Leadership is inefficient!

ImageLeadership is about developing team members to carryout the important responsibilities in the organization. This is essential if we are to grow and take on higher-level responsibilities. Developing team members requires time. Therefore leadership is inefficient in the short run. However it is a great investment of our time and energy to reap near medium term to long-term results, as having a developed team will help produce more value and great results.

Given below are 10 common areas where this inefficiency can happen.

  1. Getting the right team member in to the team: We need to first ensure the team member with the right attitude and skills are recruited into the team. This requires spending time on determining the profile of the ideal team member, preparing the right evaluation techniques and spending quality time evaluate the candidates.
  2. Taking time to direct: When a new team member is recruited or transferred in from another area of the organization to our team it takes time to induct and teach. Time needs to be allocated to introduce the new team member to the other team members, work environment, mission, vision, values, customers, products and work processes.
  3. Listening: It is important to actively listen to the team member to understand his/her level of absorption, development, enthusiasm, motivation and concerns. This will enable us to ensure the new team member feels at home soon, ready to take on responsibilities that we are planning to delegate.
  4. Handing over responsibility: It requires us handing over a task that may have taken us 1 hour to complete and it takes our team members double that time as he/she consciously and carefully does the job as requires. We need to have patience knowing that there is a natural curve of gaining efficiency as the skill and confidence improves.
  5. Detailed briefing: It is important to provide a detailed briefing for the responsibilities to be delegated. It requires determining how much of authority needs to be delegated. It requires documenting the details, some of which is in our mind and we do as second nature. Sometimes we neglect to provide the finer points thinking it is common sense. Sometimes what are common senses for us is not so common for others.
  6. Checking work done: We need to also invest time to check the progress of work and the quality of work. This requires reading weekly updates, walking into the areas of operation, speaking to those on the job, discussing variances and brainstorming solutions.
  7. Praising: We need to lavishly praise good work. We need to praise the progress in the process, not only wait for the outcome. While this can take time, it is an important activity to reinforce good behaviour.
  8. Improvement feedback: We need to also give improvement feedback for areas that needs to be better. Instant feedback can be detrimental as it can go packaged with negative emotions such as anger. Therefore it is better to give it some time to cool down, visualize how best to most productively provide the feedback and do so, so that this becomes an effective development activity. The cooling down periods takes time.
  9. Dealing with demotivation of others: Delegating responsibility to one person can demotivate another team member. Therefore it takes time to keep others informed, engaged in other value adding activity and communicate consistently so that we keep the entire team motivated.
  10. Dealing with conflict: It is quite likely for conflict to arise between team members as they work on projects and various tasks as they discharge responsibilities delegated. Therefore it is the leaders responsibility to defuse and manage the conflict to create strong team bonding. This of course takes a lot of time and the energy.
  11. Reporting up: The leader is ultimately responsible for tasks delegated and the reporting responsibility lies with the leader. When we were doing the tasks ourselves it was easy to report in detail as we were at the thick of everything. However when it is delegated we need time to get all the details, ask questions to get clarifications and write the report.

Continue reading “Leadership is inefficient!”

The teacher will arrive when the student is ready

The month of April 2013 epitomized the caption! Yes there were many including myself who were ready for the teacher. It was a great month of personal growth.

The month started with 60 souls from various organizations and walks of life taking part in the Mastery of Self through Neuro Linguistic Programming [NLP] playshop that was conducted in Sri Lanka [see more details in: http://www.ranjandesilva.net/#!mind-power/cpqz ] . This was the first 2 days and all of them left feeling more valuable than ever before, more empowered than ever before and more purposeful than ever before. They come back for the final 2 days on the 6 & 7 of May.

Then I travelled to Vietnam where I conduct the same session for another 60 souls from Fashion Garments a company of the Hirdramani Group in Sri Lanka. The impact created was the same and I go to Vietnam again to do the final 2 days of the training on the 11 & 12 of May 2013.

From Vietnam I travelled to Dubai to conduct a 2 day training on advanced negotiation skills and a 1 day training in work life balance. While the numbers were around 16 participants in each session, as customary in trainings that take place in Dubai, the impact created for them was tremendous.

After having helped unlock potential of so many souls in the first half of the month, the second half was about me going back to school. Yes I was a participant with 15 other senior executives from the health care industry who took part in a 2 week long intensive leadership development session held by the Samson Global Leadership Academy of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Continue reading “The teacher will arrive when the student is ready”

Unlocking Sales Potential – Exploring the resources available in inner-space

If I tell you that you can fly, would you agree with me? This is the first question I asked the audience at the Sales Master Class at The Radisson Blu Water Garden In Dhaka Bangladesh on the 20th of October, when I started presenting at the day event, ‘Unlocking Sales Potential’. There were some instant ‘yes’ answers and a few others said ‘no’. The point made by this question was to get the audience thinking about the unlimited potential we are blessed with. With the realization that we can fly in an air craft and aircrafts been made by people using god given brains and resources opened up the minds in the room to the possibilities yet untapped.

Continue reading “Unlocking Sales Potential – Exploring the resources available in inner-space”

If selling is a dishonest job and if everyone is a salesman, then is everyone dishonest?

A Better Way to Sell Book CoverYes this is an interesting dilemma!

It is a generally known perception that selling is a dishonest job as sales people only try to sell a product to a customer, even if the product is not needed by the customer and at any cost to the customer. Most sales books and sales training introduces sales ‘tactics’ that help sales people to ‘sell’ at any cost.

On the other hand it is a known fact that everyone is a salesman from the little child to the grandfather, from the housewife to the corporate executive, from film star to sportsman and from the politician to the priest. They all sell ideas, they sell their value, they sell all the time.

So does it mean everyone is dishonest? The answer is a clear ‘NO’. In fact my belief is that we don’t sell, we help people to buy. We don’t sell, we provide information for people to make the right decision, we don’t sell, we help others become more successful.

It is with attitude in mind that I decided to title my second book [an improved new edit of the first book]; A better way to sell – Mastery of Sales through Mastery of Self. Click here for more details of the book.

Continue reading “If selling is a dishonest job and if everyone is a salesman, then is everyone dishonest?”

Business/Donor partnership, the best formula for empowering the poor – The Agora case study

The Business/Donor partners working on the Agora SME development project.

Agora established in 2001 with an ultimate aspiration to be the Wal-Mart of the East is an expanding chain of retail outlets in Bangladesh, run by Rahimafrooz Superstores Ltd. Agora now operates 11 outlets, a sourcing and processing centre for commodities and a state of the art distribution centre with 680 employees and 320 suppliers. With an aggressive expansion programme in mind Agora recently migrated to an end to end ERP system powered by SAP and WINCOR NIXDORF.

When Agora started its supermarket [providing food, personal care and household needs] business in 2001, the brand was positioned as the best solution for customers for the purchase of fresh produce [fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and dairy] of high quality at the right price as this was the predominant customer need in the absence of an organized modern trade [supermarket] system. This resulted in Agora investing in cold and chill storage, transport and display facilities. The absence of organized fresh produce supply chain resulted in Agora solely developing fresh produce suppliers. This included training perishable traders who operated in the unorganized wet market on proper sorting, grading, storing &transportation of produce and fundamental disciplines of running a business. We also formed partnerships with farmer associations toward this objective.

As Agora expand, the company realized the need to further build the capacity of small and medium fresh produce suppliers and develop robust supply chains and trading relationships. As Agora was looking for solutions for this important need, a meeting between Ms Parveen Huda of BIF [Business Innovation Facility] and Mr Niaz Rahim of Agora led to the signing of an MOU designed to address Agora’s needs while developing their SME suppliers ensuring the ‘inclusive’ aspect.  The project was funded by DFID, BIF and AGORA and the capacity building expertise was received from one of the world’s leading business consultancies Accenture and PUM from Netherlands.

Continue reading “Business/Donor partnership, the best formula for empowering the poor – The Agora case study”

Olympics 2012 – ‘Imagine’ the great manifestation of possibility

A picture of the Olympic Logo on the Tower Bridge taken from the London Bridge during my visit before the Olympics.

The 2012 Olympics that just concluded was one of the greatest manifestations of possibility that I had experienced.

My family and I were in the UK just before and during the opening ceremony that made us fortunate enough to feel the energy in the country this great spectacle was taking place. We were not able to witness any sporting events at venues at circumstances required us to return end of July, but we were fortunate to be able to witness this great spectacle on TV and the internet.

The first possibility that was manifested was the participation of almost all the countries of the world, 204 in total and every country having both male and female sportsman. All sports had a women’s version as well resulting in some teams such as USA having more women Olympians. What a great equalizer.

It was amazing to see conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia who do not permit women to drive, having women participating. I was fortunate to switch on the TV to see the women’s 800 m heat where Saudi Arabia’s Sarah Attar was running. Although she came last, she got the biggest applause to show that this was a victory for humanity.

World records were many manifesting that there is no end to improving human performance and endurance. Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter of the USA 4x100m relay team establishing a new world record at 40.82 destroying the 27-year old record and Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt  of Jamaican 4×100 relay team establishing a new world record at 36.84 will remain in our memories for ever. These amazing human beings showed that we can be individuals stars and teams at the same time.

Continue reading “Olympics 2012 – ‘Imagine’ the great manifestation of possibility”

Liberating Passion at Agora – Leadership lessons Learnt as CEO of Agora over the last 3 years!

ImageLeaving the Agora team was one of the toughest things I had to do. The words, tears, flowers and gifts from the teams in various outlets, office, warehouse and distribution centre was simply heart-warming. I never realized I had made such an impact in the hearts and minds of over 700 team members over the 3 years I led them as their CEO.

After being in Team and Leadership Excellence consulting for 10 years, subsequent to 16 years in corporate life for 16 years as Director for Keells Foods and Keells Super, I took on a new interesting challenge as the CEO of the Agora Supermarket Chain [owned by the highly diversified Rahimafrooz Group] in Bangladesh in July 2009. This was a secondment from Sensei International where I continued to remain as a Partner and Senior Management Consultant.

This was a 3 year assignment to prepare the company for Rapid expansion. I took over this assignment for 3 reasons; Firstly because Agora was close to my heart as I helped start it as a consultant in 2001 and hence  I considered Agora my own baby and I wanted it to be successful. Secondly because I wanted to validate the guidance I give so many companies around the world as a consultant, by being in the hot seat for a while. And thirdly because I respect the Rahimafrooz Group and the family that owns it for running a company driven by ‘Values’ using ‘world-class’ management methods.

My dream was to make Agora a world-class company, the pride of Bangladesh and I write this blog with a mix of emotions that include happiness, sadness, fear, pride and hope.

Firstly I am extremely happy that we together created a company with a positive work culture that was built on the ‘Ultimate Aspiration’, ‘Values’, ‘Agora Aponjon Promise’ [Aponjon is the Bangla word for ‘dear one’ or ‘near one’ and this is the promise we deliver to our ‘guests’ or ‘Aponjon’], quality policy, good leadership, supportive team work and passionate team members. We also made the company profitable building on this culture and taking measures to improve the brand image, value to our guests, business knowledge, planning and execution. We also invested in a brand new state of the art distribution centre, new outlets and a new ERP system [SAP and WINCOR NIXDOEF]. All this helped the company to become profitable for the first time in my first year in office and become a leading revenue and profit contributor of the Rahimafrooz Group [the group that owns Agora an many other companies] providing better benefits and promotional opportunities to Agora’s team members.

Continue reading “Liberating Passion at Agora – Leadership lessons Learnt as CEO of Agora over the last 3 years!”

A Sri Lanka Node – to develop our beautiful Motherland

Image Credit: http://www.stylersu.com/

LMD, Sri Lanka’s leading business magazine should be congratulated for launching the ‘Sri Lankans Overseas’ blog to provide a forum for Sri Lankan’s living overseas to contribute to the nation building effort. Link to the blog: http://lmd.lk/?p=11555

Sri Lanka’s post-war renaissance is in need of the shot-in-the-arm from Sri Lankans living overseas. I would like to summarize the key points made in the various comments made so far;

  1. Wherever we live Sri Lankan’s are Sri Lankans… blood is thicker than water and this is a fact we can’t avoid.
  2. Each of us has our own dreams and goals and for this reason we may have migrated and this is an important factor we need to respect.
  3. It is not about getting everyone to come back to Sri Lanka, it is more about seeing how we can contribute. Some may come back if the opportunities are good and returning meets their life goals, some others can continue to live overseas and help building Sri Lanka.
  4. It is important for us to have Sri Lankans all over the world so that we can sell Sri Lanka through them.
  5. There is also a role to be played by government to facilitate this process by allowing tax breaks, making the process of getting dual citizenship easy etc.

May I suggest an idea that was picked up from NASA Astronaut Ron Garan, who is working on building an open source network named; Unity Node, to connect the 20 million plus social businesses in the world. Ron Garan’s story is amazing and I had the privilege of listening to him at the Social business day in Bangladesh recently; please read; http://ranjandesilva.com/2012/06/29/anything-is-possible-creating-a-world-without-poverty-with-inspiration-from-outer-space-and-inner-space/  if you would like to read this amazing story. 

The idea is for someone to create a; Sri Lanka Node to connect all businesses run by Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka and overseas so that we can share resources, share information and help each other to make Sri Lanka one of the best places to live and visit; a little miracle that has happened

Anything is possible – Creating a World without Poverty – with inspiration from outer space and inner space!

Inspiring Millions, Creating a better World
With Muhammad Yunus, Ron Garan, M A Muhith & Monica Yunus at Social Business 2012

When I received an invitation from the Yunus Centre to attend the Social Business Day 2012 at Sarvar Bangladesh, I was excited at the prospect of listening to a man who is one of a kind. I had heard of Prof Muhammad Yunus many years ago and had once met him at the Dhaka Airport Business Class Lounge where we had an interesting conversation about the quality of leadership in Bangladesh. Professor Yunus is a Nobel Lauriat for introducing Micro Credit to the world. After its amazing success in Bangladesh, it has been adopted in many countries around the world including the United States of America.

I was also intrigued to know that NASA astronaut Ron Garan will be the key-note speaker. While getting an opportunity to listen to an astronaut was interesting, I never knew the significance of Ron Garan’s presence, his relationship with Professor Yunus who also invented the concept of Social Business that also spread around the world in the same manner micro credit spread.

It was amazing to discover that Ron Garan took Muhammad Yunus’s book; ‘Creating a World without Poverty’ with him during his 5 1/2 month in space. The book therefore travelled 65,340,224 miles in 2,624 orbits during 164 days in space together with Ron. Ron Also took with him the Bangladesh national flag to honour the motherland of Professor Yunus.

Continue reading “Anything is possible – Creating a World without Poverty – with inspiration from outer space and inner space!”