Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Teeny Weeny : 24th February

Again it was the 24th of February.

Mellow rays of the sunlight flooded Aditi's small one bedroom apartment.    The nip in the air, the fragrance of February filled up her senses.  Her first class was at 10.30 am. ,

But it was the 24th of February.

Like every year, she had to be in the Physics laboratory by 7.30 am.

She opened her cupboard and opened a small card which had pink rose motifs . The ends were frayed now.  The words written with blue ink had faded .

"Always smile like these roses ! " - A silent admirer.  I will tell you how much I need you tomorrow  - 24th February, at 7.30 am , Physics laboratory

25 years ago,  same day , Aditi had smiled just like she was smiling now.  She looked at herself before leaving for the college.  She was still pretty and petite. The pink cotton sari suited her fair skin. She put on a light pink lip gloss and combed her short hair which had started graying near the temples.  She pulled the off-white shawl around herself  . She started to leave but as an afterthought she came back and put on a black bindi on her forehead. Yes, she looked nice , Aditi thought.

As she stepped inside the campus of Science College, her Alma Mater and now  her work place,  she saw young students laughing and talking in groups . Their face shone in the sunlight.

Aditi hurried towards the lab.

As she reached there, she saw her class mate and now her colleague Sagar standing near the lab door.

"Hmm... so... your annual rendezvous ... eh ... !" he winked.

Aditi blushed .

"Yes.... How stupid of me isn't it ? And more so because I had confided in you .... "

She looked searchingly at Sagar's eyes.

"Well ... see , I too make it a point to come on this date and time ... just to give you company ... " Sagar laughed.

They went inside the lab. It was still the same as it was 25 years back. They sat there and laughed and joked for about an hour.

"Aditi, My students are waiting ... I will leave now ... See you later ... "

Aditi  looked up.  She waited for him to say something.

Please .... please ....come on Sagar .... I have waited for 20 years .... My heart is parched ... I want to hear what you have not been able to tell me .... I know it is you ... don't you know that I know ?

"Ok... I too will leave .... "

"Until the next 24th Feb ? " Sagar winked

Yes.  I will wait . Wait for you to tell me how much you need me .....

Aditi walked slowly out of the Physics laboratory towards class room no 404 .

Maybe next year .....

She adjusted her glasses and went inside to face her young students. ....


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


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Leadership lessons from Eagles !

The Eagle, reflects the behaviour and traits of brilliant strategic leaders.

One leadership lesson drawn from the eagle is that of vision. It is said that the eagle soars or flies high when it is hunting. From the way of the eagle, the leader can learn the need to have a high vantage point, giving vision to the people.

Eagles spend much of their time at a great height surveying the big picture but then they spot something of interest and with their great eyesight are able to hone in and look at the detail. 

Based on this detail, they are very decisive and swift to strike before stepping back again and looking at the big picture. Eagles are also very protective of their young while encouraging independence from an early age. 

You need to have a view of the big picture while being able to selectively drill down and look at the detail. Brilliant leaders certainly need to be very decisive and often, swift to act. The idea of encouraging the independence of your staff based on effective coaching is also very positive leadership behavior. 

From the eagles, one can also learn about resilient or tough leadership.

 Leaders need to be tough and resort to positive thinking, changing the “I can’t” to “I can!” and the “I’ll try to do” to “I’ll do it!” 

When eagles are 30 years old, they go through a process of renewal. 

Finding a hidden place high in the mountains, the old eagle with curved beak begins to claw at its face, and tear out the old feathers that by now become less airborne. As a result, it bleeds badly. But this is vital for the eagle in order to renew its strength. If the eagle did not do this, it would not be able to live to its normal 40 years. 

They allow self disruption to survive. and this  builds the eagle’s resilience. 

Let us all learn from the eagle and soar high ! 

Friday, 6 February 2015

To Be or Not To Be a Lenient Manager

I have often been blamed to be a lenient manager

"Ananya,  You are too lenient !  Your team is very independent. In the town hall meetings , they always raise some point or the other ... "

"Well ... "

"They take advantage of your liberal attitude.  They always seem to be so happy and confident . They are hardly seen working late hours..... "

"But my teams have achieved the best performance awards !"  I said

"See... that is why .... you have been too lenient in giving them good appraisal ratings .  We are quite strict and do not mince words in the appraisal discussions."

In such conversations, I do not continue further. 

But the fact is that , my teams always performed the best, always met their target and contributed well in the overall organizational growth. They were cohesive lots who fought and argued in the team meetings, but once they went out of the meeting, they always spoke the same thing . Sometimes they agreed to disagree.  

They were a happy lot, really enjoying their work.

Everybody has their own leadership style. 

There is no "Good" or "Bad" leadership style. The style has to meet the situation, the audience and the organization. I personally do not believe in typecasting a style as "lenient" or "strict".  

The leader has to lead the team to success. 

Any manager will tell you that his or her ideal staff is self-sufficient, conscientious, and trustworthy. With only the lightest supervision, they can essentially manage themselves. Sometimes, you will stumble upon employees like this by blind luck. More often, managers who are able to take a hands-off approach have invested a great deal of effort at the start of the employment relationship training, mentoring, and establishing clear performance and conduct guidelines.

It is almost like bringing up kids. 

The manager has to trust the team and treat them like adults , capable of managing themselves.  They should be taken towards being a "self-managed " team.  This happens gradually, but the leader must constantly drive their team towards this goal. 

Once the manager senses that the team can handle the freedom, only then, slowly and steadily the team becomes independent . 

I have seen the team taking ownership and pride when they feel that they are the decision makers. It is not true that they  do not put in extra effort, but fact is that there is so much of teamwork that the workload gets shared.  I have observed my team members staying late nights to solve a problem in spite  of my telling them to go home and complete the work next day. 

As a general rule, it is a bad idea for supervisors to become overly friendly with their employees, but the leader has to know how to be empathetic and where to draw the line . 

Even as you demonstrate genuine caring, you must preserve some professional distance. Otherwise, you will risk insubordination and the appearance of impropriety. 

The leader should endeavor to set appropriate boundaries at the workplace so that s/he does not compromise  on the capacity to be the boss when the needs be.

S/he should shift the focus from winning the love of the employees to managing a successful business. At the same time, the team should feel one with the manager, ready to take up challenges and achieve goals happily and efficiently.  The leader should be capable of changing his style at the right time and at the right situation. 

I don't know whether I am "lenient" or not , but when some team member , who had worked with me years ago, calls me up and says  "Ananya, I remember you saying this ......and I have tried to follow the same", I know I have succeeded.

The feeling is really exhilarating and satisfying. 

I feel that somehow, somewhere I have managed to touch their lives.