Ethical Climate


The unspoken understanding among employees of what is and is not acceptable behavior is called an ethical climate.

In most companies, a moral atmosphere can be detected. People can feel the way the ethical winds are blowing. They pick up subtle hints and clues that tell them what behavior is approved and what is forbidden. Ethical climate is part of the corporate culture that sets the ethical tone in a company. There are three different types of ethical yardsticks: egoism (self-centeredness), benevolence (concern for others), and principle (respect for one’s own integrity, for group norms, and for society’s laws). These ethical yardsticks can be applied to dilemmas concerning individuals, a company, or society at large.

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.

Expert Power


There are several ways managers use expert power. They can promote an image of expertise by subtly making others aware of their education, experience, and accomplishments. To maintain credibility, a leader should not pretend to know things that he or she does not know. A leader whose pretentions are exposed will rapidly lose expert power. A confident and decisive leader demonstrates a firm grasp of situations and takes charge when circumstances dictate. To enhance their expert power, managers should also keep themselves informed about developments related to tasks, valuable to the organization, and relevant to their expertise.

A leader who recognizes employee concerns works to understand the underlying nature of these issues and takes appropriate steps to reassure subordinates. To avoid threatening subordinates’ self-esteem, a leader with expert power should be careful not to flaunt expertise or behave like a know-it-all.

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.

Speaking the Body Language


About 60 to 70 percent of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. More important than speaking the language is what you communicate without words. Many travelers trust that if they don’t speak the language, there are a hundred gestures to get across almost any meaning. But gestures have quite different meanings in different parts of the world; body language is not universal. Subtleties are noticed, like the length of time you hold on while shaking hands. On a very unconscious level we can turn people off even when we are on good behavior. Thumbs up is considered vulgar in Iran and Ghana, equivalent to raising the middle finger in the United States. Touching a person’s head, including children’s, should be avoided in Singapore or Thailand. In Yugoslavia, people shake their heads for yes—appearing to us to be saying no.

In general, avoid gesturing with the hand. Many people take offense at being beckoned this way, or pointed out, even if only conversationally. In parts of Asia, gestures and even slight movements can make people nervous. If you jab your finger in the air or on a table to make a point, you might find that your movements have been so distracting that you have not made your point at all. Unintentionally, Americans come across as aggressive and pushy. Yet, in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America or Italy, gesturing is important for self-expression, and the person who does not move a lot while talking comes across as bland or uninteresting. As always, watch what local people do. Or ask.

Body language is more than gestures. You communicate by the way you stand, sit, tense facial muscles, tap fingers, and so on. Unfortunately, these subtler body messages are hard to read across cultures; mannerisms don’t translate. In many parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is disrespectful.

In Japan a person who looks a subordinate in the eye is felt to be judgmental and punitive, while someone who looks his superior in the eye is assumed to be hostile or slightly insane. The Arabs like eye contact—the eyes are windows to soul—but theirs seem to dart about much more than Americans. We don’t trust “shifty-eyed” people.

Subtle differences in eye contact between the British and North Americans can be confusing. English listening behavior includes immobilization of the eyes at a social focal distance, so that either eye gives the appearance of looking straight at the speaker. On the other hand, an American listener will stare at the speaker’s eye, first one, then the other, relieved by frequent glances over the speaker’s shoulder.

Eye contact during speaking differs too. Americans keep your attention by boring into you with eyes and words, while the British keep your attention by looking away while they talk. When their eyes return to yours, it signals they have finished speaking and it is your turn to talk. These almost imperceptible differences in eye contact interfere with rapport building and trust.

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.

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.

Releasing Each Person’s Potential


Great managers would offer you this advice: Focus on each person’s strength and manage around his weaknesses. Don’t try to fix the weaknesses. Don’t try to perfect each person. Instead do everything you can to help each person cultivate his talents. Help every person become more of who he already is.

This radical approach is fueled by one simple insight: Each person is different. Each person has a unique set of talents, a unique pattern of behaviors, of passions, of yearnings. Each person’s pattern of talents is enduring, resistant to change. Each person, therefore, has a unique destiny.

Sadly, this insight is lost on manay managers. They are all at ease with individual differences, preferring the blanket security of generalizations. When working with their people, they are guided by the sweep of their opinion—for example, “Most salespeople are ego driven” or “Most accountants are shy.”

In contrast, great managers are impatient with the clumsiness of these generalizations. They know that generalization obscure the truth: that all salespeople are different, that all accountants are different, that each individual, no matter what his chosen profession, is unique. Yes, the best salespeople share some of the same talents. But even among the elite the differences will outweigh the similiarties. Each salesperson will have his different sources of motivation and a style of persuasion all his own.

The rampant individuality fascinates great managers. They are drawn to the subtle but significant differences among people, even those engaged in the same line of work. They know that a person’s identity, his uniqueness, lies not just in what he does—his profession—but in how he does it—his style.

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

Managing a Shortage


In the real world, equilibrium prices are always changing. A flood in Brazil may cause the price of coffee to rise; good farming weather in the Midwest will lead to a fall in the price of wheat; advancing technology steadily lowers the price of computers. If enough people are drastically affected by the price change the government may decide to do something about it—whether wisely or unwisely. Rising apartment rents will lead to pressure for rent control, falling wheat prices will lead to pressure for agricultural price supports, and so forth.

When the government controls the price of a good below the market-clearing level, there will be a “shortage.” A shortage is not the same as scarcity. Scarcity simply means that not all desires can be satisfied, and so scarcity is always present. Diamonds are scarce, but there is no shortage—anyone who can pay the price of a diamond can buy one. A shortage exists when goods are not just expensive but unavailable to some people—except perhaps by unlawful means. In a city with rent controls, newcomers may be unable to rent an apartment at all, regardless of their willingness to pay. Thus, faced with a supply shift or demand shift dictating a higher equilibrium price, consumers are bound to lose out one way or the other—either from the higher price if the market adjustment proceeds unimpeded, or from the “shortages” that follow when government interventions keep the price low.

Using the concepts of short-run and long-run supply, let us trace out the consequences of coping with upward pressures on price by imposing a “ceiling.” There are some less visible consequences of price ceiling. Unable to raise price openly, firms may use subtler strategies. They may eliminate discounts or seasonal sales, reduce quality or variety or convenience of their offerings, or concentrate production in product lines that happen to have received a better break from the price-control authorities. Supplies may be sold abroad, leaving even less available for domestic consumers. And of course black markets may arise, providing a wider scope for people specializing in illegal activity. In extreme cases, there may be a breakdown of legitimate trade. In this connection, we can learn much from a previous great inflationary episode associate with World War 11 and its aftermath.

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

Managers are not just Leaders in Waiting


Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” Conventional wisdom is proud of maxims like this. It uses them to encourage managers to label themselves “leaders.” It casts the manager as the dependable plodder, while the leader is the sophisticated executive, scanning the horizon, strategizing. Since most people would rather be a sophisticated exective than a dependable plodder, this advice seems positive and developmental. It isn’t: it demeans the manager role but doesn’t succeed in doing much else. The difference between a manager and a leader is much more profound than most people think. The company that overlooks this difference will suffer for it.

 The most important difference between a great manager and a great leader is one of focus. Great managers look inward. They look inside the company, into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs, and motivation of each person. These differences are small, subtle, but great managers need to pay attention to them. These subtle differences guide them toward the right way to release each person’s unique talents into performance.

 Great leaders, by contrast, look outward. They look out at the competition, out at the future, out at alternative routes forward. They focus on broad patterns, finding connections, cracks, and then press home their advantage where the resistance is weakest. They must be visionaries, strategic thinkers, and activators. When played well, this is, without doubt, a critical role. But it doesn’t have much to do with the challenge of turning one individual’s talents into performance.

 Great managers are not mini-executives waiting for leadership to be thurst upon them. Great leaders are not simply managers who have developed sophistication. The core activities of a manager and a leader are simply different. It is entirely possible for a person to be a brilliant manager and a terrible leader. But it is just as possible for a person to excel as a leader and fail as manager. And, of course, a few exceptionally ralented individuals excel at both.

 If companies confuse the two roles by expecting every manager to be a leader, or if they define “leader” as simply a more advanced form of “manager,” then the all-important “catalyst” role will soon be undervalued, poorly understood, and poorly played. Gradually the company will fall apart.

 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

Call People by Name


President Reagan often is referred to as the greatest communicator ever to serve as President. And for good reasons. He used to speak slowly in a well-modulated voice, looks directly in the person or people he is speaking to, remains calm under pressure and uses simple, easy-to-understand words. Mr Reagan employs many subtle but persuasive techniques in dealing with public. Very importantly, at news conferences which are typically a very difficult presidential task, Mr. Reagan would address reporters by name when accepting a question rather than just indicating with a hand motion which reporter might speak nest. It may seem like a small point, but his method was conducive to help create good relations with the press. Why? Because people cooperate better when they are recognized by name. being addressed by name I a sincere and deeply appreciated compliment. It tells a person, “You are important to me.”

 Lyndon Johnson, the Great “Persuader,” practiced remembering names, and Lyndon Johnson was number one “persuader president” of modern times. He was enormously effective in bringing opposing factions together to get legislation passed.

 Why was President Johnson so effective as a human relations engineer? He worked at it! Long before he succeeded Mr. Kennedy as President, he developed and practiced his own ten rules to make himself more effective in working with people.

 President Johnson’s system for how-to-win-influence-over-people appears below:

  1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may include that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
  2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old shoe, old hat kind of individual.
  3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
  4. Don’t be egoistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.
  5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
  6. Study to get the “scratchy” elements out of your personality.
  7. Sincerely attempt to heal every misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances.
  8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement, or express synpathy in sorrow or disappointment.
  10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

 Every person has a name and as Dale Carnegie observed, a person’s name is the sweetest word in our language. People feel bigger and better when called by name because it is their most valuable possession. It gives them a sense of individuality – a feeling of being unique.

Hereare five guidelines for calling people by their names to win their cooperation:

  1. Pronounce the other person’s name correctly.
  2. In conversation, use the other person’s name often.
  3. Use nicknames only when you know they are preferred by the person.
  4. Use a person’s last name until familiarity is established.
  5. Spell the other person’s name correctly.

 “Do you know who I am?” The law of self-interest—the tremendous craving for self-identity—comes through in many little ways.

 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

What Great Managers Know


Conventional wisdom encourages you to think . People’s natures do change, it whispers. Anyone can be anything they want to be if they just try hard enough. Indeed, as a manager it is your duty to direct those changes. Devise rules and policies to control your employees’ unruly inclinations. Teach them skills and competencies to fill in the traits they lack. All of your best efforts as a manager should focus on either muzzling or correcting what nature saw fit to provide.

 Great managers reject this out of hand. They remember what the frog forgot: that each individual is true to his unique nature. They recognize that each person is motivated differently, that each person has his own way of thinking and his own style of relating to others. They know that there is a limit to how much remolding they can do to someone. But they don’t bemoan these differences and try to grind them down. Instead they capitalize on them. They try to help each person become more and more of who he already is.

Simply put, this is the one insight echoed by tens of thousands of great managers:

  • People don’t change that much
  • Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out
  • Try to draw out what was left in
  • That is hard enough.

This insight is the source of their wisdom. It explains everything they do with and for their people. It is the foundation of their success as managers.

This insight is revolutionary. It explains why great managers do not believe that everyone has unlimited potential; why they do not help people fix their weaknesses; why they insist on breaking the “Golden Rule” with every single employee; and why they play favorites. It explains why great managers break all the rules of conventional wisdom.

Simply though it may sound, this is a complex and subtle insight. If you applied it without sophistication, you could quickly find yourself suggesting that managers should ignore people’s weaknesses and that all training is a complete waste of time. Neither is true. Like all revolutionary messages, this particular insight requires explanation.

 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

Slow Cycle Markets


Slow-cycle markets reflect strongly shielded resource positions wherein competitive pressures do not readily penetrate the firm’s resources of strategic competitiveness. In economics, this situation is often characterized as a monopoly position. A firm that has a unique set of product attributes or an effective product design may dominate its markets for decades. This type of competitiveness position can be established even in markets where there is significant technological change.

 

Although the idea of monopoly, which has a single seller, restricted output, and high prices, is largely disallowed because of government policy restrictions, subtle and more complex variations are possible at local markets.

 

Effective product design may enable the firms that produced them to dominate their markets for many years. These firms’ advantages are drawn largely from their special core competencies, because their resources and capabilities are difficult to imitate. Because these markets (and hence the firms that operate in them) are largely protected, they usually enjoy the highest average price increase over time. Alternatively, price increases in standard-cycle markets often vary closely around zero.

 

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

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