Archive for September 2007

10 Steps To Effective Delegation For High Performance

September 16, 2007

As a leader, you have to delegate. There’s no two ways about it. If a leader ends up doing everything himself, then he is no more than an executive instead of the one who leads others.

The art of effective delegation is often deemed as an elusive one. It’s often a fine balance between who to delegate the task to and how much to give. And it’s never a sure bet of who can carry it out best.

Listed below are thus, the steps to effective delegation. Work on them and fine-tune for high performance from your team.

Step 1: Review past performances of the individuals.

Step 2: Know everyone’s commitment level, talents and skills.

Step 3: Set a specific time to talk to the selected person about the delegated task.

Step 4: As you delegate the nature of the task, put the task across in the light of his benefits first.

Step 5: Make sure him also understand how their degree of success in the task affects the whole organization. Besides seeing the big picture, include the rewards and /or punishment if it’s part of your system.

Step 6: Provide him with a realistic deadline and proper resources.

Step 7: Hear him out. Seek his opinions, thoughts and feedback on the task at hand.

Step 8: Give him the assurance that you will support him and back him up. Connect with him emotionally. Be true to your declared support.

Step 9: Review the progress regularly through updates and communication.

Step 10: Reward the person openly when he has completed the task of sufficient standard. Keep to your word. If penalty is meted out for failure, make sure it is justified and fair.

When you can delegate well, you will be perceived by your members as a fair and worthy leader. They will also be willing to remain a part of your team. For it is when a team stays together and think as one mind, beat as one heart, then can everyone excel beyond excellence.

How You Can Benefit Most From Mentorship?

September 14, 2007

Just a few days ago, I was the Language Evaluator for my club, National University of Singapore Toastmasters Club. In that meeting, the Vice-President of Education, Wilson Loo, shared with the audience the mentorship program.

Thanks to Wilson, I’ll like to highlight some of the ways you can benefit from mentorship as shared by him. In addition, I’ll elaborate each point based on what I’ve discovered over the many years as a mentor to various clubs, professionals and individuals.

If you are being Mentored, or you are the “mentee”, you can benefit most by having the following attributes:

1. Being eager for challenges. Your mentors will constantly challenge you to go for greater heights and achievement. On your part, you need to provide that eagerness and enthusiasm to make it work.

2. Being receptive. While some of the advice may be bitter pills to swallow, those frankness are exactly what you need from your mentor. Hence, it’s wiser to be receptive than being repulsive to different opinions.

3. Being open to ideas. An extension of the above, you want to be more open to the ideas and practical advice your mentor is sharing. By being open to ideas, I am also referring to the ability to not just listen, but to act upon it.

4. Being loyal. Loyalty is an extremely rare trait in modern days. A pure reflection of integrity. An indication of character trustworthiness. Never let out confidential information that is passed between your mentor and you. Keep your promises intact and fulfilled. Share with your mentor confidently. Get your mentor involved in ideas or learnings you might have so that he or she can work in closer partnership with you.

Mentorship is truly a relationship. And relationship needs to be built over time, with loyalty, integrity and trust. So, remember to L.I.T. up your relationship.

5. Being grateful. It’s often better having a mentor than to have no one to turn to. Your mentor will drastically shorten your learning curve and help you arrive at your goals much more sooner. While most mentors don’t expect it, a simple appreciation will brighten his or her day.

Furthermore, your act of gratefulness makes your mentor more motivated and determined to work with you for your success. Being grateful goes a long, long way. After all, your mentor is committing a portion of his or her precious time to help you grow. Never ever take your mentor for granted.

To add on, I’ll include the following:

6. Being proactive. Instead of waiting for your mentor to contact you, give him or her a call first. Following which, dropping your mentor an email or sms to introduce yourself and your goals will be most appropriate and courteous. Learn to seek your mentor for advice instead of having him or her to “hunt you down” and asks about you.

7. Being responsible personally. While mentors do nurture you, they are by no means your full-time nanny. You should not rely on your mentor to do everything for you or tell you everything. Further to that, should things not happen the way you expect, take personal responsibility first to self-examine instead of instantly blaming someone else. After all, you are the one who acted on them. And when things go well, be grateful and thankful for your mentor.

As you might also understand, mentorship is actually a two way process. Feedback and responses are given back and forth. Hence, in the process of mentoring, even the mentors can gained from the program itself.

How then can you benefit if you are the Mentor? Well, you get to:

1. Learn from your mentees.

2. You become more productive and create more meaning for life.

3. You can help others to help themselves.

4. You’ll receive recognition for your commitment and dedication as a mentor.

Mentorship is definitely a system and program designed to help both of you improve yourself, no matter what your competency is. It’s benefits are gained most by those who truly desire to further excel in life.

As you embark on the mentorship program, here’s wishing you the very best on the journey to excel beyond excellence!

What’s In A Name? Here’s Steering You Through The 10 Odd Car Names

September 13, 2007

Like it or not, the name says it all. And people form impressions from names.
(Yeah, and that includes my own name, Wekie. Whatever impression you get from it, I’ve most likely heard before. And I’m cool about it. 🙂 )

As you launch a product, its name communicates something. People get emotions and are somewhat affected by the name to varying degrees. What’s more, your customers will also take names into consideration in deciding if they want to write out that check.

Whenever customers buy, they want a suitable sounding name that goes with what they are paying their hard-earned dole for. After all, it’s partially their right too.

When you drive a car, you derive certain satisfaction from it. It could be the class, the luxury or even the functionalities. No matter what, the name of the automobile does reflect something.

And this article from Msn.com features some tongue-in-cheek comments that come from odd car names.

(As usual, take it with a pinch of salt, it’s just for your general fun and entertainment. But do reflect on the importance of names, their impact and purposes, be it subtle or distinct, intentional or accidental.)

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10 Odd Car Names

Where do they come up with names for cars? Some of them make sense: the Audi Quattro refers to the car’s all-wheel drive system, the Acura Legend inspires confidence, and the Plymouth Voyager conjures up family road trips. But others…well, you just have to wonder. We called up the actual definitions for some of these names in an attempt to understand…

1. AMC Gremlin: “a tiny imaginary mischievous creature that is blamed for faults in tools, machinery, and electronic equipment.” Do you really want anything to do with gremlins when you are driving down a steep and slippery road?

2. Ford Probe: Probably the manufacturers meant probe as in space probe. However, we can’t rule out another definition: “surgical instrument for exploring.”

3. Chevy Cavalier: “showing an arrogant or jaunty disregard or lack of respect for something or somebody,” or a “gallant or chivalrous gentleman, especially one escorting a lady.” Which do you think they were going for?

4. Plymouth Reliant: “depending on or needing somebody or something.” Wouldn’t you like to be able to rely on your car, rather than have it rely on you?

5. Oldsmobile Cutlass: “a short thrusting sword with a flat and slightly curved blade used in the past, especially by sailors.” This might be a better name for a boat.

6. Volkswagen Golf: “an outdoor game in which an array of specially designed clubs with long shafts are used to hit a small ball from a prescribed starting point into a hole.” What if you prefer tennis or soccer? Can you still drive this car?

7. Toyota Corolla: “the petals of a flower collectively, forming a ring around the reproductive organs and surrounded by an outer ring of sepals.” Well, at least the literal Latin translation of corolla is “little crown.”

8. Chevy Suburban: “relating to, belonging to, or located in a suburb.” Why is there no “Urban” or “Rural”?

9. Mitsubishi Mirage: “something that is unreal or merely imagined.” This suggests the car may not be as good as it seems.

10. Subaru Brat: “demanding and selfish person: somebody, either a child or an adult, who is regarded as tiresomely demanding and selfish, like a spoiled child.” So, it’s not surprising that Subaru has discontinued that model.

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Just a thought, if you can name any car of your own, what will you call it?

Happy driving on the road to excellence!

4 Essential Ingredients To Kindle Your Inner Fire

September 13, 2007

Last week I served as a Language Evaluator and General Evaluator for one of the Clubs that I am mentoring, Nee Soon East Toastmasters Club. During the meeting, I heard an interesting speech presented by Gerald Ong.

Gerald was working on his Advanced Project: Read Out Loud. The title of his speech is Kindling Your Inner Fire. He shared with the audience some useful pointers on what are the ingredients to fuel our motivation and zest. Hence I requested for his permission to pose them here. Thanks, Gerald!

Here’s some of the excerpts of his speech:

Kindling your Inner Fire

Imagine having this fear of public speaking. When you signed up as a new Toastmaster, you are very nervous and not confident in your speech. Over time and together with exposure, your speaking skills improve with power and passion.

I was reading this book, “The Monk who sold his Ferrari – A Fable about fulfilling your dreams and reaching your destiny”, by Robin S. Sharma.

This chapter caught my attention, “Kindling Your Inner Fire”. It focuses on the purposes in life and on working hard in your career. Everyone needs a break in their career by clearing their annual leave to relax and re-focus their goals in life.

From the book, I learn about enthusiasm. And I quote, “Enthusiasm is one of the key ingredients for a life of success in living”. Showing enthusiasm is the key to leading a happy lifestyle. Don’t overwork, but focus on achieving your main goals. Successful living come from following your favourite hobbies in life.

The next book I refer to is “First Things First”, by Steven Covey.

Secondly, are we leading a purpose-driven life? You are the lighthouse in your life. You are heading towards the end of the tunnel to find the light in you. Everyone has the burning passion of fire in their heart to develop their speaking skills. Most importantly, we must have the light within to act upon our goals to grow and improve ourselves to a higher level.

In short, we must lead successful and happy lifestyle with clear goals in life. This makes our life purposeful. Always remember to keep your fire burning.

Self-examination is important and we must adhere to it successfully.” It reminds us to self-examine our purpose in life and lead an encouraging lifestyle which keeps us perked in our self-esteem.

Self-knowledge is the DNA of self-enlightenment.” You achieve your objectives with knowledge by being enlightened in special ways through family, friends and close ones to your heart.

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In summary, to kindle your inner fire, you must have:

1. Enthusiasm

2. A purpose driven life

3. Self-examination

4. Self-knowledge

To make our lives worth living, we must strive to consistently add these ingredients in our lives. May you keep your inner fire to excel in your life always.

Biology The Cause Of Stage Fright? Experts Shed Light And More…

September 12, 2007

I read with ardent interest what Msn.com recently reported about public speaking. The article mentioned about the fear of public speaking and stage fright goes back to biological reasons with ourselves.

Yes, we are talking about the moments of trembling, fast-beating heart pulsations, the increased sweatiness in your palms and the blankness in your mind.

You are standing on the stage raised above, with tens, hundreds or even thousands of eyes scrutinizing you all over. Those images of hungry carnivores seem ready to pounce on you at the mere uttering of your words, if you should mispronounce them or abuse your phrases.

Feels like live meat, isn’t it?

Indeed, we are referring to these and more…

According to the report, the 3 most common symptoms of stage fright include dry mouth, short-term memory loss and sweaty palms.

And biologically speaking, Mary Fensholt, a consultant and author of “The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking and How to Get Over It,” attributes this to “the digestive system temporarily shutting down, the adrenal gland-produced hormone cortisol flooding the body and our primate ancestors’ need for increased traction in the forest canopy.”

To take it further, “even blushing can be understood as a form of arousal to perceived danger; the reaction carries increased oxygen to all parts of the body.”

She tapped on the theories of sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, and argues that “historically, being intently scrutinized and singled out was a prelude to being eaten by a predator, so human ancestors evolved a strong fear response against setting themselves apart from the protection of the group.”

Neat huh?

Shara Sand, clinical assistant professor of psychology at New York’s Yeshiva University adds that “stage fright represents the fight or flight response.”

“What primitively is going on is that there’s a kind of exposure and vulnerability,” she says. And even though there isn’t any real danger, it can feel like there is.

Well, it may not be such a bad thing

“A little bit of stress, a little bit of anxiety actually makes you a little sharper,” says New York clinical psychologist Lubna Somjee. “It heightens your arousal, it makes you cognitively more quick.”

What then, can we do about minimizing stage fright?

Somjee advises to do breathing exercises, visualization, focusing on relaxing your muscles and drinking a glass of grapefruit juice to stimulate the salivary glands.

And since “if you can relax your body, your mind simply follows.”

One of the key is realizing that your responses are completely normal, Fensholt says.

For even the best speakers and performers do experience stage fright. They just control it better.

Speak well to Excel!

How Effective Is Your Leadership? 7 Critical Signs To Watch Out For

September 10, 2007

Leaders face tests all the time. Not only do they have to deal with their inner dilemma, they have to handle people. And people challenges are almost present all the time. How have you been facing your team and the people at large?

Not sure?

Then perhaps it’s time to do a quick gauge of how effective is your leadership thus far.

And no, we are not talking about some tedious survey here. I am referring to some signs that you can watch out for as you secretly test out your own leadership abilities and team acceptance of you.

Remember, these indications are by no means the absolute and not meant to be taken to the extreme. Its purpose is to provide a general feel of your leadership.

As you issue your order or policy, watch out for…

1) signs of eager anticipation or frustration on their facial expressions and body posture.

2) signs of the general atmosphere, is there tension or a relaxed mood of interaction.

3) signs where they stay back to chat and discuss with you or they could not wait to disappear from the scene.

4) signs where they contribute their thoughts and opinions to the matter or are they mere order takers.

Off hand, chat with some of the team members on a one-to-one basis. Listen out for…

5) signs of contentment in working with you or complaints against you or someone in the team.

6) signs of approachability and openness in sharing with you or closeness and defensiveness in their work performance

7) signs of collaboration with you in your upcoming plans or hints of being “too busy” for your grand ambition.

Take these thoughts with you the next time you meet up with your team. Watch out for these signs, change your leadership styles when you notice the signs to be negative.

It always pays to be a learning leader.

Lead well to excel!

What Did Mark Twain Say About These?

September 9, 2007

Samuel L. Clemens, or better known as Mark Twain, has been one of my favorite writers ever since I was in primary school. Amongst some of his most popular works are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I immensely loved the adventures of these two buddies for their encounters. The stories brought me into a world of extraordinary boyhood.

Other enjoyable works of his included A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Prince and the Pauper, A Tramp Abroad and many more.

In addition, Mark Twain is well known and quoted for his refined sense of wit and satire, often poking fun at the establishment or a roast at the state of affairs. They are also thought-provoking, leaving me to ponder about his wisdom and my reconciliation with the ways of the world.

Here’s what Mark Twain said about these…

about Achievement

When we do not know a person–and also when we do–we have to judge his size by the size and nature of his achievements, as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business–there is no other way.
– in Christian Science

about Leadership
A statesman gains little by the arbitrary exercise of ironclad authority upon all occasions that offer, for this wounds the just pride of his subordinates, and thus tends to undermine his strength. A little concession, now and then, where it can do no harm is the wiser policy.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

about Life

Meantime I have made more than 40 sea voyages & numerous land trips, & have gone clear around the globe once. This seems a hard fate. No, not seems–it was a hard fate. I made all those journeys because I could not help myself–made them with rebellion in my heart, & bitterness. Human life is maliciously planned with one principal object in view: to make you do all the different kinds of things you particularly don’t want to do.
– Notes added in April, 1909 to Letter to W. D. Howells of 11/17/1878

We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.
Mark Twain’s Autobiography

Only he who has seen better days and lives to see better days again knows their full value.
– Notebook, 1902

There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.
– “The Refuge of the Derelicts” – 1905

Each person is born to one possession which outvalues all his others- his last breath.
Following the Equator, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar

about Teaching

To be good is noble, but to teach others how to be good is nobler–and less trouble.
– Doctor Van Dyke speech, 1906

about Dreams

A dream that comes only once is oftenest only an idle accident, and hasn’t any message, but the recurrent dream is quite another matter–oftener than not it has come on business.
– “Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes”

about Patience

All good things arrive unto them that wait–and don’t die in the meantime.
– Letter to Orion and Jane Clemens, 4/3/1889

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I hope these words of his gave you as much insights as it has benefited me.

Be well, Learn well, Excel well.

7 Keys On How You Can Better Communicate With The Opposite Gender

September 7, 2007

It was the final run of the corporation’s “Communication Between Men and Women” today. For these couple of weeks, I have been moving around the organization’s different bases to give this series of talks.

I got to make many new friends and notice new awareness with the audience. Indeed, this is ever a mystery topic, yet so interesting to explore.

To summarize, there are some keys to apply in your communication with the other gender:

1. You must first be comfortable in your own skin. An acknowledgment of your own gender and its traits goes a long way. The recognition of the differences between men and women allows you to take pride in who you are and respect the others.

2. To communicate better with the opposite gender, you must truly overcome your own shyness. Be it cultural or psychological, shyness tends to make one feel restricted in expression.

3. Communicating with the other gender must be a regular practice. It should not be seen as a sudden need or come across as “being forced to talk”. This will only backfire as it becomes fakeness. You must commit to apply your communication skills every day.

4. Remember, sincerity helps. It should not be perceived as an intention to exploit just because you are now much more relational to others. If there be any ill-will or motive, the others will stay away from you.

5. Add in your bridging sentences to connect with them. Remember your “I appreciate you. May I …” and “I am here, listening and understanding…”. Form bridges to cross into their world.

6. Pay attention to display positive body language. Nothing irritates a sensitive gender more than then lack of active listening signals. Watch out for your eye contact as well.

7. Notice individual uniqueness. Use this to break the ice and to provide topics for conversation. Extend this to include common areas between the two of you.

As you walk out to meet and greet the next person, keep these keys in mind. They will help you to unlock the doors to positive communication and excel your relationships.

Communicate well. Live to Excel!

3 Proven Strategies To Winning Debates

September 6, 2007

Just finished conducting a series of Debating Skills training yesterday. All of us truly enjoyed the flair display of arguments and intellectual stimulation. I am deeply committed to helping the students gain debating skills as a powerful and advantageous success skill in their lives.

Throughout the few sessions, I highlighted the importance of strategies when competing in debating contests. Here are 3 of the proven strategies that can be used to win debates:

1) Arrange your strongest arguments and rank the rest of points. If you argue on your strongest point first, you have the advantage of first strike and surprise. You can catch the opponents off guard as they scramble to defend your heavy blow, weakened after that to recover.

Hence, the impact and pacing of argument points goes like this: BOOOM, bom, bom, bom.

If you place on your strongest point last, you can put the icing on the cake. This can also win the audience and judges over as you add another strong nail on the coffin.

Imagine the impact and pacing of argument points goes like this: bom, bom, bom, BOOOM!

When do you use this even more powerfully? You must first read the flow of the debate well.

If you can read your opponents and situation well. You might even consider a spread of arguments, placing the first two strongest arguments at the beginning and at the end of your turn.

It creates an impact of this manner: BOOM! bom bom BOOM!

2) Identify the gaps in your opponent’s argument and chase after them. Be quick to seize the inconsistencies and lack of coordination of the opponent’s team. Focus your questions to expose the gaps. Make the other team scramble to regroup themselves under time pressure. Let them spend the very limited time answering the less essential gaps instead of addressing the main issue.

These gaps from your opponents may come in the form of inconsistent definition and stand on the motion, exceeding the boundary and scope of argument, points presented contradict previous team debater, a wavering of confidence level, not being able to answer rebuttals fully, statistical doubts and validity, and others.

Your team, on the other hand, must commit to work selflessly as a unit. Thinking in like mindedness and flawless in coordination. In short, you must close up all the possible gaps in your team and arguments.

Remember, in a debating contest, teamwork is utmost importance.

3) Mark the weakest debater and focus your attention onto that person. Simply put, hit where the weakest link is and let the rest crack as a result.

When you can note and identify the obvious weakest debater on your opponent’s side, gear your rebuttals and question that person. The confidence will be shaken if not doubted.

Even if a stronger debater takes to the answer, he or she will not have the full advantage of understanding the scope of the weakest debater. This can further expose the gaps of the opponent’s argument. Use this new gap to the maximum.

Let’s face it. Be it you are the strongest or the weakest debater, you will be marked. Hence it is every team debater’s duty to equip himself or herself with the strongest character along with best debating and presentation skills possible.

If you know how to make use of all these 3 strategies together, you have a significantly high chance of winning this round of debates beautifully.

Debating can be exciting, enlightening and enriching. Excel well in it!

The Cause Behind The Fine Art Of ‘Failing’ Happily

September 4, 2007

(This is controversial. Proceed only if you have the clarity of mind.)

Can you ever be happy when you fail? Against all conventional beliefs, it is possible to be happy in the process and the midst of failing.

Why? Because in reality, you don’t have to feel upset about not accomplishing something you wanted in the first place. You could feel humbled, or enlightened, or even excited at the prospects of being able to start all over again.

Being upset about failing is just a cultural association that is induced in us owing to the society we live in.

Then how can you really still remain happy if we fail?

That is when you have truly done your best and your conscience is clear.

Let me explain. If you have done your best, the rest is beyond you. It could a physical limitation or a lack of resources at that moment. No matter what, it’s not your primary fault to want to fail. It’s just life’s way of providing limitation from time to time.

However, does this imply that we should all ‘fail’? Of course not. It’s not the intention of this article to promote that you should fail. But rather focus of your responses behind failing, now that’s called being able to bounce back from failure.

You dust the dust off, you learn, give a smile to yourself. And restart. A bit differently this time round.

Whether you buy this or not, it’s still your own decision about your emotional responses that counts. For me, if I succeed, I’m pleased. If I ‘fail’, I’m happy too. Because I always strive to do my best.