Why bosses need to believe in balancing!

I need balancing! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

How often do you come across bosses or top management, whose approach is highly balanced? I am afraid that answer would most probably be – “Seldom”!

Whole environment, in which bosses or managers evolve, develop and operate, is highly skewed towards running year’s business figures. It is almost like a doctrine drilled in their mind that success has to come at any cost, business slowdown is a shame and cost has to be ruthlessly controlled to secure healthy bottom line. Yet, some years are exciting by performance and bosses get rewarded; some are disappointing and employees get reprimanded! Do cycles of good and bad years teach a lesson? Rarely, since there are standard explanations available to them from leadership discourses!

Coming to management or leadership development programs, comprehensive or concise, all are structured around single sided stories. These glamorize failures and then, swear by successes! These programs do serve a good purpose albeit limited, as the same do not bring out why successful persons and businesses fail, and how to prevent or delay that. These simply pass on advisories – be a visionary, be in driver’s seat, lead from front, be focused, be strategist and analytical, have managerial courage….; but do not stipulate how to be. It presupposes that everyone can and will get there. This is what a gross gaffe is!

Both managers and management programs need to consider one very vital aspect – when you are focused on one side of the story, you would also commit flaw to comprehend other side of the same. This is where balancing acts or views acquire substantial significance.

Biases of bosses!

Bane of too much focus is the bias! You can see how problems creep in corporate life, if more focus is directed at left part of following points:

  1. Higher quantity can only come at the cost of quality!
  2. Increased speed decreases accuracy.
  3. Higher throughput or output would lower productivity.
    Often, it goes unnoticed and managers then cry for more man power for more output.
  4. If you chase figures, you would compromise values.
  5. High business growth is often accompanied with lower time and money available for personnel development.
  6. Put more structure and material to measure performances of personnel, you would spoil the beauty behind spirit!
  7. Hold hands of strong performers, lose helping hands of majority and middle order.
  8. Set stretched targets, upset work-life balance!
  9. Banking on long hours of working, beating down smart way of working!

Above clearly indicates adverse implications of one sided view or approach, which is widely practiced in corporates. This is one of the main reasons, why you witness cycles of ups and downs.

Bet not on brilliant but on balanced bosses!

This may not go down easily in the brains of many; but then brainy things are always simple but difficult to believe!

Are you not witnessing sudden spurt in articles on social and print media on how to hire, hire the best, spotting the talent and so on. It sounds as a very sound idea! But, hold on a bit.

A boss or a future leader has to be fair, flexible, forthright, punctual, healthy, communicative, sincere, honest, kind, courageous, generous and more! This elevates her/him next to the God!! Is not it? How do you develop leadership pipeline aligned to the God? I do not believe that current business schools, management development programs or leadership coaching is geared up handle this. These all narrow down to hire or develop the most brilliant or intelligent. How many most brilliant people do you think you can get in the market place? And to spot such talent, you need more talented people on panel! Do you have such people on board?

Few would admit it, but blatant fact is that popularity of a program is directly proportional to its ability to create dreams that are difficult to achieve! 

Most organizations or managements commit blunder in putting too much faith on –

  1. Strong personalities
    Bosses or managers having strong personalities would polarize company environments – a divide between right and wrong, strong and weak and wreak havoc in longer term.
  2. Intelligent class
    2 or more intelligent people put together can only give birth to insanity!

My advice would be to encourage balanced personalities. Mentor, harness and cultivate center of each qualitative attribute in employees. That alone can bring fairness, flexibility, sincerity and all what is needed for long term sound health of an organization.

In above, we would create bosses, who are more of buddies than bête noire, more rational than emotional!

Greatest management technique is in mastering Murphy’s Law!

Toast more likely to fall on side of jam, if carpet is more expensive! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Ever since I released my 1st article about Murphy’s Law on 08-Aug-2013, I have been experimenting with this law and collecting data to establish its truths and myths and the way it impacts what we do.

I wish to emphasize the law has very significant influence on our professional and personal lives, because a microscopic view of same helps to understand how to come to the grip of realities and how to influence events that have still not become realities!

To recap, Murphy’s Law is a simple statement “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!” Popularity of this law is vindicated by fact that several books have been authored after converting it into innumerable corollaries and quotes, which indeed applies in our day to day life. Irony is that this law or its interpretations do not talk of “Anything that can go right, will go right”, which is absolutely correct and valid for all of us! It is a clear case of negative statements catching fancy of everyone, whereas positive ones should be firing our imagination! Great paradox is none of us want problems; but we always get stuck with what we want to strike-out!!

Murphy’s Law proves that humans are error prone. If we can reach to roots of how this law works, we would be armed with formidable technique of avoiding wrong decisions and actions, rightly managing business and people.

Mystery behind Murphy’s Law

My research for past 18 months shows:

  1. When I was desperate that my vendors supply on time, they delivered late on 16 out of 19 instances (84%)!
  2. Whenever I was cool, 13 out of 15 times (87%) vendors delivered on time!
  3. When I was confident that things would now not go wrong, 51 out of 80 times (64%) things did go wrong. When I analyzed in retrospect, I found that I was overconfident!!
  4. I decided to investigate why I commit mistakes while filling in a payment cheque, which I wanted it to least happen.
    I found that 18 out of 20 instances (90%), I was conscious (rather over-conscious) that I must not commit mistake while filling the cheques.
  5. I received 9 pieces of disturbing information in last 18 months and 6 of those were followed by more distressful issues (67%) within hours!
    It then occurred to me that whenever there is headline news in print media about harassment or intolerance, similar news from other places keep getting reported for few more days. Not that such subsequent incidences were fresh; those had already occurred but reported now. It clearly confirms that people quickly relate negative news to other negative ones and relay same promptly!
  6. Whenever I was determined not to get disturbed by anyone, more than 80% of time I was disrupted by unexpected visit of someone or phone calls.
  7. I had woken up in morning very irritated on 11 occasions due to body aches. I purposely decided not to take pain killer. On those days (100%), more irrational things happened, infuriating me; but those incidences stopped, when I took pain killer and got physically relieved.
  8. One weekend, I prepared tea for my wife with all good thoughts and care. No sooner she took first sip, she banged – what a bad taste! I started to wonder why my positive state of mind provoked her negatively; but soon realized that while being lost in that state, I had put extra spoon of sugar.
    I then learnt my lesson that getting obsessed with ovations or overwhelmed with emotions is actually not positive!!
  9. Once I started my day on high energy; but completely got drained by series of bad incidences. I started to wonder what’s happening. Oh; it was Friday 13th Feb, 2015! But, I never believed in such day/numbers!!
    So, I decided to check whether I would have bad patches on the next similar occasion. On Friday, 13th March this month, I decided to welcome worse but it never showed up!
    So, it was my negativity of 13th Feb, which took the toll and not number 13 and Friday! 

It is negativity, which nags us all the way!

Above real life examples are akin to Murphy’s Law. Incidences under point 1, 3 to 6, 8 and 9 show how negativity makes things go wrong. 2 shows when you are positive, things go right and 7 shows how when you become positive even with help of medicine, wrong changes to right!

Following would demystify Murphy’s Law:

  1. “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” is just a statement of negative reality. Opposite is equally true!
  2. Since we are prone to negativity, we notice, worry and count it far more often than positives. We consider counting positive is no brainer; so lose its count.
  3. People relate and relay negative information far too promptly than positive ones.
  4. Negative happenings make us too conscious and hence vulnerable to commit mistakes. That’s why we experience negativity bringing more negativity. 
  5. Notion that negativity can counter negativity is bunk; yet we believe in it. That’s the reason we are tempted to handle rude person with rudeness or reciprocate abuses with abusiveness.
  6. Negativity highly satisfies our ego!
  7. Negativity comes easy and takes innumerable forms – worry, wishful, fear, fury, obsession or depression. Therefore, most find glamor in negativity, whereas glory comes from positivity.
  8. It is an illusion that while being negative, you can ever be positive! These are mutually exclusive!!

If you can manage or manipulate Murphy’s Law as above to stay positive, you would be the most effective manager at your work as well as life!

How to defeat a disappointing or damning day!

When disappointment drains you! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Sometimes you get up in the morning with not too good a feeling. You do not feel enthusiastic or excited. You feel your energy has been drained. On that day, you may experience lot of things going wrong. You would get into a tiff with your spouse or dear one/s for a trivial reason right in the morning. While preparing to leave for work, you may not find important document which you need to carry or receive an unimportant call, leaving you very irritated. On way to office, you could find this day too many red traffic signals or getting stuck in traffic. On reaching office, you may find e mails from upset customers and receive a piece of mind from your boss, which leaves you wondering what more disappointments are in the pipe line today! You somehow finish your day and retire to bed hoping that a better day would emerge tomorrow!!

Can you be sure that tomorrow morning would be better than yesterday? Normally not! If it turns out to be better, what exactly changes? Most people are unable to figure out or don’t care to figure out. They tend to defer it to their destiny or divine. But, then cycle of decent or damn days continues, so do fun and frustration!

Is it possible to start every morning with same zeal and zest, energy and excitement, hope and happiness? 

Your distress can’t decrease your disappointments; instead it increases!

When things don’t happen as per our wants, we react – why? We feel irritated or infuriated. We reject the things, if those are not right from our view point. We don’t know to accept what has already gone wrong. We rebel or remorse against the reality, if it is bitter; but rejoice, if it is sweeter! This is precisely our problem! Reality is always real, whether we accept or reject; then why treat a reality differently and relate it to our taste?

It has been drilled in our mind that wrong or unwanted things must be greeted with agony, anger or anxiety and embrace right or wanted things with ecstasy. See implications of such approach:

  1. We lean heavily on negativity and hence become prone to same.
  2. Worries or whining is like a whirlpool of distress, which can only suck you deeper! Negativity attracts negativity.
  3. It shakes your confidence and composure!
  4. It fractures your belief in prudence and propriety!
  5. It generates a bias for pessimism!

Your de-stress is key to design your day!

Everyone believes stress is natural; but that does not take away the fact that it plays havoc, regardless how powerful or poor one is! Stress defocuses and disorients you, may be by a small degree. When stress is not major, you may not notice it; but it is there in your sub-conscious mind. Silent stress is far more damaging than loud one, because latter would take you to the peak of your problems quickly and hurt you so much that you would then rush for quick healing!

Silent stress is very challenging because most people are unable to recognize it! It could be as little as a thought that my morning was not good; so now my day would not be good either. This thought is good enough to encourage you to commit a series of mistakes to draw you deeper into disappointment. That day, you are not able to manage your boss, customer, sub-ordinates or spouse as well as you do another day!

Here are few things you could practice to do to defeat an adverse day:

  1. When you get up in the morning, remind yourself that problems are part of life.
    Practical and real world is where problems are present and not absent.
  2. If anything adverse shows up, avoid reciprocating it with your reaction. Just observe and be to yourself.
    We all have learnt that reaction to wrong things is our right; but in reality, this is absurd.
  3. Carry out a simple check in morning and during day – if you are free from stress, you have to be happy; conversely, if you are not feeling happy, you ought to have stress!
    When stress is absent, your energy and excitement levels get boosted!!
  4. Like cancer virus, viruses of ego and prejudices are present in all of us and these substantially weaken our immunity to stress.
  5. Stress, which can be in form of anxiety, anger, agony, fear, frustration or obsession, is nothing but conflicts of thoughts in our mind. Source of such stress is always emotions from your past. So, live in present to live stress free!
  6. Common belief that “what does not start well will also not end well” is bunk!
    It is purely in your hands, when you want to let go your feelings from immediate or distant past. Terrible things can translate into terrific things at any point of the day, by taking a pause and redeeming yourself.
  7. If you are conscious or anxious that thing/s should not go wrong, probability is high that those would go wrong! So, your best bet is not to guess what would go right or wrong.

So, substance of the story is by linking exciting events to euphoria, you also link disappointing happenings to your distress. Drop both links; you would then gain freedom to freely design your day!

How about enjoying this freedom?

Prerequisite to hold power should be commitment to empower!

Power of Empowerment! Source:http://www.flickr.com/

Those, who cannot empower their team, sub-ordinates or juniors, do not deserve to hold power, whether in companies, communities, countries or even in their personal lives! Power corrupts, when concentrated!! Power becomes a poison, when one revolves around power and does not devolve it to concerned people or participants.

What do people do, when they have power?

  • Use
    or
  • Misuse

If you are putting your power to good or right use, what would you do? You would not believe in asserting it, as your senses would suggest to you that people around you understand your power. If you have your own vision, imagination or ideas, you would take pains to make people aware of the same. You would cajole or coax them to be part of a team to help accomplish those. But you would never coerce them to do it, as that would tantamount to misuse of power! You would not command or demand either; instead you would motivate them and show the way to do it! If they succeed, you would speak well of them; but you would not like to fire, if they fail! What do these actions amount to? It is Empowerment!

On other hand, if you misuse your power, you would become autocratic; you would dictate or impose your ideas. You would go by your whims, likes and dislikes. You would be tempted to play politics. You would hold the hands of whom you like, regardless of merit. You may be able to produce results by forcing your team to perform; but that performance would not last for long. You would take credit by discrediting others!

Remember, in most organizations or institutions, power is misused in the name of leadership, albeit very subtly! There are only 10 to 15% of organizations in industrial sector, where management indeed puts power to correct use and that is one of the key reasons, responsible for their excellent performance. So, right use of power can only reside in empowerment!

Empowerment has enviable virtues and enormous power; yet very few actually understand those in corporate circles or public platforms. Therefore, it is more used as a jargon and given lip service by most bosses.

Let us first understand essence of empowerment.

Essential elements of empowerment

  1. Trust
    It is most critical to put clear and complete trust on people to be empowered.
  2. Respect
    Only through respect, you can motivate the people and induce ownership in them.
  3. Freedom
    Without freedom to operate and take routine decisions, empowerment would be a fiasco.
  4. Laying down explicit expectations and goals
    Most leaders and management miss on this, sending empowerment for a toss.
  5. Giving credit and withholding discredit
    If empowered team delivers good result, head or boss must give them due credit. But, if team fails, head or boss must abstain from decrying or discrediting the team. Instead he/she should initiate corrective and improvement actions.
  6. Training
    Appropriate training for people is a prerequisite, so that they understand how to perform and deliver.
  7. Coaching
    Regular coaching by supervisors or seniors is necessary to keep people on course to produce the expected results.

If you carefully evaluate above 7 elements, you would conclude that these are imperatives for any leader or boss to be successful.

One, who empowers, excels!

Leader, who swears by empowerment, stands to gain terrific advantages:

  1. Effective and efficient management
  2. Transparency and consistency in organization’s performance
  3. Loyalty and infallible commitment of team members
  4. Availability of adequate time to plan and strategize business and its healthy growth
  5. Ease in driving and managing changes
  6. Develops consciousness and selflessness

One, who is empowered, enjoys!

Those, who are empowered, reap rich rewards in terms of:

  1. High degree of job satisfaction and personal accomplishment
  2. Sense of pride at work place
  3. High level of ownership and stewardship
  4. Talent/competency development
  5. Clear career path and bright prospects to grow
  6. Inculcating initiative, ethics and team spirit

A power pack mandate

Above gives a clear mandate – those, who are not committed by choice to use their power to empower employees or people down the line, should not qualify for getting power at first very place. If you find ills in private or public organizations, chief culprit is holding the power (which, in fact, is a misuse) to the chest by who are given power. Manipulation, malice, malpractices, poor performance, lack of talent development and failed business strategies emanate from concentrating power by those at the helm. It also gives rise to arrogance and ego, which organizations can ill afford!

If organizations have to be managed in a clean, credible and charismatic manner, “commitment to empowerment” should be made an essential prerequisite to select or promote anyone to the position of power, supervision or management. If this is done, then power of one pair of hands would multiply by number of pairs of hands empowered! Imagine the formidable energy, your company would have then, which can indeed help make it iconic and imaginative! 

How about implementing this inference in full earnest and essence?

Why geniuses rarely have good looks; reverse also applies!

Legacy and looks of a genius! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

This is one of nature’s perspectives or paradoxes, you may find it hard to believe; but you simply cannot write it off! Turn the pages of history or look at present time, you would discover that one, who has been acclaimed as genius, is seldom has a great personality or looks! On the other hand, those with attractive looks are hardly genius!! That does not mean that your average or un-kept looks would make you genius; nor your impressive personality forbids you to become a genius.

Is this irony because geniuses have no time or bent of mind for keeping themselves well groomed or beautiful people don’t work on their intellect? Research shows that this true only by a small percentage!

Geniuses like Einstein, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, George Bernard Shaw or living legend Stephen Hawking are not known to have great looks. On opposite side, we have iconic personalities like John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton or seductive beauties like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor or Monica Bellucci, who have put their firm footprint in history for their leadership or looks; but not for their intellect. Cleopatra, a legendary lady, seems to be an exception where historians differ – whether she was “beautiful beyond belief” or she was average looking but her allure came from her intellect, character and tone of her voice! Let us keep the latter part in mind how intellect and character can change the whole game!

Even when you look at mythologies, intellectual people have been depicted as simple, sober and ordinary looking; powerful people have been shown as masculine and tough looking; but ones with attractive looks are more feminine in features but without great wisdom!

People with intellect and those with impressive looks tend to behave opposite!

Let us see few examples of these 2 classes of people:

  1. Genius or intellectual people avoid public glare, whereas those with impressive looks tend to love publicity and popularity.
  2. Intellectuals are more secluded and seen as introvert; whereas impressive ones like to be seductive and hence extrovert!
  3. Intellectual people are highly or excessively rational; but impressive looks induce people to be very emotional.
  4. Former type is highly engrossed and can be eccentric; on other hand, latter type is egocentric, which seems to be pitfall of urge for getting attention.
    Research also reveals that handsome or beautiful people tend to be selfish and short in temper.
  5. Genius or intellectual people are highly passionate about their pursuits and tend to ignore their health and looks; but people with impressive looks are particular or even obsessed with their physique, features and what is in fashion!
  6. Genius people often commit gaffe due to absent mindedness; whereas handsome or beautiful people goof because of losing control over their mind!

Above explains why geniuses or intellectuals lack good looks and people with impressive looks are laggard on intellect! There seems to be only one thing common with both classes of people – their personal lives are most likely to be pathetic! Microscopically, nature does not seem to favor eccentrics or egocentrics. What appears to go down well always is center of a scale or given parameter.

If we combine pluses of both intellectual and impressive, a new persona pops up – gracefulness! Grace has nothing to do with how you look outwardly. It balances what is inside and what is reflected outside.

True glitter of grace is product of inner beauty and intellect with ingenuity!

So, would you not love to be graceful in every walk of your life?