Heera Training and Management Consultancy

eNewsletter May 2011

Dear Everyone,

Hi! And how are you all? Finally I got myself a new toy i.e. the HTC incredible. And yes, incredible it is. I have always been the conventional type of person in terms of phones and in spite of being told numerous times that I should invest in a smart phone, I never did. This time I relented and guess what, I am ecstatic with my ‘new toy’. I don’t know how I ever coped without one which proves the old adage that when you do not have something, you never miss it, but when you get it, you then realize how much you were missing before it. And oh! By the way, I will be in London when you read this, for a long overdue holiday. Will miss the royal wedding by a day though.

I was reading the papers the other day and came upon this article about Alex Ferguson the Manchester United manager, admitting that he never wanted two of his home-grown players, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt to leave the club. He admitted that it was one of the most difficult decisions of his Manchester United career to allow the duo to leave. With new players at the club, the playing opportunities for the duo became less and less. The duo had helped United win six Premier Leagues, three FA Cups and were part of the famous treble winning team of the 1998/99 season. Talking to reporters, Ferguson said, “It’s a horrible thing to say, but you can’t be sentimental in this job.

I cannot but agree wholeheartedly with this statement. As much as I am not a fan of Manchester United, I must admit that their success has been due to the fact that they have a great manager in Alex Ferguson; a leader who has made tough but good decisions all his life. His driving force has always been to ensure the success of Manchester United football club, and this he has achieved continuously.

We can all learn from this great man and accept that there is no place for sentimentality in leadership. Great leaders are always visionaries and hence they always look to the future and never to the past. When the time comes, they are willing to discard good employees who have become irrelevant, good systems and processes which have become obsolete and good strategies which have become outdated. What is most important to them is the current and future situation of their organization.

In that sense, I always believe that great leaders have a ruthless streak in them. They make decisions with only one thought in their minds i.e. the continued success of their organization. For example, Jack Welch when he took over General Electric (GE) had a very simple strategy; if any of the companies under the GE group were not number 1 or 2 in their respective industry, then he would either close or sell them, irrespective of the fact that they were making money. There was a lot of opposition to this strategy but Jack Welch was adamant. The later success of GE showed that what he did was very good strategically.

Some of the things that leaders tend to be sentimental about are as follows:

    • They are sentimental over long serving employees especially those who have helped them in the initial stages of their career. In spite of these employees being left behind in terms of skills, expertise and passion, there is still this unwarranted loyalty towards them to the detriment of the organization
    • They tend to be sentimental over strategies which brought initial success to the company/organization, not realizing that what brought them to their current position may not be good enough to bring them to the next level.
    • They tend to talk about the ‘good old days’ as if talking about it can change the company. The good old days are ‘old’ and will never ever come back. The environment has changed, the competition has changed, the technology has changed and so the better option would be to start looking to the future.

Great leaders are realists and not sentimentalists. And being realistic is what all organizations need to become more competitive, more efficient and more effective.

Thank you very much for reading this newsletter. May all of you have a great month ahead in May!