Sunday, March 30, 2008

felda perdana ballroom, jaipur, BSC dome anyone?...

Been down with an unknown new flu strain I was told by my GP. Trying to recover as fast as I can. Had my 3rd and last dose of medicine from a nebulizer at the clinic today. Yes it does sound like I am having some kind of chest congestion. You will get them you know, when you are at my age...hahaha. No, we really don't have a history of asthma in the family. My late dad had it, just a mild one before he died, well he died of other complications, like a weak heart and other infections I guess, at the age of 76. I think. You don't wanna hear about all this sob stories or of the condition of my health but these are the very reasons I have not been blogging heheh. Despite all that I was at Bee's (adik sabariah my schoolmate masa kat PD dulu) daughter's wedding reception at (as usual lah) FeldaPerdana Balllroom. Need I describe in detail again? naaah! But, it was great and I don't think I would do justice to Bee if I didn't record here on my blog that it was such a wondeful wedding reception. Started slightly later because of the rain, the usual friday jams in KL...and to top it up...folks from PD and Seremban could not use the smart tunnel as it was temporarily closed. The simple elegant ceremony that ended just before 10 30 pm. Well done Bee, your speech was brief but the messages you sent out was awesome! It was humorous, straight from the gut (like Jack Welch) siap dengan pantun about Paklah and the new government ( I wonder what gave you the could be politically incorrect and suicidal you know? hahaha). Anyway, you have started a new trend now in thank you speeches at wedding ceremonies! Move over dads, just pay the bills, let mama do the thank you speeches! hahaha. Well done there Bee!

We also managed to attend another wedding reception and bandar tun hussein today at lunchtime. Sory folks, no boring wedding pictures from now on...cos the great photoshop shots would have already been taken and uploaded at friendsters! hahaha.

I had a good breakfast session with an old fren who used to be HR director of Shelll and Golden Hope. His last job before reitirement was HR Director of the largest banking group in Malaysia, Maybank. I then had a second breakfast meeting at BSC Dome. During those sessions, much was discussed and exchanged, but I guess some are too controversial for me to record here....we will see if all that I have heard will be in the mainstream media or from other new media (hehe) if you know what I mean. Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks!

Friday, March 21, 2008

..Areehan's Wedding March 15th, 2008

Hurmmm...are they not made in heaven? hehe. Heartiest Congratulations bro...
semoga berkekalan keanakcucu....
arrival of the 'raja sehari' hehe..u better not make the Raja Muda (Regent) of Pahang
wait for you too long bro...hahaha

some of your fren from KL...tengok tuh? licin pinggan wei...kawan tok tahan tengok opor tuh..besgilermauts...hahaha (jangan marah kawe blasoh dua tongkol...hahaha)
sungei kuantan on a perfect sunday morning...hehe

Thursday, March 20, 2008

what is leadership anyway?...

Hi folks! my last blog was march 13th, ya ya not really that busy except for the special audit committee meeting on wednesday march 19th, to approve the audited accounts of our subsidiary companies..heheh. Then I remembered reading somewhere the comments made by Professor Emeritus Datuk Khoo Khay Kim, who said ' if you write one article in a year, with bravery, courage and challenging existing thinking with new fresh ideas, is better than 10 articles but alas, a collection of a crystallization of other people's ideas...' I think he meant it specifically to academics heheh, but I suppose he may be quite right there. No wonder, common people like you and I...don't bother much with learned journals these days..hehe (I stand corrected though!). Ok o, I thought before I upload some recent pictures, I should just paste some recent interesting articles I just read...(pls see below). Please do enjoy and see if you may be familar with those leadership & management practices/style you may have come across, experienced yourself or the lack of it...thereof (hihi) of leaders you may be very familiar with? enjoy......

Driving Lessons: Dieter Zetsche's Experiences behind the Wheel of Daimler-Chrysler and Beyond (Published: March 19, 2008 in Knowledge@Wharton)

The toughest leadership task for Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, was engineering last year's breakup of Daimler and Chrysler.
Zetsche lived in Detroit for five years while trying to spearhead a turnaround at Chrysler -- an effort that included appearances in Chrysler's humorous "Ask Dr. Z" television commercials, where his signature walrus mustache made him a minor celebrity.
Then, in 2006, after he became CEO of the German parent company, he faced a new set of leadership responsibilities. "My five years as CEO of Chrysler were personally among the very best of my life, but I still had to put my feelings aside and view the situation objectively from a business perspective," said Zetsche during a recent Wharton leadership lecture.
In 1998, Chrysler and Daimler announced they would join forces in a $37 billion stock swap, creating a new company that had 442,000 employees and a market capitalization of nearly $100 billion. While the deal was touted as a "merger of equals," two years later Daimler installed a German management team. Within 12 months, the company's market capitalization had sunk to $44 billion.
Zetsche said that while the companies had made strides with some new products, the market had changed for the worse in 2005 and 2006. "More had to be done -- and quickly. There was also mutual recognition on both sides of the Atlantic that we had maximized the synergies of Chrysler and Daimler, given that the level of cooperation was less than we originally expected it would be." In retrospect, the companies had overestimated the potential for passing leading-edge technology from Mercedes-Benz to Chrysler.
Meanwhile, Zetsche noted, Chrysler's pension and health benefit obligations had soared to $50 billion and, he learned, could hit $100 billion in a worst-case scenario. The Chrysler benefits "posed a significant threat to the entire company." Without Chrysler, Daimler would experience less volatility and could focus on the premium market it knew best.
During the height of the private equity boom last summer, he was able to sell 80% of Daimler AG's equity in the U.S. automaker to Cerberus Capital Group. "Although it was a tremendously difficult decision to make, I'm confident we found the solution," he said. In the fourth quarter of 2007, Daimler's profit jumped to 1.7 billion euros from a net loss of 12 million euros in the same quarter a year earlier, before the breakup.

'Analysis Paralysis'
The Chrysler sale illustrates the importance of making opportune decisions, according to Zetsche. Indeed, when Cerberus had trouble selling $20 billion in debt to finance the deal, Wall Street recognized the beginning of the current credit crisis. "We have an obligation to make the right decision -- not the convenient one or the one we would like to make. These decisions need to be made on the best possible information in a timely manner."
Today's wealth of analytical tools makes it easy to fall into a trap of endless meetings that he labeled "analysis paralysis." Just as too little information can hurt you, "too much information can, too. There is such a thing as information overload. Keep in mind that no decision is also a decision. A delay may result in an undesirable decision." Zetsche said the Chrysler divestment could not have been financed if it had occurred one or two weeks later. "I didn't see the credit crisis, but once we made the decision, my gut told me we had to move forward with all deliberate speed."
His most difficult period at Chrysler was spring 2003. He had arrived in Detroit in November 2000 and begun a major restructuring. The company was meeting milestones, but after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, automakers initiated marketing incentives that drove down margins for the entire industry. "Things got really bad in the first quarter, and by the second quarter, we were going to show significant losses," said Zetsche. Earlier in the restructuring, he could blame problems on prior management. This time, the losses were coming on his watch.
"That was not my plan and it was not what I was used to," he continued. Zetsche had to step up and face Wall Street analysts. "I explained what happened and what we would do to recover. For a time, I lost credibility. But by just [being up front] and explaining how we would dig ourselves out, I think we recovered pretty fast.... I have to say that personally, in five years at Chrysler, this was my most important quarter. The toughest thing is to see your convictions fail. That's when you really have to deal with your personality and grow as a person. Those are the cases that are more important than the successes you have."
Avoiding a Backlash
Zetsche identified three traits of leadership he feels are most important: competence, responsibility and authenticity. Referring to competence, he emphasized that "if your people sense you are not prepared or don't have the right stuff to get the job done, you're in trouble. Even if they don't like your personality, they will respect your ability."
Successful leaders must then build on competence to create a sense of common purpose. He described a three-year initiative at Mercedes-Benz to reduce costs and improve quality. A massive undertaking like that at any company is likely to trigger some backlash, Zetsche noted. Some employees may complain that the goals are sound but the approach is wrong. Others will grumble about added administrative reporting. Still others will dismiss the initiative as a problem they believe will go away if they ignore it long enough.
"As a leader, you have to be consistent in implementing the program and making very clear that sitting out is not an option," said Zetsche. Good leaders make change and common goals part of the corporate culture. "The key for any leader is to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page and understands where he or she is going," he said, although he acknowledged that "dealing with a highly diverse global organization is easier said than done."
Zetsche also explored the level of responsibility leaders face. He said a sign reading, "The Buck Stops Here," on President Harry Truman's desk best illustrates his point. "That remains a simple and powerful statement about the responsibilities of leadership. As a leader, you simply can't pass tough decisions up and down the line and neither can the people in the organization." The Chrysler saga, he said, was driven by the responsibility he had to do what was best for the company.
One downside of technological advances that allow people to work 24 hours a day seven days a week is that it also tempts them to avoid making decisions. "What it boils down to," he said, "is if you accept the position of leadership, you have to accept full responsibility. It's not all fun and games."
Effective leaders seek new opportunities as they climb the corporate ladder, Zetshe added. "Engineers shouldn't shy away from business, but should develop other interests ... and transferable skills that allow you to move cross functionally across an organization."
Zetsche's years working abroad in Brazil, Argentina and the United States were among his most memorable. Other Daimler employees who have worked in China will say it was their toughest assignment, but the most valuable. Attitude is important, he stressed. "If you make the numbers, but fail to live the company values, you probably won't last long in any organization."
Zetsche spelled out four corporate values that are at the heart of the company's culture. The first is passion: If a Daimler employee is not excited about cars, he or she is in the wrong business. The second value is respect -- for customers and shareholders -- but also for colleagues and business partners. Third is integrity. Even when local practice is otherwise, he said, Daimler holds itself to the highest standards of ethical behavior. The fourth value is discipline. "Discipline might sound like Germans clicking their heels and saying 'Yah Vol,' but that is not what we have in mind. When we talk about discipline, what we mean is the ability to choose the truth over convenience."

Not Everyone Can Be John Wayne
Zetsche then turned to the third critical trait of leadership. "Leaders have to be authentic," he said. "You have to be the real deal." Don't pretend to be John Wayne if that description doesn't fit you. "And if you are John Wayne, don't pretend to be Woody Allen. If you try to be someone you are not, the analysts and the media will see right through it."
Zetsche was asked about leading across cultures. Some stereotypes seem based in individual cultures, he noted, such as the notion that American businesses have a relaxed style and German managers hold long meetings. "At the end of the day, my experience is that those differences are minor. I've worked in a number of places, and for me, the same issues are important everywhere. People want to see that you mean what you say and want to believe in your word. If they feel you are not straightforward, you are lost. This is important whether you work in Asia or Africa or wherever."
He was asked how leaders can measure their own success as they progress in their careers. "The more you climb up the ladder, the more people will tell you what a great guy you are," Zetsche said. "The worst trap you can fall into is believing them. It's important to encourage people to give you feedback and to disagree if they have a different opinion. It depends on your reaction. Otherwise you are totally alone. You will lose touch and ultimately make decisions which are really dumb."
As for ethics, Zetsche said some leaders facing business problems might be tempted to try to cover up their difficulties for a quarter or two. "When you are in trouble, you might be able to hide for a short period of time. This is not unethical, but it is a thin layer. Anything beyond that won't rescue your business. It will just put you in a worse position."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

of tsunamis,shashimis & topups....

My last blogpost was a few days ago. Much has taken place since. One significant event to note was that the country experienced a second tsunami sort of heheh. No, no.... not coming from either side of the eastern or western seaboards of our glorious peninsula or the malaysian borneo, but a tsunami effect if you may, gushing out from streams of malaysians who came out to vote at our recent 12th general erections...hahaha. I promised not to make any political comment in my blog but will make an exception this time (only this time) around but even then, I must reiterate, that it is not MY comment (heheh) ...only that I will publish a comment from a dear friend who texted it to me (LOL)...and it goes like this: "...why they lost: my analysis...
1. too much focus on Kelantan, orang lain pun ndak jugak! jadi orang menyampah;
2. they have come to a stage where their downlines were arrogant;
3. the melinggam case is real, even the layman understand, although no conclusive deductions have been made, people reacted; ..." and a few other a bit sensitive which I prefer not to quote him at this point in time...hahaha.
Thats the tsunami bit, the shashimi bit? Hmmm didn't the pix above whet your appetite? (LOL). That was buffet lunch at sheraton towers singapore. Great buffet they got there! Damn good dessert spread too! Value for money! and yes, you can have a damn good nasi lemak still in singapore for 2 dollars! ( burgernomic comparison ok? please don't convert lah!). I wuz on a day trip recently. Drove down to JB, then went through the awesome process normal folks/citizens/commoners/commuters do daily and O my gawd! what a humbling experience. I tell you fellas, these are the people, those who walk, queue, take turns, board buses, MRTs, topup their prepaid cards, they will be the ones who will be very likely to survive, should war break out ( go see the panic stricken citizens in wil smith's movie 'I am legend' hehe). Great re-education for me as I approach my retirement hahaha. A far cry from the usual arrogant & obnoxious business class, premium airlines, and bloody pampered travel arrangements one has been accustomed to, while under the illusion of priviledge and 'borrowed power' heheh. I look forward to other pre-retirement re-education programs (plenty I should think). Care to join me in those adventures, oh well, escapades are more like it? ...hahahaha

Friday, March 07, 2008

...literati after literati...hmmmm

Its Friday 15 minutes to 3 am. Have not been blogging since March 3. Been busy. No no not with the generall elections but busy writing my 3rd article for my regular column in BodyshopnewsAsia published in Sydney Australia once every two months. Fuh....what a relief, I emailed the article below, off to sydney yesterday at about 5pm local time. It will appear in the march/april 2008 issue..heheh. And oh ya busy finishing another keynote address. Thank gawd, thats also accomplished abt 2 hours ago heheh...
(bodyshopnewsAsia forthcoming march/april 2008 issue)
Experience and skills have always been greatly valued, from ancient times and through the ages, both in war and in business. Luck and timing however, also seem to play a role so it was said, though the precise nature of this role has also been somewhat fuzzy. The 16th century Indian poet Tulsidas could not have captured the essence of it any better when he wrote lyrically:

The same Arjuna with his arrows
Failed miserably this time,
Truly, luck and timing influence
Success in ways sublime,
This is an important lesson
To remember at all times.

The puzzle of what defines and what diminishes, leaders is as intriguing to the bodyshop industry as it was to a 16th century poet. There really never was any attempt by anyone, in the bodyshop industry, as far as I can see, to reveal the truths or secrets of success in management, especially as they relate to managing people within the bodyshop industry. It was purely cultural and in an unstructured manner observing individual and organizational behaviour and how leaders create conditions and perform in a way that leads to successful outcomes. If you recall in my inaugural article, I highlighted the changing scenario that emphasizes or recognizes the importance of human capital development especially the family-owned type, within the automotive - insurance – bodyshop industries in Malaysia.

Perhaps we could pick up a thing or two from Howard Gardner, the John and Elisabeth Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, from his latest book that went into one of the best business books 2007 list, entitled: Five Minds for the Future where he weaves the multiple intelligence threads from the looms of his mind, into a whole fabric. The five minds for the future according to Gardner, consists of three (3) cognitive minds (discipline, synthesizing and creating) and two (2) minds that concern our relations with other human beings (respectful and ethical). In our industry, all the five minds do put a strain on leadership especially the respectful and ethical bit which I guess in some markets, still leaves much to be desired. Like other industries, ours too, are being confronted with information age’s growing complexity and the need for a synthesizing mind to knit together into a coherent whole all the information that is available from different sources. Within the bodyshop industry, does successful teamwork depends more on the management skills than the technical expertise of their leaders? Or is it the other way round? The notion of ethics there again, would be like opening Pandora’s Box!

It has become fashionable to speak of human capital development (HCD) in a generic sense which I suspect may suggest a scenario of merely ‘rearranging old furniture in the same old room!’ The final perception one usually ends up with is that HCD is nothing more than mere training. Yes and no. It is much more than that. It is making sure of your succession plan or preparing your future leaders and to (the more consultant-type) high sounding term of ‘talent management’. HCD as a craft that transcend all industries, should be addressed by organizations, with sufficient regularity and assiduity. It has to move beyond mere rhetorics. Without doubt, the lack of which, I dread to think, what the long-term costs might be.

As usual, closer to home, I was recently invited to attend the launching of the new Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) new office located at F-1-47, Block F, Jalan PJU 1A/3A, Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya which incidentally is close to my home and office. The guest of honour was International Trade & Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz and among some of the things she highlighted was the increase in the imports of CBU cars, where Thailand, Japan and Korea were the main import sources with 85.2 % of the volume and that the major import categories for CBU cars comprised those with engine capacities between 1.8 and 2.0 litre and between 2.0 and 2.5 litre. The President of MAA, Datuk Aishah Ahmad, my contemporary during the mid- seventies at Mara Institute of Technology (now UiTM) during her welcome remarks, cited a positive car sales trend in the light of new model launches and improved consumer confidence. She is a fine example of the outcome of human capital development if you may, having gone through the mill herself, I remember when our roads, were lined up with selected American models, Volkswagon Beetle (the 70s version), Peugeot 404s ( I was driving one!), 504s, and the Volvos 200 series were buzzing around then. She was one of the few pioneer batch who was handpicked to undergo the Inchcape Automotive Management Training Programme at a time when the national make Proton, wasn’t even around yet.

As I write this article the global oil price had already busted the US100 a barrel mark. How this will affect our industry is anybody’s guess. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the likely outcome will be. In an era where the theory of diminishing returns are for real, and where sustainability concerns run high, the only way forward for any level-headed industry or nation for that matter, is to focus on their brainpower, the human capital and its development. In the ICT sector, the theory of increasing returns as propagated by Paul Romer seems to be taking a somewhat backseat. But the interesting debate within academia, I suspect, has not lost its fervour. We, at Motordata Research Consortium (MRC) both a subsidiary of HeiTech Padu Berhad ( a global homegrown IT powerhouse in Malaysia) and Malaysian Re, continues to play a role in promoting human capital development in the Malaysian bodyshop, related and ancillary industries both at the strategic and operational levels.
Khaeruddin Sudharmin, Managing Director & Chief Executive of Motordata Research Consortium Malaysia was a keynote speaker at IBIS2006, Montreux, Switzerland
Below is the other paper I was talking about...heheh..
Keynote Address 3rd International Conference on Principalship
and School Management
At Institut KePengetuaan, Universiti Malaya, March 10, 2008

Distinguished guests,
Ladies & gentlemen

The beginning of the 21st century saw an upsurge of interest in educational reform focused on school improvement as a total school effort, among world educational scholars. Much of educational debates of the reform process are centered not only the role, function and effectiveness of school in responding to societal needs but also on whether school improvement policies, programs and strategies have brought about clear improvement in the quality of schooling towards making the school a total learning organization. This 3rd International Conference on Principalship and School Management, organized by the Institute of Principalship Studies, University of Malaya I have been told, aims to discuss theoretical, empirical and practical issues related to school improvement efforts and educational reforms. With the presence of such a distinguished and august audience like yourselves, I hope the aims of this conference in bringing together national and international scholars to share experience and discuss perspectives and experiences with local policy makers and practitioners, educational administrators and teachers have begun.
Ladies & gentlemen,
Every time there is a debate or a discussion on educational management, principalship and school management, the key word here is leadership and management. How do we address the subject area in its generic sense withoust losing sight of the link to education per se. In 1976, the Open University (UK) third level course, offered the first unit: Management in education –Dissimilar or Congruence? The central question being, whether theories and principles derived from the day-to-day administration of industrial or economic organizations had any relevance to what went on in an educational institution and it was generally agreed that educational management benefited substantially from management conducted in another context. I like to take this opportunity to revisit or caution, if you may, our worldview on leadership and management and to not take it in a simplistic manner, to juxtapose or perhaps in a more recent common reference to it as a cut-and-paste job!

Time and again we are being reminded that it has become fashionable to speak of successful performance in the principals’ role largely in terms of management and administrative competence. Parallels are drawn between the role of the principal/headmaster and that of the managing director of a commercial of a private sector business organization. Such parallels, we are being told, consistently, do have a number of defects and dangers. First, they fail to bring out the real and essential differences between educational considerations and market considerations. This is not to say that there is nothing in common between running a commercial enterprise and running a school. Problems of control and delegation, of communication and departmental autonomy, of bureaucracy and budget determination are common to many kinds of complex organization. But to push the analogy too far is dangerous, for it fails to take account of certain characteristics of the values inherent in a market structure as compared to those characteristics of educational structures. The points could not have been captured better by Jules Henry, when he said that ‘one should not confuse the so called business ethics based on laws of contract, the stability of the currency, and the retention of the market – a satisfied market – with moral principles that govern the relations between human beings. They may resemble each other, but the similarity is purely coincidental and largely illusory. Between human beings one activates the ideas of protection and suffering, because one feels it is human to enhance the well-being that is involved. In the market the anchorage of value is always on the self; the anchorage in human relations is always on the other.

A second objection is that the business analogy encourages us to think of the relations between staff and pupils or students as similar to those between management and labour – them and us. There may be some senses in which it is helpful to conceptualize the relationship in such terms; events in post-secondary education have made such a point of view seem more realistic than the sometimes sentimentalized image of the academic community. But to over-stress the gulf that lies between pupil and student values and those of principals/ heads and staff provides a poor basis for building the kind of relationships that sustain educational efforts.

There is a third, more specific and perhaps even more unfortunate result of seeing the principal or the head’s role in management terms. It encourages us to think of him as deriving his authority from powers delegated by the governors, who in their turn derive their powers from the providing body. In a strictly legal sense this may be true. But the school or college is primarily and educative institution. Its activities are in the last analysis legitimated by its success in achieving whatever educational objectives it may set itself. All else – buildings, staff appointments, everything included in the day-to-day management of the institution – is secondary to this purpose, mere means to the larger end. A school can be superbly ‘managed’, the processes of consultation and decision-making be smooth and trouble free, the relationships between local authority, governing body, head and staff harmonious, the fabric and accounts meticulously maintained, and morale among staff and pupils high. Yet, unless the concept of management is extended to include kinds of educational objectives that are extremely difficult to operationalise and to evaluate, the work of that school still represent failure. If we accept that the primary purpose of the school is educative, then it follows that the initiation of action and the legitimation of authority within the school derive mainly from the work of those people who are appointed as professional competent to undertake the education of pupils, that is the principal and staff. The authority of the head is legitimated not by his skill as a manager, but by his stature as an educator. (Taylor, 1969:2-3)

Some Research Abstracts
I am sure, ladies and gentlemen, that you will be looking at a lot of new theories,research and findings relating to principalship and school management. These findings I believe will trigger a paradigm shift in the way we look at educational management. I like to share with you abstracts of some recent research that has relevance to principalship and school management elsewhere in the world.

1. In the US for example, at long last, scholars and policy makers have come to realize what most school administrators have known for years--that effective schools require both outstanding teachers and strong leaders. Although there is considerable research about the characteristics of effective school leaders and the strategies principals can use to help manage increasingly diverse roles, comparatively little is known about how to design programs that can develop and sustain effective leadership practices. In an effort to increase the knowledge about professional development programs, the Wallace Foundation recently commissioned a study of innovative principal professional development programs and the policy and funding mechanisms that support them. In fall 2003, a team of researchers from the Stanford School of Education was awarded a Wallace grant and proceeded to design and embark upon a nationwide study of both the pre- and in-service professional development of school principals. The study essentially discusses the findings about the qualities and impact of strong programs from a study of professional development for principals some of it perhaps have relevance to our own principals’ professional development.

2. Measures of cognitive intelligence such as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) have long been utilized as gatekeeper measures for leadership placement within organizations. Universities and Colleges have created leadership degree programs which are often almost exclusively measures of a student's cognitive ability. The degrees conferred are often the "gatekeeper" measures for entry into a leadership position within an organization. However, leaders with analogous educational and professional backgrounds may experience different levels of success even when facing quite similar situations. Why is this? The answer may be found within a fairly new field of study known as Emotional Intelligence (EI). The purpose of this study was to explore the degree of association between EI and school performance. The first question addressed within this study dealt the degree of association between a middle school principal's Total EI score and school success. Secondly, this study attempted to focus on the specific elements of a principal's EI (Area and Branch scores) and the degree of association that those elements might have with school success. This research project rendered valuable information which indicated that various components of a middle school principal's EI level is closely related to school success. With this information school systems and school personnel may begin to recruit and promote throughout the principal ranks those principals that demonstrate high levels of EI. Furthermore, training programs may be developed to enhance EI in public middle school principals in an effort to support higher levels of school success. Ultimately, this research indicated that the association between EI and school success could not be ignored and that additional study was strongly indicated.

3. Then there is this booklet, one in a series of "hot topics" reports produced twice a year by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. These reports briefly address current educational concerns and issues as indicated by requests for information that come to the Laboratory from the Northwest region and beyond. Each booklet contains a discussion of research and literature pertinent to the issue, a sampling of how Northwest schools are addressing the issue, selected resources, and contact information. The By Request series is intended as the "first line" of intervention--used for widespread initial diffusion of information. It is not intended to change practice in and of itself, but rather to spark interest among readers who can then take the next step of examining changes in practice. One objective of the series is to foster a sense of community and connection among educators. Another is to increase awareness of current education-related themes and concerns. Each booklet give practitioners a glimpse of how fellow educators are addressing issues, overcoming obstacles, and attaining success in certain areas. The goal of the series is to give educators current, reliable, and useful information on topics that are important to them. The purpose of this issue of By Request is to provide K-12 principals an introduction to leadership practices that can effect change in their schools. The booklet focuses on concrete strategies for novice principals and principals in schools in need of improvement.

4. Another related article I came across, draws on findings from a larger international study and the literature to examine successful principals of challenging high-poverty schools in the USA, England, and Australia. Specifically, this article reports case-study findings for 13 challenging schools, 4 each in the USA and Australia and 5 in England. Findings from this study indicate that successful principals used similar leadership practices and traits to make a difference and improve student performance in very challenging schools. These findings extend previous research conducted in single-nation contexts. The presentation of findings also considers differences in the role of the principal, the school context, and larger national policies. The article concludes with implications for leadership training and future research.

5. Accountability is a high priority in the U.S. education system, and principals play an important role in student achievement. The author examined the means by which superintendents focus on characteristics identified in the literature on effective principals and student achievement when hiring building administrators. The author questioned whether superintendents considered and assessed candidates for the 21 responsibilities of successful principals identified by T. Waters, R. Marzano, and B. McNulty (2004). Results indicated that although superintendents agreed on the key characteristics necessary for principals to succeed, they did not have a credible way to measure the characteristics in the hiring process. In addition, superintendents need to revise their hiring processes to assess those characteristics correlated in principal applicants to improved student achievement.

Urban school superintendents hold one of the most important and challenging jobs in America's education system. The Council of the Great City Schools (GCS) represents the majority of large urban school districts in the country. Though there are approximately 17 thousand school districts in the country, the Council's 65 districts serve approximately 7.4 million of America's 48.3 million K-12 students (15 percent), and some 30 percent of the nation's students of color, low-income, and English language learners. With vast numbers of students, including the nation's most vulnerable children, urban superintendents face a set of challenges that are systemically different from those in the rest of the nation's school districts. In this era of accountability and standards, superintendents are expected to make visible and rapid improvements in student achievement. As a result of the increased availability of achievement data to the public, superintendents are under more public scrutiny than ever: parents and teachers are able to closely monitor district progress. Urban district superintendents also face a variety of challenges that are often unrelated to teaching and learning: many report that political pressures and internal conflicts may be difficult to manage and detract from the time that could be spent working on improving student achievement. Superintendents are cognizant of being held uniquely accountable for meeting student achievement goals in their districts. Given this backdrop and the historically short tenures of most urban school superintendents, the Council of the Great City Schools has surveyed its member districts approximately every two years since 1997. This fifth report on urban superintendents, presents the results of the Council's 2006 survey. Results from past surveys are included for comparison. Several patterns, trends, and relationships relating to employment and demographics have emerged through the course of analysis. The demographics of urban superintendents have become more diverse. Tenure of CS superintendents has gradually increased: CS superintendents are staying in their districts for longer periods of time, although the length of tenure of the CS superintendents does not appear to be directly related to salary. Overall, salaries have been steadily rising since 1999. Superintendent salary does not appear to vary with tenure, but there does appear to be a relationship between superintendent salary and district enrollment: superintendents in larger districts tend to earn more money, suggesting that salary rewards for big-city superintendents vary according to the level of responsibility and magnitude of the job.

In 2007, the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) completed an 18-month study of the costs of teacher turnover in five school districts. The selected districts varied in size, location, and demographics enabling exploration of how these variations affected costs. Costs of recruiting, hiring, processing, and training teachers at both the school and district levels were examined. Findings indicate that the cost of turnover varies from district to district, largely dependent upon the size of the district and the types of induction programs the district implements, but that in all cases, the cost of teacher turnover is substantial. One of the most important steps identified that school districts can take is to recognize that supply side solutions focused on recruiting more teachers will not reduce the high cost of teacher turnover. School districts must first recognize the importance of teacher retention and then develop a comprehensive and coherent human resource strategy to reduce teacher turnover. Citing the high cost of teacher turnover, the document recommends action at both federal and state levels, including: (1) Making retention of highly effective teachers a focus of No Child Left Behind (NCLB); (2) Amending NCLB to hold school leaders accountable for teacher turnover and its costs; (3) Supporting development of coherent school district human resource data systems; (4) Supporting up-front investment in well-designed teacher induction. At the district level, the document recommends: (1) Measuring teacher turnover and its costs; (2) Investing in coherent data-based management of the teacher workforce; (3) Hiring well-prepared teachers; and (4) Targeting implementation of high quality induction programs to at-risk schools. An appendix presents: Calculating the National Cost of Teacher Attrition.

These are some of the continuing research being done elsewhere and I believe it contributes to not only academic accumulation of body of knowledge but it helps identify and cluster common denominators within the realm of principalship and school management no matter where in the world it is. Of course there are other mitigating factors and/or cultural influences but the universal concepts and precepts with regard to principalship and school management to my mind, remain fairly similar and applicable and transferable.

Reality- an anecdote…
Perhaps this narration of a real-life reflections of a Malaysian principal’s experience, motivations and aspirations crystallizes what ultimately a principal’s competency should be:
As a school principal the basic skills you need to have are the following:
a) making use of all resources, whether its human, materials, monetary, and community surrounding the school to get things done.
b) identifying the best practices in management and professional field – to act as guidelines.
c) my experiences at 2 schools proved that there is no specific formula for managing a school. In fact, there is no special formula to manage a school. Theories in management and leadership can help to some extent, but not all.
d) we have to study the environment – type of school, teachers, students, kind of infrastructure, amount of money, rapport with parents. Line of actions depend on your perception of the school environment. Therefore different schools are managed differently. Eg if the staff have inclination towards academic excellence, then we have to encourage them to think creatively; but if staff are the sort who work aimlessly, then the principal have to think of strategies to boost their morale. Using the same style of management to deal with schools of different nature is suicidal.
e) Life as a principal – everyday is not the same. Each day is unique. Each case being treated differently with care
f) As a principal – monitoring is important. Follow-up and follow-through. I will make sure that problems are really solved to the very end. Everyday I will monitor to see that particular problems are dealt with thoroughly.
g) Teamwork is very important. Weekly meetings with senior teachers.
h) To me, every issue is to be dealt with seriously. Though it may be small – it can cause a great impact later on. Example, teachers entering class late. I will say it loud during meetings to show how I abhor such acts. I will call teachers concerned and will even have several meetings with senior teachers to get ideas how to tackle such problems.
i) School achievements however small – I will make sure it is announced at the assembly, and little notes to teachers to say how I appreciate their good work.
j) I strongly feel that a good principal should master the generics of effective teaching and learning.”

There you are, the practical aspects of principalship and school management.

Perhaps we could pick up a thing or two from Howard Gardner, the John and Elisabeth Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, from his latest book entitled Five Minds for the Future where he weaves the multiple intelligence threads from the looms of his mind, into a whole fabric. The five minds for the future according to Gardner, consists of three (3) cognitive minds (discipline, synthesizing and creating) and two (2) minds that concern our relations with other human beings (respectful and ethical). Ethics relates to other persons, but in a more abstract way. In taking ethical stances, an individual tries to understand his or her role as a principal and his or her role as a citizen of a region, nation, and the planet. What are your obligations to your stakeholders (parents, teachers, pupils)? If you were on the other side of the table, if you occupied a different niche in society, what would you have the right to expect from those others who lead? And to take an even wider perspective, what kind of a world would you like to live in, if, to use John Rawls’s phrase, I were cloaked in a ‘veil of ignorance’ with respect to your ultimate position in the world? Every principal should be able to pose, if not answer, the same set of questions with respect to his or her occupational and civic niche.

If any cliché of recent years rings true, it is the acknowledgment that education must be lifelong. How prescient were the words of Winston Churchill: “The empires of the future will be the empires of the mind.” We must recognize what is called for in this new world – even as we hold on to certain perennial skills and values that may be at risk. Curricula developed fifty or a hundred years ago no longer suffice. But don’t toss out the exquisitely evolved infant with the sudsy bathwater of earlier eras. It is easy – but dangerous – to conclude that all education in the future should simply concentrate on mathematics, science, and technology. And it is equally easy - and equally dangerous – to conclude that the forces of globalization should change everything.

Finally, I do think that some of Gardner’s idea of the Five Minds For The Future has relevance in our preparation of future principals, principalship and school management. Thank you.

Ref: TSAA/3rdIntlConferencePrincipalshipUM10March2008/ks

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Malaysian Society for Training & Development (MSTD)

I got a sad text message from Dr Kamal Khir this morning informing me of the fate of the Malaysian Society for Training & Development or MSTD. It was sad because I was one of the protem committee and the founding executive board member more than a decade ago. It all began as an initiative to bring together the training fraternity of GLCs and government bodies especially statutory ones to compliment INTAN (or Institut Tadbiran Awam Negara). I was then director of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Training Centre, and we had others like Hj Zulkifli Baharom who had a stint at Petronas and was at the time with MAS Academy and Ismail Nordin of Telekom Malaysia, Rozita Nordin & Rozita Abu Bakar (EON Berhad), Prof Dr Saran Gill (UKM), the late Dr Surjit Singh, a close friend who was at the time with INTAN , Prof Dr Raja Maznah of UMLIC, Universiti Malaya at the time. There others as well and we use to organise delegations to the annual training fraternity 'mecca'...the ASTD or the American Society for Training & Development International Conference.
What will become of MSTD now? Your guess is as good as mine. I had, just months ago, suggested to Dr Kamal and Ismail Nordin that MSTD be merged with MIHRM (or the Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management). Moving forward, this, I reckon, needs to take place. We need people to move this well, thankless job. Any takers?
Menghalau lebah diatas peti
sambil menyiram buah yang subur
Kalaulah MSTD sudah pon mati
dimanakan kucari letaknya kubur?

an aura of hams** karisma....hahaha

I was sharing some stuff with Tengku Joshua and I like the way he crystallized all that was said...thus..the title for this blogpost. Jonathan Yang in his book 'Rough guide to Blogging: Navigate the blogosphere' said somewhere inside that book of his, is that sustainability or staying power of people who writes or blogs diligently and with discipline...are endangered species. Most eventually fade away at best become Tyrannosaurus at the Jurrasic Park eventually....hahaha.
Just to summarise the week that was, everything else was on hold cos we had audit comm, remuneration committee, and full board meeting (whether u like it or hello...i am still group corporate secretary of HeiTech Padu Berhad ok? until otherwise notified officially to me and to Bursa Malaysia..heheh *wink*). Then on friday 29th march I obliged CN by attending his partner program with ITD/Hewlett Packett at Awana Genting. After the boring slide presentations (heheh) it was karaoke till 1 AM...thank gawd the golf game next morning had to be abandoned because of intense fog and zero visibility...hahaha. Then saturday nite was a family dinner (my sister-out-law's besday...hahaha). A long table of about 25 pax, grandchildren incuded, heheh. Not a free dinner mind you. I had to sing a song for the besday gurl heheh. Of course, there were other regular guest singers too..hahaha. As though the karaoke session the night before at awana wasn't enuf!! hu-hu. And this morning...what? another heavy meal? yeah you bet! this time it was salero nogori, hartamas branch...forgot to take shots ofthose tatlising dishes favourite green cili sambal padang/minang style must have mde me forgot everything else...heheh
To top off eveything else that I have said, nothing beats the satisfaction that I had, in my own little way, made someone got out of their loneliness, or who had felt like a loser, feeling empty and useless. I hope a multiplier effect will be triggered and that that 'million dollar smile' of yours will also change the lives of a million other people around them ( i hope you are reading this ya? hihi)....