What your manager means when he says that you need to be more strategic?

The most common developmental goal for executives today is that they need to be more strategic. If you are part of the middle management and aspiring to be a senior leadership, there is a strong chance that at some point you have already received this feedback- that you need to be more strategic. Some managers get this feedback either in a 360˚ assessment or performance appraisal. Others realise this as a shortfall once they step into a leadership role. As one of my clients put it, “I’m great at fixing things and solving problems; but now I seem to be required to create a strategy and vision for the business; I’m not sure I know what I’m doing.” What does it mean to be strategic? In a nutshell, becoming more strategic means moving from an execution mindset to that of thinking and creating. Managers are often great at executing tasks derived from someone else’s strategy but not effective in developing their own strategy for their business. In individual roles “Getting things done” is what counts. In leadership roles developing the vision of what needs to be done counts. This is a critical metamorphosis in thinking that needs to happen when an……

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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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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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The one reason you may not have got a leadership promotion yet

You are really good at what you do. Your management, peers and subordinates agree that you do a great job and you have the awards and appraisal ratings to prove that. You have had a fairly steady career growth in the past till you got stuck at the level you are at now. You know you are working with the same efficiency and getting great results. So why isn’t your career graph moving as fast? More importantly why haven’t you got that coveted leadership promotion yet? How career growth happens at entry levels in an organisation Lawrence J Peter formulated the Peter’s principle that states, “ In an organizational hierarchy, every employee will rise or get promoted to his or her level of incompetence.” This means that employees in an organisation will continue to rise to the next level based on their current performance till they reach a position where they stop performing. Most careers start out this way. People joint at entry level positions. Those who work hard (or smart) and perform well grow to the next level. This continues to happen for quite a few levels up in the organisation including first few levels of management. Often people start assuming that……

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Is internal competition killing your organisation’s effectiveness?

Most organisations have evaluation systems that measure employees against their goals and how they performed vs their peers. The obvious intent of the performance measurement system is to have a tracking mechanism to know how each of the employees’ is contributing, towards the organisations growth. This gives a comparative measure to reward good performance. This method stems from the grading systems in schools and colleges, that measure a student’s comparative performance, on various subjects. Parents have used this approach for years with children, to push them to perform better, by comparing them with siblings and peers. However, based on research, educators and child experts say, that, comparing a child constantly is not only bad for his/her self esteem but also leads to longterm performance and psychological issues. So if this system does not work for kids can the impact on adults be really that different? While the intent is to drive performance using competition among employees, the unfortunate truth is that, it is detrimental to the overall performance of the organisation.  To understand how this happens, let us start by understanding the meaning of competition Competition, is a contest between organisms, animals, individuals, groups, etc., for territory, a niche, or a……

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Leadership VS the Myth of the Perfect Leader

 “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves” – Ray Kroc Who is a Leader? At a recent leadership workshop I asked the question, “ Who is a leader?” I got many answers and perspectives largely catergorised into leadership presence, knowledge, vision, team management and business sense. All answers together told me 2 things: There is no single definition of a leader. Each of us want something different from the people we perceive as leaders and we want them to be “perfect” in matching our definition. We all want strong leaders and we want them to deliver! We all like to fantasize about that glorious human being who will change the world. In politics we have seen Obama( Yes We Can!) and more recently Narendra Modi being put up on that pedestal where they are expected to turn around the economic situation. We don’t care about facts or what the challenges are. We just want outcomes. In the workplace, employees often look at their manager and expect that he/she replicate an image in their mind. When this leader fails to do so, they often feel let down, if not outright cheated. Organisations too have guidelines and criteria for leadership that……

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The 5 inner demons every leader must tame

Vince Lombardi said “ Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” If this is indeed true why are so most leadership development programs so unsuccessful in imparting these learnings?  Alternately if leaders are born why do organisations spend millions every year in leadership development? This is because there is a third element to the “made vs born” debate. People can be born with leadership qualities, which the development processes can fine tune OR people can be born sans leadership and acquire it along the way.  

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