflict is not always bad. When it is addressed and resolved, conflict often leads to positive changes, increased productivity, better decisions, innovation and bonding among people. Adversely, unresolved conflict can lead to poor productivity, low morale, distrust, and failure.

A leader must know how to handle conflict.  He/ She can choose to ignore it, complain about it, blame someone for it, or try to deal with it through hints and suggestions; or can be direct, clarify what is going on, and attempt to reach a resolution through common techniques like negotiation or compromise.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is what we do to identify and address conflict in a mature and respectful way.

Why there are conflicts?

Root cause of all conflict and complaints – unmet expectations. Unmet Expectations from others!

Lets us take a closer look when and where conflicts occur.

a)      Conflicting resources

ð  We all need access to certain resources –  office supplies, meeting rooms, scheduling conference calls via desk phones. There are n no of employees and limited resources , hence their needs can be at odds.

 b)      Conflicting Styles

ð  Everyone works differently according to  his/her individual need and personality. For instance some people love the thrill of getting things done at the last minute, while others need the structure of strict deadlines to perform. Whenever there is a difference in working style it may call a conflict.

 c)       Conflicting Perception

 All of us see the world through our own lens, and difference in perceptions of events cause conflict. For instance HR Work from Home policy. There will be employees happy with such a policy being strictly followed, whereas there may be few who are not that pleased. Their perception – why it bothers so much to HR when by any means the work is done. Office politics comes in this section.

d)      Conflicting Goals.

Sometimes we have conflicting goals in our work. We all work on projects which involve multiple stakeholders.  One of them may ensure the high quality service is top priority but another stakeholder may focus on regular project updates and statistics. It’s sometimes quite difficult to reconcile the two!

e)  Conflicting Pressures

We often have to depend on our colleagues to get our work done. However, what happens when you need a report from your colleague by noon, and he’s already preparing a different report for someone else by that same deadline?

f). Different Personal Values

ð   Imagine that your boss has just asked you to perform a task that conflicts with your ethical standards. Do you do as your boss asks, or do you refuse? If you refuse, will you lose your boss’s trust, or even your job? I hope this won’t be case with anyone here.

g)  Misunderstandings

 When rules and policies change at work and you don’t communicate that change clearly to your team, confusion and conflict can occur. Lack of or incomplete communication can lead to misunderstandings.

 Cost to individual

No points for guessing, conflicts are generally destructive in nature, with time, emotional and health costs. Conflicts with others results in stress, loss of confidence, unhappiness, hostility, withdrawal and even illness.

Cost to the organization

Research indicates that a typical manager loses 25% of the day responding to helpful conflict. This is time lost to creative, productive work.

Take a medium sized organization with 100 managers. Let’s assume average monthly salary per manager is Rs 80,000. With managers losing 25% of their time on conflict, the cost will be Rs20, 00,000

This only accounts for management time. The true cost will include higher employee time, higher staff turnover, missed opportunities, absenteeism, inefficiency, low morale and poor teamwork.

 How to resolve conflict

So how do you deal with conflict and complaints?

Do you become aggressive back when it becomes a matter of who “wins” or “loses” the argument?

Or do you use cunning and well thought through communication and interpersonal skills to get you through the other end with the outcome that you desired?

In any case if a conflict has taken place, being a leader you have to approach it.

Method 1 : Ignore it.

In some situations, the issue may not be important and it may be best to ignore it. Often, though, this method does not work. The conflict does not go away.

 It festers.

Method 2. Smooth it over.

 This method is appropriate when the issues are more important to the par­ties involved than they are to you and the team’s goals. This method preserves harmony and goodwill.

 It heals.

 Method 3  Force.

  A leader uses power to resolve differences. This method is best used when an emer­gency requires a quick decision. However, it usually results in “winners” and “losers,” and losers can be resentful.

 It wounds.

 Method 4. Compromise.

 Each party makes a major concession to arrive at a solution. Since both parties lose something, they may have less support for the compromise solution.

 It either unites or divides.

Method 5. Collaboration.

This is a good way to resolve conflict. Each side recognizes the other’s needs as legitimate and important and acknowledges their ability and expertise. They work together to arrive at an agreement that will resolve the conflict. When each party wins, they have greater commitment to the solution and no resentment or distrust

It spreads harmony.

Collaboration offers a framework that will result in a win-win situation. You can facilitate the collabo­ration process by following these seven steps:

  1. Find the root cause.

Once the issues have been determined, focus on solutions not blames.

  1. Allow all parties to speak

3. Encourage all parties to listen.

4. Identify areas of disagreement..

5. Identify areas of agreement. Once everyone has spoken, help them find and discuss areas they agree on, such as: Common goals, Interests and values

6. Search for solutions. Everyone

7. Reach a consensus, by, THE BRAINSTORMING METHOD

All ideas are written down as they are generated, without discussion or evaluation.

After the ideas are exhausted, team members return to the first item on the list and discuss it, evaluating its positive and negative aspects.

Eventually, the list is narrowed to the idea that best resolves the problem

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is what we do to identify and address conflict in a mature and respectful way.

 

When it is handled well it can lead to

  • Improved relationships between those who were in conflict
  • Increased understanding for the different parties around a situation or topic
  • The identification and hopefully, the improvement of the processes that aren’t working

If conflict is not handled well.

if it is allowed to escalate , relationships , the team’s ability to function, the workplace , and the product or service produced will all suffer. So understanding how to handle conflict is vital to ensuring that you can be as effective as possible in the workplace.

Somebody told me, leadership is not just about managing people it’s more about managing people’s ego.

 This article was actually my speech as one of the projects required for ALB (Advance Leader Bronze) Certification by Toastmasters.

Stay Calm and Blessed,

Saakshi

BAs – Hidden Leaders !

 

Many times we are not in a position of authority yet we have to have some leadership skills for easy going. Working as a Business Analyst (BA) and working closely with large teams I have observed that BAs have to constantly challenge themselves on leading without really leading.
I term this as challenge because generally we don’t have the title to help us put weight in influencing ourselves. We are in the unique position of not having any title in our kitty from a leadership perspective, so we have to be a bit more creative.
We do our absolute level best on capturing the business and functional requirements , analyzing, recommending solutions, utilizing the right tools for creating  a product that in the end returns us customer’s approval with their satisfaction. It sounds simple and interesting but in practical it’s not easy.
We spend hours pondering over the requirements, meeting with customers, documenting, re-documenting, designing architectures, developing use cases (explaining what they are and what they are not), redeveloping them, creating and recreating report layouts.  After that, co-ordinating with the development team, encouraging them to complete the work within the timeframe, and we may have a few updates to the fields on the reports – and that’s ok, we need to be flexible and responsive.
Apart from convincing the developers that the project is doable, then we have to have the business meetings where we have to re-prioritize the already prioritized requirements (due to extended deadlines). We work closely with the business to try and reassure them that everyone on the team is focused on delivering the project on time. We are secretly praying that the team will come through and deliver exactly what is needed by the clients.
This is all we do. WE MOVE MOUNTAINS EVERYDAY !!
Then where does Leadership comes? Leadership comes through the side lines. And you can be creative by acquiring 3 simple qualities and won’t sound bossy.
Listening – It is important , it allows you to think and tailor the message to be send back to sender. Every sort of business communication is sensitive either for the client or for the technical team. Listening properly and responding in an apt way is a crucial skill.
Building relationships – Build healthy relationships with all people at all levels in the organization. You never know when this will come back to serve you well. To lead from the side, it is helpful to have colleagues that will speak to your credibility and work ethic. Don’t underestimate the power of  good relationships.
Motivate – Motivating or Influencing is like a boost to your goal. Give your team the freedom to do what they can do better than you in anyway. Motivate them and don’t yell at them, else, they will be much less inclined to take the initiative when needed.
Don’t poke your nose in order to achieve the best in spite of any situation. Don’t bear the burden of someone else’s ego.
Acquiring these 3 simple skills will help you to continue to grow and mature in your career as well as in person.

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