In the Pandemic, the events span a century between the pandemics of 1919 to 2020; between Dipen and Indranil who have a tenuous link over four generations and arising from an old and decrepit palace and its Shiva linga.
When confronted by tragedy, the vastly different societal conditioning and development of a hundred years, cannot detract from the eerily similar impact.
“The pandemic did go away. But it left in its wake corpses, both dead and living”.
The above is a blurb from Pandemic, one of the four stories of my forthcoming book, ” The Chronicler of the Hooghly”.
Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and free copy of the book, do write to me @ email@example.com.
It was a simple idea that brought in the Reboot Toolbox. An idea about how to support our own-selves (as well as others) to remain relevant in a world with a new normal?
As part of the Reboot Toolbox initiative, a Webinar titled “Pandemic and how to plug-in to the future” has been showcased over the last couple of weeks to alumni associations, students and employees of Leading B Schools and organisations. The Webinar underlined the premise that different skill sets and way of looking at situations would be needed in the new normal. The webinar introduced to the participants practices using the 4 Action Stage initiatives framework and a Resilience Tool.
The Reboot Toolbox is about a vision to upgrade Leadership and Performance in a world with a new normal. A world in which Uncertainty and Volatility would be the norm. The Reboot Toolbox would strive to bring new thoughts and practices aligned to the new normal.
As part of the vision, I invite you to join the Cause. You could do that in the following manner.
(1) Engage in discussions on the forum.
(2) Contribute thoughts, articles and tools to support others in the journey.
(3) Spread the word about the Reboot Toolbox Webinars within your organisation as also to others. They come Free of Cost!
Should the Reboot Toolbox and its vision resonate for you, do reply back to me Offline on : firstname.lastname@example.org
There is going to be a post Pandemic world. That is a certainty. What is also certain is that the post Pandemic world would require significantly different perspectives and competence set.
“The one thing I’ve personally learned is you’ve got to get ahead of the curve, don’t try to deny it or put your head in the sand, and wish for the best. These are the times when a culture and an organization gets tested”
– Michael Hansen, CEO, Cengage
There is going to be a post Pandemic world. That is a certainty. What is also certain is that the post Pandemic world would require significantly different perspectives and competence set; we would come to live in a world with a new normal.
The pandemic is a black swan event. What that implies is that none of us have faced anything like it before. What happens when we are confronted with something about which we know nothing about? We become like the caveman in the dark of the night, neither able to see the path to the safety of our cave nor know whether a saber tooth is lurking nearby waiting to pounce. Neurochemicals flood our brain, we become geared to fight or take flight.
In the present day context, a black swan event leads to our primal brain conditioning kicking in. We get drawn into the uncertain and the total lack of knowledge aspects of the event. The more we try, the more we fail to make sense. We feel dis-empowered, make assumptions and frequently adopt high risk strategy without much thought or evaluation. When we fail we are quick to blame the VUCA (the volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) inherent in the environment. In short we are disrupted.
Why do we get disrupted? Because we keep on trying to predict what would happen in the future. We keep on working with probabilities. But since a black swan event has no precedence, allowing no experience from our past to guide us, we fail.
In a post pandemic world, we need to shift into a mindset of possibilities.
I invite you to do this practise for just one hour a week. During this hour, unplug yourself from the present. Unplug from all your existing challenges and apprehensions. Unplug from your inherent belief system which is telling you that once things normalise, you would go back to how things were in the past. This is where the fallacy lies and you need to be aware of that.
Then plug yourself into the future. How do you do that? You do that by establishing hard trends about which you do have significant certainty and do know some facts.
You make three lists.
The first list is of all things you are certain of.
The second list is of all those things and aspects which you know, which are part of your competences.
The final list is of all things you can do.
This very act of making these lists would shift your mindset and open up possibilities. This leaves you empowered, you evaluate to choose low risk strategy, thereby gaining confidence and focus. As you succeed, you become a disruptor in the new world.
As you practise, you would become more proficient to determine the hard trends. You would become Anticipatory as you develop the capacity for future back thinking. You stand in the created future and look back to establish what actions and strategy you need to work on today to make the future happen.
How might you deliver business and revenue goals, organisational growth and marketplace success in a post pandemic environment?
How would you make sense of what might put brakes on organizational velocity in the post pandemic environment and how to un-brake?
How might you get high performance from team members in the uncertainty of the post pandemic world ?
How could we use the current pandemic experience to develop a COVID 19 Warrior Leadership mindset?
A Do-It-Yourself program.
We are currently witnessing a level of Uncertainty from the COVID19 situation that none of us have faced in our lifetime. There is no past experience relating to such a pandemic or for that matter anything else to guide us. So how do we negotiate the right pathway? How do we exercise leadership that is effective?
We, due to our innate survival instinct, follow a herd mindset. A mindset formed by what we read, what others are saying, the ubiquitous social media of today.
Our COVID19 pandemic mindset is thus wholly focussed on the containment strategies of the spreading viral infection, how to flatten the medical curve so to say and gain more time before we as a species could fight back using some vaccine under development. And nothing wrong with that.
Now let us talk of Leadership and effectiveness. What makes leaders effective is that they see, comprehend and thus engage with the same situation differently. As if they see and come to live in a different world!
The COVID19 warrior leadership would review the ensuing economic recession curves arising out of the containment strategy based infection curve and determine an optimal balance.
Let us now explore the effect of the COVID19 lockdown on the business and economic cycles. As we can see several links in the cycle would get disrupted and are shown by crosses in RED. The general mindset arising out of this would be to hoard, avoid spending and investments. All this would further exacerbate the situation!
A COVID19 warrior leadership in contrast would be visualizing new and innovative policies and funding methods to remove the prevailing blocks.
So what could you do to develop yourself so that you gain the ability to exercise a COVID19 warrior leadership effectively in an increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world?
I give here some pointers. Should we mull over them to try and determine your thoughts and answers, you would be well on your way to becoming a COVID19 warrior leader.
Clarity about a future that others cannot yet see.How could you communicate this future simply without being simplistic?
Dilemma flipping: How could you turn dilemmas into opportunities?
Immersive Learning: Do you have the ability to learn in a first person way viz. ‘on the Court’ rather than ‘from the stands’ ?
Bio- Empathy: Could we inculcate the ability to see things from Nature’s patterns and use that wisdom?
Smart mob organizing: Do we have the ability to engage and nurture social change networks through intelligent use of electronic and other media?
How to be an effective leader during accelerating change and disruption
Change is the only Constant. Or is it?
In my previous post, ‘Heralding the Twenties’ I had spoken of the Change Trap. To cope with an ever accelerating pace of change, we need to become someone or something we were never before. Which in turn leads to a negative impact on our creativity, performance and engagement. I had outlined a practice to avoid this negative impact.
As a changing environment and disruption touches us, we need to have a flexible surface to engage. Which essentially means the need to jettison our past derived rigidity and mindset. With accelerating change, our surface is always in a state of flux. For many if not most of us, this surface flux permeates inwards and starts effecting our core consisting of our values, our passions and relationships. This is when we fall into the Change trap.
Effective leadership in the midst of accelerating change and disruption starts with that changeless core containing your values, passions and relationships. You hold an enhanced awareness of these aspects. You then use these as guiding posts in your language and relationships. This becomes the basis for your effective tango with change and disruption.
An un-fixed and possibility-based mindset allows you to use future-based (rather than past-based) language with others.
If you already know based on your past experience, there is no place to change.
Be willing to reach out to others even if they are not seeking you.
Be willing to speak about the uncomfortable elephant in the room even if it disturbs a cosy status quo.
I invite you to think of and answer these questions in your dealings within your organisation and with team members.
What gets in your way of helping others who have taken on new and unknown challenges?
What language might you use with others which would ignite transformation?
What did you do that encouraged others to perform?
…… and more importantly,
What did you do that drained the energy of others?
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
We remain days away from entering a brand new decade.
A hundred years back, it was called the roaring twenties. An era of economic boom. What kind of twenties are we going to have this time?
I invite you to ponder on the above as also these questions. How would work change? What would create wealth? How would the exponential growth in 24 X 7 human connectivity through social media impact us and our lives?
We are into a world which is changing at an ever increasing pace. We need to continually become someone or something we never were before.
So what happens when we continually become someone or something we never were before? We feel discomfort, fear, uncertainty; we are on edge. How we feel impacts how we act, how we work. So being on edge with negative feelings as above leads to loss of creativity, inability to take risks, loss of productivity and engagement. And herein lies the danger of becoming someone or something we never were before. I call this the Change Trap.
So what could we do to avoid the Change Trap? Since it is difficult to control our feelings, we need to see how we could shift its impact on how we act, how we perform. One way of doing this is to focus inwards – into the kind of changeless core that we are and what makes us tick. Our big vision about the world and our self, our competences, our passions and our relationships.
In the New Year, I invite you to do this practice for just the first fortnight to empower yourself and avoid the Change Trap. Write down the following in your diary every day for 15 days before you go to bed.
When you were at your best today, what were you doing?
When you saw your energy going up, what were you involved in ?
When you felt happy helping someone, what did you do?
Should you persevere with this practise for a fortnight, you will notice how its impact changes your life and the world around you!
I wish you Merry Christmas and a lovely 2020 ahead.
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
— Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO
In today’s disruptive and hyper competitive world, the need for learning new skills and competences come in continuous waves. Such learning becomes more and more transitory as the skills and competences get replaced by new requirements and technology. There is widespread realisation that it is this increased capacity and hunger for such learning that provides Leadership with its “last frontier of business advantage”.
Because of the disruptive and accelerating changes all around, the capacity for self driven learning within a‘learning organisation’ culture could be the key differentiator. In the book‘The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning’ its authors outline a process which they claim would add significant value to businesses through creation of such a ‘Learning culture’.
The 6D process goes through these stages.
Define Business outcomes rather than falling into the trap ofdefining Learning outcomes.
Design the Complete Experience rather than merely a learning event.
Deliver for application, which essentially means the learning in itself should motivate its application.
Drive Learning transfer. Possibly the most critical stage. This is when ‘Can I?’ shifts to ‘Will I?’
Deploy performance support to overcome the resistance mindset to change as one gets down to ‘doing it the new way’.
Document results. Did it achieve the results? Was it worth it?
As I read the book, I am left pondering about what is it that stops organisations from adopting and applying the six disciplines as outlined.
Is it :
The absence of a link between what is learnt to how it would support one to personally succeed and get recognised?
The law of fast forgetting one’s new learning as one gets back into the comfortable rut of old ways?
The failure to shift from ‘Can I?’ to ‘Will I?’And the underlying reason for that?
The plethora of disparate factors about one’s own motivation, existing workflows and processes, the work place culture, the political, economic and social aspects?
If indeed there exist such a large number of factors which come in the way of learning transfer,what could be done to optimise performance? In such a situation, how could we shift people from being disengaged to be innovative, how could we transform an organisation to imbibe a learning mindset and be a leading edge innovator?
To be able to do the above Leadership too needs to Learn. Learn how to use future based generative language to articulate a future which addresses the concerns of all the above disparate stakeholders. A future into which everyone concerned comes to live into with learning and actions in the present to make the future happen.
Acknowledgement: “THE SIX DISCIPLINES OF BREAKTHROUGH LEARNING” How to Turn Training and Development Into Business Results by Calhoun W. Wick, Roy V. H. Pollock, Andrew Mc K. Jefferson, and Richard D. Flanagan. Published by John Wiley &Sons Inc., Hobokern, New Jersey 2015.
This is a question that I am frequently asked by the students of the two business schools where I am a visiting faculty. Knowing about my decades of corporate experience, they assume that I carry nuggets of experience based wisdom that can grow leadership. I do not have the heart to tell them that my so called “experience wisdom” seldom if at all played a role in my leadership initiatives. In fact if truth be told, my leadership situation most of the times was akin to, “I have no idea where I am going”.
So how does one grow into great leadership?
Well for a start, one cannot think one’s way into great leadership. It really comes down to putting our feet on the ground, being a “Do- er” under all situations, never mind the nay-sayers and doomsday prophets. The essence really is “DOING”. We grow when we do things, as we tweak our path and approach intuitively.
Leadership is really about our impact on others. Many of us though confuse this with the great intentions that we hold. But intentions, which is all about us, has little or no alignment with impact, which is all about others. So how does one create this alignment? We do this by seeing our self through the eyes of those we serve. I like to see this as a kind of empathy working in reverse.
Literature is full of how empathy is an intrinsic part of great leadership. Which is all about what we need to do with getting into the other person’s shoes and looking at a situation from his / her perspective. But how often do we think of allowing the other person to get into our shoes and providing a fresh perspective from our vantage point?
Feedback from others who watch our ability ( or otherwise!) to impact others is really the fuel that can ignite our leadership transformation.
Ask the following questions of your team.
What did I do that led to a positive impact?
What did I do that negatively impacted the team’s initiative?
What Could I do better to encourage the team to perform?
Recently I had the opportunity to be a Master Mentor to a set of alumni mentors of a premier business school as part of its ambitious initiative to offer a Career Support Program for its graduating students. As the master mentor, my role was really about ensuring the effectiveness of the mentoring process.
The alumni mentors had graduated from the same school few years back and were shaping up as young business leaders in the industry.
In one of my interactions, an alumni mentor mentioned that inspite of his efforts, he sensed a lack of openness and desire to engage from some of the students. I could sense his frustration of seeing his mentoring efforts becoming unproductive.
I asked, “What shows up when you think of your own leading ability?”
“Well, when I am able to influence and get things done”, he answered.
“… and when you see that happening, what behaviours do you display?” I continued.
Reflecting a bit, the mentor replied, “Well I believe I encourage people to take on new initiatives.”
I could sense the disparity between what the mentor believed he was committed to and the outcome that he was achieving. I avoided saying so.
Changing the track somewhat, I then asked, “What do you think gets in the way when you try to support others to take on new challenges?”
The alumni mentor responded almost immediately, “Well I think I need to be more empathetic and less of a stickler to holding people accountable.”
I thanked him for this great insight.
As a Leader, Manager or Supervisor dealing with teams tasked to produce outcomes, we get conditioned to link results to all that is happening outside us. So tracking people, their performance and holding them accountable comes naturally to us. Very seldom do we look inside our own selves to determine whether the way we speak, listen and act could have a bearing on our team member’s performance. This is where the power of empathy steps in.
In the disruptive world that we live in, where past performance has less and less traction for the future, Leaders need to anchor more within, with empathy at the core of growth and transformation.
What might you do today to focus on building trust through empathy?
How could you be a ‘success enabler’ of people by proactively removing barriers out of their way?
How could you be a sounding board for people to come to, so that you could put them in a position to succeed?