How to be a Change Leader and a Job Creator

[IoBM Orientation for New Students Sep 1, 2018]
As I look at your beaming faces, your youthful energy, and your ambitions for shaping the future of our nation and our dear country, I am filled with hope. I am sure that our future is destined to be better than our today. It is also welcoming to see that “change” and “job creation” are among our top national priorities today. Today I would like to share with you how you can be a change leader and how you can be a job creator.

IoBM and Mr Shahjehan S Karim

As you walked through this campus coming to this convocation ground, you must have admired the rows of impressive buildings in this sprawling campus. These buildings are a solemn reminder of our founder President’s vision. Mr Shahjehan S Karim founded this institution, of which you are proud students, some 24 years ago. He had the vision to make a change in the destiny of this nation through education. This institution is a testimony to that vision. From its inception in 1994, after his retirement from civil service, to his last breath in 2017 he worked tirelessly to put this institution among the leading educational institutions of Pakistan. Around 10,000 graduates of this institution are our proud alumni who have made their names in their chosen fields. Your choice of IoBM indicates the value these graduates have added. This institution is a reminder from the late Mr Shahjehan S Karim to you in the words of Henry W. Longfellow:

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;” [Henry W. Longfellow]

Mr Shahjehan S Karim started this institute with the vision to bring change in education when he was 60 after completing a successful career in Pakistan’s civil service. His vision is beckoning you to be a future builder of this nation at an early stage when you are starting your professional journey. If you start this journey with this vision, you can also leave an impressive legacy even more impressive than this.

Being Proactive

Once you have the vision, you need to adopt the seven habits of highly effective people. I would just mention here part of the first habit “Being Proactive”. This habit asks us to stop enclosing ourselves in the non-productive area of circle of concern but instead to focus on our circle of influence, which is under our control and where our actions can make a difference. Often times we waste a lot of time focusing on things that concern us but are not in our control, that irritate us but we can’t do anything about. This is because they are beyond our control and beyond our influence. Being proactive means liberating ourselves from self pitying, self complaining and getting depressed about things which are NOT in control and hence comprise the area within our circle of concern. Instead we need to turn our focus on things that are under our influence and control. You see you may be concerned about several things that are not in your control. These may include load-shedding, or traffic jams, or corruption in government departments, or falling of currency value or approval of friends and elders. These concerns make us emotionally depressed and emotionally drained because we can not change the thinking of other people or change their attitude or change their behavior or change the working of big organizations like government or K-Electric.

How to Change Behavior of Others: By Changing Yourself

We can not change other people’s behavior but we can change ours. By changing our behavior we can change the behaviors of others too because other people’s behavior is a reflection of our behavior. Changing our behavior and competences is being proactive (Habit #1 of Stephen Covey).

Controlling Your Own Sleep, Diet and Health

Being proactive invites us to focus on things that are in our circle of influence and control.  These include our time, our health, and our self organization, our emotions and hence our  personality. Often times I ask students when do you wake up on a Holiday? They often say at 10, or 11 or even in afternoon time. I then tell them if you can not control your own sleep and your own diet how will you be able to control 100 people or 200 people when you become their manager! If you can not order yourself to do the thing that you want, how can you order others to do the things that you want them to do!

If you can not change your own 5-6 feet person, how can you change others

If you can not implement change in your own 5 or 6 feet self, how can you expect others to listen to you. Thus, when we work on our diet, our health and on our sleep, we improve our capacity. Our increased self organization frees much of our time, makes us feel more energetic and results in a tremendous increase in our productivity. It is this increased productivity and effectiveness that compels the others to note and then acknowledge. This automatically results in delegation of more and more responsibilities, and the necessary authority,  and hence eventually leads to the expansion of our circle of influence.

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

The more we work on our circle of influence, the more it expands and gradually starts enveloping those things which were previously in our circle of concern far beyond our influence. The more we work on our self-organization and improve our productivity the more people who are in our contact start becoming impressed with our performance and start listening to us. Our parents and our friends are among the first to notice our change. Then comes your formal contacts at work or business Then comes people who are connected with them. And then those connected with them and so on.

Your Network of Friends

This is the start of the expansion of your circle of influence. As you develop your competencies you have many more things to say in many more interesting manners. People begin to like you in your circle of friends and professional contacts. Then come those connected to you on social media, they begin to listen to you, and then this circle expands to contacts of your contacts. Once we learn how to maintain these extended contacts in our circle of influence,  we are ready to expand our network to much larger numbers and greater distance and greater variety. These contacts give us the strength and our ability to interact with them allows us to influence their thoughts and hence their actions. Hence, I advise all the first year students to consider admission in a university to be a gold mine of contacts. My advise to all the new students is that when you graduate you need to have at least 400 friends. By friends I don’t just mean that you should have their phone numbers in your contact list, but that they should be friends who have had a lunch/dinner with you and you have invited them for some lunch/dinner. 200 among them should be your batch mates. A hundred should be senior to you and a hundred junior to you. These 400 are your network of influence. They are also a great source of information, leads and you are a resource for them and a supporter of their cause.

Organizational Effectiveness and Change Agents

Being proactive and expanding your circle influence is not only true for personal effectiveness. It is also true for organizational effectiveness. When you join an organization you have to work with people that are there, the resources that are present and the management that exists. You can only bring change if you can harness the existing resources and existing people and turn them into a winning a combination. You need to identify the change agents from among the people who are there. You need to work with them, learn about them, and learn how to interact with them. They may or may not be under your span of control. By stimulating the change agents you can achieve great changes in the organization. If we start criticizing the people, and are not delivering ourselves than this would not work. I often see people in organization coming to me saying that if I can have such and such position and such and such resources only than I would work. No it does not work that way. You work hard, demonstrate visible change, and the expansion of the work itself creates a pull for the resources. This works for big organizations and small organizations and also startups.

Job Creation and Entrepreneurship

This brings us to becoming creators of jobs and not seekers of jobs. Job creators are entrepreneurs. Their contribution to society and economy is their relentless work for developing and delivering a value in the form of a product or a service. Coming up with this new value proposition requires creativity, innovation and trial and error. Entrepreneurs do not spend too much time analyzing and planning. They start small, quickly and through trial and error improvise the product and service on the run. In Pakistan we often carry the legacy of British colonial era when getting a job was considered ultimate priority. But this was when we were being ruled by the colonial masters. Now this is our country. We do not need to be close to the rulers to deliver value. We can create and build value much more quickly and effectively. Entrepreneurship is a major emphasis in our curriculum. We know that destiny of Pakistan lies in the development of job creators and not job seekers. Government and big businesses would never have the resources to provide jobs to our exploding youth population. The only option is to develop entrepreneurs and job creators.

Reading and Observation

A requirement for becoming an entrepreneur is to be connected with the real world, and not virtual world. It requires knowing about shifting trends and changing technologies. This can only come about through reading and observation. If you are spending time on internet, follow blogs where there is new information from different fields. Facebook and Google thrive upon imprisoning you in a filter bubble in which you only see what you want to see. Get out from this filter bubble, and explore new fields and new disciplines. Creativity emerges from looking at a thing from different perspectives.
Read, read and read. All big business men of today read a lot. Bill Gates ($95Bn) reads around 50 books a year, which is one book per week. The average CEO reads around 60 books a year!
This includes Warren Buffet ($85Bn worth), Elon Musk ($20Bn) etc. Creation of value and sustaining of your value proposition requires that you keep comparing yourself with others working in the same field and try to keep yourself a few steps ahead of the others.

From Reading to Writing

Reading is input, this input must be processed through reflection on what the ideas that you have read mean to you, to your society and others. The output of your reflection should be in the form of some writing on social media, on a blog or in some form. Your thoughts only become organized when you write. There is going to be a lot of emphasis on writing and reading at IoBM. Please be prepared for a lot of writing.

Experiential Learning

The third area that you need to develop is that of experiential learning. An idea remains a concept till you actually try it out. The difference between learning and being taught is easily understood when you think about how you began to use your smart phone. You learned it through trial and error by seeing people swipe and tap and then copying their motions. This is how learning happens. Learning by doing is also called experiential learning. In many courses we want our students to be learning by doing things and working on projects.

Presented at IoBM Orientation for New Students on September 1, 2018

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