Tag Archives: Psychology

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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Why 360 degree Evaluation has more Pitfalls than Prizes!

Everything has its pluses and minuses; so does 360 degree evaluation system! Feedback is always good and welcome; but the systems and methods of giving the same do not necessarily serve us well. It is also not that its pluses and minuses would be equal in number or magnitude. 360 degree evaluation or assessment has gained mass appeal and hence most organizations and individuals put their faith in it; but that is blind folded, unless its prizes and pitfalls are understood! Let us also not forget, what appeals to most is generally a mistake!!

Upside of 360 degree Evaluation system

  1. Provides great opportunity to learn “what is the impression and opinion of people, with whom you are involved – supervisor, sub-ordinates, peers, co-workers and customers, about you”.
  2. An occasion for self – analysis and assessment.
  3. Possibility of correcting your own perception.
  4. Helps you to chart out a course to change and improve.
  5. But, what is generally not understood or spoken about is:
    Beneficiaries are also those, who give the feedback!
    Normally, people carry vague ideas about others, even if they have been dealing and interacting with others for years. Process of calibrating a feedback actually helps the people to crystallize their thoughts about how and why they think or perceive others in one way or another. That, in turn, helps them tremendously in better understanding and improving their relationship with others!

Downside of the system

Evaluate now the Evaluation system carefully:

  1. Giving feedback is equivalent to making a fair judgment of other’s attitude, behavior, competence and performance.
    How good the people are at above? Unfortunately, most are not!
  2. Quality of feedback is directly related to quality and characteristics of the people giving it. A bad quality can completely overshadow good quality of the person, for whom feedback is intended!
    But, the reverse is not true i.e. good quality of assessor would never favor or protect bad qualities of one being assessed!!
  3. Psychologically, the opinions and impressions of humans are mainly dictated by last 1 or 2 instances or experiences; whereas, need for good feedback has to be governed by observations and understanding over a good length of period!
    So, very often feedback is completely misplaced in view of above limitation, which most are unable to overcome.
  4. More than 90% of people on our planet suffer from biases. Therefore, their impressions bear more imprints of their biases than real performance and potential of the person, for whom feedback is intended!
  5. If one being assessed has too good or too bad performance, people would usually lack courage to put the same in writing. Instead, they prefer to dilute it.
  6. Research and analysis show that most tend to tick around the center of the scale for a given parameter or question.
  7. Even if feedback survey is made anonymous, the assessor tends to believe that one being assessed (i.e. assesse) may somehow figure out his/her name. So, assessor has tendency to please him/her, even when that is not warranted.
  8. Often, it has been seen that if an assessor has heard of opinions of other people about the assesse, those become part of his/her opinion too and hence, feedback may lack honest assessment of one giving it!
  9. In many cases, assesse is requested to name or select his 360 degree assessors, except obviously for supervisor.
    It is but natural that assesse would select and name those, who he/she believes are favorable to him/her! This is a fact, most would not admit!
    Surprisingly, often your detractors may give you true feedback; but you would desist to choose them as your assessor!!
  10. Many assessors tend to be goody type and hence, their feedback is generally good; but not honest.
    It is not a joke; but a reality – many give feedback in the spirit of “give and take”. So, give good one and get back likewise now or later!

What to discern out of 360 degree?

So, there are more pitfalls than prizes in 360 degree Evaluation system!

However good the feedback system or methods may be designed, these would work well only if:

  • We become free from biases.
  • We are sincere, serious and conscious in making fair judgment on others.
  • We realize our responsibility as assessor or assesse and own it.
  • We have character and courage to be candid.
  • We treat feedback as mirror image of what we are in others’ eyes and accept/respect it!

Very pertinent point, which emerges out of above, is that both assesse and assessor benefit from good quality feedback!

Lastly, those, who are conscious to change and become better, believe in figuring out feedback from the response or reaction of others for their own attitude and actions on-the-spot. They do not wait for a formal feedback. As a rule, formal feedback, if given scrupulously, cannot spring any surprise to such people!!

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Nature’s untold secret – Why West of most places is more developed than East!

Look at western hemisphere of the globe; you would find that most of it is more developed, in terms of being modern and advanced, than eastern hemisphere (leave Japan and Australia out of the discussions for the time being). Go down to Continental level say Europe. Western European countries are more developed than East European countries. Now, move down to country levels. Take United States – western states like California, Washington etc. have been the first to bring scientific and technological advancements not only in USA; but also in the world. West of Russia is far more advanced than its eastern side. Western India is much more developed than its eastern counterpart.

Now, I want you to take you through amazing coincidence – western side of Mumbai Local railways had been strikingly richer, more advanced and developed than east side! It is only because of saturation and rising costs in western suburbs in Mumbai, that attention now is getting focused to develop east side.

A caution in this analysis – please do not split the hairs. Look at the overall scenario and trends at levels of masses and major areas, to understand the synthesis of this article. The notion of east relative to west just comes from the direction of rotation of earth and how “zero or starting time line (arbitrary) for a new calendar day was fixed somewhere on right side of New Zealand on 2-Nov-1868”. By that token, New Zealand (NZ) becomes the first eastern country; but if the same zero time line was to be fixed on left side of NZ, then NZ would have become last western country on earth! So, these notions of east and west are just human made; not absolute in any sense.

In short, every place, which we call as “eastern” could be west of “western” in one rotation of earth. So, please do not be surprised that at many places, east part is more developed than west!

Now, you would also notice a diagonally opposite feature of east. Eastern side is generally richer in culture, art, literature, traditions and spirituality. It beholds old values. On the other hand, west is more modern, materialistic, rationalist, propagator of new values, which may not have linkage to traditions, culture or spiritual values!

What is beneath such a great contrast between two hemispheres of globe to two opposite sides of a railway track – East & West? Is it a mere coincidence or a causal phenomenon?

It is not a coincidence!

Did you watch spectacular millennium celebrations in NZ and at Sydney Harbor in Australia at 12 midnight of 31-Dec-1999? They were among first to celebrate! Now, authorities or group of individuals watching these in San Francisco, USA could have improved upon and done even better, as they had nearly 24 hours in hands for their millennium night to come!

Moral of the story is West has got at least more than 52,000 opportunity days per person till date since year 1868, compared to East to improve upon ideas and develop more in relative terms. But, it is not that East was completely blind to what West was doing during that period. So, we can say West had better possibilities to develop on net-net basis.

What is the Secret?

Have weather, geography and natural resources i.e. natural factors in general helped West as opposed to East? It does not seem to be the case. Moreover, these would be frivolous, when we consider this phenomenon for the same city or state!

Evaluate the following:

Note – we are talking below of overall behavior of large section of population at a given place and not individuals yet!

  1. Psychologically, when we start a new calendar day, we tend to focus fresh on new or older ideas/thoughts.
  2. As the calendar day progresses, our focus shifts to things, issues or events, that have occurred in immediate past or just before.
  3. Towards end of the calendar day, we usually get time to brood over things of previous day and prior time! But, by then most people run out of time or energy or both. Even if new information or events occur at that time, on an average, people tend to lie low, as the day is getting over.
  4. What has been happening in East –
    1. Behavior pattern in East has been predominantly centered on point 1 above, as it sees and is subject to calendar day first. It is like a fresh start with less recourse to prior info!
    2. Above, over decades and centuries, has led to development of new and consolidation of old culture, art, traditions, spirituality etc.
    3. Modernization and rationalization took a relative back seat, because of split focus on point 3 above. Point 2 has kept East engaged with current and on-going problems.
  5. What has been going on with West –
    1. West has a unique opportunity of knowing longer history of a calendar day during their part of the day! For example, USA is able to see and evaluate events of the whole day in East as well as witness their own on the same very date; Europe and U.K. do it partly.
      It is like a start with substantial prior info!
    2. Therefore, actions of West shifts more to point 2 as compared to 1 and towards end of its day, West has the possibility of knowing new and early events in East for the next Calendar day!!
    3. Above has enabled West to learn better lessons from what had happened in East, better prepared to make improvements, innovations and add new values. This also resulted in their shunning older order, seeking new and making them more rationalists.
      This is one single biggest factor for scientific and technological advancements coming from West!

Note – One could always counter argue against above by saying in East, one or several individuals can or actually do work very long and in night to beat the effect of a calendar day. But, we are talking of behavioral pattern and efforts of several million people over decades and centuries, which have impacted development of countries and regions!

What needs to be recognized is how an Arbitrary Line for start of a calendar day on right side of NZ and effect of day’s cycle on human psychology has made all the difference in different regions of our planet!!

Now, coming to why above secret has not applied to Japan and to some extent to Australia/NZ. Do not be surprised, if I say the Secret does apply to them also. Look at closely the behavior and work culture of Japanese people. They have been functioning as West side of West, even if it has meant to be one day’s cycle latter. They have stuck to it; working harder, longer and disciplined to reach 2nd top position, even after ruins of World War II. Australia and NZ have followed Japanese example; but only partly.

So, what is the Message?

Contrast between West and East clearly proves that if you can learn from the past in every day’s cycle and then, make efforts to improve and innovate, you would bring terrific technological and scientific advancements. If you like to look fresh at new or older ideas at the start of every day cycle, you may not discover new or get stuck with old ones.

And, this becomes a precursor to redoubtable and reassuring revelation of a new subject of the next post on CYI!

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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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