“To be, or not to be, that is the question…”

These opening lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Prince of Denmark) words were meant to help Hamlet contemplate whether it was better to suffer through life or to put an end to life! In the corporate context it is a choice between succumbing to negativity or thriving against the odds. True leaders do not allow themselves the luxury of pessimism or adopt a fatalistic acceptance of any negative circumstance. They adopt the right attitude to work through a crisis. They take charge. They choose to thrive. A past manager (a leader) of mine had a distinct bias for action when faced with decision making under uncertainty or intense pressure. I learnt a lot by observing him and talking to him to understand his ability

sense of urgency…..

There seems like a singular common trait that distinguishes highly successful and productive people from the rest, one that differentiates between average and superior performers. This common trait is a sense of urgency that drives people to work much smarter and harder than normal. Having said that, the dilemma I am constantly battling these days is – how much urgency is good enough. If you move extremely fast you may not be able to carry the organization and if you are just a shade slow, a lot of opportunities may get missed. Tricky, and responsiveness is clearly emerging as a competitive advantage – how you out manoeuvre, out flank and out think others. Small organisations are inherently more agile and nimble. Their

integration blues…

Mumbai Indians lost the match to Delhi Daredevils and I the bet and had to take a few friends out for a nice meal. A bunch of passionate people always makes for an animated conversation. While I have dealt with characteristics of “A” players earlier, this one was intense about qualities that make an employee desirable – and remarkable – in times of uncertainity and change. We are living in an era of mergers and acquisitions. Market forces are leading to the formation and shaping of new organisations all the time. Some necessitated by a desire to grow and become bigger, others forced by an instinct to survive. Whatever be the reason, welcome to the new reality of business! By an unusual

leading today…..

Wow! what an enriching discussion I had over the last weekend at Pankaj’s house with a bunch of highly animated friends. All immensely successful in their own ways. And the topic, it turned out, seemed very close to their hearts – what does it take to lead in today’s hugely complex, interconnected world. The world around us has become less predictable and much more uncertain. Information required to make critical decisions is sketchy at best and non-existent at most times. Almost 60-70% of decision making happens in the grey zone. So what determines a good outcome now is the speed of execution – at least you have the possibility of altering the course quickly if things do not turn out as

new learnings…..

My current job is waking me up to many leadership behavioural subtleties. Conflicting at times and almost always on the edge. How to be strong but not rude, be kind but now weak, bold but not a bully, be humble but not timid, thoughtful but not lazy, proud but never arrogant! In fact, the key to a successful leadership today seems like INFLUENCE and not AUTHORITY. Use of positional power is turning out to be far less productive. After all people have emotions and super performance gets delivered through a heady combination of heart and passion! Sustainability of organisations is increasingly becoming contingent upon the quality of leaders. The environment is so dynamic with things changing at such a frenetic pace that

Our leadership icon

The charisma of Anna Hazare is for real! His simplicity, integrity and ability to lead from the front has drawn people from all over the world and from all walks of life. He has proved to the world that leadership is not about power or money but being true to the mission. A mission which connects people all across, touches everyone’s lives and makes a difference to the community. You would at times wonder the support you draw unconsciously from people just because you are unrelenting, selfless and championing the right cause. Team Anna has had no dearth of support in terms of basic necessities- food, water, shelter etc. as hundreds of people and corporates have contributed in cash and kind to

talent acquisition…..

"Oh - Sharmila is a such a great professional. Smart, intelligent and so very capable. Much as I would want to, I will not be able to hire as her high salary will upset the equilibrium of my organisation." Rahul's dilemma just as it is of so many leaders in mid to large organisations.   The last couple of weeks have been a time of absolutely fantastic learning. Have interacted with a lot of people within and outside the organisation, including some solid industry and management gurus. While the topics have ranged from business to politics to entertainment and what it takes to make it big in the competitive world of today, inevitably the discussions on talent - acquisition, retention and development - have been the most engaging. Something very close to my heart too! We all recognise talent as the most significant differentiator

incrementalism and change…..

Over the past few weeks I have had a chance to meet with some leaders whose current engagement at work involves dealing with a huge amount of change across a variety of functions. So even though one of the earlier posts had been dedicated to the subject of management of change, I am creating another one. Such situations always demand novel approaches and experimentation and force one to try and explore new dimensions in your quest to be successful. It is quite obvious that for anything to change, someone has to start acting differently. If the magnitude of change is large and profound, almost everyone has to be doing so. Ultimately the success of all change efforts boils down to the same mission - can you get people to start behaving in a new way. That requires serious personal

adding value…..

The higher you go in an organization, the more you need to make other people winners and not think so much about winning yourself. Perhaps you have lots more to gain by not winning at all.Successful practice of leadership is clearly about doing more of what you do well. Isn't it rather obvious to reinforce all that people like about you and your style!  Let me provide another perspective on good leadership - to stop behaviours that alienate potential allies, demoralise talented and committed people. Simply stated, eliminating bad habits that prevent you from becoming as successful as you could possibly be. These are not flaws of skills or limitations in intelligence that are too late to fix for a smarter you. They are behavioural flaws, annoyances that reduce

never blame others…..

My apologies for writing after a long gap. Normally I try and do 3 to 4 articles a month and the last month was a complete miss due to some other preoccupations. Hope it never happens again. Some of you could say it is a matter of prioritisation and perhaps rightly as well. So I want to let you know I have my focus on it and will do my best never to have such a gap again. Interacting with young students of your own institute is such an energising experience. Their ideas are thought provoking and the discussions stimulating. Refreshing is the word. I was recently put into a spot in one such  interaction. The question - you spent 4 years at the institute, what has been the most