Leaders: Do You Even Deserve To Have A Team?

In the past, I have built a great team, in my own standards- despite a mixed bag of personalities. It is not ideal as I have not hired most of them myself. You find a lot of them completely opposite of what you want to surround yourselves with, or the talents that you’d like to hone within.

But that is the point of leadership: to be constantly challenged, confront it, and turn it around to work for you. It is just the way it is. Without this, do you really even deserve to have a team?

There will always be people working for you that are difficult, self-destructive, “emo”, whiner, gossip-monger, etcetera. It will never be perfect but it is not really all that bad. You lead, because that is part of your job. I always believe that you will always learn something from anybody in this world and this is no different. Avoiding the situation and passing the issue to others won’t do the job. You’re pushing the chance to fix your team and you lose your credibility as well.  Why not take this as a challenge? Why not get your hands dirty, get to the root of the personality and find ways to turn them around, focusing on their strengths (despite the bad attitude), empowering that portion and transform the aura of that person to meld to the mold? Too much of a job? Well then, goodbye respect!

It is presumptuous to think that you get to a high position in a company and you expect to do less of working and do more of bossing. There are so many of this around, it is a virus. Don’t be one. It is quite… what is the word… caustic.

No matter how you think you could entrust your employees to other people, you just need to trust the good. After all, we’re all adults and we all have to take our individual responsibilities. You just hope that they’d carry on no matter what with a smile on their face. It could happen, for sure. But dynamics is a tricky playmate.

Unfortunately, it is not a good ending within this story. Things crumble down for some. People do things differently and destroys utopia of ambitions. Not everyone could be a great manager. They destroy things by avoiding the situation and letting it burden the rest. It is a domino effect. You still hope for the best. You find silver linings. But having the knowledge that a situation crumbled your team down is disheartening.

It is hard not to care for something that you invested your passion in, something that you’ve built, only to learn that it is just a sandcastle.

The point is, you are given a team, face them. Stop fidgeting around saying how much you dislike them and do your job. Whoever leaves will carry your name forever – it depends how good or bad is reflective of what you’ve done for your team in the end.

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Working Environment: Shapeshifter, Shadow and Mirror

Environment is a big influence within one’s self, memories and decisions. It creates a world that a person moves within.

A mentor told me today over Marmite on toast and hot chocolate ‘power’ lunch that “the grass is not really greener on the other side,” in terms of finding the ‘perfect’ working environment and/or job. That is indeed the reality. But what does mollify when nothing is perfect in the real world? There are some factors that meet what ‘green grass’ may mean.

Happiness. This leads to contentment, eagerness, motivation and most importantly, sanity. This feeling keeps you waking up in the morning and get to work and make things happen for yourself and your team. This propels your working environment to produce the demands of your position. This even results to loyalty and a reflection of gratefulness at work.

Respect. A mannerly work ambiance among colleagues results to this simple yet challenging principle in the workplace. This is a huge discussion on its own in which I would discuss over a few blogposts in the future. This principle is not bureaucratic but earnest guise of values and ethics. This also leads to trust that is another motivating factor. True enough, they are earned, not given. This exposes how an organization operates.

Great Leadership and Governance. I have learned at the start of my career in an American energy company from my admirable ex-boss that “everything rises and falls on leadership,” as a quote from Dr. John C. Maxwell. I live with it every single day and for more than a decade now, this keeps on proving without failure. Not everyone could lead successfully. Some are born to be, some sensibly grow and learn, some perhaps fail miserably, while others are blindly delusional. Being one is a behemothic undertaking that an individual could have and this is of an extreme importance in a working environment, reflecting how the company performs as a whole. This is the oxygen that determines the health of your organization. Domino effect.

Nothing is perfect. Reality is that you may not be compatible with everybody around you in the workplace. Not everything goes your way all the time. Some things may fail. Mistakes could happen. Something breaks. Something needs to be rebuilt. Do you sleep at night, not having to take your work home until it haunts you in your nightmares? Do you have to force yourself to go to work everyday out of fear and resentment? Is this what you really signed up for? Is this what you want?

Frustration, fear and resentment are the poison that suffocate a workplace. They kill productivity like cancer. They stop creativity. They cut through the heart and soul of everyone’s morale.

This is not even the danger. It is in its causatum.

Humans are great in adapting into their surroundings. It’s always been a proof of all civilizations. Immersion in a particular surrounding is a captive human nature. And working environment is just a particular place of practice for this.

If you go to a [insert adjective like ‘fun’ or ‘toxic’] office everyday, it could determine how you adapt over time. It evolves on how this will reflect on your being, inside and out. It will determine your principles and attitude towards life in general. It absorbs through your conscious (choice) and subconscious (feelings). Exposure and spending most of your time working vs time at home makes all of us susceptible to influence. The memory of experience is the residue that would reflect within your shadow afterwards.

This post is just a simple orientation. The biggest thing that you’d need to ask yourself now is: “Is this place worth my psyche?” Think about it.

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“Everything rises and falls on leadership, but knowing how to lead is only half the battle. Understanding leadership and actually leading are two different activities.”

Dr. John C. Maxwell

“To retain top talent in today’s competitive job market, employers need to do more than loosen their purse strings. They must create a work environment that reflects their employees’ life-stage needs and values. As the demand for experienced knowledge-workers intensifies, employers need to understand what motivates — and inspires the loyalty of — today’s high-performing employees. In most cases, it’s not the corneroffice or a large paycheck, but rather, the opportunity to work for a company that fosters strong workplace relationships and inspires a sense of balance and/or purpose.”

Maria R. Morris

 

Affirming Validations of Seeing You In Person.

I’d like to share with you the full version of my recent published contribution http://meettoday.org/wishronquillo/

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I have attended a pop-up shop cocktail event – during Valentines – hoping to meet and say hello to one of the people in the magazine industry that I admire. I truly believe that these influencers deserve to know how great their works are, motivating and inspiring people around them. Most thrive through feedbacks and criticism, as humans who need certainty to validate their goals on why they do what they do. An encouragement from his colleague to approach him gave me a go-signal that he is what everyone think he is.

But he is not. He brushed me away without batting an eyelash saying that “he can’t”. I turned away, look at everyone around me, who kept a meter distance from him and another 2 companions despite of the small outdoor space in the pouring rain. I kept on treading my way indoors and kept on hearing the crowd conversations that “He is there…”,  “He’s great…”, “He’s near yet…”, “He is…”

I had realized that it was brave (or foolish) of me to walk through that ‘gap space’ between him and the crowd who’d wanted to come and say hello as well. He obviously did not get his own event’s theme of “good conversations.” It demystified the personality of the public figure that disappointed me severely. That 5 seconds will change me for the rest of my life.

It was rather a timing while I am collating my thoughts on what to write for @Michael Beddows for the Trendr blog, that this came about. Surely not a good experience but indeed a great ground for what my thoughts are regarding personable, face-to-face meetings. That unfortunate event armed me with substantial, but simple facts.

Senses tell your gut what and whom you are dealing with.

No man is really an island. Humans have a lot of sensory perception that guide (or misguide) their judgment of the person or situation. There are lots of apps and technologies that may simulate productivity in virtual meetings but the eye contact in real-life encounters mean as much as a real handshake. I am sure that most of us could determine a person’s demeanor through the grip of their handshakes, which virtual productivity tools cannot provide.

The sensory factors carry us through the foundation of trust, respect and familiarity. It is also an affirmation of our judgment and comfort when we apply the foundations before and after meeting in person.

It also avoids misconceptions, miscalculations and doubts. You could trust your instincts better looking right through the person you’re meeting with. As simple as a jitter, stutter, blush– that which you could say signs of insecurity will give you a better basis about the person. In my case, it made me realise how naive I was to “assume” the greatest goodness in the people that I don’t really know, mostly public figures. Lesson learned.

Reality is realized faster.

Most misunderstandings are technicalities coming from the lack of expression and tone of typed messages. “This is urgent.” and “This is urgent!” could only say so much. Is it angry? Is it demanding? Is it sarcastic? Is it excitable? Emoticons could only impose an idea of what you mean, which conceals more of the real truth behind what is genuinely being said, aside from their unprofessional usage in a business setting.

My former boss told me more than once that, “when you cannot solve a teamwork problem, book a ticket and go there!” We used a lot of virtual meetings but dealing with colleagues of different languages, and English is only their second or third spoken language, it takes your presence to make things efficient and functional. It avoids many (mis-)apprehension of one direction, skewed by different interpretations of what is being said virtually.

Body language is a sign language.

Apart from your senses dictating better judgment, communicating with eye contact, hand gestures and such give a better picture of what you are trying to say. Cannot find the right local word? Cannot express what you envision in words? Act it out, Pictionary-style, or however you know would convey what you can’t just say in words, phrases or sentences. Heck, dance if you need be to get your real message across.

Getting Involved and Demystify.

Meeting people face-to-face gives the first initiation of familiarity and trust. And it gives you a better sense of what is happening within a particular surrounding. You donate to a charity, and visit that institution eventually or do it hands-on. It gives better impact on yourself and others. You lessen blind spots and mysteriousness that may delude you into thinking of a fantasy, instead of realities of your own experience. This is my latest acquiescence.

Tighten your bonds.

With these, you form better bonds and foundations. Your perception is wider and you tend to ‘see’ things clearly. Strong bonds are in the eyes of a beholder… and the rest conclude a better basis.

From which, I carry on and hope to always experience the best business networking and meetings out there. My latest experience will just arm me with better awareness.

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“There is no such thing as a virtual beer. It is for this reason that face-to-face meetings will remain viable for the future, despite recession-induced drops in attendance.”

Corbin Ball

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VOICE-OVER: Meetings, working from home, virtual vs physical are a big ball of conversation. I will trickle down a few posts as we go along.

Bossing around: What is TOO close for comfort, teammate?

Startups, Mentors, Investors and Advisors within their setting tend to have a horizontal organization where everyone talks to everybody directly. No bureaucracy involved, everyone is reachable. Ideas float within everyone and they are all heard [well, most of the time, that’s another subject to write]. If you’re in a tech startup/biz, most likely that you are friends with your superiors on Facebook, follow each other on Twitter [or one of you does], have each other on mobile messengers, connected on LinkedIn and so on. You also tend to have casual beer/meal sessions with them.

But where do you draw the line in terms on how far you could stretch this “closeness”? How does respect play between you and your superior in both ways?

It is a common knowledge that your superiors (or your Chiefs & VPs, mostly) know more of the higher level plans, strategies, demise, challenges, wins than the rest of the team. Because they are supposed to see the bigger, wider picture to drive the entire organization to where they should be. It is not about trust but there are mechanisms within the organization that function as such. Nobody could be the coal to the train as you also need fire for its steam.

It is not a separation but a unified function of a team. With that, respect plays a big role to be working with each other.

You may be “friends” with your superiors, but you also have to leverage that they are your professional colleagues too. If you completely merge both, then you’re on your way to destruction of just and respect for others and yourself. You separate them according to the situation and setting. It is as simple as you nitpick what you may disclose to each other at that certain time that could demoralize or affect each other in the workplace, considering you may be in the middle of a big product release or you are in your boss’ wedding. There is always a danger of crossing the line and fail to get back from the way it was.

Leaders would always like to know more about their individual colleagues — professional and personal as much as they can. They do that as they already know how these are separated yet it is also their jobs to raise up, promote and develop their peoples’ skills to give them a successful career or motivation. Understanding situations from up there is a very valuable possession of a true leader. And they have, methodically, know that this knowledge is a big responsibility on its own.

What I am getting into now is that everybody, in whatever setting, has a responsibility to draw the line not to affect or put somebody else in danger, threat or disrespect. Humans are amazingly flexible in adapting, but online tends to blur that within comforts of common courtesy. Set aside hierarchy, just among your peers.

It is always this principle of going back to basics. Offline behaviour will always play within your online selfdom. They are not a separate entity at all. Your online presence is the extension of who you are offline. And that is now a huge professional consideration about a person to be hired.

So dig deep and consider respect.

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A flippant, frivolous man may ridicule others, may controvert them, scorn them; but he who has any respect for himself seems to have renounced the right of thinking meanly of others.

– Johan Wolfgang von Goethe