Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Voice Of A Leader...

Voice. Wait. What are we talking about here?

For this issue, we would be dealing with the vocal cords, the voice,
particularly of the Leader.

How important is having a "well-modulated" voice in a Leader?
We hear various opinions specially at LinkedIn where I posted this

As most would believe, a great voice mean confidence. As they put it,
with a good voice, people tends to listen more to what you have to say.
Oh, it's then like being hypnotized, huh?

Well then, if that is the case, a "good" voice is really not that good to
have. Of course, it is for the voice owner but not necessarily for the
entity he represents.


What if you are just being blindly led to your doom? Do I hear some
say, "Of course not, we know what we are doing and whom we are
following"? Oh yeah? How about those who followed Hitler, Mussolini
and alike? Did they really know what they were doing then?

History tells us that a great voice is not enough even if he "walks the
talk" and has the ability to lead. Good intentions are key. In business
leadership, it's all about the ability to take the company where it wants
to go.

We do not need to sound like Luciano Pavarotti or James Earl Jones...
so long as we do not sound like a frog. We have to accept the fact
that we can not totally change our voices but we could practice and
enhance it to add some impact. Honing your presentation skills would
help in many ways, see Peter Watts' The Presenter's Blog.

And so the underlying question to one's voice would be-
How far do you think could a "soft-spoken" Leader go in terms of
respect and trust?

This query was answered well by our LinkedIn colleague
Frank Feather as follows:

Lincoln's contemporaries described his voice as a "high, reedy tenor".
Of course, he had the advantage of physique, but a non-modulated
voice did not impair his leadership stature.

As for being soft-spoken, how about the quiet and simple Gandhi,
or the soft-spoken Jimmy Carter who not only became president
but won the Nobel Peace Prize.

A credible leader can be soft-spoken yet successful, respected and
trusted. Their calm voice of reason garners great respect and

In the end, it comes down to what you have to say and how clearly
and well you articulate it. Voice modulation is a big help, but it is not

The sine qua non is that when it comes to speaking... content, clarity,
firmness and timing are crucial.

Have faith. Just be the Leader that you know you should be and your
voice will be heard well.

“Speak softly, tread gently but carry a big stick." - Teddy Roosevelt

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Effortless Leadership... Part III

For the last two weeks, we have been delving on the state of
and how it applies to "leadership".

At LinkedIn, I was fortunate to receive several good points on leading
without even trying.

Certainly, what comes naturally is "effortlessness" and that speaks
from leadership to breathing. Can you imagine if we have to "really"
exert effort in breathing?? Well, this only indicates a weak heart or
lung, in short, poor health.

We can say the same about Leadership. If we have to push something
too hard just to get things done, then it signifies that we are failing in
some areas... like, planning, analysis, people skills and so on, putting
a dent on our Leadership abilities that then needs some quiet reflection.

Even as pointed out in the book "How To Become CEO"...
Don't take work home from the office.

...your home hours are for listening to your family, studying, planning,
expanding your interests, and pitching batting practice to your kids.
If you always have to take work home you are: (a) not managing your
time properly; (b) boring; (c) wasting your precious nonwork hours;
and (d) all of the above.

A very busy, and very good, advertising executive was always bringing
home tons of work. Her elementary-school-age daughter, noting all
the extra work her mother felt compelled to do, asked her innocently,
"Mom, maybe you belong in a slower group?"

It is de rigueur for executives to take work home. But except for the
reading of unimportant memos and ancient history (a.k.a. monthly
reports), no real work is ever done. Your senior management may
note you don't take work home (even though you do bring your
briefcase) and decide to give you more projects and responsibilities.
And that's good.

Effortless Leadership should come in like breathing; but one more
thing though, "without love for life", breathing would be painful. Just
like in leading, if we do not love our work and everything in it, work
then becomes a burden.

One has to have "genuine" concern over what he does to make it
seem effortless. A Leader has to have "genuine" concern for his
followers to lead without even trying.

One of the greatest Leaders who ever lived stated the secret of his
Leadership in six words, as follows: "Kindness is more powerful
than compulsion."

LEADING BY SUGGESTING. Like "praising and asking", suggesting
subtlely clouds one's ego of being commanded to do something.

In some cases, suggesting is the combination of "praising and asking"
that it cleverly uses the knowledge and experiences of others to
forward an agenda.

Yet... suggesting is simply all about leading with kindness. About
realizing that we are dealing with people not robots; and with this
comes acknowledging their strengths and understanding their

"No man can become a great Leader of men unless he has the milk
of human kindness in his own heart, and leads by suggestion and
kindness, rather than by force." - TLOS

To lead with kindness is to humbly yet confidently seek to improve
things in the eyes of your followers without losing sight of objectives.

“You can not afford to suggest something which you do not believe."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Effortless Leadership... Part II

For most, effortlessness is simply “perception” as everything really
requires some sort of effort. Ok, point taken. However, do not take
things out of context; mind you, you are missing out on something

Effortlessness, in this case, is doing things with the least amount of
effort. This means, when you love your work, it is work no more.
Got the point? Effortlessness exists. And it is deep within us as
some sort of a “motivational” component. After all, “motivation” is
powered by the heart and the mind, so effortlessness being in some
way a “perception” is about the mind. See the link?

In our previous article, we talked about Effortless Leadership through
“leading by praising”. For this issue, we go on to another way of
leading without even trying.

LEADING BY ASKING. All right, let’s get things straight here.
Leading… by asking?? You might well ask, “how could one lead if
he still has to ask?”

Well, well, well. Wait a minute.

Is there a person who has the answer to everything? No, I am not
talking about a “human encyclopedia” where it’s really all about
theoretical facts.

In 2004, Henry Mintzberg famously asked for “Managers, not MBAs”
in his book of the same name. In May 2005, the Harvard Business
Review published “How Business Schools Lost Their Way”, Warren
Bennis and James O’ Toole take on managers’ failing because of
the theoretically-centered education provided by most top business
schools. It would be good to check out Frank Kanu’s “Stop Telling…
Start Leading! The Art of Managing People by Asking Questions”.

Understand that what we are actually dealing with is a business
environment where “change” is the name of the game.

With that, obviously, what you know at this moment could be unusable
by next quarter or even the next hour. Therefore, asking is a form of
leading without even trying. See, a Leader who asks needs to verify
data to come up with great strategies, the best possible decision and
alternative action plans.

Realize that while people needs a Leader for guidance, a Leader
“also” needs people for “guidance”.

“I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.”
~ Woodrow Wilson

We can have all the post-graduate degrees in the world, the training,
et cetera but that
is only good for boosting your resume in a “still”
mostly traditional
business world...

Yet what a foresighted Leader truly needs is an open-mind and humility
“to take in” new ideas; the courage and confidence “to take on” new
ideas; and the determination and flexibility “to take off” with those new
ideas while handling change.

“Management is nothing more than motivating other people." - Lee Iacocca

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Effortless Leadership...

Did I just make Leadership sound so easy?

Well, actually, if you really look at things, at life, at just about anything
- it's all a matter of common sense.

Just look for the head to understand it's being.

What do I mean? If everything has a reason then there is always a
purpose. Like, why is there "grass"? For horses to eat, for the
surroundings to look nice, etc.. Everything has a purpose, even
stones and pests. So, how much more if it's about "leading"?

Leadership is guided by objectives. Hey, you won't just assemble
a team without anything in mind for it, otherwise, you are just wasting
precious time, money and effort.

Effortless Leadership is about leading without even trying; and
it begins with a well-balanced personality, for only then can a Leader
truly understand the mysteries of Leadership. He is humble yet
confident giving him the invaluable disposition of being trustworthy.

Trust is key to cooperation. And cooperation is essential to being
a successful Leader.

Let me give you a refresher.

The six most important words in Leadership...
I admit I made a mistake

Five words... I am proud of you
Four words... What is your opinion
Three words... If you please
Two words... Thank you
One word... We

The least important word... I.

LEADING BY PRAISING. One of the pillars of Effortless Leadership
is by making people feel good.

"The person who sows a single beautiful thought in the mind of another,
renders the world a greater service than that rendered by all the
fault-finders combined." - TLOS

When you acknowledge the contribution or even the existence of
your men - you strengthen the bond, you build loyalty, you gain
true followers.

Here's an excerpt from Jeffrey J. Fox's leadership book...

Give everybody 100 percent credit for the work they do. If you have
five people reporting to you and each gets 100 percent, you get 500
percent. That's the way it works.

It's like building a house: 100 percent for the guy who puts in the
foundation, 100 percent for the roofer, 100 percent for the electrician,
and the contractor gets the sum of the parts.

Many managers don't understand this. They think if their people look
too good, they'll be diminished. They think they have to have some
of the credit, especially for the fantastic roof. So they steal it. They
tell their boss, other superiors, colleagues, and even the guy who did
the work that they were really responsible.

The credit taker is insecure, dishonest, and known to all. Even the
cleverest credit taker is ultimately found out. He is found out first by
the people who work under him. Then, albeit slowly, by the rest of
the organization.

Give proper credit and you will become known as a credit maker,
as somebody who gets things done, as a person to work for. Your
people will work very hard, as they know they will be fairly recognized.

When you have mastered the subtleties of acknowledging people,
you will have taken a great leap towards Effortless Leadership.

Coming up, the next step to leading without even trying.

“Praise in public. Correct mistakes not the personality... in private."