best practice this week: living it out

"What you are is so loud I can't hear what you are saying."

Practice what I preach. Keep all committments.

Why this Blog?

I started this blog for two reasons:

(1) To share my knowledge and experiences as a business consultant (Asia Pacific) & entrepreneur in the marketplace;

(2) Use this blog as an platform to exchange ideas, to learn from others and to further enrich our business experiences & personal development

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Part 1: Management Skills - lessons learnt from a group of 18 year olds


I would like to pen my first blog article on a recent trip to Vietnam (Hanoi) with a group of 18 year olds. This was a voluntary study trip I agreed to lead as the team leader. And the reason why I chose to describe this trip to you is because I have observed (or re-learnt rather) certain lessons on management skills from this lively group that I hope will be useful to you as it is for me by penning it into a blog entry.

I will split this article into 3 Parts:

Part 1

#1 - Management Skill Learnt: Select the Influencer in Your Team to be Your Assistant
#2 - Management Skill Learnt: Earn the Respect of Your Influencer/Assistant and You will Gain Respect from the Team

Part 2

#3 - Management Skill Learnt: Listen to Your Team…..And Set the Stage for the End in Mind
#4 - Management Skill Learnt: Integrity as a Leader - People are Constantly Watching and Evaluating You Especially Your Team

Part 3

#5 - Management Skill Learnt: Leading by Example – Pushing Your Team to Their Potential
#6 - Management Skill Learnt: Be Humble

My first meeting...

Although I had past experiences in leading youth groups, I was a little 'rusty' as I have not been engaging youths for some time. I certainly felt that way in my first meeting with the group.Before every and any meeting, I will ensure that I am prepared.

"My rule of thumb before entering any meeting is this; have the end in mind (many thanks to Stephen R. Covey!)"
The end I have in mind is simple:
(1) I will introduce myself to the group for them to get to know me
(2) I have to get to know the group (at least remember their names)
(3) Details of the trip will be explained
(4) My expectations of the group and the trip (ground rules)

Simple and straightforward right?

When I first saw the group, I was apprehensive and, to be honest, a little fearful that I will have major problems in controlling them. This group was rowdier and appeared more 'rebellious' than the rest of the other teams going elsewhere. One had his hair dyed and styled like a punk rock-star complete with striking purple. A few others were joking and laughing loudly completely oblivious of the ruckus they were causing. And then there were two youths who looked at their rowdier trip-mates with disdain.

There were 15 of them.

"If I can lead and manage a cross-cultural team, I can certainly tame these fellas!", I said to myself.

#1 - Management Skill Learnt: Select the Influencer in Your Team to be Your Assistant

From my past experiences to observing my ex-bosses and handling teams of people from across the globe in consulting projects,

"I have learnt the benefit of delegating control and responsibilities to one of your team members."
I’m quite certain most people know and practice this. The question I am often asked is, “Whom should I select from amongst my team to be my assistant?”.Through experience and learning from others,

"I always make it a point to choose the most influential person in the group I manage to be my assistant."
This practice has helped me tremendously especially if the person you choose to be your assistant has a strong personality and extremely capable or talented. More on this later.

So I size up the group of 15 youths and identified the person I believed to be the influencer in the group to be my assistant. I delegated certain responsibilities to the person and made clear that I needed him to step up to those responsibilities.

Later, I realized that my assistant was not the dominant and real influencer in the group. In fact, there were two others who exerted dominant influence amongst the group. But there is always one who is usually the ‘leader’.

The guy with the rock-star purple hairdo? He is the real influencer.

#2 - Management Skill Learnt: Earn the Respect of Your Influencer/Assistant and You will Gain Respect from the Team

Alright, so I have made a slight mistake and selected someone who is not the real influencer to be my assistant. Regardless, I knew I have t0 start earning respect from the guy with the purple rock-star hairdo.

"Respect from your team is important because with respect comes trust and with trust comes good quality work produced."
If you work with someone whom you give a lot of respect I am certain the quality and the efficiency of your work will be vastly and positively different.

And know this;

"I have learnt from observations and experiencesthat most people want to give you respect and trust. You just have to earn it."
There are many ways to earn the respect of your people. Having more knowledge and experience usually earns you the right to speak and quickly gain the respect from others. I have found 2 qualities that earned me respect from every team I have led. They are integrity and a genuine caring attitude.

I will explain how I put these two qualities into practice on this group of youths.

End of Part 1

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