Sunday, November 29, 2009

Book Review by Prof.M.S.Rao – “Leadership and the One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi (Harper Collins Publishers)

Today I read a book titled ‘Leadership and the One Minute Manager’ by Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi (Harper Collins Publishers). It took four hours for me to read this book. It has valuable takeaways for all and especially for managers and leaders.

The entire book revolves around the first hand experience of an entrepreneur with One Minute Manager (OMM) and his people. The book dwells at length on situational leadership and how to use a specific leadership style as per the situation. OMM dons several hats as per the situation.

The book sets a conversational tone between the entrepreneur and the OMM and OMM’s partners. At the end; the entrepreneur takes away the skills and styles essential for becoming a situational leader. The book provides several exhibits which are informative and interesting for the readers.

The book briefly explains four basic leadership styles such as directing, coaching, supporting and delegating.

The directing (Style 1) is for people who lack competence but are enthusiastic and committed (D1). They need direction and feedback to get them started. The coaching (Style 2) is for people who have some competence but lack commitment (D2). They need direction and feedback because they are still relatively inexperienced. They also need support and praised to build their self-esteem, and involvement in decision-making to restore their commitment.

The supporting (Style 3) is for people who have competence but lack confidence or motivation (D3). They do not need much direction because of their skills, but support is necessary to bolster their confidence and motivation. The delegating (Style 4) is for people who have both competence and commitment (D4). They are able and willing to work on a project by themselves with little supervision or support. In all these styles the support of the leader decreases gradually from Style 1 to Style 4. For instance, when a fresher (fresh graduate) joins in an organization the leader has to adopt S1 style. As the fresher learns, the leader has to shift the style of orbit to S2, S3 and finally S4 where the fresher becomes non-fresher, i.e. experienced individual.

Directive vs. Supportive Behaviour:

Directive behaviour contains structure, organize, teach and supervise and it involves: clearly telling people what to do, how to do it, when to dot it, and then closely monitoring their performance. On the other hand, the supportive behaviour needs praise, listen, ask, explain and facilitate and it involves: listening to people, providing support and encouragement for their efforts and then facilitating their involvement in problem solving and decision-making.

The book uncovers that directing style is appropriate during time constraints and for inexperience people. However, coaching works best when disillusionment sets in the individuals. Participative management style suits best for experienced individuals.

Competence and Commitment:

The person should have both competence and commitment while doing a task. Competence is a function of knowledge and skills, which can be gained from education, training, and /or experience. However, commitment is a combination of confidence and motivation. Confidence is a measure of a person’s self-assuredness a feeling of being able to do a task well without much supervision, where as motivation is a person’s interest in and enthusiasm for doing a task well.

Sutras for Success:

It unveils several sutras for practicing managers and leaders to execute their tasks effectively such as:

1. Don’t work harder – work smarter.
2. Different strokes for different folks.
3. There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.
4. When I slow down, I go faster.
5. Everyone has peak performance potential – you just need to know where they are coming from and meet them there.
6. You can expect more if you inspect more.
7. “When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘we did it ourselves’”- Lao-Tzu.
8. Situational leadership is not something you do to people but something you do with people.
9. Everyone is a potential high performer. So some people just need a little help along the way.

What OMM Says?

• Managers should work for their people.
• Deal people differently. Change style depending on the person working with and on the situation. That is different strokes for different folks and also different strokes for same folks.
• Flexibility, diagnosis and partnering are essential while leading.
• A whole manager is able to use four different leadership styles such as directing, coaching, supporting and delegating.
• Good performers don’t grow on trees. You have to diagnose people and train them.

Leadership Lessons:

• When someone does not understand and doesn’t do well, you need to say, “I made a mistake. I must have given you something to do that you did not understand. Let’s backtrack and start again.”
• Leaders need to do what the people they supervise cannot do for themselves at the present moment.
• Always catch the people doing right things and applaud them.


The OMM concludes with Buddhist saying, “To know and not to use is not yet to know!” At the end of the book the entrepreneur dons the hat of a situational leader with several valuable takeaways from OMM. So do you?

To sum up, OMM walked the talk with flexibility, diagnosis and partnering with entrepreneur by donning several hats as per the situation. The book is a must read for all. It not only gives you valuable inputs but also makes you don as a smart manager and leader as per the situation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“Indian President Pratibha Patil’s Historic Feat – Symbol of Indian Women Power” – Prof.M.S.Rao

25 November 2009 is the historic day for the women of India. It is the historic day for the Indian Air Force. It is the historic day for the Indian Armed Forces and to the entire Indians where our President Pratibha Patil who is 74 years old flew Sukhoi-30 MKI supersonic plane successfully.

It is unique in many ways as Pratibha is the first woman President to fly in a war plane and also she is the oldest women to fly in Sukhoi-30 MKI. It is not the success for Pratibha alone. It is, in fact, the success for all Indian women who dare to dream and think big beyond gender barriers.

Pratibha has become a symbol of inspiration for Indian women to look for career in defense forces also by coming out of traditional mindset of working in civilian organizations. It helps Indian women to break the glass ceiling and achieve big. In this context, let us know what ‘glass ceiling effect’ means.

Glass Ceiling Effect:

The glass ceiling effect is all about the artificial barriers that prevent women from moving up to the senior positions within the organizations. It is mainly based on attitudinal or organizational prejudices towards women. In fact, there are certain myths that prevent women from rising from ranks such as women are weak physically and cannot don leadership roles. The truth is that women are better at interpersonal relations and they are emotionally more intelligent than men. They gauge the body language better than men as they are smarter in gauging the hidden data of communication such as egos, emotions and feelings.

It is unfair not to treat women on par with men. Indian organizations should remove the barriers and allow women to rise from ranks on par with men. Indian women are no way behind men in terms of capabilities and competencies. When we look at Indra Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsi company, she broke all traditional barriers and currently she is one of the top powerful women in the world.

The successful flying in Sukhoi by Pratibha Patil is a laudable one. The aircraft flew 2 kilometers above the ground with a speed of 700 to 900 kilometers per hour and the sortie was for 30 minutes. With her inspiring act she connected with Indian women successfully. Indian women should break their mental barriers based on gender and must dream that everything is possible in the world.

With her bravery act Pratibha achieved twin objectives of proving that Indian women have full capability to perform and sent a message to Indian women to seek career in Armed Forces.

Dear President, I salute you wholeheartedly for your act of bravery and inspiring Indian women to dream big. You proved that you are the real Supreme Commander of Indian Armed Forces with your personal example. Keep soaring high.

The End

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sachin Tendulkar – A Living Legend in Indian Cricket

“There are two kinds of batsmen in the world. One, Sachin Tendulkar. Two, all the others.” - Andy Flower

The State of Maharastra would come to a grinding halt if any untoward incident happens for two great personalities – Bal Thackeray and Sachin Tendulkar. Both are living legends but in different fields.

Sachin’s completion of two decades in cricket is a milestone for any player. He is a master blaster and master laster who survived for 20 years in a game called cricket especially where people come and go away from this sport in a short span. The secret of his success is very clear as he always reinvented himself with changing times. He has redrawn the rules of the game with creative strategies and techniques. No amount of his body pain and pressures deterred him from moving ahead. His first and last passion is only Cricket.

Sachin has an amazing talent with great humility. He remains cool and composed both in victory and defeat. His achievements and records are endless. He is highly focused and always believes in hitting the bulls’ eye. During course of cricket journey he shattered several stereotypes and overcame obstacles. Mark Taylor rightly commented, “We did not lose to a team called India … we lost to a man called Sachin Tendulkar.”

He contributed his best without any false ego and is a team player who says, “The important thing is to know your role and play according to the situation. To me, nothing has been more important than winning and whatever my team requires I will try my best to fulfill it.”

Sachin lives in the hearts of billion people across the world. He not only lives in the hearts of Indians but also in the cricket lovers across the world cutting across nationalities. We have been blessed with a great legend like Sachin who makes all Indians to hold their heads high. He says, “I would like to be remembered as someone who tried hard and always gave his best for the country.”

Let us congratulate and salute this living legend on completion of two decades of his dedication and contribution to the sport as well as to our country.

The End

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Skill, Drive and Motivation for Success" - Prof.M.S.Rao

“Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.” - Denis Waitley

People often confuse between skill and talent and between drive and motivation. While there is a thick line between skill and talent, there is a thin line between drive and motivation. Let us see both the thick and thin line.

Talent and Skill:

Talent is an inborn quality. It is an inborn trait acquired through parents. In contrast, skill is a learned one. You can learn by training, practice, reading, experience and observation. It is an irony that people run in search of skill without focusing on their inborn talents. Success can be easily acquired by focusing on where you are strong at. You need to discover your inner talents and passions to achieve success. However, you cannot downplay the importance of skill. When you emphasize on your talents and acquire skills related to your area of interest, you can taste success easily.

Drive and Motivation:

There is a thin line separates drive and motivation. Motivation is the initial action to start any work while drive takes you forward to complete the task. Drive lies within while motivation comes from outside. When you are passionate about something you get motivated to start off as well as drive yourself with pleasure in pursuing. You need to break the big task into small chunks to get motivated. You need to be driven to complete each small chunk. Thus both motivation and drive are essential to achieving success.

Paul, Steven and Ken:

“Enthusiasm releases the drive to carry you over obstacles and adds significance to all you do” - Norman Vincent Peale

When we look at three individuals – Paul, Steven and Ken, they have unique qualities. Paul has a great skill for writing. He can write any topic at ease. But he is a poor starter and finisher as he lacks motivation and drive. Steven also has skill for writing and has motivation to start off easily but fails to complete the total topic as he lacks drive. Steven starts with a bang and ends with a whimper. When we look at Ken, he is far ahead of both Paul and Steven. He has great skill to write anything and everything. He has motivation to break the big topic into small pieces and completes the task with drive. Therefore, Ken is successful most of the times as he has skill, motivation and drive.

To conclude, talent is innate, skill is honed, and motivation gives you momentum and finally drive takes you forward till end.

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” - Jack Welch

The End

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Case Study from Prof.M.S.Rao - "‘I Am The Boss’ & ‘So What?’"


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on the hidden data of communication such as human feelings, egos and emotions at the workplace resulting into conflicts. It emphasizes the need for independent thinking, (i.e. avoid being instigated by others) and also on the active listening skills that can minimize conflicts. It also outlines the need to separate personal emotions from professional activities.

Design/methodology/approach – It provides a detailed case study in an organization where Susan has the attitude of ‘I am the boss’ and Ron has the attitude of ‘So what?’ resulting into conflict in the workplace.

Findings – The case study highlights the need to communicate with each other rather than developing filters in their minds. Those who work in organizations should not act under the influence of others and they should not misuse their official authority. It concludes that those who are in superior position should open up their minds and set the process of dialogue before taking any extreme action such as humiliating or silencing their subordinates. It provides a few takeaways for working executives to prevent conflicts based on human emotions and feelings.

Research limitations/implications – It outlines the analysis and interpretation of the author. It presents several solutions by looking at the issue from multiple perspectives. It helps the readers to develop their thinking, analytical and creative skills.

Originality/value – The main contribution of this case study is to add value by narrating the incident sequentially thereby creating curiosity among the readers. It provides new perspectives and the real reasons for conflicts at the workplace.

Keywords: Communication and conflict, Conflict management, Hidden data of communication, Personal and psychological conflict, Workplace relations.

Target audience: HR professionals, Researchers, General Managers, Academics, Students and Consultants.

Article Type: Case Study.

Word count: 2430


“Never look who is right and wrong. Always look what is right and wrong.” – Prof.M.S.Rao, Corporate Trainer in Leadership Development.

When you look at individuals there will be involvement of egos and emotions. In contrast, when you look at the issues there will be no individual preferences and prejudices. Better judgment prevails.

Susan was working in a multinational company in India as a Human Resource (HR) Manager. Her role was to recruit the candidates for the company and to ensure smooth functioning of office administration. She was a smart worker and built reputation for herself from superiors for the last five years. The top management also respected and consulted her on crucial decisions. She did not talk to anyone unnecessarily at the work place and she meant business. She was 32 years old. She was bold and beautiful. She was polite and well mannered. She was a woman with strong character. But she was stubborn by nature. However, it was rumored within the organization that she was divorced by her husband because of arrogance and stubbornness.

Ron joined in the same company who was hard working and was yet to prove his abilities and establish his credentials. Before joining this organization, he had 18 years of industry experience in several companies and he was 39 years old. As per the rules of the company, Ron had to work with Susan initially for some period. He was a hard worker and rose from ranks. He learnt bitter lessons in his life and knew the value of life. But he was adamant by nature. Both Ron and Susan respected each other and had been working together.

Susan was introvert, by nature, and rarely mingled with other employees. At the same time, she never kept ill will against anybody. She was a principled woman with worldly experience. She was combination of education, intellect and beauty with grace which was a rare combination for any woman. She was good at heart and helpful. Seeing the close and cordial relations between Susan and Ron, a few people working in the office felt jealousy. Since Susan rarely socialized with others and her cordial relations with Ron upset a few of their colleagues especially two female colleagues - Ann and Beth.

Ron also never socialized with anyone as he believed in his office work although he was an extrovert by nature. Ron initially moved closely with a colleague by name John. But John started speaking ill of Susan to Ron which Ron did not appreciate. John said that Susan was a divorcee and her husband divorced because of her arrogance. He also said that Susan was a woman of weak character. Gradually Ron distanced himself away from John who tried to settle his scores with Susan as they worked together in the past on a project. Ron was basically an independent thinker and never paid attention to such negative comments and he followed his heart rather than looking things from the mind of others. Ron did not appreciate negative things being talked by John against Susan whom he respected from the core of his heart.

Ron’s gelling with Susan cordially upset a few and especially two female colleagues Ann and Beth. They tried to create rift between them by talking ill of Susan with Ron. Ron never liked to entertain negative people and was totally against office politics. Since their strategy failed to work, they attempted to poison the mind of Susan who initially resisted the same. Gradually Susan stopped talking to Ron and the latter did not know the reasons but Ron sensed some problem. However, he interacted with Susan in the same way to keep the things going on smoothly. Since Susan began neglecting Ron, he also began concentrating on work and avoided Susan totally except whenever there was need for official interaction and communication.

In fact, Susan touched the subconscious mind of Ron. As a result, Ron began thinking about Susan oftenly and deeply. Ron was not able to concentrate on his work properly. At heart, Ron was thankful to Susan as she helped him to groove within the system. He developed admiration towards her but never revealed to others at the workplace even to Susan. In brief, Susan touched the heart of Ron.

One day, Susan told Ron to collect resumes from the candidates who came in for walk-in interview. Ron got up from his cubicle and asked her whether to hand over the same to Senior Manager - Rick. She said, “Yes”. Ron was energetic by nature; he rushed immediately to get the resumes and collected from the candidates. Subsequently, Ron rushed to the Senior Manager and handed over the resumes and had conversation with him for some time and came out from the room.

Susan who was waiting outside the Senior Manager’s cabin took Ron to nearby room with anger and shouted at him. Both had heated conversation for some time which is mentioned below:

Susan questioned Ron, “Who told you to hand over the resumes to Senior Manager?”

Ron replied, “When I asked you, you told me to hand over to Senior Manager. Therefore, I handed over to him.”

Susan shouted, “You rushed inside the room. But I told you to hand over to Jim.”

Ron said, “You told me to hand over to Senior Manager. Therefore, I handed over to Rick.” And he added, “Why do you make it a big issue?”

Susan shouted, “You did not listen properly and your behavior is not good”.

Ron did not want to hurt her and asked, “Ok! Tell me, in which way my behavior is bad? I will change my behavior.” He added further, “You keep something else in your mind and talk something else outside. I don’t like this. I am straightforward. I respect you a lot from the core of my heart. But every time, you listen to negative people and rush to wrong conclusions about me.”

Susan said, “Stop talking all that! Next time don’t repeat like this.”

Ron pacified, “Ok! I will not do like this. But it all happened due to your miscommunication and let us close the issue here itself.”

Ron finally said, “I am sorry if there was any mistake on my part”

Susan cooled down her temper and said, “Now you go outside the cabin.”

Ron left the cabin puzzled and shocked. It was first time in his life a woman took him to task for none of his mistakes. Since he respected Susan he didn’t like to hurt her in any way by arguing with her.

Outside the cabin, a few office friends enquired Ron to find out what had happened inside the cabin. He did not reveal what really happened inside the room as he was basically a confidential person by nature.

After 15 minutes, Ron called Susan telephonically and explained clearly that things went wrong due to improper communication. He once again apologized her for the incident. Susan said that she was in a position to take action against him but said that she would not initiate any action against him. Ron asserted that he was not concerned for any kind of action but concerned if Susan was hurt.

The incident depressed Ron for many days as he failed to understand where he went wrong. He was not worried about the incident but more worried as he liked Susan very much. It disturbed his peace and sleep. He sought an appointment with Susan several times to communicate the same but the latter never gave such an opportunity.

Questions to Ponder:

Was it a conflict? If it were a conflict, what led to this conflict?
Was it due to clash of egos or emotions or feelings or miscommunication?
Who was responsible for this conflict - Susan or Ron or both Ann and Beth?
Was there anything hidden between these two personalities?
Did the real issues come up or anything still hidden between these two personalities?
What were the other hidden reasons, if any?

Case Study Analysis:

In any communication, there has to be feedback whether the receiver has understood the message. In this case, Ron rushed to hand over the resumes without taking clear confirmation from Susan. It was mistake on the part of Susan for not taking feedback after her communication. Whatever it may be, it is not an issue worth to become a conflict. There are hidden data of communication such as feelings, emotions and egos which have not been clearly expressed by Susan. Both Susan and Ron developed filters in their minds. In fact, both are equally responsible for this conflict.

Susan has the attitude of ‘I am the boss’ and Ron has the attitude of ‘So what?’. Probably Susan lacked independent and original thinking as she was under the influence of Ann and Beth who were litigants and did not like Susan gelling well with Ron in the initial probationary period. Finally, both Ann and Beth were successful in separating both Susan and Ron by flaring up the issue. In contrast, Ron was not influenced by the negative comments made against Susan by John such as she was a divorcee and she was a woman of weak character with lot of arrogance. Ron was intelligent enough to smell the differences John must have had with Susan as they collectively completed a project in the past. Ron, being an experienced person knows that some differences must have cropped up between both Susan and John while execution of project. Ron was good by nature as he did not like the badmouthing of Susan by John. Right from the beginning Ron had good impression about Susan. Ron never hurt Susan although he was humiliated by Susan in the cabin. Ron was always defensive while Susan was offensive. It shows Ron’s character. Ron was also a gentleman as he did not carry forward the negative comments made by John to Susan. However, Ron was also at fault as he mixed his personal emotions with professional activities thus weakening his position within the organization.

In fact, something bugged Susan that resulted into sudden outburst and thus humiliating Ron. The solution lies only when both Susan and Ron come together and take a relook at the issue and communicate with each other. It not only removes the barriers but also builds the bridges between both of them. It helps in better relations and ensures peaceful working environment.

In any conflict, the real reasons usually don’t surface. Besides, it is very difficult to probe the heart of a woman. Probably Susan was influenced by two negative colleagues Ann and Beth as she lacked independent thinking. She looks like an intellectual fool as she was easily instigated by both Ann and Beth. In brief, Susan was a puppet and Ann and Beth were puppeteers.

It is also a classic example of emotions playing a crucial role in deciding professional relationship. In any working environment, people of opposite sex often develop soft corner and admiration for each other. Same thing happened between Susan and Ron. It seems Ron and Susan like each other internally but they failed to express themselves properly.

At the instigation of Ann and Beth, Susan being a senior succeeded in silencing and humiliating Ron by misusing her official authority as she might have read the signals of Ron’s body language as he liked her. There is also a possibility that Susan made Ron a scapegoat to protect her professional image built over for the last 5 years within the organization. When Ron apologized once again just after the closed door cabin conflict, Susan’s threat of initiating action against Ron was an indication of her superiority complex (bossism, of course, not sadism) and stubbornness and also growing insecurity within herself.

They should keep their personal emotions and feelings away for making the working environment conducive and productive. The attitude of ‘tit for tat’ is no solution for managing the conflicts within the organization. Probably it was the reason why Ron apologized and came out of the cabin after heated arguments. He was intelligent enough to apologize and to come out the cabin, else Susan might fix Ron on sexual harassment case as she was not at all in a mood to think independently and also she was poisoned by Ann and Beth who vitiated the working environment by badmouthing and bringing politics within the organization.

John told Ron that Susan as a woman of weak character with lot of arrogance and it was rumored within the organization that Susan was divorced by her husband due to these reasons. However, Ron did not pay heed to John as it was Susan’s personal matter; if it happened to be true. Ron looked Susan from a very positive perspective like a woman who has huge potential and a long a way to go in her career. Ron was also the kind of person who separates personal matter from professional matter. As Ron distanced John for badmouthing against Susan, Susan too should have distanced from the badmouthing and litigant colleagues. If it were done so, the conflict could have been averted.

It becomes obvious from the case study that Ron is ENTJ (Extravert, Intuitor, Thinker and Judger) type while Susan is ISTJ (Introvert, Sensor, Thinker and Judger) type as per the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). Therefore, it is a clear clash between ISTJ and ENTJ.

Key Learnings:

Both have many similar qualities such as avoiding organizational politics, not meddling into others’ activities, being disciplined and dedicated professionals and confidential (not revealing their inner feelings to others). They both are like poles and repel and only way they attract with each other is that they belong to opposite sex. In fact, both Ron and Susan could make as an excellent team if they come together and it helps the organization as well.

It is essential to emphasize here that personal human weaknesses should not overtake the professional activities. It is also improper to exploit the weaknesses of human beings to establish superiority. If it were so, such conflicts would arise.

Succinctly, the conflict is the result of Ron looking at Susan positively and the Susan looking at Ron negatively under the instigation of her two negative colleagues. In fact, both were good by nature but the way looked at each other resulted into conflict. Therefore, Susan should reconsider Ron on a clean slate so that such conflicts could be averted in future.

To conclude in the words of Oscar Wilde, “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”

The End