Tag Archives: leadership

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.


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).


Climbing the organisational pyramid

I am writing this for larger number of people, there are exceptions who would defy this. This should be not read from exceptional people in mind. I am aiming at people at Bottom of Pyramid of an organisation. It is this set of people actually run the system and they have potential to grow. Only few in career reach to the top. Some reach faster than others. Is it a matter of chance or luck? Is it a case of born with silver spoon? I know that there could be many reasons for this. I am trying to express some of them that I have considered important based on my experience.

I have been interacting with many first time employees as well as experienced employees during induction programs that I conduct for my clients. I have also been engaged with many experienced employees who are in junior or middle management functions/ roles. There are questions that I often ask them

  1. What do you want to be?
  2. Why are you in this organisation for what you want to be?

I could see it clearly that this question shakes many of them. Some of them have even told them why this question is relevant to their job. It takes considerable time for them realise the importance of this question.

Let me explain the first question.

There are different kinds of people (hence employees) from this question point of view.

People often confuse between Dreams and Goals. They are not same. Dreams become Goal when you convert Dreams into a verifiable and assessable form. Dreams are more transient and imagery. This is necessary to get rights goals. Goals are more specific with a sense of time in it. Goals are necessary to actualise one’s dream. The issue is not whether someone has articulated the goals, the THINKING of goal is more important. This thinking often gets influenced by the “real life situations”. For example I always dreamt of becoming a research scholar when I was in schools. But my goals kept changing as I progressed. In high schools my goal became joining Armed Forces as I was in class of 42 students in Sainik School and 40 of them wanted to be in Armed Forces. The rest were girls who (then) did not thought of armed forces. I failed but my dream was alive. My next goal became to start making some earning for self and if possible for family. I started teaching (tuitions to be precise). This goals was influenced by the environment in which I lived. I could see that my family is struggling for two square meals, so if I have to study I must do something different. The good part of this goal was it met some of my “intrinsic desire” to research. When you want to be a good tutor you have study more than what you study for yourself. I do not want make it a biography of mine, but it is important to note that I was doing something which many were not doing. In fact my brother who has also grown in similar environment did not thought of it. I did not realise then an answer to this. With experience is dealing with people and management processes, I see one reason why this would have happened. I was always in the company of people who thought of tomorrow and discuss about what they should do tomorrow. My brother was in company of people who were cribbing about yesterday and trying live today.

Even when I joined employment, there were people who were cribbing about the current job. In fact they were separate group (you would find them in your organization very easily). I avoided them as they force you not to think of future in some way.

In my view, if you want to start thinking what you want to be and work in that direction you must

Let me address next question

It quiet natural for people (job seekers) to take up the first opportunity that comes their way. It is not common for people to wait for their choice of job. Even among who wait after sometime for various reasons get into something that comes their way. In my view what you do after you get job is more important than the job you got.

We need to identify opportunities in existing job that would take me towards my goal. How do we do that? Some of the steps that we can take are

  1. Get the right group in job also who are positive thinking and forward looking.
  2. Ask what in it for me in this job? or
  3. How do I find things that I would love in this job?

For example, while I did not pursue higher studies as taking up a job was more important. I picked up the job that came my way. The job was in Andhra Pradesh far from my place of stay (then Bihar). I did not know language and job was in Bhadrachalam which is a village town in Andhra Pradesh. As I was always looking for an opportunity to learn new thing, I got into doing lot of things other than my shift management job. It included working with other departments during my off times, working with society and club actively. I must gained maximum basic learning on lot of things other job of managing shifts, running chemical recovery plant. It is those other learning that is helping me more. The learning opportunity needs to be found and searched it is never available in a platter.

The individuals mind set determines if he is going to learn and grow in the right direction. I am reminded of a story narrated to me by someone.

There were two people namely HAPPY GUY (HG) and SAD GUY (SG). They went to a new town and wanted a place to stay. Someone directed them to a house which has a vacancy for one person to stay. SG went inside and came out quickly saying that the house is suitable to stay as it will make your life miserable. Everybody there are having sad and sullen look. HG felt odd but he had limited option so he also went inside to try for himself. He took longer to come. When he came out SG asked him for his decision. HG said he came out only to tell him that he cannot think any better place. HG did not even wanted to come out as everyone was happy and cheerful.

The truth was that the house had mirrors in place of walls.

If you have learning attitude you would find learning opportunity in everything, everywhere.

One need to learn and move on to the journey. But moving without learning mostly leads to stagnation at critical point in career.