News Karnataka
Saturday, September 18 2021


NK PERSPECTIVE – Whack the Wakos with your leadership!

Your life is an accumulation of moments in time – not your time – HIS time. You are alive through all of them, but you only live some of them and certainly more than one moment in time. The rest of the moments pass you by… as you wait for “the moment”.

But little do we realize that each moment throws up a situation that offers a chance to lead – yourself (the group of characters within you – diffidence, boldness, creativity, innovativeness, pig-headedness and reluctance and sheer stupidity) or the group of people around you.

You will realize all this when you fall into a well – well, accidentally I hope! – you will first panic, then control yourself, try to grab a ledge and lookup (the first and second part of leading yourself) – it’s instinctive! That is provided you survive the initial moments by fate or luck!

When you look up – you will find either no one there (an opportunity to find your leadership skills) or a single person scrambling to help, drawing on his leadership skills, or a group of people listening to inputs/advice from an individual who instinctively (?) believes he knows best how to resolve the situation!

Similarly, public speaking is an opportunity to lead – the discussion, your thought process, and influence your mind map – provided one can hold your attention for seven minutes – which reminds me of the book by Irving Wallace of the same name – those of you who have read it will find though, it is a different context!

Double Lives!

We all live double lives without cheating on each other generally speaking – one with a family – whatever be the definition of that is – and the other professional – and very rarely do the twain meet.

In the family which I have lived for well-nigh on sixty years, I live in different situations every moment – as a husband, a son, a father, an in-law, and a friend and sometimes an enemy or a disparaged individual. Each of these situations is challenging calling upon me to lead in different ways, lead none the less – and some of you may say that as a son you have got to follow – but that is a way of leading – because there are others to follow you…

Situational Leadership!

In my professional life, too I’ll have been many things – from a boss to a subordinate and a peer – each moment is a situation calling for leadership. 

That leadership will then obviously have to depend on and adapt to the situation at hand and the immediate and long-term objectives that you have in mind… It is often done unconsciously, and some do it better than others, but all adopt it.

It is based loosely on the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory – A theory that says there are four leadership styles that we adopt depending on the situation – Telling Selling Participating and Delegating – Examine the moments in your lives   – at home and at work.  I will not go into each of these – that would be telling or selling as the case maybe – I’d rather delegate via participation!

How do you choose which style to adopt? Individual Algorithms

But how do you choose which of these styles to adopt in which situation – First of all, all of us have a natural disposition – that becomes evident during group discussions – that is why they are held in fact. Training that gives a clear edge to your consciousness over your subconsciousness can manually override the automatic response system based on individual algorithms – for that is exactly what they are – Individual Natural Intelligence Algorithms.

The People Maturity Model – WAKO

But both consciously and subconsciously, the response to a situation is guided by an internal assessment of willingness, Ability and knowledge and Ownership (or responsibility) (WAKO) …. In totality – the maturity of the groups in which we find ourselves. I am not talking either about puberty or senior citizenship here – but the elements that make for maturity in delivering on common objectives – as in a family or professional group.  They can also refer to self-maturity – the ability of the self to handle conflicting internal processes that are also a group for this purpose. 

Four incremental levels of such maturity 

M1: No WAKO – so telling is best – Tell them what to do and they will do it…  Take the case of young children.

M2: WO present, but no AK – So a combination of telling, and participating is best to help them know and understand what to do. –  Let us say spouses discussing the menu or finances!

M3: WAK Present – but no O – so a combination of Selling and Participating is best – so that they develop a sense of ownership… Young Adults – getting them involved in a family project or holiday!

M4: WAKO all present – A combination of Participating and Delegating is best!  The Spouse is the best example.

The four different stages of maturity are ranked in order of the amount of maturity they hold with M1 being low maturity, M2 and M2 holding medium maturity, and M4 sitting at high maturity.

You will use all these techniques in your professional life too as you will deal with different levels of maturity…

Having said that, the way you respond to situations has to be instantaneous; the style you adopt is based on your individual algorithm, which upgrades itself with each moment, each response, each decision. So how you responded to the same stimuli/situation 25 years ago may not be the same today- Verify it yourselves.

But they are all moments and on a lifelong continuum aren’t they – and your style evolves – but how you view it and how your environment views it is possibly different. When you peep through the Johari Window you will feel both blindsided as well find that looking ahead there are blind spots.

The 360-degree evaluation

This brings us to the 360-degree evaluation – subway sandwich-style – the good, the bad, the ugly, the good! – of your response style by superiors/elders, peers and subordinates’ in the pecking order of family and professional life. 

The results can be very surprising and sometimes painful – but they are a great improvement opportunity – if taken in the right spirit – the other option is to imbibe the spirit in sufficient quantity to quell the thirst for unequivocal appreciation.

I have been through it all and I have emerged better and stronger as you can see. And the spirit lives on…

Stay Calm. Whack the WAKOs with your leadership!

Images by Wonita & Troy Janzen and John Hain from Pixabay 

Brian Fernandes

Brian is an alumnus of Roshni Nilaya’s Post Graduate School of Social Work, HR Department and has 30 years of local and international HR and General Management experience. Journalism, poetry, and feature writing is a passion which he is now able to pursue at will. Additionally, he loves compering and hosting talk shows. He loves learning and imparting it; so, when time permits, he provides leadership facilitation and soft skills training to Postgraduate students and Corporates in Mangaluru and Bengaluru. Besides, he is an accomplished Toastmaster under the aegis of and a designated Distinguished Toast Master.

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