Lead Yourself


‘Leadership’ has been a business buzzword for well over 30 years now, most of what could have been written about it, has been written, what could have been thought, has been cerebrated upon and yet we stand amidst people who struggle to be the leaders they have always wanted others to be.

Why is leadership such a hard choice?

Robert Frost, in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ said the best of what I think every leader would agree to;

“And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”

All of this bubbles out a lot of questions every professional asks at the hierarchical crossroads, and how they answer them, determine their journey ahead.

–    What is leadership?

–    Do I qualify to be a leader?

–    How can I be a successful leader?

Let’s see if we can find some simple yet practical answers for these age old dilemmas’.

–    What is leadership?

Leadership is Responsibility. You can get it or you can take it.

I learnt my lesson early here, after my father died when I was 15, we were left stranded in the middle of nowhere – financially, emotionally and socially. Expensive treatment led to debts and an expensive lifestyle, like my family had, led to problems and an acute inability to manage in less resources.

I am the eldest son in the family and it was going to be my responsibility later to do the damage control (once I grew up – Sigh!)

I just had one question, can we afford ‘later’?

Every bit of logic I had said ‘No’

The crossroads came, I had to either ‘take responsibility now’ or ‘wait or watch the things to move on their own’.

I chose to take the responsibility, surprisingly a lot of hands started to come handy.

Lesson learnt: Help comes only to those who help themselves!

My school was the most expensive school in the city, I couldn’t have paid the fee, My teachers paid it from their pockets, I never understood, why?

I was too young to work; I didn’t tell anybody my age in my interview.

I went to an international BPO, the first in town, to get myself a Job. I appeared for the interview, cleared it, negotiated my salary and told the panel all about my age and situation afterwards.

The look on their face was worth it; they asked for some time, consulted some lawyers and gave me a job. Full time, as an apprentice.

There I was, cycling 15 miles to School, 10 back to my office and another 10 back home by midnight. But I managed to support my family. My need was met and we survived the winter.

Lessons Learnt:

Hard work is good, Smart Work is great but they can’t substitute each other.

Leaders hold themselves accountable for the outcomes of their actions, even if the task was done by the one they delegated it to and speculatively take risks.

A leader takes responsibility to take control of the situations around , no matter how good or bad they may be.

–    Do I qualify to be a leader?

In my book, there are only two ways you get into leadership.

i. Designated Leadership – A leadership role granted by authority, a type of leadership where the designation makes the person a leader. This comes with power, the power to reward, punish or make decisions. So maybe your next promotion is when you can start.

Prime Minister is a good example of this type of leadership. I can also cite my first managerial role at work. Simply put, it mattered more what my business card said than what I said.

ii. Acquired Leadership – A style of leadership where an individual develops a character of leadership within by working on his strengths continuously. This can be done either by building a strong relationship with the followers, by being a source of inspiration or by developing expertise in the chosen field. This would mean you can start being a leader ‘Now’.

Indira Nooyi of Pepsico who built her way to the top through her expertise and capability or a business consultant who enjoys no designation yet caters to high responsibilities in any organization. ( Like me , Sigh !)

Lesson Learnt:

It’s not who you are but what you dream for and how desperately so, that makes you a leader.

So, of course you qualify to be a leader; but ‘How’ is still under wraps. Let’s find out!

–    How can I be a successful leader?

“Endowed with his bright armor,

He came all the way…

A spec of doubt saw not his face,

Though he had a beast to slay…

With the rising sun he embarked

To accomplish what was right…

And till this day we sing his song,

He was the Golden Knight”

We have all heard stories of Knights and Superheroes; it almost feels that you need to be one to succeed as a leader. But think of it this way, no matter what the density or depth of water might me, if you know how to swim, with the correct technique and adequate effort you can get through the liquid.

The two things, technique and effort stand out to be the mark of any leader.

Now effort is the result of desperation and passion, of how badly do you want to achieve whatever you are gunning for. It can’t be taught but can only be realized. That’s your job!

For the technique, as the poem above talks of Armor, every leader needs one.

That needs to be developed through practice and persistence.

So, what is this Armor? How can you get it?

It’s a code of conduct which if followed ensures your success and I will share this secret with you.

L.E.A.D.E.R – The Six Elements of Leaders Armor

L– Legitimate: Be whoever you are but be real and fair. Nobody respects a phony with sly perspectives.

E– Effective: Take planned action. There are more chances to succeed if what you are doing is planned well in advance versus it being an improv.

A– Assertive: Be true to your word by being logical and comprehendible

D– Decisive: Make decisions that are fair, logical and credible

E– Evaluative: Know your environment without judging people for who they are, work around what they do and make it better

R– Resilient: Learn as if there is no tomorrow, the day you stop learning, you stop living.

This is not rocket science, in fact it’s like cooking a hearty meal – a fine balance of spices masters the taste.

Now, you have the Knowledge, your key to the power which brings along with it the responsibility. You don’t have to be a L.E.A.D.E.R, but if you wish to be one,

Lead On and Lead Well!

The Master Key to Successful Feedback


If you want to be more successful in helping others succeed, regardless of the source or sources of your coaching, you need to clearly understand this master key.

If you want to take advantage of and be open to any coaching or feedback you receive, you must understand this key as well.

The master key to successful feedback is intent.

Stated simply, when our intent is clear and pure; when we really are giving feedback and coaching with the very best for the other person in mind, it will be more successful. And if our purposes are vindictive, punitive, meant to “fix” someone, or come from our frustration or anger it will be less successful.

In other words, coaching shouldn’t be about us, but about the other person and their success.

Since we have all received much coaching and feedback in our lives, we know this is true. When we sense that the feedback we are receiving is valuable and comes from a perspective of truly wanting us to improve, we are more open to hearing and applying it.

 

All said and done , it’s you who got to choose if there is someone’s life you would alter, just a little, in a good way.

 

The Coaching Anchor


There have been numerous books written on coaching and they talk about models, techniques and even the dummy style route maps to being a successful coach.

Short term quick fixes work well, but I wonder if they drive commitment that can last over a week.

Think about it, what you would like to see in your coach.

Try to remember that one well wisher who you would believe instantly and discuss things willingly with. What was different in the relationship with that person?

The difference is the TRUST factor.

As a coach or a mentor, trust is the key to effective and lasting motivation that drives change.

What drives trust?

Trust

Trust is built upon three key elements on the long term perspective:

Honesty: The birth of positive and open culture where fairness is the most prized element is a must to generate trust. Do people feel appreciated or confronted? Do people think of you as assistance or as competition?

These questions must be answered to unsure comfort for everyone in the situation.

Benevolence: Are you a good human being? Do people around you believe a good human being? Trust is built on beliefs, the more positiveness we can pump in through being kind, the higher the amount on trust will be.

Capability: Are you an expert? Do people find your feedback credible and believable? Do you practice what you preach? These are some of the key things that you need to ensure.

As long as there is Honesty, Benevolence and Capability in the picture – Trust will drive coaching and feedback in the system.

Coach your way to success: Coach or Roach?


A manager’s world has today moved from ‘control and captivate’ to the ‘care and coach‘. In business circles, no longer does the old fashioned ‘boss’ command his way and the subordinate listens.

Hard work has seen a paradigm shift and effort is no longer just staying back at work.

These are the changes that have pushed managers today to transform into a ‘coach’, from being a ‘roach’.

Let’s define some basics:

A.

Category : Roach

Characteristics: Insolent, Authoritative, Fatherly, Fear power, Inconsiderate, HARI SADU (pun intended!)

Creation : Good at driving mass hysteria, create efforts, hard work and push people to look busy and stressed, Gossip topics

Example :Hitler, Gaddafi

B.

Category : Coach

Characteristics: Considerate, Empathetic, Honest, Kind, People Power, Friendly and Progressive

Creation : Good at driving commitment, Get people to go the extra mile, Drive motivation and passion

Example : Mahindra Singh Dhoni, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs

Based on these profiles, it is only a matter of choice depending on what you want to be – Coach or Roach?

In the multi-dimensional businesses of ‘now’, it will help to rather have a bunch of people committed to a tough cause versus having a tough cause and bunch of tough people to deal with.The decision is finally yours.

To get our basics right lets understand Mentoring, Coaching and Feedback:

Mentoring: Looks at providing guidance to all aspects of life where the mentor works on a superficial level.

Coaching: Is the long term support for technical, behavioral and skills-related learning and growth where the coach plays a more hands on role in developing the protégé.

Feedback: Is performance related as well as behavior related and is used for short term gains where corrective or progressive action is sought.

Action Items:

Lead your team as a coach instead of being a boss to gain commitment and effort.

On Motivation


So there I was , in my bedroom , at 3 in the morning all alone – At my lazy best ; when out of nowhere I saw a  wasp in the room , after being bothered for a few seconds , I got back to viewing TV until…

…that bloody wasp was just an inch from my face, and then I ran , I screamed , I picked up my newspaper and tried to hit it , I picked up my slippers and jumped to reach it around the roof, all in vain but I did not give up. I got a broom with a long stick and galloped at it for 30 minutes before I could make it rest in peace. Huh… Man was I tired!

This is how life moves – Go deeper and you will find the secret of all motivation in this incident.

Humans are emotional beings , they are motivated by either pleasure or pain. We get late and then we panic because now we can loose things. We sit and watch ‘Facebook’ until there are stomach cramps due to hunger. We wait and wait and wait before we go to the doctor. We act only when we see some pain or some pleasure attached to doing or not dong that action.

It’s either high pain or a high pleasure that makes us move; when moderate it pushes us to the zone of complacency, laziness and ignorance.

Allow me to draw a couple of similarities between the way this story has worked and the way motivation happens:

Exhibit A : Commonwealth 2010 – We were sitting on the idea for 10 years flat , now that it is matter of national pride everyone is pushed to work at the brink of the event.

Exhibit B: Similarly, when the wasp was in my room I dint care until it came close to my face and I felt threatened.

Both these situations are high pain situations where the fear of loss was the motivator. As we know that pain is not the only motivator, we have a stint with pleasure too , let me share what I feel about it .

Exhibit A: On a personal note, whenever I have been out on a date, the amount of effort I put in to make that date a success was correlated to how beautiful the woman was. More beauty means more effort.

Exhibit B: There is a friend of mine, Renuka; she works with a renowned credit card company. They have an interesting office and since she is into sales the pressure is always on. She is an average performer.

Here is how she works – She closes on an average 2 credit card applications every day. However when there  is a scheme running for a 1000 INR shopping voucher for every 5 Credit Card Applications closed , she manages 10 of them and grabs the vouchers – Only she and the devil knows where those come from.

These are classic examples of the high pleasure principle. How great pleasure pushes people to act. The question that arises now is ‘How can you use this Pain and Pleasure Principle to motivate yourself?”

Here is what I do, I Question the possibilities with ‘What if?” questions and drive the issue to high pain or high pleasure.

Example: I need to lose weight but lack the motivation; I am not that heavy yet 😉

Q: What if I don’t lose it? A: I will be very obese.

Q: What if I become very obese? A: I will be less active and more prone to serious health issues like heart and orthopedic.

Q: How will all this make me feel? A: Embarrassed, as I won’t look good. Unhappy as I might get cranky and insecure. Heavy at heart as I will not be the one I used to be.

Conclusion:

A: To keep feeling better and live a healthy life I will lose it!( High Pleasure Perspective)

B: To live a normal life and not be bedridden by the time I am 40, I will lose it! (High Pain Perspective)

This is what we call WIIFM (Whats in it for me?)

Motivation is nothing but the result of a strong WIIFM.

How strong is yours? Go Find.

On Satisfaction


Satisfaction: I define it as ‘Getting what you expect from life which makes you feel complete as an individual’. I find that it is like salvation, easy to find but hard to keep.

For Example, I wanted to write more as I was not satisfied with what I had shared with you yet. As a matter of fact, the list of things that I am not satisfied with is pretty lengthy.

What about you , what are you not satisfied with – Too small a home? Too much of work load? Too much traffic? Too bad politics going around? Too little space for yourself? Too many responsibilities? Everything is excessively expensive? Too many questions?

So, why am I talking to you about all of this?

I am just going to share what I feel about satisfaction, how I manage to keep myself content and happy and leave the rest up for you to figure out.

My Perspective: Achievement = Expectation; and just like most mathematical calculations that gets difficult due to an ever changing variable. This one too, has a twist.The variable is your ‘expectation’. It changes and grows and doubles itself faster than any stock on the NSE!

Simply put , you want a better house, a better car and better group of people to socialize with. As all of this does not come cheap, so you want more money – to get which you either need a better job , a better salary or an all new business expansion.

Imagine if life was a see-saw (like the one you played on as a kid) you will be on one side and your expectations on the other. What could happe

Scenario 1: You are heavier than your expectations – How long can a monkey chase a car when he knows there isn’t anything that he will get from there?

Whenever my expectations, goals, targets or whatever you may call it, has been low or too easy to get, I have without fail lost the urge to do a great job at it.

If our expectations are lighter than us, our talent, our skills and our capabilities, they will not create enough thrust, pain or pleasure for us to act. We will be complacent as life will be easy. Thus, low satisfaction.

Scenario 2: Your expectations are heavier than you – For how long can a donkey live if he pulls more weight than his worth?

There is a Japanese term ‘Karoshi’ which means death by overwork. Too many expectations often lead to Karoshi. You must understand that death here is a relative term which could wither refers to the end of life or the end of a cause, a person who suffers a breakdown or gives up.

If Our expectations are heavier than we are , we could either be pulled down by it or be crushed under it. Thus, low satisfaction. In rare cases, they are met too.

The question that stays is – is it worth the risk to expect more and more?

Scenario 3: You and your expectations are balanced – The healthiest option while eating is to eat as much as the hunger is. Eat less and you will have to fight hunger, eat more and you will have to fight obesity!

Think about it, practically, was it ever easy to balance the see-saw? What did it take to balance? The answer is ‘ Constant effort’. If we are able to balance our skill sets with our expectations we have the right party mix that leads to bliss and satisfaction.

Back to mathematics: Achievement = Talent (Skills and Capability) + Effort (Hard Work) that meets expectations and gets tangible results.

We can infer that if we constantly make an effort to manage our expectations and keep them logical, satisfaction will come our way.

The resolve

Step 1: Set expectations – Make a list of things that you expect to happen in the next three months

Step 2: Validate Expectations – Make a list of skill sets and resources that you need to meet Your expectations

Step 3: Create a plan of action with the three things in it –

1. Defined tasks to be done one at a time in order to meet your expectation.

2. Time lines: Start and End date for each task.

3. Check points: Review your progress on the action plan every week.

Moreover, you can have as many actions plans running together as you like. I would suggest starting with one or two at a time.

Sounds Simple? Trust me that it is not easy because commitment is a rare commodity these days. I hope you apply this tool become satisfied. I use it and it works!

If you were looking for something quicker, easier and the ‘one time fix’ kind to manage your expectations, let me assert that there is no tool like that! Expecting too much again, huh?

The only solution to get satisfaction is to make constant effort towards keeping your expectations in check

Since I am expecting a large Cheeze burst pizza in the next 5 minutes, I will sign off.