The Importance of Being a Good Person

During Dale Carnegie & Associates 67th Annual International Convention in Honolulu last December, I had a conversation with a colleague from Taiwan. I complimented him on the success of Taiwan team in the past fiscal year. With great enthusiasm I recounted some facts about their achievements (which in retrospect should be something that he already knew).

Of course behind all my excitement I wanted to know how they managed to make it happen. To be honest, I was expecting something in the line of, “Well, our team got together, we drew a strategy, and in the execution everyone chipped in their best effort.” Something that shows camaraderie, team work, hard work, focus, and so on.

Instead, Arthur gave me the biggest smile and said, “We have a good boss.”

At that moment, the doors were opened and everyone in the foyer began pouring into the ballroom for the morning’s General Session. I did not get to ask him what he meant by that. I wish I had pulled him aside and grilled him more on that. Since I didn’t, so I was left to myself to figure it out.

I know his boss. Although John Hei is a popular public figure in Taiwan, the first impression you take on him will not show that. He speaks with a soft voice, and he smiles a lot. One thing that truly leaves a strong impression on me is his humility. He is already in his 70s. In Asian culture, he is considered a senior to whom people pay a great respect. People will understand if he would choose to stand in the sidelines and let the younger generation do the hardwork.

Despite of that, he is not beyond sitting in a classroom with people half his age, to learn from a trainer 20 years his junior, as evident in a program that I had the privilege to be part of in 2011. He did the same exercises as the rest of the class, he took part in small group discussions, and the most amazing thing for me was he was willing to be coached in front of the younger people.

I am sure that is not where the list stops. If I were to interview his team members about him, I think I can get at least 100 more reasons why he is such a good and inspiring boss.

For me, this is where leadership plays an important role in an organization. All the management knowledge remains important to run a successful business. But in the end, what drives people is their leader. What the leader does, what the leader says, how the leader relates with others, will be the driving force behind a great organization.

Advertisements

Lessons from the Man of Action

The title on his business card said “Executive President – Asia Pacific.” It was quite intimidating for us, the three young visitors.

For me, it was the first time I had a meeting with a client in which I met the top man himself. No subordinates present, just us and the man. From what the title sounded, he’s not only the boss for the country, but also for the entire Asia-Pacific operation of the company. It did carry a lot of weight.

The broad forehead gave him the appearance of a scientist or an academic faculty member, instead of a corporate executive. His tall build, broad shoulder and tanned demeanor immediately commanded respect. He was there strictly for business.

“I assume you would like an introduction about our company,” I said, several handshakes, introductions and business card exchanges later. He nodded, and I quickly turned my 10.1-inch netbook to face him. I already loaded my presentation, and I meant to present it right from the device.

“Wait, you’ll need a projector,” he said, standing up. I thought he was going reach for the phone and call someone to get it.

Instead, he walked up to a sideboard cabinet, opened a drawer, and pulled up a small, black bag. He then proceeded to put the bag on the table, unzipped it, and took a small projector, about the size of a standard Bible. Without a word, he began to connect cables into it.

We were taken by surprise. It was an awkward moment. Should we help him, or not? It was apparent that he was the hands-on type of guy who didn’t mind doing all the work if needed, regardless of his title.

“It’s.. It’s the smallest projector I’ve ever seen..” I blurted weakly. But he didn’t seem to notice. He handed one end of the VGA cable for me to attach to my netbook. No time for small, insignificant talk. It was time to get the show on the road.

It was a no-nonsense meeting. Unlike interactions with fellow Indonesians, this one proceeded seriously. He listened to my presentation, asked questions, and he in turn explained what he wanted.

He had a clear idea what he wanted to see and what he wanted us to do. He knew the kind of people he believed to be capable of giving him the results he was looking for. No doubt, no nonsense. He chose to meet us ourselves instead of delegating the task so he could be sure that we got it fresh and direct from him.

In an hour, the meeting was concluded.

There was much to learn from the experience.
1. Being the boss sometimes mean you have to get down, get your hand dirty and do the job to be sure that it gets done right. Delegation is important, but there are things that you have to do it yourself to get it right.

2. Title is just a title. It shouldn’t stop you from doing what needs to be done. Goal oriented action is more important than your job description.

3. Knowing what you want, where you are going, and taking the necessary action to move towards that direction is what leadership is all about. Planning, organizing, directing, and the rest of management are just tools.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry®. Powered by Telkomsel.

How To Handle Rumors

What would you do if you heard that a rumour about you has been spreading? What would you do if you heard that 100 people have heard the rumor? What if 1.000 people heard it? 1.000.000 people? 10.000.000 people? A continent’s worth of people?

Just recently a rumor has been circulating that Facebook is shutting down because its founder Mark Zuckerberg is tired running it. He doesn’t care about the USD 50 billion value of the social network website, not to mention the 500 million that Goldman-Sachs has just poured into Facebook, and he just wants his life back.

I got online and went to Facebook.com to see if they have issued a statement regarding the rumor. When I got there, I was puzzled. I expected a big announcement, or a banner, or at least a box containing a big title, “FACEBOOK IS NOT CLOSING” with link to the lengthy and detailed document rebutting the rumor.

There was no formal announcement. All I found was this:

Just another status on the wall. They didn’t make a big deal out of it.

This wasn’t the first rumor about Facebook. A while back, Facebook was said to go fully commercial and it would collect fees from its users.  Another rumor said that it was closing down because its servers could not cope with the millions of users that used it every day. It was also said that Facebook used photos and data of its users for its advertising without consent from the owners. All of them proved to be untrue.

Hence, the nonchalant attitude. Facebook treated the rumor just like any other rumor it had faced in the past. They did not worry about it, instead they kept working as usual.

There is a good saying that goes, “If you want rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.” If you want success, you will face rumors and bad mouthings. With over 500 million users, and its recently beating Google to earn the title as the most visited site in the US in 2010, it is just natural that Facebook became a magnet for rumors and envy.

It will be difficult to expect that you can achieve success without making some people envious. When it happens to you, just remember to keep working as usual. You have somewhere better to go and something more important to do than to brood over the untrue rumors about you.