Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Never Ever lose a deal - 3 tips

All of us have gone through it sometimes or the other. At work, at play , at home ... everywhere.  

We are always encountered with negotiations.  

Here are three amazingly cool tips to help you win a deal. Here you go : 

  • Boogie-boogie : You are in a middle of a deal. Start pushing for a particular item which is really not so important for you. Almost at the end of the negotiation, you when some trading is happening, you agree to give it up ! This will surprise the other party and they will feel that they have scored a point. As a trade-off for that that point, you can then push for the thing which is really important to you !

  • The last nip :  This has to be done right at the end of finalizing the deal. Just when the deal is being signed, ask for a bit extra. This generally generally gets granted since the other party is busy looking at the bigger picture and is eager to complete the negotiation .

  • The invisible man : Suppose you want to halt the negotiation and want some time . Then the favourite "I will have to talk to my boss and get back to you on this " works really well. Afterwards, you can say that you have had your discussion and only a 5% discount instead of the 15%,  which was being discussed earlier. The other party has an invisible "boss" to deal with !

Cheers !

Monday, 28 March 2016

9 things a Great Leader should do

Here are the 9 Rules all great leaders follow :

1.    Talk less, listen more.  The leader’s job is to pay attention to what other people say, especially those who think their views don’t count. Show you’re listening by acting on what people tell you, and gain their trust by giving them the credit.

2.    Don’t give a solution too soon :. No- one learns anything new if you keep doing what you already know how to do, and don’t allow others to try. Anyway, they may find a different, or better way, and if not… you always learn from your mistakes.

3.    Be Passionate :  about what you believe in.  Share your vision , live your values and walk the talk. The personality  is more inspiring, than the process.

4.    Have faith : . Believe  that everyone is doing the best they can, then look for ways to support and encourage them . If you keep on finding fault,  no one will believe you after some time.

5.    It is OK to not know everything :  Being a leader does not mean knowing more than anyone else. Recognise, encourage and promote others as experts. Give them the trust and autonomy to be creative and do excellent work.. Admit that you do not know everything. That will make them respect you even more.

6.    Instill a sense of purpose. Your team knows what they do and how to do it, but you can make a big difference by sharing a strong sense of why they’re doing it and where it’s heading, by providing them the vision and the big picture. Everyone in the team is important.

7.       Convince them  A great idea is of no consequence unless you can convince others to believe it too, and then persuade them to help you make your idea a reality. The best way to do this is to make the idea theirs.

8.       Focus on the critical few : Focus on the things that really matter and where you can make a difference. There may be a hundred different distractions and demands on your time and a hundred ways you could respond, but it’s a handful of  chosen actions that deliver the results.

9.      30 minutes of walking around everyday: , It’s hard to retain that sense of what the job’s really about when you are sitting in your office. You’ll see what people actually do, rather than what people tell you they do. And you’ll see their commitment, effort and achievements first hand, and feel proud to be part of the same team. Always inspiring, and informative, and better than any meeting!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

5 traits that Men should learn from Females

Yesterday was 8th March - International Women's Day. Personally speaking, I do not find much relevance in these "so-called-days" , but maybe it is a nice way to remind us about gender equality, equal opportunity and women empowerment that is needed. 

It is not a thing that women should fight for. 

I say so because in any "fight", there is an opponent. But here,  the females themselves not convinced about themselves. I agree that times have changed, women are coming into diverse fields , more and more women are coming into the workforce, there is much more acceptance of females in every step of life, in decision making, financial independence, but I feel we have a looooong way to go !

But that is not what I want to talk about in this blog post. I want to write about some qualities which are inherently there in females which are much in demand nowadays. The idea of leadership is fast changing.  We are moving away from "Hot power leadership" towards "cool power leadership". And it has been proved through research that women are more suited for such leadership.  More and more organizations want their leaders to acquire certain qualities which are quite inherently there in most of the females

  • Empathizing with the team : This comes naturally to the females. We can easily get into the shoes of the other person and share his /her state of mind. 

  • Emotions :  A couple of years back, it was thought that is a big divide between the professional and personal lives of an employee. At work one is supposed to keep emotions at bay and talk only profession. But with social media , constant connectivity with whatsapp, facebook where people change their status always, this divide has almost vanished. So, it is a farce to believe that we can leave our personal face at home and bring the professional one to work. The senior male managers  find this a bit difficult to digest,  but on the contrary, the females deal with this very elegantly.

  • Multi Tasking  : Women are born multi-taskers. They are naturally prone to managing multiple things together, putting on several hats competing with several simultaneous deadlines. Their balancing act helps them to remain cool and composed in dealing with several concurrent assignments.

  • Asking for help :  We are not super humans. We need help more than often to get things done.  The male ego sometimes becomes a big barrier when they have to ask for help. Not so with females !

  • Co-operation and collaboration :  Business moves quicker than it ever has before, and it’s increasingly specialized. Women embrace this concept more readily. They are better at co-operation and collaboration . Again this comes naturally to us. 

It is a separate matter that sometimes some of these qualities also act as hindrance, but that is for another post  !

So, womenfolk, let us exalt in our glory and make the most of the above natural abilities to excel at work! And it goes without saying that we need the support of the men and the larger society to succeed !

Cheers and a happy women's day to all !

Sunday, 21 February 2016

How is your knee, John ?

This is a story of grit. 

This is a story of determination . 

This is a story of going till the end, come what may ... !

Story of  John Steven Akhwari . 

The basic facts don't tell the story. John Stephen Akhwari was a marathon runner who represented Tanzania in the marathon in 1968. He didn't win a medal. In fact, he came nowhere near. But, in defeat and in pain, he came to represent something much more profound and enduring than many sportsmen achieve in illustrious careers.

Akhwari was never likely to win the marathon, but his chances were wrecked when, perhaps because of the effects of the high altitude, he succumbed to cramps that slowed his progress. If that was painful, then worse was to come after he was involved in a melee of athletes jockeying for position.

Akhwari fell to the ground, gashing his knee and also causing a dislocation. He also smashed his shoulder against the pavement. Most observers, seeing his injuries, assumed he would pull out and go to hospital. Instead, he received medical attention and returned to the track to continue his race.

His pace, of course, was now much lower, but his resolve to complete the event remained intact. Eighteen of the 75 starters had pulled out; he did now wish to add to that number.

And so, more than an hour after the winner, Akhwari crossed the line in last place, cheered home by a few thousand spectators who had remained in the stadium after the sun went down. 

By the time he reached the stadium, he was limping and the bandage around his leg was flapping in the breeze

He was asked why he'd carried on, and his response has gone down in sporting history. 

“My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race,” he said. “They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”

Akhwari recovered from his injuries and continued running long-distance races. 

He finished fifth in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games in 1970 and also ran the 10,000m at the same championships. He was a good runner, but his performance, courage and dedication in the face of adversity is what history will remember him for.

It is very very  easy to give up.  

And it is that much hard to go to the end and become a task completer.  

Organizations need more task completers. These people are are the leaders. 

Whenever I see my team and my managers getting tired and they just want to give up,  I ask them ....

"John, How is your knee ?"

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Most Common Problem at the Top

Ronny , the CEO of Company XYZ, was really disgusted as he came out of the meeting room.  He desperately needed a smoke. He bumped into me in the cafeteria. 
"Hey ! You look peaked ! All well ?"
"Hi Ananya ! God has sent you to me. I have to pour my woes ... and there cannot be a better person than you ..."
"Well ... here is my cup ... pour ... " I joked. 
He did not smile. 
"Ananya, there is constant back biting between the different function heads. The Operations managers tries to pull down the IT head, the IT head has differences with the HR Head, the Finance Head has problems with the Operations ... and it goes on ... No one loses a single chance to send out caustic remarks about each other. Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes it is blunt.  I am really pissed off ! 
Why can't the heads go along with each other ?  Will I be able to run my company like this? What will be the outcome ?
"Hmmm.. It is common in most of the organizations. And  yes, the outcome is grave .... I am reminded of a tale from Panchatantra which will elucidate the point.  "
"Panchatantra ?
"Yeah ...Panchantantra stories are  ancient Indian fables, composed in the 3rd century BC, by Pandit Vishnu Sharma. They are stories on human behaviors, portrayed by animal characters.
"This is the story of a bird with two heads ... Just like your IT head, Finance Head and so on ... " I smiled.
Long, long ago, there lived a strange bird in a huge banyan tree. The tree stood beside a river. The strange bird had two heads, but only one stomach.
Once, while the bird was flying high in the sky, he saw an apple shaped fruit lying on the bank of the river. The bird swooped down, picked up the fruit and began to eat it. This was the most delicious fruit the bird had ever eaten.
As the bird had two heads, the other head protested, "I'm your brother head. Why don't you let me also eat this tasty fruit?"
The first head of the bird replied, "Shut up.You know that we've only one stomach. Whichever head eats, the fruit will go to the same stomach. So it doesn't matter as to which head eats it. Moreover, I'm the one who found this fruit. So I've the first right to eat it."
Hearing this, the other head became silent. But this kind of selfishness on the part of the first head pinched him very much. One day, while flying, the other head spotted a tree bearing poisonous fruits. 
The other head immediately descended upon the tree and plucked a fruit from it.
"Please don't eat this poisonous fruit," cried the first head. "If you eat it, both of us will die, because we've a common stomach to digest it."

"Shut up!" shouted the other head. "Since I've plucked this fruit, I've every right to eat it."
The first head began to weep, but the other head didn't care. He wanted to take revenge. He ate the poisonous fruit. As a result both of them died.

"Hmm ... " Ronnie was thoughtful. "All the Heads in my company also have one stomach... and if I  cannot control them , then all of us will die ... I have to do something ... !"

"Yes Ronnie ... Think of something fast so that you can save everybody ... !"

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Teeny Weeny : Paradise Lost

It was 12 am.  She lay awake . Waiting eagerly . At least one wish ... one sms ... one whatsapp or one hug from the person sleeping beside her ?  After all the day was special,  she waited and waited .... till slumber conquered her senses.

As usual in the morning, she prepared tea for everybody. They took their cups and continued reading the newspaper.

Another year of her life passed by.



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

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

8 Rules of Brainstorming

2016 has arrived .  New resolutions, new goals , renewed enthusiasm. 

This is the time of the year when we make resolutions .  This is the time of the year when we look back to learn from our mistakes and look ahead with a wider vision.  

In most of the organizations, this is the time when strategies are made and yearly goals are set.  And the first step towards goal making are the brainstorming sessions. 

Now, the brainstorming sessions can be tricky. Sometimes they are very effective where the collective ideas and energy of the team can go into a frenzy, unleashing brilliant, innovative,  out of the world ideas . And sometimes it can be boring and drag, people bickering, mocking each other or discussions  going into tangents and lengthy arguments. 

The foremost condition for conducting good brainstorming session is to have a facilitator.  The main role of the facilitator is to see that the participants remain focused, the time is maintained and the rules of the brainstorming session are followed.  

Following are the  8 rules , which , if followed will ensure very effective brainstorming sessions.

1. No Distractions, stay focused

No laptops, cell phones please. Distractions can hamper free flow of ideas. Give 5 min breaks at the appropriate frequency.  If some high level organizational goals have been provided, these should be put up on the whiteboard so that people are focused. 

2.  No Judgement 

All ideas are valid at this stage.  As ideas begin to flow, you must do everything in your power to let them flow. Every idea is welcome, even dumb or crazy onesNo one should be allowed to offer any judgment of any idea. The idea generation phase is about generating ideas, not ranking them. Think about what’s good or bad later.

3. Give chance to All

Take turns talking. Listen when you’re not talking. To be an effective brainstorming leader, you must see that all the participants get equal chance to speak.  If someone is too quiet, encourage her to speak and if someone is hogging the full limelight, put him off for a while. 

4. Do not discourage

No negativity. No analysis or criticism or comparing or editing of other people’s ideas. Be positive about every contribution. Even if the person next to you throws out the stupidest idea (according to you), , let the process continue. Any criticism will change the atmosphere of the  group and the people will clam up. Every person and every idea are of equal worth.

5. Resist tangents 

Resist tangents like storytelling and joking. Brainstorming can become quite a party sometimes, and the temptation to start joking about what comes up can be hard to resist. Nevertheless, resist it. Check the group if they start going off into tangents - like a side discussion , talking about something which is not in the agenda or any other day to day matters. The facilitator should quickly bring the group back on track.

6. Do not flog a dead horse

During the brainstorming or  during prioritization/ selection of ideas, people tend to become sentimental or attached to their own ideas. They keep on harping about or sulking if their ideas are not voted for.  As a result, the discussion about one single idea becomes too lengthy without any conclusion and valuable time is lost. The facilitator should set this ground rule about limiting the argument and move on.

7. Build on others ideas

You may combine ideas during the brainstorm, or save idea combinations for a second brainstorming session. We should be able to adapt and improve other people's ideas as it is to generate the initial idea that sets off new trains of thought. Tell your colleagues that every idea matters and that the whole point of the exercise is to get a lot of ideas on the board. Together. Everybody should feel comfortable taking risks and has no fear of embarrassment or negative consequences.  Remind them that this is team work.  The ideas are not of any individual , but have emanated from the team.

8. Punctuality, logistics , agenda etc.

Last, but not at all the least, being on time , having a clearly drawn agenda with time boxes,  logistical arrangements like projector, white boards, markers , tea , coffee etc will boost the productivity and efficiency of the brainstorming.  And again , the most important part ... have fun ... enjoy!

So folks , forget the past and think about the future. Figure out if ideas fit with your corporate values and traditions .  Remember, while brainstorming, you’re not making a commitment to the ideas yet – you’re just sharing them. 

After brainstorming, there are a couple of steps . In the context of creation of function/department level goals , they are :

1. Selection of the ideas
2. Prioritization of the ideas
3. Assigning owners
4. Schedule of completion
5. Measurement criteria. 

But these are fodder for my next future posts !

Hope you find the brainstorming tips useful.  

Would love to hear from you any other points on this . Do use the remarks section to comment !

Cheers !

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Inspiring Myself

Dear Readers, 

2016 has arrived.  As I had written last year in January, I repeat again.  

There is something in the month of January.

The feeling of "newness" ! 

Just like reading a new book or writing on the first page of a brand new exercise book.  Or like wearing a dress the very first time. 

I don't know about you but I sure do get this feeling .  Every January.  

But this January, the feeling was a bit weak,  What happened ? It has got me a bit worried. 

So , I thought of  inspiring myself  with some good thoughts.  Hope you too like them. 

1. Success cannot be pursued, Success ensues. It flows as the unintended byproduct of efforts concentrated in the direction of a worthy cause. 

2. Nothing so destroys the heart as the knowledge that you had the chance to manifest the gorgeous potential within you and you refused to accept the call !

3. People who feel superb about themselves generate superb results. Self respect is a beautiful thing. 

4. Your life is a treasure and you are so much more than you know.  The life you live today does not have to be the life you lead tomorrow. Make a choice.  Take a leap.  Rise above your circumstances to your next level of greatness. 

5. It is better to be a lion for a day than a sheep for the rest of your life. 

6. Saying that you don't have the time to improve your thoughts and your life is like saying you don't have time to stop for fuel because you are too busy driving!

7. Your thoughts form your world. And what you focus on shapes your destiny.

8. All extraordinary acts begin with a dream !

9. Most people give up just before they reach their dreams.  Most people quit only steps away from getting everything they wanted. Don't let that happen to you. 

10. Your timing may not be life's timing. 

11. From today onwards,  take complete control of your life. Decide, once for all , to be the master of your fate.  Run your own race. Discover your calling and you will start to experience the ecstasy of an inspired life.

I am already feeling good  !!

A very happy new 2016 to all my readers. 

Stay healthy, busy and happy !

Thursday, 31 December 2015

You can do Anything, but not Everything !

In my corporate work journey, I have met many people. Some good , some not so good.  Some were exemplary and some taught me what not to emulate . 

The learning curve of a child is the steepest from age 0 to 5. In the same way,  when you start your career, that is the time when you rub your corners and shine like a diamond and soak up experiences and learn. 

I had been lucky to work with a person when I started the career and over the years I have realized how much I have learned from him.  For the sake of anonymity, let me call him Big B.   

For some, delegating comes easily, maybe too easy. For others who are perfectionists, letting go of even the most trivial task is almost impossible. If you are in this second category, you probably don’t like the references behind your back that you are a “control freak” or a “micro-manager.”

For Big B , delegation came instinctively.  He had a clear idea about what he would delegate, to whom he will delegate. He gave crystal clear instructions on the assignments. The deadlines, the priorities were crisply communicated.  And he had his own excellent methods of tracking and following ups. 

But one thing which was really admirable about Big B's  delegation was the trust he placed on people and giving credit at the right time and place.

Big B came to office exactly at 9 am and left at 5 pm. Without fail.  I remember one day,  I panted to his office at 5 pm.   He was ready to leave.

"Sir ... please, I need your signature on these " ... I blurted out. 

He looked at me . 

"Is the office on fire ? " He asked . 

"No Sir ... "

"Has anyone died ? "

"Err... No ... ! " I blabbered. 

"Then my signature can wait till tomorrow morning"

"But Sir .... we might lose out on the new contract... "

"Well ... Why couldn't you come a few minutes before ? " Big B asked again

By that time, I was completely flabbergasted.  I could not answer his question.

He picked up his bag and started leaving.  

Big B looked at me and said  "If someone is not efficient, why should I have to pay for it ? " 

This was a lesson learnt which I have not forgotten till date. 

Three Cheers for Big B !   I am sure this post will make him smile.  

I salute you sir !   

Monday, 14 December 2015

Get up ! Stand Up !

We, the females in India  have a long way to go ......
A strange event happened in an organization a few days back , which made me wonder even more ....
 But first read the following excerpt from an interview with Warren Buffet where he has talked about Women then and now  :
"I was born in 1930, I had an older sister Doris, a few years older; a younger sister Bertie, a few years younger. Absolutely as smart as I am—probably a little smarter—and much more personable. They got along better in the world and all of that. 
My parents—our parents—loved us all equally, they never told my sisters “you can’t do this” or “you can’t do that”—verbally—but every message they got from society, from their teachers in every way was that their job was to marry well and that if they insisted on working that they could be a secretary, or a nurse or a teacher.
And essentially they were telling me, again silently in many ways, that the sky was the limit. So we would go to school, we would get similar grades, they had everything going for them—except that they were women.
Society just said if you want to be a teacher, fine. If you want to be a nurse, fine. If you want to be a secretary, fine. But forget everything else. So, I have seen that change in my lifetime, although change was slow…It has changed a lot for the better. There’s still important ways to go."
I have been working in Multinational organizations for the last two decades and sometimes I felt proud that yes, there is a difference now . I felt that females have become more professional,  more and more girls are working and are becoming financially independent . Specially in the Software , Banking and hospitality sector, female workforce has increased. I thought that this has made us more confident and secure . 
But my belief was shaken .  Let me recount . 
A lady - in her early twenties worked in the organization. She was an efficient worker, pleasant and hardworking. She commuted for 3 hours daily.  She was reliable and dependable and gelled well in the organization. 
About four months back , she informed everybody that she was getting married . Her fiance was an advocate and she would now be staying a stone's throw away from office. She beamed.  She was happy . So were her colleagues and others in the organization. 
But thereafter , the problems started. She was down with typhoid and had to take unexpected leave for about 3.5 weeks .  Her engagement ceremony happened. And after that she became irregular and unpredictable.  She said that she had to visit her in-laws for preparation of her dresses. She had already consumed all her leaves.  But her supervisor did all the necessary work and took pains to grant her some advance leave. 
When she came with her wedding card to the Global Head , she was asked  whether she would continue work or not. "Definitely ... I have worked so hard and now that I am nearer to the work place , there is no question of my not continuing to work ... " She had smiled demurely. 

She got married. 

She joined office 1 week after her planned leaves had expired.  She attended office for a couple of days and then she again became very irregular. The work suffered.  Her manager was displeased . The deadlines could not be met because of her unavailability. 

She called up her manager after a few days and said that she was staying with her in laws since they wanted her to "integrate" with the family and that she would join back in a few days. 

"A few days " became 2 weeks and then one day she called up her manager saying that she was not well and would like to discontinue working. She would come on the last day of the month to collect her dues and her release letter. 

As per the company policy, she was liable to serve 1 month notice period.  The organizational dynamics was such that this would set a very bad precedent. So, it was conveyed to her that she would not be given her release letter if she did not serve the ice period. 

The next day, she sent an email to the HR manager and  her manager. The email's language was not ordinary.  It was totally like a legal notice. 

It had been written by her lawyer husband. 

I will not go into details of what happened after that. 

It was again evident that the husband did not care about her reputation in the organization, neither did he care about what she wished to do. Neither could she stand up for herself .  

After marriage , the woman's wants , needs, ambition , everything becomes the property of her husband and in-laws.  In this age too, most of  the females are made to "sacrifice" her ambitions, growth etc for the needs of the family.  She is not able to "Lean in " .....

We females should stand up for ourselves. 

We should not be guilty of "being ambitious".  
We should speak our minds.  
We should fight for equality. 
In every step of life. 
Both at home and at work.

We do NOT need validation from anybody !!

It is high time that in the nursery textbooks instead of reading "Father is going to work and mother is cooking",  we should demand that it is replaced with "Mother is in office and father is helping the daughter get ready for school ".

Let us break the stereotypes !