Archives for February 2018

What is Leadership?

Leadership is one of the most common words in the field of business. Many people talk about it and it is the objective of many organizations to develop real leaders. However, if you ask 100 people about this phenomenon, you may probably get, close to 100 answers. so, what is leadership?

It is essential to have a clear understanding of this complex phenomenon.

According to Burns (1978), “Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth”. Many famous scholars trace this idea back to the work of Stogdill. They all agree that there are many definitions of leadership and that people have defined this complex phenomenon in very different ways. Let us have some examples:

Hersey and Blanchard (1979) define leadership as:

“…the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in efforts toward goal accomplishment.”

Yukl (2012) offers a similar, but more comprehensive definition:

Leadership is the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives.”

In another definition, Katz and Kahn (1978) define the leadership phenomenon from three perspectives:

  1. Leaders occupy positions in organizations;
  2. Leaders possess characteristics or qualities; and
  3. There are categories of behavior that a particular leader displays.

A few more definitions are offered below:

John Kotter (1988):

“…a process of creating a vision for others and having the power to translate this vision into a reality and then to sustain it.”

Buchanan and Huczynsci (1985):

…a social process in which one individual influences the behavior of others without the use or threat of violence.”

Rollinson (2002):

“…a process in which a leader and followers interact in a way that enables the leader to influence the actions of followers in a non-coercive way towards the achievement of certain aims or objectives.”

Barron and Greenberg (1990):

“A process whereby one individual influences other group members towards the attainment of defined group or organizational goals”.

The existence of such a variety of definitions by scholars indicates that leadership is a complicated phenomenon. It also makes it difficult to agree on a single definition for leadership.

What makes the whole thing even more complicated is the fact that the term leadership is defined differently in different cultures. Masculine, autocratic, commanding and transactional leadership, are more traditional than feminine concepts of interpersonally-orientated, democratic or transformational leadership. Although ‘softer’, more feminine concepts of leadership have arguably received more attention than masculine concepts, the latter are still considered important in leadership literature.

Considering most of these definitions (and many more), there some common words that are being repeated in most  definitions. These words are as follows:

  • Vision: A good leader is the one with a good vision. The vision is something beyond what ordinary people (or followers) see. Such a vision should be challenging and attractive to people in order to motivate them to exert higher level of effort.
  • Influence/Motivation: Simply put, leadership is all about influence. A great leader is person who is able to motivate others and influence them (not but coercive means though) to do something.
  • Followers: Leadership is meaningless if there is no follower; no one has become a leader without a follower. The more the number of followers, the higher is the perceived power of the leader.
  • Organizational goals/Achievement: In the context of business, leaders influence others to do something to reach some common goals. These goals are either leader’s vision or the goals the leader or the organization has set. These goals should be valuable, motivating and moderately hard-to-achieve (therefore, challenging).
  • In sum, most scholars and writers on leadership nowadays largely agree that what makes leaders and leadership behavior effective depends largely on the context in which the leader is working; however, a good leader is the one who has a clear and challenging vision, communicates with followers, inspire and motivates them to accept that vision, sets milestones and mid-term goals, creates an environment of mutual trust and respect and meets the needs of his/her followers.

    In short, a good leader is able to take care of three main areas of Tasks, Relationships, and Change.

    In my book, “Leadership in Dynamic Organizations: Enhancing Performance, Creating Change”, I introduced 7 essential “Leading Styles” that take care of task, relationship and change. I have introduced each style and discussed when each style can be used.

In ALTA, I offer High-Impact Leadership Training and Coaching for executives, managers, and any individual who aspires to become an effective leader in order to empower them to learn essential leadership knowledge, mindset, skills and competencies.

Learn about ALTA’s “Design Your Life” program to learn all you need to learn about the Subconscious Mind.
For more information, email us at info@altatc.ca

The Power of Imagination

As human beings, we all have the tendency to imagine. Imagination is something that all of us do everyday. Whenever we are alone at home, or with our friends at a bar or a restaurant; in the car when driving, or on the bus or on train, when walking, even when talking to other people.

Imagination is a natural and normal process. In fact, it plays a far more important role in our lives that most of us even realize. How is it that important? Do we know how powerful it is for us?

Last year, a client was referred to me by a plastic surgeon to coach. A young beautiful girl at the age of 17 or 18. She wanted to do a nose surgery. The surgeon did not want to do that for her because, to him, she did not need it.

The client met me in my office and we talked for an hour. She clearly was not only dissatisfied with her appearance, but also she hated her nose and she felt miserable for having it. She thought her friends do not like her because of her “bad-shaped nose”. She had no confidence. To probe further, I asked her a couple of questions in our first session. Questions like: “how do you know that they don’t like you?” or “how do you know that they feel this way because of your nose?”.

Our coaching was actually short. After having only three coaching sessions, she got her answer. She realized that she was considering herself to be odd, not other people. She was looking down on herself, not her friends and others. In fact, her own imagination was responsible for that. She was acting weird and others were reacting to her weird behavior. That simple…

After doing NLP and Time Line Therapy coaching for her, her self-image changed. She was full of confidence and she loved her face. According to her, from the day she stepped out of the office her relationship with her friends and others improved.

  • Creative Imagination

    “Creative imagination” is not something for psychologists, philosophers, creative talented inventors, or motivational speakers. It is something that goes through our minds and affects our lives significantly. This means that all of us think, feel and act in accordance with what we imagine to be true about ourselves and our surrounding environment”.

    Let me make it simple: what we imagine to be true will be assumed to be true by our subconscious mind, and we will automatically feel and act upon it. If we imagine that we can never be good in selling something, we will never be able to sell. If we imagine that we are ugly, our subconscious mind will believe that it will automatically work towards proving that to us: that we are ugly.

    In his great book, Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Malts states: “The messages brought to us from the environment consist of nerve impulses from the various sense organs. These nerve impulses are decoded interpreted, and evaluated in the brain and made known to us in the form of ideas and mental images. In the final analysis it is these mental images that we react to.”.

  • Programming Our Subconscious Minds

    If you imagine and picture yourself doing something in a certain manner, you will be able to do it more effectively than a time you don’t imagine it. Create vivid mental images towards reaching your desired outcomes (like having a life that you want, better financial situation, a great relationship with your mom, dad or partner, etc.) through imagination (and make it as vivid and as clear as possible). By doing that you are programming your subconscious mind to help you get what you really want and deserve.

    Of course, this may not be enough for you to get what you want, however, this is definitely, the very first (and the most important) step towards achieving a better life.

    If you would like to know more about the power of imagination, subconscious mind and steps towards success, or what I do in my coaching, leave comments or contact me at alireza@altatc.ca and I will be more that happy to discuss further and help you achieve what you really want because you deserve it.

Learn about ALTA’s “Design Your Life” program to learn all you need to learn about the Subconscious Mind.
For more information, email us at info@altatc.ca

The Art of Criticism

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to criticize someone or provide feedback but you hesitated? Or gave comment and things got worse (and probably out of control)? How about receiving criticism or feedback? A situation where someone, like a colleague, your boss, your friend, or your partner criticized you or gave you a harsh comment? How did you feel after that? What was your reaction? Do you think that criticism is bad? Or you think it is good? How can we give or take criticism?

Well, the answer to this question sounds complicated. Criticism is neither good nor bad in nature; it all depends how we give and take it. Is it simple? Not really.

Before I talk about its nature, let us define this term first. It is “the activity of perception, judgment and interpretation”. What we need to learn about is what is called “constructive criticism”. This term refers to the process of offering someone a valid and well-reasoned opinion about their behavior or the quality of their work, in a professional, friendly and positive way. Let me elaborate it further.

In any given situation where there is a need for criticism, there is usually some positive and some negative points. And by nature, criticism is about providing our value judgment or interpretations to others in order to solve issues or improve people or situations. Therefore, there should always be a positive intention behind every criticism.

Now, how can I give and take criticism that produces best results? I am giving you a simple formula for each here.

  • How to Give Criticism?

    To give criticism, we have a simple formula which consists of three steps:

    1. The Guiding Rule: Attack the behavior/ problem, not the person. You need to stick to the issue and focus on specific events or behavior, facts, statistics, numbers, time and date, etc.
    2. Ask the Question: It is very important to ask yourself an important question before criticizing others: “Why am I giving it?”, “Is it going to be helpful?” and “What is my positive intention here?”.
    3. The Criticism Formula: Empathize, Pinpoint and Move Forward.

    First, you need to Empathize, an in order to do that, you need to see things from the other person’s point of view. Put yourself in their shoes. Second, get to the point and talk about the specifics (DO NOT give general comments); be as specific as possible. In other words, Pinpoint the problem. Third, Move Forward by explaining the consequences of the issue or the undesired behavior, and clarifying the negative outcomes.

    Remember that the whole purpose for giving criticism is to have the problem solved and to get better results. You have a positive intention, so, show it and express it. Also remember to to use words like “but” between step 2 and 3 (between pinpointing the problem and moving forward). Instead, you can have a short pause, and then continue. In some instances you can use words or phrases like “and”, “considering what I said, I would like to add that” or “what I like to say is”.

  • How to Take Criticism?

    In order to take criticism, there is a four-step formula; it is called “The AAAA Formula”. It is as follows:

    1. Anticipate: Before responding, anticipate the other person’s intention and reaction. Ask yourself questions like: “What is the positive intention behind this criticism?”, “What can I learn from this criticism?”, or “What will be his/her reaction if I do this/that?”.
    2. Ask Questions: As questions to make sure that you understand the problem and the topic of discussion clearly. Try to become as specific as possible. This will help both of you to talk about the same topic and to avoid misunderstanding.
    3. Agree with Something: When receiving a feedback or comment, it is important that you show your positive attitude and intention. That’s why you need to agree with something to establish a common ground. In other words, look for the opportunity to show your positive intention by agreeing with something (e.g. a fact, numbers, a part of the comment, etc.).
    4. Analyze: Analyze the situation, your own emotions and reactions to behave in a positive and constructive manner.

    As the receivers of  a criticism, we may be provoked to try a fight or flight response from a criticism (although at some points, these strategies are appropriate); usually these are not a good move). Instead, try to improve your communication skills and control your sudden emerging emotions. One famous NLP presupposition says “you are in charge of your mind, and therefore, your results”. It is your mind and you are the one who can control it. Do not let it control you, or other people or circumstances control it for you. You are in charge of it; so take full control of it.

     

    Conclusion

    The provided formulas here are easy to apply; however, it requires practice to master the art of criticism. Keep these notes in your mind and start applying them until the whole process becomes internalized.

    Proper criticism can help every individual focus on specific problems and issues. It helps create an environment of mutual respect, positive attitude and professionalism, because at the end of the day, we all want to improve things around us…

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