Monday, 23 July 2012

You Are Being Watched !

Twinkle-twinkle their wide eyes,
Yes they wonder - are you wise ?
Up above their role so high,
Like a diamond in their sky ….

When my daughter was small , many a time I have seen her  in front of the mirror, draped in one of  my sarees , lip gloss on her face, my laptop bag by her side, talking to herself . She must have conjured up how my office looked like , how I talk to my team  and then created her own dream world. 

Similarly, the team  emulates their leader. They talk like her. They pick up her traits – both good and bad. So, Being a leader is not easy. The leader has to walk the talk. She leads from the front. She has to walk the tightrope between what is right bas her role in the organization and her personal beliefs. 

The following are some of the things which I have practised and they have worked for me .
  1. Be CourteousThe team is in awe of the leader. She holds a position of power and authority. So when she is courteous and acts in the same way with people at different levels in the hierarchy, she earns respect.
  2. Be Fair -  Fairness is a quality which sometimes in practical scenarios , is difficult to practice. Nevertheless, some leaders do this naturally and some learn.  Fairness is one of the key traits of a leader.
  3. Laugh at Yourself – All great leaders have a huge sense of humour.  They have the ability to  look at the bigger picture.  I have seen tense situations melt away when the leader stood up and had a hearty laugh at herself.
  4. Open the doors – Both literally and metaphorically. If the leader has a personal office, keep the doors open. It signifies her openness.  While talking to the people below you in the organizational hierarchy, make them comfortable. A leader exudes warmth and friendliness. The team does not feel threatened. And once their hearts opens to you, they become your biggest allies.  Forever.
Remember, as a leader, you are constantly being watched. Go ahead and make your team feel “insanely”  inspired by your actions.  Let them experience your wisdom and warmth.  

And see them shine like diamonds.  

Monday, 16 July 2012

The idea of " Belonging"

In one of my previous organizations, it was a common water-cooler discussion about how the environment of the office has changed.  People lamented  It is not the same what used to be earlier”.  “I remember the time when we used to have fun at work. Now every morning I groan that I have to go to office”  “Nowadays people do not even smile at each other. Even the office fun activities which we have seems to be crafted and directed by the senior management and we are forced to participate”
What went wrong ? What changed ? Now when I contemplate about it, I think I know the answer. The employees did not “belong” to the organization anymore. They were just placeholders. Just as protein is needed in the diet for the health of the body, the feeling of “belonging” is a basic need for the mind and soul.  At home.  At work.

 According to me , here are a couple of things which the organization’s leadership should do increase the belongingness of their associates
  • The “Fun” activities should be driven by the employees – I remember the times when we formed a small drama society in our office. We used to cut back on our lunch hour and practice and rehearse and conduct shows. It was a huge success and I still receive notes from people (most of them have left the organization) about the fun we had. The people in this group are still a strong virtual community.

  • Ignite creativity by encouraging failure : Innovations happen in an atmosphere where people can work fearlessly. Yes, people will fail. And these failures will strengthen the culture of creativity. And even when he fails , the attempt to create is lauded , the fears will vanish and someday something great will be created. It is guaranteed. And the bond with the employee becomes like steel.

  •  Think Employees : The buzzword today is “employees first” . It is your employees who create the organization. They are the faces to the customers.  Cultivate them. Make them your partners. Have you tried being transparent with them ? Are you treating them fairly ? have you told them your problem ? I have seen magic happen when I have told about a grave situation about the project and the team have forgotten their own and have worked night and day to recover the situation. Smilingly. Without anything extra. With alacrity. Make them your ally. And see the change !

  • Initial touch points matter :  When a person comes for an interview he faces a couple of moments of truths.  Is the appointment happening on time? Is the interviewer smiling and asking whether he wants tea or coffee? In case he is waiting, what does he read ? In my own experience, a magazine or a      newsletter , created by the employees themselves acts as a very good method to start the bonding even at that stage. And even if he is not recruited, he goes back as an ambassador of the organization

  • Build Trust And stick with it : It is not easy. Just like Rome, trust cannot be built in a day. The leader has to be persistent. He will have to walk the talk. Just like in one of my earlier blogs, trust will definitely ECHO.  Yes, there will be non-believers. There will be cynical people. But as long as the organizational leadership repeatedly raise the issue of trust and be strong advocates of it, perseverance will win.  

All of us crave to “belong”.  If this feeling is enhanced, the employees will go the extra mile with a heightened level of ownership.  Win their commitment. And see your business boom !

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Wonderland of Alice

I love Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland" . 

Chanced upon the book again today while I was setting up my library at home.  I had read it when I was in the primary school, once again when I was in college and started reading it again today. Every time I read it, I fall in love with the book again. And again. Every time the same words convey different meaning to me. The same book , but a different me -  with a broader understanding, with a bigger perspective and different world-view. 

Lewis Carroll has put it so simply.  Alice says  "I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I ?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!"   Brilliant ! Leaders are constantly re-inventing themselves. They do things differently. Everyday. All the time. At work and at home. And it makes them uncomfortable if they feel they are doing the same things.  

Are we living in the present like Alice feels  "But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then" .  Do we know our goals or are we like the Mad Hatter  " If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there".

Fantasy is powerful.  Close your eyes and visualize . Let the Alice in you create a Wonderland !

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The "God Particle" of Leadership

The "Goddamn Particle " of Leadership 

The big news today is that of the "God Particle" or Higgs boson. CERN has finally confirmed that the last missing piece of the Standard Model, which describes the basic building blocks of the universe , does exist.  The net, media, twitter etc. are agog with the news. We took 50 years to prove the fact which had been predicted by Higgs. This definitely is a major breakthrough in the world of nuclear science.

Makes me wonder.  

Is leadership science or an art ? Or philosophy ? Philosophy begins where science ends. Leaders have faith. Leaders trust. And most of the times , amazing feats are achieved with faith. Leaders just know. Their faith does not need verification or proof.  When I was a kid, my mother told me a story where a sage asked the milkmaid to bring him a tumbler of milk every morning. The maid said that she lived across the river and there are no boats available early morning. The saint said " Well , you can walk across the river. I know you can walk on water". And she walked on the water. And brought him milk every day. One day a passerby saw her and exclaimed " You can walk on the water !! How is that possible !" The maid said "Oh ! The saint said so and it never crossed my mind that this is impossible !" The seed of doubt germinated.  

She could not cross the river anymore. 

Leaders make the impossible very naturally possible. They create trust . They have the capability to put the "God Particle" in the soul of their followers. And these become the building blocks of a great team !