Monday, August 31, 2009

Postmodern Leadership - How To Be The Best Leader

Let’s face it; we all sacrifice ourselves to learn skills that will land us a good job and have a go in the daily race that is the pursuit of happiness. But who wants to be stuck doing routine tasks? Apart from a few conformists I’ve known in my time, most workers want to move up, want to get ahead, and want to be promoted — have a prosperous career.

And of course reap the monetary rewards. The way to earn more money is by becoming a supervisor, foreman, manager, or an executive—a leader or a boss.

To begin my discussion let me just mention that ‘leadership’ is a fancy abstract noun difficult to grasp. It’s more useful to discuss the subject with more humble terms. For example, what makes a person a good leader? Is she a good boss? Why?

So, let’s begin by answering this question: What is a leader or a boss? A leader is someone who has people or subordinates to manage. But how do you manage? Leadership isn’t something that one can learn from a textbook. Although management textbooks contain exhaustive pages upon pages, chapters, and volumes, they’re for the most platitudes and commonplaces of little practical use.

Management textbook formula:
Lead by example - Be an equal opportunity boss - Be kind and be a good listener - Be consistent and decisive - Have integrity – Have vision – Get respect – Be tough -

My Formula:

1. Know everyone under your command and fit them into three groups: (1) those who earn and deserve your time (2) those who use up your time, and (3) those who waste your time. To those in group 1, treat them with respect and cultivate them; to those in group 2, treat them with benign tolerance; and those in group 3, treat with benign neglect.

2. Accept that you don’t own all the best human qualities, virtues, skills, and abilities, but nothing should prevent your subordinates from thinking that you do. Image and appearance both count. In a good boss, subordinates prefer to see the high rather than the low—they choose splendor over opaqueness.

3. Think of yourself as being a force. Newton’s First Law of Motion states that if no force acts on a body and the body is at rest, it will remain at rest. In human nature we find this is also true; therefore a good leader must set people in motion and keep them moving.

4. Think of yourself as being the sun. The astronomer Kepler discovered that planets do not move at a constant velocity, but that they move faster when they are close to the sun. The good boss will judge –much like in the bible—who are the quick and who are the deadwood.

5. Know that weeds become deadwood. Former GE’s big boss, Jack Welch once said: “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.”
Leadership Myths
Niccolo Machiavelli in his little book, The Prince, gave practical and cynical advice to princes –heads of state. Over the years many textbooks have incorporated Machiavelli’s counsel as sound principles of leadership. Two Machiavellian principles are often cited: (1) the end result is what counts regardless of the means taken, and (2) a leader should make himself feared but not hated.
In business, these two Machiavellian principles, if practiced, achieve ill results. Achieving goals without regard to morals is disgusting, and managing by fear is not only immoral but also counterproductive.
During my long years in business, one sound thought always guided me: Being a leader or a boss means that you have power, and that power is nothing else but force—force to hurt others. Therefore, like electricity, you must always control it, show respect for it, measure it, and use it wisely.

Success is for All of Us!

Inferiority Complex?

3 Qualities for Success

The Best Leader?

How I Manage my Time

Adam Smith and Wealth

Boethius and Fortune

Employee of the Moth Everyday

If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either or Barnes and Noble. See the link on the right sidebar.

Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

Senada Selmani, model

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