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How do I fasttrack myself as a leader?

As an invited speaker, I was addressing a group of young engineers and budding leaders in Chennai recently. This team was in an offsite meeting with their CEO. My session started just after they completed a group meditation session with the help of a professional. All those brains were so refreshed and I got an incessant rain of interesting questions as soon as I finished my introduction. Some of those questions that inspired me (because people were sharply thinking in the right direction) and my answers are as below.

Leadership Self Awareness

There are a few pitfalls that trap most humans involuntarily. A leader should constantly evaluate if s/he is in such a trap.

The first pitfall is about shifting the blame outside of oneself for undesirable results. This stumps learning and the strategy should be avoided like poison. Facing the past bravely and learning from it is a golden strategy that constantly sharpens the saw.

What should drive results - the heart or brain?

Team BuildingLast week I participated in a team building session with a set of very successful leaders/ managers. Roughly about 50 people participated in this session. The group was split into 4 teams. All four teams had to do just one assignment. Each team had to sing a song of their making for three minutes in chorus. They could copy from any popular song. However, music instruments need to be mimicked with human voice during the performance. Acting the song out during performance was an expectation. Each team had fifteen minutes to prepare and three minutes to deliver. Teams were to be ranked on performance. More points for better creativity. All four teams delivered well.



There were many interesting observations from this exercise.

Video: 
CODC Leadership - Yes We Can :)

It is belief that matters

BeliefToday morning as we were doing our usual weekend morning walk at the beach, I saw a young girl learning to ride a bicycle. I guess it was her father who was with her. He was holding the bicycle as she rode and was running along with her. He was constantly reassuring her that she can balance on her own. That struck a chord in me.


Riding a bicycle needs skills. More than those skills it is the belief in you that matters. The dad was actually focusing on nurturing the girls belief system.

Are We There Yet!

PlayingThis post is not about time management but about the psychology of how we perceive time and the world around us at two distinctly different stages of our life namely childhood and adulthood. During childhood, if I was constrained to a place, for example inside a train or a car, even during a short 60 minute ride I used to become very impatient. In real life we watch children strapped to a seat in a car ask “Are we there yet?’ every five minutes. Curiosity, impatience and spontaneity are very common traits in children. They are not afraid to admit that they do not know something.



Recently I saw a mom and a small kid in a mega mall.

Mistakes Are Always In The Past



RafikiFirst of all we are talking about well meaning leaders in this blog and not about villains and criminals. So we can boldly make the statement that forms the title of the post. Mistakes are different from villainous mischief and intentional crime.


I want to quote a recent Calvin and Hobbes strip I enjoyed (and learnt from it as well). Calvin steals Susie's most loved doll (intentional mischief). Susie is aghast. Calvin sends a ransom note that is properly signed (childish mistake). Susie takes revenge, She takes Hobbes away. Calvin realizes his mistake of underestimating Susie's potential to retaliate.

Worry Is != Action



Worry FaceThe dictionary says that an action is characterized by physical or mental activity. Worry is mental activity. Still worry does not qualify as a useful action. We worry because we are anxious about something. The act of worry never takes us out of that anxious state. Instead it lands us squarely back into that same state. Any useful action will take us at least one tiny step away from being anxious. Since the worrying act is a loop that lands us back to where we started, the magnitude of worry actually increases each time the loop activates. This is because the root cause - which is lack of control on something that deeply matters - has not yet been addressed. If left unaddressed, spiraling anxiousness can lead into a depressed mental state.

A Model Relating Experience And Leadership



Young LeaderWe definitely understand the inspiring leadership demonstrated by people like young Bill Gates and many young sports people.  Young people can lead and produce awesome results.


We saw seven important aspects of leadership in the previous post. They are namely



  1. Have a vision

On Leadership, Fear, Control and Inner Strength - Part Two



Strong Personalities and Inner Strength


I remember reading, flicking through the pages of an Osho book, that bravery is not the lack of fear, but action in spite of the full presence of it. Correct. Very few people are actually brave in the face of fear, and it is these people who are strong enough to lead, first themselves, then others. The anxieties and apprehensions that limit the average dude’s possibilities in social life, are not ignored by alpha personalities. They are, to the contrary, felt in their entirety, in all their painful glory, but overcome. That is the test of personal strength. You cannot lead if you do not pass this again and again, and are worthy of leadership only as long as you can pass it.

Leadership, Fear, Control and Personality: Part One



Right, psych lesson everyone. I’ve just finished reading Uday’s best post yet, a simple but insightful assortment of society into leaders and followers, and want to get some things off my chest.. Uday speaks from years of interactive experience at management level positions in IT, so he’s in the know, and you’ll find my arguments to be i-sorta-knew-that-but-just-never-said-it-aloud things anyway. Forget Freud and perverted little boys, this is what psychology’s really about.


So I’ll break it down for you – three personality types – the drifter, the cog, and the leader.