Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Why do we Fail ?

Recently I came across a post in a leading internet site. It said : 

Why do I fail at everything I do. I cannot find anything that I am good at?

I'm now in my late forties and have had a number of "careers" which I have failed at. I recently was fired and was told that it was due to continually making the same mistakes. I went back to school at the age of 40 .. After failing at so many things , I now find my confidence has been shot and I feel like a total failure. I'm not sure what to do. If anyone has any suggestions or can even relate please feel free to jump in.

Whether we admit it or not, all of us have failed in our lives sometime or the other. I am not saying that failure is bad.Successful people take failure as a learning step in the right direction  In fact, it is good to fail sometimes and I will expand more on this aspect in another blog post, but why do we fail ? 

  • Quitting too early :  Failing does not mean that we are not good . It does not mean that we will be deemed as "Failures".  Quitting is easy. Persistence and grit are difficult. But if we can persist, we are bound to succeed. As Churchill said "Never, never, never, never, never, give up".  Always remember, that maybe when you gave up, you were just about to succeed !

  • Losing Confidence : Sometimes , when we are failing again and again, we lose confidence in ourselves. We become mentally fatigued and weak. But the people who can keep a brave face are the ones who taste success. It takes a lot of effort , but that is the difference between the traits of an ordinary person and an extraordinary one.  We can be one of them. 

  • Not taking lessons from past mistakes :  Wise people learn from their mistakes.  All of us take the advise of experienced people when we are in a fix because of the simple reason that they have gone through and learnt from situations which we have not yet encountered. The lessons which they have learnt from their failure enrich our journey. Similarly, our past mistakes should guide us towards success. We should harvest our past mistakes.

  • Being afraid of losing our empire : Sometimes when we become too comfortable in our life , specially at work, we fear of losing the empire which we have built so painstakingly. That makes us risk averse and after a certain point, we stop growing and learning.  The current economic situation is making people more and more fearsome and that prevents us from stretching the boundaries .  The more we fear, the worse we will do at our jobs and the more we are destined to fail.  Success means taking risks, learning pushing forward and growing. 

  • Lack of Goals : Sometimes , in our lives and in our career, we feel that we have "hit the ceiling".  We feel that  there is no where to go further. Our lives have reached a full-stop.  Yes. It is true that this does happen. But , to succeed, we have to sense this before we reach the stage when we think that we cannot progress further and take positive steps on the next part of our lives and career.  We should have a clear vision where we want to go.  It is perfectly fine to make changes to your goals when the need arises, to think about altering your course. We can always have a list of excuses, but to succeed , we need clarity of thoughts, self discipline and a sense of self worth.  Remember, everything is in finally in the mind ! 
 (Click and read my blog post link " It is all in the mind .... Stupid")

Whatever problems we might be facing, we have to believe in ourselves and have trust on ourselves. We have to remember that as long as we are alive, we have the ability to try and solve it .  

To overcome failure and succeed, we have to keep on moving. 

We have to make things happen rather than wait for things to happen to us. 

What is your take on reasons for failure ?  Want to add more to the list ?  I will be happy to learn more from you , so please write your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Who is Barun Biswas ?

10 years ago, in a sleepy village named Sutia , near Calcutta,  in the State of  West Bengal,  in the Eastern part of India, on a rainy July morning, some people had huddled together distributing pamplets. They had come together to protest against the spate of crimes in Sutia. They talked in hushed voices , with a despondent look on their faces. People passed by with their umbrellas , not paying heed to their meek voices- afraid ... .  Suddenly, a young man in his late twenties, walked up proudly and spoke on the mike. His voice was fearlessly bold and calm. " If we cannot take care of our mothers and sisters , we do not deserve to live in  a civilized society.  It is better to be dead than living in constant fear. Come, let us join hands and protect the honour of  the women ".  This young, bold, courageous gentleman was Barun Biswas.  He sparked the fire of  the movement against atrocities  in the "Rape Village " - the unofficial name given to Sutia. 

A gang of politically powerful goons , led by a miscreant named Sushanta Chowdhury , prowled the Sutia area. They extorted the people and used gang rapes as a means to silence the protests. Anyone who protested or wanted to go to the police were silenced by the gang by raping the females of the family, in front of their eyes. By official numbers, there were about 40-45 rapes in two years , a dozen or more murders , but the actual numbers were much more. Barun spearheaded the formation of a group named Pratibadi Mancha, who helped the families garner courage and the first FIRs against rape were registered.  He helped the rape victims get married.  Slowly, many people joined the movement and the Government was almost forced to take notice.  Finally , Sushanta Chowdhury was arrested and is currently serving in jail. 

On July 5th, 2012, after alighting from the suburban local train at Gobardanga Station , he was gunned down by some unidentified youth.  It is being suspected that Sushanta Chowdhury had masterminded the killing from jail.

But, his fight for peace and justice lives on. The threat remains but the fear is gone .  In the houses of Sutia, the garlanded photograph of Barun Biswas is kept beside the idols of the gods and goddesses. 

Barun Biswas was made of steel.  The son of a poor landless farmer, he had this passionate streak of helping others.  Even in school, he was never afraid of speaking up - even against his teachers , if the need be. He was scared of no one and  helped the needy at the cost of his own comfort. There were numerous needy students who he had helped and given shelter - offered them his own bed while he slept on a plastic sheet.  He bought medicines for the poor and elderly,  gave free coaching to bright students seeking jobs. He had submitted a plan for dredging a canal to prevent flooding of Sutia and nearby villages.  Recently this plan has been passed by the government.  He had passed the state civil services examination , but he wanted to stay in his village and, so he took up the job of a school teacher in Sutia. And he enjoyed it. It gave him so much more time for social service.  "Nothing pleased him more than helping people. He did it passionately, out of genuine love for the people," said Arun Biswas, his brother.

"If killing Barun was meant to gag the voice of protest, hundreds of Baruns will emerge . He will live through our work" - the villagers say. He is their Guardian Angel.

Barun , you will not be forgotten.

On 5th July, 2012, as you lay on the station platform, crying for help, with bullets riddled in your body , no one came forward to help you.  Forgive us Barun !

Your dog Bholu, still sits on the steps of your house, waiting for his master to return. 

We too are waiting for you, Barun... through thousands of common people in the world who will protest whenever they see injustice.... 

Your Leadership has sown the seeds of many many leaders in Sutia village , who are taking your cause forward .

Long live Barun.  May your tribe increase !

Thursday, 22 August 2013

It is all in the Mind ... Stupid !

A few days back, I bumped into an old school friend of mine. 

After a few minutes of exchanging pleasantries, she asked  me “ Ananya, do you remember Vidya? “  

I said  “Of course I do. She was the head girl of the school when we were in class 10th.  A very bright, sweet, mild and intelligent girl.  I really liked the way she used to enact Shakespeare in school and she was very humble and friendly with everybody . What about her ? Did you meet her? How is she ?” 

Well, it is really sad…. She is in a mess.  I met her last month. She is suffering from severe depression. You know , she was studying medicine, but quit when she was in her last semester. She feels she is not capable of anything. In fact, I was really upset to see that she could not even operate her cell phone properly… really sad ….!”

Vidya was the brightest student in our batch. She was good in academics, extra curricular activities and was friendly with everybody. All of us loved her.  We used to imitate the way she talked,  her dressing sense, her haircut et al.  I remember, one day , Vidya and I had stayed back in school for a drama practice.  She told me a strange thing on that day.  When I recall that now,  I get a glimpse of what must have gone wrong. She had told me “ Ananya, do you think I will be able to become a doctor ?  You know , my mother keeps on telling me that I am too soft to handle tough situations” .

This is what I think must have gone wrong.

When you constantly hear negative things about yourself, somehow, you start believing in them.  After sometime, she must have started believing it and in her mind, the constant conversation and conflict of these negative thoughts must have been hard on her. 

 Patterns of positive or negative self talk starts mostly in our childhood.  It is very important to curb the negative self talk and replace it with positive ones.

 Though it should start early, but any time is a good time. 

  • Notice Your Patterns - The first step toward change is to become more aware of the problem. You probably don’t realize how often you say negative things in your head, or how much it affects your experience. An effective method to know is Journaling . At the end of the day, write all the negative thoughts which have crossed your mind. Once you do this for a few days, you will be able to identify what you need to curb.  As soon as some negative thoughts come to your mind,  say “Stop !”. Better if you can say it aloud.

  • Replace Negative statements :   Words , which we say in our minds as well as aloud , have a huge impact on us. Replace powerful negative words with milder ones. Example, “Impossible” with “difficult", “Pain” with “discomfort”,  “hate” with “anger”.  It works. Believe me.  Also,when faced with adversity, we should proactively see how we can change the adversity with advantage. For example, when we have to cancel a trip at the last moment , after the rush of disappointment, can we feel that maybe the time that we have in our hands now can be fruitfully used, and anyways we can always go for the trip later.  Many a times, when I feel really down, I think of one of my visits to the hospital. Seeing all the ailing people made me think how lucky I was to be able to do simple things like breathe, walk and smile. I know it is difficult, but when we try proactively, it can be done. This is the way to build resilience. 

  •  Develop The Right Attitude : Resilient people tend to view life’s difficulties as challenges and respond accordingly with action, rather than with fear, self-pity, blame or a "victim mentality.". Part of resilience is emotional awareness.  it’s important to understand what you’re feeling and why. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed with their emotions, and this frightens and immobilizes them. Knowing why you feel upset can provide valuable information about what needs to change in your life.

  • Feel that you are in control : Resilient people believe that they’re in control of their lives, and it’s true. While we can’t control our circumstances, we can control how we respond to those circumstances, and that makes a big difference in our attitudes and in the course our lives   Be optimistic.

  • Visualize A Better Life : Building and maintaining a visual image of what you want in your life (instead of focusing on what you don’t want) can be a powerful way to attain positive change and opportunity. Make a detailed list of what you’d like in your life. Sit down daily and visualize what your new life would look like and how it would feel to have these changes. (Click and read my blog post on  Positive Visualization)
I am a great believer in the " Law of Attraction”.  I plan to write a separate blog post on this.  

It is a real pity that unknowingly we do damage to our children and people whom we mentor,  in a way that it becomes self deprecating for them. In workplaces,we should motivate people and  bring out the best in them by praising and giving constructive feedback rather than criticizing .

 As leaders we have to understand that each person is a unique individual and everybody is a mix of good and bad. As parents, leaders, mentors, we have to bring out the best in them. We have to motivate them to make them shine.

If we do, then the Vidyas of the world will be able to realize their dreams and the world will be a happier place. 

Note : The name has been changed for anonymity

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Be sure that the work will NOT be done IF .....

All of us know the story about Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. Just to re cap ...

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.

Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when actually Nobody asked Anybody.

This is the age old  recipe for the work not getting done !

I have experienced many meetings where significant decisions were taken and there were several to-do's listed out.  All of us nodded our agreement to do these, but finally it was not done . The sole reason for this was that there was no designated "Owner" for the tasks. 

  • Against each line item of to-do's , put a name. This is the owner of the task. Being an owner does not mean that s/he is supposed to DO the task. Her responsibility is to see that the work is completed.  She can create a group or delegate the work, but finally, she is answerable if the task is not done

  • Even if you put a name, be sure it will stretch endlessly if there is no planned completion date.  Insist on an end date . Reassure the owner that the date can be modified in case there are any hurdles in the job. 

  • If the above two points are there and you do not have any means of tracking the items, again, you will not be sure that the task list will see the light of the day.  Create a regular mechanism to track the list . It is not necessary that you would have to meet , but emails, phone calls etc can be simple mechanisms for tracking.  What works best for me when there are multiple tasks and owners,  after tracking, consolidation of the progress of the item and sending the update to all the stake holders - including the owners. 

The above points makes everybody focused on the tasks. Tasks get done because ownership is given to one person. S/he feels responsible, important and answerable and usually the work gets completed successfully.

What do you think ? Any more tips from your experience?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Five Great Ways to build Culture

I perform a simple test in some of my Leadership workshops. 

To the group of  leaders sitting in the room, I  ask "On the piece of  paper in front of you, write the names of two organizations where you really enjoyed working and you get just 2 seconds to write".  And once they are done, I ask some of them to tell everybody why they loved to work there. 

Inevitably, what comes out  is the admiration of  the "Culture" of the organizations. 

As Leaders, we have to build the Culture of the organization. Culture is like Internal Branding.  Culture is built upon the Values , Mission and Vision of the organization. Culture binds the employees together and they feel themselves as  a part of a community. 

These are some great ways to build the Culture :

  •  Rituals :  In one of the organizations where I worked,  every project had their own "Team Cheer".  At the end of every meeting or gathering or celebration, the full team cheered together . I remember calling out "Hakuna Matata " (No worries) every time we had a meeting in one of my projects. When we said it together, we all smiled and felt geared up, cheerful and ready to take on the world ! Simple rituals like Monthly birthday parties, team huddles, burger parties builds a cult in the project and the organization. The best companies - Google,  Walmart, Dell have these rituals. 

  •  Values :   Most of the organizations have values. And most of the values are just a picture on the wall , near the reception area.  To build a culture, the first step is to create a solid set of  values for the organization. Something which the leadership believes in. Things which define the character of the organization.  The next and the most difficult step is to communicate the values and actually "live" them.  Talk about the values in all the gatherings, meetings, presentations, activities. Touch upon at least one facet of the values whenever you talk to your team.  Act according to the values so that your team can emulate you.

  • People  :  It is the employees who build an organization. So , to build the culture, we have to build them first.  Be paranoid about recruiting the best fit not only for the present but in the future too. Investment in employee development like organizing Leadership workshops,  team leading, team building sessions,  technical trainings etc. go a ,long way in building the culture of  learning in an organization.  The employees should be nurtured such that the culture is ingrained in their hearts and they it in the organization 

  •  Unique Story :  Every organization has its unique story. How it was started by five college friends with their savings in a garage. How they overcame the hurdles. These stories should be narrated at the appropriate time and gathering. These informal stories become a part of the culture and instills a sense of pride. 

  • Workplace Setup :  Many  organizations do not have any cubes. It shows "Open"culture. Why does Google let their software engineers decorate their own desks ? Yahoo now wants their employees to run into each other for better and more frequent interaction. So the way the office is designed impacts the behaviour and reinforces the values and the culture of the organization. 

So, do you want to architect the culture of your organization or your project ? 

Which ones from the above do you think you would like to  implement ? 

Monday, 29 July 2013

2 stories which my Granny told me

My Granny was a feisty lady and she told me many tales. These are two of them , which I find relevant in all situations in life . 

Thinking out of the Box 

Long time ago,  a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a wicked  moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant's beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant's debt if he could marry the daughter.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender's wife and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the merchant's garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

The Girl thought quickly. She has the following options :

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2.The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked." Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an advantageous one.

Do not be intimidated by the size of the problem. Just keep your mind alive and open and think ....


The Three races

There was a young athletic boy,hungry for success, for whom winning was everything and success was measured by wins.

One day, the boy was preparing himself for a running competition in his small native village, himself and two other young boys to compete. A large crowd had congregated to witness the sporting spectacle and a wise old man, upon hearing of the little boy, had travelled far to bear witness .

The race commenced, looking like a level heat at the finishing line, but sure enough the boy dug deep and called on his determination, strength and power .. he took the winning line and was first. The crowd was ecstatic and cheered and waved at the boy. The wise man remained still and calm, expressing no sentiment. The little boy, however. felt proud and important.

A second race was called, and two new young, fit, challengers came forward, to run with the little boy. The race was started and sure enough the little boy came through and finished first once again. The crowd was ecstatic again and cheered and waved at the boy. The wise man remained still and calm, again expressing no sentiment. The little boy, however, felt proud and important.

"Another race, another race!" pleaded the little boy. The wise old man stepped forward and presented the little boy with two new challengers, an elderly frail lady and a blind man. "What is this?", quizzed the little boy. "This is no race" he exclaimed.

"Race!", said the wise man. The race was started and the boy was the only finisher, the other two challengers left standing at the starting line. The little boy was ecstatic, he raised his arms in delight. The crowd, however, was silent showing no sentiment toward the little boy.

"What has happened? Why not do the people join in my success?" he asked the wise old man. "Race again", replied the wise man, "...this time, finish together, all three of you, finish together" continued the wise man.  The little boy thought a little, stood in the middle of the blind man and the frail old lady, and then took the two challengers by the hand. The race began and the little boy walked slowly, ever so slowly, to the finishing line and crossed it. The crowd were ecstatic and cheered and waved at the boy. The wise man smiled, gently nodding his head. The little boy felt proud and important.

"Old man, I understand not! Who are the crowd cheering for? Which one of us three?", asked the little boy. The wise old man looked into the little boy's eyes, placing his hands on the boy's shoulders, and replied softly .. "Little boy, for this race you have won much more than in any race you have ever ran before, You have helped others win and with them , you too have won !"

Leaders help others to win and set them up for success !

Liked the stories ? Do leave a comment on what you think !

Monday, 22 July 2013

4 Situations Where You should use the Power of Silence

Many great men have spoken about the Power of silence

These a few of my favorite ones ......

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause"  

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” 

“You should try not to talk so much, friend. You'll sound far less stupid that way"

“Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken” 

“We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out..”

"He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak"

“There is nothing harder, at moments, than talking to someone who has all the power of silence.” 

The following are some of my own experiments with Silence and you bet they have worked for me :

  • During Presentations : I plan for the appropriate place during my presentations , where I deliberately pause with somewhat long silence.  This is usually done when I have told the audience a story. I give a long pause, looking directly at them. I can sense their involvement by the pin drop silence  and then when I say something , it has a really big impact  ! 

  • During Negotiations :  Silence works during negotiations. There will be moments when both the parties become quiet and it seems as if the discussions have come to a stand still . These moments are really awkward. But a good negotiator is strong enough to endure the awkwardness of the silent minutes and remain silent and stoic  so that the other party re opens the conversation.  This sure is tough - at least to me - and it comes with practice.

  •  When you are Angry :  Whether it is a face to face conversation or a telephonic one or over email, if you are really angry or upset, do not respond. Remain silent for sometime. The rule of thumb for email is that do not respond or 24 hours. There have been several instances where I have seen things in a different light after I have regained my composure and I could respond in a more sensible manner. "I have often regretted my speech but never my silence". 

  • When you have to make a point :  Several times while giving feedback for improvement, I have experienced strong vocal arguments - explaining and defending themselves. It is a natural human tendency to react to negative feedback. If the manager has enough emotional intelligence, she will not react. Instead she will remain silent till the other person calms down and even beyond that. "Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute"

Have you tried the Power of Silence ? 

Do let me know about your experiences with the unspoken words.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Will They Weep when you Leave ?

It was a very unusual sight.

In the cafeteria of a big corporate house, a group of people had joined tables and were sitting in a circle. All of them had a somber look on their faces. People had tears in their eyes and a nostalgic smile on their face. The person at the head of the table was looking at their faces and smiled brightly albeit with a few tears glistening in her eyes.  It was a informal farewell party of the Manager of the team. 

All of us know that people leave their bosses and not the organization. But the reverse is also true. People stay in organizations for their bosses. But these type of bosses are a rare phenomenon.  

So what do these leaders do that the team weeps when they leave ?  

  • They Teach :  One of my school friends, recently created a Facebook page of my Alma Mater and many of us uploaded photographs of our schooldays and our school teachers.  I was surprised to see that almost all of us remembered our favorite teachers who taught us not only text books , but something more... They taught us values which we be have carried with us ... The same goes for Managers/Leaders.  Ask yourself, are you only concerned with project delivery or with every interaction with you, your team is learning something more ?

  • They care  : In the corporate world,  sometimes we think that if you are caring and concerned about your team, they will take advantage.  The project manager/leader might be branded as a "soft" manager.  I somehow totally disagree with this. I think the managers who show emotional intelligence and care for their team , win them over for life.  A smile, a pat of appreciation soars the motivation of the team to the highest level.  Do you smile often ? Read my post [Should Leaders Smile]  Do you remember their birthdays ? Do you speak encouragingly when you feel they are trying hard to meet the deadline but are facing some problems ?

  • They share  : Being the Manager does not mean that you should not share your problems with the team. It is sure lonely at the top and if a leader shares some of the problems with her team, she will be surprised . I have experienced many situations when I told about the problem in the project, the team came up with innovative ideas. All the more, they will  stretch themselves hard. Sharing leads to de-stressing of the leader as well as build a rock solid team, with a shared goal. When the team sees that the leader is also as vulnerable as they are, they will extend their hand and become partners of success. Do you put down your guards and share both the good and the bad with your team ? 

         Share, Care and Teach . 

        And when you leave the organization and your team , see them weep !

       Can you give some more behavior traits of such leaders ?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Buffalo and Geese Leadership

Buffalo hunters had a trick to capture the herd.

They found out the leader of the herd and killed him. Once the leader was dead, the rest stood around waiting for instructions which never came and hunters could capture them easily. 

How do the Geese view the leader ?The Geese always fly together in a V formation. When the Leader is tired, another goose takes his position to lead. Each Goose is expected to take responsibility at some point in the flight.

While a leader is away, how does the team react ? Do they stand around waiting for instructions  like the herd of buffaloes or do they distribute the responsibility amongst themselves like the Geese ? More importantly, how does the leader react ? Is he too constantly on the phone, giving flurry of instructions and expecting things be done as per his wish even if he is not there physically ? These are the typical signs of distinguishing  organizations whether they have  Buffalo or Geese leadership. 

Organizations having Buffalo Leadership will not survive in today's global market.

The ultimate test of leadership is to check how well her team performs in the absence of the leader.  And this happens only when people are Empowered and adept at Self leadership.  Though these two words Empowerment and Self Leadership have been the buzzwords for some time, there are some barriers to implement them.  Knowledge is power. The managers control access to information as well as relationships to maintain power over their teams. The middle level managers should also be empowered and convinced that the better their teams perform it will add to their accomplishment too. Most Managers and Leaders feel that all the activities/work should be done only as per their way. 

"I am the boss " is the attitude and any disagreements or good suggestions are silenced immediately as it hurts their ego. 

Suppose, as a leader you feel that you have empowered your team . So how do you check whether  it has actually happened or not ? The following are some of the tests :

  • Does your team take initiative ? If the people are empowered, they will feel free to take initiatives and after proper discussions will see that action has been taken.
  • Do they think critically and find opportunities for improvement ?  Is your team fearless and identify weak areas which needs improvement ? If they are really empowered with a collective vision, they will look beyond immediate quick fixes and prevent future problems.
  • Does your team know what is expected of them and feels that they have the freedom to do their job well ?
  • Does your team feel that their manager/leader takes time to listen to their concerns and genuinely tries to take action  ? 
If  the answer to the above questions are "Yes " , then  you can be sure that the job will be done even if you are not around for sometime.  You can be proud of your empowered team !

So what do you think you have in your organization ? Buffalo Leaders  or Geese Leaders ?

Monday, 1 July 2013

My Three Interview Questions

One of my favourite question which I ask  the people during job interview is "What are your hobbies ? ".  I usually ask this question bang in between other technical and work related questions . Usually there is a pause of surprise and confusion not only on the interviewee's face but also on my co-interviewer's faces. 

There are different reactions to this question.  Some people fumble and do not know what to answer. This was not in their FAQ list.  Some give a blank look and rattle several things   - music, dance,  soccer... There is a third type who after the initial pause of surprise, suddenly seem excited. 

There is a spark in their eyes . Then they talk about their hobby .   

My next question is related to the previous one. If someone says their hobby is reading, I ask him about the last book which he read and why he liked it.   Or if their hobby is music, I ask a related question. My next question is "If you had the freedom to choose any role in the organization, what would you choose and why ?"

After these three questions, I carry on the rest of the interview. To be frank, even before the final lap of the interview, I know whether I will select the person or not.  I have been asked several times why I place so much importance to these two questions.  Well , I look for one thing .  Passion.

  • Passion keeps you going :  It is very important for everybody to be passionate about at least something in his/her life. When a person's eyes lights up while talking about the recent photography he has done, I know that the fire is inside him. If this fire can be lit up in his work , he will be a great fit in the organization.

  • Passion comes from within :  When I ask the third question about the role which he will choose and why, I get a clear picture about his work passion. Whether it is leading or technical problem solver, collaborating, or directing,the way the answer is articulated again guides me about what they really want to be .. what is it that will goad them to excel at work.  I usually spend a lot of time talking about this aspect.

  • Passion helps in innovation :  If you are passionate about  something, you will  find innovative ways to go around the problem.  Until the problem is solved, the passion inside you will goad you towards success. I have seen insurmountable tasks being done by passionate people. He kept on going when everybody else had given up. 

  • Work is sheer joy :  Though it is an ideal state, but when someone is lucky enough to work on something which he is passionate about, work is just not work. Long hours are not stressful. The satisfaction of  completing a well designed web page or composing a jingle or fixing a complex bug gives immense joy.  If you love what you do, you will never work a single day of your life.  

Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet , Marc Zuckerberg have all talked about finding passion in what you do. They have said "Never underestimate the power of passion "

And for organizations - "One person with passion is better that forty people merely interested "

What do you think ?  Is my style of interviewing controversial ? Need your thoughts !