Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Leadership Excellence

To achieve leadership excellence one needs to Listen, Learn, Lead, Influence, Ignite, and Inspire.

Listen - Great leaders listen to their people first. Robert Galvin, fromer CEO of Motorola listened to his key customers. Donald Leonard, former Vice President of AT&T Bell Laboratories Switching Systems Business Unit attended skip-level meetings with employees known as "Doughnuts with Don".

Learn - Robert Galvin through his meetings with key customers learned critical issues and steered Motorola in their quest for excellence journey. Donald Leonard learned important issues about work environment through his meetings with employees and required his direct reports to improve their respective work environment.

Lead - Abraham Lincoln was great at listening, learning, and leading. He steered the United States during the difficult years of Civil War.

Influence - John F. Kennedy with his grand vision of putting a man on the moon, greatly influenced NASA's  mission.

Ignite -  Swami Vivekananda from India, a Hindu monk who made great impression with his speeches at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 in Chicago, ignited the youths in India against the British Rule with his proclamation of "Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached".

Inspire - Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation of India, inspired 33 million Indians to take up passive resistance movement to overthrow the British Rule in 1947.

Leadership Excellence is a journey which requires one to listen, learn, lead, influence, ignite, and inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

When I was growing up in India, I had the privilege of learning math, science, and chemical engineering from great teachers and professors. Through their insights, I was able to learn new concepts and connected the dots with real world situations. After arriving in the US for my graduate work, my journey in engineering continued. My foundations in math, science, and engineering have served me well throughout my adult life.

Both my wife and I have encouraged our two sons to focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). One decided to become a computer scientist and the other to be an economist. They studied hard and work for reputable companies. Both went to a private schools for K-12, where there was great emphasis on science and math. Based on their own experience, I believe they will pass the STEM baton to their offspring.

Our schools should recruit teachers who love math and science. These teachers will make math and science exciting and relevant for the students. Once an youngster is hooked on math and science, she/he will do well in their journey of life. In the global world only way to compete is to build strong foundations in STEM and use quality management principles and tools to add value to organizations, Society, and the world.

I welcome additional thoughts on STEM.