How To Be A Good Leader..

18 12 2007

Now that’s a question that rings in my mind quite often, since I joined the corporate world. Am trying to capture some reflections and experiences here, distilled from some real life’s learnings. Its tough to be a good leader or a boss, and its even tougher to acknowledge our weaknesses and the impact that we have on others. Yet, the more we grow in age, experience and cadre, the more our efforts and work is dependent on the contributions of others.

Now, what are the personality attributes that can make someone tick as a good leader or boss? They are pretty much visible to commonsense and are for experience. Tell me how many good leaders have you met in a daily work life context? Yet, there are some real qualities that differentiate them from the common managers and leave a lasting impression in mind. Here is a collection of some of those in an effort to identify, acknowledge and probably inculcate them..

Humility And Courtesy

Ok Ok.. That was pun intended! 🙂 yet, On a serious note, see most of the people who are in influential positions to be most humble and open to people around them. In any knowledge and people intensive industry, what differs one from another is how they apply their uniquely gifted talents and skills. No one is superior or inferior to another and the more we acknowledge this, the more enriching we become.

In fact, those guys who are most likely to throw their weight around are typically in the middle management or in support group as they are often responsible for executing decisions taken by others whether they agree or disagree. Hence, the craving for false significance which reflects in the demonstration of pseudo authority through bossism and shortsightedness. Watch out if you are indulging in this. This behavior can help you get along the day, but not far.

Celebrating Success and Credit Sharing

Celebration is fun. Sharing the success and joy builds the team spirit and unity. Celebrating successes and failures is the essence of life. Don’t you think so? Yet, so often, going through the rhythms of the corporate mumbo jumbo, we often rarely stop for that little pat on back. Hold a little party, acknowledge others’ contribution and live up to the saying-‘one for all and all for one’. Everyone loves to feel important and wants their work to add value to the organization and team. Be genuine and say thanks to all those who made your graphs sparkle in whatever minor way.

Sense Of Humor and Fun

Quite needed in high pressure environment. Humor brings in fresh perspectives and makes us more open to challenges and other possibilities. Added to that, a sense of fun energizes workspaces and makes us more productive. Life is a huge practical joke. Identifying the humor and playing along can really soothe nerves. Don’t wear sleeves on heart, try the vice versa.. 🙂

Staying Calm And Leading By Example in Moments of Crisis

There is no fun in scrambling around and getting worked up on minor crisis situations at work. Accept it. Risks and failures are a part and parcel of life. Its no fun indulging in blame game and taking a free ride on the tension swing. Stand for oneself and for the team and show that you are there and you care. Be around like a breather or a tower of strength in moments of crisis and exude confidence and positivity. Tough call? Indeed. It requires continuous effort.

Being Flexible And Playing The Good Listener

Are you that kind of boss, who stares at the laptop when your teammate drops in for a quick chat? The most vital part of leadership is to acknowledge that people have different priorities and your task list may not figure out on the top of theirs. Acknowledge their personal priorities, be flexible to work out win-win options and always be open, approachable and listen to what others are saying or not saying. Be a people developer and lend an ear when needed. Life may seem to be measured on how many millions we made, yet what counts in the end is how many lives we touched and how many smiles we spread.

Clarity and Expertise in Work

Be sure of what you are talking about and what you want to achieve. Most of the bosses I know falter at this. Often the delegation looks like this.

If you are not sure of what you want, not even the best of the world teammates can help you achieve it. Have clarity on what you want to achieve and then communicate it effectively to your team. It can do wonders.

And, trust me, no one wants to work for a dull head. Never stop learning and understand the significance of the contribution that you are making. Do you think only talent shows? Stupidity is even more tantalizingly evident. Don’t make suggestions under the pretense of adding value. 🙂

Trust and Motivation

The last on my list and the most important one. Believe in team, assert your trust, enlist them in your mission and give them space to carry on. That’s what is called effective and efficient delegation. Noone really wants to work for a boss who don’t trust their capabilities and hovers around like an intrusive security camera. Ask the one who tried. He probably doesn’t have a team now.

As beautifully put by Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

“If you want to build a ship
don’t herd people together to collect wood
and don’t assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for the
endless immensity of the sea.”

Ultimately, it all boils down to this. People are leaders because they choose to lead. Else, they stay managers.. Now I see why this became a huge article! I can actually title this as ‘7 habits to be a successful leader’. 🙂 It’s tough to make sense of what makes a leader tick. If I missed anything, let me know.





Credit Sharing…

30 11 2007

Am just back from a little crib session and this was a hot topic there. How surprising it is to see this issue popping up in so many conversations. Credit Sharing is an important aspect of managing any team structure and I am sad to see many ignore it in their way to glory.

I am not trying to bring in Ayn Rand philosophy of selfishness here as in the current organizational context, in Indian industry, we work with people and the more we grow in our career, the more our success is dependent on the inputs and support offered by the others. Especially in IT industry, where a lot of work is structured around groups and teams, it is even ridiculous to ascribe the credit to a single person in the success of a project. Yet, I see this phenomenon of credit snatching and credit hiding instead of credit sharing. I don’t see any logic in blaming team for failure and appreciating manager for success.

In fact, some of the best leaders I have met in the industry are successful in their career are those who realize the potential of the people working for them and put it to effective use by aiding to their professional and personal growth. Though I hear some say that don’t mix up emotions in professional life, how can it be possible that we are emotionally insensitive to the people around us?

I can sense that people follow leaders, not the rule books. Please be the guiding hand to those you work with, making sure that they don’t need anything instead of dictating their lives and taking credit for their efforts. A little bit of recognition can do wonders for motivation levels and the work environment. And all those entry level people, it also means acknowledging the existence of the security personnel or those receptionists instead of treating them like pieces of furniture. A little pat on the back, a gentle smile or a small nod can do wonders, trust me.





Work Life Balance..

7 11 2007

One of the most quoted phrases in HR lingo.. And what a powerful myth to dream about! Balance.. Hmm.. Isn’t work a part of life? And how easily we use this, as if we can apportion our time between work and life. Somehow I have always felt that the more I call something work or job, the less I am interested in doing it..

Whenever I think of this phrase in particular, some of the assignments that I did as a part of Indigenous Management course in IMDR flashes in my mind. I have interacted with a lot of people in indigenous industries and its impressive to observe how their work is entwined in their life. When we bunch of students went and saw their work locations, what caught out eye was the pride that radiated in their faces when they were displaying their wares. What struck me was how much love and purpose they could sense in their life and how closely connected are their personal and work lives. Their career instills a sense of purpose into their personal life.

How much ever I wish to compartmentalize my life, its not always possible. Whatever tensions I face in my professional environment rubs off in my personal space. I never seem to attain that magic balance. Life for me is intense and I plan to explore it to the fullest. Work is fun and focus. Either I love the work I do or do the work I love. Period! And where there is love, fun and a sense of enjoyment, there seems a lack of caution, control and balance.. Don’t you think so?





Choice Or Default?

12 10 2007

Generalist Vs. Specialist?? Guess this thought always rings in my mind.. Unofficial commonsense says that you can understand and learn the tricks of the trade in any specific work in 6 months.. Not convinced? May be one year. Could be two as well.. It ultimately depends on your comfort level.. Official Office Wisdom suggests that one becomes an expert if he has parked himself in the same stream for years together. Happens quite often in industry, right?

When people talk about Job Hopping and Loyalty and when I come across the so many specialists, a nagging thought always pops up in my mind. Are they in this field by choice or by default? Sometimes its so easy to stick on to what we know rather than go ahead and explore what we want. Especially when we are choosing our profession or a specialization.. We go by market trends or popularity index.. We drown ourselves in that work, be it SAP, ERP or MBA seldom giving it a second thought. Whenever that mindless frenzy tires our souls, few people would be able to answer what drives them to work on Monday morning? Is it love for job Or is it just another Manic Monday (ala Bangles fame)?

Career choices can be so tricky. Most of us make their careers in one specific direction just because someone advised them so. Or its just that they ended up doing what they are doing by fluke and are afraid to venture into a new field as it could be risky.

Robert A. Heinlein says, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

I know its totally out of context. Yet, is it? If you work in the field that you love, years pass on like days and that thirst for knowledge and zeal to learn never dies. I have seen some real specialists whose love for the job keeps them going. Its amazing to watch them live on the job. They work to live to their internal standards and for their individual passion.. On other side are those Generalists who venture into every field they come across, taking life and career as it comes and being adaptable to the demands of life.

Whatever category you belong to, always be on the side of those who has the luxury to wake up to do what they love to do everyday! It could be your choice (that was the field you dreamed into your life since childhood! ) or what fate has conjured it for you (yes, there is a long list of situations, responsibilities, fate, destiny with you to corroborate) . Yet, my only piece of advice is this. Love what you do or do what you love. Else, you will end up in a perennial crib club ride in life!





He Who Forgets..

28 09 2007

This poem by Walt Mason serves a humorous admonition to all those forgetful people. I count myself as one in that gang too. At times I feel that absentmindedness happens on those issues which we don’t deem as important. I remember reading this at IMDR and thought of sharing it today, after two years!
*******************************

The merchant said in caustic tones:
“James Henry Charles Augustus Jones,
Please get your pay and leave the store
I will not need you any more
Important chores you seem to shun
You’re always leaving work undone
And when I ask the reason why,
You heave a sad and soulful sigh
And idly scratch your dome of thought,
And feebly say,” Oh, I forgot!”
James Henry Charles Augustus Jones,
This world is a poor resort for drones,
For men with heads so badly set
That their long suit is to forget.

No man will ever write his name
Upon the shining wall of fame,
Or soar aloft on glowing wings
Because he can’t remember things.
I’ve noticed that such chaps as you
Remember when your pay is due;
And when the noontime whistles throb,
Your memory is on the job;
And when a holiday’s at hand,
Your recollection isn’t canned.
The failures on life’s busy way,
The paupers, friendless, wan and gray,
Throughout their bootless days, like you,
Forgot the things they ought to do.
So take your coat, and draw your bones

James Henry Charles Augustus Jones!”





Playing Process Executive..

20 06 2007

This goes as a humble attempt of mine to sketch a life like story in BPO…

*********

Suma has always thought that she should have a first hand experience of a BPO or call centre. All that glitter, media talk and allure of that career is enticing enough. She is a first class degree graduate and finally she landed in a plush job as a process executive in one of the most popular BPO’s in the Metro. After her hectic training she ended up dabbling in the billing operations to learn reality the hard way.

Suma walked to her desk. Her maniac monday regime is set to begin now. Its 9:05 AM and she is already five minutes late! Her mistaken sense of punctuality is at draggers with her again! It doesn’t make a difference that her office starts at 9:30 AM. Its an internal sense of commitment that gets her going!

One look at the inbox work, and Suma is longing for her carefree times again! She has to finish off a lot so that her team leader can audit it in time. People work for around 16 hours a day in her team, resolving escalations or raising plain bills in India for some UK or US customers. Their celebration of life starts by switching on their monitor to prune through the innumerable mails dealing with several requests and hours roll on in characteristic nonchalance..

Just 3 days old into this and she wonders at all those bright minds entangled in the routine humdrum of mundane activities. She discovered new friends along the way.. Anusha is an MCA, ended up in this role as she wanted to enjoy financial independence in marriage; Ketan is preparing for GMAT and wanted to make his own dough; Leela is an orphan and this job is godsent. Everyone is always on run, helping eachother in their issues, dealing with escalations, managing workload and trying to scrape some moments of personal time in that maddening rush…

Suma has found a shortcut to tackle the situation though. She prompty switches off those inner rantings which drive her crazy and gets herself going at that insane pace which her work demands.. There isn’t time enough to be with herself or is it that she hates to take a maverick stance?

As she muses over herself, she considers ‘Hey what’s wrong with me? I earn 20 grand, family is happy, I got great friends and I freak out every other day. What’s wrong with my job anyways? ‘ Suma has always based her life on rule book.. Yet, when she opens it to check what she really wants to do, the pages are all blank!





Hard Work Vs Smart Work..

16 10 2006

It’s always a big question in the Industry where I am working, or is it a common phenomenon? People, who do work as a duty, or rather as an obligation try to drag it till the end and end up in the swirl of procrastination. That embarks a journey of crib club..

If you work for what you believe, its not hard work! You will consider it hard work when it becomes an obligation. Alas, we don’t find entrepreneurs in every day of life, at least to the nonobservant eye. Probably they are the same people whom we tease as hard workers or the one who don’t find time to take for themselves. What we may not realize is that their enjoyment lies in work. A typical phenomenon I observe is that people believe that they work for their ends and there exists a fine line between personal enjoyment and professional work. Ask what effects personal enjoyment? I have strong objection to people who resign themselves to 12 hours of long work the moment they enter office campus. Neither do I have respect for canteen mongers, or the shirkers who pretend to work only when their boss lands at their cubicle.

One should have a balanced approach to work. Even if I love my job, there are certain finer aspects for which I pay attention to. Probably it’s my fav music, a book by bed side, a morning workout at the local gym or a walk by the wild side. That’s where smart work comes in. Engaging mind and body in what we love to do every moment. As my boss quotes often, “if you got no mood to work, don’t work lady. Coz U will spend 8 hours miserably doing what you can finish off in a couple of hours!” Quite true indeed! In this high tension world, where struggle for life is quite evident in every walk of life, one should realize oneself to the full potential. Being smart, managing priorities in the deliverables, intelligently balancing different aspects of life, being focused on career and emotional balance helps in a big way! Keeping a sense of humour about oneself and wearing heart on sleeve helps too.