Tag Archives: big picture thinking

Ready and Capable Leaders - Organisational Transformation

How Do You Know Your Leaders are Ready and Capable?

In a recent conversation, the CEO of a well-run organization expressed this question and it got me thinking – is leadership development addressed sufficiently well by organizations and the owners of the organization?

Let’s begin with the CEO’s question. Common sense thinking would be to have a competent person for the job. But in the era we live in, a continuously changing and evolving landscape of business and competition make things very unpredictable. What kind of competencies would really be needed to navigate the maze becomes the single most important question to really bring about new thinking?

Ready and Capable Leaders - Pragati Leadership

Would past experience and knowledge not be sufficient? Think about, explorations of the space. Would knowledge of having been in space be sufficient to travel to Mars? Very unlikely! Important but not sufficient. One has to apply forward thinking of the unknown challenges and risks and yet be bold enough to actually jump into it.   Elon Musk, a very unconventional leader has a penchant to deviate from the normal and take risks. Does every organization need an Elon Musk type leader?  Or can they continue to win with proven horses and strategies? Organizations need a blend of both type of leaders, but it’s evident that we will need a bigger pipeline of leaders equipped to deal with the future.

So how do we approach this problem?   Clearly current day skills and knowledge will get outdated and organizations will have to reshape on a continuous basis.   The question is not when but how? Building agility and strategic mind-sets,  using executive coaching developing big picture thinking,  encouraging creative problem solving, creating inspiring workplaces, leading strategic change are few things the organization’s leaders will need to develop and demonstrate.

In one business review meeting with a client, I asked leaders if they could think what the business landscape would look like after 3-5 years, and their responses made me shudder.   The inability to foresee new challenges and taking comfort in the known situations could make the organization and the individual vulnerable to the external environment. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is upon us.  Futuristic competitive forces are a good starting point to know if the organizations and it leaders are ready and capable to address them, if not all at least some of them. Having leaders who are not just good in doing what the organization can and wants them to do, but also equipped in doing what its future competitors will do, will define whether the organization will succeed in future or not.

And yes, organizational transformation, leadership and talent development is a continuous journey.   An evolution!  And it has to happen at an increasing pace because the environment is changing faster than what we might prefer.

The Role of Leaders in Creating Happiness

The Role of Leaders in Creating Happiness

All business leaders are expected to deliver results for the organization. However the role of leaders in creating happiness is lesser understood and also contested by many leaders.

Let’s take the conversation to an era, where leaders were essentially rulers of a tribe, clan or a kingdom. There are numerous folk tales where the kings often had a huge task cut out and had to ensure that their subjects were able to live a just and happy life. Of course there were also leaders who did not really care about the citizens and were more focussed on their power, wealth and entertainment.

It was always expected from a benevolent leader to help his/her subjects in times of famines or other crisis. I recently read a story of the king of Mysore who gave up most of his kingly possessions and was ready to even mortgage his palace to fund the incomplete KRS Dam. This dam would have provided succour to the parched regions of Mysore and would have benefitted the farmers significantly. Would a business leader in today’s time go to such length to ensure the happiness of his/her team?

The Role of Leaders in Creating Happiness

Focusing on happiness essentially means showing concern for people. In today’s world with hyper competition and high volatility, a business manager’s focus tends to be largely on reaching one’s goals. One cannot afford to lose business, while a loss in the team is often considered acceptable.  These paradigms perpetuate eventually pushing the leaders’ focus purely on producing results. Produce or perish (ref. Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid) then is the operating Mantra.

What are the drawbacks through the relentless focus only on producing results? In my observations, sustaining an organization in the long run purely through this focus on production is very difficult. Disengagement and attrition are two familiar outcomes. What does it take for a leader to create happiness in the work place? Is it counterproductive to his core objectives of delivering results? Will happy employees be as rewarding as happy investors?

These questions require deep diving into understanding that happiness is important to every individual. The definition of happiness itself can vary vastly from individual to individual. A simplistic approach can often lead organizations and leaders to focus on the external motivators like compensation and other benefits. Once one realizes the short lived outcomes on the benefits of such external motivators, it then forces you to think what brings happiness and joy in people.

One definition which endures is helping people find meaning and pride in one’s work. Great leaders create the intrinsic motivations through instilling purpose and create empowering environments that allow people to discover themselves. And sometimes all it takes is emphatic listening. Simple as it might sound, it is quite another thing to practice and find ways to alleviate people from their current paradigms. Genuine executive coaching conversations can help break these barriers.

Excellence is a hallmark of Joy! Focus on creating joyful and meaningful workplaces can be potential enablers in creating excellence without compromising on the focus to produce. Big picture thinking meshes the ability to take people along and getting results. They are indistinguishable. You are then poised for a huge leap and true organizational transformation. But it all begins with you!


Big Picture Thinking

Mountains and hills have always drawn me. When I reflect on what the source of this attraction is, one of them is the view from the summit. Whether it is the view of the whole area of Srinagar and the Dal Lake from the top of the Shankracharya Hill  in Kashmir; or the view of the Alpbach valley and surrounding villages from the top of Gratlspitz in Tyrol Austria, the big picture view is always mesmerising for me.

One can see all the different parts of the valley, the connecting roads and trails, the lakes and rivers, the forests, the sky and clouds…The whole big picture.

In an exercise we often use in our workshops with teams at Pragati Leadership, groups are given giant jig saw puzzles to solve without showing them the “Big Picture”. You can well imagine how tough that gets. When they see the picture on top of the box they have to put together, the puzzle is solved in a jiffy.

Big Picture Thinking

It shapes what we see. It creates the connections in our mind that relate to the whole picture beyond the words. When we miss the context, the big picture, we fail to see.  From shaping what we see, the context also determines how what we see occurs to the meaning we give to what we see, the feelings and actions that then emerge from this, and finally our outcomes. When context is missing, content makes little or no sense.

Another more basic reason for our attention getting “stuck” is that in the humdrum of Business as Usual (BAU), we do not look for fresh information or perspectives different from our own. We are locked, as it were, into a perceptual box that keeps us deluded into thinking that what we are seeing is really the world “out there”. Our attention is simply stuck or fixated, and so also our vision.

What might be the benefits of seeking the big picture:

  • It helps to see the Context for our work. For leaders, inculcating this quality is vital. At the level of an individual, an expanded view of life helps one to craft a sense of meaning and purpose;
  • The big picture shows us the Connections between different parts of the system. We take systems view and see the interrelatedness of things. This informs the actions of different actors in the system. It also helps us to ensure that all that we do is having a positive effect on our relationships; and
  • When you see the context and connections clearly, it helps you chart out a Course for the way forward. This could take the form of better strategic decisions in organisations based on seeing the big picture and understanding all the forces at work in the whole system. As an individual, charting the course of one’s career choices would be better informed when we look at the big picture.

It’s not enough to be effective. We also need to be meta effective…effective in the larger context of life and also in the long run.  It is pointless climbing a ladder to the top and then realising that the ladder is on the wrong wall.

See the big picture and choose well.

Author: Mr.Arun Wakhlu