The New Work of Leaders


Our traditional view of leaders—as special people who set the direction, make key decisions, and energize the troops—is deeply rooted in an individualistic and nonsystematic worldview. Especially in the West, leaders are heroes—great men (and occasionally women) who rise to the fore in times of crisis. So long as such myths prevail, they reinforce a focus on short-term events and charismatic heroes rather than on systematic forces and collective learning.

Leadership in learning organizations centers on subtler and ultimately more important work. In a learning organization, leaders’ roles differ dramatically from that of the charismatic decision-maker. Leaders are designers, teachers, and stewards. These roles require new skills: the ability to build shared vision, to bring to the surface and challenge prevailing mental models, and to foster more systematic patterns of thinking. Leaders are responsible for building organizations where people are continually expanding their capabilities to shape their future—that is, leaders are responsible for learning.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Development and Corporate Objectives


Development activities ought to reflect the situation and circumstances of a company, its business objectives and its key priorities. For example, there is little point in a company building hypothetical team skills without addressing the following:

  • The purpose of the team. For example, a bid team might require specific bidding skills such as defining value in customer terms.
  • Where team members are located. People in virtual teams may be widely scattered and they may need special training.
  • The role of groups and teams in the management of change, the management culture and management style must be supportive.
  • The clarity of the goals given to teams, and the relevance of their priorities to business objectives. People need to understand the broad boundaries within which they operate in terms of goals and priorities.
  • The discretion given to teams, and the extent to which people are given the required freedom to act.
  • The commitment of senior management to team work, and especially cross-functional and inter-organizational team work. They must be dedicated to ensuring that decisions are taken as close to the customer as possible, and people are enabled to do what is necessary to add value for customers.
  • Prevailing attitudes, such as the extent to which people feel part of teams. Empowered team work should be pervasive, rather than the isolated experiment.
  • The management cadre. Managers should counsel and coach, value diversity, and foster and encourage teamwork, collaborative activities, self-development and group learning.
  • How open people are, and the degree of trust and confidence they have. People need to feel they are able to take initiatives without being paralyzed by fear of the consequences.
  • Existing performance within teams, the tools shared within teams, and the approaches and support in terms of technology and process available to them. For example, there should be relatively open access to relevant information.
  • Rewards and performance management. This should be supportive of, and should recognize, team work, the acquisition of team skills and the exhibiting of role-model behavior.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

The Enterprise Unit


Business rearrangements are moving toward the creation of a more horizontally oriented company, one that works faster across its structure than up and down. This form is the next stage in the evolution of the “strategic business unit” concept. This may be called the enterprise unit.

The enterprise unit performs only the activities most vital to its competitiveness, primarily those representing critical and cutting-edge capabilities. Other needed capabilities are purchased in the marketplace or shared with other enterprise units. The enterprise unit relies more on reinforced jobs and composite teams to get things done.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, www.youtube.com/asifjmir, Line of Sight

Advertisement as a Symbol Package


Advertisements should not be thought of as things apart from the needs of the advertiser. Hence the function-oriented term ‘marketing message’ to suggest the motivation behind the ads. But—there is more.

The effects (if any) that ads are going to have on people are by no means certain. One way of explaining this is by thinking of the finished advertisement as a “symbol package,” using words, pictures, sound, and so forth in an attempt to establish some shared meaning between the creator of the advertisement and those who receive it.

The primary task facing the TV creative man is how best to get at people’s feelings. How can he communicate convincingly with what psychologists call the third ear, with the levels of intuition far behind reason—where the scales of judgment are weighted by feeling and primitive perceptions. This is the “open sesame” to believability and persuasion. The intellectual elements—the facts and the arguments—are just a superstructure on the process (often the subconscious process) of achieving conviction. The creative mind in TV advertising has to work with both logical and non-rational symbols. This is, after all, what a product image is—the total set of attitudes, the halo of psychological meanings, the associations of feelings, the indelibly written aesthetic messages over and above the bare physical qualities.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Locking Customers in


Winners care about their clients’ businesses. They take specific steps to become more intimately involved. They share information and knowledge and pass on leads. They are always on the look out for ways of ‘adding value’ or helping customers to solve their problems.

 

They lock out competitors by integrating their own systems and processes with those of their customers. They may become involved in joint planning and the development of their client’s services. Relationships they forge grow into formal partnerships with joint and mutual objectives, shared rewards and savings, commitments to specific and measurable performance improvements, open book accounting and simple, quick, low-level dispute resolution procedures.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Pertinent topics for training


I suggest three new topics for your training programs, vis-à-vis, Leadership, Creativity and Innovation in Decsion-making, and Future Trends. They are important for Change.

 

Development of leadership skills can enable target audience to challenge the process, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way and walk the way. This can be achieved by developing skills for regulating the information flow, direction setting, motivation and decision-making.

 

Development of creative thinking skills will enable managers to initiate a creative process focusing on the mechanisms and phases involved if they partake in a creative act. Such skills will allow them to look at problems as opportunities and not as threats.

 

Last but not the least, knowledge about future will allow managers to know about the environment in certain area in the forseeable future. This will help them in planning and public policy.

 

Without developing leadership skills, and enlightening the trainees about using mind tools for creative decesion-making and the ability to read future, no change can be possible. Those civilizations, societies and organizations,and even individuals face extinction if they fail to cope up with change, innovation and transition with time. This is the law of nature.

 

Include new topics—Leadership, Creativity and Innovation, and Future Trends—in all your training programs.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

A Healthy Company


A healthy company is like a fine athlete is more than someone who isn’t sick, a healthy company embodies people and practices that combine and coordinate to produce an exceptional performance.

 

Healthy companies all possess and emanate a certain vitality and spirit. This spirit is not a religious fervor or a mindless cheerleader enthusiasm but a deep feeling of shared humanistic values at the core of the company. These values are the glue that binds healthy, successful employees with healthy, productive workplaces. They influence the way people act and think at all levels of the company and form the foundation for corporate policies and practices. They define roles and responsibilities and dictate hor business decisions are made. These principles are expressed and applied at every turn of the business, from receptionists and loading dock workers, through managers and executives, and into the board of directors.

 

These values are perpetually interacting, expanding, and contracting like a living entity. Each value depends on and determines the health of the others; sickness or disease that undermines on weakens all; roboustness in one value strengthens all. The values at the heart of a healthy company enable it to continuously grow, evolve, and renew itself, reinforcing what is productive and prositive and sloughing off the unhealthy and unworkable. In short, the causes and effects between values, people, and companies are not linear but circular. Values are the center of the enterprise; they circulate through every cell and artery of a company, and a company and its employees either reinforce healthy values or bring about their decline.

 

Healthy company values bind people to their organizations. By creating a common language and appealing to principles of dignity, commitment, and growth, these values help to create an identity that connects thousands of people around a shared mission. Suddenly, the traditional hard values of business success and the nontraditional soft values of human development merge into one dream.

 

This convergence generates a synergy, producing something greater than the sum of their parts—a vital business that lives and breathes a humanistic philosophy, that treats people as more than profit producers, views relationships as more than simply financial contracts, and regards the workplace as more than a setting for business. It is a holistic environment, one that nurtures, stretches, and empowers peple. The result is an organization that optimizes people, principles, and profits.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Carrying out Change


Solutions to an organization’s problems cannot be found outside the organization. An organization possesses the potential and the capability to solve its own problems. This assumption is also a value, in that it asserts that change is most successful and effective when people in an organization act collectively to generate solutions and implement actions. In other words, solutions that are imposed on an organization from outside have little chance of success. The role of leadership in change is to expose the organization to challenges and problems faced, to mobilize support for change and to create the right conditions for people inside the organization to generate ideas for improvement.

 

Organizational change, in its essence, is about bringing a change in an organization’s routines. The term routine refers to the ways in which people perform their activities in an organization. It includes rules, procedures, policies and conventions. It includes both the formal (written) aspects of an organization’s architecture and its informal (unwritten, tacit) aspects. An organization’s policy for recruiting staff is a routine. Its procedure for evaluating quality is a routine. The way in which employees in an organization actually respond to customer complaints is another routine. For a specific behavior to be an organizational routine, it must be both repetitive and widely shared.

 

The second assumption is based on both empirical and theoretical ideas in organization studies. Activities that are performed to carry out day to day tasks of an organization are also referred to as operational routines. Some organizations also develop special kinds of routines, developed with the explicit objective of modifying existing operational routines in order to enhance the organization’s effectiveness. These are referred to as dynamic capabilities. If an organization already has well-defined dynamic capabilities, there is little need for anyone to manage change. However, the need for change arises because many organizations lack such dynamic capabilities.

 

Organizations can change their routines in three ways: first, they can modify an existing routine. A modified routine is different but not fundamentally different from original routine. Second, they can discard or eliminate an existing routine. Here, the organization stops performing a particular task or activity. Third, they can establish a new routine. This may take the form of introducing a new policy, procedure or task to perform a new set of activities.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Building Shared Vision


The skills involved in building shared vision include the following:

  1. Encouraging Personal Vision. Shared visions emerge from personal visions. It is not that people only care about their own self-interest. People’s values usually include dimensions that concern family, organization, community, and even the world. Rather, it is that people’s capacity for caring is personal.
  2. Communicating and Asking for Support. Leaders must be willing to continually share their vision, rather than being the official representative of the corporate vision. They also must be prepared to ask, “Is this vision worthy of your commitment?” This can be difficult for a person used to setting goals and presuming compliance.
  3. Visioning as an ongoing process. Building shared vision is a never ending process. At any one point there will be a particular image of the future that is predominant, but that image will evolve. Today, too many managers want to dispense with the “vision business” by going off and writing the Official Vision Statement. Such statements almost always lack the vitality, freshness, and excitement of a genuine vision that comes from people asking, “What do really want to achieve?”
  4. Blending extrinsic and intrinsic visions. Many energizing visions are extrinsic, that is, they focus on achieving something relative to outsider, such as a competitor. But a goal that is limited to defeating an opponent can, once the vision is achieved, easily become a defensive posture. In contrast, intrinsic goals like creating a new type of product, taking an established product to a new level, or setting a new standard for customer satisfaction can call forth a new level of creativity and innovation. Intrinsic and extrinsic visions need to coexist; a vision solely predicated on defeating an adversary will eventually weak an organization.
  5. Distinguishing Positive from negative visions. Many organizations only truly pull together when their survival is threatened. Similarly, most social movements aim at eliminating what people don’t want: for example, anti-drug, anti-smoking movements. Negative visions carry a subtle message of powerlessness: people will only pull together when there is sufficient threat. Negative visions also tend to be sort term. Two fundamental sources of energy can motivate organizations: fear and aspiration. Fear, the energy source behind negative visions, can produce extraordinary changes in short periods, but aspiration endures as a continuing source of learning and growth.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Just about Culture


Culture is a) a pattern of basic assumptions, b) invented, discovered, or developed by a given group, c) as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, d) that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, e) is to be taught to new members as f) the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to these problems.

As a concept borrowed by organizational theorists from anthropology, culture can also be viewed as shared meanings or understandings that are largely tacit and unique to group members. It draws attention to facets of organizational life previously unattended to, and through shared interpretations it focuses action.

Managers use culture in a variety of ways. It can, for example, set the stage for the implementation of an organization’s business strategy. Culture can also prescribe acceptable ways for managers to interact with external constituencies such as shareholders, the government, or customers. Staffing decisions and performance criteria can flow from the organization’s culture. It can also guide the nature of acceptable interpersonal relationships within the company and the selection of an appropriate management style. It also has significance for organizational effectiveness: The culture’s strength and consistency, emphasis on employee involvement in decision making, facilitation of corporate adaptability to organizational change, and clarity of mission are key predictors of organizational effectiveness. Currently managers in many companies view the organizational culture as supporting team-based efforts.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight