Tag Archives: Leadership

Power of Letting Go & Leadership

Through second half of 2019 , I experienced lot of open ends around me. It was related to everything from not feeling well , to meeting deadlines & managing expectations. I had started to miss my runs and schedule. I was beginning to stress over all & how things were going to unfold.

Realization : It was time to retrospect!

I am still in early phases of this , but I wanted to share one of the dimensions that I am trying to put in place related to power in letting go ! I realized that balancing aspiration , controlling all tiny details and continuously structuring was leading to what I call over-indexing!  From what I have read and observed , continuity can only be maintained if we focus on what we are doing and when our part is done then shift it into background and / or move on to something else.

ankush-minda-VcD5OD2jDGA-unsplash

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

As leaders you might be thinking about tomorrow or yesterday as it pertains to the topic at hand but as you do so , keep following things in mind:

Having a Clear Goal

Be clear of the goal you are trying to reach and differentiate between what “snaps-you” versus what is the actual “pain”. Having that in mind allows one to goo little deep in defining goals and objectives that are more sustainable and avoids us to slip in chaos. This way you may be able to iterate for longer duration.

If this is not the case it will lead to many starts & stops thus creating higher involvement towards delivering purpose.

Operating Boundaries

For you as a leader to operate with more bandwidth given multi-tasking is necessary evil , setting operating boundaries and see that the network effect takes care to connect you to the goals with others around you. We talk about connected world but then suffer to operate with our personal baselines in attempt to move faster. Establish accountability & coach people to exercise their judgement.

Do not benchmark everything centered around yourself as leader. You will never be able to let go if that remains the case. 

Informal & short-run feedback

Improve your ability to give feedback to your network so that it improves its efficiency to collaborate & deliver results. Over sustained period of time feedback loops activate creativity at problem solving and thus aid towards a broader balancing act in the system.

As a person , you need to trust the network or else you would not get into cadence of letting go.

Coach To Lead

If by any stretch one deems himself to be in leadership position , the onus to find and groom people to lead is very pertinent. This is not very easy and will not come fast. It is time taking & involving exercise. If the network around you has to respond to future then we need more from within to lead and carry the weight.

It is matter of time , when you as a leader will start feeling the pain of not having focused on this , thus creating a pull back effect – an impediment towards our desire to let go.

Hope this helps current and future leaders to create a healthy balance that helps to practice the power of letting go . I am personally trying to put these in action as I realize life is a marathon and not 100-meters dash!

Welcome 2020!…#motivation

I did a reflective post in 2019 , where I summarized small things that can help us in pushing towards your personal and / or professional goals. Maintaining that tradition , I have come up with a set from 2019 now , that I would like to share with my readers. Even if any one of these help you push the dial , I will be a very happy person! & if you have your own reflections , then please do leave them as comments 🙂

 

Walk on water“Walk on water” by paullancaster1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For me year 2018 moving into 2019 was about #keepgoing and now from 2019 to 2020 is about #motivation. This could be for anything but it is necessary to have #motivation

#be-uncomfortable 

This one is my favorite , I guess over years my biggest driver for motivation!

If you think that you are spinning wheels everyday then talk to your peers or manager about this. For others who may think entitlements( work from home , comfortable office location etc.)  are necessary for best case outcome , should know that we are part of a large human experiment! . One should know that people who always retrospect whether they deserve all the privileges are the ones who shape the future of a mission as they get up every morning to better themselves and make themselves feel worthy.

So being uncomfortable is something you should embrace. Putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. This unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things.

#keep-yourself-updated

This one thing which is very important. Things around us are changing very fast. The change of pace is increasing and if you are not aware of landscape , do not read books , articles , then you will be totally out of context to start a conversation or hold up to one. It is very necessary tool that allows you to foster relationships , collaborate and connect in the age of distributed economy.

#take-care-of-people

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs. In his book ‘The Hard Thing about Hard Things’ he shares his experience of being a founder-CEO and the hard decisions he has had to make.

One of the things he mentioned in the book struck me alot:-

TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE, THE PRODUCTS, AND THE PROFITS—IN THAT ORDER
― Ben Horowitz

#stay-fit

This is a carry over goal. I do not think this is going to go off my list 🙂 . Remaining fit is very important to have positive and open mind towards solving problems. It also reduces friction & improves efficiency for sustainable future & society.

Wishing all my readers a very happy and prosperous 2020 !

Micromanage Self!

There is a Chinese proverb “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still”.  We would never find a problem in employees that solve problems , are result oriented and are just good at there job , but this same attitude prevents one from being effective.

Steven Covey once summed it up that “We accomplish all what we do through delegation – either to time or to other people” . So yes one can do anything but not everything! It is important that one delegates to create space and opportunity both for self or individual. It helps find time for self and allows people around you to grow.

There are some approaches that can help one to get into the above mode. In general and at large hiring good talent is key to the process of delegation followed by a loose boundary of guard-rails with a let-it go attitude. Holding too tight to something is most severe damage one can to your own prospect or team morale.

Here are quick approach directions to think and dwell upon:

  1. Resource to work relationship is of that which has least friction. Find natural alignment of talent to type of work. Trying to over-train somebody into a role , can sometimes be self-defeating goal. Generally people do not speak up , but it is true , everybody is not meant to do everything !
  2. Set absolute performance benchmarks and guidelines but do not take away element of discretion in your management approach.  Be a minimalist who gives enough for people to deduce , operate and deliver.
  3. Play out your bets in conjunction to insight # 1. World is not a perfect place & therefore one has to try it out. Trying out people will allow you to either get better folks than you or may be they fail. If they fail , then one needs to take that as temporal set-back and focus on absolute performance.

Do not be a mechanical  about your choices and over-trying one option for delegation is not an option , that is termed more a fearful move to avoid failure ! In end , if you do not micromanage self , you will not identify streams that can be mapped out and get an understanding when to fan-in versus out!

Welcome 2019!…#keepgoing

While working through 2018 & reflecting back , I have gathered small reflections that have helped me personally to balance and continue to move another year in sustainable manner & yes there is no midlife crisis neither the musings of nirvana but pure realistic facts that have moved me all along the year gone by!

#stop-look-go

Very necessary that we pace ourselves and not go for the plunge directly. In world where agile , iterations , test & learn seem to be over-powering our traditional approaches , there seems to be no substitute for some amount of planning and pacing before one approaches his or her objectives. 

#value-at-work

Always question is your work another transaction output of an employment contract or are you delivering value while enjoying at work?

Working hard is different than working efficiently. just achieving a desired output does not mean much in today’s world so if you are having a flat tone , not re-inventing your own working styles then it is time to introspect. Identify your limiting factors to bring more joy to your work – #stop-look-go

paul-skorupskas-59950-unsplash.jpgPaul Skorupskas

#avoid-system-traps

Adapted from Thinking In Systems authored by Donella H. Meadows

When playing sustainable and long innings you can become susceptible to system trap of “eroding goals.” It is also called the “boiled frog syndrome,” from the old story (I don’t know whether it is true) that a frog put suddenly in hot water will jump right out, but if it is put into cold water that is gradually heated up,  it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. A drift slow enough can erase the memory of (or belief in) how much better things used to be, everyone is lulled into lower and lower expectations, lower effort, lower performance.

Always mark yourself with absolute standards regardless of your performance. Consider failures as temporary blocks towards achievement higher longer term goals. Always be reminded as a team this can have a catastrophic effect on end-goals

#stay-fit

Remaining fit is very important to have positive and open mind to solving problems, and reduce friction to improve efficiency for sustainable future & society. 

#keepgoing with #focus , have a happy and productive 2019!

The T.E.A.M

For last few years working across multiple organizations I have been involved and / or led many green field technology initiatives that are geared at bootstrapping new markets , re-platform in existing markets or unlock new business models. All these genres require teams to be formed or come together. Additionally in global set-ups you need to string teams across many locations to drive desired outcomes.

While we try to achieve set objectives, it becomes necessary to see what qualities should exist in  new or current teams so that they can stand up and deal with business pressure autonomously.

Here is my run-down [ you may through vast reading depth or previous references find some correlations in what I have hypothesized ]

TTenacity : The quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.
E : Energy : The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.
A : Aspiration : A hope or ambition of achieving something.
M : Management : The process of dealing with or controlling things or people.

If as a team you can demonstrate Management & Aspiration with Energy & Tenacity then there is a greater chance that you would be able to put right level of effort to increase chances for success.

Write me back on what qualities you see could make a difference.

More Than Entrepreneurship…

Entrepreneurship is buzz across the world , & everybody wants to take a plunge. I have observed various casual conversations as well other groups where everybody wants to do something but does not full acknowledge the entrepreneurship landscape. In warfare tactics , it is important to know your terrain before making a move and I firmly believe this is one thing which everybody should do to understand his or her current ecosystem before taking decisions. Bottom line understand it is game of patience and sustainability coupled with marketability of the idea.Realise the being an Entrepreneur is not a +1 notion but somebody who may have been able to sustain & show patience longer than you.

happy

Image via Creative Commons, thephotographymuse’s Flickr photostream. (Source) http://sumo.ly/l2Wz via @jwhite

I would not talk about why you should or should not take-up entrepreneurship but will try to pen down how to celebrate and acknowledge the world of being an employee.

  • S.W.O.T ( don’t go to b-school to just learn this. Any mature individual who is tad bit career minded should keep this always handy ). Knowing your strengths , weakness. Assessing your opportunities and acknowledging threats , helps one frame set of guard-rails of operating boundary. Being self-aware is the mantra. It can lead to be entrepreneurship if the idea matches up to your strengths and you don’t play to weakness as well remain away from threats or at least ebb them.
  • Follow Passion ( don’t confuse this with entrepreneurship , because it always does not mean that you have to be an entrepreneur to activate your passion ). One should always find time to do what you like from your innermost gut call. Don’t rely on organisations and individuals to do that. This allows one to focus better on work , as one finds peace in pursuit for passion
  • Define your operating landscape ( don’t be way-led on making your organisation a battlefield ! ). As an individual you should identify what type of people you did like to work , environment that makes you happy ( flexible hours / locations ) & what kind of management style suits you ( flat or hierarchical ) & above all what role you would like to be in. Don’t force yourself into role. Always have an image projection of where you are currently ( short term ) , where you want to be in next 2 years time ( medium term ) and how would you want your future role to look like ( long term )

At the end of the day inner happiness , credibility & respect can be achieved through many ways.

Reflections By Steven Sinofsky

I chanced to read following article Steven Sinofsky on Building Your Product Team  published on the MixPanel blog. It had some great insights  which , I  have captured for my readers and fellow companions who cross their path with product management.

From the above blog

Steven Sinofsky is known as one of product management’s earliest champions. In fact, he was at Microsoft when the company invented “v. 1.0” of the product manager career path.”

While I read through the article , I made this story come out more as my questions in mind as reflections followed by relevant portions from the blog as excerpts.

Why did product manager came into existence?

What is the world beyond developers , testers and marketers? , do they make the whole picture…The answers to that is “no” . We need people who can act as “Pivot” & iterate on the product instead of the marketers , who in turn should worry about demand generation.

Steven states that “Microsoft needed a role that helped making changes further upstream. That way, there would be people who could facilitate changing the code, and minimise big fights”

What value product managers add?

Product managers help achieve intersection between customer feedback and how it impacts the codebase. The role demands ability to glean data and generate focus to mobilise the group towards most high value generating activity.

Steven reflects as “product leadership to be deeply personal, something that must scale within the product manager as the product scales”

What can make a product manager successful?

It is very necessary for a product manager to have deep understanding of the product & more so if the product is a software , then technical acumen becomes very important. In addition to this having ability to manage people and channelise their thought process is a very relevant soft skill that they need to possess.

Steven mentions in the blog that “knowledge helps facilitate a discussion. It makes one run through higher-level strategic thinking. It is important to understand the argument being made and then have a healthy way to address that.”

In Steven’s words “Skills in technology, user experience, and empathy (with internal team members and customers) are prerequisites that can be honed and trained. While building your expertise as a PM requires a mastery of all three areas, it’s important to remember that you’re never “done” building your skill set”

“There can be millions of debates that need to be addressed but sensing the meta-level information about the conversation – is the best entry point for problem solving.”

I think that is what makes a transaction based mind-set differentiate from a strategic outlook.