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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

on attitudes


People are strange. We all are to some degree or other, but there are times when one or more will just be contrary; they will not accept the common belief in something. How you overcome that as a leader is something that you will have to come to terms with.

Take the current position on wearing masks whilst shopping. It was plain from the start that it was a good idea in general. Yes there are some problems, but if you wore a mask correctly and observed the readily available advice on wearing and disposing of same then you were going to be at less risk than without and were less likely to spread the plague if you didn’t know you had it.

Now it is compulsory unless you have genuine reasons for not wearing one, but there are plenty of people taking the “I’m not wearing one” stance. They all have their own reasons, but why defy a requirement, especially one that makes sense?

The internet, social media in particular, does not help for it is hardly the place for sensible debate let alone good advice. But if someone wants to believe something they will do so and will not be easily persuaded otherwise. I recall a case where we had found funds to refurbish the restaurant at a building that served around 1300 people daily. The original layout and furnishings were around 25 years old and very much on the lines of a 1950s works canteen, so a refresh was long overdue.

We did some consultation with the users and from that the architects came up with a new style. A display of the proposals was put up in the restaurant for people to see and comment on and I went along that day to get some direct feedback. “Where are we going to eat when all this happens?” was the first comment, so I asked what they meant. Surely it was obvious that everyone would continue to eat in the refurbished restaurant, but no, there was a strong feeling that the new layout was “too posh” and only designed for the select few; the “ordinary workers” would have to eat at their desks or find somewhere else to have their lunch. There was also a firm belief that prices would go up to levels that they could not afford despite a clear assurance that they would not.

Around 200, of the 1300, were convinced that they would not be allowed to come into the new restaurant and, once it opened, about 50 declined to use it in case they were refused service. They would not believe the evidence before their very eyes and you can do nothing about that sort of bigotry.

As a leader you try to take people with you, but you cannot allow yourself to be distracted by minorities. Spend time on them by all means, but don’t forget the majority who are with you all the way. If they think that you have lost interest in them you will loose them too. Attitudes can be changed and good leaders can do it with ease, but never forget the law of diminishing returns; spend your time one the people that are worth the investment and don’t waste too mucho in those that are not.

on a question of trust


I have been reading a lot of political commentaries lately, not as a form of self-flagellation, but out of interest. A common thread has emerged from this that brings to mind parallels from my business experience down the years and I will call it The Curse of the New Broom. Read more…

on why good teams can  emerge around bad leaders


There is a lot written and taught about good leadership being behind the development of good teams and I have contributed my fair share. But is a good leader essential to the creation of a good team? Read more…

on waste


Here I am not thinking about green issues or recycling in particular, although these are important and do form part of my thinking on this subject, but the overall issue is of wasting anything. Taking offence has become an international pastime, but we choose whether or not to be offended and my preference is not to take umbrage at almost everything, why, because it is a waste of my time and emotions and the one thing that does offend me is waste. Read more…

on sharing your thinking with your team


If you have followed the last couple of Musings you will see that I advocate effective communication between the leader and the team. The idea of sharing your thinking with your subordinates is alien to many, but it is beneficial in a number of ways. Read more…

on the JFDI principle


Back in the early 1970s I was on a management training programme with a company that operated throughout the UK and was doing the rounds of every department in the business to learn the ropes before, hopefully, getting onto the management ladder with a promotion to a line job. One of the people I worked for during that period was a big influence on me, firstly positive, but then negative and the thing that tipped the balance was the JFDI principle. Read more…

on demotivating people


We all have obsessions and those of us who lead teams may have a few for we are driven people. We like to refer to these foibles as being focussed, having a clear vision or something of that kind, but behind whatever management speak we wrap it up in we are still obsessed.

Read more…

on improving the breed


For some years now the concept of continuous improvement has been embedded into management culture. We have had all the Japanese influences, lean manufacturing (and then lean everything else, except, perhaps, in management speak where fat is good it would seem), and so there is a general willingness to work towards improving product and process. Some of this is disguised in the throwaway culture we have with cars, white goods and technology where as soon as you have bought the latest the next generation is announced, but there is one area where improving the breed seems to be not just overlooked, but is sometimes supressed. Read more…

on the boss being loose in the building


It was a message that would reach me from time to time in my first major operational role. Out of a workforce of around 700 on site around two thirds of them worked for me and for “The Boss”, who normally only moved from the main entrance to his office and back with the occasional foray to the gents, the canteen or the conference room, to be roaming was both unusual and dangerous. Read more…

on KPIs


Input specifications used to be the norm; we would be very specific about what we wanted and how it should be made and delivered, or performed in the case of a service. I can well remember deciding to go out and start replacing the fork lift truck (FLT) fleet at a logistics operation that I had just taken over. Having talked to the vehicle buyer they produced a spec that had been used previously; it was half an inch thick, had drawings of all sorts of components that are standard on any FLT and even had a requirement for a specific pantone colour plus three pages alone on the fleet number, font, style and positioning. Read more…