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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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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The difference that makes the difference

This week in India was marked with the sudden demise of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the Missile man, the extraordinary scientist and most importantly the man dubbed as the People’s President during and after his tenure in the Presidential office. What made him so admirable was not just his academic and career success, his knowledge and simplicity but everything that he stood for. He came from a poor, rural, Muslim family in Tamil Nadu and rose to the highest office in the country, through sheer determination and hardwork. For young India he is an Icon of what is possible. In the midst of scam, corruption, high competition and unequal opportunities Dr. Kalam’s life was an inspiration of aspirations, dreams and success. This post is a dedication and a reflection on the great man and his greatness. What makes someone who comes from a life of hardship and challenges make it the way someone like Dr. Kalam does? And more importantly what prevents others in similar circumstances from doing the same?   The biggest difference is not what the world throws at us but how we perceive it. Perception is the way we see and experience the world and it varies from person to……

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Imposter syndrome – The nemesis of all high achievers

The good news first. If you find yourself relating to this post chances are you are a high achiever or a leader in whatever you do. High achievers and leaders generally thrive on their achievements. While power, wealth and fame may also be strong motivators, the high of delivering on a difficult outcome is generally unmatched. The world of a high performer is also very different from that of an average performer. There is a lot more activity and a very strong commitment to the outcomes. Most high achievers thrive in high-speed, high stress environments.

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Authentic leadership in times of change – the first step that no one told you about

“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. ”  – Lance Secretan In the career of any business leader, there comes a time, when you get a new job role or responsibility, which is completely different from what you have been doing till that time and rudely pulls you out of your comfort zone. You’ve proven your self by performing brilliantly till now and people around you believe that you are capable of delivering on the impossible. You are THE MAN ( or WOMAN ) who is expected to see the ship in stormy waters to the shore. You step up from doing work that you have been brilliant at, to a level where you don’t really know what is going on? While you may secretly be thinking, “I have no clue what I am doing here”, blurting that

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Is perfectionism your imperfection?

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – Julia Cameron Most of us have been brought up with the quote ” Practice makes perfect”. We believe that perfection is a virtue to aspire for. Perfection is very useful in making us want to do a good job and delivering outstanding results. However when perfectionism starts driving us rather than we driving for perfection it is time to take a closer look and understand if we are in trouble. Perfectionism often leads to the following problems: Limits thought, inclusivity and creativity: Perfectionists live with the idea that there is only one best way and that is the way they like it. As a result it limits respect for individuality and diversity when working with others. We have all worked with a boss or colleague who is never happy with the outcome. Working with such an individual besides being highly stressful is bound to limit creativity and thought as there is no place for deviations or opinions other than those believed in by the perfectionist. Science and research on the other hand……

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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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