Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You the Blind Leading the Blinded?

I have been utterly impressed with several cases of vision-impaired triathletes completing Ironman triathlons and marathons. My friend, Koh Boon Pin has assisted both wheelchair-assisted athletes and visually-impaired runners, successfully, through to the finish line.

Leaders have sense of vision; this can be manifested as foresight and insight. However, during crisis our vision may be blurred by distractions, mistakes, rude revelations and panic? How do you prevent shortsightedness during a leadership assignment?

The simplistic answer: Get your leaders prepared!

Preparation means many things in the execution of a project or work plan. Plans are just these – plans. Plans need to be initiated and executed, or else they mean nothing. Leaders should have a repertoire of skills, knowledge and attitude to get them started. They can then enhance it through on-the-job learning, experience and exposure to the job requirements and situations.

Preparing people means engaging them, and getting them to engage themselves in situations that gets them resourceful. Ensure that tasks and challenges are possible, not impossible. You do not build confidence if a staff is doomed to fail from the start. This form of sabotage reflects badly on your own style, values and character. Self-esteem is a precious asset that builds into confidence, courage and long-term commitment. Build on people’s potential through encouragement, praises, compliments and constructive feedback. Mean leaders have no meaning – they are blinded by their personal agenda and perversity to dominate others; they are truly sightless!

Delegation is relevant for it is one intervention of leadership. However, lest you shoot your arrows accurately and with a target, you may miss very badly. Delegate only to those who you consider to have the competencies. It does not matter if stretch them with your goals as long as they attempt to learn through the process.

As leaders, we pave the way for future leaders. The future leader is not one bound by the rigidity of rules, or one who wards off risks with the utterance of ‘no’ or the deft strokes of a pen. In a digital world, you cannot thrash your responsibilities – some of which extend far into the area of active relationships, use of emotional intelligence, commitment and a sense of clarity. The blame/shame model of managing (not leading) is outdated, outmoded and obsolete. Lead in this decade with last decade’s approach and it may be futile. Pull must make way for push. Collaboration is a straight line to teamwork. Communicate, communicate and communicate. You must be seen, heard and felt – in both analog and digital modes.

The blind cannot be leading the blind anymore. It doesn’t matter if you have only one-eye, too; you need depth of vision as well as peripheral vision. Know what to see, and notice what’s going around you. Impaired vision leads to a misplaced sense of purpose. Refocus your vision. See your leadership in various perspectives. View it through your people’s eyes.

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