December 14, 2019

I have been attending WOBI in New York for years. I just did a few weeks ago. The reason why I choose to attend WOBI NYC faithfully is because of the following reasons:
1. The conference features the best of the best business leaders and practitioners who would impart great nuggets of wisdom from their real-life experiences and not just mouthing motherhood statements and clichés as other theorists are wont to do.
2. Perhaps because of loyal patronage, I have been granted opportunities to interview speakers and have my “selfie” taken as bragging rights.
3. The most important reason is that the lessons learned from the experts and the practitioners update my understanding of leadership and its application to the context of a fast-changing world and allows me to share the teachings with others.

Marcus Buckingham was one of the featured speakers. He captivated the audience with his “British Humor,” which he quipped as “oxymoronic” akin to “British Cuisine.” Of course, being a Brit himself, he can get away with this provocative claim. I had the privilege of having a whole half an hour in a one-on-one conversation with him. He shares so many ideas, and many of which were taken from his latest book entitled: “Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World.”

Allow me to share with you, nuggets taken from his presentation on the topic:

PEOPLE CARE ABOUT WHICH COMPANY THEY WORK FOR. Marcus claims that this is not necessarily so. People may feel some connection to their company at the very start but what they experience daily and how they relate and interact with their bosses and colleagues trump what is popularly known as “corporate culture” all the time. The data that Marcus has collected indicate that people who have left their companies do not care which company they work for but more about which team they are on.

PEOPLE NEED FEEDBACK. Marcus claims that “Most people reason that the millennials want feedback and that it is a good thing to constantly give it to them with truth and candor.” He says this is not true.

What is true is that people need attention and they want to have it in a safe and a non-judgmental environment. An interesting caveat is that feedback is attention and that his research shows that even negative feedback is better over no feedback at all but feedback that comes in its negative form (which is usually what happens in more business organizations) does not enable learning it actually inhibits it. What is interesting is that positive attention according to Marcus is thirty times more powerful than negative attention in creating high performance. In other words, good leaders do pay positive attention and give it to the team.

Connected to this point is the following:
PEOPLE CAN RELIABLY RATE OTHER PEOPLE. Think about this. All those Talent Reviews; Performance ratings; The dreaded PIP (performance improvement plan). Nobody seems to be willing to admit that managers and their teams hate them and yet we still practice them, don’t we? What really blew my mind was when Marcus says that his research has all revealed that people cannot reliably rate other people. But the raters display their rating patterns. And so, the rating you get tell you more about the rating pattern of the manager more than the objective analyses of the person’s performance.

It was so refreshing to hear his ideas. And if we look deep into this, it all points to the fact that Leadership Skills are needed. Perhaps I should feature a lot more points in our future column. But allow me to end with this one. His data research shows:

LEADERSHIP IS NOT A “THING”. Leadership lives in the real world. It is not abstract, but it is scarce. If leading were easy, there would be more good leaders. And then I thought to myself. “This is so true. If leadership were easy, then I would be out of my business.”

There is not a particular set of qualities that leaders have. Every leader has apparent shortcomings. In the real world, if you look at people you regard as leaders, you find exception after exception, and there are just a myriad of different qualities they exhibit. And this is where the sensible conclusion comes into place. Marcus says that the only determinant of whether anyone is leading is whether anyone is following. So the question is, why do we follow? “Leadership isn’t a thing because it cannot be measured reliably. Followership is a thing because it can be measured.”

The currency of leadership and followership is human interaction and relationships. The more there is the convincing reason why “Leadership” cannot be taught in a “Framework.” Leadership training involves the provision of tools and utilities one can use in interacting and influencing people. It is a must; therefore, that leadership skills have to be updated and upgraded constantly.

My thanks to Marcus Buckingham and WOBI for providing me this unique opportunity to converse with Marcus and learn from him. And I would like to encourage serious leaders in this country to attend the conference next year — worth the investment.

(Reserve the dates: January 29-30. Attend the highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Seminar and Workshop 2020 edition. Learn inspiring leadership lessons and valuable life skills in this widely acclaimed program at the new wing of Seda Hotel, BGC. For further inquiries or advanced reservations contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.levelupleadership.ph)

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