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Leadership and Management Training Skills

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Posted 03 September 2012 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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Leadership and management training skills

It is important to distinguish things that look similar but are not the same.

For example, it is important to distinguish:

  1. A pussy cat from a tiger
  2. A friend from an enemy
  3. A medicine from a poison

Here is a list of important pairs that are similar, but not the same:

  1. Fact vs. opinion
  2. Reason vs. excuse
  3. Wish vs. goal
  4. Guess vs. estimate
  5. Determined vs. stubborn

We should not get these pairs confused.

Let us examine each:

1. Fact vs. opinion

Is there a difference between a fact and an opinion?
Yes!

A fact

A fact is a statement of reality that is verifiable by direct observation.

An opinion

An opinion is a judgement or evaluation of that given fact.

Exercise:

Which one of these pairs of words is more factual and which one is more opinionated:

  • Attractive / pale blue
  • Dangerous / very hot
  • Careless driver / pulled out of the junction without looking
  • Unprofessional / twenty minutes late for the meeting

Answer:

In each case the first statement was the opinionated and the second statement more factual.

As a general principle, when in a business context, use factual language, not opinionated.

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

As the team leader or manager, you know that, on the technical level, you are very good. In your role as an effective and inspirational leader-manager, you recognise that there may be some gaps. Now you are searching for a method to help you to improve your skills as a team-leader and manager - click here to find out more!

2. Reason vs. excuse

Is there a difference between:

  1. A reason for not doing something and
  2. An excuse for not doing something?

Yes!

A reason for not doing something is an explanation that is factually true, proportionate, logical, and verifiable under the conditions operating, was justifiable.
An excuse for not doing something is an explanation that is untrue, or not proportionate, illogical, unverifiable and unreasonable given the circumstances.

  1. As a general principle, don't give concessions to people who offer only excuses for not doing something.
  2. Give concessions only to people who offer good reasons.
  3. Wish vs. goal

Is there a difference between a wish and a goal?

Yes!

A wish

A wish can have any content whatsoever:

  • You might wish that you will live forever.
  • You can wish to win the lottery.
  • You might wish you could fly like superman.
  • You can wish for a date with your favourite movie star.

But presumably, these are not Goals.

A goal

A goal is something for which you will plan and work to achieve.
A goal is this-worldly
A goal is a statement of intent.
A goal is more tangible than a wish.

A goal is specific; planned; organised; realistic; attainable; a source of motivation.

  1. Separate wishes from goals.
  2. Enjoy your fanciful wishes as a means of entertaining yourself.
  3. Define and refine your goals as a means of making progress.
  4. Don't confuse goals with wishes.

4. Guess vs. estimate

Human knowledge is finite.
I.e. you don't know everything about anything; and you know practically nothing about almost everything.
(Read that again, and you'll see that it does make sense!)

Therefore you are frequently faced with questions to which you don't know the answer.
But that neither should nor daunt you!

You can estimate an answer.
An estimate is a mental calculation based on rough figures which can give you a reasonable approximation of the true figure.

An estimate is not a guess.

A guess is an arbitrary statement without any attempt at calculation and with no reference to related knowledge i.e. a guess is a blind "shot in the dark".

Enrico Fermi

Enrico Fermi the famous physicist in charge of the Manhattan project (the project relating to the creation of the first nuclear bomb) suggested that one should:
Develop skills in answering questions to which you don't know the answer by means of estimation and calculation.

As opposed to:

  1. Saying "I don't know!" or
  2. Taking a wild guess

Example of a "Fermi question"

A "Fermi question" is a question which seeks a fast, rough estimate of quantity which is either difficult or impossible to measure directly.
To practice your skills Enrico Fermi suggested this problem that, at first glance, seems impossible.

If you were given the population of Chicago, could you accurately estimate the number of piano tuners resident in that city?

Are you stumped?

Fermi suggests you could proceed along these lines:
From the almanac, we know that Chicago has a population of approx. 3 million people.
Assume that an average family contains four members
Therefore the number of families in Chicago must be approx. 750,000.

Let us estimate that one in five families owns a piano, therefore there will be 150,000 pianos in Chicago.
Let us estimate the average piano tuner serviced four pianos every day of the week for five days
And rested on weekends, and had a two week vacation during the summer,
Then in one year (52 weeks) he would service 1,000 pianos. 150,000/ (4 x 5 x 50) = 150, so that there must be about 150 piano tuners in Chicago.

This method allows you to establish a first estimate which might be off by no more than a factor of 2.

Here are four points to remember:

  1. Just because you don't know does not mean you are beaten!
  2. Develop skills in answering questions to which you don't know the answer
  3. Estimate and calculate using reasonable assumptions and logical deductions
  4. Don't say too quickly "I don't know"
  5. Don't guess

5. Determined vs. stubborn

Is there a difference between being determined and being stubborn?
Answer: Yes!

Determination

Determination is a positive trait that describes the degree of commitment you have to the goal.
Determination is a measure of commitment to a goal.

Stubbornness

Stubbornness is a negative trait that describes unwillingness to change your ways; even when it is self-evident that those ways don't work.

Do you know anyone who is too stubborn to change his ways even though it is obvious that what he is doing is leading him towards oblivion?
Weird isn't it?
Why does he not change?
Answer: he is too stubborn!

Stubbornness is the most guaranteed way to fail.

Why?

Because if the situation is evolving and you are not evolving, then nature will target you for extinction.

Here are two points to remember:

  1. Remain determined to achieve your goal but don't be stubborn in your methods
  2. Stay determined to achieve your goal but be adaptable in your methods

Summary of the points made in this article

  1. When in a business context, use factual language, not opinionated.
  2. Don't give concessions to people who offer only excuses for not doing something.
  3. Give concessions only to people who offer good reasons for not doing something.
  4. In your mind: Separate wishes from goals.
  5. Enjoy your fanciful wishes as a means of entertaining yourself.
  6. Refine and define your goals as a means of making progress as you get older.
  7. Don't mix and confuse goals with wishes
  8. Just because you don't know does not mean you are beaten!
  9. Develop skills in answering questions to which you don't know the answer by means of estimation and calculation.
  10. Estimate and calculate using reasonable assumptions and logical deductions.
  11. Don't guess!
  12. Don't say too quickly "I don't know".
  13. Remain determined to achieve your goal but don't be stubborn in your methods.
  14. Stay determined to achieve your goal but be adaptable in your methods.

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