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Tag Archives: Leadership Failures

Become the best leader by being funny and being humiliated


Over the years, I have learned a lot about leadership and management. And when I was analyzing my knowledge, I realized that there are only two very important characteristics of a good leader, which separates him/her from the crowd. In this blog, I will focus on these two characteristics, which can make you the best leader.

Be funny:

By being funny, I don’t mean that you need to be a superstar at the break room discussions. What I mean is……..you need to have a humorous side of you to laugh on your mistakes.

One of the best leader in the world, who implemented this strategy was – Mahatma Gandhi. It must have taken tremendous amount of courage for a person like him to confess that he messed up, but he confessed his mistakes on various occasions. He not only acknowledged his mistakes but admitted them publically. And this was one of his characteristics, which was admired by his peers.

We are all humans, and we all make mistakes. But a true leader is the one, who not only admits his mistakes but learns from it. Take Johnson & Johnson for example. Their Tylenol incident is not a secret to anyone, but majority of people remember that incident by praising Johnson & Johnson’s effort of recalling all of its medicine from the counter and apologizing publicly for this huge mistake.

Thus, it is very critical for you as a leader to be able to laugh on your mistakes. It’s not enough to just publicly admit your mistakes. Make sure to take some notes. In this way, you will be able to implement your learning from this incident to the future projects, and maybe, not repeat these mistakes again.

Be humiliated:

If you want to become the best leader in the world, then you need to surround yourself with genius employees. Look at Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc. They have always surrounded themselves with cream employees.

Let’s say, you somehow get successful in attracting best-of-the-best employees in your team. Now, instead of learning from them and taking benefit of their knowledge, if you direct them specifically to do certain tasks then they are never going to add any value to your organization.

Unfortunately, 40% of today’s leaders would use tell-and-direct approach, since they fear of humiliation from their employees. While this approach might lead you to the desired results, you are suppressing ideas of improvements that your employees might have. Wasn’t this the exact reason why you hired intelligent workforce? So, how come we are unable to use their talents? Answer is very simple……most of the leaders are afraid of being humiliated by their employees.

Thus, to become the best leader, we should be open to new ideas of our employees, even if, that means we will look foolish in front of them when we ask questions. By developing this kind of an environment, you would be encouraging your employees to share knowledge freely, and hence, improving the overall health of your company.

I hope these tips will help you to become the best leader in today’s world. Do you have any other ideas through which a person can become the best leader?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to fire someone without getting sued?


Have you ever fired someone? Were you ever in the situation where your employee’s growth was stagnant, and there were no other options other than firing that employee? Well……trust me, this situation arises more often than you would think. So, what would you do in this situation? Let’s say, you went ahead and got rid of the poor performing employee without any prep work. In that case, you might end up like my friend Naveen (changing the name for protecting privacy). Naveen fired his poor performer few months back, and now he is getting sued for ‘retaliation’. Obviously, this kind of examples should not become a roadblock in your job while performing your duties. Thus, I am providing you few tips through which you can fire someone without having the major risk of getting sued.

Give one more chance: Imagine….if you were the employee, who is on the line and about to get fired. Obviously, you don’t want to be in the situation where you think that you are a peek performer and your manager hands you a memo saying… “You are fired”. Thus, I always recommend managers to treat their employees as they would like to be treated. Hence, make sure to give your employee the last fair chance to improve his performance. Don’t just have verbal talks with him, make sure to document this and forward it to HR to put on his file. This will provide your employees with one last chance of improving their performance, while it will provide you with a supporting document, if you ever get prosecuted.

Work by the book: Before you take any drastic steps like this, make sure to read all the HR specific and company specific guidelines. If I were you, I would talk to my HR business partner or company’s attorney before even thinking about this. And before even talking to your HR personnel, I would recommend you to prepare a file which should contain all the documentations showing that you have had communications with your employees regarding this problem (i.e. e-mails, memo, etc.). When you have this discussion with your HR personnel, don’t forget to talk about all the minute details of your employees like his race, gender, recent leaves, etc. I have seen various situations, where employees have sued their employer for firing decision on the basis of their race or gender, and the firing decision didn’t have anything to do with that. Thus, it is better to disclose all the facts with your company’s attorney beforehand.

Have a crime buddy: By ‘crime buddy’ I meant to say, someone who knows the same information as you. In most of the situations, I would recommend you to include your immediate manager or the HR business partner. This practice will make sure that someone will back you up, if there are any legal proceedings in the future. Most of the managers know this fact, but don’t know how to implement this. Here is one tip….have a lunch with your immediate manager, discuss about this issue during the lunch, and then forward all the current documentation to him/her. This will ensure that you are not the only person accountable for this decision.

I hope these tips will help you in the unfortunate situation of firing someone. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can save yourself after firing someone for their poor performance. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Why can’t your business have any ethical standards?


Have you ever thought why big company’s CEO can cash in on millions of dollars in bonuses and still remain untouchable by Federal Government? Have you ever thought why media always talks about ethical issues, and nothing ever happens to those people? Recently, I was watching a documentary on how big companies are moving their IPs (intellectual properties) to Ireland, and paying only 15% taxes there instead of paying 35% tax in United States. Then I asked myself a question….. Is this legal? ……The answer came out to be…. “YES”. They are not doing anything wrong legally. So, government in United States can’t do anything about this. This raised an another question in my mind….. Is it ethical? ….. And surprisingly the answer came out to be as “YES”. And here is why……

Basics of business: Have you ever saw the definition of business? If you have then you know what I am talking about. In defining a business, ethics don’t play in to the picture at all. Sole purpose of a business is to increase the value for its stakeholders. Thus, can you blame those businesses, who are taking advantage of the lower tax policies in Ireland to increase their net income? It might be morally wrong for those businesses to show all of their profit in Ireland, while they get their 50-70% profit from United States, but you can’t do anything about that. As more and more countries loosen their tax policies to attract foreign businesses, there would always be some companies who want to move there to increase their net profit by paying lower taxes there.

Definition of ethics: In my opinion, definition of ethics is very subjective. I don’t think that you can have a clear defined ethical standards globally. Whenever you try to define ethics, it doesn’t remain ethics anymore. It becomes a law or a rule. For example: If you think that it’s not an ethical practice for people to do insider trading on the basis of the insider information, and if you want to change that then you might want to change the law which punishes those people. Unless you put that law in practice, you will always find immoral people, who will be using their insider knowledge to make huge bucks for themselves. At the end, ethics shrink down to morals and personal belief of that particular individual, who is running that business. Because there is nothing clearly defined in the books, which will prevent this person from taking unethical decisions.

Subjective nature: As I mentioned earlier, ethics basically shrinks down to morals and beliefs of the person who is handling that business. Thus, ethics tend to be very subjective in nature. And there are various other factors that affects the core definition of ethics. For example: It would be considered unethical for an employer to hire a kid, who is only 15 years old. But in some countries, some government encourages companies to hire younger people, so that they can support their family, while getting the invaluable professional training for their future. Thus, you can’t exactly define what is ethical and what is not, when your business is global and you yourself can’t define what is considered ethical.

Though I have my tight morals, beliefs, and ethical standards; I don’t think that a business, as an entity, can have any kind of ethical standards. Of course, business can have rules and policies under which it can operate, but there can’t be any ethical standards that it can abide to. I hope you liked my argument in this blog. Please feel free to discuss your view points on the same. I am always curious to hear different perspective from different people. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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I.T. doesn’t matter – Bhavin Gandhi’s Review


“IT Doesn’t Matter” is the article published in the May 2003 edition of the Harvard Business Review (Carr, 2003). It examines the evolution of information technology in the business world and demonstrates how IT is built into the infrastructure of today’s world. But as its availability increases and its cost decreases, IT will become a commodity input. And like any other commodity in the history, IT will not allow a business to create a competitive advantage. Hence, the author proposes not to invest heavily on IT projects.

The author makes several good points in his article such as – businesses have over-invested in underutilized technologies without analyzing its strategic advantage. For example, few years back I wanted to buy a new laptop. So, I bought a new MacBook Pro with Photoshop CS4. As a MBA student, I hardly use high processing applications. There was no need, whatsoever, for me to buy a Laptop with 2.6GHz of processor and 4GB of RAM. But I might have felt the need to be on the bleeding edge of the technology, and may be most of the IT enthusiast managers feel the same way.

While the author has many convincing arguments regarding his stand, I still believe that – IT matters more than ever in today’s world. The author seems to confuse IT with computing. Cars, Trains and Air Lines could be considered commodities. Transportation isn’t. I agree that major elements of computing have been turning into commodities, like CPU, RAM, Disks, etc. But IT is more than that (Freund, 2007).

Dr. Harold contradicts the author’s stand in his paper about technology and e-government. He suggests that without IT, effective and competitive organization is impossible and nothing gets efficiently done (Wesso, July 2004). He goes further by saying that – if IT is not being procured and deployed effectively and efficiently, then that matters very much. Appropriate IT use may not enable an organization or society to ‘get ahead’, but it is very vital just to ‘keep up’.

This article is based on the assumption that businesses have overestimated the strategic value of IT. I agree that businesses should manage the tangible aspects of IT as a commodity because the opportunities for ‘strategic differentiation’ with IT have become scarce. But I do not agree with the author’s stand on this topic. I believe that the author’s opinion might have been biased due to the ‘dot com’ bubble burst, as this article was written during that time.

I believe that the author has over-stated the fact that IT holds no strategic value at all. On the contrary, I believe that IT has become an irreplaceable part of the business. For example, I used to work in a company named Book of Odds, Inc. (www.bookofodds.com). Being a small sized company, this company didn’t have a big budget to spend on their marketing efforts. So, they utilized tools of social media to market themselves. This approach gave them more visibility than they would have got through other means of marketing. For this ‘social media marketing’ initiative, the company didn’t have to invest much in its IT infrastructure. But the benefits got from this initiative were way more than the investment. Thus, IT certainly provided strategic advantage for Book of Odds, Inc.

In today’s world, we are overloaded with information. And IT can help us analyze this information for our benefit. Thus, if use right – IT can differentiate your business as compared to your competitors. And IT matters more than ever, in this fastest changing world.

References:

  1. Carr, N. G. (2003, May 01). IT Doesn’t Matter. Retrieved Aug 24, 2010, from Harvard Business Review: http://hbr.org/product/it-doesn-t-matter/an/R0305B-PDF-ENG
  2. Freund, G. (2007, Jan 03). IT doesn’t matter, part 1. Retrieved Aug 24, 2010, from Rough Type: http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2007/01/it_doesnt_matte.php
  3. Wesso, D. H. (July 2004). Technology, e-government & economic development. Centre for e-Innovation.
 
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Posted by on August 30, 2010 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Is Management more important than Leadership?


Leadership

First of all, I would like to thank you for reading my blogs. Lot of people have e-mailed me regarding my blogs. Ironically, most of them asked me the same question – “Is your blog about Leadership OR Management”? And I tell people – “My blog is about Leadership AND Management”. But people don’t seem to understand that.

I guess, it became fashionable now days to separate “leaders” from “managers”. Some people may define Leaders as – “those who do the right things” and Managers as – “those who do things right”. I used to define Management and Leadership in the same way, before I realized that I might be missing the big picture. Most of the Leaders don’t define management as a part of Leadership anymore. And that’s where they are going in the wrong direction. With this mentality of differentiation between Leadership and Management, many leaders are detaching themselves from the messy process of managing. Thus, most of the times they don’t know what’s going on.

Management

The truth is, many of the strategies in today’s world are built in isolation at the “top”. If this wouldn’t be the reason then we wouldn’t have seen major financial and automobile companies failing. Today, most of the Managers are told to meet their targets, or they will let go. This approach shapes-up Manager’s thinking. Instead of taking risks to create new opportunities, they become busy in meeting their targets. Besides, with so many of their colleagues gone in downsizing, they feel like, they have less and less time to think. This approach induces a big gap between Management and Leadership. Instead of thinking about the long-term vision (right thing), Managers become busy in looking good for the next quarter and “doing things right”.

Leadership and Management

Leaders/Managers of today don’t understand the fact that – Leadership and Management, both are interlocking competencies. One can’t exist without the other. I see leadership within the positional powers of managership. I understand that Managers are focused on serving the short term bottom-line numbers, to serve their own survival; while Leaders are suppose to live by the values in serving the larger and long term interest of stakeholders. But if Leaders start to manage within their organization, instead of impressing outsiders, then the organization can be efficient and successful. As far as my question is concerned – “Is Management more important than Leadership?”, I think that they both are really important. And if we can somehow create a tight bond between Leadership and Management then we can avoid companies from failing.

I hope my blog helped you in understanding yet another perspective of Management. If you have any other opinions then feel free to share with me on my blog.

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2010 in Leadership, Management

 

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