Tag Archives: leadership lessons

Leadership Skills # 3: Establishing Trust

Often times you would encounter that your safe environment changes as there are changes to the teams you work with. It is important for us to keep the following points in mind approaching such changes to give a good chance for new equations to have trust and respect:-

  • Never label people. It is good in a positive sense but not in a negative tone
  • Respect the seat if not the person
  • Do not bring emotions into your communication style
  • Remain open-minded and give the relationship a chance to prove itself over a period of time
  • Construct bullets points if doing write-first, and then bring that together into a story
  • Move from self to larger purpose when focussing on such conversations

Leadership Skills # 2: Mind the Gap

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom”

Viktor Frankl

Instant reactions to situations always yield a different kind of result. The width of the gap between stimulus and response and our subsequent power to choose is dependent on our conscious awareness of it. How we respond, what we do, and how we behave then get governed by how wider that perceived gap is for us.

Create a ‘pause’

It is always great to slow down a bit and make decisions coming from a place of little more thought and awareness. It is necessary to detach oneself from impulsive thoughts and poorly thought-out actions.

One needs to STOP, BREATHE and NOTICE what you are experiencing in a non-judgemental way. For non-critical things, go back to them when you are ready. If something is stressful, give it time and space than you would have.

Honest Reflection

Start learning to recognize this space between stimulus and response. Learn to utilize his pause and to recognize what is really going on, as opposed to what you think is going on or perhaps becoming aware of something you had previously not even noticed. Increased awareness supports a decrease in stress.

It will be inevitable to avoid knee-jerk reactions but an honest reflection is more important. We can ask ourselves: What was going on for me at that moment? What did I do to contribute to that? What can I do now to improve the situation?

The more we’re willing to take an honest look at the circumstances, events, and conflicts in our lives, the greater our ability to widen the gap in the future. We need to empower ourselves to do that!

Leadership Skills # 1: Active Listening

  1. Understand the secrets of active listening
    1. Identify Key Points
    2. Consider the Source
    3. Slow Down
    4. Keep Yourself Honest
  2. What is not active listening
    1. Being Silent
    2. Demeaning self-esteem
    3. Listening is a Competition
    4. Not being Suggestive
  3. Active Listening Visual Cue Card

Understand the secrets of active listening

Identify Key Points

When in a conversation, it would be a good idea to create a mind map of notes by capturing detailed notes that can be used to ask questions. In addition to this note down key sights and issues via short-hand notes.

The approach compromises listening intently and focussing on follow-up questions on points that really matter. The direction of travel is to convey a probing, clarifying, and shaping of thoughts.

Consider the Source

This point is important when working with peers, in and across teams. The essence is in capturing the frame of reference and context [ where are they coming from ]. Try to truly understand the other person to drive productive solutions. the end outcome may not turn out to be from any one of the tabled options. A conversational environment will lead to more acceptable solutions.

Slow Down

It is important to slow down, and not act upon the information one already has. Replay thoughts back and ensure that both parties are clear on what was said.

Keep Yourself Honest

Try to find a mirror to reflect on your behavior, and find a colleague that can provide you with honest feedback. Importantly one needs to reflect on whether one understands what was said, the person’s point of view, the context, and emotion as well. Did you ensure that the person was heard and understood?

What is not active listening

Being Silent

Active listening is not being about silent but it is about periodically asking the right questions and gently challenging old assumptions. It is a two-way dialog rather than a one-way “speaker versus hearer” interaction.

Demeaning self-esteem

Do not through your conversations make people feel unsupported or perceived as having a negative experience. One needs to create a safe environment for things to be discussed openly.

Listening is a Competition

Poor listeners are seen as competitive and listen to identify errors in reasoning or logic. We are not looking for an excellent debater but to be perceived as a listener who is trying to help and not wanting to win an argument.

Not being Suggestive

It is important to be suggestive and identify the people who are active listeners as well as see how their suggestions can be put into action. Open alternative paths through conversations.

Active Listening Visual Cue Card

Ashleigh Barty & Rafael Nadal #Respect

Australian Open-2022 has symbolized that game always wins ! Ever more it has led to creation of history in both women’s and men’s category of singles ! It has been a story of grit , patience and endurance , which I feel are important qualities to imbibe in today’s time , be it personal or professional life.

Ash Barty Vs Danielle Collins Australian Open 2022

  • A game win of straight sets in final 6-3, 7-6 (2) over Danielle Collins
  • Ash Barty won the first set with one service break
  • Ash Barty was down 5-1 in the second set after dropping serve in the second and sixth games. Barty dominated after taking the set to a tiebreaker, racing to a 4-0 lead
  • Barty has ended Australia’s wait for a local women’s champion. By reaching the final, she became the first Aussie in the last match of the tournament since 1980 and by winning the title, she has become the first Aussie since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to lift the title – ending a 44 year wait

Nadal Vs Medvedev Australian Open 2022

  • Rafael Nadal has beaten Daniil Medvedev 2-6,6-7,6-4,6-4,7-5
  • The game lasted for 5 hours and 24 minutes
  • Rafael Nadal won his second Australian Open title and lifted a record 21st Grand Slam trophy
  • Coming from two sets down in the title clash, Nadal rallied to defeat Daniil Medvedev

Public life , especially of sports personalities has lot of influence , impact and expectation generation from society. Carrying the ‘world No. 1, top seed’ targets on her back, and hopes of a nation on her shoulders, Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian player to win the Australian Open singles title since 1978. During the fortnight that ended a 44-year wait, Barty had her full repertoire on display. The kick serve aka “the hopper”. The one-handed slice, two-handed drive backhands. The forehand dripping with heavy topspin. Risky drop shots, opportune volleys, and the all elite overhead. Playing a team sport gave her a sense of belonging, made her a better person, says her Big Bash coach Andy Richards. You have to learn skills to created differentiation lest you end up doing different things as opposed to doing it differently.

The Kick Serve aka “The Hopper”

Watch more here for analysis

The Mightiest !

Doubts of Rafael coming back have surface every now and then. When 2013 began, many people doubted if it was possible for Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam again. His knee injury had taken a toll on his health as well as his career. Later half of 2021 , a month and a half after the recovery from foot surgery entering into Australian Open , left him wondering if he would even make it to Melbourne, and a month after he had Covid, which also interrupted his preparations, Nadal is back as champion and for now, the most successful of the lot!!

It is amazing to see how throughout an incredible career the hunger for titles and sheer enthusiasm for the sport is maintained & sustained . No matter what the obstacle is or the advancing of time, winning brings joy of that equivalent to his first win!! We need to have that spirit of hunger in ourselves if we have to keep going!

Mind power over body power. It was true in 2013 & is also now ! It is not possible to simply come back from a career threatening injury and start hitting the big shots. Physical prowess is great but it is Nadal’s mental fortitude that has been the mainstay of his rise to the top of the game. Nadal knows how to train his mind in order to get the results he needs.

Nothing in writing can convey the spirit of the sport and the inviduals who make it glorious.

Leadership Lessons From The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

In my last blog I talked about new normal and how things have changed in post-COVID era.  The following blog para-phrases key leadership lessons I picked from the movie about William Kamkwamba The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind .

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a movie based on William Kamkwamba’s life in Africa and how he saved his village. After just barely being able to go to school, the dry season hits, leaving his parents poor and their farm dead. Even though he technically still isn’t supposed to be at school, William sneaks in after the morning assembly as to go by unnoticed. He did this because he was inspired by the dynamo on his teacher’s bike. Eventually, he was discovered and kicked out of the school, but since his sister was secretly dating his teacher, William essentially blackmailed him into letting him use the library. Later, he makes a model windmill, and after a lot of persuasion, he got his father to sacrifice his bike so that he could make a larger windmill. This windmill fuels a well and keeps his family farm out of the dry season all year.

Once you give this movie a watch , there are aspects of leadership and execution William exhibits which are noteworthy in these testing times of pandemic and beyond.

Iterative approach to problem solving

William’s approach of solving the problem was iterative – a quality which was essential for him to be what he is today a – Malawian inventor . When you iterate & build prototypes then you get a sense of what you are working on and how it can be scaled. From paper to reality , do not forget to iterate else one never knows what is missing in the puzzle to solve the problem. William started from a book which inspired him to make the windmill , proved that it works to his friends and then took the moon-shot for to build the real windmill. In current pandemic vaccines will come through by doing more test and trial , one needs to keep iterating through it at a fast pace and collaborate globally.

Creativity In Frugality

Current pandemic crisis has shown that one does not have luxury of options and if you are not going to be creative , then it will be struggle from sustaining your meals , work & personal life. You can quickly go out of control & whether it is a drought in Malawi which forced William to think about a solution or current pandemic , it has same forbearance of the impact it has on humans. William is known to have constructed a wind turbine from scavenged parts.  You might be used to seeing something fancy but here is the image of William’s windmill. 


Lead By Example

It is always important to do lead by example . One can have a idea but it is not relevant unless you prove it and show it that is a workable idea with some more effort. In William’s case, he researched how dynamos and windmills work before he tried to get hands on with them. Had he not done that, he would have been at risk of breaking the dynamo. It is important to be confident about your plan and how you intend to get it through with others. In current pandemic situation leaders in any capacity do not have to just be bearer of information but will have to embrace it themselves more than ever.

Team Is Important

When William Kamkwamba decided that it was time to get things to work, he had to make his friends understand that without them, he would be damned. You need a team that is on the same page as you are. It doesn’t matter if it’s only one person on the team! We have to have a team and work as a team for an effective response to the pandemic. Any kind of of discord will not help cure , save and protect lives !

Need To Be On The Problem

Persistence is important part of problem solving , if you loose heart then you will not be able to solve the problem. Iterations will bring heart-breaks and failures but one cannot put them in front of solving the real issue at hand. One needs to persuade different people at different levels in order to meet with a successful outcome. If William didn’t have the skill of persuasion, his father would never have let him use his bike. And he would have never persuaded his sister to convince his teacher to give him the dynamo.  In current crisis one needs to communicate broadly and effectively. It is also important to remain on top of the problem and organize the teams to deliver towards a successful outcome.

I hope these reflections are useful to my readers who are trying to tackle various types of issues at different levels. If you have any thoughts to share , please do not hesitate to write back to me or post a comment!