Friday, 30 September 2016

Teeny Weeny : I am fine ....

"Please come to the terrace for the dinner ... " the host called out to the invitees.

The shehnai was playing the typical wedding tune.

As he climbed up the stairs, he saw her coming down.  She wore a red sari ... her favourite colour ... 

Suddenly she looked up and their eyes locked.

Her eyes widened with sudden recognition. Did he see dark circles under her eyes ? Was she unhappy? 

"How are you ? " he tried to smile. 

"I am fine ...." she somehow managed to answer and then walked down the stairs quickly without looking back...

"I am fine ....  " these three words echoed in his ears... 

How could she be fine ?  Was she really fine without him ? He ran down the stairs to catch a glimpse of her  getting inside  car , her eyes down ... her sari around her shoulders ... beside her husband ...

Did you tell the truth ?? Are you fine Deepa ?  But I am not fine ... tell me you are not fine Deepa .... 

I know you cannot be fine without me ....

Or are you really ..... ?


Teeny-Weenies will spice up the monotony of the leadership posts . Hope you like them.     
Looking forward to your comments.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

How to Manage your Boss effectively

My daughter has recently started working. One day I was giving her some "parental" as well as "professional" advise on how to manage your subordinates and peers. She surprised me by saying "Hmm... but you also need to manage your boss ! " 
Coming from a "brand new" professional, I was impressed. 
I told her the following story of Birbal to explain to her.  
Note : There was a Mogul Emperor in India, Akbar The Great (1542-1605).He himself was illiterate, but he invited several learned people in his court. Among these people, nine were very famous and were called Nav Ratna (nine jewels of the Mogul Crown) of his court. Among these nine jewels, five people were more famous - Tansen, Todarmal, Abul Fazal, Maan Singh and Birbal. Birbal's duties in Akbar's court were mostly administrative and military but he was a very close friend of Akbar too, because Akbar loved his wisdom, wit and subtle humor.
So folks, here goes ....
One day, Akbar was stumbled on a rock in his garden while taking a stroll. He was already in a foul mood that day and this accident made him so angry that he ordered for the gardener's arrest and execution.
The next day, at the time of execution, the gardener was asked what his last wish was before he was hanged, he requested an audience with the emperor.  His wish was granted and he was brought in the royal court.
He greeted the Emperor and then walked towards his throne, saying that he wanted to just have one last close look at the Emperor. When he came near the Emperor, he loudly cleared his throat and spat at the feet of the Emperor.
The Emperor’s anger knew no bounds and he demanded to know why the lowly gardener did such an outrageous thing. The gardener had done this on Birbal's advice. He stepped forward in the gardener's defense and politely said, "I do not know of a person that is as loyal to you as this unfortunate gardener. Fearing that tomorrow people may criticize you for taking his life for a small reason, he went out of his way to give you a genuine reason for ordering him to be hanged. He has done his final duty for you. Now he can leave for his heavenly abode peacefully."
The Emperor realized his mistake and set the gardener free.

"So... ? " I asked her. "What did you learn about managing your boss ?"

"Well , Thus looks like Help me Help You stuff " She said . "Also, the Emperor finally realized his mistake . So Birbal helped him bringing solutions to the impending problem or embarassment "

"Good ! What else ?" I prodded

"It is also about communication. You have to understand the pulse of your boss and communicate likewise. Here Birbal did it very creatively , without hurting Akbar's sentiments..." She said 
"And again, you have to have a good idea of the big picture when you talk to your boss",  I helped her.  "Just like Birbal had understood the situation and helped his boss by taking things off his plate and took the extra responsibility of talking to the gardener and making him act as he did .  Again, he showed initiative and enthusiasm when he stepped forward in the gardener's defense ".
"Yes " She smiled . 
And I smiled back. 
Mutual admiration club... Ahem ... !

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Perils of Power

I don’t know what happened  “ my brother was visibly worried , “My boss was not like this earlier … He has become so rude and inconsiderate …  Tell me , is it possible for a person to change so drastically  ?

Changed .. is that what you said ? “ I asked him.

Yeah !  Changed ! “ He reiterated. “He was so kind and understanding earlier !"

Hmm .. Tell me … was he promoted recently or have there been any other changes in his role  ?

Yes. He was promoted about a year back and  about three months back he has become the Project  Manager of  a very strategic assignment in our organization. I too am a part of that project. Initially I was so happy and excited to be under him as I had worked with him earlier. I had also told my peers about my boss and his demeanor , but …. I don’t know what happened to him … seems to be a different person


Well .. it happens ! “ I told him coolly “It can happen to you too …. Once you assume a position of power and you are not mindful  about it !

Actually, this is quite a common phenomenon.

Power tends to corrupt and people lose the very qualities which actually made them  great leaders and rise to that position.  

Qualities like openness, empathy, collaboration, fairness fade away and they engage in absolutely the opposite qualities like rudeness, favouritism  and sometimes in unethical behavior.

There have been several researches on this. I read in one Harvard Business review article about an interesting experiment.  Groups of 5 people – 4 team members and one supervisor, were invited for a training.  A plate of cookies was kept in front of them during the session. It had one cookie for each and one extra. 

It was found out that  95% of the times, it was the supervisor who ate the extra cookie, depriving the rest !

Most of the time, the organizational culture induces this effect.  

For example, you might have noticed that during any party or event, the seniors are offered food first. My husband works for the Railways and there the culture is even more pronounced.  The junior officers have to sweat it out in rooms which has basic facilities and the Senior officers have 4 ACs fitted in their huge offices !  

I have advocated to many CEO’s that during events, the leaders should eat the last . 

It helps in building a strong culture in the organization – at no cost !

So , I told my brother “ Yes,  It happens ! But remember that this might sound the death knell for his career and sometime or the other he might lose the power which he has now … So dear bro, it can happen to you too when you get power. So be careful !  “

So how can we avoid this ?

  • Be mindful  : Whenever you are feeling heady or very excited, take a deep breath and repeat in your mind that you have power and you should respect it .  Know your emotions and try to control it.

  • Practice empathetic body language : Whenever someone comes to talk to you, lean forward and smile.  Listen. Yes, I know you have lots of emails to respond to, your to do list is huge, but remember that to  the person who has come to you , this  moment is very important for him. Give your full attention, make notes.

  •  Small gestures :  Give your personal touch – both literally and figuratively.  A clap, a high five, a huge smile at the appropriate moment will bring out the best for you who are in power in the eyes of your subordinates.  A small  handwritten note of appreciation,  a token gift,  a thank you email  will make you look a big person with a big heart !

  • Self Checks : Do some self introspection and try to look for patterns to take corrective actions. For example, are you checking your whatsapp or messages on phone when someone is talking to you ? Are you ridiculing anyone publicly ? Are you spending too much money which you did not do earlier? Is your desk messy and you expect  the peon to clean it up for you?  Have you recently tried some daring adventure contrary to earlier times ?  These are some simple questions whose answer will help you in  evaluating yourself whether power is making you a mean person or not.  These are simply some indications .   So check yourself and mend ways before it is too late.

On the same note , I read a very  heartening news last week in the newspaper. The newly appointed Governor of Haryana was perturbed to find that there were long queues of cars on the road because a part of the road had been blocked for his security. The next day , he made it clear that there should be minimal arrangements for his security and that under no circumstances the public should be inconvenienced for his movement.  

That showed his humility, confidence, empathy and definitely his upbringing as a scion of an erstwhile Royal family.

So dear leaders, be aware that power can corrupt you. 

Be as you were before and empower others more !