Tag Archives: lessons in leadership

Collaborate!

While the world diverges itself to allow individual growth and learning , group dynamics cannot be sidelined in larger scheme of things. Individual contributions must lead to productive collaboration. While the word team , itself comes largely from sports , it is always formed and meant to win games. Carrying same concept to work does not always translate into victory but should aspire to create a network effect.

Network effect helps individuals and group of individuals to do following:

  • Enables trust
  • Fosters better group dynamics
  • Helps understanding navigating workplaces

Sometimes it so feel that our group dynamics is working but still there are small sub groups tend to cluster around certain commonalities. Albeit this does not have any detrimental impact on groups outcomes , it is important that subgroups connect and bond to radiate positive energy through their actions.

Another key aspect related to effective collaboration is cultivating art of negotiation. Being able to successfully negotiate without burning bridges is a valuable professional skill.

Discipline is one more key thing to collaboration. It brings certain amount of seriousness to group dynamics and allows for a more cultured feedback loop within the group.

Good Better Best – Quality of Decision

You might heard following phrases several times :

 “This is a wrong decision , we should not made this call”

“Why did you not inform us , otherwise we would have made right decision”

“I think if we would have collaborated , we could have made a right call on this issue”

Being a programmer at core , made me see these statements coming out with binary response : “Right” or “Wrong” , but as I travelled through the journey of being a manager and executing more responsibility with years gone by , it has started to make me feel that decisions in itself cannot be so binary in their outcome!

Quality of decision is always known post-facto unless we follow some mystical science of crystal ball gazing! You would have seen that I highlighted a particular term “Quality“. There is a reason to it , because I strongly feel post my experiences that we put lot of pressure on self and others by classifying decision in binary manner.

Man-thinking-by-Creative-Ignition-Creative-Commons

 Photo Credit : Creative Ignition ( Creative Commons )

 

We want to remain quick on decision making and at the same time we expect them to be always right , but that is not the case. According to me the spirit and context in which a decision is made , it starts with always being “good” . The intent with which we make decisions is always good , it can only be the case that we evaluate whether our decisions could have “better” and could we make it “best call every taken !

 

It is important that we constantly review out decision outcomes and rank them against this strategy to improve our decision quality.

Happy Decision Making!!

Make Process The Winner!

We encounter problems statements everyday and there are ‘n’ number of ways to solve them. In addition to this there is no good or bad way of solving them !

Over a period of time I have come to see that we generally get into conflict due to internal workings and although we do arrive at solution but the journey does become painful for individuals who might be pivoting to solve it.

One of the things that I tried to experiment and improve upon was trying to make ‘process’ the winner & keeping ‘problem’ in centre of the ‘solution’ . Most of the time we make mistake of putting people in centre of the solution and try to solve for them whilst , it should be other way round where we focus on problem and make ultimately process the winner so that people then are able to scale themselves using a solution which was designed to support process.

Looks simple in the way I put it .. but honestly it becomes difficult and requires one to really sieve out various layers to iterate on solution that makes process the winner !

15 years on..Journey thru Professional Wilderness

I still remember this day 15 years back , when I was heading alone to Kolkata for joining my training at TCS . It was raining hard , when I arrived at the station. Being a day scholar most of my life , this was a big step forward outside the protected layers of my family cocoon , making way to lead an independent life…This kicked off series of things in my life from getting to learn German language to being trained on making myself presentable while I speak.. It was an interesting experience for me .. and my first tryst with professional life.

Things moved fast , training came to an end and we were told to join the Delhi centre.. moving in corridors and making some friends as moved along , I found myself in midst of pros, the seasoned and the newbies 🙂 .. all but shared one common thing , searching to attach purpose to what they were working for .. Lots of learning & great foundation years for me…then somewhat I looked to progress my self financially as well wanted to exposure beyond current .. usual human paradox of more want & higher expectation …I spent then good bit of my career with CSC and learnt new things , especially in area of team management and new culture.. My life was starting to look like the sinusoidal wave ..I was feeling bored with regular stuff so I made a shift to Oracle India. Amazing to learn the technology and process.. Awesome product company to work for and for me by now I had taste of IT services biggies to large product company ..

Somewhere down the line spending 2 years … I thought to challenge myself to do MBA and took a plunge by packing my wife – my critical support system back to home town .. on a journey of self planned sacrifice by leaving job behind .. and taking financial risk to earn a degree at S P Jain . This was truly a new phase of my life and my rationale was demand of techno-functional is high but less satisfy that ethos.. I was still good at coding and if I could club my communication skills with business acumen , I would have a good recipe to contribute back in the value chain at a higher level…

Post MBA I worked at  AnthelioAvotus , something which was my second learning ground after TCS . It taught me to be a leader and connected with great people , who again were trying to seek purpose in what they did.. a quest which seldom is successful .. and when it is , it creates radiance and sustainability for self and org. After spending almost 3 years in this nursery , I joined Cimpress India . We sell the Vistaprint brand here.. I have been heading technology for last 3.5 years plus now and solving newer problems everybody. My sense of purpose remains at highest levels here and I think I am able to learn albeit little , on how to connect dots between value and capability..It is starting to take shape and hence the I say I find more of purpose at Cimpress.

All along I have made great friends , met many people , learned alot but yet discovering … above all I cherish the teams I worked with & for …a support ecosystem , which can only be next to your family if not above them … Three cheers to all my peers and team mates to make me feel like that..

Thanks to my primary strength my wife and kid .. along with my parents , who have allowed me to spare time with the companies I have worked for and supported me to give my best …

Indecision Or Flexibility?

In my earlier post : Control & Freedom : Managing Relationships , I talked about how exercising control to maintain right hypothesis can cause undue tension and sometimes it is necessary to walk away with right attitude coupled with mindset. If we take a balcony view , we would also get to know that control usually allows for consistent decision making process. You would find a predictable pattern in every move made and the thought that drives it. When you create freedom , then it can lead to frequent changes in decision.. or in traditional world a sense of indecisive behaviour…

Well that paradigm might not hold true in current operating environment , where agile is name of the new game and Holacracy is helping fostering system of self-organisation. One would have to change to see changes as flexibility and be pragmatic about it.. but everything needs to make some sense & hence decision making would need to have a some guard rails that allow for +ve flexibility as opposed to u-turn twice a day !

Couple of guards rails suggestions:

  • Consider views from everybody: Adopt paradigm from software engineering of distributed software development , where people can have pull on decision making process.
  • Look at incremental hypothesis development: Seek some parallelism from the world of iterative software development and apply that to decision making process.
  • Balance against extreme autonomy: Ensure that some level of control is exercised , because remember decisions always have cascading effect so acting responsibly is very important.

Leadership Lessons

Yesterday at office we had a wonderful session on leadership , where mid-managers were invited along with the senior management. A full day discussion on how to effect a change and other aspects of leadership were discussed as part of this session. There was one particular activity which caught my attention more than others. It was related to making changes to self in bunches of 3 , 6 , 12 while standing in pairs. How people react to such activities is very interesting.

The first reaction was to start remembering the change we were doing in anticipation that we may be asked to entail that in the end. Second was about how to make a new change. Funny ideas popped around the place and third was “what are we trying to do , just end it!!!” This exercise was a reflection of the fact that how important it is to prepare people for a change. Readiness levels for each individual remains different and yet we still continue to effect changes without preparing our workforce to embrace it.

I consider that it is important to give an objective to people and give time / space between changes for it to take effect or show results. I know that there may be circumstances when we would not have a choice but to effect the change and that to frequently but as senior management we should allow a change to get absorbed and help people prepare better for the next set of challenges. Compare this with a common-life situation where if you a have problem in neighborhood you see people getting together to solve it or help out but on any other day they would be busy doing their work. What that means is that the “problem” comes out as an objective whilst on other days you keep doing your own things. That is not what you would an office culture to adopt because , business is like a simulated war game where you have to fight the known and unknowns at all times , therefore give objective to people for why you would like to effect a change and be part of it!!!