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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Three Fatal Mistakes Leaders Do

Everyone makes mistakes, including leaders. We are all human and its part of how we are. However some mistakes are more fatal than others. These three killers below can diminish a leader's effectiveness.

1. Lack of Consistency
These leaders are not consistent in their performance. They are not involved on a continuous basis and their work habits are sporadic. They also demand more than they give, and are not easily accessible or available, even though they might be working very hard. Their messages are confusing and do not have a clear vision or strategy. Our Creator tells us in the Quran about these types of people in a couple of places,

وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ (83:1)
WOE UNTO THOSE who give short measure

الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُواْ عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ83:2)
those who, when they are to receive their due from [other] people, demand that it be given in full

وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ(83:3
but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due!

"These leaders lack loyalty, vision, commitment and respect to their followers and the cause they are leading"

2. Lack of Action
These leaders love to visualize, strategize and come up with ideas, but they never deliver. They miss deadlines, they don't keep up promises, and might even always critique others without providing a solution or alternative. They set standards of behavior or quality and don't abide or ignore them. These types of leaders are also discussed in the Quran,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ (61:2)
O YOU who have attained to faith! Why do you say one thing and do another?

كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِندَ اللَّهِ أَن تَقُولُوا مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ (61:3
Most loathsome is it in the sight of God that you say what you do not do!

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ صَفًّا كَأَنَّهُم بُنيَانٌ مَّرْصُوصٌ
Verily, God loves those who fight in His cause in [solid] ranks, as though they were a building firm and compact.

"These leaders are usually not team players, are not serious about other team members' opinions, are not responsible, nor reliable, are perceived as not sincere, and provide limited value"

3. Fail to Develop Others
These leaders do not include coaching or mentoring thoughts into their directives. They do not think of providing opportunities for growth and development of their followers. Their main focus is on self-development. Opportunities for learning, development, responsibility and taking initiative are limited in their organizations. Teams are disengaged and clusters of groups exist. Succession planning is not on the radar screen, and sustainability is weak.

Allah (SWT) shares with us many stories of leaders who developed others such as Al-Khider and Musa (PBUH), Mohammad (PBUH) teaching his companions through the revelation from Allah (SWT) in the numerous statements of قُلْ throughout the Quran, Ibrahim and Ismail (PBUH) and many others.

"Leaders who fail to develop others are perceived to lack confidence, vision, loyalty, trust, courage, motivation, teaching and compassion"
Leaders need to constantly revisit where they stand and if they are approaching any of these three killers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Strategy and its Role in Becoming Capable

Strategy is focused on the matching of an enterprise's opportunities and threats (external factors) to the enterprise's capabilities.

In some cases an organization might not have a capability in place that allows it to benefit from an opportunity. In such cases the capability will need to be realized otherwise the opportunity will be missed. The realization of such absent capability is part of the enterprise strategy, and will require enablers from across the enterprise such as technology, locations, roles, processes, intellectual property and more.

Robert Grant, "Contemporary strategy analysis: concepts, techniques, applications", Blackwell Publishing, 2002.

Harvey Thompson, "The Customer-Centered Enterprise: How IBM and Other World-Class Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results", Mc Graw-Hill, 2000.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting Capable

Institutions vary widely in their capabilities to achieve their mission. You could find two organizations in the exact same line of business, with very similar strategies and business drivers, yet very different results due to the differences in their capabilities. Lets take an example of two airlines. Both airlines share the same mission, transporting humans across the globe safely and in an enjoyable manner. Airline A always takes off on time, lands on time and does not lose luggage. Airline B always takes off late and loses luggage.

Their business requirement is the same, yet their outcomes are very different, which is due to differences in their capabilities.

A capability is a realized requirement, it could also be said that a capability is a business requirement added to some value acquisition process. The value acquisition process should span the entire enterprise to ensure that is picked from all strengths of the enterprise and also did not bring along any unnecessary baggage.