Stuff you must read today (Sat, 4 Mar 2017) – The Leadership and Management Edition

Stuff you must read today (Wed, 23 Sep 2015)

  • The pursuit of beauty | The New Yorker
    “Pure mathematics, as opposed to applied mathematics, is done with no practical purposes in mind. It is as close to art and philosophy as it is to engineering… The pursuit of beauty in pure mathematics is a tenet. Last year, neuroscientists in Great Britain discovered that the same part of the brain that is activated by art and music was activated in the brains of mathematicians when they looked at math they regarded as beautiful”.
  • The unconscious allure of grand national narratives | The Straits Times
    “There will always be a need for a coherent account of the past in order to function as national communities. But we need to remind ourselves that we can also recognise the limitations of reflexive habits that play such a powerful role in guiding our views”.
  • Mumbai battles between medieval and modern times | Hindustan Times
    Human society will always experience competing tensions between progress and regression, while its people will always spout strange rhetoric to delude themselves – or others – so as to reinforce flawed beliefs.
  • This free online encyclopedia has achieved what Wikipedia can only dream of | Quartz
    How an online repository achieved the “impossible trinity” of authority, expanse and currency when it comes to providing data and information for research and scholarship.
  • What the British are really laughing about | The Leveller
    “…David Cameron’s nasty little scandal speaks to a suspicion many people already have: that in British society, you don’t get to become Prime Minister because you’re talented or because you work hard. You don’t even get there just because you’re rich. You get there by traumatizing the homeless and skull-fucking a dead pig, and that ritual gives you power because you have demonstrated utter, pathetic submission to your fellow oligarchs”.

The thing about work

"The bid offer is so wide you could drive a bus through it".

A month ago, I wrote about love and how being with someone should make you more awesome than you already are.

(That hasn’t changed; please keep on with the search for finding that someone if you haven’t already found her/him.)

A month on, some of my friends and loved ones have moved from finding love and romance to finding new careers – or at least gaining some traction in their current ones.

I’m happy for all of them, and thankfully, this time, they’re relatively happy with what they’ve found.

Unfortunately, some of my other friends and loved ones are still stuck in jobs that they dread, dragging their feet into the office in the mornings to do work they can’t stand.

Why?

After five years of being in the workforce and one year of leading the freelance life, I’m convinced that the main reason why people hate their jobs and/or leave is because of the quality of the leadership.

No doubt, there may be other reasons at play.

But if my experiences – and those of my peers – are anything to go by, a good leader makes all the difference.

Like love, the thing about work is that it needs to add value to your life (assuming, of course, that you’re already bringing something to the table).

But a job is a job; it’s something that you do in order to earn your keep.

The real game-changer is the leader who’s giving you good feedback so you minimise the possibility of making mistakes; guiding you so that you avoid pitfalls; and providing you with opportunities for growth and demonstration of value, among others.

I’ve written and posted about the principles of leadership before (read Part I here – the difference between a boss and a leader – and Part II, on what kind of vision a leader needs to have).

Google also has well-researched rules on how to become a better leader, which reiterates what I’ve written about leadership.

At the end of the day, the easiest rubric for measuring how good a leader is is this:

How, and in what ways, is my leader preparing me to take over her/him?

I know this sounds counter-intuitive and self-destructive: who would want to consume herself/himself, break his/her rice bowl, etc.?

But think about it: the moment your leader actively begins to prepare you to take over her/him, isn’t s/he fulfilling all the requisite characteristics a good leader should have, namely:

  • Empowering the team and its members;
  • Being a good communicator; and
  • Helping employees with career development, among others?

(Assuming your organisation is interested in keeping employees, because of the benefits such as talent retention and utilisation, institutional memory, etc.)

Furthermore, if your leader is preparing you to take over her/him, it also gives her/him the impetus to either step aside so that you can grow – or move upward to replace her/his leader (who, ideally, should also be preparing your leader to take over her/him), and so on.

So borrowing from my earlier post about love, if you’re with a leader who constrains you; curtails your development as a human being; turns you into a shadow of your awesome self, then is that leader really good for you?

We shouldn’t let past happiness or promises of future bliss in the work we’re doing cloud our vision.

What we should be doing, really, is focusing on the fundamental issue of how much our leaders are preparing us to take over her/him.

And if the gauge shows a reading that is minimal, negligible – or even negative – then I’d say you know the answer for what you need to do to be happy.