Your career is a marathon. Are you sprinting instead?

I was recently working with a corporate executive . The brief for the coaching assignment was to help him manage his work more efficiently. I started by shadowing the individual in his work day. The one thing I noticed about him from day one was that he was a go-getter, was always looking to do more, achieve more and push himself more…all positive traits for someone who wants to grow their career or business. The feedback from peers, subordinates and supervisors reconfirmed this. As I continued to shadow him I realized that his strength was also his problem…he was taking on too much. If there was a project available he wanted either to own it or be a part of it. If there was a new initiative he wanted to lead it.  This wasn’t about bad time management. He was working 12-14 hours sometimes 7 days a week to make things happen and delivering brilliant results. It was just the sheer amount of work that he was handling that made me apprehensive. Think of a rubberband. When you stretch a rubberband it can expand and hold the tension. When this same rubberband is stretched beyond capacity for a long time……

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7 Leadership Lessons I learnt from Game of Thrones

  Game of Thrones is a hot favourite right now for all TV buffs. Many claim that its popularity is because of the high drama, violence and sex depicted in the series. The serial does indeed have a high dose of fantasy (with dragons, warlords and wights thrown in for good measure).  But I believe that the one big reason many of us are quite addicted to the show is because of the strong characters that most of us can identify with. There is the noble bastard, Jon Snow, who rises to a high position inspite of his background or the witty dwarf Tyrion Lannister who is one of the strongest characters in the show inspite of his looks or the lack of support of his family. Then there is Jamie the King Slayer, who shows two sides of his character, first by pushing an 8 year old child off a high tower and in another scene returns to rescue his friend Breine of Tarth. And then there is the strong Danarys Stromborm, Mother of dragons, who grew from a  timid girl to a queen on-screen, who rules savages and believes in non-violence. Perhaps we feel a strong connect with Game of Thrones because we see bits……

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When a past failure refuses to let you go

  When time does not heal Imagine this – One of your friends has approached you with a great business plan and asked you to partner with him. You have always had the wish to start a business. You love the concept. You believe the idea could be transformational and has financial value. You think of taking this on you are reminded of the last time you invested in a business and lost a big chunk of you savings…and you stop yourself.   Or picture this, you have finally met the woman/man of your dreams and she/he is everything that you wanted in a life partner, except you struggle to commit and be vulnerable because the last time you did that the person left you for someone else and the hurt though lesser is something that never really healed.   The deep well of “If only” excuses Not all failure stories have such high stakes. Some can be smaller but have similar patterns. We are talking of an area in your life where you struggle to take the next step even when you want to, because something from the past holds you back. Maybe you struggle to speak confidently at a……

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When the need to win gets in the way of your success

  I have always seen myself as a go-getter. A winner no less. When I start a program my need to win makes me want to create and deliver at a high level. When I am working with a  client the need to win makes me want to help the client get to the goals they want. The clients I work with are also pretty much in the same league. They want to win. After all, leadership and the need to win is often seen as synonymous with each other. A leader needs to be able to take his /her team to new heights of success. Winning is good. It helps organisations, careers and businesses grow. It creates opportunities and development. The need to win is the cornerstone of all enterprises.   So if winning is good does it always make you more successful? Surprisingly the answer is no. There are often moments when I find that the need to win starts becoming a hinderance rather than a support for me and my clients The need to win can easily turn into the need to win at any cost We all know of successful sports people and drug abuse. Or of eminent business men……

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Internal networking is not optional. Embrace it!

  Rajesh is a very successful sales manager. He is known as a people’s person and is highly spoken of by both his team and his customers. His biggest strength is managing relationships and building trust with his team and customers. This has got him ample success in the market space he operates in. At the same time Rajesh struggles to use this strength of building relationships within the organisation. Apart from his immediate team and manager not too many people know him well. More importantly not too many career influencers in the organisation know him. Rajesh sometimes feels that he may be missing out on opportunities because of this. He knows he needs to spend more time and effort on internal networking as but at the same time he felt unsure of whether he really wants to do it. Why internal networking is important Helps open up opportunities: Internal networking helps an individual make the most of the opportunities available in an organisation. People prefer to hire people they know. Connecting well with people across the organisation and outside your immediate team will also help you get your work done faster.  When you take on a new or higher role knowing the people you……

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If you are a manager – get good at sharing bad news

The dilemma of sharing bad news Leaders are often the messenger and sometimes the creator of bad news. While the saying goes “Don’t shoot the messenger” unfortunately that is exactly what some employees want to do when they hear bad news. Bad news can be of different proportions and impact. It could range from mass lay offs and salary cuts to asking someone to work over weekends or asking a low performer to leave. Often the manager may have taken the decision due to circumstances or business needs. At other times the decision may be taken by someone else and the manager is expected to deliver it to the team. At such times leaders often feel uncomfortable with doing the job because at a human level they may not want to impact another human being. Often managers anticipate a negative reaction from the team or are uncomfortable dealing with emotional outbursts. Some managers avoid sharing bad news or delegate it to someone else. Some try to mask it with jargon or logic. At the same time there are a few who handle it with finesse . Why is it important to get good at sharing bad news: As a manager it is part of your job and it will be……

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How your success could set you up for failure

  What are your reasons for success If I were to ask you, “What makes you successful?” what would you say? Whenever I ask this question to any successful person surprisingly the answers are very vague. Sometimes I hear about hardwork, commitment, focus while some people just assume that their success was meant to be. Others give credit to mentors, well wishers, luck or God. But the real fact is that successful people rarely spend time asking themselves what makes them successful and those who do are mostly unclear of what “REALLY” makes them successful.   Infact the more successful the person, the less time they spend on understanding what makes them successful. On the other hand people who feel they are not successful spend huge amounts of time dissecting their performance and analyzing why they have not reached their goals. This is both a result of human nature as well as the way most systems are set up; to look for the cause of the problem and not the reason for why something works. Logic also dictates that if something is going well why worry about it. Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. – Bill Gates Why……

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Why goals fail – even the SMART ones!

  Look back on all the years that you set New Year resolutions for yourself. If you do not believe in setting New Year resolutions then instead look back at the goals you set for yourself. How many of them have you really achieved? If you’ve achieved all or most of them – Congratulations!! You rock! But if you are like 80% of the people out there, you would probably not have met a lot of your goals. Even the ones that were really important to you. Statistics show that only 8% of people hold on to their New Year resolutions and only 20% people who set goals actually meet them! The surprising part is that this is also true of SMART goals. That is quite a deviation from what most of us think, isn’t it? Do you know why you did not meet your goals? Perhaps you got too busy doing other things and you never got around to getting started on your goals. Or maybe you started working on the goals and then something threw you off track and you never got back to it. Or maybe you had a moment of weakness and gave up.   Behind all of these……

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Introverts as leaders- why it works!

  “I’m not sure I can be a manager, because I am an introvert.” said Anjali. This was her response when I asked about her career plans Anjali’s view on things  is common. We often picture a leader as the quintessential Alpha male or female- flamboyant, visible and extroverted. It is easy to assume that to be a leader these qualities are critical.  For people who don’t “naturally” have these traits, it can be daunting to step into leadership. Introverts often tend to write-off leadership as a career option without even thinking about it. Why people assume leadership equals being extroverted The internal conditioning often starts early. At school and in the playground,  the loudest and bossiest kid in class, most often gets his/her way.  So quiet and introverted kids assume that to be a prefect or class captain you need to be loud. Organisations and media often project a leader as being an extrovert. A lot of political leaders are great orators and socially proficient. In traditional businesses like construction or shop floor management  the leader or supervisor often needs to be commanding and visible.  The image of the extrovert leader holds true in most of these circumstances but in the white……

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If your team does not follow your directions- here’s what’s wrong!

  Leadership is defined as the ability to get others to follow you. The key responsibility of a leader is to get the team to follow the path that he/she sets for them. The success of a leader depends on being able to build followers and getting them to deliver on the vision he/she has. All successful leaders are masters at this – getting the team to connect with their vision and owning it as their own.   However, not being able to get the team to follow the leader is a big challenge for many organisations today. Because of this, leaders, both new and experienced ones, struggle to deliver on assignments and targets. When this happens the logical deduction is that either the leader not communicating right or there is a problem with the team’s understanding. The organization may decide that the leader or the team needs evaluations, feedbacks and trainings. All of these remedial approaches work well depending on the context that they are applied to. Yet again sometimes they don’t. This is because this approach is based on the premise that if the communication is not working either the communicator or the recipient is at fault. What……

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