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?

Strange but true – good writing, speaking and execution skills seldom coexist!

Harmony is a must to evoke appeal! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

You need ideas to write, you need ideas to speak and you need those to execute; yet research and surveys show these 3 skills normally do not exist together!

Pick the names of great authors, barring few exceptions, by and large they were not great communicators. Take examples of effective corporate mentors, they make poor managers. Bosses, who speak very well, hate to put same in writing and instead chose to assign planning and execution of their ideas to their sub-ordinates. I have witnessed many of such bosses in their younger years. They were never good implementers.

USA has produced some of the finest orators. Among its Presidents, John F. Kennedy has been rated as no. 1 orator. Historically famous speeches that he gave were written by his advisor and primary speech writer Ted Sorensen. Barrack Obama, current President has been rated as 3rd best orator after Franklin Roosevelt. His famous speeches until March, 2013 were written by White House director of speech writing Jon Favreau. Point to note here is that Ted Sorensen and Jon Favreau are not know for great speaking skills and these Presidents were not the authors of what they spoke!

Take the case of Russian born Vladimir Nabokov, who is known as one the most ingenious authors of 20th century for his originality and highly accomplished writings. His speaking skills were not impressive.

In today’s highly competitive world, you need all 3 skills at good levels – writing, speaking and executing. It looks, as though, nature refuses to grant all 3 in 1 person. Some are blessed 2 out of 3; but being blessed with all 3 seems to be a rare feature!

Why is that?

Why 2 or more skills at great level is unique and rare!

It is like a good tennis player can’t be a good badminton player; it is nearly impossible that a decent soccer player can ever to be a deserving (American) football player! Here below is how it seems to work:

  1. When you become good at or have natural taste for a particular skill in professional or personal life, you are inclined to become better and eventually great!
  2. When you fight on more than one fronts, you run the risk of losing all. Knowing this well, you dissuade yourself to focus on more than one skills.
  3. When you become great in one skill, you stand out of the crowd and come in limelight! When you are acknowledged in what you do, you get addicted to it! This alienates you further from other skills or traits.
    Therefore, you would notice that geniuses are not great at people skills; conversely, those having people skills are seldom genius!
  4. Rule of nature seems to clearly suggest that being too good at one makes other ones grim for you. So, if you are dedicated in translating your ideas into words, you would neglect or hate to give voice to the same. That is how good writers would not become good speakers and vice versa. When you are too engaged in execution, you become least concerned with words or voice!
    It is for this reason that darling of public invariably fails to become darling in private (even for his/her most dear one)!!
    Hence, Excellence inherently invites adversity in one or another form.
  5. Now comes a major paradox – our polity and practices are such that during starting phase, we are encouraged to focus on one area or skill, which is very understandable. We would tend to become from good to great in that skill! In corporate life, if we become great in one skill, management would brand us as experts and that compliment becomes a curse in terms of climbing organizational ladder beyond a certain point.
    And, if we focus on “no one area”, we would be master of none and run risk of being branded mediocre!

So, life looks to be a constant struggle; continuously countering with contradictions or conflicts, meeting diametrically opposite demands, managing right and wrong, good and bad. As a matter of fact, our lives have actually evolved out of conflicts, if you closely observe.

Above also implies that initially you need to focus on one area; but deflect it to other allied ones at an appropriate stage or time. This is very critical. You should restrain yourselves to go too deep of any area, if you want to emerge as true leader.

There seems to be one way out of above jumble mumble or vagaries of your life. Bring harmony in your thoughts, traits and tastes! I am sure, you have come across someone, who does most of his/her things right. What that person actually does is to think, write, speak and do in full harmony. When there is harmony in approach, outcome for everything is at optimum level and hence very appealing. It does mean simple, straight, smart but well connected thinking and doing.

Finally, simple mantra to get it – harmony enters, when your inner conflicts exit!

Let easy access to every information not impair, but improve your intellectual abilities!

Information deluge! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Intellectual abilities far outweigh your technical competence, educational qualifications, experience or general knowledge/information. If someone stands out of the crowd, it ought to do something with his/her intellectual abilities. Ability to analyze, rationalize, empathize, reason-out, lead, innovate, create, anticipate and foresight comes from your intellect!

Intellectual abilities have more to do with your EQ (emotional quotient) as compared to IQ. Everyone has these abilities; but the degree varies. Those with higher degree of intellect are tremendously successful in their career and personal life, enjoy terrific happiness and sense of accomplishments!

Intellectual abilities can be defined as your abilities to comprehend, contemplate and conclude using your consciousness and wisdom! These are all about mind and its response to a given situation!! This sounds like a simple statement; but it plays the most significant part in making you!!!

Let us discuss what the biggest threat is that can impair these abilities and what opportunities are there to improve the same.

Risks that we run in current era!

This is an era of information explosion. Colossal amount of information is being captured, collated, classified and presented every second. To access this information, internet and smart phones, apart from TV, Tablets and PCs/Laptops, have become integral part of nearly everyone’s life.

Research results and surveys show staggering use of on-line media. As per GlobalWebIndex, people across the world now spend an average of 10.7 hrs. daily on all forms of media, out of which 5.6 hrs. are spent on digital media! Weighted world average, as per survey conducted in Jan. 2014, for daily time spent on social media alone is 2.0 hrs., with Argentinians spending highest time of 4.3 hrs. and least time being spent by Japanese at 0.8 hr. Average American spends 2.3 hrs. per day, whereas Indians spend 2.4 hrs. on social media. Most of such time spent is for non-work related information exchange.

If you are an active user of social media, you would only know how much time you are tempted to spend on clicking likes, conveying greetings for birthdays, festivals, job or profile changes of your friends or followers! Most of times, people do it under compulsion or casually; but seldom consciously or purposefully!

Where does this relentless search and storage of information (in physical or mental files) lead to?

  1. Majority of times, surfing and search for information by most is random and hence, its end use is also random.
  2. When you don’t have a purpose of an activity, you would not know or bother about prudential limits of the same. This is when, you would stray into what is not sober and tend to get hooked to inadvertent or indecent information.
  3. Without a clear purpose, you can never focus on quality and hence you fall prey to quantity!
    So, you would engage yourself reading and collecting lot of information. This can only clutter and confuse your mind and kill your focus! It would be interesting to know that more than 80% of information that you read from print or soft media is irrelevant to you. So, imagine the time you spend first to read and then to mull over or discuss such information!
    It is good to remember that “good has limits; but bad has none”. Immaterial information is actually an ill!
  4. Irrelevant information makes you inefficient and incoherent!
  5. If you believe that what you do for fun, leisure or entertainment, including reading or viewing information, does not impact your character or class, think over again!
    What you do for fun actually has firm impact on your persona. So, be frugal with information flow or exchange!!
  6. Loads of information would lower your drive, patience, peace of mind and sound sleep.
  7. If one or more clicks can get you every information, multiple answers to every question you have, that too duly analyzed, then what is left for your brain to work on? How would you strengthen your analytical and computing abilities?
    2 things are sure to happen – (a) what comes easily also goes away easily. So you would have problem to retain such information in your mind (b) for lack of exercise, your brain would lose its power, like your muscles do in absence of good use! 

From above, it is very clear that easy, enormous and erratic information can severely impair your intellectual abilities.

How to convert risks into rewards!
You are blessed with superbly advanced information technology; do everything possible that it does not become a bane for you. Here is what you can do:

  1. Lower your engagement for the information, which is not relevant to you or to which you are inert or you react. Put more emphasis of such information from various media that makes you alert and active.
  2. Most efficient use of information that you gather is to align it with your short and long term goals.
  3. Practice to evaluate or investigate the information you possess as to what are contradictions, lack of clarity, presence of paradoxes and gray or unexplored areas in the same.
    Result of such evaluation would be your real opportunities to work on!
  4. Decipher from the information you have, up to what level the work has already been done. Going beyond that level, work and innovate would bring you experience and excellence, you would ever treasure and endear!
  5. Neven keep information or knowledge you possess as dormant. Roll it in following cycle:
    Information –> Investigate –> Innovate/ new ideas –> Inspiration –> Increasing intellectual abilities/Implementation/Strengthening your beliefs

So, why not take full advantage of IT enabled age to become fully Intellectually enabled?

Mediocrity is an essential evil, as it works as a great equalizer!

Ordinary could have extraordinary appeal! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Truth is often bitter! When we know it at heart, many of us hesitate to speak it!! Same seems to be true of relevance of mediocrity in companies and societies.

Leaders and preachers alike are often engaged in bashing and banishing mediocrity or mediocre persons to earn ovations from their followers, completely forgetting that the survival their status depends upon them. Fact is a leader comes in limelight only when the audience applauds him/her, though the audience by itself may constitute of mainly mediocre! So, mediocrity merits due respect!!

Let us face the facts – at micro level, for every positive (charge), a negative (charge) is necessarily created. The combination of two becomes neutral and that is why every atom is neutral. At macro level, every good creates its opposite i.e. bad; extremely good would create its mirror image i.e. extremely bad. Either the two would come close to make a deadly combination or conflict to damage each other or they can be kept away by neutral people, who are classically mediocre.

If you lock 2 strong leaders in a room and give them a topic to discuss, they would rarely reach a consensus, even if one happens to be spouse of another! Leaders of leading companies like GE, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Apple, Siemens etc. may claim that their organizations are leadership factories; but reality may be very different! There is a threshold on % of leaders depending upon nature and structure of an organization, beyond which it can only become a laggard! This threshold is not more than 10 % of total employees. So, if an organization has more than 10% leaders, it is likely to be unstable and chaotic; it would witness high turnover of leaders! It also implies that 90% or more employees are average or mediocre with some being above average and some below. It would be interesting to know that more than 55% of employees, whom companies declare as their present or future leaders on an average are not real leaders. They are either blue eyed boys/girls of bosses or it is number filling game to please top management!

If you look at closely, you would discover that through process of evolution, nature continuously strikes balances. Mediocrity or average quality plays a very important role in such balancing to avert major upheavals!

On the face of it, many may not agree; but fact is that modern technologies are churning out more mediocre than before! 

Why mediocrity is an essential evil in companies and societies!

  1. Meritocracy actually survives on mediocrity!
    Imagine if we do not have mediocre to compare with, how would merit look like! Merit would lose its sheen. Extraordinary lose its meaning without ordinary!!
  2. It is expensive and futile to develop big number of people with big merit. They would not survive together!
  3. Mediocrity encourages competitive spirit.
  4. It makes changes in organizations an imperative.
  5. Mediocre people are back bone of an organization. They are loyal to their job and hence horses of long race in company’s history.
  6. They represent continuity.
  7. They are less ambitious and hence least controversial.
    Their expectations can be managed easily.
  8. They may not be very smart; but are sincere and hardworking.
  9. They have much better work life balance and hence, level headed!
  10. They dampen polarization, if an organization, community or even country has higher number of stronger personalities or high headed people.
    So, they do stimulate state of equilibrium, which is indispensable for continuous growth!

So, it is a blunder to write off or give a raw deal to mediocre people.

Managing Mediocrity or mediocre people

Above analysis does not mean that we should glamorize mediocrity; need is to give a good look and guide it towards merit!

  1. First and foremost is to embrace and empathize with mediocrity.
    Remember that the biggest merit of mediocrity is that it does not have its “negative opposite” and hence, always harmless!
    This would create acceptance of the fact that it exists, had existed and would always be present, that too in majority!
  2. Institute a continuous development program, which they can digest easily.
  3. Set your expectations and guide them how to meet same, if not exceed.
    But, never make a mistake to penalize them for under performance. Instead, make them aware where they slipped and help them to salvage.
  4. Raise the bar of your expectations, once current ones are met.
    The best thing an organization can do is to systematically raise performance bar for merit and mediocre alike! This would help mediocrity to inch up to a new normal!!

To conclude, a right balance between mediocre and meritorious people (90 to 10 or less) would bring startling results for organizations or their leaders. Then, raising performance bar systematically for both would add sparkle and pride for mediocre people!