Tag Archives: Ambitious

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!

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Is it Difficult to manage Difficult Boss (or People)?

Yes, if you believe it is difficult, it would be. And if you can learn to manage, you would find it simple! Difficult people, bosses included, are all around the globe and there is definite reason, why the class of bosses is often like that.

What I am sharing below applies to both, who is a boss and who is not. Actually, it applies to difficult people in general, you need to deal with. Many of you must be wearing 2 hats – you are a boss and also have a boss. Observe your behavior under these under 2 hats; most probably you would find that you behave differently as boss and with one, who is your boss! Why? Think it over and ask yourself why your behavioral pattern cannot be same under both hats? And if you are married, you also have your spouse as your boss at home!

Definition of “Being difficult”

People are perceived as difficult, when they put others to difficulty time and again, by raising unreasonable demands, irrational decisions, seeking to find flaws and nag or hurt others emotionally through their actions or expressions.
Most are vocal and vociferous; but some could be surreptitious, while being sweet and smiling from the looks! It is more important to understand the latter!!

Symptoms of Difficult Boss or People

It is a good idea to understand these, as some symptoms could be open and some could be obscure. These could be any combination of the following:

  • Stern or Stressed face
  • Secretive or Solo (Not open and does not share information)
  • Spontaneous to react or Snapping conversations
  • Loud or Loose temper
  • Finds flaws or not a solution seeker
  • Demanding
  • Poor listener
  • Irrational
  • Imposes own views
  • Emotional

What makes a Boss Difficult?

It could be a mix of one or more of following factors:

  1. Blood pressure
    A higher blood pressure of a boss would make him (with no gender bias, I would henceforth use he or him) stressed, short temper or impatient.
  2. Successes getting into his head
    If boss does not manage his successes well, these can get into his head, make him high handed and arrogant.
  3. Failures getting into his heart
    If a boss does not want to acknowledge and learn lessons from his failures, he can easily lean to rebellion and reactionary mode and mood.
  4. Perfection and Passion
    These are great qualities of a leader. If a boss imbibes these; but is not conscious of consequential pitfalls, he can turn impatient, indignant or impersonal.
  5. Ego, Emotions and Envy
    If one misunderstands his pride and position, superiority complex would sway him, giving rise to ego and emotions and his emphasis would shift to “I”. Further, if you are a stronger personality and performer, you could well attract your boss’ envy and fury, in case he feels insecure from you.
  6. Personal Ambitions
    Some bosses could be quite ambitious to grow. Therefore, their empathy with employees evaporates and focus on figures boils up.
  7. Pressure to Perform
    Often, a boss may have stretched targets for his management or market scenario could be challenging or he may be new to his role. Under all such cases, heat is in his head to show performance. Reasonable approach and attitude towards people may take back seat.
  8. Inability to Perform
    It is possible that one is prematurely promoted or he is not fit for the job. Rather than being rational to address his weaknesses, a boss can turn belligerent.

11x Golden rules to manage

Our natural tendency is to act difficult against difficult people. Many like to do it, justifying that is the way to deal. They may claim having no patience, may get short term effect and more importantly, it satisfies their ego. That’s it; nothing beyond! I can tell you this approach has helped no one worldwide. It has only made one more miserable.

If you are looking for a sure recipe to give you results and respite, look at the following golden rules. These can only help and never hurt.

  1. Greet with heart and hand (shake) daily those, who are difficult, including your boss, looking into his/her eyes.
  2. Offer your understanding and acceptance of what he is.
  3. Listen attentively and patiently, when he is communicating, with no emotion; but just smile.
  4. Don’t argue, even when he is wrong or irrational; remain poised and patient. Just tell him that you want to share your thoughts what would work and what would not; but you are willing to do what he wants (as long as it is ethical and does not harm or hurt anyone).
  5. Ensure that no bias against him bugs you.
  6. Never break communication with him, get into controversy or be critical of him.
  7. Reflect on his strengths and weaknesses, pluses and minuses. He is bound to have some good qualities. Learn from those and tell him how you are benefitted from same.
  8. Use every opportunity to complement him, when he does it right and share your views how it impacts others, when he goes wrong. Also, look for opportune time to give him your candid feedback how his attitude or approach troubles you.
  9. Leave him alone, when he is erratic or in wrong frame of mind and let go your frustration or pain with him, if any.
  10. Extend your support and wiser counsel, when he is in trouble or crisis or grappling with issues or falling short in his targets.
  11. Show your sympathy, dignity and courtesy consistently to him; he has human side too!

If you could follow as many or all of above 11x Golden Rules, you should be able to  manage more than 90% of difficult bosses or people in general, you come across. These would give you colossal comfort and confidence. More importantly, these can have impeccable impact to enhance your Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ)!

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What can bring you in Limelight?

Let me quote real life example of Peter M. (name changed), who started his engineering career 23 years back with a multinational company. He was ambitious, technically sound, sincere and diligent. His qualities saw him growing well in the organization for first 12 years. He was happy the way he was and with his accomplishments. He was put through leadership development programs. These did create impact; but limited. He used to be too busy with his routine duties and did not find time or could not fathom what he can do to bring incremental change in his qualities and character.

From 13th year, Peter’s growth started to taper down and 2 of his peers surpassed him to take up key management positions. He did not align well with his management assessment of these peers, though he knew that they are more visible, better respected by management and employees alike. He became very frustrated; however, determined to figure out how to come in the limelight and achieve a faster growth. But, his preference to focus more on his routine work brought him only limited results. Though he is now holding a management position; but his grouch is growing on being treated at par with rest of peer crowd and gap is widening with his earlier 2 peers.

Do you want to be like Peter M. or be Different and Distinguished?

Hopefully, you do not want to spend 9 to 5.00 p.m. stereo life and do desire, dare and dream to stand out. You do aspire to leave a legacy behind you, which generations would remember and revere?

10 myths and misconceptions to be discarded

  1. It is destiny, which determines my destination.
  2. I cannot influence others.
    Although we ignore how we are constantly getting influenced by others.
  3. I am not gifted like great people, who have/had God gifted talents.
  4. I cannot be very different than what my Zodiac sign suggests.
  5. I know enough; why should I break my head to know more.
  6. I have no choice, but to live with my limitations and inhibitions.
  7. If I am happy with what I am and I do; I do not need to change or take initiatives.
  8. It is more important to work for comfort than to work on constraints.
  9. It is impossible to solve all problems.
  10. I cannot drive my seniors.

10 point resolution

  1. I need to be in limelight not for popularity; but for a purpose.
    When you get it, popularity would come as an automatic consequence.
  2. If I want to be different than the crowd, then I ought to do things differently.
  3. Ideas should not remain merely in mind or as words on lips; but should become way of my life.
  4. I have immense possibilities to explore.
  5. I would have hopes for myself and heart for others.
  6. I would help; but not hurt anyone.
  7. I would not be judgmental or develop any prejudice against anyone.
  8. I would be positive.
  9. It all starts from me and ends with me.
    Hence, successes and failures are all mine.
  10. It is foolhardy to assume that my path would not be rough; but I would remain on course.

10 points to come in Limelight

  1. Be in limelight for right reasons and not for wrong ones.
    You may get tempted to be visible by raking or engaging in controversy, conflict, crisis or culpable acts; you would get thrill but troubles also!
  2. Be aware that whatever you do, it is always possible to do it differently and more efficiently. Keep exploring these possibilities; you would find one and share such info or knowledge with all stakeholders.
  3. Best differentiator for you is to innovate or create values in what you do!
    You may feel inertia or inhibition to do that; but push yourself and pursue till you get it. Set a goal for yourself that be it small or big, you would create at least one value in your work in one week. It can be as small as changing format of documentation partially for better clarity. Once you do this, you would automatically feel motivated to do more and more.
    It is important that you share and spread these with your seniors and colleagues. It is desirable that you reach wider audience through publication of these ideas and public speaking through media and other forums.
  4. Be consistent and credible in your behavior and care about comforts of your colleagues.
    It matters a lot and gets noticed.
  5. Be ethical by choice and not by fear.
  6. Bring elegance and élan in how you carry and present yourself every time!
  7. Be interactive and helpful to as many people as you can.
  8. Be composed, when you face conflicts or setbacks. Use your emotional intelligence and not emotions or ego to manage and learn from these.
  9. Be a problem solver; not a problem creator or narrator.
    People have natural tendency to do the later part; trash it.
  10. Be efficient by giving more for less – more output in less efforts or time, more meanings in less words, more love even if you get less and so on.

Believe it that if you wish to be different and distinguished, it is within your reach and realm! It is just 3×10 – 10 I’s to Ignore, 10 I’s to Imbibe and 10 B’s to Implement!!

This would be a sure shot to hog in and hug Limelight!

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