Monday, June 26, 2006

The Power of a Good Book

I’ve been reading this book called “It’s your ship” written by a former U.S. Naval Captain who took command of USS Benfold few years ago. The whole plot of the book is about how he used his learned over the years leadership skills to turn USS Benfold in the “best damn ship of the Navy”, as he stated. The book is having a huge impact in my own experience as a leader and it is challenging my own conventional mostly obsolete way of leading. It has been stirring my thoughts and I since I am aware of some things now, I start to realize where I am lacking. I am good at making things happen and getting things done, if someone don’t do something he was supposed to do, I do it myself and end of story. I get the credit from my boss, who only cares about results irregardless of the methods used to achieve it. But the truth is, although I delegate things, I haven’t learned to motivate my junior managers to be passionate about the job, to take the best possible decisions by themselves, and to motivate their subordinates. So that in the end people do things because they understand the importance of it, they get to be more responsible, they get to grow as individuals with potential to achieve more and more and I get to have an easier life, satisfied that I have achieved something real and durable. So now I am into learning this new stuff, that even though is not a built-in skill in me, I can learn and use. Although learning is a painful process that incommodate is worth of going through it. Story of my life. I can tell with all authority about it. Easiest thing in the world is not to try, or learn and continuing with the same stubborn way of doing things that don’t benefit no one. I’ve been applying some principles already and it is paying off. One of the reasons why I decided that I wanted to take the challenge of being a manager in this 50.000 + employees organization is that during my relatively short period of time in the company, I’ve seen to many things that are wrong irregardless of what the company policies and procedures pursues. So I thought I could make the difference at least within my range of power. And, although that is my goal, I’ve been learning the hard way and now through this book, that I won’t be able to change the whole thing overnight. It will take time, wisdom and lots of patience. But as of my small subdepartment that I run, I already started doing changes that will benefit all. I might encounter friction in the way because of other mid level managers’ old and obsolete schooling, but I am up for the challenge. We can’t fight today’s war and be fully effective with what was effective years ago. The world changes and so the rules and goals. Yesterday, in the hotel bussiness, all that mattered was to get the guest satisfied no matter if the employee worked 18 hour straight, with very short breaks among others unconformities. Today, the guest is way more exigent and demandant and it is required from the hotel staff to be mentally fresh in order to greet the guest sincerely and transmit a sense of contagious peace and satisfaction that at the end of the day will keep bringing that guest back. My goal is to make my team take good decisions by themselves within the range I consider safe and at the same time have them bring new and fresh ideas that would rock this bussiness.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Finished the Training Program

So here am I, sitting at LAX airport, once again on a vessel transfer. I am getting tired of these travelings from one ship to another. Extreme long waiting on the airports, long flights and of course don’t forget about the hazzling of packing and unpacking over and over again in a short period of time. Anyway, apart from that, I am satisfied with myself and thankful to God, for I finished the managament training program in M/S Paradise. So finally got my stripes and am ready to run the business by myself. It was a two month program, kind of short for what it really takes, but it didn’t take me more than that to finish it. Gavin (Head Depart. Manager) was very pleased and so was Catalin (evaluator) with my performance over the evaluation period and so am I. They pointed out some aspects that I need to develop though, in order to be a better and more effective manager, so I am ready to take the challenge and improve myself in those areas.

Now, looking in retrospective, when Mussarat (Liberty, AFB Mgr.) told me I was gonna train with a bunch of other guys under the same roof, she told me I had to be the tip of the spear in order to be acknowledged by the trainers and shine above the rest. Also she said that she considered it was a disadvantage to train on the management college for it was to theorical and not to practical. Well, I can honestly tell that she was right regarding being three steps ahead the rest in order to be the first and the best, and though it was not easy because I had to push myself to the limits and do unusual things and what others didn’t want to do, I managed to achieve it and it paid off greately. However, regarding the fact that I would spent to much time dealing with theories and procedures and stuffs without getting to know and deal with the real business, well, I conclude that, if you don’t handle the knowledge which in this case is our main tool, then you could not be an effective manager at all and less likely to succeed. So it’s all up to each new manager to put into practice and practice it over and over again until he becomes a pro. I am grateful to Gavin for he taught me some valuable lessons. Integrity, transparency and honesty is involved in every aspect of a manager job and he showed it to me with his own example and so I know how to do it, in theory at least, but am so putting it into practice from tomorrow on until it becomes natural.

On the sad note about the time spent there, I will mention an incident I had with a fellow country college. He didn’t agree with the way I handled a situation and he just exploded and verbally abused me in front of other people and while I never cared about being cursed in front of others, it hurt me so bad, cuz we have the same blood running in our veins and we should be more than friends, specially because we are probably the closest family we are gonna have while far away from Pma. So I had to report him to our supervisor and deal with the incident and he got even angrier and bitter and never talked to me again. I tried to talk to him and make peace, but he refused and said, he didn’t want. So it was incredibly unconfortable for me to have him around hating me and telling people what a monster I was. Catalin said to me that his problem might be something else and that he just found that day’s situation to justify his open hate toward me. Not cool….at all. Well, I left it in the hands of God and I forgive him.

Finally, it was tough to leave people behind wondering if I will ever see again, but at least this time, I took plenty of pictures to those persons that meant something to me and that have left a footprint in my life.