Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Heart and Science of it


Two handsome men were standing near the huge window on the 10th floor of a building looking down on the stream of people and vehicles passing on the streets. 

They were silent . One of them was brooding and the other one felt a bit awkward.  The silence was "insanely" reverberating between them. 

Suddenly , the brooding man said softly  Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” 

Yes, you guessed it correctly. 

This is what Steve Jobs said to Pepsi executive John Sculley when he wanted Sculley to join Apple inc. 

Steve Jobs knew that this would hit Sculley where he wanted .  

His heart. 

Jobs had got  it absolutely right.  If you have to win over anyone, target his heart.  

Leadership - a science or an art ? This has been a topic of debate for at least the last 6 - 7 decades.  I ,for one ,strongly believe that it is an art. 

Leaders  lead. 

They have followers. 

They set a goal, motivate people and take them towards the vision. The mission of the leader becomes the team's mission. This can be achieved only if there is emotional bonding between the leader and her followers. And the emotional bonding happens not through any technology but through the heart.  Well , mind too perhaps. But the mind gets dominated by the heart. 

Take the example of the hit Sci-fi movie "ET".  It was a technological wonder when it was released. The concept, the animation, the technological bar was raised by Spielberg.  

But think about it. What was the film about ? It was about the emotions of the extra terrestrial who got left behind on the earth. It was about the bond which he forges with the kids. It was about the sorrow as well as the joy which we felt when finally the ET finally went back to his land.  

Similarly the animation movies "The Little Mermaid", the "Lion King" ... all my favourite , maybe yours too. When we saw the movies, yes, we appreciated the wonderful animations, the voice-overs , the music, but what we remember about them was the story, the joy which had made us laugh  with "Hakuna Matata" and the sorrow of Ariel when she loses her voice ... 

It is our heart.  

In this hour of uncertainty in the economy, I know of leaders who have had to take tough decisions. A leader who is an artist with his words and actions and has integrity, knows how to handle even these unpleasant encounters and still be trusted , respected  and coveted. 

Try this out. 

Name your favourite manager or leader whom you adored , respected and trust and tell me why you think s/he was the greatest.  Most of the things which you will list will be, in all possibility be something which had actually touched your heart and soul in some way or the other. 

Go ahead, share the names and the reasons in the comments below. 

Cheers !

Monday, 13 February 2017

Mind Games

Answer the following in 3 seconds .

What do you think of  Prashant and Jack from the following statements ? 

Prashant : Intelligent, smart, industrious, critical, stubborn , envious 
Jack        : Envious, stubborn, critical, industrious, smart, intelligent

If you are true to yourself , then like most of us, you have viewed Prashant more favourably than Jack.  But if you have taken more than 3 seconds to answer this, then you would have noticed that the adjectives are exactly the same ! But still 90% of us have concluded that Prashant is a better candidate !

Dear readers, our mind is a very very complex thing. 

Here , many things have come into play in the 3 seconds. One is called the "Halo Effect" and the other is called the "Recency effect" . The sequencing of the adjectives have proved to be vital. 

Our mind has believed and visualized the personality of the person after reading the first three adjective.  The "recency" of the words have cast a shadow on our mind and the Prashant got away with the "halo" created around him.  

This is a very subtle thing and in the office environment, this can make or break a person. 

As leaders , we should be aware of this and when we are judging any employee, we should ask ourselves, am I being directed by the mind to believe what I am hearing ? Am I hearing the correct thing ? Am I being fair ? 

A professor realized that when she is correcting the examination papers,  she tends to give marks which are homogenous. That is, if the first answer is very well written and the student got high marks, even if the second answer was not so great, the professor's mind said "How can he make such a mistake ? I am sure he was distracted ...".  So, the marks got influenced. 

Then she changed her method. She corrected the first answers of all the students and then the second answer of all the students and so on ... Though the correction took more time, she was satisfied that she had judged the students fairly without any bias. 

I will end this post with another question. 

Please answer this in 2 seconds . 

A bat and ball costs Rs 1.10
The bat costs one Rupee more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost ?

What number came to your mind ? I know, the number is 10 paisa. 

Sorry, it is the wrong answer. 

It is simple maths. If the bat costs one Rupee more than the ball and the ball costs 10 paisa, then the total cost will be Rs 1.20 ! 

The correct answer is 5 paisa !

The point I want to make is that, the number 10 came intuitively to us and it was wrong !

Leaders, let us be humble. Sometimes what comes instinctively to our mind is not correct. We have to take our minds in control and think rather than jumping to conclusions.  These are the situations where we should try not to be guided too much by our intuition , rather we should try to be more rational. 

Now that the performance appraisal season is soon approaching, can we look at these little things which matter, take our minds and intuition in control , try to be rational before judging anyone ? 

Remember,  for you it might be a small mistake (if you realize it later), but for the person on the other side of the table, it means a lot.  

It is his future, his self pride, his self confidence. 

Take care .  

Be Fair !

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Three Dolls

I am a great fan of the wit of Tenaliraman's  stories (See Wiki :TENALIRAMA). 

Apart from the humour and the wit, I gather a lot of  corporate lessons from these.  From this story we can gather two lessons. But this will be later in the post. First read the story. Here goes ...

The great king Krishna Deva Raya had a lot of wise ministers in his court. The wisest of them was Tenali Rama. One day, a merchant came to the king’s court.  He saluted the king and said, “Your Majesty, I have heard from many people that you have very wise ministers in your court. But with your permission, I would like to test the wisdom of your ministers.” 

"Go ahead " said the King. 

The merchant gave the king three dolls that looked identical

He said, “Though these dolls look similar, they are different in some way. If your ministers can find out the difference, I will bow to their wisdom. But if they can’t, I will assume that there are no wise ministers in your court. I will be back in seven days for the answer.”

Tenali Rama was sick and he was not available in the court.   At the end of three days, none of the ministers could figure out the difference

The king got worried and went to visit Tenali Rama . 

He said to him, “Tenali it is a matter of our honour now. Since no one has been able to find the solution, it is up to you now. You have to find the difference between these dolls.” 

The problem proved difficult for Tenali too, but at last, he was able to figure out the difference. 

He went to the court with the three dolls on the day that the merchant had to return. Then, he announced in front of the whole court that he had found the difference between the dolls. 

He said, “These three dolls are different because one of them is good, one average and one bad.” 

When everyone asked Tenali that which doll was which, he showed them a tiny hole that was present in the ears of each of the dolls. Then, he took a very thin wire and put it in the hole of the first doll’s ear. The wire came out from the doll’s mouth. He did the same with the second doll and the wire came out from the doll’s other ear. In the third doll,the wire went to the heart and did not come out.

"So , can anyone tell me which Doll is which ? " Tenali said

There was a minister in the court who was very jealous of Tenali Rama. 

He laughed derisively. 

"That's easy" he said . 

 “In the first doll, the wire went in through the ear and came out through the mouth. So, this doll is bad as it represents people who cannot keep a secret. In the second doll, the wire came out of the other ear. So, it is average and represents harmless people who do not understand what is said to them. The third doll, in which the wire went to the heart and did not come out, represents good people who will keep the secret that you tell them.”

The king, the merchant and all the courtiers were very impressed with this wise answer. He jealous minister beamed. 

Then Tenali said, “But there can be another explanation too. The first doll represents people who gain knowledge and spread it among others, so it is good. The second doll represents people who do not understand what they are taught, so it is average. The third doll represents people who have knowledge but keep it all to themselves. They do not teach anyone anything and so they are bad people "

The King smiled. The merchant smiled.

I gathered two insights from this story . 

We  see that there are always two sides of any analogy. The personality  of the person reflects through his thoughts. If you are crooked, your thoughts will be crooked and if you are straight and fair, your thoughts will be likewise. 

Second lesson is from Tenali Rama's explanation.  In our organizations, we look for the third kind of persons to be leaders

Leaders  who spread knowledge , grows himself and help others grow !

Cheers to Tenali Rama !