Looking Forward...

Looking Forward...
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


My dear son,

Apologize for not replying to you promptly. I was really touched when you mentioned about the issue of succession planning in your organization. Actually, the dilemma of leadership succession has long been the subject of discussion in many organizations. It is an emotionally charged power struggle played out by leaders on the decision towards the would-be heir. Sometimes, it is the situation in which the leader’s fear of giving up control can block the successor’s path to the top spot. As you know, leadership successions occur as a trumpet for the premature departures of existing leaders.

But son, as you said earlier, succession planning is one of those initiatives that many organizations don't find the time to start until it's too late. Many organizations do not address succession planning ahead and therefore end up facing the burden in the middle of a crisis. To many, the successor’s dilemma is the dominant cause of failure in leadership transition. So you must realize that when any of the leader approaches retirement age or at the end of the service, there is a need to designate a successor. Leadership succession is a high-stake situation, but the fact is, most leaders aren’t prepared to deal with it. You should know son, history prevailed with the succession story that plays out with similar themes. Sometimes, the existing leaders are not ready to give up control of the organizations while for the would-be leaders, succession is a time of great excitement; a chance to climb to the top. For some of the incumbent leaders, succession is the end of their careers, and even mortality itself. In many cases, the relationships between the leaders and the successors who’re hoping for the replacement are so fraught with emotion. 

As you said son, normally, the management will screen the internal candidates to identify the one who possesses all the skills necessary to propel the organization forward. But don’t be surprised son, if it didn’t turn out to be as it should be, especially if the incumbent is in the process of securing the position or highlighting his or her favorite successor. Slowly but surely, the drama of leadership succession begins. It would be impossible to link every failed leadership succession to a single phenomenon. There will always be an internal political system involved. You should know that a number of impressive strategic initiatives might be created by the incumbent that yield surprisingly bad remarks to the potential successors - in securing his or her position or in building the credibility of his or her favorite successor. Silently son, a bright star will be notified with the assurance that he or she will ascend to the top spot. Meanwhile, be careful son, because normally the alienation process of the other successors created underneath. In the midst of this intense period, the backbiting culture and “scratching the back” developed rampantly. In this context, many will start to ponder the meaning and extent of friendship; the question of a diminishing culture in which employees cared for and respected one another.

My dear son,

In many organizations, in the process of securing the position or establishing of the favorite candidate, the tactical strategies begin to emerge. Thinking they have no other alternatives, the incumbents might continue to pursue their agenda to win the board’s approval. In fact, in many cases they might try harder than ever to impose their strategic plan. The incumbents surely doing their homework well before taking the tactical strategies. That process, normally found, includes highlighting weaknesses or “personality killing” of the other successors and put them in a difficult situation that full of ambiguity; the creating of misunderstandings and missed cues of the fragile leadership-in-transition dynamic. You should know son, with persistence and practice, such a process can lead to lasting results. The tension aroused and potential successors drawn into a battle that they never intended to fight. Teams created and management falling apart. One thing for sure son, hard times will always reveal true friends. 

On the other hand son, for those who are strong-hearted, they treat the battles like a book. Some chapters are sad, some are happy and some are exciting, but if they never turn the page, they will never know what the next chapter has in store for them. They could even consider the battles like a roller coaster, and it has its ups and downs, and it’s their choice to scream or enjoy the ride. For some, silence speaks when words can’t, they may just shut up, swallow the pain, give up, and accept that as a curse by God; just have faith that everything will work out for the best. While others may take the risks with the consideration that if they win, they will be happy, and if they lose, they will be wise. Someone might say let’s forgive and forget, but son, in reality, forgiving is easy, but being able to trust them again is a totally different story. Someone may take battle as a challenge and the first step of success, but to me, the real fact is correction of that situation is the first step of success. As mentioned by Mahatma Gandhi, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” 

So my dear son, you need to understand how to manage the development of the high performers so that they are a step ahead of their competitors. Your effort required to establish a development program for future leaders is worthwhile because it creates a motivated and capable group of employees that are ready to move forward in your organization when the need arises. Meanwhile, in order to gain power and position, don’t ever forget that beauty isn’t about having a pretty face. It is about having a pretty mind, a pretty heart, and most importantly, a beautiful soul. Let’s break old behavioral habits and establish new ones. As a leader, you should treat people the way you want to be treated. By right, in struggling for the succession, you should consider that relationship is not just holding hands while having understanding between each other. It’s also having lots of misunderstandings and still not leaving each other’s hands. If you want to be success in the battle, you should see the goal, understand the obstacles, create a positive mental picture, clear the mind of self doubt, embrace the challenge, stay on track, and show the world that you can do it. If you want to be in the battle, be in with dignity, and out with pride. At least, when you win the battle, you know you deserved it. 
As a leader, you should do the benchmarking on an effective succession plan for your organization. Please determine appropriate methods for assessing your employee development needs. Try to capitalize on leadership system destined for succession planning, and don’t forget to leverage the roles and responsibilities for planning and implementation. As a leader, you should identify the challenges in keeping top talent in your organization, and most of all, build a retention focus strategy for your employees. You must remember that everyone should be allowed to retain and grow their talent. By giving a fair opportunity, they will feel valued, remain motivated and more satisfied. It will also allow them to hone their styles and skills to the needs of the organization and enjoy personal success which will in turn benefit all. 

Listen to me son… Let the best man win!


How can we as ambitious employees entering the corporate world quickly distinguish ourselves as excellent workers? The question is, to what extend do we effectively carry our task as required? In the early years, our goal, in other words, is to make our bosses smarter, our team more effective, and the whole organization more competitive because of our energy, creativity, and insights. We have tried to do our job professionally because for years we've been taught the virtue of meeting specific expectations. We were told to expand the boss’s expectations of us and then exceed them. If possible, we have to fully answer every question the boss ask, plus a swerve they didn’t think of.  Indeed, for years we’ve been trained to believe that boss is always right. To avoid disagreement, we were advised to tell lies and make our bosses smile. And we thought working was hard! Those days are over.

How could we change the game? First of all, forget some of the bad advice we learned in office. Don't panic. Just get in there and start thinking big. We are in the real world – to good bosses, it doesn't make any difference to them if we work hard, but not knowing to tell them the truth though that will make them cry.  Remember that in reality, the way to look great and get ahead is to over-deliver. In other words, give the boss shock and awe -- something compelling that they can be proud of. In time, those kinds of ideas will move the organization forward, and move us upward. But be careful of the fact that people who strive to over deliver can swiftly self-destruct if our exciting suggestions are seen by others as “overact” or “trying to show off”  

Someone said we need to do the extra legwork and data-- an analysis, for instance, of how the entire organization might excel over the next few years. We should talk based on the data driven, not based on emotion or perception. Yes, that's right. But in reality, personal ambition can backfire. Now, we're not saying curb the enthusiasm. The minute we do it, we run the risk of alienating people, in particular our peers. They will soon come to doubt the motives of our hard work. They will see any comments we make about, or when we say, how we as a team could operate better, as political jockeying. And they will eventually taking us as their competitors, and, in the long run, that's a label that we can't overcome. Don’t worry, and keep on moving. By all means, over deliver -- but keep our desire to distinguish ourselves as a winner to ourselves. Always believe that reasons can be created, and work professionally is always rewarding at least internally. 

We’ll be a great worker!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Personal Thoughts - Leadership in Dilemma


“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” - Warren Bennis (1989)

Leadership has long been the subject of interest in establishments across the globe. Today, employees are talking about the management and leadership of organizations and for whatever reason it may be, we must admit that we cannot function (properly/effectively) without leaders. It is universally acknowledged that the quality of an organization depends on the quality of its leaders. They are important because they will be the compass of which success and failure of the organization depends on. They will also be responsible for the effectiveness and integrity as a whole. We have devoted a large sum of our time to deal with some of the organization leaders. Yet, we have always been haunted by the gap between theories on one side, and what they have actually done on the other, in the world of organization administration, all of which are manifested within what they think and teach, and what they do. According to Bennis (1989), leadership is about connections between theory and practice, about power and change, about dream and reality.
We cannot deny the importance of having both strong leadership and strong management as necessary for optimum organizational effectiveness. The public perception of how good the leader is very important in determining the quality of the organization’s governance. How many genuine leaders are there in our organization? To many, the question will remain unanswered as leadership is hard to define (Bennis, 1989), and we only know it when we see it. But one thing for sure, in order to gain cooperation and support, good leaders should know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are. They should know how to fully deploy those strengths and compensate for those weaknesses. Most importantly, leaders should know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others.
Leaders should also know how to achieve their goals. Understanding one’s self and the world, and learning from one’s own life and experience are essential on becoming a leader. But learning to lead isn’t easy, although each of us embodies the capacity for leadership. Leaders are ordinary peoples and functioning in the real world with full of curiosity. Although everyone has the capacity for leadership, not everyone will become a good leader. We are the product of ourselves, on becoming the person that we wanted to be. We determine the will to change, to develop our potential, to transform ourselves if we wanted to.
Where are all the good leaders? In our organization, leaders today sometimes appear to be an endangered species. As mentioned by Bennis (1989, p. 14), “caught in the whirl of events and circumstances beyond rational control.” History prevailed that the quality of the management and leadership of the organization could be one of the key problems that could bring about the destruction of the community. There are cases where top management not totally compatible, and couldn’t get along and even progress. Let’s admit it: how to function smoothly when we couldn’t work very well with each other? We all know this, but what are we doing about it? We know the problem and we are caught up in the context – the volatile, turbulent, ambiguous managerial surroundings that will suffocate us – we can’t solve it. Someone has to take the lead. Otherwise, chaos erupts.
There are days when we know that something went terribly wrong and leaders forgot what they were here for. Too many of its so-called breakthroughs became breakdowns. They talked about change and high performance culture, but they maintained status-quo and going nowhere. They said they encouraged creativity and innovativeness, but they were not sensitive to the brilliant ideas. They wanted us to learn through experience but they let us be in an environment that doesn’t permits growth and change. They said they promote openness, but when we had a problem or complaint, they failed to deal with it openly and immediately. Employees have no platform to air their grievances. They said lets us work closely together, but they were not sensitive to others’ feelings and needs. They said we should make a difference and try new things but in reality people were discouraged by the jargon rules and regulations.

Leaders said that employees need to be human capital with first class mentality but they never strategized the career path and make it reality. Employees become prisoners of habits (sticks to the way they were), practices, and rules that make them ultimately ineffectual. Employees were told that integrity is important but leaders forgot that integrity is the basis of trust that cannot be acquired, but must be earned. Leaders wanted the employees to working well, but they were not sensitive to the work culture or work atmosphere that they have to deal with. They said employees need to work hard, dedicated and committed in their works but they failed to steer them up with motivation. Leading is not simply issuing orders. Leaders should lead by example.  
Leaders laid out many new ideas but employees weren’t interested in as they were in recipes and slogans. Leaders said they will make decision accordingly, but when they made it their justification mostly based on emotion and perception, rarely on data driven. They said let us lay out the plan for our future endeavor, but when they laid it out, they seldom take employees opinion into consideration. Leaders wanted employees to see the world globally, but they were not groomed to be global. Leaders hoping that employees will tell them the truth, though that will make them cry, but they themselves prefer telling a lie and making someone smiles. They said it’s alright to make mistake as long as we do not repeat the same mistake, but in reality when we make mistake, they will forgive but never forget. Last but not least, leaders said that “I’ll be there” but they were not there when they were needed most. Leaders should walk their talk. In true leaders, there is no gap between the theories they espouse and the life they practice (Bennis, 1989). Sometimes, leaders forgot that they have to shut up, swallow their pride and accept that they’re wrong. It’s not giving up, it’s called growing up.

Great leaders don’t tell us what to do… they show us how it’s done!