Monday, 8 September 2014

Teeny Weeny : Twinkle-Twinkle

"Twinkle- twinkle little stars,
How I wonder what you are ?
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky "

During lunchtime, little Pompy went to her teacher.

"Miss, I don't know what they are , but I  know who they are ... two of them are not diamonds .  My uncle has told me - the big one is my Baba and the small one beside him is my mamma ...  I can see them but  ....

Miss , will you please teach me how to  send this  "Missing You" card to them ?"

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

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Do it like Ants !

One of my favourite place in my house is the big open balcony attached to my bedroom

There is a Jackfruit tree just beside it. The green leaves and the soft rustling sound soothes me. Every morning , it is my ritual to sit there with a cup of Darjeeling tea, enjoying the cool and fresh morning breeze

Today, as I enjoyed my flavoured cup of tea, I saw a line of ants , carrying sugar crystals which I had spilled on the floor .  I  watched them.  Fascinated.  

Have you ever wondered  how ants demonstrate leadership qualities ?  

They are tiny. But they are never afraid to pick up objects which are sometimes bigger than them ! We humans get intimidated by our goals or tasks. Sometimes so much that we are afraid even to start working on them.  We give up without even trying.  But the ants just get on their job headlong.  However impossible their work might look, they just do it. They are not unnerved by the workload !

I saw a team of ants , pull a huge (for them) piece of biscuit, taking it forward seamlessly.  They walked together clockwork precision , in the same direction . They are the perfect examples of teamwork. Together they can move objects sometimes ten times larger than themselves !  

Have you ever noticed that if  for some reason, their work gets derailed (as I did when I swept aside the rest of the sugar crystals near the wall of the balcony), they find their way back and get the job done. I observed how the small little ants crawled towards the wall and again with the same zeal started carrying the sugar crystals. They believe in completing the work, even if they have to face hurdles. They don't give up.  They are committed. They just have to accomplish their task . 

And yes, they save for the rainy day.  They know that everyday they might not get their cheese.  They are well prepared to face the adversity

Isn't it amazing ? 

Can we think and act like these tiny creatures and create a blueprint for success ?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Teeny Weeny : Waiting

" I am late .... ".

As she hurried towards her usual bench,  she grimaced at the small rip near the hem of  her red dress.

His favourite dress.  It needed mending.

He had promised her that he will be there at 8.30 am.

Twenty years back.

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

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Teeny Weeny : Anonymous

"I will never see you again .... " He had promised . 

His anonymous facebook profile was not bound by the vow .....


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

Incredible story of the Mountain Man

Do you think ONE man is enough to cut a mountain ? 

Is it possible for one person to bring down a 360 feet long, 25 feet high mountain and create a 16 feet wide pass in place of an almost an impassable gap ?

No ...... ? 

Think again . 

Dasrath Majhi , from Gaya district , state Bihar in India, did just that. 

Dasrath eked out a living as a farm hand, toiling in the fields of local landlords on bare subsistence wages.  One day, in the early '60s, his wife Phaguni Devi fell ill and Dasrath set off with her to the nearest hospital.  

Phalguni Devi died on the way.

If only there was no hill blocking the road to the town, Dasrath would have made it to the hospital in time, and perhaps his wife's life would have been saved.

The villagers had to take a circuitous route and travel 19 km to Wazirganj, the nearest district town. This was because the massive 360 feet long, 25 feet high and 30 feet wide sheer rock came in the way of the shortest possible route between the village and the town.

The situation would have brought about a feeling of resignation or fatalism in the average man—as if God had himself put this giant obstacle in the path of his ailing wife.   

Dasrath's response was different and radical, unthinkable and stunningly simple. 

He decided to alter geography with chisel and hammer.

To cut a road through the huge mass of rock.  


The next morning, armed with a hammer and chisel, he started off on a task that was to become an obsession. The villagers called him a madman. 

But that did not deter him. 

After 22 years of back-breaking, single-handed toil, Dasrath finished in the mid-'80s. The mountain had yielded to man.  Now, Wazirganj was just about six kilometres away. The people of Gelaur village  could reach it in under an hour.

In Manjhi’s own words, “What I did is there for everyone to see. When God is with you, nothing can stop you,” 

I will keep working for the development of the villages here so long I am alive. I am neither afraid of any punishment from any government department for my work nor am I interested in any honour from the government

Dasrath Majhi died on 17th August, 2007, at the age of 73. 

But he will be remembered forever as the "Mountain Man". 

A man who loved his wife . A man who thought about others.

A leader, who walked alone and moved the mountain. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Love Thy Critics !

I love this couplet by Kabir - a great mystic poet  and saint of India (1398 )

"Nindak niyare rakhiye, Angan kuti chawai,
Bin pani sabun bina, nirmal kare subhaiy"

[Translation: Keep your critic close to you. Give him a cottage in the courtyard of your house, because he cleanses your nature without soap and water]

Simple . Yet profound. 

Yesterday I saw a play where the protagonist  the King - welcomed his most powerful critic and asked him to look into his eyes and criticize him.  It was one of the most intriguing part of the play.  

As leaders, we should know that the people who criticize us are our greatest teachers. The situation or people who shred us apart with their fault finding , reveal our limiting beliefs, assumptions and fears.  Just like a good tester breaks the system to find flaws so that the software becomes robust and stable, the same way, these people pinpoint where we are going wrong.  They tell us what is holding us back from becoming the greatest. And ... all for free !

As Kabir said, we should nurture the people who disparage us so that we know what are the areas we need to work on, how we should overcome our fears and how we can climb up the growth chart ! Adverse situation and people cleanses us to become purer, greater and better. They help us shine !

The instant negative reaction to criticism is natural.  It needs a lot of maturity and practice to control this instinctive response.  We have to look deep inside to see why we are reacting. Whenever I am in such a situation,  the first thing I do is take 5-10 deep breaths , focusing on the  air going in and out of my nose. This helps me to stabilize and control my first instinctive and involuntary retort.  Once we practice doing this, it becomes easier to objectively look at pour fears and weaknesses and take steps to shed them ! 

Not all negative criticism are true.  We have to be mature and intelligent enough to take out the grain within the criticism and blow the chaff away !

So, the next time anyone rubs you off,  go and hug them ! Thank them for their valuable gift .  

And as a return gift, become mature. 
And Strong . 
And Powerful !

Read a related post : I Don't Agree

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Other Side

There was a young woman who took great pride in the growth and care of the flowers in her flower garden. She had been raised by her grandmother who taught her to love and care for flowers as she herself had done. So, like her grandmother, her flower garden was second to none.

One day while looking through a flower catalogue she often ordered from, a picture of a plant immediately caught her eye.

She had never seen blooms on a flower like that before.I have to have it,”  she said to herself, and she immediately ordered it.

When it arrived, she already had a place prepared to plant it. She planted it at the base of a stone wall at the back of her yard. It grew vigorously, with beautiful green leaves all over it, but there were no blooms. Day after day she continued to cultivate it, water it, feed it, and she even talked to it attempting to coax it to bloom. But, it was to no avail.

One morning weeks later, as she stood before the vine, she contemplated how disappointed she was that her plant had not bloomed. She was giving considerable thought to cutting it down and planting something else in its place.

It was at this point that her invalid neighbor, whose lot joined hers, called over to her. “Thank you so much! You can’t imagine how much I have enjoyed the blooms of that vine you planted.” 

The young woman walked through the gate into her neighbor’s yard, and sure enough, she saw that on the other side of the wall the vine was filled with blooms.

There were indeed the most beautiful blooms she had ever seen. The vine had crept through the crevices and it had not flowered on her side of the fence, it had flowered luxuriantly on the other side.

Just because sometimes you cannot see the good result of your labour, it  does not mean that it bore no fruit.

So dear friends, always look on the other side before you feel despondent about your lost labour.

Good work never ever goes waste !

Friday, 25 July 2014

How to handle the scars of life

Once upon a time,  there was a King who had a wise  minister   The king had utmost faith on the minister.  Before taking any crucial decision, the king always consulted him and  learnt for his wisdom. 

One day, while hunting in the forest,  a  tiger pounced on him . Though the king killed the tiger, but his face was bruised very badly.  The king was very handsome and he was proud of his good looks.  He was very upset  and could not concentrate on the matters of the state.  The minister observed his king for a few days but when he saw that the king was not able to recover from the trauma, he went to meet him personally. 

"O King, Why are you upset ? Your wounds have already healed and you will be better in a couple of  days more  " 

"My wounds will be healed , but I will be scarred for ever. My face will never look the same again.... " the king moaned. 

" Your highness ! Do not fret.  Whatever happens happens for the good.  God is just. Have faith on him.  Sometimes there are situations in life when it seems that you are doomed for ever. But , later, in retrospect , you realize that things aren't so bad after all.  We have to persevere through our hard times.  Patience, faith and self confidence should be our guiding lights. ...."

Hearing his words, the king became very angry with his minister. 

"My face is mutilated , and you are saying that it is for the good !  Get out from my kingdom and never ever show your face again ..."  the King boomed. 

With a heavy heart, the wise old minister  left  his beloved kingdom. 

After a few months,  when the King was returning after a war,  he was abducted by dacoits. They wrapped his face and tied him up . They waited for nightfall , when the leader of the group will come and sacrifice him to their Goddess.  

The head of the dacoits came - " Remove the cloth from his face... " He ordered. 

When he saw the scarred face of the king,  he said " No... ! His face has flaws so he cannot be offered to the Goddess ... let him go ! " 

The King was released.  

As he walked away from the forest, the King remembered the wise words of his minister ... yes ... Whatever happens happens for the good.  later, in retrospect , you realize that things aren't so bad after all...  I have done a grave mistake ... The next day, the king went to the small hut near the river apologized profusely to the wise minister.  He was brought back to the kingdom with great pomp and show. 

We all face hurdles in life. At work and at home. Sometimes, we  feel that things cannot be worse than this and why did this have to happen to me. Tough situations take out the best in you.  There are numerous examples where people faced adversity to come out shining more than what they were in their comfort zone. 

Always try to turn adversity into an advantage. For that we need optimism and positive thinking.   Only you can help yourself.  You have to keep faith in yourself else it is very easy to go down the spiral. 

Tough situations do not last, tough people do ! 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Can Female Leaders Have it all ?

In the last few days ,  this contentious topic is doing the rounds in all newspapers, tabloids, websites, TV , twitter , facebook etc..   

In a recent interview,  PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has said  "I don't think Women can have it all . We pretend that we have it all. We pretend we can have it all " . 

Then she went ahead and told the following incidents from her life :

" I'll tell you a story that happened when my daughter went to Catholic school. Every Wednesday morning they had class coffee with the mothers. Class coffee for a working woman—how is it going to work? How am I going to take off 9 o'clock on Wednesday mornings? So I missed most class coffees. My daughter would come home and she would list off all the mothers that were there and say, "You were not there, mom." "

"The evening when I was appointed as the President of the company, I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, "Mom, I've got great news for you." She said, "let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?" I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, "what time did he get home?" She said "8 o'clock." I said, "Why didn't you ask him to buy the milk?" "He's tired." Okay. We have a couple of help at home, "why didn't you ask them to get the milk?" She said, "I forgot." She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back. "

As a female , I too know these pangs of guilt and anger.  We seethe at the unfairness of it all. As Nooyi has rightly said - the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. 

"Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you're rising to middle management your kids need you because they're teenagers, they need you for the teenage years.  And that's the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you . And as you grow even more, your parents need you because they're aging. So we're screwed. We have no... we cannot have it all ".

Nooyi has touched upon a sore point of the working women.  

Yes,  all the points are true, But have you ever wondered why is it that only Females feel like this ?  Don't you think that the above points are true for the Males too ? Then what is the difference ?  Why does only the Females feel guilty and burdened ? 

The answer is simple.  The females have been conditioned that way. Collectively, unconsciously, it has seeped into the DNA of all the females, all over the world that bringing up your child, looking after your household is the primary duty of the women.  

And this cannot be eradicated in a year or even ten years. It might take a couple of decades  and that too if  the women change their own mindset and in turn change the mindsets of her family. 

  • There should be equal distribution of work in the family and the work should be based upon the aptitude of the partner.  It might happen that the female of the house has a greater aptitude for dealing with external matters like bank, finance and cooking then her husband should help the kids with their studies, other household work etc.  Females themselves should not fall into the trap of stereotyping. 

  • There will be situations when the females will feel guilty. And there will be circumstances when they will be made to feel guilty.  Whenever I am in such a situation , I ask myself  "Why ? "  The same question has to be asked to the husband as well and again to your mother or mother in law or anyone else. No justifications , but simply try not to feel guilty.  The consequence or the situation is not the fault or the responsibility of just the female. Everyone else in that situation is equally responsible and can take action.  When Nooyi found out that there were many mothers who were not present in the school and the next time when her daughter said that Nooyi was not there,  she rallied the names of the mothers who were not there too. These are coping mechanisms .  So, even your daughter can act in a stereotypical mode since she stays in a society and peer pressure and other actions work subconsciously in her mind.  Female leaders have to keep the coping mechanisms going on , persistently, consciously and explaining and discussing about these with her kids so that they too can share her thoughts and feelings. 

  •  I am not against motherhood.  I have a beautiful daughter and she is the apple of my eye and I think children are the greatest source of joy.  But again , if  any female chooses not to start a family, I think she should be given the choice.  A few years after my daughter was born, I was under pressure from my parents as well as in laws to have another kid.  But at that time, my career had just started to shape up.  I was doing well at work.  Having another kid would have put a sudden brake on the ascent.  Because I knew that I will be expected to balance my work as well as my kids.  Somehow , the same is never expected from the fathers.  This change has to be brought in . Nowadays, in India, some progressive organizations give paternity leave of a week. That is not at all enough. The paternity leave should be at least of `12 weeks, just like maternity leave. Again , the father might be wary of snide and subtle remarks about lparenting , since it is considered to be very "female" job.  The organizations should actually glorify the fathers who look after their kids.  

Changing the society, our family and most importantly changing ourselves (females) might take infinite time.  But I am sure that the change will happen.  

We have to keep faith . Female leaders , mothers, managers have to keep on trying, helping other females, their daughters, their sons  to change their mindsets. 

We have to be relentless in our efforts. 

We will win . Finally.  And then we need not "Pretend". 

Female leaders can have it all. 


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Virtually Possible !

I am a big proponent of flexible timing and telecommuting.  

In my two decades of experience,  I have seen many failures as well as success stories of  centralized as well as decentralized projects. 

A hundred years ago, when the industrial revolution started, the workplace moved from small home based offices to large centrally located factories.  The villagers migrated to cities and towns .  Now, in the 21st Century, we see a reversal.   From centralization , we are moving back to decenralization.  

 This is the age of Virtual Teams. Technology has made it possible to work from anywhere.  Decentralization is now feasible and in most of the cases advantageous - both for the employee as well as the organization.  But along with the advantages, there are some problems too.  Managing these issues helps the leaders in the organization reap the advantages of telecommuting. 

The main problems of  a virtual team are managing people when they are far away, limited personal contact, motivating , conflict resolution and getting the work done when the team members are scattered across different locations. 

So, how can a leader manage a virtual team  effectively ? 

  • Uniform Treatment  and communication - Treat the virtual team the same as  the team who are physically present in your location .   The communication to the full team should be uniform.  No matter where the team members are located, they should be kept informed of team and departmental going ons.  Chit chats between team members enhances the team spirit.  In one of my organizations, we had deployed a indigenous messenger which was used by the team to chat and convey information.  Periodical  newsletters  also works well , where along with the articles and appreciations, a chatty section is included which includes tidbits about the loves of the team members. 

  • Personal interest : The leader should take a personal interest in each team member.  In a company , I was reporting to the Global Head and she made it a point to talk to me at least once a week and figure out how things were going on .  I used to make congratulatory calls to teams when they did something special.  On different occasions like birthdays, marriage anniversary, births etc,  make it a point to send a card or a bouquet. These are small things , but since you cannot see or touch the person , it becomes absolutely essential to do these things. It works. Trust me.

  • Periodical team meetings :  This one is a mandatory one. Specially for virtual teams or for globally distributed teams.  Once a month or two months, hold a hold a full team meeting.  The best way is to do a video conferencing. If that is not possible , try Skype.  If that too is difficult, at least hold a teleconference.  Have a set agenda and allow time for every location.  These are opportunities for exchanging and sharing ideas, best practices and build espirit de corps.

  • Set working guidelines :  Working guidelines for telecommuting is a must. Set specific targets , if possible daily targets and put a process for comprehensive and regular status reporting and tracking.   It is a good practice to set a specific time in the day when s/he should be available for calls, talks , meetings.  Have them come to office (if they are nearby) for training programs, important meetings, extra curricular and teaming activities. 

The telecommuters should be made aware of the potential problems of working from home. Some people feel that they miss out on the water cooler talks and socializing at the workplace and another person felt overwhelmed with the prioritization and self discipline of working from home. These are the cases , where people chose to return to office.  So, instead of  a permanent arrangement, let the people try it for a while where the team member as well as the  leader can assess whether telecommuting is working or not. 

So, go ahead and try virtualizing the workplace.  It sure ensures employee satisfaction as well as reduces costs. 

Do share your experiences with virtual teaming. 

Cheers !