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September 22, 2012

Essay on Management and Leadership


With the dawn of the 21st century the world has transformed into a global village and concomitant to this transformation it has been international financial arena which has felt its effect the most. As the technology bubble inflated, novel business techniques and financial strategy planning policies were formulated which were not only contrary to their predecessors but simultaneously provided a new dimension to finance and commerce as it is exercised all over today. In contemporary times we see that even though the significance of having academic degrees have not eradicated, it has undoubtedly diminished to a substantial extent. This has been substituted by qualities and potentials present in an individual which are assessed by an organization marginalizing him from the academic degrees he has acquired. Major qualities that have always been considered very important but in modern times their significance has hiked to greater levels primarily include that of leadership accompanied with proper management skills. In times when business models have experienced considerable innovation, the trend of marketing has also undergone many alterations as a result of which at organizational level the scope and impact of event management has enhanced phenomenally. We will therefore we analyzing potentials like leadership and management of an individual in this context.
            Talking about leadership first that constitutes an integral part of project management and contributes effectively in its triumph comprises three major salient features irrespective of whatever theory is applied. The three major tasks of a leader include achieving the task, managing the team, managing the individuals. It is worth mentioning here that none of this can be considered as a hard and fast rule as it is purely dependant on the decision making ability of the leader and on the prevalent circumstances. When we talk about leadership qualities involved in achieving the task, major pointers that contribute into the achievement of this process involve the identification of the core vision, objectives, direction and purpose related to the project that we are dealing with. This includes development of plans and programs that will help you achieve your benefits and simultaneously help in uplifting the reputation of your company and your team in front of the client. Working together as a team is the golden rule that will play the most vital role in effective project management.
It is the responsibility of the leader to understand the behaviours and interests of his team members and provide them the task they are most comfortable with, but ignoring the fact whether that particular person is best for the required job or not will reflect his weakness which will ultimately manifest itself in later stages of project development, hence a leader also owns the responsibility of evaluating the performance of his team members periodically so that nothing gets disrupted at the last moment. All these components play a key role in team management at individual as well as at a collective level. No one likes to get criticized and almost everyone hates being humiliated in front of his or her subordinates but what distinguishes a good leader from a normal leader is their ability of criticism. A good leader whenever pinpoints the errors or loopholes in the work of his team members always gains an edge by accompanying his remarks with constructive criticism, for instance he will just not point the shortcomings of work but will also suggest recommendations through which all existing loopholes can be filled and greater improvements can be made in the work. The question that rises from all this is how do leaders demonstrate such qualities that projects them as being an icon of self control, calmness and seemingly unlimited strength? I am not certain whether there is a one line answer to this is but an initiation point for searching the answer can be found by a statement of prominent film director Clint Eastwood when he says that, ‘a man must know his limitations’ Sometimes people in leadership positions push a little too hard, take on more than they should, assume other people’s burdens or make promises that they can not keep. This may result in a loss of credibility, trust, and in worst cases even job retrenchment. Everyone has limitations, no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes but understanding one’s limitations does not mean putting the brakes on. It means rethinking how to get things done.
 In theoretical context all these methodologies and techniques do seem simple enough but the most crucial is their practical application and implementation at an appropriate organizational level. Talking in terms of project management, project managers which are also the leaders have the responsibility of continuously developing leadership skills and their application at proper and required level which is a tedious and nerve-racking task. Major responsibilities which are directly supervised by project managers or leaders during the preparation of project managers include first and foremost the task of project initiation. This involves exploring myriad possibilities provided by the project accompanied with a high-level presentation in which acquired benefits and barriers are evaluated.
Once this is done the next crucial task is to approach the key stakeholders and engage all of them in an interactive and participative discussion which helps them in comprehending the necessity of the project, the benefits it involves and the compromises that can be made. This stage particularly tests the communication skills of the leader which will ultimately help in convincing organization’s kingpins that the venture is worth a shot. Identification of the right people for the right job is also an important and intelligent, in this aspect a manager’s tactfulness and diplomatic ability will be of importance so as to prevent the organization from conducting any kind of nepotism which can adversely affect the performance of the project at any level.
After the stages of project initiation and planning are properly and successfully executed the next level is to ensure that your team members conform to your project objectives, try to interact with them as much as possible in order to gain their confidence and in order to make them believe that what you are heading towards is in the right direction, try to behave as democratically as possible by providing each one of them an equal chance of a fair hearing so that none of them feels sidelined as a member of them team but strives to make his most prominent contribution. As the head of the team it must be your foremost priority to focus on task-orientation and leaving the project team to get things done.  Even over here going through a lassies-faire approach will add to your advantage as well as to your team members. At the same time it is important to ensure that manifold tasks and operations, priorities and responsibilities are carefully managed and properly communicated within all members of the team. Technical approach in the execution of all these duties will assist you in performing each stage of the project carefully and intelligently producing desired results with an appropriate level of quality and standard.   At every stage it is important to realize that leadership is very much about getting things done through others and therefore a leader should use and apply a diverse variety of tactics and strategy to make sure that the desired outcome is achieved.  The practical practice of all such ideas and features collectively converge and contribute to the development of a successful project.
If you ever had a chance of going through the life accounts of people who are considered and acknowledged as icons of leadership irrespective to which walk of life they belonged to you will always find some elements common in all of them such as their credibility and level of trust which people had on them, they could share even their most confidential secrets with such people of the reliability they had of never proving treacherous to them. More over it is also very important for a leader to always defend his superiority by accepting challenges others refrain from. If he performs a task which none of his competitors can then he is undoubtedly and unanimously accepted as the leader for all. This is because by performing such an action he is able to convince others that he possesses the potential and ability to lead others which include enabling others, communication, flexibility, ability to sell, and innovation. It is also worth remembering that the lock that opens the door leading to success of leadership is acquired by providing direction and then allowing others to act. When things take an unexpected adverse turn, the leader looks for leadership from within the team. Here is where the strength is. True leaders realize the worth of the team and, regardless of whatever leadership style is being implemented; their success is dependent on the collective knowledge and abilities of the team. Strong leaders gain their strength from their teams and know when to ask for help. Calling for help does not manifest a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of respect and trust that a leader invests in his team with true leadership and loyalty. Many leaders believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In my opinion, it is this belief that is the real weakness. The ability to ask is definitely a sure symbol of both leadership and humanity. In contemporary times we often hear news and are encountered with troubling situations like the economic downturn, financial depression and a constant threat to job security, frightening stories like these can also fall into the category of lack of adequate and proper financial leadership which in tandem results in poor management. Business managers are nowadays confronted with a similar dilemma; the major problem that stands in their way is that they are reluctant to make changes. It is quite obvious to anyone that making changes in an organization is not simple, even if it is simple, it is not easy. As to what, Stephen. R. Covey has written in his book Principle Centered leadership the reason for this difficulty is that when we talk about changes we are dealing with momentum, with attitudes, with skill levels, with diverse perspectives and with established pattern of behaviour. People tend to cling to old views, old ways, old habits which are very difficult to alter. The problem as suggested by him is very simple which can be overcome by the involvement of people. Whenever people are involved, ‘you risk losing control’. It is so much easier, simpler and safer. Moreover it is seemingly more efficient by not involving others but simply telling them, directing them and advising them. In addition to this former ITT President Harold Geneen said that a rudimentary fault with American management today is that over the years it has lost its zest for adventure for taking a risk, for doing something that no one has ever done before. The reason being that professional business managers are supposed to be sure of themselves and never make a mistake.
Moreover the probability of risk management has also minimized as they feel that any such experiments gone wrong will simply result in their termination and hence prevents them from the scope of experimentation. Most of the times they do ignore that the actual quality of a business manager which is to be interpreted is a leader heading the major operations of the organization tend to behave more unconventionally than his subordinates. Behaving different from the rest does not imply that he starts taking futile decisions, but his decision making ability must contain the element of far-sightedness in it, its long-term influence on the organization and on the sustainability of the benefits that can be extracted from such decisions. It is not necessary that your decision always conforms to that made by the stakeholders, but it will be the far-sightedness in your decision that will provide you the leverage which is an integral part of a leader’s personality.
An example to explain this is that of the Gulf States. In the year 2002 many Gulf nations felt the necessity of exploring other areas to earn foreign revenue as they were perplexed by the fact that their oil reserves were depleting rampantly. It was the decision made by the leader of United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Rashid Bin Makhdoum that sparked a real estate renaissance in the country, at one hand transforming their city Dubai into a real estate hub and on the other hand flocking investors from all over the world to inject money in this sector. Taking example of Dubai other cities also took the same track and soon it was observed that the real estate mania proliferated in the entire Gulf region transforming prime cities like Riyadh, Doha, Muscat and Manama into real estate havens. Even though one may argue that when the real estate bubble exploded it was these states which felt the greatest pinch of the invading recession, one can definitely not shun the fact that these countries were at one point of time flooding with investors and real estate tycoons who have developed magnificent structures here and it was not only the realty sector that was undergoing development. Concurrently all these countries also developed their tourism sector in the form of lavish hotels, resorts and clubs for tourists. At the same time they also upgraded the level of their airlines and brought them to the standard of international airlines like British Airways, as a result of which today Gulf state airlines like Qatar Airways and Etisalat of UAE are among the best airlines of the world. All this development which led them to explore greater horizons to cause a shift in their economic revenues came out from a slight realization of the fact amid with a concern that when the world goes out of oil, our development must not come to a halt. Even though the decision might have seemed extremely tedious to fulfill but it was the strong leadership of these states that made this vision into an affluent reality.     
       Apart from all this a very important attribute of a leader which is normally not provided much attention is that he must never accept defeat or surrender himself to the existing status quo is the situation is not auspicious enough to conduct the desirable task. This is so because when a leader looses hope for persistence all his team members whether whatever kind of project they are involved in induce the very same attitude of despondency and disappointment, hence it is the responsibility of the leader not to accept defeat and secondly try to find anything positive or sanguine even in the most pessimistic situation. A very prominent example comprehensibly manifesting this quality can be found if the life account of the exemplary leader Martin Luther King is considered under limelight.  Being the leader of the movement for black people rights in the 1960’s he had a habit of extracting anything optimistic even from the worst situations he encountered. He once chaired a meeting with his colleagues in which he was told that Robert Kennedy who was considered strongly anti to the black’s right civil movement was a large obstacle in their way to overcome. He told his colleagues that he would arrange the next meeting when his fellows had something positive to share about Robert Kennedy. By the time next meeting was held Martin was told by his companions that Robert Kennedy never rejects the orders given to him by his bishop. The information was positive enough for Martin to take his next step which was to make friends with the very same bishop and through him convince Robert Kennedy that the movement for the civil rights of black people in US is in the long-term benefit of the state. It was this resourcefulness of Martin Luther as the leader of the movement that resulted in a dramatic shift of Kennedy’s perspectives and from a stern detester of this movement he became a staunch advocate and a loyal accomplice of Martin till the movement became a colossal success in the entire country. From the entire incident a major lesson that we can derive is that a leader when looses hope optimism in whatever he is doing or what he wants to achieve losses everything, from the incident we can see that it was Martin Luther’s sanguine attitude of perceiving situations which changed everything permanently, if he would have lost hope earlier, hopes of millions would have fizzled away.
Another example of another prominent personality is that of Jeff Bezos, the owner of the giant book website Amazon.com. His life depicts a classic example of hope and true leadership. After the commencement of a flourishing online book business, to the brink of bankruptcy which was followed by a break through recovery that once again provided Amazon the prestige and status it had lost some time ago. It was never easy for Jeff also when standing on the verge of insolvency he was being contacted by people who were willing to pay a juicy amount in the form of goodwill for the website, but it was the leader who never surrendered in front of the appalling situation he was trapped in. he once again joined his mission of reviving his website which was fueled with sheer commitment and dedication and provided customers the facility of selling and buying second hand or used books through online means and with this vision in mind the gummed economic engine of Amazon ignited again which helped him and his website redefine the concept of making reading interactive for the people of United States and for the rest of the world.
The incidents I have narrated here belongs to political, social and commercial mainframes but there seems no doubt that all these incidents related to the lives of prominent people around us simply present a satisfactory explanation that a leader is a person who believes in ‘never say never to me’ In addition to this all these incidents can also prove helpful   concerning the issue of project management and there is undoubtedly a lot that we can extract from both of these episodes.
After all that has been written it is appropriate to say in conclusion that the qualities of a leader are manifested by his team members in the kind of work that they present. Administering, effective thinking and communication and proper reflection and support constitute an idyllic leader and leadership. In the commercial era we live in for many people being a manager is a job that they do not feel very grateful about, but nothing can be far from reality that if all duties are executed with proper mindset, approach and strategic planning your work will speak for itself. When your position brings any good for the company that is the time when your workplace takes the form of your second home and your office becomes your bedroom. All it takes is willingness and a proper attitude towards facing problems that can help you in playing an instrumental role in the growth of your company and abilities.


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