Category Archives: Leadership

Relationship

Going by www.etymonline.com, the word Relationship in use since the 1640s and had its meaning as “sense or state of being related.” Over time (by about 1944) it was more related to romantic or sexual relationships. While users have continued to use the word in various context, none reflect the complete understanding. Each user has his/her intent of using the word.

Relationships exist all through our life; in personal as well as in business. I cannot even imagine a meaningful and successful life without any relationship. I have been thinking on this word as in recent time, I have come across very strange and varied interpretations of the word. I have tried to create a mind map around the word “relationship.” I am confident it is not an exhaustive representation. At some point, I started having difficulty in drawing the mindmap as there were too many cross-links. I guess that is what a relationship can mean.

The map is self explanatory in most instances. For ease of reading the map, let me explain one dimension. The relation with mother can exist at different levels:

  1. Each one of us is connected with our mother right from the time we were in her womb.
  2. She possibly has a dominant impact on our mind space. She is part of the forming stage of our life. That Napolean said, “Give me good mothers: I will give you a good nation.”
  3. Our soul constantly connects with our mother even after her life.  Spiritually, the Shraddha done in Gaya has special significance for mother.

However, “Purpose” of relationship may not connect with every relationship. For example, any attempt to have a relationship with the mother with “Materialistic” objectives will always end in a bitter experience for both though the bitterness may not be experienced at the same time. However, the devotional and spiritual relationship can exist with anyone. There are several examples of such relationships. Ramakrishna Paramhansa is believed to have worshipped his wife as a goddess.

Any relationship to last, there has to be a two-way component in the relationship, with few exceptions. The two-way component reflects the famous WIN_WIN paradigm. However, that does not exist in some relationship (to the best of my knowledge). for example:

  1. Relationship with mother can never be bidirectional. Our scriptures have stated “माता कुमाता न भवति”. This implies irrespective of what son may do to her, she will always wish her well.
  2. The relationship between Master and Slave will not be bi-directional. The slave never gets anything in return that is useful to him/her.

One dimension which may often go unnoticed is the relationship with oneself. Our attachment with our physical body reflects the permanency of the relationship. The last this any human wants to give up is his/her body. This dimension of the relationship with oneself often a source of all negative emotions like Anger, Pain, etc. The Ethereal relationship reflects the spiritual state of mind of an individual. In this form of relationship, one connects with his/her soul. Most saints and “siddha purusha” are in that state.

Do Entrepreneurs need a Coach (GURU)?

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः 
गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥१॥
Gurur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vissnnur-Gururdevo Maheshvarah |
Gurure[-I]va Param Brahma Tasmai Shrii-Gurave Namah ||1||

The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru Deva is Maheswara (Shiva), The Guru is Verily the Para-Brahman (Supreme Brahman); Salutations to that Guru.

Guru is the Creator or Generator; Vishnu is Manager; Shiva is Destroyer or Terminator. They are called Trinity of Hinduism. In the eyes of the Creator, all his creation is equal. Unfortunately, there are desirable and undesirable in every creation. Managers bring harmony among all creations and provide from everyone based on their merits/demerits. When Undersiarable becomes a sore, Shiva destroys them. Shiva absorbs /destroys all negative forces in the society.

Every Entrepreneur is a Brahma. He converts his dreams and creates an organization to fructify his dreams. With all good intent and positive energies, most entrepreneurs fail. Why do they fail?

  • Do they run out of idea?
  • Do they run out of money?

There are several research papers on the failures of the entrepreneurs. Not sure if anyone of them is conclusive.

One needs to understand the journey of an entrepreneur. All successful and growing organization go through the phases about the size of the organization. In the book Blitzscaling by  Reid Hoffman refers to stages of the organization:

In Family and Tribe stage, Entrepreneur plays all the three roles. He tends to control everything while he is creating. He is the one who is expected to troubleshoot. He is expected to fight against his evil. In a family or tribe, this may work. In family size organization it works. There are pressure points as the organization approaches the tribal size. The entrepreneur continues to think that he can play all the three roles. While he does play at his best, but the best is often not enough. He starts losing his steam and often destroys himself.

If the entrepreneur has managed to pass through the Tribal stage, he has a better chance of success if sheds some of his role as Trinity.  The management of the village should be left to people who can manage it. The entrepreneur should focus on creation and procreation through his organization. The challenge at this stage is his ability to give up his role as “manager.” He puts someone in place but continues to manage in the proxy. This often creates significant bottlenecks in growing. Many start failing here.

Once the organization is more than 1000, the entrepreneur should consider diluting his role as Trinity. The faster he does higher is the probability of organization growing faster. He does not need to give up, but he has to dilute and empower others to create, manage and destroy.

This sounds so simple. But then why the entrepreneur is not able to follow this. Moving from one stage to another is not an easy journey psychologically.

When you relinquish the desire to control your future,
you can have more happiness. – Nicole Kidman

One needs to have someone who will guide him and manage his emotions through the process. This person is a GURU (Mentor/ Coach). AN entrepreneur must choose a Guru for his success. Most entrepreneurs do not invest in coaching themselves. They often consider this an unnecessary and waste of time and money.

Once the entrepreneur has a GURU, his chance of success multiplies.

अखण्डमण्डलाकारं व्याप्तं येन चराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

Akhanda Mandalaakaaram
Vyaaptam Yenam charaacharam
Tatpadam Darshitam Yena
Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

Guru can guide us to the supreme knowledge of THAT which pervades all the living and non-living beings in the entire Universe. I salute such a Guru.

अज्ञानतिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशलाकया ।
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

Agnyaana Timiraandhasya
Gnyaana Anjana Shalaakayaa
Chakshuhu Unmeelitam Yenam
Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

A Guru can save us from the pangs of ignorance (darkness) by applying to us the balm of knowledge or awareness of the Supreme; I salute such a Guru.

स्थावरं जंगमं व्याप्तं यत्किंचित्सचराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

Sthaavaram Jangamam Vyaaptam
Yatkinchit Sacharaa Charam
TatPadam Darshitam Yena
Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

That Guru who can enlighten us about the all-pervading consciousness present in all the three states (of activity, dream and deep sleep state), I salute such a Guru.

 

Leadership Qualities – from Ramayana

The Ramayana is one of the most important epics for Hindus. Several people are credited with for narrating the epic story of Lord Rama. Ramayana written by Maharishi Valmiki is considered to be oldest and base for all other Ramayanas written later.

A particular section in the epic is relevant for this discussion. After Rama was sent to exile for fourteen years, Bharata (his brother) was to be crowned as King. Bharata refused to accept the Kingship and he goes to meet Rama in exile. He  requests Rama to come back and accept Kingship.

When Bharata meets Rama in his exile, Rama first enquires from him on his Kingship (read Leadership). The verses are provided below.

Verse from ramayana

These verses, in essence, define the character of Good Leaders. The terms used in these verses need to be reviewed in the context of the period of Kingship. For understanding  Leadership Qualities from these verses, the following correspondence should be considered.

Blog Ramayana Table

The lesson is structured by explaining what a leader must not be. Poor characteristics of a leader based on these verses can be represented as below. The boxes in “cloud” shape is explained further after the mind map:

poor-leadership-quality.jpg

Non- Believer

While the word in the verse translates into an “atheist,” it is important to understand that one who does not believes himself or in his/her abilities can never be a good leader. Belief in self is the most important characteristics of an individual from any perspective.

Deciding without consulting

While a leader has to take the final decision, but not involving key people in the process of decision making has a greater risk for the organization. In today’s complex business environment, the knowledge lies with several experts within and outside the organization.

Taking advice from incompetent people

Consulting incompetent people is worse than deciding without consulting. The impact could be worse.

Hunting

Hunting in the Ramayana period refers to the passing time of kings. The practice was to go for hunting. However, hunting can be a big distractor for kings if that becomes a priority. Secondly hunting in a way a destructive approach to the natural resources.

In his advice to Bharata, Rama identified the type of people who should not be considered as Leaders. The mind map below would help one identifying such people.

The boxesin “cloud” shape is explained further after the mind map.:

not-suitable-to-be-a-leader

Criticize Gods and Brahamans (can be read as Brahmin also)

If one ignores the religious and caste context to it, (based on the understanding of the period that the epic corresponds to), God corresponds to Regulatory and Legal authorities. Brahmans represent the Inteligencia Class. One cannot succeed by merely criticizing these sections of the society. Business has to be carried out in a given regulatory environment. One can manage and influence regulatory environment depending on the status in society, but cannot go against it.

Without Armed Forces

Armed Forces for King is same as capable resources for a leader in the organization. A leader’s success is dependent on the follower that he(she) builds.

Penalised by Gods

A convicted person should not be a leader of an organization.

Qualities of Good Leaders

Essential knowledge

  • Vedas

Vedas represents principles of life and its ecosystem. The leaders need to have the understanding of philosophy and principles of organization and business. One must recognize that this is nothing to do with educational qualification. This refers to the maturity of an individual. There are many successful leaders who are school dropouts but have vast knowledge.

  • Farming

Farming also means Operating and Growing. The leader must know how to operate and run his system. A good leader must be able to grow himself, his team, his organization.

  • Cattle farming

Cattle also means  ‘Stocks”.  Stocks in the modern business sense can imply Inventories and the shareholding. A good leader should manage his/her inventory and the shareholding to protect the interests of all stakeholders.

  • Legal/ regulatory

The leader must understand the legal and regulatory of the business in the country of business. Ignorance is not bliss. This knowledge is essential to make effective use of the statutory provision to enhance once business. The regulatory framework is part of the environment. The difference between successful and rest is how one has understood the framework and effectively used.

Essential Abilities

  • Stay connected with the enemy

Read the enemy as a competitor. Keeping a tab on what is happening in competitor space is essential. The ability to get such information is an integral component of the organizational strategy.

  • Engage in battle

The days of monopoly is always short. In today’s context, it is more relevant as one cannot avoid competition in most business. One needs to engage in competition. Engaging in battle here could mean the leader must be able to keep positioning differently in the market and also keep building strategies for creating differentiation internally,

  • Attack enemy

At some stage in the business, one may need to take on the competitor directly in the marketplace.  Price wars in the market space are prevalent. One has also seen the battle in courts between competitors.

  • Wait for opportunity

Patience is a great virtue. One must wait for the right opportunity. Leaders can sight the opportunity and strike at the right time. Untimely initiatives often boomerang.

  • Multipronged startegy

Plan A and Plan B are the most commonly known term in the context of organizational planning.  Looking into different aspects identifies weak spots and hence increase the chances of success.

  • Collaborate with enemy

Coopetition is the norm for many successful businesses today.  This is also known as cooperative competition. However one must be watchful of such practice. It is easy to move from collaborating to forming cartels. Cartels in the most regulatory environment are not permitted.

  • Recognising External threats

The organization who work on Business Continuity Plan understands this well. One needs to be prepared for external threats of nature. The epic lists the dangers that were possibly prevalent then. They are Fire, Flood, Epidemic, Famine.

  • Recognising Internal Threat

The biggest threats are the ones that come from within. Some of them are the acts of greed (seeking gratification) by the Leader, his Officers and his Close Aides. Also, a good leader should be aware of the thieves and enemies person within he / her organization.

Disclaimer: This is my interpretation of the text. This does not be considered as a translation of the Epic Ramayana.

Sensory Thinking for Leadership

The phrase and the title “Sensory Thinking for Leadership”  came to my mind when I was watching two great videos on TED (www.ted.com). Change Management initiatives by leaders have always met mixed fate. The success stories of long term sustained benefits from CHANGE are very few. These two videos gave me a thought on possible factors that can increase the probability of success.

First Video was  a lecture by Temple Grandin. She was diagnosed with autism as a child. She speaks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids. The title of video is The world needs all kinds of minds

It was amazing to realize the power of visual thinking. The communication through the visual thinking is also powerful as it would be devoid of any ambiguity. Visual thinking can often reduce the number of words required to explain. Language in any form requires other side to decipher and absorb. Pictures communicate by themselves. I visualize that some of the challenges in CHANGE MANAGEMENT can be addressed if one uses pictures to think and communicate. These challenges emerge from some of the reality of organisations ecosystem

  1. Organisations are becoming MULTILINGUAL
  2. Associated workforce come from VARIED PEDIGREES.
  3. Most people have shorter span of attention to details
  4. Ever changing workforce profile

I am reminded of a crazy definition of BOOK from a Tamil Movie “Nanban” (This was a remake of 3 Idiots in Hindi). The definition was

“Instruments that record, analyze, summarize, organize, debate, and explain information that are illustrated, non illustrated; hardback, paperback, jacketed, non jacketed, with forward introduction, table of contents, index, that are intended for the enlightenment, understanding, encouragement, entrancement and the education of the human brains to the sensitive root of vision, sometimes touch”

A simple picture of book might have more effective.

The problem solving processes always become more effective when the “problem free scenario” is visualized. In my view it is important that leaders at all levels visualize what they want to achieve or communicate. Great scientists like Newton, Einstein, Tesla had phenomenal Visual Thinking ability. Great warriors like Alexander had always visualized himself as a world leader.

The another video was about power of listening to the sounds. This video was by Bernie Krause , who has been recording wild soundscapes — the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, the subtle sounds of insect larvae — for 45 years. The title of this video is The voice of the natural world

This video is about impact on nature by acts that are considered to be “environmentally safe” or “environmentally sustainable”. A case mentioned in the video refers to timber cutting activity of a forest in a method that were considered to be environmentally sustainable. This is assumed to have a net zero impact on environment. But it is amazing to see the change in profile of the ecosystem of living organisms. The pictures before and after do not look different. The count of trees are not different. This assessment is based on studying the profile of the voices of nature within the ecosystem.

We have often seen leaders failing because they have either not listened or not paid attention to the “changes in voices”. Often changes are initiated by the leaders to show case results in short run. However the changes in Voices of Stakeholders is ignored. CHANGE is often considered good if the results relating to financial and market dimensions are good. The Voice of Customers (VOC) / Voice of Employees (VOE) may undergo change but it does not get noticed unless it takes form of visual impact like attrition (both customer and employees). The changes may be so subtle that it may not be audible unless specific attention is given.

A case in hand as experienced during my consulting services. Leadership team of an organisation decided to institutionalize the Performance Measurement based on the Results that have positive impact on business.  This is one change that is probably easiest one to justify and expedite. The change was bought in. It was believed that this has brought in the desired change in performance of the people (read behavior).  A deeper interaction with the members of the organisation threw up some interesting dimension. If I can relate them based on my views on the videos above:

  1. The CHANGE was nether visualized by the employees nor the leaders shared the VISUALIZED PICTURE with employees. Possibly a series of sessions based on concepts were considered enough.
  2. There was no effort to either to LISTEN the Sounds (rather noises in form of murmurs) or the changes were ignored (rather considered as  normal behavior).

It is not difficult to imagine the likely outcome if the CHANGE and the CHANGE SCENARIO is VISUALIZED by the leaders and then communicated. Leaders can take significant corrective measures if they LISTEN to the changes in the sounds of nature (ecosystem of organizations).