Dr. Ehssan Sakhaee’s interview with Fons Trompenaars
TOPIC: CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
27th March 2013: Dr. Sakhaee interviews Dr. Fons Trompenaars, President of author of Riding the Waves of Culture, and founder and director of Trompenaars Hampden-Turner, an intercultural management firm, he has spent over 25 years helping Fortune 500 leaders manage and solve their business and cultural dilemmas to increase global effectiveness and performance, particularly in the areas of globalisation, mergers and acquisition, HR and leadership development.
Dr. Ehssan Sakhaee’s interview with Matt Barrie
TOPIC: GLOBAL LEADERSHIP & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
26th March 2013: Dr. Sakhaee interviews Mr. Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, BRW Entrepreneur of the Year 2011, and Adjunct. Assoc. Prof. at the University of Sydney.
Dr. Ehssan Sakhaee’s interview with Jean Binder
TOPIC: GLOBAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT
March 2013: Dr. Sakhaee interviews Mr. Jean Binder, author of “Global Project Management: Communication, Collaboration And Management Across Borders”.
Dr. Ehssan Sakhaee’s interview with Professor Roy Green
TOPIC: LEADERSHIP IN AUSTRALIA
Jan 2013: Dr. Sakhaee interviews Prof. Roy Green, Dean of UTS Business School on the topic of leadership in Australia.
Dr. Sakhaee: Fantastic. Okay. So we have here Professor Roy Green from the UTS School of Business, the Dean of School of Business. Thank you for joining us, Professor Green.
Prof. Green: It’s a pleasure.
Dr. Sakhaee: And so, the topic today is leadership – leadership specifically in Australia and the gaps in leadership in Australia and what we can do to bridge that gap and improve Australia’s leadership capacity both at the academic level, but also within the industry. So Professor Green, what are your thoughts on the level of leadership in today’s society, meaning Australia?
Prof. Green: Well, I think historically in Australia, we’ve had some great leaders, political leaders, business leaders, union leaders who have taken the society forward at key points in its history. We could start by naming them but it would probably take more than the allocated time, but even in the current era, we have some very significant business leaders around the world, not only in Australia. We have Andrew Liveris, the Darwin boy who has now risen to be CEO of Dow Chemical in Detroit. We have Jacques Nasser who became the CEO of Ford. We have a number of key business figures in international companies around the world, also who have been involved in entrepreneurship and startup activity. Young people like Scott Farquhar and Michael Cannon-Brookes in Atlassian. There is no-end of course to the ingenuity and the potential for leadership among Australians. We are a very fortunate country. We have a good education system and we’ve prepared people reasonably well and so it’s not surprising that we have a larger share perhaps of leaders. Even in the founding of the United Nations, Doc Evatt and other Australians played a very major global role, the usual way of saying, this is the country by their weight.
But then, we also have to bear in mind that it’s not entirely a favorable story. And we also have evidence that despite these very significant leaders and events, we also have a real problem with what we might call and we did call in a recent study of management in leadership in Australia, a long tail of mediocrity. Tail – T A I L. You could say T A L E as well. But this was a global study that we were commissioned to do by the Federal government with the London School of Economics and also Stanford University in the later stage. And that took in first 15 countries, then 20 countries around the world looking at management caliber and its relationship to productivity. And what it found was that Australian managers overall and this is mainly looking at SMEs in manufacturing, we’re not the worst in the world and we wouldn’t expect that they were, but they are not the best either. And when we look at the statistical evidence, not just a handful of people have done well, but the whole cohort, we find across world – so around 7,000 observations among those countries, that Australia is in the second tier of leadership. Now, we can get away with that and have done for many years, firstly behind tariff walls, we were somehow interrelated from international competition. We can’t get away with them now. We are exposed to international competition and even more sharply because of the high dollar. We are a high cost economy. And what we’re seeing at the moment is that the talk is coming off in terms of trade boom in which the prices other countries are prepared to pay for the raw materials has gone to diminished. And that means we have to make up for the national income the lost with other sources of other income and that’s mainly productivity. And normally what would happen and what happened on previous occasions when the terms of trade dropped such as the mid 1980s. We also saw the drop in the dollar which helped our competitiveness internationally. We saw the rise of some very strong manufacturing enterprises at that time.
But now, what we face is decline in our terms of trade and a high dollar simultaneously because the Swiss and the Russian central banks think we’re a safe haven currency. And that means the dollar is going to stay high and that puts even more pressure on our exporters and more pressure to improve our productivity. And what if we have poor management? Well, the connection between poor management and productivity was very evident in our study. And the area where we fell down most in our management and when the 18 characteristics measured across operations management, performance management and people management was in this area of people management. I know a lot of people watching this will be from engineering backgrounds. And well, it’s not your area that is primarily at fault here – you’ll be pleased to know, operations management will do quite well.
But if we are not managing the technology successfully and we’re not making the best use of our people in that context, then all the effort that you put into the application of technologies in our companies will be futile. So the area where we fell down most and where we dropped most behind world best practice out of the 18 characteristics is titled “instilling a talent mindset”. So, that we might say is a proxy for the innovative capability of our companies in their workforces and the ability of managers to draw that out. If that’s the area where we’re weakest, then we do have some problems with management and leadership in Australia and that’s where we really need to put our focus if we have to develop our innovation potential which in turn flows into our productivity performance. And our innovation potential as many of the studies in this area have shown, not just about science and technology – it’s about non-technological forms of innovation as well, particularly new business models, systems integration and high performance work and management practices.
Dr. Sakhaee: And do you see this issue across SMEs as well as large organisations in Australia or is it something which is more seen in the SME as well?
Prof. Green: Well, particularly the SMEs. There is size factor here. The larger companies do quite well in our survey as they do in other countries. There’s a kind of uniform level of quality among the leaders and managers of large international companies. And that’s not surprising because many of them are trained in the same way. They’re very mobile and their recruitment practices and promotional practices are pretty standard and regular across companies and countries. But when we drill down into the SMEs sector, we find family companies with no professional structure unlike in Germany or Sweden or parts of the US where SMEs and particularly family companies are highly professionalized in the German metal-style, in the manufacturing sector of SMEs in Germany. There’s a very meritocratic, very highly structured approach to SMEs and family companies. Here, it’s a lawful half hazard sentiment plays a role, country archy plays a role. There’s much less room for structure in those informal arrangements and part of that comes back to the way in which we train our managers.
And so another factor in the long tale of mediocrity, tale of poor management performance in our SMEs, a lot of that stems from a low level of training and education of our management plus we on this table of a number of countries come near the bottom when it comes to the proportion of managers with formal tertiary qualifications and I don’t just mean business qualifications, any kind of qualifications at all. There’s a very close relationship between those level of qualifications and the management capability and productivity performance of those companies which is not to say that we can’t find managers and companies that perform well with low levels of tertiary qualifications, but they’re the exception rather than the rule. We’ll always see a leader who stands up and says “Look, I got here even without any qualifications. I just learned and taught the job.” Well, they do exist. But they are the exception rather than the rule.
Dr. Sakhaee: Do you think there are certain traits that leaders have that, you know, it could be that that there are leaders which haven’t had formal qualifications, but they tend to be quite good leaders and able to manage their team quite effectively. Are there certain traits that they have that helped them to do – to perform well?
Prof. Green: Absolutely. People have certain traits that will align well with the requirements in the strategic direction of their organisations that might be accidental rather by design which is why the management education system is important in ensuring that those evidence are designed in the capability agenda of the emerging group of managers and leaders in Australia. But those traits are essentially to understand the future of the company, to be able to analyse its strengths and weaknesses and to be able to engage with the workforce and with the company and its customers and the wider community generally about the strategic direction and the markets that it wishes to occupy. It’s also about authenticity and the ability of the manager to, not only communicate but to gain resonance among their workforce that enable that company to be more than the sum of its parts. Management and leadership is being very carefully analysed, over the years, by academics and by pundits and journalists. And there are certain characteristics in managers that really stand out when we find that they have been successful especially at times of adversity.
It’s very easy to be a good manager when everything is going well and things are taking over. But you certainly see the test when it comes at a time of adversity for the company with a shrinking market, when it needs to reinvent itself, when it needs to take a different course. And in those contexts, new ideas around design innovation and design thinking are becoming quite prominent. Obviously, business analytics is much more important than it used to be with the wealth of information that we now have out there, how we analyse that information, but also more intuitive concepts, the qualitative aspects of management, as well as its quantitative aspects are also important. And design thinking is about imagining where your company might be if you’re thinking in terms of a blank page in the future, where is its market.
This is the way Steve Jobs of Apple thought for example. He didn’t go out and do a market survey as to where everyone wanted an iPod. He produced the iPod and then he measured the market response and then adjusted the design and the functionality accordingly. And that’s how a true leader emerges, that there is a strong intuitive element about where they want to take the organisation, but then back that up with qualitative analysis and very good engineering. And that’s why when we hear and read management theorists like Peter Drucker, the great management theorist of the 20th century say that “Well, management is essentially about technology and markets.” We have now adapt that to the 21st century and I would adapt it by saying, “Well, in the 21st century, the corporation is a combination of business analytics and design thinking.” If you get those together, then you have a company that has a likelihood of success.
Dr. Sakhaee: Exactly. And going back to what you mentioned earlier that when things are going well, it’s easier to manage it. But when things are going down, like you know, they kind of lose – I guess they lose themselves and that’s where I guess, the cost self leadership or being to self manage oneself –
Prof. Green: Indeed.
Dr. Sakhaee: –and one’s emotions and one’s ups and downs and so you are reacting emotionally to every situation.
Prof. Green: Right.
Dr. Sakhaee: And I think that’s a key element also. If you may agree that that must they be taking to…
Prof. Green: Yes. That’s an extremely good point. We brought out here, the Australian business deans council which is all the deans of business schools right here in Australia – 40 business schools, we brought out as part of our future management education project, a year and half or so ago, Harvard professor, Professor Srikant Datar, who had just completed his book “Rethinking the MBA” because the MBA is often blamed for the problems that have befallen the world economy in the early 2000s with the global financial crisis and how could these Harvard graduates are wrong and the financial sector have this speculative bubble, how the recent – how could be not have foreseen it and also why has it taken so long to reconstruct our economy and reconstruct the way we train our managers and leaders. So he wrote a book about this drawing on a lot of evidence from the US business schools and he argued that the future of business schools should be around teaching three areas, knowing, doing and being – as simple as that. Knowing obviously being the academic and conceptual basis to management and we have to take out into the real world and this pundit theory around that is valuable and we need rescue it sometimes, for those who use it in the wrong way, developing all of these financial derivatives that have ruined the lives hundreds of thousands millions of people and secondly, doing. How do we translate those concepts into practical action, how do make our business courses more practical. The examples often given are medical clinicians in medical schools. Why don’t we have business schools more like medical schools where we have people practicing before they go out and do it.
And here, it is – for example, we’ve developed what we call the u.lab which is an experiential lab where the students can try out new ideas, entrepreneurial ideas, ventures, new ventures, startups and also business consulting with companies and there’s period of exercises to make themselves more affordable. So that’s doing. And then being – and that gets to your point of self-reflection, self-knowledge. “Who am I?” “How do I be paid ethically?” “How do I take responsibility for my decisions?” “How do I relate to other people?” All of those issues which might have been seen as a bit fluffy and superfluous to business education and now, right at the center of it. Because if we have all reflective people, people who understood the effect of their actions, maybe a lot of these activities and really fraudulent behavior that occurred during and before the global financial crisis may not have occurred.
Dr. Sakhaee: Yes. And I think it’s probably where a good leader may need to start as “Who am I?” “What do I stand for?” “What is my purpose here?”
Prof. Green: Absolutely.
Dr. Sakhaee: “What do I need to achieve?” And coming from within rather than externally and unfortunately I think, a lot of the leaders that you mentioned have come from the external view of “How can we get more?” How a little – compromising human relationships –
Prof. Green: Yes.
Dr. Sakhaee: –and so on. And I think that’s – I think one of the main aspects of probably leadership education would be self-knowledge and being able to understand what is need to be you.
Prof. Green: That’s right.
Dr. Sakhaee: And ethical and the social responsibility of being you and the social responsibilities.
Prof. Green: Yes. What you are saying – education goes far beyond technical competence. And the deans in Sydney were given a lesson in that. In fact, about a year or so ago, we were asked into the headquarters of one of Australia’s leading banks. I will not say which one, but it’s a bank that is in fact, reinventing itself. And it brought in the Sydney business deans because it wanted to show them something about their new approach. And we all entered the room which set up with tea and coffee – all look very nice, but what was lying behind it was a bit of an ambush because when we walked in, what we saw were the key executive managers of this bank brought together especially for this occasion – so extraordinarily, a high power meeting – the manager of wealth, the manager of retail, et cetera.
And as we sat down, we realised first three things. Firstly, that they were are all much younger than we were. Secondly and more interestingly, they were mainly not from Australia. They were from around the world – from Canada, from India, from South Africa. These were the managers of an Australian bank which somehow, before we’d really realised it, it become really globalised. And thirdly and most astoundingly of all certainly, to some of my colleagues who are quite pleased at UTS mind you, because it was the direction that we want to go. Most of the executive managers did not have business degrees. They have degrees in politics, in history, psychology and that was telling something as well, that maybe companies are now looking for something else in their emerging leaders. And they made that very clear in the discussion. They said to us that they were very grateful to business schools for producing generations of technically competent graduates, but from now on, that is not enough. “What we’re looking for now,” they said, was the next general manager. And that meant a broad understanding of the context of business, a broad understanding of liberalised, of a more into disciplinary approach to business drawing upon these other sources. And that was certainly quite a revelation, but it’s one that is common among many companies especially global ones around the world now. They are looking for well-rounded graduates who can develop what we might call boundary-crossing skills across management philosophy, engineering, psychology, the renaissance – those are the few. It’s exactly what universities were established to do and in many ways, because we’ve become so specialised, we lost sight of that broader mission and the important thing in the future will be to – especially for leaders, to develop those boundary- crossing skills, communication, or problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration as well as the body of specialised domain knowledge in which they emerged, what is sometimes called the T-shaped people, who is adept, but also able to think across the boundaries.
Dr. Sakhaee: And as you mentioned, you say the future lies in the bridging the gap between the humanities and technical specialisations – is kind of understanding what the human needs are and also bringing those technical knowledge. And in regards to productivity, Australia – recent research has shown, Australia is losing up to $39 billion a year in lost productivity and the United States also about $300 billion which is of course is a larger scale. What could be the main issue that – is it employee engagement, is it management, is it a bit of both, what would be causing this?
Prof. Green: Yes. Well, it’s certainly very important for Australia. The US has picked up its game a little bit in terms of its productivity performance, but then they’ve been able to do so as well with a lot of dollars and a lot of opportunity over the last couple of years to improve productivity performance. It’s still not as efficient as it could be. But you know, in Australia, we’ve done far worse than most of the rest of the world. Our multi factor productivity has growth are backwards in the early 2000s. And you could say it’s explained by some special factors in particular industries. In the mining industry – for example, there’s a lot of investment that’s going in with no consequent output as yet. In the utilities sector, we did a lot of cost-cutting in the 1990s which can’t be replicated in the 2000s. We’ve had a period in which those utility companies made up for it with a lot of investment, much of it not needed which is why it’s sometimes called “gold-plated” investment. That hasn’t been matched by output.
And similarly, in agriculture, we’ve had droughts and also it’s the reason why productivity has dropped back. But – so that accounts for some of the loss in productivity. But over the longer term, the key factor in our productivity, is obviously how our assets are being used and in particular, our human capital. And if we have managers who are not capable of making the best use of their workforces, of their human capital in their organisations, then that’s a huge productivity loss to the country. The employers recently surveyed – I think in the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that at least half of the employers reported that they were not making full use of their employees’ skills. And that’s only looking at the specialised skills. What about all the opportunities for ingenuity and creativity and the contribution to the future, that their organisation’s in the development of an overall strategic positioning. Some of the employers just treat employees as the components of their machine –
Dr. Sakhaee: Cogs in the Machine.
Prof. Green: –but not within the ability to make a contribution beyond that. Well of course, those companies which have done very well especially at the innovative knowledge-intensive end of the spectrum, have made the best use of the knowledge that their employee has. Such an obvious thing to say, but it’s very hard to find – workplaces where it’s being done successfully. If one is looking for the biggest grade on productivity in Australia, that’s it.
Dr. Sakhaee: And I’ve heard many of my colleagues that work in the industry, they have some ideas they want to share, but sometimes are afraid. They think the manager might criticise them and they sometimes think they might lose their jobs. So it shows the frigidity of management perhaps or the strictness or the lack of autonomy and support for creativity and innovation and contribution to that kind area, going beyond what is the minimum. And so I guess that’s probably something to also look at is how the management can be more able to effectively motivate employees to be more creative, create an innovative environment where there’s autonomy for them to kind of be able to embark on a more creative pursuit.
Prof. Green: Yes. That’s the thing – you’re talking now about the future of management. That’s exactly what is required. Too many of our managers are risk-averse. Too many lack the confidence and too many lack the skills that they can use to engage their workforces in discussion of the future, of new ideas, of what might be seen as distractions from the main game. And employees get the picture pretty clearly. They are paid to keep quiet and keep working. They are not paid to offer ideas because it could expose them to retribution, to marginalisation or worse. And so there’s no culture in Australia, generally speaking that encourages employees to speak their mind in their companies to be able to make a much broader contribution than that which they have depicted in their job descriptions. There are companies of course that have broken the mold. They’re mainly in the technology sector – companies like Google and Microsoft. They’re very interested in drawing on the knowledge of their employees and they set aside kind of play time when people can go off line and use the company’s facilities to develop ideas that they have absolutely nothing to do with the formal job descriptions.
Dr. Sakhaee: Yes. They spent 20 percent of their time at Google. And they worked at home.
Prof. Green: And there has been a lot written now about the innovations that have emerged from such off line activities including with PC itself. And so why this hasn’t been adapted by more companies is surprising and disappointing, but it can be traced back to the culture of risk adversity by managers. It can be traced back to the feeling that if employees are able to do this thing, then I as a manager have lost control. I don’t want to let go of the decisions over which I have control and so many of these issues ultimately come back to the feeling of insecurity and the desire for control for its own sake, not because it improves the value proposition of the organisation. That’s an issue that management education can and sure deal with. But it doesn’t always do so successfully.
Dr. Sakhaee: Exactly. And as you mentioned, so as the more successful companies, even Australian company like Atlassian, they have their one-day FedEX day – they used to call it, where employees can just work on whenever they like outside their main task and then they have a lot of innovation teams.
Prof. Green: Yes indeed. Yeah.
Dr. Sakhaee: Yeah. Thank you very much for all that information. Is there anything else? So how can we actually push Australia forward in terms of leadership education and to kind of broaden a larger body of work where we can teach more leaders and managers how to be more effective in their organisations so that their employees can perform better and be more engaged and be more productive so that Australia can go to the next stage?
Prof. Green: Well I can only use the advice that we were given by the architect of our new business school building that you’ll see emerging shortly from the rubble here in Ultimo, Frank Gere, a renowned architect. I asked him a few months ago to provide a message for our faculty. If there was a single message he’d like to give us to think about the future of management education, what will it be? And he just wrote back and he said, “Imagine the future and you will soar.” Okay, so he’s a poet. He’s an artist. But that’s effectively what we will say to next generation leaders. Imagine what the future can be like and then work out what are the pathways to achieving it. Work out what kind of pathways you can create for your employees if you become a manager to achieve it. Try to supercede the mistakes, the restrictions, the insecurities, the lack of confidence essentially of the generation you’re replacing.
That will be my advice and everything I see about the emerging generation shows that that is coming to, naturally connected to social media, they have very little time for some of the restrictions that we have had to endure in this generation and which previous generations had even more severely imposed through Fordist and Taylorist production line mentalities. We’ve now moved to much more flexible approach to work to industry, to our technologies – all of which requires much more knowledge input and once knowledge is recognised as the source, not only of creativity, but of wealth, then the companies and markets will follow.
Dr. Sakhaee: Fantastic. Well, that ends our interview. Thank you very much Professor Green again for your time.
Prof. Green: Thanks for having me.
Dr. Sakhaee: Thank you.
Prof. Green: Thank you everyone.
END OF INTERVIEW
Dr. Ehssan Sakhaee’s Interview with Hon. Dr. Geoff Gallop
TOPIC: WHAT AUSTRALIA CAN DO TO IMPROVE QUALITY LIFE ON A LOCAL AND GLOBAL BASIS
May 2012: Dr. Sakhaee interviews Hon. Prof. Geoff Gallop, former Premier of Western Australia, who is now with the School of Government at the University of Sydney. In the interview, Prof. Gallop touches on several topics including, creativity, well-being, transformational leadership, people and policies. The audio version of the interview is available below, together with the transcript.
Dr. Sakhaee: Good afternoon Professor Gallup.
We have Professor Gallup from the School of Government and today we’re going to interview Professor Gallup on the role of Australia in the global economy and universal quality of life. So, Professor Gallup, please – thank you for giving us time for this interview and if you could please just give us some of your opinions and ideas on what Australia can do to improve quality of life on a local and global basis.
Prof. Gallop: Well I guess there’s two aspects to Australia’s contribution to this issue. The first is that we are, as a country, very wealthy and I think the feeling within the community is that the issues that need to be addressed are alike to the quality of our life as much as they do to the quantity of goods and services that we now have available to us. And so I think we’re in the position to be a demonstration model, a case study on how you can move from a particular type of society and economy to a more balanced one where well being is given a higher priority in policy making, with a quality of what we do is just as important as the amount of things we have and so I think we’re ideally placed to be a case study but I think also importantly, we’ve got to think about our economy and we’ve got to think about the sorts of jobs that are going to be important in the future all over the world and I believe as the world develops, there’s going to be a need for expertise in the general area of quality and so I think it’s not only important for Australia to move in this direction because it’s a good thing to do, it’s also going to become the basis of an important export industry for us because knowledge in this area is going to be very much needed around the world and not just in terms of well being but also in terms of creativity – how to solve problems and a free society that encourages creativity has a lot to teach society that perhaps has been rigid in its thinking, has had a closed approach to politics and society and countries like that, they’re moving out of their cocoon, and looking for ideas. And so I think, both for me, and I might sound ironical, but part from the commercial point of view and economic point of view, but more importantly, I think from a well-being point of view. It’s important that we really do move in to this space, explore new ideas about how to put together the balance between life and work, how to put together the balance between leisure generally, and activity and working on how a community can do that and I think that’s going to be good for us but it will also create a lot of opportunities around the world.
2: CREATIVITY AND CRITICAL THINKING IN EDUCATION
Dr. Sakhaee: Now in terms of allowing creativity to come into, for instance, schools and university, what kind of programs do you think could help initiate this?
Prof. Gallop: Well obviously, you can’t teach creativity. There may be certain things you can do to encourage it, but it’s not something for which there is a curriculum so I think we’ve got a traditional curriculum where we teach people knowledge about society and nature, how it works and we’re constantly developing new concepts and new understandings of how the world works – that’s what we call, perhaps, knowledge and science. But I think where creativity comes in is first of all ensuring that students are not just getting an education in that narrow sense but they’re encouraged to get involved in issues, encouraged to get involved in bigger questions in terms of the fight of the planet, how things are going and how we can help because when we confront an issue, personally, it’s never quite the same as what we might read in the textbook and so we’re learning how ideas in reality can work together. So I think getting as many students as possible out into the world and regarding that it’s just as important for their education as what they do in the classroom. I think that is very important.
Secondly of course, in the education process itself in the classroom, clearly, we want to encourage critical thinking. Obviously, there’s a certain understanding about how the world works but we need the critics in there saying “well, we do think it’s like that but there is another way of looking at it”, and so to encourage critical thinking within education so that people are tuned up to solving problems that may be completely new and for which there’s no reference points but unless the mind is thinking critically, those issues won’t be able to be addressed. So I guess they’re the two things I’d say: one, getting students out in the community where things are changing, where the world is subject to all sorts of new influences so that they can see how ideas and reality are constantly interrelating with each other – and it’s not just a quest of going from the idea to the reality. Secondly, I think encouraging critical thinking within our institutions, our educational institutions so students are geared up when they are [going to] the workplace to thinking about how things might be improved through a creative readjustment of the process or through a new way of imagining how we do things.
Dr. Sakhaee: Fantastic. Well thanks for that.
3: THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVITY, WELL-BEING AND PEOPLE
Dr. Sakhaee: Now personally myself, I’ve been in Australia and I’ve also lived in Japan and I’ve come across a lot of students and academics and I’ve realized there is not enough creativity and there’s also not enough focus on well-being. There’s a lot of focus on the kind of knowledge but not how to actually manage knowledge in an effective way and also how to kind of live a more effective life.
Prof. Gallop: But I think if we look at many of the models that we have available for education and for management, they’re very technically focused. The argument is: if you adopt this approach, it will lead to this result. But the truth is: this approach, in this context involves people. And when talk about people, we’re talking about a range of things. We’re talking about their fears and their prejudices on the one side, on the other side we’re talking about their aspirations and their ambitions; we’re talking about what type of people they are and all of those things have to be brought to be on the issue. I think a lot of the models that we have for management and a lot of models we have for education are too technically focused. In the final analysis, issues have to be worked out within a setting that involves people with their fears and prejudices on one side, their ambitions and their aspirations on the other side, their particular personalities. So the skill- and I’d call it ‘a skill of working with people’ to bring about change is just as important as the technical means that one might adopt to try to get to the particular outcome you want. So we have to bring people in and by bringing people in, it makes it possible for real change to occur but the other question, of course is that in the end, people matter and if the means that we’re choosing to deliver change is undermining what we might call the well being or the welfare of people, one must ask the question ‘is this really a desirable objective and are these really acceptable means to that objective?’ so I think on both accounts, we need to think about people in terms of managing issues and being sensitive to the reality and secondly, in terms of clarifying our objectives- because if our objectives require us to treat people as things, or to treat people as commodities, or to treat people as cogs in the machine, I think we’ll be letting down humanity because clearly, we’re blessed with consciousness, we’re blessed with language, we’re blessed with hope and that requires freedom.
Dr. Sakhaee: Thank you.
4: HIGHER VALUES
Dr. Sakhaee: I think in the hearts of most of us, we’re just afraid to reveal them or communicate them because I think the traditional concept of education is, as you said, very technical. It’s focused on knowledge on a technical level so how can we actually establish some schemes or programs where people can come together and communicate about these higher values. Things which really do matter and with things which actually can push us forward.
Prof. Gallop: Well obviously, in our society today, there are huge constraints on that because we do have an understanding of our society that everyone is free to choose, everyone is free to determine their own futures, and it’s just a question of their willpower. Now we all know that it’s much more complicated than that. But the problem is if you work on that basis and try to repress certain issues, try to sweep them under the carpet and ignore them in the process of going about our business, we’re going to ignore something that’s very important for the individuals concerned and also for the capacity of our society to deliver change that’s meaningful and important. So I think it’s very very crucial that the well-being of people is center, center, front and center of our thinking. The way I put it is this: let’s always ask the question, or let’s always make the statement ‘it’s about you’. We might be studying public policy, we might be studying history but in the end it’s about you. Where do you fit in? What are your views on this? What’s your – how will this policy affect you. And I think increasingly we tend to ask the question ‘what is it we want to do? What is it we want to achieve?’ We don’t ask the question ‘what about us as human beings?’ and I think that’s a bias in our society because we don’t focus on that. We focus on the externalities of things rather than the internalities-the internal aspect of life.
5: Politics, Transformational Leadership and Management
Prof. Gallop: Let’s just think about politics for a second. Well obviously when we talk about politics, we tend to talk about policy, initiative by governments on the one side and individuals and on the other side we talk about accountability and responsibility. But actually, both of those things happen through the prison of personality of the individual person and I think we’ve got to bring that back into the argument. I mean it’s one thing to have aspirations and policies, it’s another thing to be accountable in the creation and administration of those policies but all of this happens through the mechanism of people and the way they deal with conflict, the way they meet the challenge of personal responsibility, they way that they try to achieve their ends in relationship to others are very important issues and I don’t think politicians think enough about themselves and where they fit in as individual human beings rather than as cogs in the machine that will win votes, introduce and administer policy. All of those things happen in a world of conflict, pressure. How they respond to those things is very important. How they manage those things is very important and can be the difference between success and failure. The policy may be perfect, the theory absolutely spot on but the delivery imperfect because the personality is not capable of working in the real world situation.
Dr. Sakhaee: So is it more finding the right leaders or is it educating current leaders to be able to be congruent with the policies that there are
Prof. Gallop: Well I think, hopefully, the accountability mechanisms will work such that those characteristics are given more emphasis over time because they’re recognized to be important. I don’t think there’s any guarantee of that so I think this has to be a public debate about what a good leader is. I don’t think we can just expect the normal processes of politics to throw up the right sort of leader. I think we need a proper public dialogue and then use the result of that dialogue to encourage better outcomes from the political process. And that means better leaders.
Dr. Sakhaee: And what do you consider as called good traits of a good leader?
Prof. Gallop: Well obviously, I think that there are two parts there. First of all, the leader needs to be able to engage the community in and around aspirations for the future. I think the nation that we just sit where we are and we don’t try to change the world, I think we’re letting the people down. I think leaders have to go out in front and try to convince the people that there needs to be a transforming element. But the second element of leadership is the management element. You still have to manage things. You still have to keep the ship of state afloat. You still have to keep people on sight. You still have to be political and both of those issues, I think, require management. I think we need balance between transformation and management. If we’ve got too much management and not enough transformation, will the world stand still? If we’ve got too much transformation and not enough management, the change process collapses. So I think we need the balance between the two.
Dr. Sakhaee: That’s right. So if there’s too much transformation, it becomes too chaotic because then it becomes too hard to manage.
Prof. Gallop: And people lose their bearings that they feel uncertainty. People I think concur with change but they need to know that it’s going somewhere and they’re not going to be sacrificed in the process and there’s empathy towards their interests. Sometimes change processes can get out of hand and many political leaders have fallen, they’ve had great ideas but they just don’t succeed because they’re incapable of bringing people with them. so leaders have to have the skills of what we might call transformation leadership but they also need all of those transactional skills related to the management of any organization, or in the case of politics, the management of politics in the nation.
Dr. Sakhaee: Thank you so much for that.
END OF INTERVIEW