What if you were your team’s biggest problem? How will you even know? Let alone fix it.
My friend and I were talking about what it means to lead a team. He runs a hands-on small business, and I do CxO on Tap consulting, usually working with CEOs and Founders on boring stuff like “business transformations”.
My friend talked about his challenges with his team and how he could improve the performance of his employees and his business. His team was talented and hard-working, but they weren’t meeting their company’s goals or delivering the high-quality work he expected.
We talked about all sorts of things he could do differently. He could change their workflow and different tasks, give them new tools, fire some, hire more people with expertise in specific areas, delegate more responsibilities to them and so on…
Then at one point, I heard myself blurting loudly – “Hey, What if YOU are your team’s biggest problem right now? Then how would you fix yourself?”
My friend was shocked at my brutality. I was stunned myself that I said that.
He immediately replied, “nothing”. Then there was radio silence on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Both of us said nothing—dead silence.
Then he got up and shook hands, left the meeting as suddenly as possible. He said, “Thank you so much… that last question …wow! … it was a killer. I don’t know why I didn’t ask myself all along…. I will call you back as soon as I crack this… thanks a bunch”, and he just left.
What would you do? Did it ever happen to you? What if you were your team’s biggest problem? How will you even know?
A successful team is not just about brilliant people and good ideas. There’s no point in hoping to be successful with a bunch of individuals who don’t have clarity on what they should do, don’t have the independence to do what they should be doing, or don’t have the resources to do the things they should be doing.
Many teams can function better if these three key factors are fixed – role clarity, respect for their independence, individuality, innovation, and resources to succeed.
Role clarity is the first step in building a successful team. Role clarity is about knowing what to do and what is expected.
Clarifying roles involves defining responsibilities, accountability, and authority. It’s important to remember that role clarity has three main aspects: who does what, who owns what, and how decisions are made.
Each member of the team not only needs to understand not only their role but also how it fits with the other people on the team or project.
What is the role of each person on your team? Who’s going to do what, and why?
Have you ensured that everyone has clear expectations about what they need to accomplish and how they’ll do it?
Are there any gaps or overlaps between roles that need to be addressed?
Respect for their independence, individuality, and innovation
Each individual on the team is different, with their strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests. They would do things differently to reach almost similar outcomes. To build a team that works together, you need to respect the differences in your team members and give them independence.
Respect also means being flexible and adaptable, seeing things from another person’s perspective. A successful leader will empower their team member to do their job by listening to their ideas and suggestions, letting them be themselves, and supporting them when they fail and succeed—wilful stepping back under watchful expertise.
How do you respect your team as professionals and individuals and give them the independence to do what they need to do?
How are you respecting them for their intelligence and their abilities to complete the task without your micromanaging?
Resources – both tools and skilling being made available to succeed.
Resources are the tools that they need to do their job. These resources include:
The technology—computers, phones, software, etc.— and tools help them do their work more efficiently or effectively.
Training programs teach new skills to be more productive at work (and stay relevant in this fast-moving industry).
Coaching from managers who provide feedback on how to improve performance and achieve goals faster.
What resources would they need to build efficiency and effect in what they do?
What can you provide each team member to provide with the skills and resources required to do their job and do it well?
The three Rs to building a successful team role clarity, respect their independence and resources to succeed
In conclusion, we can see that the three Rs to building a successful team are role, respect and resources. This is not just a catchy phrase but a solid framework for how you should think about your team members as individuals.
By understanding their strengths and weaknesses (role), respecting their independence and creativity (respect), and giving them the tools to succeed (resources), you can create an environment where everyone feels like an equal member of the group.
We should use imagination more often and in more ways than we do today. But then, isn’t it weird to try to just imagine something out of thin air? At least, that’s what I thought for most of my life until I learned about the ‘power of imagination and how it works.
Instead of asking “Why?” all the time, why not we start asking “Why Not?”; instead of “What?” what if we used “What if”? Could these open ourselves up to new possibilities?
Imagine this: You are standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down at your own body lying motionless on the 100ft below you on the ground. How would you feel? Would you be scared or excited? Would you want to jump or stay put? What are you feeling now? What are the thoughts running at that point?
Imagining things from various uncomfortable perspectives and possibilities helps us understand ourselves better. And we gain new insight into our own lives by getting outside ourselves for a moment—the above was just one bizarre (imaginative) example!
Instead of asking “Why?” all the time, why not we start asking “Why Not?”; instead of “What?” what if we used “What if”? Could these open ourselves up to new possibilities?
An imaginative mind is a mind that can think of many things at once. Imagination is the ability to create new ideas, experiences, and situations in our thoughts. Imagination helps us to solve problems and make decisions. It’s also vital to foster creativity!
The more we use our imagination, the better it works! We have seen this happen before: When someone tells us a story about something they did with their friends or family, do we imagine what it would be like if it happened to us? This is because our imaginations are highly active all the time!
All minds are active minds. An active mind is multi-dimensional. An active mind is multi-dimensional. It can work on many ideas at a time; it can hold multiple ideas in its grasp and turn them over like so many stones, seeing what lies beneath the surface of each one. Is it a surprise then that an active mind is so powerful:
The active mind can consider the different facets of an issue without feeling overwhelmed or having to choose between them. Instead, it can look at them all at once and see how they relate to each other individually and as part of a larger whole.
This is why a multi-dimensional mind is invaluable—it can take the most complex problems and simplify them to become manageable.
A mind is like a garden full of flowers of different hues and colors, with different blooms and fruition cycles. Still, they co-exist. And like in a garden, where each plant needs specific attention, one’s multi-dimensional mind needs specific nurturing to each of the dimensions.
All of us have a little voice in our heads. It’s the one that asks “what if?” and “why not?”. We call it our imagination. It keeps us asking questions, exploring options, and thinking outside the box. It’s also the thing that makes us human.
Yes, sometimes our imagination can feel like it’s getting a little too loud in our heads—we get overwhelmed by all the ideas we’re trying to juggle at once. We start feeling like we’re just spinning wheels on everything because we don’t know where to start. What if we practice quietening the mind to co-exist with those multiple ideas like a garden full of beautiful flowers?
The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
The more possibilities there are, the more creativity we have. Resources are finite, but our mind is infinite. We can create something out of nothing while using our imagination to help others and ourselves.
Innovation and creativity are at their highest when we have an open mind to the many possibilities to arrive at a solution. As our society becomes more dependent on technology, we will need more people who can think outside the box, look at more possibilities and draw patterns. This is precisely what humans do with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – exploring increased possibilities to find hidden intelligence.
So, what do human-made machines do, can’t humans do better?
In a way that creativity and innovation are two sides of the same coin; it is like art and science.
The creative mind is more open to new ways of thinking and perceiving; it sees things in new ways, bringing about innovation. Innovation is an integral part of human progress because it enables us to create tools, products, systems, and ideas that help us live better lives.
Innovation comes from a combination of imagination and knowledge—it’s not enough to know how something works if we don’t also have some insight into how it could be used differently or improved. This is where imagination steps in: if we can imagine a better way for something to work, we might be able to make it happen!
The world is a complex place. There are infinite problems that need to be solved, and we need creative solutions to solve them. So the more imaginative and innovative people there are, the better our chance of making things better for everyone.
Innovative people come up with new ideas, which lead to new ways to solve problems – be it products and services; these things create jobs, create a better standard of living, feed the poor, cure the diseased, and a lot more.
But innovation doesn’t just stop there! It also means being able to help out those in need by finding better ways of doing things so they don’t have as much pain or suffering anymore. This is good for saving the planet since we use fewer resources and are more efficient.
An imaginative mind is key to making the world a better place. A good imagination is critical and can help us achieve our dreams and goals. We must imagine ourselves achieving them before they become a reality, so we must know how to use our imagination properly.
We need more people with imaginative minds to make the world a better place.
Are your customers jettisoning you by the hordes? Or are they leaving you in a trickle? Is your product revenue becoming a sinking ship or a leaky bucket?
Customers will soon turn too busy for your product only when your product manager becomes too busy for the customer.”
A product manager is responsible not just for building a product that works, but more importantly, one that sells and sticks.
1. Building the nuts and bolts of a product that works is probably the easier part (oops! engineers, no offence). That is engineering.
2. To make sure a product indeed meets the needs and aspirations of customers is challenging.
3. Creating an ecosystem of product+experience (support and service) is where the magic is created. That is where the rubber hits the road.
And this activity cannot be 100% outsourced to Marketing, Sales, Support or Service functions.
When customers decide to swear by your product, it is crucial to understand the why
When those customers decided that your product is not worth their wallet, it is vital to understand the why.
When those key prospects are still undecided, to test your product, it is still essential to understand their why too.
Listening to customers and users is a vital part of product management. Much to the chagrin of many organisations, l product managers tend to be internally focused on product engineering only. Product engineering is a ‘part role’ of a product manager. What is core is to listen, to meet and to interact with the product’s long time users, customers and, (more importantly), the ones that dumped the product after the first few uses.
This is what good product managers do. Understanding the customer, listening to them, and bringing in the right features functionalities in the product they are building is the key. And these cannot be done by being internally focused.
Meeting customers is a part of the day job of a product manager. It is just as important or more than looking at the spreadsheets for sales and profitability or those slides for marketing or the PRD for engineering. I would add first-hand interaction and information collection with the customer gives life and purpose to the product.
And product manager who becomes too busy for a customer will soon see customers who become too busy for the product. #LawOfKarma or #CommonSense
In my interactions with clients, they come with an absolutely ‘clear ask’ on the requirement and want us to fulfil that ‘immediately’.
It is most comfortable for me to give them what they asked. However, I almost always pose this question.
“Why do you want to do what you want to do? Not that we cannot do that x thing that you ask for, but would love to understand the why of it is the right thing to do.”
7 in 10 times, during the process of discussion, their ‘clear ask’ has now changed a few times, and the new request is more practical and commonsensical. Sometimes that ‘urgent need’ itself is nullified, and I have possibly lost that ‘immediate business’ of what they were initially planning to give us.
I do this because I put myself into the shoes of my customer’s business. And gives me a vicarious experience of ‘being a core part of their business’ during those conversations.
That is the value I seem to bring to the table. It has often, at times, saved millions. But more importantly, asking the right questions, seemed to be the right thing to do.
I share my experiences from a devastating accident in which I almost lost three fingers, and what I have learned from this miracle ordeal.
Three years ago, it was late Sunday evening in January when I met with a freak yet devastating accident. As I was working on a 12,000 RPM rotary metal cutting tool, a momentary lapse of attention and I severed my three fingers on the right hand.
This jolted my family and threw life out of gear. With three small beautiful children and a family that is dependent, an entrepreneurial journey, and a whole life ahead, a useless right hand, was the last thing one would want on.
By the time I was wheeled into A&E, the situation was grave, and more than one hospital in the area refused admission as they did not have the doctor on call over that weekend. It was a weekend night, and Bangalore roads were choked with heavy traffic.
The Two-Wheeler Ride To Eternity:
And clutching the tree dismembered fingers of my right hand tightly with the left. I rode pillion on a two-wheeler, and my wife was the ‘ambulance’ driver. The blood loss was significant as The body gushed out blood to the fingers. Sitting in the pillion, the one thing on my mind was to keep myself awake, come what may, and not become unconscious and fall off. I hugged my feet to the sides of the scooter, much like how you would on a horse and kept talking to my wife, lest i fall asleep. The notorious city’s traffic was not helping and a good 30-40 minutes later, and what seemed like an eternity, we reach a hospital that would admit us.
What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth.
What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth. My mind was filled with an intricate mix of self-doubt and self-acceptance on what-if and how I will live with just a thumb and a little finger for the rest of my life. A billion thoughts crisscrossed my mind. Would this be the end of me? Will I be accepted in this world? How will I have an opportunity to pursue my hobbies and passions for which I came back to India? How will I do as an entrepreneur? Would this end my professional life forever?
The Surgery And The Recovery
It was an intense 4-5-hour surgery under general anesthesia, and I remained drugged for hours afterward. I still remember the light banter in the Operation Theatre with the surgeon. He informed me that he would need me to sign the consent form, as he said, “….we can save one finger, be ready to lose two of them, but we will try to save the second one”. This was before the General Anaesthesia, and I replied, “Doc, without those three fingers, I cannot sign. How about you fix them, and then I can have the form signed in no time.” After a good guffaw, they got the consent form signed by my wife, who was there through out the phase not sleeping a wink.
Cut forward to 6 weeks later – As we went for the removal of cast and stitches, my doctor was awed and euphoric – for this recovery was beyond all his expectations. He mentioned I was ‘one big lucky man‘; While I was relieved, I knew deep within that the hundreds of prayers and positive energy from many well-wishers and the doctor’s dedication would not go waste.
And all that was backed by a rock-solid backbone by wife and children, strong support of family, prayers, blessings, and encouragement from many friends. Over the next few months – life had ‘raced back to normalcy – in 6-8 weeks, much earlier than the expected 6-12 months.
I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.
I have learned a lot in those few months and unlearned many more. It indeed was a rebirth. With many cobwebs in mind removed, the mind knows what is essential in life. In retrospect, this was the best exerience in my life, yet. Couldn’t have been luckier to have this experience.
Here’s a summary of the six most important lessons that I’ve learned:
Throughout the adventurous journey, I realized the importance of having the love and respect of family, whom you could always depend on. My parents-in-law were all the time and my parents flew in from Dubai immediately after hearing this. With that confidence of the support of my family and friends, I would sail through this life. I was also fortunate to have support in the form of many hundreds of telephone calls and WhatsApp inquiries from all corners of the world. Many of them dropped by for a visit. Words of encouragement, flower bouquets, courier packages with holy water, ashes, and prasadams(similar to holy water, in the form of solid or liquid) from holy places were pouring in.
Within minutes of the accident, and immediately after the shock, I had mentally prepared to accept whatever was on the cards and whatever googly life threw at me. If it means living with just my thumb and the little finger for the rest of my life. I was ready for a life the way it was dished out to me.
Gratitude was the most important of all the learnings. Through the process of a long recovery, I was filled with immense gratitude for all the amazing things that life had to offer. I was grateful for all that so many people have done for me. Through the countless solitary moments, I thanked thousands of people, yes, thousands of people. I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons I had encountered since childhood. And, I believe that act alone was the single most significant contributor to my miracle recovery, a record of sorts.
Let alone not losing any of the fingers as the doctor had said, the recovery was much lesser than six-twelve months; I was ready and kicking and six weeks. In fact, just a day after the bandages removed and even without physiotherapy I went ahead and did what I love to do – an 800 km Road trip, more than half-which I was at the wheel.
I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood.
If there is one important thing other than gratitude, mentioned Earlier it is the law of attraction. Much I was accepting each day for what it was; I was not willing to let go of the optimist in me and the fighter in me. Each day, I would visualise miraculous healing and see the senior surgeon tell us that he was amazed at the speed of recovery.
Adaptability Of Human Body:
Through my journey, I was able to be aware of and observe remarkable aspects of the internal workings of the human body. The experience of ‘electric shocks’ from nerve endings as they try to heal, regrow and reconnect to the nervous system, the incredible way my left hand took over seamlessly, much like a doubles partner, to compensate for my every weakness. The reflexes had dramatically improved. Never in my entire life would I have experienced such a level of alertness and strong reflexes .
Dramatic Increase In IQ Tests
Here, I’m going to speak about something incredible that happened and is beyond imagination. This was more of an unintended consequence, serendipity if you may, for what you are about to hear is not something even I foresaw in my wildest dreams.
I am a regular player of online brain games like Lumosity. After that break of about 6 to 8 weeks, scores consistently surged way higher than any previous of the high scores. Not believing this magical twist, I took 20 -30 different brain tests. The scores were consistently 30-70% higher than my earlier high scores. On further research, I learned that sudden use of the left hand for the considerable amount of time helped activate the other half of the brain.
Today, I am so grateful to the people around me, my life, and the universe. When I play badminton, play with children, pick up those weights in the gym, or make that 10,000 km road trip – and all of them are still a bit of effort, nonetheless – not a day passes without feeling how blessed life has been.
This rule is some what counter-intuitive. Most aspirants to the top jobs, usually jump at the opportunity to travel with the superiors. They think that travelling with bosses gives them that extra time to shine. Don’t do it. Good senior executives judge on results, not on clever conversations.
Good top managers are also busy and unless you are working ion their projects, in less than ten minutes they get back to what they are working on. You must spend your travel time working . Airplane time is work time, so you may want to fly by yourself and gain those extra few hours. If you travel with a top executive and end up working on the flight, they would think you are doing it to impress them. Worse still, they want to read a book, relax, take a nap or may be watch a movie and they will be unsettled by your industriousness. Even if you have to fly the same plane, sit in a different section. Hotel time is also work time. If you travel with superiors they may be obligated to ask you for dinner. If they don’t you will feel hurt. Either ways your valuable time is wasted.
This is not a story of rags to riches. This is not even a story about the candidate. This is the story of how strong our biases are in the hiring process and how limiting our job descriptions are in selecting a great candidate.
A job description, as defined by Wikipedia, is a document that describes the general tasks, functions, and responsibilities of a position. It specifies the qualifications, experience, or skills needed by the person in the job.
Almost all HR and hiring managers swear by Job Descriptions. But have we ever realized that Job Descriptions could also limit our searches, resulting in potential false negatives?
I have always been fascinated by Starbucks. Who is not? I am a coffee addict, and what better place to have those gazillion start-up meetings and those brain storming sessions other than Starbucks. The Wi-Fi is incidental, and so are the Espresso-double shots. What fascinated me is the experience in a Starbucks that is consistent – it does not matter whether I am in San Francisco or Singapore, Bangkok or Bali, Hanoi or Hyderabad, it is the amazingly same experience with the Baristas.
Being an entrepreneur myself and also having managed global organizations in the past, I have always been curious and passionate about building cultures. I believe that building a strong positive culture is one of the sustainable ways to makes an organisation successful – short-medium and long term. I also believe that culture plays, a bigger role on impact than building a skill-set.
A strong ‘culture’ in an organization might take a long time for it to show, as it needs to be ingrained into the DNA of the organisation. Unlike a skill, that can be incorporated by training its workforce at any point, culture requires continuous focus from the moment of an employee joins the organisation. The employee is exposed to a ‘ways of the world here’, and pretty much adopts that particular way as their own.
It is in this context, that I wish to use the Starbucks example. What makes Starbucks do something that is so insanely simple and yet, delightfully magical? It is not their covfefe for sure!
Every employee that joins Starbucks, is given a small 4″X5″ ‘the green apron book’ on the first day with the company. In a simple lucid way this booklet explains the culture of Starbucks. Since this culture is immediately manifested across the organisation, it is easy for the new employee to adapt and adopt these practices.
‘Culture drinks strategy for coffee’ Drucker would have said, had he seen Starbucks.
At Starbucks, every employee follows this green apron book, which has five values. These values can pretty much be applicable to any organisation. However Starbucks, has made it ingrained into their culture and not surprisingly it isas successful as what we see today.
1. Be welcoming:
Being welcoming helps people share their concerns openly without inhibitions. It helps customers return to the store repeatedly. It helps build a sense of belonging between people and share their thoughts openly. Such a simple phrase, when inculcated in a culture can put 1000 strategies to shame.
2. Be Genuine:
Being genuine is a simple way to ensure that everything, everyone does an organisation has a sense of connection to the other person. It helps establish trust between its employees and between its employees and customers. Being genuine means being responsive to the needs of others. We can call it by any other name, but these two words ‘be genuine’ puts it succinctly.
3. Be knowledgeable:
Love what you do, share it with others. Loving what you do is being knowledgeable on your job. When your knowledge is shared between yourselves and the community, the overall level of engagement increases.
4. Be considerate:
This is the way Starbucks ensures that everyone within the organisation and its customers have a sense of being cared for. This philosophy that drives Starbucks and I would think this is something every other organisation can adopt.
5. Be Involved:
When you’re involved with what you do, your productivity increases. You effectiveness improves. Imagine spreading it like in eponymic across your division, your company, and the community and you have a surefire answer to success.
What makes Starbucks do something that is so insanely simple and yet, delightfully magical? It is not their covfefe for sure!
And these are not just posters on the wall, or some card at deep within the drawer.
Each one has a specific action items for each of these that can translate into everyday activities and they are described in the subsequent pages. It is easy to brush off saying they are just a company that sells coffee. Imagine yourself of a company that sells something as commonplace coffee and some becoming a global name for the coffee experience. And to add to that its beverages are not cheap. To attract that sort of a premium over something that could be domestically available, I believe requires definitely a good strategy, but more importantly a wonderful culture as described above. Wait is time for each of us to take a cue from here and see how it can help us.
Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.
The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at email@example.com
We also saw how leadership is all about influencing people. We also shared on how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced.
In this part I share some frequently-asked-questions (FAQs), and thoughts post focuses on 6 sources of influence commonly used in the workplace. It is for you to use the right one that is appropriate for the occasion.
Is it true that lower-level employees respond to influence sources such as coercive and reward while higher level employees respond more to other sources?
To assume that certain forms of influence work better with different levels of employees is a mistake. Research does suggest that more technically or functionally competent individuals respond to expert and information influence. Also, newer or less capable employees tend to respond to positional, reward, and coercive influence. However, these are stereotypes and not true in all situations. So, keep an open mind and use all sources of influence available to you.
It seems that by focusing on influence I’m manipulating people. Isn’t that unethical?
Managers accomplish work through others. Your role includes influencing them. Using influence would only be manipulation if you used that influence for unethical or unprincipled motives.
Are there other sources of influence that I should consider when dealing with peers or superiors?
When dealing with colleagues or superiors, ask yourself, "How can I best work with this person?" and " What types of influence will they respond to most quickly?"
What is the difference between “socialized influence” that I have heard about and the discussion of influence covered here?
Socialized influence is a "motive" (motives energize our personal actions), and this article is about our sources of influence or our basis of social influence.
Aren’t there other sources of influence, such as the power I get from knowing or associating with important people?
You might think that's another source of influence, but the association is just a connection to another person who has one of the six sources identified in the research. Associating with others can be a way of increasing your influence.
How can I increase my influence?
Managers can increase their influence. Generally, influence that is used, grows. For example, the more you use recognition and rewards to influence behaviour, the more that your reward power is perceived and understood by others. Some specific and perhaps obvious ways to increase your influence are listed here.
Coercive influence can be increased by making others aware of times you have used this influence in the past.
Reward influence is enhanced when rewards and recognition are publicly given.
Position influence can be emphasized my noting the differences in roles between yourself and others.
Expert influence is built with your skills and knowledge of your craft.
Information influence is increased with careful sharing, and sometimes by letting others know you have information, but are unable to discuss it. That can also build personal influence as it is a demonstration of your integrity.
Personal influence is about building personal relationships.
Finding common ground is a place to start. Demonstrating that you genuinely care about people is important. Making time for people is probably the key here.
Managers have a limited amount of influence. Because it is valuable, leaders should guard against the erosion of their influence. Below are common ways managers can lose influence.
Coercive influence can be lost if you threaten sanctions or discipline, but rarely deliver. People can perceive that you either do not really have the influence or you are unwilling to use it.
Reward influence is most commonly lost by dispensing rewards evenly, regardless of performance or contribution.
Position influence erodes if you fail to perform the functions that others perceive as the responsibilities of that position. This erosion often is related to loss of influence in other areas. For example, employees expect that managers will differentiate performance and reward accordingly.
Failing to make that differentiation decreases reward influence and position influence.
Expert and Information influence erode when you give expertise or information to people whose goals are not consistent with the organizational goals, or when you give them to everyone.
Personal influence is the most difficult to build and easiest to lose. It is lost because of lack of attention to relationship or failure of character such as dishonesty or lack of trustworthiness.
Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.
**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org **
If you have been a leader in whatever capacity, you must learn to use one thing – Influence. While, Influence can have different connotations for different people, Influence is determined by only one thing – the ability to achieve desired outcomes.
Leadership is all about influencing people. Understanding why and how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced, can and will make you an effective leader. This article focuses on six sources of influence commonly used in the workplace. It is for you to use the right one that is appropriate for the situation.
Leadership is all about influencing people. Understanding why and how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced, can and will make you an effective leader.
Note: None of the types of influence listed below is good or bad in isolation. The use of influence is situational and person dependent and hence it depends on what works best with minimal conflict.
There are broadly 6 types of influence –
Coercive influence is based upon the leader’s capability to punish.
Reward influence is based on the leader’s ability to dispense rewards.
Position influence is based upon the tendency of people to respond to individuals in higher positions.
Expert influence is based upon your skill or expertise which others may hold in high regard. Information influence is based upon the information or knowledge you have that’s not available to others.
Personal influence is based upon your individual personality and charisma, and the relationships you create.
Information influence is based on your fact that you hold information or knowledge that others do not have access to. This is a bit different from Expert influence where the influence is because you have deep knowledge on the subject.
Some of your influence comes from the organization that you work for and your position/ title (Example – “Manager”, “Vice President”). But much of your influence comes from you personally or your ability to work within the organization. The ability to influence is important to managers. It directly affects whether they can get things done. That’s what managers get paid for!
This addresses three sets of questions:
What is the ability to influence about, and what are its sources?
How can I use my influence effectively?
How can I maintain and, if needed, increase my own influence?
As you explore each source of influence, think of your management situation. Ask yourself:
“How does this type of influence apply to me?”
“Do my employees respond to this type of influence?
“Do I use this influence too much… too little?”
“Do I need more?”
Understanding sources of influence is only half of what you need. Using it effectively is the other half.
Coercive influence is based upon the leader’s capability to punish. “Punishment” can be everything from verbal reprimands, to assigning undesirable work tasks, or even termination. Managers can use this source of influence by being quick to dispense punishment, or simply reminding others that punishment can be dispensed.
A manager joked with employees by pretending to “fire” them when he wasn’t pleased. “You’re late with that proposal. Looks like I’ll have to fire you again. That’s twice this week.” The manager was inadvertently reminding employees of the coercive influence he held.
Use this source of influence when:
other sources of influence are not working
you are dealing with unsatisfactory performance or behaviour
Don’t use this source of influence when:
other, less negative, influences will work
Reward influence is based on the leader’s ability to dispense rewards. We tend to think of rewards as money. “Rewards” are also praise, recognition, good job assignments, access to information — anything that’s perceived as positive or desirable.
The popular book, The One-Minute Manager, suggested that managers should “look for people doing something right” and give them praise and recognition and rewards.
Use this source of influence:
Don’t use this source of influence when:
you might be sending conflicting messages with unsatisfactory performers
Position influence is using people’s tendency to a respond to individuals in higher positions. Jobs higher in the organizational hierarchy typically carry more influence than those lower in the hierarchy. Sometimes it’s simply the perception of being high in the hierarchy that creates the impression of influence.
Your employee needs a shipment sent out quickly and comes to you because Distribution department will only expedite shipments with a manager’s signature.
Use this source of influence when:
you’re new to a department and other sources of influence levels are low
you need to get things done with other parts of the organization
Don’t use this source of influence when:
more personal influence sources will work as effectively
Expert influence is based upon your skill or expertise which others may hold in high regard. You’re a manager, but you also have functional or technical expertise. People may respond to you from a skill perspective more favorably than from other influence bases. This is especially true with some professional groups.
A colleague of mine is an expert at IPD and project management. He frames discussions in project management terms and often talks about his experiences.
Use this source of influence when:
when dealing with specialty subjects where your credibility is high
dealing with other experts
Don’t use this source of influence when:
your expertness could be perceived as bragging or ego
your audience does not value the expertise
Personal influence is based on your individual personality, charisma, and the relationships you create. People tend to want to do things for individuals they like and respect — even managers! The common characteristics of honesty, kindness, and interest in people can be powerful.
A co-worker mentioned that he was doing a piece of work we both hated. When I asked why, he responded, “How could I say no to Peter? He’s such a great guy.”
Use this source of influence when:
all the time
Don’t use this source of influence when:
employees invite you home to meet their mothers
Information influence is the fact that you have information or knowledge not available to others. Because of your position or relationships, you may have information others don’t have. Information can be influential power. It may give you inside knowledge of events or insights that increase other sources of power.
Managers often receive pre-announcement packages that give them information ahead of others. They can use this to anticipate reactions and plans.
Use this source of influence when:
you are new and other sources of influence sources are low
sharing the information could improve work tasks or relationships
Don’t use this source of influence when:
the information could hurt people
you’ve promised to hold the information as confidential
As you review the sources of influence, you probably recognize some as sources you are using now. Other sources, perhaps not. Every manager’s job is different. You need to assess your situation and decide how you will use your influence. You have probably seen that some of the sources of influence come mainly from the organization, and others come from within yourself. Don’t think that you can change only the latter. Remember: the ability to influence another person is power.
In my next post, I will share with you a few FAQs on Influence, How you can increase your influence with a few tips and traps.
Author’s note – I would not recommend one type of influence over the other, though I have given examples of each. It would be a great idea for you to relate to one or two people / situations in your personal experience who use that particular influence types and feel free to comment and share your thoughts below. This will help the community too and I will be glad to learn from you.
In Part 2 of this, I will talk about a few FAQ, on how to improve your influence and tips and traps. [Link here]
Please do share your thoughts and feedback.
**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at email@example.com **
Interview – Personal Questions – A boon or a bane __________________________________
What did they ask?
Pat comes the reply – “personal questions.” … It was too cool. They did not ask about the subjects. I slogged on the course revisions four times in vain. Then all they had to ask was to talk about myself. In ten minutes, they let me go. They must have been very happy.
When the interview results were out, our friend has not even made it to the second round.
After calling the interviewer fools, our friend revised financial management twice over and attended an interview with a bank.
Did he make it? Nay.
The story continues 6 times and out friend has revised his syllabus a dozen times over. __________________________________
What is happening here is exactly what goes through most of the interviews and campus placements. The trick and the simple solution lie in knowing about themselves.
In today’s world having skills (read courses) is given. It is necessary any way. If you have a degree/ diploma, you have secured it because you have studied the course and you have the necessary skills. It is necessary criteria for but not qualifying criteria. What am I saying here? “Personal questions” are in fact the toughest of question. It requires a lot more than just saying what schools have you studied in or if you go to Sunday Mass regularly. It is more than your grand mother having two puppies or your brother being divorced. When companies ask for personal questions, they are looking for critical talents. Critical talents. Full Stop.
The inner capabilities, the strengths, the attitude – how you have worked in the past with colleagues or how passionate are you about what you say. Do you have the humility? Are you able to have a structured thought process? What triggers you? Can you cope up with failures? Will you fire up to meet the demands? Do you fear success? This and a lot more.
The interviewers look for your understanding of yourself. Your strength and your areas of improvement. That translates into what job you are applying for and why you are doing so. Companies look for if they can provide the rapid growth you aim for or a friendly culture you may prefer. They look for qualities and talents that make you unique, special and wanted.
Wow! You may say that lot.
So where can get all this on the web or can I read a book by rote? Unfortunately, my friend, there is just NO source. It is about you. And only one person in the world knows you the best. YOU and it is between the two ears.
So what do I do? You may want to spend some where between 20-80 hours preparing on
Who am I?
What are my strengths?
What is weakness?
What triggers me/ ticks me?
What sort of a culture in organization suits me?
What is the type of job I can do well and passionately?
Where are the areas I can add value and demonstrate my strengths?
If I am applying for XYZ, will I really fit in their job culture?
Quite a bit of introspection even before I prepare for the specific interview.
Tips: Write this down on a clean book. Think if it is your true character sketch. If you were a movie director, have you communicated through the script on how you are a hero?
Now the Hero of the script has a mission to do. He knows the strengths, weakness, what excites and his weakness.
Based on this, you decide how you will steer the interview. Being honest, taking on questions you can, owning ignorance if you truly are clueless. Giving alternatives, meandering with a positive attitude and solution approach. Confident yet with humility, Assertive yet respecting the audience. Playing to your strengths.
Victory is yours my friend and you will be there with the offer letter soon.
Hi, it’s an important day for us. Finally after many years on the web as aspire2be, we have moved to a domain peoplefriday.xyz
Almost all of us have aspirations. Aspirations make us, us. And we are all people. People First.
Aspirations energise people, and we aim to achieving those aspirations. It does not matter when we begin, we want to get ‘there’ fast. So much like Fridays. As soon as the week begins, we look forward to a Friday.
Aspirations are for most part like Fridays. We love them, we slog to get there and there we are at it again – for our next Friday.
People’s aspirations and thus PeopleFriday. Oh Boy! it is a Friday, today.
You may have a thousand different goals over the course of your lifetime, but they all will fall into one of four basic categories. Everything you do is an attempt to enhance the quality of your life in one or more of these areas.
The Key to Happiness
The first category is your desire for happy relationships. You want to love and be loved by others. You want to have a happy, harmonious home life. You want to get along well with the people around you, and you want to earn the respect of the people you respect. Your involvement in social and community affairs results from your desire to have happy interactions with others and to make a contribution to the society you live in.
Enjoy Your Work
The second category is your desire for interesting and challenging work. You want to make a good living, of course, but more than that, you want to really enjoy your occupation or profession. The very best times of your life are when you are completely absorbed in your work.
Become Financially Independent
The third category is your desire for financial independence. You want to be free from worries about money. You want to have enough money in the bank so that you can make decisions without counting your pennies. You want to achieve a certain financial state so that you can retire in comfort and never have to be concerned about whether or not you have enough money to support your lifestyle. Financial independence frees you from poverty and a need to depend upon others for your livelihood. If you save and invest regularly throughout your working life, you will eventually reach the point where you will never have to work again.
Enjoy Excellent Health
The fourth and final category is your desire for good health, to be free of pain and illness and to have a continuous flow of energy and feelings of well-being. In fact, your health is so central to your life that you take it for granted until something happens to disrupt it.
“Relax and allow affirmations to go through your subconscious mind!”
According to whole brain research, you can learn subjects quite rapidly as a result of deep relaxation and music used in a systemized, organized process. Because of this, it is also possible for you to learn new belief systems using the same techniques.
The process of taped affirmations combines positive affirmations with both music and relaxation. This makes it possible for your mind to accept the affirmations at an accelerated rate, resulting in your desired behavioral change.
Peace of Mind is the Key
Peace of mind is essential for every one of these. The greater your peace of mind, the more relaxed and positive you are, the less stress you suffer, the better is your overall health.
The more peace of mind you have, the better are your relationships, the more optimistic, friendly and confident you are with everyone in your life. When you feel good about yourself on the inside, you do your work better and take more pride in it. You are a better boss and coworker. And the greater your overall peace of mind, the more likely you are to earn a good living, save regularly for the future and ultimately achieve financial independence.
Control Your Attention
Life is very much a study of attention. Whatever you dwell upon and think about grows and expands in your life. The more you pay attention to your relationships, the quality and quantity of your work, your finances and your health, the better they will become and the happier you will be.
Here are three things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, take time on a regular basis to think about what would make you really happy in each of the four areas.
Second, set specific, measurable goals for improvement in your relationships, your health, your work and your finances and write them down.
Third, resolve to do something every day to increase the quality of some area of your life – and then keep your resolution.
“Recapture the Health, Vitality and Physique of your Youth!”
Discover how to lose a pound a day – and keep it off.
Studies show that health and weight loss are areas of our life we say we need the most improvement in. If what you’re doing on our own isn’t getting the results you’re looking for, I will help you get there.
This means that it cannot be saved. In fact, time can only be spent. Because time is perishable, the only thing you can do with it is to spend it differently, to reallocate your time away from activities of low value and toward activities of higher value. But once it is gone, it is gone forever.
2.Time Is Indispensable The second rule of time is that time is indispensable. All work requires time. No matter what it is you want to do in life, even looking out a window or sleeping in for a few extra minutes, it requires a certain amount of time. And according to the 10/90 Rule, the 10% of time that you take to plan your activities carefully in advance will save you 90% of the effort involved in achieving your goals later. The very act of thinking through and planning your work in advance will dramatically reduce the amount of time that it takes you to do the actual job.
3.The Currency of the Future The third rule of time is that time is irreplaceable. Nothing else will do, especially in relationships. Time is the only currency that means anything in your relationships with the members of your family, your friends, colleagues, customers and co-workers. Truly effective people give a lot of thought to creating blocks of time that they can then spend, without interruption, with the important people in their lives.
4.The Key to Goal-Achievement The fourth rule is that time is essential for accomplishment.
Every goal you want to achieve, everything you want to accomplish, requires time. In fact, one of the smartest things you ever do, when you set a goal, is to sit down and allocate the exact amount of time that you are going to have to invest to achieve that goal. The failure to do this almost always leaves the goal unaccomplished.
Action Exercises Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action: First, decide today to redirect and reallocate your time away from low-value tasks and toward high-value activities. Second, make a plan to spend more time face-to-face with the most important people in your life. The more you think about the use of your time, the better you will become.
Over the last couple of months, I have struggled with this. Carrying years of negative energy, anger at people who I once trusted, and who let me down- all that affected me all these years. It has started again now- and I am trying my level best to move on.
Let me twist this the other way round –
How would you feel if the President of your company is cynical about your organization, its products, its people and its processes? Would you work for that President?
If you want to head this company some day, would it not be fair that you commit yourself totally to its people, products and services. You must understand the company’s mission and its values. You must live the company culture. You must do this as your second nature. You must at all times be worthy of being a representative of the company that you work for.
Use its products. If possible promote them tirelessly to all, especially family and friends.
Buy your company’s stock, if available (and affordable).
Talk about the great people you work with. Be proud about them as your colleagues and friends.
We have all seen this enough times
customers do not buy from salesmen who do not believe in their product.
candidates do not join companies where HR does not believe in their own company’s values
employees do not want to work for managers who do not believe in the company
prospective employers shun candidates who talk ill of their previous organizations
If you do not believe in your company’s products, values, services or vision – DO NOT work for that company. There is no point in having you go through the dissonance each day, personally and with people around you. If you do not believe in smoking or explosives or that addictive video game, don’t work for such companies. Cynicism about ones own company, its people and products is hallmark of a loser, not its future President.
PS: I am not suggesting that you must blindly advocate the wrong, if the company does one. If something is amiss, critique it constructively, offer to help and share with your superiors on the disconnect and how you plan to fix them. Do all it takes to fix it. Or, may be there is a reason for the way things are that you may not know. By all means avoid the gossips and cynicism.
Steve W. Martin Steve W. Martin teaches sales strategy at the USC Marshall School of Business. His latest book on sales linguistics is Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology: How to Penetrate the C-level Executive Suite and Convince Company Leaders to Buy. If you ask an extremely successful salesperson, “What makes you different from the average sales rep?” you will most likely get a less-than-accurate answer, if any answer at all. Frankly, the person may not even know the real answer because most successful salespeople are simply doing what comes naturally. Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of interviewing thousands of top business-to-business salespeople who sell for some of the world’s leading companies. I’ve also administered personality tests to 1,000 of them. My goal was to measure their five main personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and negative emotionality) to better understand the characteristics that separate them their peers. The personality tests were given to high technology and business services salespeople as part of sales strategy workshops I was conducting. In addition, tests were administered at Presidents Club meetings (the incentive trip that top salespeople are awarded by their company for their outstanding performance). The responses were then categorized by percentage of annual quota attainment and classified into top performers, average performers, and below average performers categories. The test results from top performers were then compared against average and below average performers. The findings indicate that key personality traits directly influence top performers’ selling style and ultimately their success. Below, you will find the main key personality attributes of top salespeople and the impact of the trait on their selling style.
Modesty. Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 per cent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over.
Selling Style Impact: Team Orientation. As opposed to establishing themselves as the focal point of the purchase decision, top salespeople position the team (presales technical engineers, consulting, and management) that will help them win the account as the centrepiece.
Conscientiousness. Eighty-five per cent of top salespeople had high levels of conscientiousness, whereby they could be described as having a strong sense of duty and being responsible and reliable. These salespeople take their jobs very seriously and feel deeply responsible for the results.
Selling Style Impact: Account Control. The worst position for salespeople to be in is to have relinquished account control and to be operating at the direction of the customer, or worse yet, a competitor. Conversely, top salespeople take command of the sales cycle process in order to control their own destiny.
Achievement Orientation. Eighty-four per cent of the top performers tested scored very high in achievement orientation. They are fixated on achieving goals and continuously measure their performance in comparison to their goals.
Selling Style Impact: Political Orientation. During sales cycles, top sales, performers seek to understand the politics of customer decision-making. Their goal orientation instinctively drives them to meet with key decision-makers. Therefore, they strategize about the people they are selling to and how the products they’re selling fit into the organization instead of focusing on the functionality of the products themselves.
Curiosity. Curiosity can be described as a person’s hunger for knowledge and information. Eighty-two per cent of top salespeople scored extremely high curiosity levels. Top salespeople are naturally more curious than their lesser performing counterparts.
Selling Style Impact: Inquisitiveness. A high level of inquisitiveness correlates to an active presence during sales calls. An active presence drives the salesperson to ask customers difficult and uncomfortable questions in order to close gaps in information. Top salespeople want to know if they can win the business, and they want to know the truth as soon as possible.
Lack of Gregariousness. One of the most surprising differences between top salespeople and those ranking in the bottom one-third of performance is their level of gregariousness (preference for being with people and friendliness). Overall, top performers averaged 30 per cent lower gregariousness than below average performers.
Selling Style Impact: Dominance. Dominance is the ability to gain the willing obedience of customers such that the salesperson’s recommendations and advice are followed. The results indicate that overly friendly salespeople are too close to their customers and have difficulty establishing dominance.
Lack of Discouragement. Less than 10 per cent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 per cent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness.
Selling Style Impact: Competitiveness. In casual surveys I have conducted throughout the years, I have found that a very high percentage of top performers played organized sports in high school. There seems to be a correlation between sports and sales success as top performers are able to handle emotional disappointments, bounce back from losses, and mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to compete.
Lack of Self-Consciousness. Self-consciousness is the measurement of how easily someone is embarrassed. The by-product of a high level of self-consciousness is bashfulness and inhibition. Less than five per cent of top performers had high levels of self-consciousness.
Selling Style Impact: Aggressiveness. Top salespeople are comfortable fighting for their cause and are not afraid of rankling customers in the process. They are action-oriented and unafraid to call high in their accounts or courageously cold call new prospects.
Not all salespeople are successful. Given the same sales tools, level of education, and propensity to work, why do some salespeople succeed where others fail? Is one better suited to sell the product because of his or her background? Is one more charming or just luckier? The evidence suggests that the personalities of these truly great salespeople play a critical role in determining their success.
In this post, I want to share with you a few key characteristics of successful sales people and how they differ from the normal sales people. You would probably agree the majority view that successful sales people meet their quotas, are happy with their profession and are enthusiastic about their customer satisfaction. On the contrary, those struggling to meet quotas (quarter on quarter), that are stressed and worried each day and have a habit of constant complaints about their customers are possibly unsuccessful sales persons. Having seen thousands of sales people and managed and coached hundreds of them, I thought it would worthwhile to share my experience in a simplistic six-point format. I share these based on my observations on what happens when the sales person meets their customer – where the rubber hits the road. A successful seller has a distinct approach to selling. He/ She
concentrates on buyer’s need and solving their pain
is focused on customer satisfaction; The purchase order for them, is means to an end.
always, converts features into benefit statements for the prospect
is an active listener; asks questions to clarify his own understanding
cooperates with the prospect in making the buying decision
congratulates prospect on making the right choice
A normal salesperson is very unlike the above and usually demonstrates the following traits –
is focused on the product
is only interested in getting the order
can rattle out product features tirelessly
talks endlessly, never missing a beat
pushes for the sale, oblivious of what is running in his prospect’s mind
thanks prospect for the order
These fundamental differences almost always do sift between the rice and husk. Happy Selling!
One of those big myths about business decision making is about the inherent admiration of a aggressive, super-sure, quick decision maker. This strategy may be great in certain situations – not so good in others.
Some decisions in haste can be reversed, altered or has little impact. These haste decisions are necessary if there is a fire in a factory. Decisions made for the sake of speed is a little different from decisions that require swiftness. Understanding the difference is critical. There are two kinds of decisions – revocable and irrevocable. Revocable decisions are changeable decisions that can be made relatively fast and if it is wrong or needs to be altered, can be changed again relatively fast wit comparatively minimal impact. Examples would be – Office layouts, Advertising schedules, Not making a decision, Pricing, Phone service provider, Choosing an insurance company, even hiring a contract staff or a tier 2 reseller. Irrevocable decisions such as brand name, acquisitions, executive hires, buildings, IT architecture are usually not easily irrevocable. Exercise caution while taking irrevocable decisions. Even if you need to take these decisions under time pressure, then you need to read fast, assimilate information fast, analyse fast, think fast and then decide. The decision may seem fast – but as a manager – you know you have done your due diligence. Sounds easy! The essence of understanding the difference is the situations under which you operate in a particular mode that will make you successful. Tim to decide! Merry Christmas!
Is it a coincidence that majority of corporate Presidents started as a salesman or were sales people at some point in their career? Selling is a super critical function. Selling possibly is the only function that gets up close and personal to your customer. A sales person starts to understanding customer’s likes, dislikes and idiosyncrasies. They get to know the precise reason why a product or company clicks or why it ticks. And as the salesperson grows in the organization to increased responsibilities, they start shaping products, teams and organization structures to address their customer’s need. They have first hand experience and the conviction required to fix things that generates revenue for the company. Over time and not surprisingly, the successful salesman becomes an star within the company. He is well recognized, for the sales man knows their customers the best. When management wants to hire for a position on the management team,
who do you think would be on their A-list – A star salesman.
Secondly, since organization exist because of their customers, management would prefer some one who has been with the customers for senior positions.
Thirdly, in all probability the current CEO and the executive team were salespersons themselves in the career. It is only natural for biases towards star salespersons.
Whatever be the case if you are a salesman you are in good hands. You have the inherent advantage to get to the top. If not, get a role in sales to fill up that gaping hole in your otherwise impeccable record.
Making an impact is a good thing. To leave a mark is a good thing. However in this destructive goal pursuit of ‘leaving a mark’ and ‘making an impact’ managers often reverse their predecessors decision and change things just to ‘leave a mark’ and ‘make an impact’. Successful CEOs from Jack Welch to Lou Gerstener, did change a zillion things. They did make an impact. But they did retain one characteristic – they encouraged good things. If you find good things – however dull, old or tried – just add fuel to it. catalyse more of it. Not every success is about solving a problem, or doing a turnaround. The sole financial objective of a company is to give significant returns to its shareholders. You do this by finding and filling your customers needs. If you customers love it – do not change it. Do not change the labels, the ingredients, the name, price, advertising or anything else. IBM understood the power of its eight bar logo and its brand name. Coke understood the power of its ingredients. The Disney company understands the value of Mickey Mouse. P&G is never tired of telling people that Ivory soap is “99 and 44/100 per cent pure”. And they did it for fifty, seventy, hundred years. Don’t change the formula for success – Add fuel to the fire!
Another big myth from practicing managers is that they think that the biggest budget and the most people reporting to them is a guarantee to get them to the top. This probably was true in the days of kings not in today’s flat world. Today, it is all (only) about doing more with less. Do more – Grow revenue, profits, marketshare – with less people, money and resources. A few cardinal rules
never complain that you are expected to do more than what your budget enables
do not be that manager who is constantly hiring people
never use lack of resource as an excuse
Forget the empire. Power and promotions go to people who can do more with less. Efficient producers not resource hungry administrators.
When my nephew was seven years old, his favourite cricket team Deccan Chargers was clearly winning, with 12 runs needed off 36 balls and two wickets to spare. Convinced of the victory, he offered to bet his grandfather on the outcome of the game. His grandfather laughed and agreed. The stakes were $4.64, all they money that the seven year old had. In the next five minutes the bowler took two straight wickets and the boy lost. The kid hated to lose and as he was giving away his life’s earnings his grandfather said, “Only bet on yourself. Don’t bet on events and people you can’t control to influence. Don’t bet on what you don’t know or understand.” These golden words hold immense wisdom in business. History is galore with examples from sub-prime crisis to Wall Street crash to the dot-com burst. These events had downed hundreds of companies and rendered millions unemployed. They had one common characteristic. The executives of the failed firms had an appetite for risks. More importantly they were betting on risks beyond their control; on things they did not understand and on things that they did not believe in. Was it then a surprise disaster was in the making. The golden rule of any successful manager or entrepreneur – he would should bet only and only if he can influence and has control. Risk taking is not a great idea if you do not control the risk factors.
Business is tough and may is not joy ride. That should not stop you from emanating joy and having fun along the way. As a manager, you are expected to to keep the team focussed towards the goal. You are supposed to to lead them through the journey. You can make the journey hard, grumpy and tiring. Or you have a choice to make the joy, fun and lively. It is a common knowledge that people who enjoy their work can be more creative, more enthusiastic and more productive. Conversely, an environment that is constantly serious and matter-of-fact is stressful and inefficient. The manager who is able to maintain a sense of humour, lightens the mental load will always have a motivated happy team. A motivated less stressed team is a more productive team. They achieve things faster, better and bigger. Sense of humour is mark of intelligence and quality sought out for corporate presidents. If you see it as a rare quality – all the more reason you have a better change of being one if you possess one. Make fun@work a reality.
Big problems will always surface. Even if they are hidden unintentionally, the fall out is disastrous when they surface. The ‘hiders’ are always face a more serious censure than the ‘discoverers’. The discoverers are being safe. the ‘hiders’ were trying to cover up. the fall-out is not always nice. When you know of a big problem or a goof up, let the bosses know immediately. The delay is only going to worsen things. At least, if you shout early, you can get help. Turn the problem into opportunity. Give them a potential estimate of loss. Give possible scenarios. Give solutions to come out of the situation. Ask for help, resources, management support. At least they can strengthen your hands. It is also important that you position yourself of independent reporter in control. Describe the problem as if you were not previously involved. Watergate to Vietnam, bankruptcies to Iraq, all elephants that ere hidden and mismanaged.They grew bigger and bigger and beyond control., When they could no more be hidden, the hiders lost everything.
‘Boss Bitching’ is a fad. An entertaining one, at that; though not the right one to take you to the top. All of us have heard people who can just complain and complain about their bosses – just give them an opportunity and they can rattle the worst things about their twenty-seven bosses through career. They share horrifying stories about their tyrannical and incompetent bosses, that have reached the top while leaving these people in the lurch. Such sad stories are for losers. Winners do not have tyrannical bosses. They have fantastic bosses and amazing supervisors. Just as most people can vividly remember their memorable teachers and their teachings from kindergarten to Graduate school, the same applies to business. Winners do remember learning from their bosses. They know, that most people do not have a choice on hiring their bosses. But they do have a choice of learning the good qualities from them. They know, that nobody is perfect, and every body is good at something. Winners learn, study, emulate the good things from their boss – whoever they are. Great teachings from superiors are subtle, yet significant—they praise properly, they are fair goal setters, they are honest, they let people grow. There may have their idiosyncrasies and whims – but great bosses are usually hard working, smart and open minded. Seek those people early in you career. Seek people with those qualities. Work for them. Watch them closely. see how they handle problems and handle criticism. Note how they manage people and get things done. Walk their way!,
As modern corporations grow to become global businesses, there is an increasing need for ‘replicable models’ and ‘standardized processes’. This need slowly takes the form of “Bureaucratic Creep”. While, practically every organization and every job description demands the need for qualities like entrepreneurship, innovative and risk taking – that precise quality that is being killed every day in most organizations. Pangs of growth, they would say! Corporations are afraid of internal entrepreneurs. They cannot handle personalities that build businesses. Most managers cannot deal with informal, anti-policy, anti-procedure style ,idea people and business builders. They want monthly reports, detailed expense accounts, personal reviews on paper, quarterly reports, year-end reports, stock reports, one hundred page business plans and many more. Do not get paper-strapped. Papers are means to an end. Do not get paper trapped. Do not accept those handcuffs. The zillion reports, if they do not help in decision making – do not prepare them. If some report has to be done and you know no one looks at it, avoid it at all costs. If it is unavoidable, delegate it to the junior-most level staff. Just do not do anything that does not improve your company’s performance. PS: At the same time please do document the statutory things that are important for your company existence.
“Bureaucratic Creep” is a term you will hear used a lot around leadership and management conferences. It refers to the inexorable progress of developing bureaucracy to deal with the issues that arise when a company grows past a certain point. Bureaucratic creep is really just a function of laziness, taking the easiest path to a desired end. Rather than deal with individuals, we find it easier and more efficient (at least in the short term) to set up policies and “class actions,” which say, “anyone who falls into . . . category will be dealt with by . . . means” In small companies, we see much less of this “efficient” behaviour.
Temper tantrums, sulking, finger-pointing are all signs of panic. More corporate heads have rolled because of the above than any other single display of emotion.
When managers panic, they lose their temper and behave in what would go down in history as the ‘best regrettable moment’. Good CEOs do not panic. nor lose their temper. They are confident and in-control in adverse situations. That earns them the respect. If a colleague makes an unkind comment to you, do not respond. It is OK to smile.Your supporters will be as offended as you. Your detractors will sense your control. Anybody e;lose will see you above the fray. Do not get angry. Even when anger is justified, observers are put off by the angry person. This can be a cultivated habit and its importance cannot be underemphasized.Calm down. Tell yourself to say calm. If you have ten seconds to make a decision, think for nine. Let me illustrate with a story, I heard not so long ago. In the course of making fine wine, one of the crucial periods is the crush. The crush is those few weeks when grape is selected for harvest, tested for quality, chosen or rejected and crushed to release the juice that will eventually become wine. Mistakes or misjudgements during the crus can adversely impact the entire vintage resulting in damaged reputation and reduced prices and profits. Some years ago, in the mist of a crush at a famous winery, the president received a frantic call from his managers. The winemaker has resigned. The president immediately knew three damage potential but he stayed calm and thought for a few moments and then asked, “what would you do if the winemaker died instead of resigned?”. The managers said they would make so-and-so the winemaker. “So be it”, said the president and the new winemaker carried the winery tradition for fifteen more years. Go ahead! Start taking control of your temper before it controls you..
Another common myth is that people think that the road to the top is by being either ‘at the feet’ or ‘at the throat’. They make politicking a virtue and an obvious way of life. Such people survive in poor organizations. Rampant office politics is sign of a weak leader. It stems from incompetence, inefficiency and is fuelled by reward system/ performance metrics that are unclear and unfair. Instead of fighting competition, acquiring new customers and help in improving efficiency these managers fight each other and curry favour. You may even have heard statements like “there are customers , competitors and enemies”, the last one being an internal entity. Don’t waste your time. Avoid politics at all costs. As a professional, spend your time creating and accomplishing. Your actions are your politics. Be irreproachable in your actions and results. Contribution counts in any good company. And if you are not in such a company change the company! Be the last to know. Don’t get sucked in. Don’t let people tell you something if they say it is ‘confidential’. Don’t ask, don’t answer, don’t agree. Don’t say anything bad about any one. Don’t gossip. Say I don’t know. Just work!
Contrarian? Not really! If a person needs to be paid $5,000 a month, he will know. You pay him $4750, he will know and he will feel cheated. He will not go that extra mile or work that extra hour. Some how, he will find a way to punish you – mentally, physically or financially – for paying him unfairly. It is a matter of time till he just jumps sides at the first available option – you lose all your efforts of training them. Worse still, he will go to a competitor. If some one needs to be paid $5,000 pay him $5,750. You will get much more than what it costs you. This person will now stretch and justify the confidence. Myopic Managers seldom understand this trick. They are cutting costs and feel proud of having shaved that few hundred dollars. Little do they realise that a motivated and charged up employee contributes 25%-100% more than a normal employee. In fact, the ration may go up in multiples, compared to a morose employee who comes to work each day feeling cheated and spends his mental energies looking for better opportunities. People are an investment, not costs. I would have a fewer people who work at 120% efficiency than a bunch of blokes working at 70% efficiency. The old adage – “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” – still holds true. In fact if a manager prides about paying the lowest salaries, they better be sacked. After all they are doing disservice to the company and killing the innovation and larger game plan by saving a few bucks. PS:
A higher pay, does well to a man’s ego and confidence. Anything that does that is a sure shot way to get phenomenally better result.
Better still, they become unemployable as most players in the market cannot afford to pay her that.
Anyone can be someone under the sun To be a face in the crowd, one must be an icon *
Becoming an icon demands more more than just flowing with the current
an icon acts with responsibility and integrity an icon believes in his cause an icon can differentiate between unreal and real an icon cares for people an icon defies the herd an icon detests mediocrity an icon does not need to do popularity gimmicks an icon exposes the fallacies an icon has passion for his crusade an icon helps people around him grow an icon practices innovation as if it were a religion an icon questions falsehood an icon stands up what is right an icon thinks only win-win an icon unravels the truth
Not every one is an icon; each one can aspire to be one.
Learn this fundamental equation about life. Your life can be broadly classified into three areas Family
The beautiful interplay of these three facets is unceasing and perpetual. Needless to say, different aspects require different focus at different times. You may, for example, start early in life with a focus on a career where you learn new skills and become a subject matter expert. Over time you may shift your focus towards building financial security. At this point, you may want to monetize your skill sets and negotiate for better money.
Or there may also be the situation that you had just got married or had a baby and prefer to dedicate the next few years primarily to family while continuing to juggle with money and career to make you the most fantastic husband or father. This is not to say that one is not more important than the other. It is more of to help you prioritize these balls while juggling.
Remember, while juggling these balls, there can be additional complexities. These three balls change their form. At different points, different rubber balls may turn into glass balls. Your cleverness is to recognize the glass balls and drop the rubber balls if you need to. A classic example would be a situation where marriage is on the rocks because of your hectic travel (career focus), and you are on the brink of separation. Or you are fast depleting your financial reserves while you continue to stick to a career with a firm that gave you fancy titles but just has been paying you 50% of what the market can pay you for a similar job. While they may broadly be connected and seem interchangeable – they are not. E.g., a promising career broadly would mean good money – not necessarily. Good money would mean good family life – but not necessarily – you may be chasing money while all that your daughter wants is to spend that one hour with you in the evening.
How do you action this?
Plan: Sit down and think hard. What is the most crucial thing in your life now? What is the goal (measurable timeline) on that front to say that you have achieved that? What is the second priority, and what is the third? At which point would you want to reprioritize one for the other – money for career or family and vice-versa? You must have a comprehensive plan.
Over time, monitor if you are on the right path. If at any time you feel disgruntled – revisit the priorities – are you focusing on the right areas?– Are you achieving results on the order of priority? If not, reprioritize. – If you are already doing the right thing, be happy – you are on the right path.
FREE Download of an exclusive Goal Sheet template – Goal Sheet_aspire2be.pdf; In football or hockey you need goals to win. A goal is a result of successful effort – No Goals, No Glory. Let us look at another example – Even before a pilot takes off from an airport, he needs to know his destination. Without the destination there is no flight path. And without a flight path there is no take-off. You may be the best of the pilots – you still need to know where you are going. That said, the single most important action in your entire life, is the setting of goals.
The term No Goals, No Glory. Works just as much in your business as your life. · How will you set directions for your team if you cannot tell them what to chase – sales target, cost savings, zero-defect. Whatever it may be. · Ho will you set direction for yourself if you do not know where to go – career progress, family needs, money? Once you have the goals – written down – personal or professional – direct your focus, energies and resources towards achieving them. You would ideally have two sets of goals – one for your business and one for your life. You can start with a long term goal (vision) and deep dive into fifteen-ten-five-one year time tables. One way of planning it out could be as follows:
Your Dream List – 15, 10, 5 year goals
Your Vision and SWOT
Your Year Plan of Action
Your monthly Plan of Action
Your Monthly self assessment
If you don’t have goals – you have no reason to get them in the first place. My favorite way of putting it – “If you do not know where you are going, you will never get lost”.
“They only manufacture watches. Wish they could manufactured time”
Circa 2010, the wise man rephrased his earlier statement:
“They still cannot manufacture time, but each individual can”
And here is how the wise man realised how one can manufacture the 25th hour. Just do one thing – Do the Important Things. A time-tested tactic if used well would get you that extra hour or may be a couple of hours every day. Slot every activity you do into one of the four quadrants in the picture. Do Quadrant 1, 2, 3, 4 activities in the same priority order. In fact avoid 3 and 4 if you can. Quadrant 2
1. Urgent and Important: E.g. Deadlines. Your Boss needs it NOW, to make a presentation to his boss in 2 hours. Unfortunate to be in this state but some has to live with it. 2. Not Urgent and Important: E.g. spending time with family, Business Planning, Strategising to pre-empt competitors launch plan 6 months down the line. Do this and this by far is the biggest time saver as you would realise. You may just ignore 3 and 4 and nothing will happen to your life. 3. Urgent and Not Important: E.g. Interruptions and phone calls. They need to be attended to but the reason for interruption may not be all that important. In fact it might be an absolute time waster. Avoid if you can. 4. Not Urgent and Not Important: E.g. mindless switching of channels. Sleeping more than 8 hours a day. The zillion timewasters that if you reflect on, you will know. Now go ahead and listen to the Wise Man’s trick – do the important stuff first. PS: The wise man is none other than the author.
Over the weekend, my wife asked me a sudden and seemingly simple question. “How does one talk to people and make a good conversation?” My answer was spontaneous almost as if it was a programmed – “Simple, Just be an active Listener?” She repeated her question again, this time with a slightly stern voice – “I asked on how one does talk to people, not how one listens?”
This conversation is indeed critical and I wanted to share this particular topic on this blog. The art of a good conversation centers squarely on one’s ability to ask questions and to listen attentively to the answers. While it might be true that you talk about your views, insights, ideas, and opinions the real art of talking is in listening. Perfecting the art of listening is by asking relevant, well-worded questions that guides the conversation and gives other people an opportunity to express themselves. They reveal their emotions, illustrate their views and share their opinions. Each of these is super important if you want to build on the conversation. There are simple four steps that anybody can follow. Practice diligently and you will be the most admired conversationalist in a few weeks.
Ask Open Ended Questions: Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Open-ended questions encourage the speaker to expand on his thoughts and comments. E.g.: “How are you feeling today?”, “What do you think of …..” And one question will lead to another. You can ask open-ended questions almost endlessly, drawing out of the other person everything that he or she has to say on a particular subject.
Listen Actively: In order to be an excellent conversationalist, you must resist the urge to control the discussion. The very best conversationalists, as any salesman would tell you are low-key, easy-going, cheerful, and genuinely interested in the other person. They seem to be quite content to listen when other people are talking and they make their own contributions to the dialogue rather short and to the point.
Share Airtime: In fact, in a good conversation ideas and thoughts both-ways smoothly like a flow of water. Whether it is one-one, one-many, the conversation should shift back and forth, with each person getting an opportunity to talk. Conversation in this sense is like a ball that is tossed from person to person, with no one holding on to it for very long. If you feel that you have been talking for too long, you should stop and ask a question of someone in the group. You will be tossing the conversational ball and giving that individual an opportunity to converse.
Learn to Listen Well: Listening is the most important of all skills for successful conversation. Many people are very poor listeners. Since everyone enjoys talking, it takes a real effort to practice the fundamentals of excellent listening and to make them a habit.
Moving up the ladder requires you to do many tasks at the same time. They may be managing multiple projects, juggling things to do, manage people and expectations to just name a few. This also requires the coordination of efforts of several people, each of whom is responsible for a part of the job, with every part of the job being necessary for successful completion. Your ability to handle these multitask jobs is a critical skill for success. Multitasking is a must have and no more a ‘nice to have’ quality: It is not surprising that the study by Stanford University of the qualities that companies look for in promoting people into the position of chief executive officer concluded that the ability multitask and put together a team to accomplish a task was the single most important identifiable quality of an executive who was destined for the fast track in his/her career. Is this an inherited talent or a learnable skill? I have heard often times by people that they just cannot do multiple things at the same time? It is not their DNA. They can read the newspaper and have their morning coffee. They can watch television and brush their teeth. Project management is a learnable skill, like riding a bicycle. Similarly, any project can be divided into a series of steps, each of which you can master, one at a time. You begin by defining the end-game. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? What is the face of success? Start by defining the end.
Where to Start? Start where it matters – at the beginning. What you are going to have to do? Determine the specific outcome and timeline. Make sure that it is realistic and achievable.
Build the troops: Bring together the people who are required to make this project a success. Sometimes you need to assemble a team before you can even decide upon the ideal result and the schedule. People are everything, take ample time and think carefully about the people and what they are going to do.
Create a shared vision: A shared vision is an ideal future picture of success that everyone believes in. How do you do that? You sit down with the people in the team nod work with them to answer the question, “What are we trying to accomplish?” You encourage everyone to contribute, visualize, and to imagine the ideal outcome or desired result of the project. Once this vision is clear and shared by everyone, you move on to the development of “shared plans” to achieve the vision.
Set Schedules and Deadlines: Once you have a shared vision and plans, and everyone knows exactly what is to be done and what the ideal results will look like, the next step is for you to set a deadline for project completion based on the consensus of your team.
There are three steps to realize your dreams. They are inter-related and interdependent. This awareness helps you to program your mind and take charge. Only when you learn to take charge of your new and positive self, can you control your future.
My Ideal: The first part of creating your dream is to create a “My Ideal“. My Ideal state determines the direction of your dream. It guides and evolves your character and personality. It is a combination of all of the qualities of other people that you most admire. My Ideal is a description of the person you would very much like to be if you could embody the qualities that you most aspire to.
Go on the Path of Excellence: You have seen and read about the qualities of courage, confidence, compassion, love, fortitude, perseverance, patience, forgiveness and integrity. You might not always be the very best that you know, but you are constantly striving to be a better person. In fact, everything that you do on a day-to-day basis is affected by your comparing your activities with the ideal qualities and you’re striving to behave consistently with them.
Have super-Clarity: Successful leaders have super-clear ideals for themselves. On the contrary unsuccessful people have fuzzy ideals. Successful leaders are super-clear about being excellent in every part of their work and their personal lives. One of the primary characteristics of successful men and women in every walk of life is that they have super-clearly defined ideals and they are very aware of whether or not their current behaviors are consistent with their idealized behaviors.
Go ahead, set challenging goals. Your future is unlimited. Start now!!.
Go-dos! First, dream big dreams. Set big, exciting, challenging goals and ideals for yourself in every part of your life. Allow yourself to imagine a wonderful life ahead. Second, think about how you would act if you were an outstanding person in every way. Then, practice being this person, as though you were acting a role in a play. You’ll immediately notice a difference in your behavior.
Your brain will make you money, but it is your body that carries your brain. The better shape your physical health is better is your mental health – the greater is your capacity to be productive and efficient.
And there is another good reason. Ninety-five percent of people trying to climb the corporate ladder are unfit or out of shape. You will be able to start earlier, take fewer breaks and end your day still energetic and with an enthusiastic spirit.
You will even sleep better. You will energy to spend time with family and even play with your kids. You will be energetic and will be noticed as an energetic leader. Your spirits will be up and there are lesser chances of you getting depressed.
You will have more energy and motivation to meet friends, build network, play your favorite sport, socialize, see your kid’s theatre, volunteer and a lot more. It is your choice. How you keep fit is up to you.
Food for thought: If Anil Ambani, net worth $13.7bn can run 18kms a day, so can you! The younger Ambani is a fitness freak and his passion for running is well documented. He’s a regular on the marathon circuit and his running mates include a canteen boy who works at the State Bank of India in Nariman Point. He’s also seen at Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi Race Course with his children where they enjoy horse rides. Anil Ambani is up every day by 4:00 a.m. and reads every scrap of information published while he was sleeping before he hits the road. (Source: http://business.in.com/article/india-rich-list-09/lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous/7352/1)
Remember those braggers, who claim that they have never taken a vacation in years. He or she must be a fool or a very poor manager. You should be able to set people, systems and processes in such a way that they can function without you. How else will you be able to go out to meet customers?
If your department can work when you travel for customer meetings, so can they when you take vacations.
If your department cannot move an inch without you, then it is a shame on your management style – you have not built an organization that is self sustaining – start building it.
In any case, there are many reasons why you must take vacations.
If you travel and meet more people, the more you learn. The more you learn the wiser you become. It is not with a reason the great philosophers and kings in those days travelled around the world or went on voyages.
When you are away from the rut of routine, new ideas crop up. You can broaden your horizons and out-of-the-box thinking may emerge. Simpler solutions to solve complex issues!
It will be the time to pursue your other interests – writing a book, photography, snorkeling or climbing the Kota Kinabalu.
It is a time to think and plan. Even a planned vacation forces you to work hard before you leave and finish stuff that otherwise would have taken weeks.
When you come back, you are energized and raring to go to take your team and the organization to the next level – the right thing to do.
Always plan your vacation in advance. Pick your dates, let your bosses know. Never cancel, Never leave a phone number. It might be hard first – but try it. Soon it will become a norm.
Experiment and go to different places.
But always go. Get out of the rut. Smell fresh air. Get fresh ideas. Find new ways of doing things.
The US economy loses over $900 billion annually in lost productivity and up to 28 percent of workers’ time due to information overload because of email. The impact is severe – not enough strategic thinking time, lack of work/life balance, and workflow breakdowns. With billions worth of lost productivity each year, many companies are questioning the value of e-mail and how to bring it back into balance. It would appear on the surface that e-mail is a big problem. However, is e-mail really the problem, or is it the approach to e-mail that’s flawed? It is easy to see that the real issue is the behaviors employees have adopted and developed around approaching their inboxes, such as:
compulsively checking e-mail
loosely constructing e-mails
holding 1000s of e-mail messages in the inbox
To get e-mail under control, we must first re-examine these approaches, recognize that they may not be working, and replace them with behaviors to manage e-mail more effectively, not just as individuals but as teams and organizations. I suggest you apply the popular McGhee E-Mail PASS Model the next time you write an important e-mail. It is seen that users spend 32% lesser time, 81% and fewer messages in their inbox when they use this model. Ask yourself these four questions while composing e-mails that are lengthy and take more than two minutes to write.
P – What’s the Purpose of your communication and does it relate to a Meaningful Objective? (If it doesn’t relate back to your Meaningful Objectives consider renegotiating or disengaging.)
A – What Action is involved and does it have a due date? (Be clear about what you want the recipient to do: take physical action, respond only, read only, or simply review as an FYI. When using time lines be discerning and make sure they mean something and hold people accountable to your timeliness.)
S – What Supporting documentation do you need to include? (Identifying the supporting information that the recipient needs in order to complete the requested action successfully. This will reduce the likelihood of your message coming back to you with questions.)
S – Have you effectively summarized your communication in the Subject Line? (Follow three elements to a good Subject Line: clarify the meaningful objectives or projects that the e-mail message relates to, clearly indicate the action requested, and identify a due date, if there is one.)
So the next time you write an email, let people talk about your ability to PASS the test.
Contrary to popular notion of doing something in group, Do something Hard, Do something Lonely. Practice something very individualistic and something that that most others will be unwilling to do. This will help you feel tough, help you concentrate, boost your ego and make you feel special. It will mentally prepare you for the business battles. Remember, it does get lonelier at the Top. Something that is hard and lonely is studying for a graduate in film making, especially in winter, when everyone else is snoozing under their sheets. Or running slow over long distances at 4:00am in the morning (versus jogging with a million others at the fitness club in the evening). Learn carpentry, write a book, read Tolstoy, but do it yourself. Do it alone and solo. All the great and successful athletes and artists that you admire did have endless hours of toil when the world was sleeping. So do corporate Presidents.
Over the weekend my wife posed me an interesting question – “How can we tell leaders to be less intimidating, even when their influence on subordinates is unintentional?” I quipped – “Is it me, you are talking about?”, since both of us work in the same firm and I happen to be its CEO. On a serious note , I said, “A good question, and my first answer – Just get away from there”. This is sometimes the best thing a superior can do, by physically not being there and stifle the thinking and suggestions in a group of otherwise similar-status peers. I am sure there are many examples each of us can come back with. What is really happening here? In many a situation the leader unintentionally imposes his ideas on others, thus hindering free thinking. This may not be the ‘Directive Leadership’ that Social psychologist Clark McCauley describes in his research on factors influencing Groupthink. In fact, in many Asian cultures the hierarchical structure is so deeply ingrained that even the mere presence of the superior, prevents free thinking and free exchange of ideas. It may be out of respect or out of fear – whatever the cause the effect is the same – ‘Death of Free Thinking’ To prevent such situations, I have seen many leaders consciously avoid being present in a group workshop or a brain storming session. They visit only towards the end to listen to the summary. Is that a good idea? May be, partly. While that solves this problem, it creates another beast.Over time, the superior becomes ignorant and aloof from the ground realities. The leader loses the precious knowledge on how the team thinks and works. What then is the right answer? I do not have clear answers, except to say you may want to do either of it in moderation. Story of Cuban Missile Crisis: In October of 1962 when President John F. Kennedy’s advisers were debating about what to do about the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Soviet Union was taking steps to place missiles topped with nuclear weapons just 90 miles from Florida. Kennedy had gathered experts with diverse opinions and knowledge and encouraged them to express their opinion. As Irving Janis mentions in his article Groupthink, at one point, Kennedy divided the larger group into multiple sub-groups and asked each to develop solutions — in order to avoid excessive and premature consensus. Kennedy also reduced the potentially stifling effects of his status as president by being deliberately absent from these subgroup meetings, Although historians and psychologists continue to debate how important such measures to avoid groupthink were for producing the decisions that ultimately defused the crisis, I think that the more general lesson holds: sometimes the best way for a leader to reduce undue influence is to leave the room or avoid going to meetings where his or her presence will hinder frank discussion and deep examination of facts.
Over the last few weeks, I have been inundated with phone calls and emails from friends and colleagues, most of whom have lost their jobs because of ‘the economy.Barring a few exceptions, I believe that most Of them were worthy performers with commendable capabilities. Each of them had some worthy skills and unique talents. It was poignant, however, when I saw them live a sense of amputated existence – in their minds and spirits.
This note I dedicate to them and many others like them.
A formal employment give, or at least is supposed to give, three things:
A sense of identity with a name card with a title and a company name
Monthly cash flow to sustain living expenses and to create assets.
1. Job security: The closure of Lehman and lay-offs by GM, Microsoft, and IBM only question the same hypothesis of Job Security in salaried jobs today.
2. Identity: a name card and title give us a sense of social status. Why would you not achieve the same if you start your own company and become the CEO or consultant? You have just given yourself a title and a job scope, which you have always wanted.
The other aspect of identity is the “company brand” or “revenues” of the company. Think about it – these top Wall Street banks just crumbled. General Motors and Chryslers reported pathetic performance; they could not get a single act right. You sure are better than those CEOs. At least you did *not* depreciate public money. In your evaluation, your worth needs to be better than what you think by being an appendage to someone else’s.
3. Monthly cash flow is the most rational reasoning and has a practical impact. We all need money to run our homes, eat food, pay rent and pay for children’s education. If we were to calculate these with a level of practicality – go back and check our current bank reserves and re-prioritize. I would reckon that most people in middle and senior management should be well off. In most cases, we can live well, without a job for 5-20 years, with a reasonably good lifestyle. Does that give you some confidence? I suggest you do this exercise and think about it. We are more prosperous than we believe, and we are far more capable than we think we are.
The above view assumes that the ones who are laid off or made redundant are good performers and have enough capability in their respective fields. It is presupposed that they have an intellect and potential which helped them in delivering success in their earlier jobs.
Needless to say, if I were the those good-for-nothing or someone who just counted the monthly pay checks into the bank without any performance or capability, then they were plain lucky to have been employed in the first place.
Well, wise men said it in the past and it is true even today – “before you utter something, count to 10, take a deep breath and then speak”. A friend of mine Arun Cavale often says – “What you have not said, you can always say later. What you have said, you can never take it back”
Never write a note that criticises, hurts or belittles or humiliates a colleague.
Do not write a condescending note or a note that is unkind, sexist or does not respect the individual.
Never send out a email that is written in anger or frustration.
We live in a small world. People get promoted, change companies, jobs, roles. They have influential friends. Companies merge, acquired or get acquired. Your self-made enemy may show up anywhere. Never give a company rival a smoking gun. Spend your energy in positive things. Makes sense? Common sense? Nonsense?
PS: If you still love to write nasty notes that sound sweet, you may want to read “Manipulative Memos” by Arthur D. Rosenberg 🙂
People are people. They are more than people.They are mothers, fathers, friends, coaches, teachers, volunteers, photographers, charity workers and contributors. They can do a lot of things if they are appreciated and they can do it better if they are motivated and thanked. Successful managers make people feel special. People who work with excellent mangers feel that they are needed not used… are contributors, not costs… are workers not worked… are instrumental, not instruments are sold on what to do, not told… are people, not personnel… are measured, not monitored… are asked, not questioned.. are well paid, not underpaid. ***
I remember reading a book many years ago- Whale Done! : The Power of Positive Relationships by Kenneth Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins, and Jim Ballard Ken Blanchard teamed up with co-authors from SeaWorld and wrote this parable styled book that opens up to the techniques used by killer whale trainers. What do people around you have in common with a killer whale? Both whales and people perform at their best when you accentuate the positive. It is important, therefore, to always redirect negativity to increase productivity both at work and at home….. read the book
Q: How do you rise up in the organization? A: Take your Boss’s job faster than others.
Having said that, your Boss cannot vacate his job, unless he has a better job! So essentially it means two things 1. Make your Boss look good so that he is promotable. 2. Make yourself promotable by making your Boss’s Boss look better. Why am I talking of your super Boss here – because you must look good to your Boss’s Boss as well. Because in many cases, Boss’s Boss still is influential and is a key player in your growth. He may not proactively push your case. But if he does not see worthy of the job, he will stall your case. How does one make these happen. I am not talk of sucking up or sycophancy here! You make people look good by these eight steps. Simple…
Anticipating their needs
Do that extra work to solve their problems
KEEP THEM INFORMED (by far, this is where most people fail – no boss likes surprises or for that matter even good surprises – and most people fail in keeping the bosses informed on the possible risks and seek their help proactively. Remember, you may be confident that the issue may be small and you will be able to handle it. Well then state the issue and say it so. The worst thing is that at 11th hour you reach out to your boss and tell that you just screwed it up and he is helpless.
For purposes of this series, we will be using résumé and curriculum vitae (CV), interchangeably.
A CV with a ‘for everyone’ cover letter = junk mail A CV without a cover letter = waste paper. Imagine the fate of hundreds of direct mailers that you pick from the mailbox. Do they ever get into your door? In all probability, they would have hit the trash somewhere between the mailboxes to the door. In Singapore, where I live, they have a trashcan next to the mailboxes in most apartments and that makes thrash-ing a bit easier. Most – 99.2% – of the CVs go straight from Inbox to Trash. Now a days, I hear that some companies have developed some amazing software code that helps them generate a nice sounding rejection letter before moving to trash. Most of the CVs however are ignored. To elucidate this, imagine this – how do you react when a salesperson knocks at your door without an appointment? Would you have ever bought a dime of insurance policy from someone who just barged into your office or home without an appointment? Cold calling, as they are called have very extremely low success rates. The customer may just not need for the product, they may be too busy to talk, or better still, they may just be watching their favorite soccer match for the 11th time. You are the product and your CV is your brochure. Super sales people never send a brochure before meeting with a prospective customer. They know that sales brochures (in some cases, I have seen twenty-page proposals) sent prior to needs analysis is irrelevant, off target and often unread. Super sales people send brochure after the first meeting or bring it with them on follow-up calls. If the brochure is not completely customized to the customer’s needs, the sales person highlights the product benefits that will have the highest chance of solving the customer’s problems. Super sales people create interest in their products and use the brochures to re-affirm and to leave a lasting impression of the product or the meeting. Why are we saying all this – You may just follow what super sales people do and make your CV behave like a Velcro. That happens only after customer reads it after talking to you, hearing about you, or meeting you. This is particularly true if you have interviewed or spoken to the hiring manager. Your CV will be able to deliver to the ‘needs’ Turn junk mail into a money mail. Do not send a CV without proper preparation. If possible, deliver your CV in person. Present your CV. Follow-up with your CV that meets the needs. Best-of-luck!
 Wikipedia defines CV thus – A curriculum vitae (CV) provides an overview of a person’s life and qualifications. The CV is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview, when seeking employment.  Wikipedia defines a resume thus: A résumé (French pronunciation: [ʁezyme]) is a document that contains a summary of relevant job experience and education for specific employment search. The résumé is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview, when seeking employment. The résumé is comparable to a curriculum vitae in many countries, although in Canada and United States it is substantially different.
Close on the launch of the series -“Aspire to be a CEO: …” series, we are now starting another parallel series -“Landing a DREAM job, not any job…” Thank you all for the great support – feedback, tweets and retweets. Today’s workplace is super competitive and lot more dynamic. There are more and more awesome jobs; yet it is harder than ever to land one of them. The rules are changing by the day and in most cases, “the job application” process has just remained the way it was in my grand dad’s times The rules in the “Landing a dream job, not any job…” series may sound a bit iconoclastic, to a few. The idea is not to make you a rebel. It is to set you thinking.
· Think if your current conformist approach is really helping you get what you want. · Would you personally believe (leave out the crowd thinking) doing something different help. · What would you do, if any, that you would differentiate yourself?
This is not about the usual stuff. We are not talking about being average and mediocre here, are we? Watch out this space!
There are four rules of time. 1. The first is that time is perishable. This means that it cannot be saved. In fact, time can only be spent. Because time is perishable, the only thing you can do with it is to spend it differently, to reallocate your time away from activities of low value and toward activities of higher value. But once it is gone, it is gone forever. 2. Time Is Indispensable The second rule of time is that time is indispensable. All work requires time. No matter what it is you want to do in life, even looking out a window or sleeping in for a few extra minutes, it requires a certain amount of time. And according to the 10/90 Rule, the 10% of time t hat you take to plan your activities carefully in advance will save you 90% of the effort involved in achieving your goals later. The very act of thinking through and planning your work in advance will dramatically reduce the amount of time that it takes you to do the actual job. 3. The Currency of the Future The third rule of time is that time is irreplaceable. Nothing else will do, especially in relationships. Time is the only currency that means anything in your relationships with the members of your family, your friends, colleagues, customers and co-workers. Truly effective people give a lot of thought to creating blocks of time that they can then spend, without interruption, with the important people in their lives. 4. The Key to Goal-Achievement The fourth rule is that time is essential for accomplishment. Every goal you want to achieve, everything you want to accomplish, requires time. In fact, one of the smartest things you ever do, when you set a goal, is to sit down and allocate the exact amount of time that you are going to have to invest to achieve that goal. The failure to do this almost always leaves the goal unaccomplished. Action Exercises Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action: First, decide today to redirect and reallocate your time away from low-value tasks and toward high-value activities. Second, make a plan to spend more time face-to-face with the most important people in your life. The more you think about the use of your time, the better you will become. By: Brian Tracy
I remember not so long ago reading Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, poor Dad said “Money is not the cause of all evil, lack of it is”. A very controversial statement, indeed. More so, in many cultures where making money = evil. Well if you believe in that, read no further J
After you have chosen your profession whether it is banking, advertising, manufacturing, software, or something else – go and work for the company that offers you the most money. If you have not figured it out on what career or industry is for you, better still, take the job that offers you the most money. If you are already in the organization, always take the transfer, or assignment that pays the most money. (How disgusting can we getJ, we have used money four times in this paragraph).
There are five key reasons why you must go for the money.
1. All your benefits, perquisites, bonuses and subsequent raises will be based on your salary. Corporations usually give the extra compensation as percentages. Therefore, a 10% raise on a $120,000 @ $120, better than the same raise on a $100,000 salary.
2. The higher paid you are, the more visible to top management you will be. (They will want to keep tabs on that super duper guy who is taking away so much of company money J)
3. The more money you are paid, the more contribution will be expected of you. (Obviously. Whoever said, there was free lunchJ). This means you will be given more responsibility, bigger tasks and tougher problems to solve. And hence – more chance to perform which in itself is an invitation to success. (More chances to screw up? Well, we will keep that for laterJ)
4. If there are two candidates vying for a promotion to a job that pays $150,000 and one makes $100,000 while the other $120,000, the higher paid person gets the job regardless of talent contribution or anything else. Corporations take the easy way out and it is easier to promote the higher paid than the lower paid.
5. Finally, in business money is the denominator. The more you make the better you are doing. Simple.
 Promoting the higher paid employee is the path of least resistance in most situations. Someone else has already approved the higher paid’s compensation. That means he must be really good. Others just concurred. In fact the sponsors of the higher paid are themselves even higher paid. Promoting the higher paid endorses the wisdom of the upper management. Whoever said, it was fair!
Well for starters, let us see the difference between Line jobs and Staff jobs.
Line jobs make money for your organization. In some places they are also called profit centers. Line jobs bring in money and have direct relationship with profit and loss. They impact the business and bottom line directly. They are the reason for your organization’s existence.
Staff jobs, also called as cost centers in organizations include lawyers, planners, data processing people, research and development, scientists and administrators of all types. Some justifiable staff jobs indirectly get and keep customers. Jobs that don’t get and keep customers are redundant.
In today’s organization structures the distinction between line jobs and staff jobs is sometimes blurred. It is still easy to identify them – line jobs are where the action is. Period.
Line jobs include sales people, sales managers, product managers, plant managers, marketing directors, foremen and general managers – generally revenue generating functions.
In many companies, majority of the people are either doing administration or field sales. Administrative people are not bad or untalented. But the organizations do not usually view them as cutting edge. The company does not depend on them. They are increasingly being replaced by automated computer systems and application software that can manage the routine. In other cases, these people are replaceable by people from other industries with minimal training and tolerable impact to business.
Take a staff job only if it 1. is purely temporary, 2. a stepping stone and 3. If it pays more money.
Be sure what the line and staff jobs in your company are. Be sure to get the right one.
In today’s world, it is important that you aspire to do something that you really love! There are numerous opportunities & if you are one of the real few, who really know what to do, by when, then you are already halfway there.
The secret to life is to have a task… something you bring everything to. And the most important thing is – it must be something you cannot possibly do. Henry Moore, Sculptor
This is the age of achievement. You have all the tools required to succeed in life. To create a masterpiece, that other can look up to. It is for you to use these tools and make the most of what you have and achieve your true potential. This is an article by Brian Tracy. The Seven Ingredients of Success Peace of Mind The first of these seven ingredients of success, and easily the most important, is peace of mind. It is the highest human good. Without it, nothing else has much value. In corporations, peace of mind can be measured in terms of the amount of harmony that exists among coworkers. The wonderful truth about peace of mind is that it is your normal natural condition. It is the basic precondition for enjoying everything else.
Health and Energy The second ingredient of success is health and energy. Just as peace of mind is your normal and natural mental state, health and energy is your normal and natural physical state. If you achieve all kinds of things in the material world, but lose your health then you will get little or no pleasure from your other accomplishments. So imagine yourself enjoying perfect health, and think of how you would be if you were your ideal image of physical fitness. Then strive for your mental goal of fitness and health. Loving Relationships The third ingredient of success is loving relationships. These are relationships with the people you love and care about, and the people who love and care about you. They are the real measure of how well you are doing as a human being. At almost any time, you can measure how well you are doing in your relationship by one simple test: laughter. This is true for companies as well. High-performance, high profit organizations are those in which people laugh and joke together. Examine your relationships, one by one, and develop a plan to make each of them enjoyable and satisfying.
Financial Freedom The fourth ingredient of success is financial freedom. Achieving your financial freedom is one of the most important goals and responsibilities of your life. A feeling of freedom is essential to the achievement of any other important goal, and you cannot be free until and unless you have enough money so that you are no longer preoccupied with it. When you decide exactly what you want your financial picture to look like, you will be able to use this system to achieve your goals faster than you might have imagined possible.
Worthy Goals and Ideals The fifth ingredient of success is worthy goals and ideals. To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of direction. You need to feel that your life stands for something, that you are somehow making a valuable contribution to your world.
Self Knowledge and Self-Awareness The sixth ingredient of success is self-knowledge and self-awareness. To perform at your best you need to know who you are and why you think and feel the way you do. It is only when you understand and accept yourself that you can begin moving forward in other areas of your life.
Personal Fulfillment The seventh ingredient of success is personal fulfillment. This is the feeling that you are becoming everything that you are capable of becoming. It is the sure knowledge that you are moving toward the realization of your full potential as a human being.
Always answer the phone with enthusiasm in your voice and show your appreciation for the caller. In today’s times where telephonic conversation are over mobile phones and VOIPsare a norm, this aspect has become even more crucial in creating the first impression.
We all are very perceptive when the person at the other end is just not listening to us in the conference call or he is just bored.
How many times have you got disappointed with the apathetic approach with a call centre?
How would you react when you call 900 and the person at the other end answers with lethargy and disinterest?
Yes, these are extreme examples. Good phone manners are essential.
To convey authority on the line, stand up. This will instil further confidence in your voice.
To convey empathy, get closer to the phone – switch off the speaker phone – and pick up the receiver.
To convey friendliness, smile. The other party can sure hear your smile.
Practice this for a week and you will see the difference in the way people react to you.
Sleep less. Yes, you heard me right! Sleep Less. This is one of the best investments you can make to make your life more productive and rewarding. Most people do not need more than 6 hours to maintain an excellent state of health. Try getting up one hour earlier for 21 days and it will develop into a powerful habit. Remember, it is the quality not the quantity of sleep that is important. And just imagine having an extra 30 hours a month to spend on the things that are important to you.
A story: I was about 8 years old and it was an excruciating pain to get up in the morning to attend my class. My dad once took me aside and showed me a newspaper article about Indira Gandhi, who was then India’s Prime Minister. I vividly remember the article talking about her canvassing for elections and her hectic schedule. I used to admire her as a leader. My dad then asked me if I knew how many hours of sleep she had. He went on to add that she required three hours of sleep a day. I have not checked the veracity of that statement to date – but can vouch that that statement changed my life. I seldom sleep for more than 6 hours and this was instrumental in me doing more with my own life.
You must have a mission statement in life. Everyone must have one. Imagine a company, an organization or an institution without one. This is simply a set of guiding principles which clearly state where you are going and where you want to be at the end of your life.
A mission statement embodies your values. It is your personal lighthouse keeping you steadily on the course of your dreams. Over a period of one month, set a few hours aside to write down five or ten principles which will govern your life and which will keep you focused at all times.
Examples might be to consistently serve others, to be a considerate citizen, to become highly wealthy or to serve as a powerful leader. Whatever the mission statement of your life, refine it and review it regularly. Then when something adverse happens or someone tries to pull you off course, you quickly and precisely return to your chosen path with the full knowledge that you are moving in the direction that you have selected. Related Suggested Reading: Goals by Brian Tracy (Link to Amazon.com)
Personal Example: Many years back in 1996, I attended a seminar where the speaker quoted this example. [Paraphrased] Mission Statement is like a flight path. As most of you would realise the flight path looks like a smooth curve. In reality however, this is just a guiding line. A whopping 90% of the time the pilot is trying to get the plane aligned to the flight path -must be before the auto-pilot days- thanks to the tail winds, head winds, side winds. He constantly adjusts his direction subtly but surely to stick to the path. Imagine pilot flying out a plane JFK – Heathrow without a plan. Your life is similar. You need a mission and a plan. You may not always get it, but you would be the first to know if you have missed it and make course corrections.
In my earlier post of Business is Social:…, I shared the size of the market was and the lovable demographics social media presents. In this second and final part, I will share with you the basic steps of getting there. Before I proceed I want to share with you a personal sorry that occurred a few days ago.
I was disappointed at mediocre internet banking infrastructure of the two banks #hdfcbank, #icicibank and the unhelpful call center of #jetairways. The numerous attempts to the call center that either put me on hold for a good 20+ minutes or were unable to understand the requests yielded no results. As their customer that lives abroad, such waits and both frustrating and costly. I did what was the next step. Vent my frustration on a tweet.
In less than 12 hours, I had ‘messages’ from two of the firms #icicibank#jetairways requesting for more details. In less than 24 hours of me providing my contact details, the representatives called me and promised to fix the issue. One bank #hdfcbank, just chose to be unheard and non-present on twitter. Needless to say thy just lost my $10K investment that I was planning to do to their competitor.
As a customer, I was delighted that a 140 character tweet could achieve what a 20min international phone call or a 300 word email could not. Harnessing its power, let’s get serious. Unfortunately, most companies are still treating social media like just another teenage fancy. When in fact, it’s so much more.
Where can Social Media help?
customer service, building loyalty
public relations, networking, thought-leadership
and yes, may be customer acquisition, too.
And because I’d hate to see it all not add up, I’ll add this tiny bit of advice. Do not assume that social media is the answer to every problem
If your product sucks, social media won’t fix it.
However, if your customer service sucks, social media can help.
If your repeat business sucks, social media can help.
If your company’s word of mouth sucks, social media can help.
Your customers are queuing there. Your resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, you are putting yourself out of business?
In my consulting assignments and workshop on social media, participants ask me the same question again and again. The top three questions are –
“Why do we as a business need to be there?”
“Facebook is for friends and Twitter is there for celebrities, not for real businesses”.
“We are a professional organization, not some startup”
In this two part series, I will share how social media can change the business dynamics and help you get closer to your prospects and customers. In part 2 of this series I will share my own personal example with an airline and a bank on how they leveraged social media to solve customer problems.
Well are businesses really social?
A few years ago when Avinash Kaushik, an Analytics Evangelist of Google quipped “social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done there is surprise it’s not better”, it seemed like just that. Now 3 years later 36 months wiser, Wikipedia defines thus – “Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue”, Why should I care, you may ask? Well, I can give you not one but six trends that possibly can change your perspective.
Because 3 out of 4 Americans use social technology.
Because 2/3 of the global internet population visit social networks.
Because visiting social sites is now the 4th most popular online activity
Because time spent on social networks is growing at 3x the overall internet rate, accounting for
Because social media is democratizing communications. Big time.
Because social media is like word of mouth on steroids.
Because, social media is a force to be reckoned with! If facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd most populated in the world, just after China and India.
If all this is great stuff, how does it affect my business, my customers or my prospects? I will cover these in my next issue, and I leave you with this thought –
93% of social media users believe that a company should have a presence in social media.
93% of these users want a dialogue, not a monologue on social media and believe that companies should not treat social media as yet another channel for broadcasting bulls*t.
Well now that I set the grounding on the basics of Social Media, I will take up in my next issue on how businesses can leverage social media in my next issue.
All of us aspire to be someone or do something. During our lifetime we either we surrender our aspirations or get annoyed that we are reaching nowhere. Life gets frustrating and we end up blaming the world, the surroundings, and the people.
Aspire2Be is designed to give you back control of your life and career – I repeat – help YOU take control of YOUR life and career.
There are zillion self-help books and that will sure continue to sell. They all fairly good fix-it solutions and they too may work. The authors here will share their thoughts and experiences of over dozens of years of experience in their professional careers – to help you dream, ponder and act – in a way and method that you will be best suited to you.
Aspiration – You either have it or you don’t. If you want to do something or become something life.Just do these three things – dream-ponder-act – The success is yours for keeps.