Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Are blue Jackals recognized in organizations ?

Once upon a time , there was a jackal in a forest by the name of  Chandaraka. One day, Chandaraka went to a nearby village in search of food. Unfortunately, a group of dogs  started chasing him. He was frightened and fled in panic. He entered a washer man’s house and  trying to hide himself, the jackal slipped and fell into a tub full of indigo. Later,  when Chandraraka reached the forest, the  animals failed to recognize him and were frightened to see the strange blue creature.

Taking advantage of the situation, the cunning  jackal schemed quickly.  He asked, “Why are you running like this? There is no need to panic. I am a unique creation of God. He told me that the animals in this jungle had no ruler and he had nominated me as your king. God has asked  me to rule this forest. Therefore, all of you can live safely under the cover of my protection.” 

The innocent animals believed the shrewd jackal and accepted him as the king. The jackal appointed the lion as his minister, the tiger as his assistant and the wolf as the gatekeeper. After allotting positions to the animals, the blue jackal banished all the jackals in the forest for the fear of being recognized. He was the  self-proclaimed king and led a luxurious life.

One day when the blue jackal was holding his court, a herd of jackals were passing by , howling to their glory. Suddenly blue jackal forgot that he was a king and not an ordinary jackal anymore. Unable to control his natural instinct, he howled at the top of his voice

Soon, the animals realized that they had been fooled by a jackal. In a fit of anger, all the animals, at once pounced on the blue jackal and killed him.


In the corporate world too , there have been numerous instances where the people at the top of the hierarchy try to con their subordinates by not being transparent and use politics and shrewdness to stay at the top.  

But , like the story, does justice always happen ?  

What do you think ? Do write your comments !

Note : This is a popular story from Panchatantra -  Indian collection of short stories with a moral 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Should Leaders Laugh often and much ?

I laugh quite loudly and people say that I smile a lot.

A few years back, a smart lady joined as a Project Manager,  reporting to me.  After a few weeks,  after we had our weekly meeting, she muttered, as if to herself, " I guess, I too can smile more, I thought leaders should not  smile.... " . 

This is a common misconception amongst many of us.  It is a universally accepted fact that smiling and laughing shows that a person is happy. Smiling also signifies submission and shows "Hey ! I am not a threat!". All organizations have some hierarchy and when a person who has a higher designation smiles, s/he appears more accessible and humble and vice-versa !  The team / followers open up to the smiling  leader and this makes the leader's tasks easier to get done.  

It is interesting that just like yawning, smiling too is contagious. It causes people to reciprocate by returning the smile, albeit even when both are faking it too ! Just like  The Echo Effect !  Professor Dimberg of Uppsala University, Sweden conducted an experiment. 120 volunteers were exposed to happy, scowling and frowning faces and were told to make expressionless or opposit faces. The experiment showed that the volunteers did not have a total control over their facial muscles. Though the volunteers tried hard, but the twitching of their facial muscles told a different story - they were mirroring the expressions which they saw . So it proves that the more you smile, the more positive reactions people will give you. 

Another amazing story worth telling is that of the Norman Cousins, who are famous for their book "Anatomy of an Illness", later made into a film. After being diagnosed with a collagen as well as heart disease, his doctors told them that their days are numbered and they will live in excruciating pain till they finally die.  The cousins watched and re-watched every funny movie which they could find and after 6 months, the doctors were incredulously surprised to find that their disease was completely  cured !

Smiles and laughter are the best way to bond. Remember how we giggled and laughed when were were in school ?  And if you think hard, the bonding of that period are the strongest compared to the acquaintances we make later. As an adult we laugh about 15 times a day compared to a pre-schooler who laughs 400 times !  As a ritual, in one of my project teams, whenever a new person joined the team, we played a game called "Hot Seat". Once he sat on the seat, he was supposed to answer just any question which was put across to him. It used to be a hilarious session and the team bonding was just superb !

Smile constantly. It will make people wonder what you have been upto and whether you know something which they don't !

I feel that a leader should smile and laugh often and much . Then team feels at ease with her and the working environment becomes conducive and healthy. But beware,  it is easy to catch a false smile - which does not reach the eyes. A false smile usually has an exactly opposite  effect and the team will feel that you are a liar ! 

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone ....

Rejoice, and men will seek you ,
Grieve, and they turn and go "  - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Want to improve your productivity ? The simplest way ...

It is not easy.  Not easy at all !  

Six months back when I quit my 9 to 9 job and started working independently, I had a vision of my day. I would start my day with an hour long walk, then browse the newspapers, do some miscellaneous work and then from 10 am to 6 pm , I would have the whole day to myself !  I will have a 15 min power nap in the afternoon and then about 20 minute of  breathing exercises after 6 and then one hour of reading before going to sleep, I had thought.   Ah ! Finally I am the owner of  all my time ,  what a wonderful feeling it was !

But it did not happen that way !  I soon realized that time just passed by and all the things that I had thought that I would accomplish just did not seem to happen. I felt that I was more productive when I worked in the office . It took me about a month to figure out what was wrong. 

 I had stopped making my To-Do list.  

If there is one thing which I have to swear upon for time management, it is the quintessential To-Do list.  Here are some tips :

  • From daily to weekly : If you are a first time in creating to-do lists, start with a daily list , but eventually  broaden it till it covers the full week. This gives a better span for your activities and you will have a good sense of accomplishment when the week is over.

  • Write them: Write everything - make sections for official and then personal , sundry etc.  Once you get the hang of it, you will see how useful it is for planning and organizing your day

  • Prioritize  :  Once the tasks are written, you should prioritize. First tackle the most difficult one or the one which falls in the second quadrant of time management - important and urgent.

  • Cross the completed tasks : Once you have completed a task, cross them on the list or put a big tick mark on it. You will feel really good . Trust me !

  • Carry them over : There will always be tasks which will not be done on a particular day.  Carry them over to the next day's to do list

I have practiced creating and following a to-do list and I can guarantee you that once you start , you will be able to gauge the improvement in your productivity. 

Give it a shot and see your tasks get done like magic !

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

How to get Power

A leader should have the power to motivate people and get things done

Most of us think that power comes only with authority and designation.  

Legitimate or positional power comes from designation and job title.  

Reward  power comes if you have the ability to give bonus or punishment . 

Expert power comes from knowledge , if you are the subject matter expert on a particular field, but the power which I am going to talk about is called Referent PowerThis power usually comes from the personality and character of the leader.

I am sure you must have come across an individual in your organization who draws people towards him or her. He or she is so respected , loved and trusted that people come to him/her for decision making, guidance and mentoring. The person may not have any link with the project of the follower, but she has the power on the people. And according to me, this is the best form of power which a leader can have. 

  • These leaders get more power by giving it away. Real power is not about what you do, but what you teach others to do.   
  • When a leader enables others, s/he extends the power. If your follower can succeed  and achieve, you get more power . Your power gets established .
  • People with real power are not push-overs. Those who are afraid of losing power, cling to it and are afraid of sharing power. A real leader empowers others and aligns them with his values

Real power comes with passion, integrity , empathy, empowerment and when you treat them with respect and  help them shine !