Tag Archives: Dedication

Six leadership lessons highly worth learning from psychology of a physician

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Be your own physician?

We all know that medical practice in any field is a noble profession; but what is little known are unique lessons that we should learn from the mindset of a medical practitioner. We are talking about just a good physician, leave alone successful ones.

Let us look at what does psychology of a physician teach us:

  1. Managing conflict of interest
    Getting into medical profession entails lot of efforts, time and money worldwide. It is natural that motto of getting into this field for most is earning name, fame and wealth.
    It is also clear that every visit to or by a physician fetches a fee for him/her.
    Now, a physician is faced with conflict of interest – treat his/her patients or customers for self-interest or serve them selflessly. Good doctors would always manage this conflict by rising above self and greed, and serve customers keeping in mind their interests. They prescribe minimum medicines and pathological tests and discourage patients to make frequent visits. Many have grace to charge less fees from those, who can’t afford.
    Let us draw a parallel to above the stock options scheme in corporates for employees and top management. Such options have a singular motive of driving employees to perform well, so that company profitability improves, which in turn would reward employees with more options. But, when it comes to top management, conflict of interest creeps in – should company performance improve to increase value of his/her substantial stocks or should it improve to increase values for customers and employees, even if it means slight dent in company’s profitability? Many CEOs allegedly and subtly act in favor of the former – serving self-interest.
  2. Maximum availability
    A physician is available 24×7 to his/her patients, at least in India. Their work-life balance is heavily tilted towards work.
    I am not suggesting that it is good for them, although it is good for their customers. What is more significant lesson is that they don’t make any excuse for non-availability. Their dedication for duties is total.
  3. Memory management
    Did you notice that a good doctor’s memory is very good. He/she would remember history of his/her patients correctly, correct medicines’ name, spelling (usually complex), potency and names of manufacturers for innumerable number of ailments and case histories of other patients.
    What is the key – inbuilt sharper brain or they pop up some pills to sharpen their memory? Not any of these. It is registering the information without any conflict in mind and recalling it without any stress.
  4. Motto of service to customers
    A physician’s actions are completely oriented towards his/her customers and obtaining the results for which they have approached him/her. They never compromise their attitude to serve.
  5. Maximum confidence and concentration
    Successful practitioners give their advice or prescription with total confidence and rarely side or back track. Their focus on duties is deep.
    They are never shaken by patient’s condition, however adverse and do maintain their composure effortlessly. They are attached to their duties but detached from their customers while serving them unflinchingly.
  6. Marvelous understanding of their own body
    In leadership programs or schools, reference to this quality is by and large missing. It is extremely important to understand how you or your body would react to different situations, what triggers your emotions and how to manage the same.
    Doctors do very well on above count and hence, rarely fall sick or fall prey to sickening situations.
    A good leader needs to understand his/her body (including mind) well in order to be robust, consistent and persistent in his/her pursuits.

So, a good physician is a great case study at business schools and organizations!

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Dramatic difference in following Ethics and Morals by fear versus choice!

Results of doing it by Choice! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

High standards of ethics and morals are expected to be followed in all civilized societies. But sadly speaking, I have not come across any organized teaching of ethics and morals, as part of curriculum in schools and colleges in any country. Yes, there are laws to punish for violation of ethics. Unwritten norms for maintaining morals are practiced by individuals, based upon their perceptions of what constitutes high standards.

Every respectable company across the globe has strong ethics policy, which every employee is expected to honor. In case of non-compliance, company policy would state the punishment up to termination of employment and penalties. One of the most common elements in such policy is “No discrimination or harassment at work”. Yet, I have witnessed in many corporates that managers or managements subtly or obscurely discriminate or harass employees in some form or another, which naturally go with impunity.

Banes of being under fear!

Yes, instilling fear for essential practices is better than allowing non-compliances; but there are few serious implications of such fear factor:

  1. Nothing tangible can fructify, while under fear!
  2. You cannot realize truly value of what you are doing, if under pressure or fear.
  3. You would comply overtly; but be tempted to violate covertly.
  4. Your potential would be leashed by fear or stress.
  5. Fear encourages rebellion at opportune time and kills openness.
  6. You would lose your drive and would need fear or pressure to drive you.

It is because of above that many organizations tend to keep violations under wraps, for fear of losing their reputation, even though violations eventually burst out inflicting bigger damages. Further, very often, we make a virtue out of the label that “we are God fearing”. Fearing God only reflects guilt! Real devotion converts fear into dedication. Fearlessness inspires seamlessness between devotee and deity, not a divide due to fear!

Let us change our notions. Fear may be good for novices to start with; but bound to be frustrating, when novices turn knowledgeable!

Blessings of doing it by choice!

Anything done by choice flourishes! Look at tremendous benefits:

  1. When you adopt ethics, morals and for that reason, any virtue by choice, you can comprehend, evaluate and experience their true values.
  2. It makes you confident and courageous.
  3. It encourages you to be open and upright.
  4. Doing it by choice puts you in driver’s seat!
  5. Choices create devotion and dedication. The net result is true ownership on being ethical and morally strong.
  6. You would automatically inspire your fellow beings to follow what you stand for.
  7. It serves a purpose larger than yourself and that drives tremendous sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in you!

This suggests that there is a dire need to change our teaching curriculum in schools and training courses in companies or institutions. While these can talk about implications of non-compliances; focus should be on coaching (a) why there is no alternative to being ethically and morally sound and (b) how to adopt good values by choice and not for factor of fear.

If we do the above, it would give us a new sense of purpose and direction. It would infuse in us inspiration, enormous energy, enduring motivation and excellent drive! 

So, would you not like to be a citizen, an individual, who puts ethics and morals above self?

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Pleasant way to give unpleasant feedback!


“Giving feedback” is a great tool or means to communicate your views about other’s performance. But most in every walk of life, especially corporates, mess up with it, rather than making it pleasant and purposeful! Let us look at how feedback from a supervisor to subordinate can be conducted to make it congenial for both; particularly if it happens to be adverse.

Take a pause and ponder over the purpose

Most mistakes happen for lack of understanding and sticking to the purpose for doing a thing! Hence, it is of utmost importance that you remind yourself of following tenets of a feedback.

If you are a supervisor

  1. You have a responsibility to understand and evaluate performance of your sub-ordinate fairly.
  2. Set goals for each employee, which are measurable as far as possible and lay down your expectations in writing.
    Maintain concise record of +/- deviations in performance of your team members on a regular basis.
    This is very important; so never dilute it!
  3. Go beyond biases and emotions against subordinate.
    It is not easy; but keep doing it.
  4. Remind yourself that you are sitting on destiny of someone, who has a family to support. You can make or mar it!
  5. Feedback is essentially meant to articulate your assessment in the manner that recipient can relate and register it and help him/her to improve; under no case it is meant for reprimanding or retribution!

If you correctly comprehend the above, you would realize that it is something, which would also help you immensely to develop your leadership skills!

If you are a subordinate

  1. Your endeavors should be to align what you do to meet the goals set and expectations of your supervisor.
    Don’t ignore or undermine importance of above.
  2. You are an examinee, who should be interested in knowing result of your performance. You should definitely make your self-assessment; but be clear that you are not entitled to give actual marks to self. That is the job of examiner i.e. your supervisor.
  3. Treat feedback as extremely valuable tool to learn direction of your efforts.
    If it is good, then your direction is right. If it is not, you have to know what is right and change your track and gears accordingly.

Be offbeat and break off from traditional methods

Research shows that conventional methods of giving feedback don’t bring great results and trigger a change. These actually bring lot of maladies. Here below is what you can:

  1. Feedback should be as frequent as you feel the need to help improve performance of your team; but any case not less than twice a year.
    Avoid blunder of timing it with annual wage increases and promotions.
  2. Take away the hype around feedback. It should be life as usual.
  3. Before calling a team member for feedback session, ask him/her (now onward, he/his has been used without any gender bias) to do self-assessment.
  4. As supervisor:
    1. Don’t jump straight into feedback discussion; ask subordinate how he is doing and make him comfortable.
    2. Ask employee to tell you about his self-assessment and listen to him carefully and take down your notes.
    3. Then tell employee you now want to share your thoughts, however adverse or good these may be, and help him to improve.
    4. In self-assessment, if employee has presented a picture that everything is hunky-dory with his performance contrary to your assessment, then advise him:
      1. What are the gaps you see and cite some examples.
      2. Do not be critical; but be candid.
      3. If employee goes offensive or defensive, give him patient hearing.
        Normal tendency of an employee in such a case is to pass buck to anything else; except self.
      4. If employee’s arguments make sense, be prompt to accept (but then you need to focus on quality of your own assessment or flaw in system which is feeding information to you).
      5. But, usually when one is offensive or defensive, there exist deficiencies!
        So, you have an opportunity to coach him that how attitude to lay blame elsewhere by itself is crux of problem and prevents him to perform well. Now, give direction how he can improve.
      6. If employee agrees with your assessment effortlessly, compliment him handsomely. Such employees have best possibility to change.
    5. Include your views on employee’s sincerity, focus, dedication, diligence and other personal qualities with advice how to improve or strengthen same.
    6. Demonstrate your commitment to reward employees commensurate with results they show.

This way, you would be free from conflicts during feedback session, establish your credibility, enhance employee’s values and upgrade your own leadership skills!

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Your Barriers mainly come from your Notions, Perceptions and Traits

In Corporate and elsewhere, we always talk of barriers and the need to overcome these. But unfortunately, in none of the debates, discussions or development programs it is brought out what makes barriers to surface and how to manage those. The main source for barriers is your own Notions, Perceptions and Traits (NPT). Are you surprised?

It is a simple nature’s law that “What Helps could also Hurt”.

Understanding NPT

Notion, Perception and Trait belong to same family of human characteristics, which is responsible to build up our understanding or belief and helps us to respond /act. If we were to put these on a scale, then notion would be on the left end and can undergo change easily and trait would be right end, which is hard to change like our habits. Perception resides in the middle and plays the most significant role in our behavior and responses.

How N-P-Ts are born or built?

There is general agreement among experts in field of psychology, psychiatry, philosophy etc. that notions and perceptions are created and built by situational comprehensions. But, the traits are fixed from birth and genes; this may be only partially true. Following factors and situations play strong role in giving birth or building human NPT:

  1. Comprehension from routine observations, communications and discussions – reading, hearing, viewing and all such activities, which activate our sensory responses.
  2. Influence from whom you feel the awe – your role model, mentor, leader, boss, one you respect most or are obsessed with. Mind it, opposite is also true – you also get impacted by whom you indeed hate or feel repulsive!
  3. Factors, you believe have given you success, ecstasy, fun or failure.
  4. Crisis, conflicts or controversies at any stage of your life or time play a critical role to build your NPT.
  5. Childhood memories, in particular, provide strong dosage to build NPT!

An individual would have several notions, perceptions and traits, some of which may be right or others wrong, may be in synchronization with realities or against. Right N/P/T would give right results. The ones, which are wrong and out of sync with realities, create barriers.

All of above sources are essentially observations, which always translate into your memories (including images). These then branch out into your notions, perceptions and traits, apart from knowledge, information, emotions etc. We can draw strong analogy of NPT with how a computer memory works:

Main memory – RAM <—> Cognitive part of human memory, channeling info between senses and memory stored in brain

Hard disc memory <—> Knowledge and information storage in brain

Cache memory <—> Emotions (happiness, pleasure, anger frustration, ego..)

Read-only memory – ROM <—> Genetic info, which partly contributes to traits and habits

You can, now, comprehend that:

  • Notions are your “repetitive and reinforced” knowledge/info and stored like on Hard Disc in brain. Hence, these can be over written or changed with new observations; but do need efforts!
  • Perceptions are actually combination of your “notions, emotions and traits”. The emotions part of perceptions is stored like Cache memory and notions as above. To some extent, perceptions are influenced by traits, which are stored as mentioned below.
    It is because of “emotions + trait” part, which makes it harder for you to change your perceptions as compared to notions.
  • Traits are combination of “some part of genetic info and emotions”. The genetic part of info is stored like ROM and emotions like Cache memory.
    This is the most difficult combination to change; but not impossible.

Revisit and rediscover some of very common NPTs

Notions

  1. Employee friendly approach would only raise their expectations to unmanageable level.
    But, someone shows you can be friendly, which motivates them; yet manage their expectations at reasonable level.
  2. Working long and hard is dedication and sincerity to company.
    However, a true leader says this is bunk! It is all about working smart, efficient and with ownership!
  3. People get influenced and impacted by forceful expressions and plentiful explanations.
    But, people are actually swayed by short and simple sentences, and savvy manners.
  4. Keep a distance from difficult bosses or colleagues.
    When you get in more difficulties, you realize that you can only manage by narrowing distances.
  5. You can’t change others!
    Next day, you hear your leader or celebrity saying “Change is the only constant in Universe” and decide to drive a change. What would you change, if you have already erected a barrier??

Perceptions

  1. Mind and soul are 2 separate entities in our body.
    No branch of science has any clue what and where these are in our body.
  2. Heaven and Hell are located somewhere in Universe.
    Science has no evidence; but have experimentally found out everything – galaxies, stars etc, are moving away from us. Are Heaven and Hell also moving away from us?
  3. My destiny is fixed by date and time of my birth and traits by my Zodiac sign.
    Where and in what form/ language (there are many in our world!) the destiny has been written and what makes it fixed when everything is in dynamic state in Universe!
  4. I can do my best; but if I do not get results, it is my bad luck!
    You believe that you are doing your best; but it is actually not! Reality is if you do really best, you just cannot fail!
  5. God is everywhere!
    Then, why we keep seeking Him at specific places and keep fracturing above very belief?

Traits

  1. Suspicious in nature and hence your 1st reaction or response is to doubt.
    On leadership platform, you boast the relevance of trust!
  2. Negativism and pessimism – 1st thoughts always around possibility of failure and what is if things go wrong.
    And you believe leading by example and motivating your team?
  3. Highlight virtues and hide vices!
    But, preach honesty and transparency to employees/public?
  4. Pick on what is not done or not there, instead of praising what is done or appreciate what is there.
    But, lose no time to boast of being broad-minded and request people to be rational and reasonable!
  5. Throw towel in the face of difficulties!
    And advocate managerial courage and conviction to win?

Towards the End

One can, now, understand how your own Notions, Perceptions and Traits not merely create barriers; actually can block and choke your way forward.

Puzzling paradox is that as long as you hang around with your N-P-Ts, there no way for you to realize that there is something wrong and needs to change!

So, how to figure out what is right or wrong, real or unreal of your N-P-Ts, please wait for my next Post.

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