My idea is the only best idea!!!

My ideaHow could you even think of serving this flavored butter milk in a sleek bottle? It’s so awful and doesn’t go well with the overall ambiance of the café”, Josephine couldn’t resist her strong views finding its expression.

It is quite common to have people around in an organization who has strong views on some decision taken by the leadership team and can’t resist pushing through their strong opinion around the organization.

Josephine is a talented young brand manager with creative ideas and would not only push through her views but also would make the others feel how awful their decision is. Josephine’s views had its own merits and was valued with good regard by Philip, one of the leadership team who happens to take a decision on the way they serve flavored butter milk in their café.

Josephine was of the opinion that it should be served in a juice decanter and a bottle that looks like a milk bottle is an awful way of presenting it as it resembles a baby food. While getting her point across, she obviously had strong passion that disparaged the choice of others and besides getting across her views, she would go on belittling the other ideas.

It is an interesting management behavior that most budding managers embody and a learning from such situations is that it is not what you say that matters but how you say it. It takes skill and maturity to convey your strong views across with due regard to other’s ideas and this is indeed a dexterity that no business school teaches you.

Making a scene about one’s strong views on any specific decision of the organization is common with many managers and often people fail in the way their points are put across.

Frequently, we come across situations and decisions that the organization takes which would be an appalling decision as per us and some managers react to it building negativity in organization. Adding to the opposition, one would even go to the extent of campaigning on how bad the other’s idea is in an informal way. Does it ring a bell? This is very much prevalent in most organization and is just a manifestation of tapered human behavior.

The scene takes different dimension when personal ego comes to play and one would not stop to take a look at it from other’s perspective wherein objective view of the decision takes a back seat.

Let’s leave the situation aside, and look at it from the perspective of an interesting management case. As a manager, one would be putting their personality and maturity at risk when an opinion is expressed while demeaning someone else’s opinion.

We come across such characters in all organizations who debases others ideas by proliferating how bad the idea of others is against their marvelous ideas? Such managers or individuals need guidance as they just don’t have either the maturity or the perspective of how coherence of the team needs to be valued yet express the strong views of some decisions of the management in an organization.

Often managers fail in separating themselves from situations and getting to a behavior mode of listening to others around, giving importance to the thoughts of others, yet presenting the strong views of oneself without demeaning the other ideas is a skill that comes with enhanced perception of everything around and one’s self.

In such situation, it is important to keep the below in mind so that one is seen as matured manager who regards the team’s ideas yet expresses his / her opinion and explains the reason for the strong opinion in a manner that bring in an environment of inclusiveness:

1. “I” Factor – Always keep the person out of yourself but bring the situation in front.

A better decision and a better team effort and a better positivity is possible, the moment one takes the I from self and bring the situation in front.

2. Good Idea Vs Bad Idea – There are no good or bad decisions, but there is always a decision and it could turn good results or not so good results.

When a decision need to be arrived, it is important to come to a common ground rather than move in different direction. A common ground will come only if all in the organization and those in decision making comes to value each one’s ideas and debates it pragmatically.

3. How you say Vs What you say – The tone of voice, the aggression in expression, the body language etc. is extremely critical when debates happen and that can only come if the “I” is out of the discussion.

4. Bring an act of inclusiveness – Managers must develop the habit of being inclusive wherein the others around is seen as part of them and not away from them. The moment you feel everyone and everything around is part of you, you start looking at everything from an angle of care and responsibility. Then, there is no my idea and their idea, it takes the shape of our idea.

5. Avoid Creeping – Often the tendency is to lean over the audience to get more ears for one’s strong opinion / idea and that brings more negativity into one. Rather, one should regard the other ideas and if required, get views on both the ideas in a fair manner without advertising more for one’s own idea. It takes a conscious effort to stay away from creeping on others campaigning for one’s ideas when subjected to a debate.

Binu Prasad
http://www.myartofbeing.com
http://www.binuwick.com

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My idea is the only best idea!!!

“How could you even think of serving this flavored butter milk in a sleek bottle? It’s so awful and doesn’t go well with the overall ambiance of the café”, Josephine couldn’t My idearesist her strong views finding its expression.

It is quite common to have people around in an organization who has strong views on some decision taken by the leadership team and can’t resist pushing through their strong opinion around the organization.

Josephine is a talented young brand manager with creative ideas and would not only push through her views but also would make the others feel how awful their decision is. Josephine’s views had its own merits and was valued with good regard by Philip, one of the leadership team who happens to take a decision on the way they serve flavored butter milk in their café.

Josephine was of the opinion that it should be served in a juice decanter and a bottle that looks like a milk bottle is an awful way of presenting it as it resembles a baby food. While getting her point across, she obviously had strong passion that disparaged the choice of others and besides getting across her views, she would go on belittling the other ideas.

It is an interesting management behavior that most budding managers embody and a learning from such situations is that it is not what you say that matters but how you say it. It takes skill and maturity to convey your strong views across with due regard to other’s ideas and this is indeed a dexterity that no business school teaches you.

Making a scene about one’s strong views on any specific decision of the organization is common with many managers and often people fail in the way their points are put across.

Frequently, we come across situations and decisions that the organization takes which would be an appalling decision as per us and some managers react to it building negativity in organization. Adding to the opposition, one would even go to the extent of campaigning on how bad the other’s idea is in an informal way. Does it ring a bell? This is very much prevalent in most organization and is just a manifestation of tapered human behavior.

The scene takes different dimension when personal ego comes to play and one would not stop to take a look at it from other’s perspective wherein objective view of the decision takes a back seat.

Let’s leave the situation aside, and look at it from the perspective of an interesting management case. As a manager, one would be putting their personality and maturity at risk when an opinion is expressed while demeaning someone else’s opinion.

We come across such characters in all organizations who debases others ideas by proliferating how bad the idea of others is against their marvelous ideas? Such managers or individuals need guidance as they just don’t have either the maturity or the perspective of how coherence of the team needs to be valued yet express the strong views of some decisions of the management in an organization.

Often managers fail in separating themselves from situations and getting to a behavior mode of listening to others around, giving importance to the thoughts of others, yet presenting the strong views of oneself without demeaning the other ideas is a skill that comes with enhanced perception of everything around and one’s self.

In such situation, it is important to keep the below in mind so that one is seen as matured manager who regards the team’s ideas yet expresses his / her opinion and explains the reason for the strong opinion in a manner that bring in an environment of inclusiveness:

1. “I” Factor – Always keep the person out of yourself but bring the situation in front.

A better decision and a better team effort and a better positivity is possible, the moment one takes the I from self and bring the situation in front.

2. Good Idea Vs Bad Idea – There are no good or bad decisions, but there is always a decision and it could turn good results or not so good results.

When a decision need to be arrived, it is important to come to a common ground rather than move in different direction. A common ground will come only if all in the organization and those in decision making comes to value each one’s ideas and debates it pragmatically.

3. How you say Vs What you say – The tone of voice, the aggression in expression, the body language etc. is extremely critical when debates happen and that can only come if the “I” is out of the discussion.

4. Bring an act of inclusiveness – Managers must develop the habit of being inclusive wherein the others around is seen as part of them and not away from them. The moment you feel everyone and everything around is part of you, you start looking at everything from an angle of care and responsibility. Then, there is no my idea and their idea, it takes the shape of our idea.

5. Avoid Creeping – Often the tendency is to lean over the audience to get more ears for one’s strong opinion / idea and that brings more negativity into one. Rather, one should regard the other ideas and if required, get views on both the ideas in a fair manner without advertising more for one’s own idea. It takes a conscious effort to stay away from creeping on others campaigning for one’s ideas when subjected to a debate.

Binu Prasad
http://www.myartofbeing.com
http://www.binuwick.com

Working with an Uninspiring Boss!!

Blessed are those who for an inspiring leader. Many would be still dreaming of working with an inspiring leader. The irony is that there are not many such inspiring leaders available. So one oftenUninspiring leader lands up in the palm of uninspiring leaders. My empathy goes to those who are in such situation currently. Having experienced such a life, I have given this some thought and felt that I must pen on how to work under an uninspiring leader and yet hold onto your energy system
unaffected.

Life with an uninspiring leader would be like watching a horror movie (Movies last for 2 to 3 hours but living with horror is much more), the effect of which haunts even after the movie. Many reading this blog would now be having images passing through their eyes.

Not everyone is lucky to work under inspiring, energizing, enterprising and value, conscious leaders. Youngsters coming out of colleges are most vulnerable when subjected to such leaders and they end up going through the hard facts of life not often as a choice. Lack of consciousness would turn such talents into another uninspiring leader of the future. The world ends up with extra weight on mother earth if more such leaders are made.

I talked about accidental leadership in one of my earlier blogs (read it on www.binuwick.com) and most of the uninspiring leaders are the product of accidental leadership. The wealth of ancestors, the power of the family, the situational growth of money etc. adorn leadership role in them and they try to squeeze themselves into it and in the struggle of being a misfit, they tend to lead a team with ego and power, leaving talented resources drained out in their lives.

So, if an uninspiring leadership is unavoidable and circumstances hold you to work in such an organization, how do you exist (not live) being motivated? This is a corporate trap and coming out of it is easy if you decide to quit. But, that’s often not a practical solution. Hence the below can help if you happen to be under someone uninspiring.

  1. Pay a deaf ear — Develop a deaf ear to whatever they say. This doesn’t mean you show it in front of them. But show attentiveness in front of them, but consciously say it to yourself internally that this idiot doesn’t know what the hell is he/she talking about. When one is able to communicate with internal self, strength to withstand nonsense is natural. Believe me, you will be able to see yourself coming out of such uninspiring leader’s room with renewed energy if you practice this self-talk.
  2. Do not participate in emotions — An uninspiring leader often tends to undermine his/her team, talk down on his/her immediate reports, mistrust his/her team on performance, and put blame on his/her team. This behavior comes from his inability to lead, his/her sense of insecurity and as long as you understand that this is coming out of his/her weakness, you will be strong on your positive thinking, else it is easy to get your energies drained off and slip into the world of negativity.
  3. Give it back — An uninspiring leader has only one thing in abundance, his/her ego. So if he/she tries to ridicule you in public, give him/her back in one sentence or just be firm and tell him/her that you would like to talk this point outside the meeting and look firmly into his/her eyes. He/she will get the message and if his/her stupid brain crosses the limit, keep calm and be silent. If prompted for any conversations, simply say that you have nothing to comment. Most often such leaders get the message and if it goes beyond limits of tolerance, then close your eyes and hold your calmness and simply say that for want of respect you would like to take this off the meeting. However, do not spare the words in private, give them your feedback on their behavior and be firm. You will see them disciplined for few months.
  4. Ignore gossips — Uninspiring leaders most often find themselves anchoring onto talking to your colleagues about you. They would do the same when they are with you as well. Beware to participate in these conversations and remember that they do that about you to others as well and it’s always best to keep quiet when such topics are dragged in between work-related discussions. Such leaders criticize their team being gossip mongers knowing little that they themselves are leaders in gossip.
  5. Love your work — Your quality of work is something that no one can take away or play with. So love your work, not your company nor your boss. Find happiness in doing your best at work and enjoy making every task on your plate, the best art of your hands. The moment you understand that your boss is an uninspiring one and if you are able to self-talk that out of your mind, you will find that your happiness is not in the hands of him/her, but on your own.
  6. Avoid — As much as possible avoid being with him or her. The less time you spend with such leaders, the better it is. But if your position is such that you have to spend time with them or have to present yourself in front of them, then, just follow the above points.
  7. Accept ignorance — The moment you accept the ignorance of your uninspiring leader, you will be unaffected by his/her leadership styles and methods, leaving your state of mind happy and joyful. Such leaders become a case study on how not to be a leader when you understand his/her weakness and accept his/her ignorance on leadership tactics.
  8. Quit — If things are going beyond limits and all your above efforts are in vain, then quit. You can still be happy that you have quit after trying.

This is not a read for those who are led but those who lead as well. Those who lead and if they are uninspiring, they can try and make a conscious effort to change.

You are an uninspiring leader, if you keep complaining about your team, if you do not trust your team, if you are on a fault finding mission all the time, if you are one who boasts about your achievements, if you are not smiling genuinely, if you are one who are avoided by your team, if you are one who your team is afraid to come to, if you are one who is full of sarcasm, if you are one who gets things done by shouting and screaming. Well, that’s just for those who may not be knowing whether they are uninspiring. The fact remains that an uninspiring leader is still a motivator, it is just that they use different tools – fear and greed. Their long term plans are always to cashing in and/or buying physical objects and does not value human beings.

I pity the uninspiring leaders as they secretly believe that their success is a natural result of being smarter and better than everyone else.

Binu Prasad

www.binuwick.com

Pains to Success

No Pain No GainIt was the morning hours of 14th June 2016, Melvin was on his way to court along with his Dad for an important case that had to unveil a suspense. The day was of tense and in the silence of conversations between them in the moving car, both seemed to have understood the pace at which their conversation was taking place with no words spoken.

Perhaps the maturity or a sense of need for diversion of attention, silence was broken by Melvin’s dad directing him to the turn he needs to take to the venue. As the car stalled at the signal for a left turn, Victoria Engineering College was exactly in front of them.

This college had its royal touch with it’s aged, rather an antique look proudly keeping its face up showing the stature of having nurtured many lives. The city of Palghat, a province tucked inside the Western Ghats of India today adorns a modern city culture and is no more that old village. The world of Mc Donald’s, KFCs and Dominos have taken over the energy vessels of the city.

However, the college of engineering where his Dad did his electrical engineering in early 60’s has not lost its natural historical feel that it had years ago. The entrance had the huge pagoda-like structure with an open ground hidden inside solid structure of classrooms on all four sides. While the atmosphere inside the car was of tension, it didn’t take much time for Melvin’s dad to pass through the memories of his past. An opportunity to break the silent conversation and a tense mind was not spared by him.

Catching on to the memories, as the car turned left… He quickly pointed at a small narrow road where he stayed as a paying guest in a house adjacent to the road which is a few miles away from the college. He stayed with an old couple who lived in a small house. His place of stay was the Corridor where he studied, slept and sat and where his books were kept amidst his few clothes.

The couple often had to tread over him when they need to move between rooms. That’s the life that he had while studying and he recollects the same with pride. Melvin had his heart pounding with tears while he heard what his dad had gone through. In the comfort of a car, a two-storied house, no tension for food and money, the life had been a blessing for him and his only brother. Little they realized that the painless life that they had and have today was a result of a man who slept in a Corridor of a house.

Often we realize that we have less comfort until we know what our parents have gone through.

Management is not about having resources, but the ability and focus in managing a situation within the limited resources. If he had spent his time complaining about his limitations, Melvin wouldn’t be driving a car today. Most often we complain about what we do not have, realizing little about the possibilities that we have with what we have in hand. 

Pointing his finger across the road towards the rear side of his college, he showed an area where there were toilets constructed in a row for public. These were the toilets that he used as there were no toilets at the house where he stayed. These were a few miles away and a walk of five minutes is his daily ritual to the toilets. He explained the toilet structure as it used to be just a hole where you defecate and I believe there were some tribes those days who used to carry these away as their daily job. Today, you can’t even imagine a life such of that and in the luxury of toilets and washrooms, we still complain. If water does not come out of the luxury of faucets, we get stressed. We have forgotten to live in scarcity.

The lessons of self-management were best taught by nature in early years which today we learn in a corporate classroom with laser-projected power point presentations. 

He then showed a way that takes you to the famous Yakara River which flows through the Western Ghats foothill watering the paddy fields around. That’s the river he would take a shower before going to attend his classes. That’s another ten minutes of a walk for him and still he managed to be on time for his classes. Today, we have everything that helps in commuting to work and still we reach offices late.

The car crossed the bridge over the river and moved ahead to the court’s parking and they both moved off to a small tea shop for a quick tea before the presence at the court.

The day was full of tension and discomfort for Melvin but this small episode of conversation with his dad touched him so much that he didn’t know of this past of his father and a reflection of the same today brings tears in his eyes.

This may be a personal story and has no connotation to my usual blogs on management. But this made me reflect on the self-discipline that Melvin’s dad had in achieving his career aspirations, the self-management principles he had as daily chores to just attend his classes, the ease with which he managed the limited resources uncomplainingly, his attentiveness to studies in the midst of disturbance in a small Corridor of a house etc. talks of basic management principles.

He never regretted the situations that he had been through but took the pain to succeed. Everyone must choose one of two pains—either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

I am sure all of us have similar stories when we search in the history of our untold heroes. Our parents!!! Where else we need to search for a learning of management and leadership. It’s right there.

At the end of pain is Success!!!

Binu Prasad

Accidental leadership

Accidental Leader.jpgAll of us would have witnessed many leaders in our life and some of us are a few who the human race around us look at with pride. Well, there are a few leaders who we can’t even stand. As you read this blog of mine, you would recall those who you admired and still consider as the best boss that you ever had and your memories would also remember those dreadful ones who ate you for their breakfast every day. The fact is that in life, we have had many such leadership styles around us and all of them would have imparted some learning to us, some taught us what leadership is all about and the other what leadership shouldn’t be.

As leaders are always on the stage, many eyes are on them and often we forget to see them in real as we become blind to their persona or their commands or we get entangled in their power. We get entwined into their charisma and the way they handle situations and sometimes our true self, get guided by their words. Only a critical mind can question the inner dimension of leadership around us.

Have you ever come across a leader who shouts and screams? The one who throws ego around, the one who fishes for faults and reacts to it as though the situation is all because of your fault, the one who closes his doors and expect everyone, even his/her senior leadership team to wait outside his door for a meeting? The one who doesn’t have the patience to see the situation in broad view and jumps to conclusion based on his prejudice, the one who looks for credits to himself, the one who approaches your situations based on hearsay of his ear eaters? I am sure you all have many to add the types you work with or have worked with in the past. The beauty is that they are yet regarded as leaders by the society and the human race and some proclaim as self-made leaders and I call them as leaders by accident.

On the other hand, we have come across inspiring leaders who live as examples of wisdom, humility, cheerfulness, and patience. Many are world leaders like Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Dr.Nelson Mandela, Warren Buffet, Dalai Lama, Sir Richard Branson and much more. Well, not going that far, we have many at our own vicinity whom we admire for their sense of understanding, discipline, compassion, self-reliance, confidence, love, calmness, composure, conscientiousness and resilience. Also, there are many accidental leaders who the world has witnessed, some even ruled Nations, I shall remain silent on those names, though.

I am sure many of you would now be remembering those leaders who touched your heart, who taught you the sense of true leadership, who guided you in your life, who worked along with you, who held your hand and lifted you up, who took you their side and made you feel important, who valued you, who treated you with respect, who taught you the importance of trust, who subconsciously taught you to be perfect, who took time to talk to you, who stood solid in front of you when faced with failures, who stood behind you on your successes, who smiled behind a painful cry, yet not let you knew the agony, who took the stress for you and still shared the stress which you have to take to be strong, who threw you out of the window instilling a confidence in you that he/she is there standing beneath to catch you. I and you can go on describing such leaders of our life.

What makes these two different? We have many accidental leaders around us who just happen to be there for wrong reasons for humanity. I have been thinking of the accidental leadership for quite some time and realized that one who cannot manage the most sophisticated instrument on this universe– “the human self ” consisting of the body, mind, emotions and life energies, how can he ever manage thousands of people working under him? If you cannot have a control over your anxiety, anger, emotions, greed, fear, then how can you control others? This is where accidental leader’s identity gets exposed.

Leaders have an important part to play in the joyfulness of the nation, the organization, the province, the family, the team and imagine all of them playing in the palms of accidental leaders. I am not against accidental leaders, but an accidental leader who has walked in the path of self-realization is an inspiring leader and this is where most of them fail as the power and wealth they attain, make them live in the boundaries of the physical world and curtail their inner calling for stepping to be aware of the fundamentals of human existence.

When a leader meets say, five people, every word he speaks, every action of his, every move of his impacts people. The choice that the leader has is this that they impact them positively or negatively or let it go. If you impact them positively it is called leadership, if you impact them negatively it is called crime, if you let it pass by, it is called half a human being.

A systematic leader is expected to deliver what is expected from anyone. A charismatic leader is expected to deliver what everyone is not able to. But the type Accidental leadership is one thing which spurted out all of a sudden by an external force and some conducive situations. It could be money, the sudden power bestowed by the environment, or by democratic election or by hereditary in some cases especially in the ancient years. These are the kind of leaders who fumble and yet survive as leaders. They if you notice closely is a bunch of mess, like a gold plated empty box. However, some accidental leaders learn as they go and become the best systematic or charismatic leaders and win the hearts of many.

It would be dreadful to work with accidental leaders. If any of you are currently working with some like that, you would understand what I am referring to. If you have to fear to walk into a leader’s room, no doubt that leader is an accidental leader. Accidental leaders are the ones who cannot be inclusive. If you ever had to work with leaders who you would like to avoid meeting or would like to run away from their presence, those are accidental leaders and it’s a pity if those leaders don’t take time out to observe these critically and consciously for transcending their style.

If you have walked out of a leader’s room energized, call yourself lucky as they are those leaders who influence you and the ability to influence comes when one is able to feel inclusive. Accidental leaders fail to be inclusive. What is inclusiveness is probably the question that you may have? The whole existence in the universe is all about inclusiveness and it’s unfortunate that we do not feel the inclusiveness but runs after one victory after other always. This is what happens with most accidental leaders. They have a focus to make more wealth, pride, fame, forgetting the feelings of people around them, forgetting that the people around them are the reasons for them to be in that accidental leadership.

When you see your subordinate standing in front of you and if I ask you, where do you see him or her? Obviously, you would say that you see them in front of you. Isn’t it? No, you don’t see them in front of you. You see them inside you. It is the light falling on them, entering your eyes through the lens, inverted image in the retina and so on and so forth. Now you know that you are seeing them not in front of you, but inside your eyes. So fundamentally you see people not outside of you but inside you. Once you start seeing everyone around you inside you, you will become inclusive and the moment you become inclusive, you start seeing yourself impacting people positively because you start seeing everyone as part of you.

Everything that our sensory organs come in contact with become part of you. It’s like you watching a tree, the tree is within you and not outside. You eat an apple, the apple becomes you in few moments. Meaning it is included inside you. The moment you start becoming inclusive of everything around you and if you are a leader, you naturally start emitting scintillating energies around. Unfortunately, the accidental leaders struggle to get this fundamental right.

As a leader, one manages minds of others. If you manage 10000 employees, essentially you are managing 10000 minds. But if you are not able to manage your own mind, how the hell are you going to manage the minds outside yours. This is where we see charismatic leadership distinguished from any other forms of leadership.

If your interaction with your boss turns out negative every time, if your boss is more on the emotional front, if he is more focused on semantics of conversation, if he is more on finding blames, then be sure that you are dealing with an accidental leader and all you gather from him would be negative energies.

Because of this accidental leadership, you see these leaders always like a pressure cooker, about to burst anytime, highly egoistic, highly sensitive and they are often frantically searching for security. They are narrow-minded and always in fear. This happens when one doesn’t turn himself/herself to the fundamentals of their own body, mind, emotions and energies. The stupidity is that when such leaders try to hide their own weakness of lack of control on these elements of the life.

The young leaders growing up must start noticing these type of leadership which exists in the universe and will continue to exist always. The growing leaders are blessed if they interact with accidental leaders knowing the inner dimension of such accidents. It is also a blessing if accidental leaders start realizing that they are leaders and their existence demand them to be inclusive of the world around them, then the seeking for the unlimited potential happens naturally. It is important to realize for all accidental leaders that people buy into the leaders before they buy into the vision.

Inclusiveness is a successful dimension of leadership.

Binu Prasad

http://www.binuwick.com

Wipe your tears… a leadership dimension

Thought I must begin a blog this week on something that should be more relevant in today’s leadership practices.

MelanyWipe your tears WhatsApped her boss in the evening of last Wednesday:“Sir, thanks for the call. I felt bad about it. But I might also be insensitive on my email that’s why. Anyway I felt fine after your call” 

Her boss responded: I knew you felt bad. Relax and take it easy” 

This is just a conversation on WhatsApp as it is. This has a management perspective in this and you would understand the same as I expound more on it.

One of the senior management person at a leadership position in the organization snapped at Melany, an HR executive over an email where she was just following an operational process with reference to someone’s resignation. She was bold enough to spell the process of receiving resignations on time at HR for processing final settlements so that the employee concerned doesn’t suffer waiting for his dues. Well, perhaps the same wouldn’t have been taken in the right light by this senior person at the leadership and an easy way out was to subtly suppress her with a blunt email.

Well, the content of the email or what the issue is not a concern here nor it’s the focus of this article. But this indeed led to an opportunity to ignite the small things of leadership.

This would have happened sometime in the early hours of last Wednesday and Melany’s boss is away from the office and is traveling for some important work in a nearby city. He has the habit of skimming through his emails once in a while when he is away from the office and in this particular incident he was attending a seminar on organizational excellence. Soon after the seminar, while there are a number of things to attend to and ponder about, Melany’s boss decided to give her a call while driving back from the seminar. All it took for him was a few minutes to call, that too while driving on a seven lane road (please refrain from doing so in the interest of your life and the author is not responsible for anyone attempting to emulate this).

The call lasted perhaps for two minutes. All it had was that… “Melany, I saw the email. Don’t sweat  much on it. You have said the right thing in it. You need not respond. I shall respond, you chill and relax.”  This was around 5 pm on Wednesday where it was just a few hours to close shop and head home for Melany.

Melany’s boss just brought a smile on her face and gave her a feeling of being guarded and cared for. All that employees require is a small word of concern, a small word of acknowledgment of their feelings, a moment of assurance, a moment of listening, a moment of confidence lift, a moment of support and a moment of guidance if they were wrong. And above all, it got to be prompt.

How many leaders of today understand the importance of respecting the state of mind of their employees who dirty their hands so that their bosses have an easy life? Well, the fact is that this is no rocket science nor a technique that they teach in MBA, but it just goes to say that leadership is all about of being and not doing. If it is in you, it reflects. And to have these gestures reflect, one needs to be involved and keep the ears to the ground and above all feel very much inclusive of his people, his office, his work, his endeavors, his purpose and his feeling of togetherness.

Everyone around you is just another aspect of the universe you belong to and is also another creation of this so-called source of creation. No big, no small. All are equal when it comes to the various dimensions of the mind. As long as we respect that they all coexist as you are in this universe, respect for them emanate automatically. Once that respect arises, these gestures bloom and is not a technique to learn nor a method of management. It’s a way of life.

Having spent time on this very simple aspect of the daily work-related transaction, I realized one thing that such acts of the leader brings involvement, commitment at work from his or her employees and one need not break his head always worrying over how to build commitment, sense of belonging etc. If one listens to the inner self and finds himself grounded, leadership becomes a virtue.

I see many CEOs who keep passing judgments on people and conclude on their direct reports’ incapability’s as lack of potential or lack of commitment, not realizing that the key to performance is in their hands, in their way of leadership life. Most often in organization, the voice that is heard loud is the one spoken by the CEOs and what he says about an employee become biblical and there will be many who gratifies it for their own existence. Such CEOs actually make a fool of themselves as they don’t spend time with themselves and introspect to realize that the potential of talents working under them is the result of their actions and communications.

While you are in a rat race for achievement, leaders of today need to realize that a life’s fulfillment comes from not conquering more success but from doing the small things that make a difference in fellow beings around you. It is these small victories that count at the end of your life’s journey. You as a leader has the responsibility of making your team sleep well in the night, so don’t let them hit the bed with negativity and stress. No matter how hard their day had been, give them that small touch when needed and believe me, you will build a universe in your team.

If you don’t have time for the small things, you will never have time for big things. Doing that small thing with love and passion brings life to its fulfillment.

Binu Prasad
Image courtesy : Google

Performance is punishing !!! Non-performance is rewarding.

Performance is punishing.pngBerty is called by her CEO early in the morning asking her to draft a quick response to the organizers of some high-level business delegates nominated to visit Italy from her country, where her boss is also an invitee. Berty is Head of HR and has enough on her plate functionally, being head of a corporate HR team.

Berty has been a consistent performer and is excellent when it comes to communication, especially business communications. Well, it is quite nice to have someone like Berty in the team who could be the “go-to” person for any such important business communications, but what does that do to Berty?

Berty enjoys the work and is seen as a committed and involved executive who ensures an assignment is given its due importance and merit. Anything that is given to Berty will see the light of the day quickly and wouldn’t be shunted away nor hidden under the piles of work. Any new assignment whether it is to do with her function or not, it would still be passed through Berty for some reason and Berty would never say “No” to these as it interests her and she does enjoy doing that.

We see many Berty like characters in our work life. They are the performers and on the other hand, organizations do carry some baggage of non-performers or under performers. CEOs and business leaders, especially when they are weak, run to the best performers of the team when they need something to be done quickly and qualitatively and won’t even bother to say a “Thank You” at times when things are done and achieved. This mainly emanates from the comfort of having these performers around to whatever they want them to do and the confidence in leaders of not receiving a “No” for an answer. This is quite an interesting phenomenon to be pondered about as there are a number of committed performers who have been punished constantly by a downpour of tons of work for satiating someone else’s selfish needs.

Most often due to a high level of self-motivation and repeat success Berty like people get selected by superiors to do more work than her colleagues because she does a good job and is very good at it. This frequently entails extra hours of work, multitasking, etc. the punishment is that Berty gets to see the non-performers who are not doing their own job well, get rewarded by means of time off at work, higher perquisites like a higher category of car, business class travels, time off from work, leave work on time and so on. This is very common in government organizations where due to bureaucracy, it is difficult to get rid of underperformers. However, the scene is not different in some single owner run private companies.

Performers like Berty gets more and more demands pushed onto their table , just because of the confidence that the CEO has on completion of the work as per the quality expected, leaving her to stay late night at work, or carry work home whereas on the other hand you have people who don’t carry any image of performers but smooth talkers.

You might often see these non-performers coming to work at 9.15 am and spends some time on tea and coffee chat then goes missing. Perhaps must have gone to drop lunch box at their kids school etc.. And before it’s 6 pm in the evening, they have already planned the evening with family or imaginary families or have planned a golf. Off they go and still get paid and paid more at times than people like Berty.

Berty was called on another day to draft a letter to one of the business associates for financial adjustments on a lease model that the company is working on with the premises of the associate. Berty needs only an explanation of what the content should be and there she goes with a frame of mind and thoughts to put the matter in good perspective and also making it practical and diplomatic. Well, it ideally would be under the Finance function to handle matters like this where it relates to lease and lease renewal etc.

Not much said the matter is resolved by Berty and life moves on and Berty gets another set of things to do which is entirely different from her functions. A week later, Berty gets a call again asking to issue a letter of salary increment to Finance head, out of the cycle. Berty has her own objection to it as it’s not in line with the policy, however, Berty has to do it eventually as the final decision is on the CEO. Such scenes are common in any organization and here it tells me that performance is punishing and non-performance is rewarding.

Also, often we at senior levels like Berty gets to do things which we are unwilling to do and this is what I term as “being raped”.

Performers are seen as meek by some of the CEOs or leaders and it’s only a matter of time that organization would lose such performers as they see how weak their leaders are and find that there is no room for growth or learning under their leadership.

It’s important for the organization’s to reward performers timely, especially those performers who are driven by excitement at work or those who score very high on career development on tests like RSI.

Piling works for performers without being sensitive to them or without even showing a simple courtesy gesture, would be like punishing them, especially when it comes to rewards, that goes to non-performers. It is a shame that some CEOs and leaders do not take care of performers and do not keep a balance on rewarding people. The health of an organization is in danger when performers are punished and is suicidal when non-performers are rewarded.

Berty like performers does not promulgate their innate skills or abilities or their immense involvement in delivering a quality work. But there, of course, are those gas- bags who doesn’t leave a chance to advertise a small achievement and do not hesitate to even plant a loudspeaker just below the ears of their leaders. Unfortunately, CEOs who are logically diagnostic to these characters in the organization are rare.

On the other hand, you get to see performers like Berty beaming with positive energy as their motives are performance and not reward. But with time, they would move on where they get to develop their abilities and skills. They wouldn’t mind being used but they look for rewards that enable them to do well time and again. Their meekness sometimes is taken for granted by the CEOs and leaders.

Similarly, we all have our favorite team member to go to for anything that comes up as urgent or immediate to do work. Often we have a tendency to lean on them for quality, consistency and expected results. We keep developing this reliability factor on some of our direct reports and often it comes to the limelight and it sometimes takes the shape of obvious.

As a leader one needs to be careful about it, especially when we have a team. Managing the talents that are performing and non-performing is an art in itself. It sometimes is a good tool to make the reliability on someone public as long as communication is clear and transparent that performance is not seen as punishing. At the same time, a leader must encourage the nonperformers to handle responsibilities thus making it perceived as an opportunity to excel is given to them. A differentiation in rewards is imperative for a team to be successful and also for a leader to be perceived as fair, else the leader will be left with nonperformers who wouldn’t mind staying on. While performers are pressured with more and more, rewards if not delivered whether it is in financial form or in the form of word of appreciation or in the form of meeting learning and development needs, you are bound to lose your performers in time.

If an organization does not open their eyes to recognizing performers over non-performers and get into the mode of taking performers for granted, just because the motive and driver for performers are mere performance, the work culture would suck. Real performers are those who do not hanker for rewards but a silent result producers and, of course, they do have their times of agony on organization’s unfair recognitions, but the inner drive of being a performer and also the quest for doing better keeps them galloping to an extent that organization or company or brand they are in for the moment do not matter. Before you realize the importance of rewarding them, they would be gone. You cannot keep punishing performers with more and more work demands for long, neglecting the need for appreciation.

There exist organizations and CEOs who values performers and who acknowledges the punishing of performers by loads of work and the beauty of such talent masters reside in the very fact of recognizing that he is punishing the performer with more work demands and knowing when and what to do to keep them with the organization.  The performers do not see it as punishment when they are timely recognized and not subjected to witness rewarding of non-performers.

Performance punishment is an easy way to burn out your good employees!

Binu Prasad

Image: courtesy google.

Blame games feast on culture!

Chris manages a restaurant chain of 40 restaurants in her country. One of her restaurants was scBlame games eat culture for breakfastheduled to go for usual refurbishment works and quite obviously she needs to allocate h
er staff to other restaurants which are already running with low staffing. She shifted some staff to a few other restaurants and kept some home delivery drivers to a nearby low revenue earning restaurant hoping to serve the customers of the shutdown restaurant by home deliveries. Perhaps a decision was taken by her and her immediate team down the line. The idea could only be to avoid disappointing the existing customer base seeking home deliveries. Not a bad idea from the thought perspective but could ruin the satisfaction quotient because of time delay that it could take to deliver since it is now from another restaurant which is few miles away from the shutdown restaurant.

This perhaps a wise thing to do from her point of view, and may not be appreciated by someone else in the organization and they would find it a chance to blame Chris spreading the virus gossip saying she has put all her team in one place where there are less business and what’s the point in doing home deliveries to catchment areas of closed restaurant when your orders are going to take time and delay, resulting in customer complaints. Well, it’s a personal view but it can damage the morale and health of an organization.

Have you not come across such spleens in the organization? They exist in every organization. Their point of views could be very valid but is not manifested maturely, causing cancer in the organization. They are people who derive pleasure from blaming. No doubt, their views have a business sense and logical, but the method of expressing the same wounds the health of the organization. One cannot avoid the existence of such elements in an organization but the beauty is in handling their critical creativity. These type of people come with an attitude to blame others or just to create unrest and animosity in the organization. They are but talented being with tremendous inner potential left unguided.

On another day, one of Chris’s restaurants had a breakdown of the fryer. It went unattended for more than 15 days and it’s not that she didn’t do anything about it. It’s just that the maintenance team had to get a part changed and the finance wouldn’t release cash for a direct purchase and, of course, Chris is stuck, maintenance head is stuck and it’s usual for Chris to get stuck like this in between the organizational bureaucracies. Yes, one would argue that Chris as a business head must bring the sky down if the business is affected by the internal process bureaucracy. Well, that comes out only when the passion for business is strongly rooted. Maybe Chris is on top of the matter, also, the maintenance head is biting his teeth on getting this fixed. But someone is playing behind them on this given opportunity. Our virus friend is at work… Usual rituals of blaming Chris for not taking ownership of the situation, blaming maintenance head for no seriousness etc.  Such issues are common in any organization and it happens when empowerment is in short supply and decision making is criticized. This is a huge leadership concern and such matters left unaddressed would peril an organization. Leaders have to calmly observe such scenarios and fix the processes, systems and the management practices for knitting the organization’s DNA.

While the leader should ideally focus on the issue from a broad perspective, it is very natural for one to get swayed by the super active viruses who is on a public platform with a hidden loudspeaker propagating the incapability’s of Chris and Maintenance head, leading to an organizational chaos. It is often said the blame is a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.

When you watch closely at these influential elements in an organization, it makes us realize that they are brilliant talents but misused. They have a negative approach in contributing the right stuff to the organization. They also think logically and they are talented, they are guardians of organization’s business interests but, unfortunately, screws up their method of efforts in a blame culture. If you observe them closely, you can sense a deep passion for business, operations, growth, righteousness etc. in them, unfortunately, personified wrongly in the organizational structure. They are someone who would not straight talk but would love to sit next to the ear of leader and bite it hard with all their intellectual critics, messing up the leadership’s perception of people similar to Chris and our maintenance head in this example.

While such elements are an important aspect of an organization like the good and bad bacteria that a human body has, a mismanagement of its balance would topple life.

A leader is actually a doctor who diagnoses the growth of such bacterial infection in the organization and manages it with the right medication. But if the doctor cannot diagnose this nor recognize the existence of such viruses, the doctor could get infected as well, leave alone the organization. A doctor has to be a learned man and a lone thinker for perceiving these with a sense of maturity and balanced thinking.

On the other hand, if the leader gets carried away with these blame games, then do you know what it does to the whole organization? It just feasts the culture of blame.

Can you imagine an organization where the leader himself finds it easier to blame his business leaders or functional leaders? If the leader of the organization has a good ear to listen to these blame games of an influential member of his team, and if those ears don’t filter stuff but straight away takes to the reptilian brain and vomits it out as another corporate blame, the structure of blame culture is established. A leader who takes ownership doesn’t resort to blaming his people for failures.

A great leader comes in the front when things go wrong and stands behind when victories are experienced.

When blame games eat culture for breakfast, the organization’s focus turns to destroying talents. The sense of ownership flies out the window.

Where does the organization go in such a scenario? It is a misnomer to think that a culture is shaped by the HR of an organization. It’s the manifestation of a top leader’s thought process and HR becomes an enabler in the game plan.  In an organization, if the string is pulled by a single leader which is normally a case when it comes to single owner businesses, the accountability of a culture lies with him.

I am sure there exist the viruses like the above in any organization. The savior in all such organization lies at the intellect of the leader. Believe it or not, the leader at the steering holds the control of cultivation of blame culture. If your organization is infested with blame games all across the lines, then look at where it is originating from, where it is nurtured, where it is fostered, where it is multiplied, where it gets propagated? And God bless the organization if the answer lies at the CEO of the organization. And God bless the organization if that CEO is irreplaceable or is the founder himself.

I write this for those CEOs who dream of corporate culture but lives in the reality of narrow dubious culture. It is easy to blame your colleagues or your subordinates, it takes courage and commitment to guide them. It takes wisdom to lead a team to a positive work culture. Watch out for those words like ” he didn’t do it” , ” no progress after you took over the responsibilities”, ” ever since you joined, things turned worse”, ” I do not have good people” , ” our people are not performing” , ” everything happens only when I tell”, ” nobody in this organization takes responsibilities”, ” everything is slow in this place”, ” I retained your people” , ” everyone signs the resignation of people as approved and no one bothers to retain and it’s me who took initiative to retain people”, and many more … Can you see the “I” in this? Can you see the “No” factor in these? , it just emanates from the deep rooted passion for blaming others and if it’s in the blood, it never sees the purity. Perhaps a dialysis could save the life of the organization.

In a scenario like this, the one who serves breakfast to CEO is our blame game boy. In such an organization, everyone works towards doing what pleases the boss and care less for system or process or product or business. And the sincere performers goes unnoticed. The concentration of top leadership goes in earning that brownie point from the CEO by filling his or her ears. And the unfortunate CEO gets derailed by his ear keepers, not knowing he is nurturing a wrong plant in his garden. It is a pity that in such organization, these blame game boys and those who kisses the ears of the praise hungry CEOs get their banks filled with constant wealth.

It just goes to tell me that leadership is something that one needs to attain by listening to one’s inner self, devoid of the external voices. 

It is important for CEOs to learn that blame doesn’t move the game on! A learning culture enhances team performance.

Binu Prasad

Image courtesy: Google

Listen to the Inner Calling

Inner CallingMat and Mel were engaged in an intense conversation. They are in a world of their own with no one around. The world is just full of water and they are floating in it, occasionally holding each other’s hands. There is a connection between them and they believe that that’s how the life in the world they live in is. Each is individuals on their own and have a mind of their own and hence, a conversation always strikes well between them. They feel that there is someone holding their world.

The scene is a mother’s womb and Mat and Mel are twins about to come to reality. Mat and Mel were discussing of future life after delivery….

Mat asked Mel, “Do you believe in life after delivery?”  Mel replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” Mel is more optimistic and holds great hopes in her mind and believe positively always. Mel sees the light at the end of tunnel always and has practiced silence and search of herself well in the placenta.

“Nonsense,” said Mat. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

Mat has been a man who doesn’t see hope in life and sees nothing bright ahead. Mat is like anyone who has been in an organization for years and believes that beyond that place where he is currently, life doesn’t exist.

To Mat’s question, Mel said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.” Mel is full of hopes for the best and imagines a beautiful future.

Mat couldn’t resist replying to Mel’s persistent hope for life after delivery… He replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

For Mat, logic is more pertinent than hope and imagination for a better future. Mat doesn’t believe in making uncertainty into reality and does not see him taking any risk. He is more comfortable with where he is and does not want to see a change positively.

Mel insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

Mat replied, “Nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Mel, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.” Mat replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is she now?”

Mel said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of her. It is in her that we live. Without her, this world would not and could not exist.”

Mat said to Mel: “Well I don’t see her, so it is only logical that she doesn’t exist.” Mel replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive her presence, and you can hear her loving voice, calling down from above.”

There is this inner calling we have to listen to and move on in life, hoping for the best to come. We forget to listen to that and we are often doomed by that stuff going around us and driven by that transactional life.

Learn to listen in silence, you will find the calling from above!!!! , no matter who you are with or who you are surrounded with, the belief in yourself and your strong perceptions of life will make you find yourself.

A mother is what the baby inside a womb can imagine and believe that she exists. That’s the inner calling that the baby listens to as a future reality. While in darkness, it is the inner calling that we must listen to, no matter how troublesome the others around can get to.

An organization is like a mother’s womb and we float inside that with a variety of people around us pulling us down with their logical and negative thoughts. A self-awareness and a strong belief in the inner calling are what would keep you going undisturbed.

Learning to listen to your inner guidance is the hardest lessons in the world. Our inner guidance is more often tailored by the external guidance that we hear and see.

A silent listening would uncover the real inner call.

 Binu Prasad

Image courtesy: Google.

Look – Your subordinate has a better decision!!!

Your subordinates may have better answers than you.

Most of the time managers assume that they have all the soluDecision Makingtions and the decisions are always at their end. Most discussions of decision making assume that only leaders and managers make decisions. This is a dangerous mistake as once written by Peter Drucker.

As a manager or leader, it is insane to think that you hold all the answers and you have all the information for a decision. It is quite common in managers to assume that their subordinates do not get the right answers or they do not have a right decision at their end for any given situation. This just goes to prove the old adage that “to assume” is making an ass out of you and me!! When you make an assumption of having a better information than the people at the ground reality, you just end up making an ass of yourself. Accepting the fact that your team on the ground has a better grip on the situation than you and hence can contribute to decision making or can make better decisions is humility that every leader / manager must embrace.

It takes an effort for a leader to capitalize on his subordinate’s decision-making skills. Often I find myself as a creator of a system or process at work, and then bringing the team inside it to accept the same and then allow them to start living the system. While they breathe work as per the process that I set in, they come across numerous terrain that I never thought of or encountered while building it. And the beauty is they not only find those lacunae but have answers to resolve them as well. In a way, I end up creating a creator. This is a beautiful feeling. I get excited when my team come up with answers and alternative options as I see that the brain is at work and they are not tied to their desks doing mundane work but are embracing their share of responsibilities wholeheartedly.

It is interesting to navigate your team member’s mind and see how they open up with better decisions at work. Many managers fail in finding this distinctive potential in some of their team members. The only way to get your team members come forward with the decisions for an issue is by being with them when resolving an issue. These days’ youngsters come with a world view and have been exposed to many situations in their life making them capable of making their own decisions. Situations could be complex and a manager would most often think and feel that only his experience can find a practical solution, forgetting the fact that his immediate subordinate or some of the other team members in the team could bring in a better decision at times.

As a leader with experience, it is quite natural for anyone to disregard the talent of his immediate subordinate or his team down the line when faced with complex decision-making situations, but to have that conscious mind to listen to them, expecting a logical decision is a skill that every manager or leader should work on.

As a leader, one must respect his team’s potential and, however, silly it may sound, listen to their ideas, thoughts and nurture them. For all you know they are also talented and have a God given brain to think and act. They have better solutions to issues and situations often. However, in the world outside where some managers or leaders wear a robe of “I know more than you” attitude fails to see the bright light near them.

The best thing that a manager can do is to involve his team whenever a situation needs to be resolved. While you may have an answer you think is right for a situation in front of you, ask probing questions, give them time and you will see how engagement and sense of ownership take birth.

Often I have practiced throwing challenges to my team and it could be just simply asking them to design a new format. I enjoy seeing them besetting their brain, driving their thoughts and then beautifully crafting one. No matter how inaccurate the result is, it’s still a brain’s work and it opens up an opportunity for you to work further on their development. However, their work could make you think of a scenario which you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of. Here comes the learning from your own team. Here is realizing that they have better solutions than you here is knowing that they too make better decisions.

Everyone at your team is making decisions at their work and shaping them to make better decisions as you would have otherwise made or building a curiosity to invite their decisions on issues is a skill that a leader must cultivate.

Shifting your team mindset from a bunch of talents following instructions to talents contributing for a shared objective is what would unleash their potential to be decision makers.

Lastly, the decisions emanating from your team has a better buy in and success of a leader is certain in such cases.

Binu Prasad

Image Courtsey: Google