Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Importance of Team Leading


I have talked a lot about Leaders in my blog, mainly the people who are higher up in the organization. 

But I am sure that my readers understand that leadership is a quality which is not role or position specific.  Though I have written many posts which do depict the same - The little girl in the Mall (click here to read the post) being one of them - which one of the most popular posts of my blog. 

But in this post, I will write about a specific role which is a very very important one. The role of a Team Leader. And what makes a good Team leader. 

The definition of the team is : 

     A Team is a group of people with complimentary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. 

   And a Team Leader is the glue who keeps the team together :

·         Contact point for communication between team and management
·         Assists the team by immediately implementing changes that are within the bounds of the team

A Team leader MAKES a team and a team is made only when : 

  • Every member should feel that they are contributing
  • Every member should feel that others are contributing
  • Every member should know his/her responsibilities
  • Every member should do all types of task
  • Every member should know the other members of the team
  • Every member should work towards the common goal 


I have seen many team Leaders trying to do all the tasks themselves.
Please understand that you can’t do everything yourself.  

Take charge.

Lead . Don’t drive. 

Do not be a dictator.

The main responsibilities of the team leader :

·         Trains team in group problem-solving techniques
·         Infuse team with a sense of their own identity
·         Helps team choose their own targets and goals
·         Monitors and assess peer performance appraisals
·         Monito and assess the peer discipline process
·         Help the teams expand their responsibilities
·         Foster innovation in teams
·         Monitor team competition to prevent overzealous behaviours
·         Refocus teams when necessary on team goals

A few Do’s :

·         Share information
·         Build on ideas or proposals
·         Acknowledge ideas
·         Respect and acknowledge emotions, be patient
·         Deal with negative in a firm but friendly manner
·         Break down conflicts, confirm agreements, clarify areas of disagreement, aim for consensus, if not total agreement, in the team Improve the way your team members interact
·         Improve their ability to solve problems
·         Improve morale
·         Improve support and trust levels
·         Develop healthy inter-group relations
·         Reduce unhealthy conflict
·         Reduce stress in your workplace


 A few Don’ts :

·         Delay in taking needed action
·         Work too hard at being liked
·         Insensitive to others, abrasive, intimidating, bullying style, cool, aloof and/or arrogant
·         Betrayal of trust
·         Over managing or under managing
·         Unable to adapt to people who have different styles
·         Behaving inconsistently 

Team Leaders, Hope this Helps !!


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

8 best ways to handle Difficult Situations



We all have learnt in our childhood about "Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you".  But in my years of experience in the corporate world, this does not hold too much of ground. Specially in highly political organizations, when people say something to you but is retold in a very different light to other people. 

So what do we do in such situations ? Do we fight back ? Hold a grudge ? Quit ? Let me tell you this, none of the above works. the harm done is always on you and no one else. 

I have burrnt my fingers several times and I can tell you this. The best way to tackle such situations is to have some responses ready for such situations so that the offender thinks twice next time . 

So, here goes ....

  • When your efforts are undermined : This is a very common situation and can be very upsetting. Instead of frontal attack or sulking, the best way is to state firmly what your contribution has been and say "Fortunately, I’m not easily offended, especially by one-off situations like this ”. 

  • When someone sparks a disagreement or says something offensive: In such situations, give a chance to the other person by saying "Did you mean what I think I heard ?"  An intelligent person will alter his/her course. 

  • When you are stuck in an argument with someone with whom you have had positive interactions before : Well, sometimes this does happen. And before things become more unpleasant, you can intervene by saying "We have a good track record working together. No reason to change that now.”

  • When you think you have reached a dead end :  You can restart the conversation by saying "I am committed to make this work for both of us" or Can we take a timeout? Perhaps we could discuss some ground rules for this negotiation?

  • When improper words are spoken : Offensive words really puts me off. And I am sure same goes for most of the people. In such situations, we should reframe the words in such a way so that the offender realizes his action For example, if he says "I really don't want to fight with you ! You just cannot comprehend what I am saying. Leave it !" You can say that “This is a debate, certainly not a fight. And you’re a good debater, as I recall."

  • When the conversation becomes too loud and offensive : Sometimes it is a good way to take the offense on yourself and say  “I’m getting loud and aggressive. I’m sorry. I don’t want this to be a competition." or “I don’t like where this is going. I’m guessing you don’t either. Can we try a different track?”

  • When someone accuses you of being too aggressive : If you feel that you are on the wrong, then you can say the lines mentioned in the above point. But if you feel that it is a way to put you down or shut you up, you can say "I am not loud but I am passionate about this " or " When something is as important as this, I am very determined to put up my point". And I am sure there will be silence there after .

  • When things are moved very fast : This induces panic and threat.  Slow it down by saying "Can we go a bit slow please ? Can I pause for a moment and point out what we both agree on? " or "Lets take a break and come back with a cool mind"

Hope this helps !


Monday, 25 April 2016

Your Greatest gift to the next generation !

Yesterday I saw a very thought provoking play and in today's blog post I am going to write about it.  The name of the play is "Yudhisthir Babu". Yudhishthir is a famous character in the Indian Mythology "Mahabharat". 

Yudhisthir (Wiki Link) never lied. The main protagonist of the play, named Yadav Chandra too never lied .

The storygoes like this ....

Yadav Chandra - will call him YC evoked wrath from his colleagues, wife and even his children because he never ever lied. His wife had cajoled him to apply for transfer by putting up a fake certificate of her  illness ,a police officer had instigated him to own up some jewelry which he had found during a raid and a middleman had tried to entice him about getting a cut in a contract which he was inspecting. 

But under no circumstances YC complied . He held his head high and refused to give in to the provocations. He was a man of principles. For him there was no compromise on truthfulness , honesty and integrity. 

After his retirement, YC spent his time by teaching the poor and underprivileged children of his colony.  He turned down several offers of highly paid tuitions. His dedication and method of teaching changed the outlook of these children and they began to shine. They became curious, thoughtful and bubbled with ideas and enthusiasm. They loved to study. Thanks to YC. The people in the colony worshiped him. The police officer and the middle man later became his greatest fans. Such is the power of principles !

The colony club invited him for felicitation . For his Honesty , integrity, service and truthfulness.

"But this does not need any felicitation !" YC had exclaimed. "These are the basic qualities which any human being should possess !"

"No Sir... please do not turn us down. We want to felicitate you ..."

"I don't know ... let me think ....!" YC said.

One day he was checking the answer book of one of his students. He was engrossed in reading the Geography answers. 

The little boy had flunked in Geography the previous year ( class 6th)

He asked YC "Sir , what marks did you get when you were in class 7th "

YC absent mindedly said "91%"

The boy was motivated . He touched YC's feet and said "Sir ! I too will get no less than 91% in my exams ..."

The boy left. 

But YC sat there paralysed. 

What had he done ! How could he ??

As if in a dream he saw the scenes flitting in front of his eyes . 

He standing infront of the teacher wtih bowed head, tears in his eyes. 

"YC ! You have got 17% in Geography ! I cannot promote you to class 8th "

"Sir... ! I don't know what happened. I knew everything ... but while writing somehow everything was jumbled up ... Sir .. please promote me ... else my father will not let me study further ... please sir ..."

The teacher stood there with an expressionless face. 

"Sir... another thing ... from today , I promise to myself that I will NEVER lie ..."

His sir had promoted him. There was something in YC's voice which had made him change his mind. 

And after that there was no looking back. 

But ....

Today .... YC broke his promise ! He lied to the kid !

YC was broken. It seemed as if his life was shattered.  His wife and son could not understand the big deal. 

YC refused to be felicitated. 

"I have lied . I do not deserve the felicitation..." he kept on repeating, much to the distress of the function organizers. 

"Sir... all the arrangements have been done ! The political leaders have been invited.. If you don't go , we will land in a soup ... it is just a small thing sir... please ..."

But he did not budge.

His family tried to cajole him, force him and even threaten him. But nothing worked. 

Then YC's son had a brilliant idea. 

He went to the kid's house and had a heart to heart discussion with him. He bribed him with toys, chocolates, books etc. 

"You just have to say that your sir did not say that he had got 91%... That is all..."

So, when the club organizers were trying to persuade him for the last time, YC's son said " Father ... you did not lie ! I talked to the kid ... he said that you said that you had told him that you had obtained 17% and not 91% !"

"But ... It cannot be ... I remember clearly... I cannot be mistaken ... "

"Father ... you are also human, you are mistaken ... see the kid is here ... he will tell you ... come on son ... talk ... say that your sir had told you that he had obtained 17% and not 91% ... talk kid ... "

The child sat on the chair , looking at the floor. He did not utter a word . 

YC came closer to the kid.  He stood up. 

YC said " Son ! Look at my eyes and without fear tell the truth ... !" 

The child looked at YC. He was silent for a few seconds. 

Slowly he said  "Uncle gave me toys , chocolate etc to tell you a lie. But looking at your eyes, I just cannot say those untruthful words.  ... Sir, You told me that you had got 91%  .... "

YC was silent. 

The kid spoke again 

"Sir ... ! Another thing ... I promise that from today I will NEVER lie ...." Tears flowed down his  cheeks

YC had a beatific smile on his face. 

He looked at his wife . 

"Give me formal clothes, I will get ready for the felicitation ...!"

Everybody was stunned. 

YC smiled... his eyes brimming with tears ... 

"Yes... I will go to the function ... my job is done ... I have passed the baton to the next generation ... ! "



***

You will be remembered for your values and principles. Money and  fame come and go. But the values stay with you forever... ever after you are long gone from the earth... 

We have to lead...

And pass the baton to the next generation ! 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

For God's sake... Just Shut up !


I don't know about you, but sometimes I find it very very hard to keep my mouth shut. There have been many occasions when this bad habit of mine has put me in a soup.  And invariably, after a few minutes of my blurting out, I have regretted it. 

But now that I have burnt my fingers several times, I have become cautious.  But still it takes a lot of effort to restrain myself

Take the incident which happened a few days back . A backstabber sent an email to the senior management complaining about some fictitious thing. In fact, in the email , he had called the other person/s liars and non co-operative. It so happened that the reply from the boss was marked a copy to all the relevant people.  The person who had been called names had the instant reaction to retort to that email. Thankfully he came up to me to discuss before doing so. 

He was very upset 

"Pack of lies against me ! How dare he call me names ? I too can call him names and complain . I am writing a reply to this email where I will give proof in my defense and call spade a  spade ....

"Shhhh... Just close your email box , have a glass of water and relax for 15 min, then come and talk to me "  I cooled him down. 

Since he held me in high regards, he complied with my suggestion. 

After 15 min, he was much better composed. 

"Ok" I said "Is the email by the boss directed to you ?"

"No"

"Rule no. 1 - If an email is not directed towards you, you should not reply to it"

"But he has called me names ... I want to justify ... "

"Hmm.. you should ... but this is not the right time. For now you should just ignore it ..."

"Ignore it  ???!!!!!??"

"Yes.  Just keep your mouth shut. If you reply to that email, call him names etc. what is it that will differentiate you from him ? And anyways most of us know that he is a whiner and a gossip monger. If he really wanted to solve the problem, he would have talked about his inconveniences with you before complaining to the boss !  In his heart of heart he knows that he is wrong and that is why he did not mark copies of the communication to you or the relevant people".

"But ... "

"Understand the  power of shutting up ! This way , you will score a point over him and at the same time , your silence will be a good snub on him !"

"But I need to explain !"

"Yes, right.... But email is not the best way to put forth your explanation. You should ask for a face to face meeting with the boss and discuss. And definitely you should show your displeasure . You should be well prepared with your points and put it forth with data and facts ! "

"When ?"

"Good question . If the boss calls for a meeting then that is it, else wait for 2 days and then ask for a meeting. That way the other person will be very discomfited . He would be itching to know your reaction . And your stoic face and silence will perturb him even more ... ! That is the beauty of silence !"

He went away and two days later, came out of the boss's room with a smiling face. 

Remember why God has given us two ears and one mouth ? So that we can listen more than  we speak. 



Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Never Ever lose a deal - 3 tips

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

We are always encountered with negotiations.  

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


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


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


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

Cheers !

Monday, 28 March 2016

9 things a Great Leader should do

Here are the 9 Rules all great leaders follow :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

5 traits that Men should learn from Females

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

It is not a thing that women should fight for. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers and a happy women's day to all !

Sunday, 21 February 2016

How is your knee, John ?


This is a story of grit. 

This is a story of determination . 


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


Story of  John Steven Akhwari . 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is very very  easy to give up.  

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

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

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

"John, How is your knee ?"