‘Creative people are difficult to deal with!’ More often than not, this is the general perception about people with a creative bend of mind. They are seen as complicated people, as non conformists who prefer to remain in their world of imagination, who tend to avoid normal routine, and are hence perceived as difficult to deal with. Eccentricity, ego and unconventional behavior are the traits that are often associated with creative people.
Yet, today when leaders are expected to initiate and affect changes across non hierarchical, geographically distributed teams, creativity is increasingly being considered as an essential leadership trait. The concept of blending creativity with leadership is gaining relevance as new technologies are emerging swiftly, markets are growing at a dynamic pace and the customer needs are evolving continuously.
Organizations need to watch out for white space and innovate continuously to remain competitive and survive in the long run. If you are working in a technology based organization, chances are that you would probably be looking at ways to redesign a product in order to bring out a new version every 6 months.
The year is 2060. Occasion is your funeral. Your friend is preparing an eulogy for you. What would you want him/ her to say?
As odd or morbid as the question may sound, you’ll be surprised to know that this is one of the assignments given in the Leadership program at the London Business School.
Not as easy as it seems, it takes a lot of introspection to come up with the eulogy, in the process making one reflect on different aspects of life ranging from career, to family, friends and society in general.
Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards. [Tweet this]
Going ahead in time, and planning life backwards can help us to understand what really matter to us, how we would want people to remember us.
Several thoughts had crossed my mind as I sat to attempt the assignment.
Life is a finite resource
First, it served as a strong reminder that our life has an expiry date, post which we live through the memory of our family and friends.
Politics, pay and religion make interesting topics for starting a discussion; but such discussions, if not steered properly, can be polarizing and may become awkward after some time.
However, that is not what this post is about.
This post is specifically about discussions that you might have hesitated to have when you were particularly displeased with some annoying behavior of your colleague, but delayed or avoided telling them as you were not quite sure how they would react to it.
Or perhaps you were caught off guard, when someone told you that you have not been performing up to the mark for a while, so you became defensive downright and started offering a barrage of explanations to justify your actions.
Uncomfortable discussion on issues remains an area that many of us dread to tread, particular when seeking discussion with the person who we believe is causing the issue.
Giving honest feedback falls under the purview of uncomfortable discussions. We often hesitate to give a candid feedback due to fear of being misunderstood or spoiling our equation with the person, particularly if the relationship is an important or a fragile one.
Nonetheless, as one grows in life and profession, one has to get comfortable about having uncomfortable discussions and put across their views in the best possible manner.
So you have been working hard on collating your data and here is your chance to present it to your boss. You have an hour’s slot. Of course you want to present to the best of your abilities and you want to showcase the amount of efforts you have expended on the exercise. This is your opportunity to make an impression! You are diligently putting all the data in your slides and have come up with this killer presentation. Fifty slides with a number of charts and graphs should be good enough to impress your boss. Or is it?
Hold on. A good idea is to step back, rethink and make sure that you have covered all these aspects.
1. Getting the perspective right
The first step is to make sure that you have clearly identified the message you want to communicate and its relevance to business. For example you may want to show a comparison of the change in sales volumes in different regions after a particular campaign or you may want to convince the management about a reduction in Turnaround Time (TAT) that can be achieved by optimizing the production process. Any information you present and how you present it is successful only as long as it communicates the relevant message effectively to your target audience.
‘The importance of Gender Diversity at workplace’ is one of those issues that are often spoken about in conferences, reiterated in survey findings, and yet seldom are a priority unless there is a mandatory obligation for companies to comply with.
With the exception of a handful of countries such as Norway, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, Philippines, women are generally under-represented in the corporate sector in a large number of countries all over the world.
Even in the Tech companies that are known to promote employee friendly culture, diversity remains an issue. Google admittedly has a gender gap, so has Facebook. LinkedIn, too would like to improve its gender diversity numbers says the company’s Vice President of global talent, Pat Wadors. Twitter was criticized for filing the I.P.O. without a single woman on the board, subsequent to which it appointed Marjorie Scardino as the first woman director to its board.
What impedes gender parity at workplaces?
Among the factors that hinder gender parity at workplaces, ‘Cultural Inertia’ emerges as a predominant reason that holds back the adoption of gender diversity practices.
‘Mostly leaders are born. Some inherit leadership. Some come by default.’ These statements coming from an acquaintance on social media induced me to write this post.
When we think of leadership, traits such as charisma, authority, courage, oratory skills easily and instinctively come to our mind. These qualities are associated with great leaders or inspirational figures such as Margaret Thatcher, M. K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.or Churchill and most these seem to be inborn qualities.
It goes without saying that not all of us can have the style, presence or oratory skills of these great historical figures. Just like some people are gifted singers, while many others struggle to strike the right notes, some people are naturally bestowed with a charismatic persona, while others are not.
Does it mean that in absence of inborn leadership traits, one cannot be a leader? Let us dig into it a bit more. Here I list down 8 key traits of leaders, in an attempt to identify which of these leadership skills can be developed. . .
1. Clarity of Purpose
A purpose can change a life from ordinary to extraordinary.
Only an individual with clarity of purpose can inspire, motivate and align people with his vision. This key leadership quality can be attributed to a great extent to the situations that a person is exposed to and how one reacts to them. Some people, albeit a few, find their calling at a young age. However, for most of us, it may take ages to figure out what the purpose in life is and many of us may never find it at all.
This, however, is not a reason to fret about. Read more
Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.
If you can improve your decisions by observing the bad decisions made by others, you are gifted beyond doubt!
However, the fact remains that out of all the decisions that we make at each and every stage of our life and in our career, only some are good choices. We are all likely to make bad decisions at some point or the other.
Well, it is more definitely more comforting to know that you can put your bad decisions to good use by learning from them. Enhancing your ability to make better decisions should go a long way in improving your personal life as well as your efficiency and productivity at work.
Let’s have a go at how to learn from the bad choices that you may have made in the past.
The first step towards learning from your past decisions is to realize
Not all your bad decisions are mistakes.
Differentiating between a bad decision and a mistake
At times, you are faced with situations where you do not have a clue what the best choice might be. You may have to respond very quickly and may not have enough time to gather information. In such situations, you bank on your intuitions to arrive at conclusions and take the necessary actions.
But then, intuitions are also hardwired with cognitive biases, which substantially influence your thinking. While the use of intuitions certainly helps you to make your choices quickly and rather implicitly, it can at times, lead to errors in your decisions.
Alternately, there would be situations where you would have made the wrong choice in spite of knowing that it is not really the right thing to do, but you took the risk believing that you will get away with it.
Continuing the discussion from my last post on how Employee Engagement can create business value, here I will write about how organizations can implement a range of workplace strategies to increase the levels of engagement. In this post we look at some best practices relevant to all types of organizations, though the nuances and implementation will vary from setting to setting.
Meaningful work and clarity of objectives
Having a meaningful job is the most important factor that affects levels of engagement for all employee groups. Employees, who are able to relate their tasks to a broader context and feel that they can make a difference have positive perceptions about their work. Where employees can see the impact of their work on the organization or on the customers or on society in general, the level of motivation and engagement are higher.
Work can be made meaningful by
Assigning jobs to individuals based on their ability and attitude.
Communicating to the employee how the job adds value to the organization and fits into the overall objective of the organization.
Senior management communication style and vision
Senior Management can achieve higher levels of engagement by linking the desired organization outcomes to measurable performance drivers. The manner in which a firm’s management structure the organization, shape up the culture and people practices, and create incentives for their employees defines the firm’s ability to use its people to differentiate and compete.
Communication from senior management about organization’s vision and objectives helps employees to understand the overall purpose of the organization and see a bigger picture in their daily work.
Employees’ level of engagement and other work responses are affected by their perceptions of management style. Read more
What prompted me to write this post was a discussion on a Linked In group about the role of ‘Chief Inspiration Officer’ in an organization in inspiring employees and creating an engaged workforce. The fancy title caught my attention and I followed through the discussion. As always, the discussion had people with different viewpoints. While some thought that this is absolutely the ‘wave’ of the future, others were not very optimistic about the prospect for such a title. However the objective of writing this post is not to elaborate on the role of ‘Chief Inspiration Officer’. I will instead talk about the need for employee engagement at work.
It is a well accepted and often reiterated statement that for any business to be successful, it should be able to successfully execute its business strategy, not only once, but over and over again. To be competitive in the long run, every business needs to repeatedly do something that appeals to its customers. It also needs to possess some unique resources that continue to give the business an edge over its competitors. Such competencies and resources that are valuable, rare and inimitable render a sustained competitive advantage to an organization.
Though most organizations claim that their people are the source of their competitive advantage, but we know for a fact that only a few organizations succeed in effectively leveraging the intellectual capital and unique abilities of their employees to achieve extraordinary results. Creating and delivering value on a sustainable basis, calls for the presence of engaged workforce in an organization.
What does ‘Employee Engagement’ mean?
Employee engagement is defined as: ‘employees willingly contributing to the work while putting in intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions at work and making meaningful connections to others at the workplace [[i]]. Read more
Collaborative attitude vs. individual brilliance has always been a matter of debate. The subject elicits different responses depending on the socio-cultural context.
Countries like Japan,with team driven culture, have made remarkable progress in technology, thanks to their collaborative attitude. The American system and the European systems have been able to drive innovation with the help of their educational and legal frameworks that allow for collaboration between various people, encourage out of the box thinking and risk taking.
In the Indian society though individual brilliance is highly admired, but team working skills do not receive the desired consideration. Read more