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Leadership DON’Ts: Learn from leadership mistakes in the Benghazi attack


Attack on Benghazi ConsulateRecently, I have been seeing a lot of news stories about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. This issue is definitely older, but how the White House handled this issue can teach us few things about leadership. In this blog, I am going to view this incident through the leadership glasses, and provide you with few tips on “what not to do”.

Don’t act on partial information: Through different news conferences, e-mails, and the number of congress hearings, it had become clear that the White House spoke too soon about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. If White House was trying to hide this issue, then its a different story; but let’s assume that the conspiracy about White House lying to the public is wrong. Even then, it is clear that White House had changed its talking points multiple times. If they didn’t have the complete information at that time, then they shouldn’t have spoke anything about that issue at all. Sometimes, its ok to give no answer, if you don’t have the correct information. Though there will be an eagerness to get those answers quickly, by not giving those answers on partial information, you (as a leader) will be avoiding lot of confusion in the future (like Obama administration is dealing with currently).

Take the first hand feedback: I am not a proponent of the theory that Hillary Clinton lied to the american public. But it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that the communication protocols defined for the disastrous situation like this were poorly implemented. Transparency was definitely missing in the equation. Talking points about the event were made by people, who didn’t have any idea on what was going on. Even if those points were made by administrative people, they should have been reviewed by the people on the ground. Let’s take this for an example……as a leader you implement a completely new process in your organization, and never care to see how it is going. Will that be acceptable? If so, how will you measure your success? Since there was no feedback loop attached to this action, of course the results from this new initiative won’t mean anything to you, since you can’t compare it with any baseline. And hence, there won’t be any mechanism through which you can find out the success/failure of this new process.

Find the root cause first: When Hillary Clinton said “What difference does it make?”, I was stunned by her response. Even if I neglect the fact that no one can do anything about the people who have died in that attack, how they died makes a huge difference in this case. Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Remember the famous example of “iPhone 4 antenna problem”? Initially it was thought to be the network issue with ATT, and then they realized that the issue was due to the new metal cover of iPhone 4. And hence, they produced a workaround on the iPhone side, instead of trying to strengthen the ATT network worldwide or changing the carrier through which iPhone was provided exclusively. What would have happened, if they didn’t identify the real issue, and kept blaming on the ATT network? In that case, the issue wouldn’t have resolved, and future customers would have kept seeing the same issue. Similarly, if we don’t find out the root cause of this Benghazi issue, we can’t secure our US consulate in other countries in the future.

Well……there are various other leadership “not to do” lessons that you can learn from this incident, but I would like to stop here for this particular blog. If you think that you have few other examples/points that you would like to share here, then feel free to drop your comments.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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How to gauge your leadership perception without asking your teammates?


FeedbackIn my last blog, I have mentioned few methods through which you can measure your leadership perception through your team’s feedback. What if you don’t want to ask your team directly? What if you don’t feel comfortable asking your team about your leadership style, and how they perceive it? Are there any other ways through which you can get the same information without confronting them? The answer is YES. Yeah! You can find out what others think about your leadership without directly asking them, but it is slightly tricky. And hence, I will provide you with few pointers in this blog through which you can look for those passive signs, which can help you to measure your leadership’s success without confronting your team directly.

Look for signs: You need to identify the intrinsic indicators that measure how others respond to your leadership style and approach. For example: How often do you get commitments and buy-ins of your ideas and work assignments from your teammates? What can these indicators tell you about your leadership? Do your employees seem truly interested or are they just going through the motions? Do people show up for your meetings? Do people complete their assigned tasks? Do people offer suggestions to improve the methods or processes in place? Are people willing to take on new challenges or do you need to coax them? Does their vision align with your vision?

Measure turnover rate: Another effective way to gauge your leadership perception is to look for ways to measure job satisfaction in your direct reports. If you have turnover, then you need to assess the turnover rate. You should look into the exit interview data very carefully. It can reveal the crucial data, which can help you to assess your leadership style. The exit interview can answer lot of important questions for you. For example: Do you develop talent by providing career growth opportunities for your team members? Do you direct your employees to training and development programs to harness their skills and competencies?

Look for understanding: Third and very effective method of measuring your leadership perception is – understanding between you and your team members. You need to continuously look out for signs of understanding from team members. Some of the questions that you might want to ask yourselves are……..Do your teammates agree to do one thing but deliver another? Do your employees look for or often need clarification from you? How much rework is required for most tasks? Do others see you as a clear and strong communicator?

I, personally, have only used these methods to gauge my leadership perception, but if you have used any other methods to find the same information, then I would love to hear them. So……..what other signs have you looked for while measuring your leadership style?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to gauge your leadership perception through your team’s feedback?


FeedbackLeadership’s perception is the key in deciding how effective is your leadership. If your team has the wrong perception of your leadership style, and if they do not consider all of the external factors that shape your leadership style, then they might cause few negative consequences for the organization and yourself. Thus, it is very essential to look at your leadership style from your team member’s perspective. And hence, I will provide you with few methods through which you can measure your leadership perception in the eyes of your team.

360-degree review: In order to get an unbiased feedback from your team about your leadership style, you need to find appropriate methods for soliciting that feedback. And the best way to get that feedback is by initiating a 360-degree review of your leadership performance and ability. I would advise you to coordinate with your manager or Human Resource representative to ensure that the process is carried out professionally and in a manner suitable to your workplace. Be sure to solicit and include multiple peers from a variety of sources to get as many perspectives as possible. If you have a small HR department in your company, or if you don’t have enough resources to do a 360-review, then you might want to try creating a free survey on a website like SurveyMonkey with specific questions related to your leadership style.

One-on-one: Another method through which you can get an unbiased feedback from your team regarding your leadership style is through one-on-one meetings with your team members. I would advise you to coordinate a series of one-on-one candid discussions with the people you respect as leaders and your team. From the feedback of those leaders, who have a vested interest in developing you as a leader in your organization, you can get some advice or experience that may be valuable to help you grow as a leader. While the feedback from your team members will help you to understand what works and what doesn’t work in your existing leadership style, so that you can tweak your current style to become a better leader.

Customer feedback: Customers are the reason why we are here. And hence, it is very critical to obtain your customer’s feedback to get an outside perspective of how you lead your team. What does the customer feedback say about you as a leader? Are customers willing and eager to work with your team? Are the objectives clearly defined to achieve the desired end results? Does the customer see you as an advocate for your team and your organization? How do you perform in crisis management situations? If you don’t directly interact with the end consumer of your end product, then get the feedback from the team that you support.

Have you ever found the need to measure your leadership perception? If so, what other methods have you used to gauge your leadership perception in the eyes of your team?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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