Monday, August 08, 2016

The path to be a great leader

Being a leader is never a clear path. I would not say that I am a great accomplished leader nor I would not say that I have not lead either. What I am writing here are my observation and studies on the few leaders I've met, talked to or even learned from throughout my time on this planet. I have to say there are many types of leaders out there that have different traits that are either born with or learned the hard way.

I have often heard people asking this question (I have to admit that I too asked this question when I was leading my team back then), "What does it takes to be a good leader?". This is a very subjective question as it really depends on who you are leading and what is your job scope. 

What I have realised is that leaders generally scale down to three types, either you are an effective leader, a charismatic leader or you are both. 

From my observation, an effective leader is someone who will lead their team to achieve their goal in a systematically way. They are usually a "Follow-the-system" no nonsense kind of person. They will ensure that the job is done in their way, putting aside all the small pep talks or in other words, bullshit talks or meetings. These leaders get the job done. Thats it! Some would compare them slightly like a dictator. They are usually effective when there is a crisis or when things are in chaos.

For a charismatic leader, they are the ones that will talk, inspire and at times charm the team to work for them without whipping them. These leaders are often seen as a likable figure. They will at times try to use the team's strength and encourage discovery. They are the ones who will use pep talks or they are the ones who will take you out for a drink to motivate you and talk to you to find ways to inspire you to go beyond.

Hence, as mentioned the ones that can combine both traits is not something you can get overnight or easily obtained. A leader with a good balance of both usually takes a while to master. Experience and character does play a huge role on how you find that balance too. 

There are several other points that I have learned from the various leaders that I used to talked to or interviewed back in my radio and BNI days, (these are actual points stated by the leaders) here they are:

  1. Do not take longer than 5 minutes to make a decision. Once a decision is made, if it is a wrong or bad decision, never regret it but instead, learn from it. 
  2. A good leader have to be fair and transparent. This is usually one of the toughest aspect as this is one area where your every decision may look unfair to someone. So sometimes a decision made have to be thought through properly and objectively and not emotionally. A decision made have to be clear as to why it is being made. No point hiding or twisting certain facts.
  3. A good leader eliminates office politics. Office politics are usually the ones that kills an organisation. Discourage gossips. If there is an issue, bring together the parties involved and solve in face-to-face in a professional and civilized manner
  4. In relation to point number 2 and 3, a leader does not takes side and always listen to the stories of both parties before making a judgement. 
  5. A leader leads, a manage manages. There is usually a difference. One example, a good sales person does not necessary make a good sales manager.
  6. Learn to empower your team or your staffs. Trust in their ability and knowledge. Let them take charge on smaller decisions. Entrust them with some tasks, delegate the job. 
  7. A good leader helps the team to grow in knowledge and skills. If an staff or team are not able to perform a certain task given, find out why and guide them either via education or reassigning them to a task they are good at.
  8. As a leader, you may not know everything and sometimes it is good to ask for help from your team or others. 
  9. Keep instructions clear, straight forward and simple. You don't want your team to run around doing things that may not be productive just because you didn't make your instructions clear. A simple clear straight forward instructions gets the task done fast.  
  10. A leader always reads and try to upgrade their skills
  11. A leader should be generous in educating others and imparting knowledge and experience
  12. A leader is just a team member with extra responsibilities. They are not more superior or more powerful, just more responsibilities. 
  13. A leader is not a position where everyone will like you. There are definitely situations that you will be hated due to a decision you make but it is part and parcel of the job.
  14. The higher you go, the lonelier you get
  15. A leader dont have to reinvent the wheel, just make it better. Sometimes a working system does not need to be revamped, just improved. 
  16. A good leader leads by example, practice what they preach
  17. Lives up to their promises. Do not promise if you know you can't fulfill them. 
  18. Its always the team and not you. 
  19. A leader don't mind going the extra mile for the team. BUT do not sacrifice yourself! 
  20. Admits and owns up to their mistakes
  21. and finally... a leader must be themselves. Be quirky, be funny, be original... be yourself! 
Being a leader is never easy but if you know how do to it, the feeling of seeing your team or organisation succeed and you sitting there as their leader, knowing that you lead them there is such a satisfying feeling. I myself am still learning the traits and I hope one day I will be able to be standing along with those that taught me. And perhaps one day, I would be able to help others too...

To all the leaders that I have the privilege to chat with, thank you!

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."  
-John Quincy Adams

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Feeling Down and Battered

Tired, worthless, moody and sad was what I was feeling the past few weeks. I was trying to find out what was the problem but I somehow couldn't. I was losing my interest on anything and I was constantly angry yet sad. Then I came across an article that pointed out all the symptoms I had and that I may be suffering from work burnout. My mind was all over the place. I could not focus and I was snapping at anyone. After a while, I started to feel guilty and angry at myself for being a jerk. I started apologising to everyone but that did not solved anything. I was still feeling like a wreck, something that I never felt for a long time. The last time I felt this way was more than 5 years ago. Spending a good time with my family and friends brought a short joy but once after meeting with them I went back into that deep dark hole. To the extend some people even said that I was being dramatic or exaggerating and that I am just overreacting but I know what I am going through and I just can't get out of it. 

"What was the problem? " I thought to myself. "What was the cause of this?"... "Was it due to work?"... "Was it due to people?"...  "Was it all of the above?".

It was something that was puzzling to me. I have no reason to feel down. Yes, I was swarmed with work but I was swarmed with work before this but I never went into this kind of spiral. Me being me, I was trying to figure out what was the cause of this problem. I tried digging deep into my mind and started remembering all the things that was taught to me by successful people and I still can't find my answer. I was desperate for an answer as it was affecting my work and the people around me. I was constantly putting on a fake smile. My laughter was hollow as if I was a robot pre-programmed to laugh. It affected me so bad that I even considered quitting my job and leaving everything behind and disappear. 

It was not until today I found my answer... GOD! Nah just kidding! I stumbled across this video of Sean Stephenson on YouTube. He was talking about how we are so fixated about other people's judgement on us or what other people think about us that it affected us. We are locked in our our very own prison, which is our mind. Another thing he said was "never believe a prediction that doesn't empower you".  What he said resonated and hit a chord within me, not entirely but a part of me. For the past few weeks, was not a very pleasant time for me. problems here, comments there, challenges here, assholes there. I realised that I was the one who dug my own hole and jumped inside. I was the cause of my own problems. I made myself like that. Perhaps I tripped a little hard this time and I've lost my way somehow and let it consumed me. I was constantly blaming everything else including myself. As Jim Rohn said "You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself".

I knew the answer all these while. How silly was I to be absorbed into this nonsensical hole?  A friend of mine told me today that I've put too much pressure on myself to perform that I've lost my identity. I think I shall get back on path and chill and smile like I always have...

In the words of Ian Malcolm of Jurassic Park...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The time conundrum

Well if you noticed my recent articles, it is all about time and looking back and remembering certain things. I am at it again! all thanks to Facebook Memories or "On this Day" function. Sad to say this is one of the first few activities I do when I get up in the morning, switch on my phone and go through the news and my FB. And this is always one of the first things that popped into my notification. "On This Day..." and things that I thought I have just done is already 2 or 3 years ago. Heck, some is already 5-6 years ago. I have been using Facebook for 8 years! 

It was just moments ago when I look at some of the postings I did recently and I thought I have posted it few days ago shockingly it was actually 2-3 weeks ago. That sudden surge of confusion of what ever happened in between those time? How did time fly so fast? 

I remember back in school, waiting for a half hour class to be over seems like eternity. Back then I felt that I did so many things in a day whereas now I can barely finish a few. Maybe it is the complexity of the work? Maybe not. Is this all about being an adult? 

A wise old friend of mine once told me, if you plan your day out, time wont fly away fast. You have to be conscious most of the time during the day, because most of us are not 100% conscious  most of the time. Sometimes we just auto-pilot on certain things or we focus too much on one thing and neglect the world. Perhaps that is what I am going through. Living sub-consciously for the past few years. And when I gain consciousness, I realised I have lost some time. Something that you cant gain back or buy back. 

But thinking back again, end of the day although it seems fast I am happy that it is all spent on the people matters most to me and doing what I am happy doing.  As much as it is a lost time, it is lost for a good reason. As this saying goes "Time flies when you are having fun" perhaps sub consciously I am actually having fun and I just stop smiling or stop appreciating it... maybe... maybe I am still that happy kid that just lost his smile on the outside like a faded once brightly coloured poster been exposed too long under the sun. Yes, I like that...

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? -Dr. Seuss-

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Twilight Zone

I actually lost track of time recently. I recall clearly that I have wrote an article recently talking about my last decade that changed my life and I clearly remember writing it like 1 to 2 months ago and then I came in here and I checked the date, HOLY SHIEAT! it was last June! That is like 10 months ago! Almost a year ago! Oh my how time flies! I still remember telling myself while writing that article, that I will start writing actively again, hence the great number of article that month (2).  

the people of BR24
Since that article, I have moved on from my previous job at Bernama Radio24 and thanks to Facebook memories, I just realized that I have manage to answer myself in an article I wrote few years ago here entitled "Passion vs the world". Yes, I guess the "world" managed to win. I have moved on to a job that pays more and serves my current needs. Leaving the job that you love is never easy, especially a job that you dream of doing ever since a kid. But the world wins and I need to pay the bills. So I have to look at the second thing that I have passion on, branding. Like I said again, it pays the bills and life goes on.   

Besides that, one thing that I am really glad is that I managed to hold on to my passion, well at least a little bit as I managed to get a part-time gig at an online radio to do what I love most and that is radio broadcasting.. It doesn't pay monetarily and it not a daily thing but it pays passion-ly (if that is even a word!) and emotionally. I feel very happy producing or running a radio show, I don't know why. Maybe it is something that I hold very close and dear to my heart ever since I was a kid. Somehow I just feel happy doing it, even if it was for free! of course if there is a proper salary would be even better! Who wouldn't want to do their dream job and get paid for it? 

Now after a while, that little ember of a question started flickering back on... passion vs the world, who should I choose? I have now chosen the world, should I go back to passion or is there a new question on board? or should I find the world that has the same passion as I do? or should I create or change my current situation to what I want? I guess time and/or maybe my stupid-temperamental-sub-conscious-acting-hastily-and-not-thinking-straight will tell. Who knows what the future holds... perhaps I shall come back here and read after a long time again and laugh at my silly past or agree with him... who knows? 

Anyway, I'm out...

"Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable." -George S. Patton
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