E-mail and texting as means of communication

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, MBA, MASCL

Merriam-Webster defined communication as information transmitted or conveyed.  A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, behavior.  In its plural form it is a system for transmitting or exchanging information.

With social networking being main stream, communication was reduced to posting and responding to statuses on the wall.   Another common means are texting and e-mailing.   Unfortunately the art of face-to-face communication is not commonly used by the younger generation.  My nieces and nephews are constantly on their cell phones texting.  You rarely see them use the phone to talk to someone unless it is their parents.  I often wonder how the future generation can interact and communicate in the workplace.    These are words that I see them using LOL, OMG, LMK, CYA, but they are not common words used in business presentation and discussion.

Even at work, there are times when you ask people to give someone a call, they will send e-mail instead.  It is not uncommon to hear people say he/she never responded to my e-mails.   In such a situation, I would ask them to pick up the phone and call or walk over to the person’s office or cubicle and ask the question.  Also, there are times that you’ll see an e-mail chain of more than six responses back and forth without gaining any clarity of what the e-mail is all about.  I often ask people to stop the e-mail chain and pick up the phone or set up a meeting.   E-mail is becoming a de facto standard of communication.    The challenge with e-mail, like any written form of communication, is that is subjective.  Therefore people can misinterpret it.   It often causes more confusion because you’re missing the body language.

The advancement of technology enabled us to be connected 24/7.  However, it did not improve the way we interact with one another.   Things like text messaging do not help our leaders of tomorrow practice the art of communication.    As parents, mentors and coaches, we need to emphasize the important of face-to-face communication and help them understand the value of human interaction beyond the virtual world; otherwise they won’t be effective as future leaders.

In 20 years, the world will be different than it is today, but I believe that the art of communication or the foundation of it will still be the same.  Therefore, we need to do our part in making sure that our future leaders understand its value and essence as it relates to their success in their future endeavors.

You got promoted – Yeah! Now what? – From Bud to Boss

Will Lukang, MBA, MASCL, PMP, CSM

You’ve been working on a team for years and were hoping that one day you’d be promoted.  That day has come and your manager called you to her office, congratulated you on a job well done, and told you that you’ve been promoted to team lead.  Wow! You’re on cloud nine.  You’re thinking finally all the hard work paid off.   You can’t believe it.  You left her office pumped and motivated.  You can’t wait to go tell your friends and family about it.

You return to your desk, sit there and think, what do I do now?   How will my friends react to this news?  We are friends and now they will be reporting to me.  Can I really do this?   What do I do next?  What if I fail? I’m not sure I’m ready for this.  From being excited you are now worried about what do to next and how to make sure your friends are not slighted.   You wish there were a book that tells you what to do.   Don’t worry because Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris are launching their book entitled From Bud to Boss. (Usually book titles are italicized, but I don’t know if that shows up on web pages. If it doesn’t, underlining is fine.)

The book From Bud to Boss is like a GPS that guides you through each and every step of the way.   But the readers need to have an open mind and be willing to commit to invest the time to learn.   The two key ingredients you need are desire to succeed and belief that you will succeed.   How I wish I had this book 18 ½ years ago.  Success would have come early for me because of all the skills and knowledge that I could gain from this book.

What can you expect from this book?

  1. The book is like a train with many stations.  Each station provides you with some information and exercises that allow you to explore and learn about yourself and others.
  2. The skills that you learn can be applied immediately at work.  I call these action learning and it makes the knowledge stick better, thus lasting longer in your memory.   Besides, the skills you learn will make you confident in your ability to lead your team.
  3. Bonus bytes are little pots of gold that the reader should take advantage of and explore.
  4. The book provides you with information that helps you navigate and handle situations that might arise.
  5. Learn to transition from being a doer to an influencer.  Getting the job done through others versus getting the job done yourself.
  6. How give up control and learn to influence and trust others to get the job done.
  7. Understand change and how a leader can facilitate change.
  8. Understand communication and how to communicate with people with different styles.
  9. How to set goals and get the goals.

This book takes the guesswork out of trying many things and failing at each one of them.  You don’t have to live in the world of trial and error. But as a reader your commitment to apply and do what the book says is important.  At least there is a light at the end of the tunnel.    While From Bud to Boss is a great book, it can’t change things for you unless you want to give it a try.  Only you can do that by applying what you learn.  Go out and buy From Bud to Boss from Amazon.

In closing, I highly recommend this book to anyone who was recently promoted and people who are aspiring to be promoted.   This book will help you immensely in your journey toward being a successful leader.   For seasoned leaders or people in middle management, this book is also valuable because it provides you with a framework to guide your newly promoted people to be good leaders of tomorrow.

The need for authentic leadership

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, MBA, MASCL

With the economic turmoil that started a little over two years ago, coupled with the Madoff scheme, it made me wonder why it happened in the first place and how it could have been avoided.   I often wonder how the C level executives and leaders across those enterprises that caused these problems can sleep at night.

Having an accounting background, I cannot understand how the management of the companies who had financial problems did not know that their company was in trouble.   What did they do when it was first brought to their attention?   Didn’t they have the obligation to communicate to their shareholders that there was a problem?  I believe it is every leader’s responsibility to be transparent to their constituents at all times.    It does not take a rocket scientist to know that trouble is looming and that in order to avert a problem corrective action must be put in place to address the issue.

The only conclusion I was able to draw from the whole situation is that the leaders of the troubled companies are not authentic leaders.   Authentic leaders have integrity and lead with compassion for their people.  Like all other leaders they have the vision, insight, influence and followers.  But the difference between a regular and authentic leader is that the authentic leaders care.  They truly care about their constituents.

Sometimes I lament that there is no blueprint for selecting a leader for any position.   If there were a book or blueprint, would it help minimize the extent of the problem? At some point, the economic boom led people to believe that it would continue to be that way.    Greed is what broke the camel’s back.  Things would be better if we had authentic leaders back then to avert such a situation.   The next time you meet a leader in your organization; does it make you wonder what their motives are?  One would certainly hope that the person leading them is an authentic leader, because we need authentic leaders now more than ever.

In your own sphere of influence, whenever you‘re about to promote someone, ask yourself the following questions:

1)      Is the person an authentic leader?

2)      Does he/she have compassion for others?

3)      Will this person bend the truth for his/her own benefit?

4)      Is he/she easily influenced by others?

5)      Is he/she a person of integrity?

The world is changing and competition is all around us.  The need for authentic leaders is more important than ever.  If you’re in position of authority, ask yourself the question: Is doing the right thing your way of doing things?  Are you there to serve or be served?  Hopefully your answers are doing the right thing and to serve your constituents.

Herb Kelleher, the former CEO of Southwest Airlines, is an example of an authentic leader.  A question was once asked  him about which one is more important, the shareholders, customers or employees.   He said that the employees come first and if employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes the shareholders happy.  That is the way it works and it’s not a conundrum at all (Kelleher, 1998, 76).    When I meet people who are in positions of authority, I often wonder how many of Herb’s traits they have.

In closing, I’ve met a great leader who wants to raise awareness on authentic leadership.   His name is Mike Henry Sr. and he spearheads a movement to focus on authentic leadership called Lead Change Group.   Visit his site to learn more about authentic leadership.  My hope is that the more we learn about it the better things will be around us.