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Posts Tagged ‘leaders’

Why Arabs Won’t Rise Up Anytime Soon

September 15, 2013 7 comments

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Building on my humble knowledge, I get to have some observations and analysis of the world I live in. So here’s one for the day: Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon!

My aim here is not to push you  to lose hope on Arabs progress, but rather trying to shed light on certain elements of why are the Arab nations still way behind in terms of technology, economy, civil-rights, and politics, just to name a few.

Yes, I’m an Arab and I sadly got to the conviction that Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon. If you observe how nations grew into world powers you will realize that most of them have two main factors in common: Institutionalization and care for public good. Apparently, those two factors are missing (either one or both) from almost all Arab countries!

We’re mostly an individualistic nation: a nation formed of hundreds of millions of individuals who want to shine individually rather than as a nation. Collaborating together for the common good in a well-structured and institutionalized manner is something perhaps beyond the short-term wins that those individuals perceive.

We dislike systems, processes, policies, procedures, long term goals and the common good when it contradicts with personal gain and hence we try to avoid them as much as we could! So if we can avoid filling a form, not follow a procedure, rule, or policy (or at least get away with it), take a shortcut, or go for a quick win, we’d will go for it.

Examples of what I mean here can be as small as not standing in line whenever there is a queue to not stopping on a red light or following the road signs. It can also be as major as politicians not acting as part of an institution with a system, but rather acting like heads of mafias, bending and changing the rules, the governmental institutions and policies to fit their own needs and desires. The bigger problem is not that they do it, but rather no one actually holds them accountable for what they do. Many people accept such a behavior and thus the issue exacerbates with time. Even with the so-called “Arab Spring” and the people rising to demand for their rights, the same thing was done all over again, “leaders” took charge and bent rules to fit them and their “group”.

Just to be fair, there are some positive deviants from the norm, like in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where they actually plan years ahead, put systems and policy in place, and do proper enforcement and follow up. In Egypt, though millions go on demonstration, they leave the roads clean and ensure things are properly back in place.

Nevertheless, most of us are always chasing the quick wins, the individual recognitions, the shortcuts and the “what’s in it for me” attitude, at least for the time being. So in a nutshell, we’re mostly an individualistic nation, we produce endless shining stars but not a collaborative galaxy!

My recommendation would be to start learning the following, so we can perhaps start taking baby steps towards progress:

  • Willingness to learn, humbleness, and long term strategic planning from the Japanese
  • Willingness to put the nation before self, economic agility and discipline from the Chinese
  • Structuring and building systems, pragmatic thinking and financial wizardry from the Americans
  • Strength and value of team work and communal wellbeing from the Penguins
  • Perseverance, discipline and working as one from the Ants

I’m saying all of this not with a perspective of despair but rather a belief that everything is feasible and if we learn to change how we think and act, we can definitely do wonders.

 

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NGOs, Project Management & Serendipity

March 8, 2012 13 comments

NGOs play an essential and integral role in the sustainability and growth of our communities and environment. They deal with a wide spectrum of topics including but not limited to orphans, elderly, recycling, global warming, advocating rights, economic development, education, awareness…etc.

For more than 12 years, I’ve been passionately involved in NGOs and along the road I managed to create some, or be on the Board or advice & consult others. Throughout the years, most of the NGOs I’ve known have been managing projects and programs. They design projects, write proposals & budgets, implement projects, evaluate them and so on and so forth. Yet I long to see some common project management terminology, standards or methodology on how to do all this.

Years ago, the private sector has identified certain standards for project management, best practices, processes, tools, techniques..etc. These standards are helping corporations in all shapes and sizes, from the multi-nationals to the small local enterprises, in achieving their projects on time, within budget and fulfilling the necessary scope. Yet, surprisingly, and in-spite of the fact that most NGOs work on projects; we somehow missed the idea of having an agreed on, industry-wide standard, best practices and methodology . So you might ask yourself and what if we don’t have a standard, what does it really matter? The fact is, many NGOs miss essential project milestones, have projects that go over budget, short of scope and delivered their outputs behind schedule, if delivered at all. Time, effort and money spent to lead to a positive impact on the society sometimes are lost do to lack of proper project management (from planning to implementation to monitoring & evaluation)…but the question is why?

Lebanon alone hosts thousands of registered NGOs as per the Ministry of Interior. Majority of those NGOs are project and program based and depend on ongoing grants and funding to secure resources for their projects. With grants and funding summing up to millions annually, the amounts being lost on failed projects, unmet objectives and re-work is counting up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s if we’re only talking about the monetary value of things. On the other side, consider how many lives could’ve been saved with the same amount of money that has been lost or re-budgeted, how many schools could’ve been built, how many trainings would’ve been developed, campaigns launched…etc.

Many leaders of NGOs consider this as a reasonable and un-escapable price to pay due to the fact that it is a volatile and ever changing industry that becomes active in disasters and emergencies, rather than in times of peace and order. Thus adequate time for planning and assessments isn’t always available. Moreover, I’ve heard several times from people working in the NGOs industry, that it is hard to recruit enough qualified project and program managers. Mainly it is due to the short period of engagement in temporary projects, low wages with respect to private sector and lack of well-identified project management standards, training, tools and techniques.

Yet what many don’t realize is that things are much simpler than that. In most cases, there is no need to recruit highly qualified project managers, if you can build the capacity and empower those that are already there. As for the standards, trainings, tools and techniques, they do exist! The same standards that apply for the private sector, governmental sector, army and others…apply for NGOs, with minor customization. There are two internationally known standards for project management: Prince & PMP. Both of which are very popular, with the second being of a bigger base of certified professionals worldwide.

With thousands of program and project managers/coordinators and teams in NGOs… there is a considerable gap to be filled for both the organizations and the individuals working in them.

We, those passionate about NGOs and the community, should not keep on managing our projects based on serendipity. It’s about time we get our Project and Program leaders trained and certified to live up to their responsibilities and get that impact we are so passionately working for!

We owe it to ourselves, our donors & supporters and most importantly to the community we are serving…so what are we waiting for?!

 

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My Two Cents on Leadership

June 5, 2011 23 comments

I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve realized about leadership in the several places I’ve volunteered/worked…and I believe they do apply, more or less, at all levels and in all kinds of organizations whether for profit, non profit or governmental.

I believe a clear set of qualities can be found across most those who we look up to as leaders or enjoy working with. Some of which are the following:

Vision: A leader without a vision is like a captain sailing a ship into oblivion. Without a clear direction, a goal or even a dream…that person is not leading but merely managing the work being done without giving much value to why is it being done, how and what for.

Trust: This has proved to be so essential for anyone to be a leader, he/she needs to be trusted and to be able to know how trust others. Without that sense of trust, the leader will quickly loose ground and wont have a team to work with.

Transparency: If the leader is not clear with those he’s working with then they will lose interest, have distorted ideas of what needs to be done, and they most probably will not have a shared common goal.

Stability: A leader needs to be to stable and strong to be able to support his/her team. Without that stability, both he/she and his/her team will crumble sooner or later. Stability comes from several factors…from within, from the society, from family, from work, finances…etc. Thus it is tricky to strike a balance between it all and manage to be as strong and stable as a mountain.

Competence: Any leader who is not found to be competent and able to implement work properly, he/she will not be able to lead a team. Being able to lead others by example proved to be one of the most effective ways. Thus sharing the successes and achievements he/she has done and can do in the future will raise the moral of his/her team and provide guidance.

Humbleness: A leader’s ego can lead to his/her downfall if it is not checked and trimmed often. The leader needs to keep his/her feet on the ground, always treat others as equals and make sure that how he/she acts/talks does not reflect any bossy-attitude, arrogance or a sense of superiority. Everyone on the team is equally important, respectful and worth giving the attention of the leader to develop and grow.

I know those aren’t much, but after my personal reflections those seemed to be the most obvious and note-worthy qualities that a person needs to have to be able to lead.

Let me know if you have others in mind 😉

Secrets of a Great Workplace

March 27, 2011 22 comments

Sometimes I wonder what makes a company, organization, institution ..etc a great workplace. What are those factors that usually matter to employees to really love where they are working.

Now I’m not going to discuss whether the person is in the right type of job or not, that’s a completely different story. I am just trying to understand if people are doing the job they supposedly want, what makes the place they work at be a great one.

I was reading “The Great Workplace”, authors Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin, and in it they write, “you need to do your job realizing that how you do what you do makes a world of difference to employees. The secret of great workplaces is relationships.”

In another chapter, the book highlights that the employees said “they believe their leaders to be credible, respectful, and fair—they trust them. They also take pride in what they do, and they share a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers.”

So it really revolves more about the relation of employees amongst each other and with their leaders or senior or managers or whatever you wish to call them.

Some people argue that what holds leaders back from doing something about this is the not having the faith that there are bottom line results from doing the right thing. Another excuse is no time. Lack of situational awareness and the belief that they should just be focusing on the business also keep leaders from focusing on the relationships that really underlie everything they do.

After further research I found that there is a institute called “The Great Place to Work Institute” and  the researchers there found that great workplaces exist regardless of size, industry, or location because the Model is based on universal “needs and values—trust of the people you work for, pride in what you do, and enjoyment of the people you work with.”

So I felt like sharing the Model with you and to get your feedback on it. Check the diagram bellow and let me know your input. 😀

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