Saturday, September 23, 2006

Value Based Leadership

A few days earlier, in the Leadership class, the students were asked to participate in the “Alligator River Story”. We were given a short overview of the situation and were asked to form an opinion .We were to individually rate the most offensive and most defensive character in the story.

As I read the story, I got a clear picture of what the situation was .It hardly took any time for me to make a decision. The situation was crystal clear for me. I knew which character was right and who was wrong.

Prof Bill Blake then asked then class for their responses and tabulated them on the white board. To my surprise, the answers for a lot of us varied. There were no correct answers but I was curious to know why individuals chose different answers. My classmates provided their reasoning on how they picked their most defensive and offensive character. I must admit that none of us were wrong.

This activity had learning for me. I realized how a lot of us take decisions in life based our on our experiences, background and education. I could relate to why certain people in the class stuck to certain decision. Their culture, religion clearly was the guiding factor in this decision. The question was the same for everyone. However, the decisions were different. The individuals pictured the story in their own circumstances and beliefs and took a decision and justified it.

The Prof then changed the story – He changed the gender of the characters and asked us to evaluate our decision. The class thought about it for a few seconds but their decision remained unchanged. I found that extremely interesting.

This incident brought in an important realization within me. As I sit and type this piece, I realize that I have my own set of takeaways from the class apart from the values based leadership. I now believe that the decisions we take in our life are based on two factors – one based on our experiences, background and upbringing. Second, based on our core values - that have become an integral part of us.As we grow older and experience different things, the first factor sometimes undergoes a change. But the core values are the one that guides us and helps one make a firm decision.

As leaders of tomorrow, we need to realize something important. We need to keep our core values intact but at the same time be open to new ideas, perspectives and change. When I first took my decision about who was most offensive, I thought I was definitely right. But when my classmates provided their reasoning, I realized that they too had a point. I learnt that I should stop making any decision based on certain assumptions or t listening to the other side of the story. With the world becoming flatter and a greater focus on diversity at work places being made, we are bound to interact with people from different countries, religion and culture. There will often be an internal clash within us on our value system. We need to make a fair decision and not be bound by external appearances, perception. We should evaluate a change and if we feel that it is right, accept it.

I know that this sounds easier than said. But working on this exercise had learning for me. Every time, I take a decision based in a jiffy, I will stop for a second and remember the Alligator story. I will question my assumptions and find out if they are fair and not biased.


At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great insights...did anyone wonder why Gregory did not try ti cross the river?

At 9:10 AM, Blogger RP said...

After all the years and playing with thousands of folks, it is great to know that the story still has impact.

If you haven't checked, there is a section on the site;
that will give you a bit more information about the characters.
Bob Birt


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