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.

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