Manag­ing peo­ple PRO­FES­SION­ALLY

New Straits Times - - Klassifieds -

By Dr Vic­tor S.L.Tan


Nmy train­ing sessions, I had the priv­i­lege of ask­ing par­tic­i­pants what they ac­tu­ally want from their lead­ers. The fol­low­ing are five com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics of lead­ers they look for.

Lead­ers who have an open mind and are good lis­ten­ers

Only with an open mind, can a leader lis­ten to con­cerns as well as new ideas. Peo­ple will be will­ing to raise the real is­sues if they sense that their leader is gen­uinely re­spon­sive to them. On the other hand, if a leader is very dog­matic and in­tim­i­dat­ing then all com­mu­ni­ca­tion that en­sues is flawed. In this case, peo­ple will only tell the leader what he wants to hear and not the truth. The abil­ity to lis­ten and ac­cept feed­back is an im­por­tant char­ac­ter­is­tic of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, as it al­lows lead­ers to solve rel­e­vant is­sues in the right man­ner and in a timely fash­ion. Lead­ers who main­tain an open mind en­cour­age peo­ple to speak out without fear. This helps lead­ers to un­cover their blind spots and en­able them to be more ef­fec­tive in de­ci­sion mak­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing.

Lead­ers who are ob­jec­tive and im­par­tial

Knowl­edge, skills and ex­per­tise will be of lit­tle rel­e­vance if lead­ers are not ob­jec­tive. If a staff has skills in an area and a leader favours some­one else lesser the or­gan­i­sa­tion will be­come less ef­fi­cient in achiev­ing its goals. Whether it is choos­ing a lesser idea, pro­mot­ing the un­de­serv­ing staff or tak­ing sides, lead­ers are treat­ing peo­ple un­fairly due when they are not ob­jec­tive and im­par­tial in their de­ci­sion. Lead­ers who are bi­ased in their views are de­pict­ing a se­ri­ous flaw in manag­ing peo­ple.

These lead­ers tar­nish their im­age and di­min­ish their cred­i­bil­ity. Peo­ple will start to lose re­spect for such lead­ers and their abil­ity to in­flu­ence oth­ers dwin­dles. This lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism will also de­mor­alise peo­ple and sap their en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm. On the other hand, lead­ers who are ob­jec­tive and im­par­tial win ad­mi­ra­tion and re­spect from sub­or­di­nates and peers alike and they achieve full co­op­er­a­tion from oth­ers. Their abil­ity to in­flu­ence oth­ers in­creases and are ef­fec­tive in achiev­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion goals.

Lead­ers who are com­pe­tent and com­mit­ted to achieve

There is no sub­sti­tute for com­pe­tency. To earn the gen­uine re­spect of oth­ers, a leader must have the com­pe­tency and com­mit­ment in the role that he or she is play­ing. Thus a hu­man re­source man­ager will earn the re­spect of oth­ers if he or she is knowl­edge­able about the mod­ern hu­man re­source prac­tices and is com­mit­ted to bring the best of these prac­tices into the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Like­wise, an ac­coun­tant will earn the re­spect of oth­ers if he or she is knowl­edge­able in the ac­count­ing field and com­mit­ted to its pro­fes­sional stan­dards. True pro­fes­sion­al­ism comes from not only about know­ing what to do but in do­ing what one knows. This is made very clear by the fi­nan­cial dis­as­ters of com­pa­nies like En­ron and WorldCom. These com­pa­nies failed not due to lack of com­pe­tency in the area of fi­nance and ac­count­ing. It failed due to lack of com­mit­ment of the pro­fes­sion­als in putting sound and eth­i­cal ac­count­ing and fi­nan­cial prac­tices in their or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Lead­ers who have great in­ter­per­sonal skills and treat peo­ple with re­spect

An­other good sign whether lead­ers are manag­ing peo­ple pro­fes­sion­ally is the level of in­ter­per­sonal skills they put to prac­tice. There is a vast dif­fer­ence be­tween lead­ers who are knowl­edge­able about what good man­age­rial prac­tices are and lead­ers who re­ally put them to prac­tice. Most lead­ers know that they should smile more but they of­ten show glum faces. They know that they should be pa­tient but they in­ter­rupt in the mid­dle of sen­tences of their sub­or­di­nates. They know that they should lis­ten for ex­pla­na­tions but they shoot first from their mouths be­fore ver­i­fy­ing. They know they should praise peo­ple in public and rep­ri­mand them in pri­vate but they do the op­po­site. They know they should ask the opin­ions of oth­ers, but they only keep rendering their own.

Ef­fec­tive lead­ers know that prac­tis­ing great in­ter­per­sonal skills in deal­ing with peo­ple is the most in­flu­en­tial way of get­ting peo­ple mo­ti­vated to do things. In fact, I would ar­gue that prac­tis­ing good in­ter­per­sonal skills is the num­ber one char­ac­ter­is­tic of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, without which, it is like the beauty of a woman mi­nus her char­ac­ter.

Lead­ers who in­spire and en­cour­age oth­ers to act

The com­mon ex­pres­sion is that “you can lead a horse to a river but you can­not force it to drink”. Like­wise, lead­ers can­not lead oth­ers un­less they find ways to in­spire and en­cour­age oth­ers to act. A good horse trainer knows that while he can­not force the horse to drink, he can make the horse want to drink. Thus, he may get the horse to run a few rounds un­der the hot sun be­fore he leads the horse to the river. By then the horse would be “in­ter­nally mo­ti­vated” to drink. Ef­fec­tive lead­ers know that to get peo­ple to act, they need to mo­ti­vate them in­ter­nally. Thus, great lead­ers cre­ate a vi­sion of an ex­cit­ing fu­ture and ad­dress what is in it for their peo­ple. These lead­ers com­mu­ni­cate the ben­e­fits of the vi­sion right down to the in­di­vid­u­als and not just at or­gan­i­sa­tional level. They lis­ten and un­der­stand the needs of peo­ple and come up with projects, as­sign­ments or jobs and link the achieve­ment of these tasks to meet­ing these in­di­vid­ual needs. They recog­nise peo­ple on a de­serv­ing ba­sis. They cre­ate a con­ducive work­place through their good lead­er­ship prac­tices. They make work it­self as the first re­ward and money, sec­ond. And that makes per­fect sense, be­cause the com­pany has to achieve its goals and tar­gets first be­fore it has more money to re­ward peo­ple.

It is time, lead­ers re­deem them­selves and start to man­age peo­ple pro­fes­sion­ally and cre­ate pos­i­tive and pro­duc­tive re­sults for their or­gan­i­sa­tions.

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