Tag Archives: Leader

How Mindfulness Benefits Business

A few days after I had conducted a workshop on “Mindfulness for Excellence” for the Top Sales Leaders in an IT Company, I ran into one of the participants at the Pune airport. He was enthusiastic  about the huge benefits that come from being present to our innermost core of Awareness.

I asked him what he specifically found to be of value, and he shared some thoughts. He said he had evolved to be:

  • More conscious of  his surroundings, other people and  opportunities to serve
  • More relaxed, energized, inspired  and healthy
  • Clearer in  thought leading to more creative and agile decision making
  • More Confident  and Present ; and
  • Better in interpersonal relations.

The beauty about meditation is that only one single practice yields  these all-round results. You don’t need to follow separate courses of action for achieving them.

This is not surprising, considering that the most important instrument available to Leaders is the Mind.  The Mind  mediates everything that the person aspires for, perceives, feels, acts on, and achieves. It determines the quality of decision making, the person’s enthusiasm, his or her concern for others, oneself and the environment.

The mind provides the larger context  and purpose for the work of all Leaders. The quality of their thoughts and affects what they  create. The Mind is the foundation for all of life….the wellspring of all that happens or does not happen. The “collective mind” shapes the destiny of organisations and nations.

The true work of a Leader is to shape the minds of followers.

You can lead  others only  if you lead  their thought processes.

It is impossible to lead other peoples’ thought processes if one cannot govern one’s own!

Meditation and Mindfulness  enable the Leader to access a deeper Awareness which is beyond the mind. This leads to a spontaneous improvement in many dimensions of life. By paying attention to what is happening in the now, the quality of ones responses are more appropriate and creative. On days that I meditate in the morning, I find my work moving faster, with less distractions , and my interactions with people are far more joyful and easy.

There is a huge amount of research on the benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation. Even as I was writing this piece, an article on the Business Value of Mindfulness came into my Inbox!  Companies like Google have started using Yoga  and Meditation to increase productivity.  The evidence is loud and clear.

When Pragati Leadership talked of Meditation for Leaders 27 years ago, many eyebrows would rise. Today, there is ample research evidence to show that it makes practical business sense.

Considering that Joy, Peace and Freedom is what man’s search is all about, Meditation simply says you can BE all these right now. And this makes huge personal and business sense.

Perhaps, communing with the Timeless is the best investment of 20 minutes of my time.

by Arun Wakhlu

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On a treasure hunt of Self

Yes….I Know it now….The power of my being resides in myself.    There is nowhere else to go.  I and I alone can access it.   For years I believed that the keys to this treasure were somewhere far, in some distant exotic land and inaccessible unless one crosses the towering mountain cliffs and battles the devilish seas.   Now I know the journey is simpler, maybe there is no journey at all.   And the treasure awaits me.

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So what is this treasure?  Why is still hidden?  And where are the keys? 

An ancient saying goes that God was often heckled by Man and his incessant requests.   Then God approached a wise Saint and wanted to know if there was someplace he could hide and be away from these constant demands.   Apparently wherever God went, Man would chase him and find him.  The saint advised God to take refuge in Man’s own heart.   That is one place he will never search for God!!

Aaah, so this treasure called Self or God is just there. In your heart and my heart…And so beautifully concealed that even with eyes wide open we just fail to notice.  And if and when we do, we might just dismiss is as irrational exalted state.   And then once again the doors shut and we wonder what next.

compass

Just like for any treasure hunt, Man has been looking for the clues to this treasure.  Many have found it, and some have come very close.  It is time millions find it too.   But unlike the treasures for which the kings explored lands, this one is endless and limitless.   This treasure is something everyone can have and yet it will grow.   So what are the clues?

First of all just know that it is just there waiting for you.   Recognize that.  And you are that treasure.  So it is not removed from you.  It is part of you and you are part of it.    And all that you require is to remember this!!  So simple!!   Yet the myriad schemes the mind will come up with will take you away from this.  That’s the fake treasure called Maya.   Remembrance of the real treasure was always there, and yet the wily mind made it sound unreal.

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Sage Ashtavakra told King Janaka in the Ashtawakra Gita –

muktabhimani mukto hi

baddho baddhabhimany api .

“You are what you think.”

If you think you are bound you are bound.

If you think you are free you are free.

The biggest fallacy is that the treasure is bound.  It is not.   Even the layers are illusionary.  The master sword of awareness of the supreme consciousness is all it takes to reach to this treasure.  The highest knowledge is the knowledge of the self.  And that is the treasure.

Jesus, Buddha and other enlightened Masters have shown the way to this treasure.

4 keys

Bhagwad Gita describes the four keys or ways to this treasure.   Gyan Marga,  Bhakti Marga,  Karma Marga and  Yoga Marga.   All Margas lead to the ultimate treasure of Kaivalya, freedom.  You can start anywhere and you are guaranteed this treasure.   Amazing isn’t it.    Where do you want to start?

By Vikas Bhatia 

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Inside every successful leader there is a child at play

Every leader would like to believe that he or she is exercising power that has been rightfully earned, in order to get work done for the best results. In the process though, there is an inherent tug-of-war at play between positional power and pressure to deliver better than before. The collateral damage of this clash is often borne by colleagues, peers, subordinates and sometimes, unfortunately, even family!

When the going is tough and the need of the hour is to step away from the beaten-path to make game-changing moves, most leaders are often found wanting. The ability to take calculated risks and back innovative ideas pretty much separates the great leaders from the rest. Somehow, these leaders seem to possess the curiosity, passion and the ability to demonstrate equanimity under all circumstances. They are also able to identify game-changing opportunities despite being involved in fire-fighting or overseeing mundane tasks. For them, there are no issues to be sorted, only opportunities to be sought and tapped. They are honest enough to state the obvious however bitter it may be and quick to applaud initiative and that gives them the clarity of thought needed to make quick, inclusive decisions. Their teams willingly back them since there is no second-guessing or sycophancy needed to perform and be recognized.

The million-rupee question is how are they able to do what they do? The answer may lie in an old Vedic dictum that prophesizes that a man can discover GOD within when he allows the child in him to thrive. Essentially, what the sages were trying to tell us is that being child-like at all times is the ultimate measure of evolution, however paradoxical that may sound. The famous English poet William Wordsworth also echoed this thought. But we’ll keep that for later. For now, we will see how this is true for business leaders as well.

So, what are those five child-like characteristics that a good leader should nurture and demonstrate, day in and day out?

1)     Be innocent: Yes, you read that right. However difficult it is for us adults to believe in the value of this trait, it is perhaps the most powerful among the lot that a child possesses.

innocent child

As a leader of a team or teams, one must be innocent in thought, words and actions. This is the foundation of trust. It doesn’t mean being naïve or gullible. Rather, it is a quality that defines authenticity and clarity. Communication is then a free-way without barriers and that opens up tremendous possibilities. Followers willingly speak their mind knowing fully well that their leader is genuine, non-judgmental and unbiased. Ideas begin to flow out easily, collaboration is a given and hence breakthrough business results happen!

2)     Be curious: Remember when you were a child and everything that happened around you was new and magical? In hindsight, we’re quick to dismiss that as ‘child-like curiosity’ but that is in fact an unmatched asset every good leader should possess.

curious child

You are then able to continuously and unwaveringly look for opportunities subconsciously. As a leader, you look for talent that is waiting to blossom, you listen to all, you see everything with delight and full involvement. It becomes a happy habit to seek, accept and celebrate ideas from anyone, whatever their position or role. Finding game-changing ideas is then an inherent talent and there is never a dearth of information or solutions when needed. What happens as a result? There is never a lack of motivation or passion and achieving results is a piece of cake!

3)     Be stubborn: Throwing tantrums and not letting up till they’ve got what they wanted is but a natural thing for children. They are masters at the game and seem to find newer ways each time! More importantly, they seem to possess an inexhaustible reserve of stubbornness no matter how big or small the need. This is what driven leaders also possess in abundance.

stubborn child

But being stubborn does not in any way mean being unfair and demanding to the point of being overbearing. The stubborn child is able to extract what it wants by being persuasive, friendly, lovable and convincing. As a leader, if you are able back your instinct/ gut-call, to fix your mind on a goal and go after it like a stubborn child, you will discover that the team will come around to supporting and collaborating with you to achieve it. 

4)      Be forgiving: Remember those silly fights with mates that never lasted more than a few seconds? Remember how easy it was to swear never to speak again and get back to noisy banter, fun and laughter? Well, if you are a leader, you must be forgiving by nature. You might have set very high standards for yourself and hence reached where you have but that should not make you demanding and unforgiving towards subordinates and colleagues. It could also be that your role demands superior standards but that should not mean failure or mistakes are unacceptable.

forgiving child

After all, we’re all humans and we’re bound to falter now and then, right? If you can forgive easily and caringly, your Emotional Intelligence comes through in such a way that peers, colleagues and subordinates begin to trust and love you. More significantly, the idea-ramans in the team will never hesitate to share their latest idea or suggestion which could prove game-changing!

5)     Be playful: Yes. Let the child in you play at work. Never take yourself, your role/ designation or what you do, too seriously! Remember the mischievous child, always ready to play a prank or two, never hesitating to diffuse an angry moment with monkey-faces? Well, that child is needed all the more, every time you climb the corporate ladder towards greater leadership.

playful child

The playful leader enjoys every little event, celebrates those inconsequential successes and applauds merrily. More importantly for the organization, this leader handles so-called pressure situations with an unaffected gaiety that is infectious! Playful leaders manage to convert work into play for everyone in the team and that transforms organizational culture like nothing else can!

Did you find resonance with these traits? Do you still have doubts about actually practicing these in real life? Well, all you have to do is observe closely the shenanigans of children at home and if possible, participate in their fun! William Wordsworth suggested that ‘The child is the father of man’ in his famous poem ‘The Rainbow’ and indeed there is so much to learn from children that Leaders would do well to take their little ones more seriously, don’t you agree? You never know – the next BIG idea might just come from your child’s silly game or innocuous comment! Better still would be for you, the leader, to rediscover, nurture and unleash the child in you to lead the way… So go ahead! Be child-like and play!

By Nandakishore Padmanabhan

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Personalize your Leadership

A series of recent personal experiences and musings have taught me the underlying strength and effectiveness of a true leader – the ability to ‘personalize’ his/ her leadership skills.

Musings on Krishna: The word Krishna means ‘all      attractive’ – in other words He attracts all.

When He used to be a part of the ‘raas leela’ each of the Gopis thought that Krishna was dancing with her and nobody else and that He loved her the most!

The reason was simple – Krishna was and is personal with His devotees.

Learning 1: A true leader needs to be personal with his followers.

Hosting-the Taj way: I remember some months back, I was checking into the Taj at Baroda and as soon as my car entered the porch area, the security guard opened the door and welcomed me by saying ‘Good evening  Mr Bharwani, welcome to the Taj’. I was elated to hear my own name and I kept on hearing it from the staff till I entered my room.

They simply personalized their offering (from my name to the food) to attract me, so much so I have very fond memories of my stay in that hotel and I have spoken about this to many of my friends. The result – I have become a loyal follower of this hotel.

Learning 2: The leader reciprocates in a way that makes the follower feel special.

Smiling with a saint: Recently, I got the opportunity to spend some introspective time with a saint in my building and we happened to see one of my neighbours pass by. For as long as I can remember, this lady never once smiled at anybody but that particular instance she smiled at the saint and I saw the saint smiling back. I was shocked. I revealed to him my astonishment and how I’d never seen her respond to anybody’s smile till that moment only to get another smile from him in response!

It then struck me that I have seen this saint meet many people from flamboyant billionaires to simple villagers and they all seemed so deeply connected with him. I’ve watched tears roll down their faces sometimes without a single word being spoken, triggered simply by a touch.

Learning 3: The leader connects with his people’s deepest feelings and needs, setting them free to express themselves fully.

 
  

Honest, soul-to-soul conversations and listening from the heart are indeed powerful tools to connect with the follower and as leaders see more of the follower, reciprocation becomes more meaningful and this attracts the follower to the leader all the more. There’s no better example for this than the Gopis, in the dead of the night, would leave their homes to meet their eternal lover Krishna, not worried one bit about the consequences at home.

To be a true leader therefore, one has to genuinely personalize one’s leadership endeavours. Only then will followers willingly take risks and put in that extra effort because they will genuinely believe that their leader gives them personal care.

By Deepak Bharwani

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Humble Leadership – the Power of One before the Zero

I remember attending my daughter’s annual drama performance, which was very unique in the sense all the students of the school from the first standard to the tenth standard, were performing and they had spent months practicing for it. It was at a mammoth level with 1000 students performing in their colourful costumes on a larger than life stage with spectacular lighting and heart soothing music.

The show ended and the principal came on stage to thank everybody involved in making the event a success. At the end, it was time to thank the director who we knew had put in a lot of sweat and tears to coordinate with 1000 participants and present a soul stirring performance. The principal called out his name ‘Allan’ and while his name was being called out thousand of students and parents were cheering in anticipation to see him on stage; but he was nowhere in sight. He knew the job was well done and he did not want to bask in the glory of the evening and take away anything from the children who had so beautifully performed.

It has been 5 years since the drama was performed and the memory of this event still holds on to my mind of a person who took the position of insignificance while doing such a great act. Recently, when India lifted the coveted cricket world cup trophy, the captain of the team M S Dhoni allowed his team members to take centre stage while he stood on the sidelines, even though he played a crucial knock in the finals and hit the final six over midoff to seal India’s victory in the world cup finals.

In both the instances, the two people took a humble position and there are people in the business community who term this as ‘humble leadership’. Jim Collins, the author of two much-quoted works, ‘How the Mighty Fall (2009) and Good to Great (2001) has linked the performance of great companies to Level 5 leaders, who practice two distinct qualities, namely genuine personal humility and intense professional will.

The Level 5 leader is always looking outside the window to see who deserves the credit for the job well done. This kind of humble leadership attracts people and brings out the best in them as their contribution is recognized as meaningful and significant. It is not easy to practice humility as pointed by social commentator Santosh Desai who believes that such acts require supreme self-confidence and wisdom.

Radhanath Swami who has studied the wisdom literature of the world and says “A true leader practices humility and humility really means honesty. Humility is about simply being truthful. What do we have to brag about? If God does not make the sun rise, what will you do? Did you create your brain? Did you create your eyes to see? Did you create your heart to beat? Did you create your arms to act? 

As they say in British parlance, do not be proud of borrowed looms. Whatever we have is not ours. We are merely instruments of a power beyond ourselves and to recognize and access that supreme power is real humility. Imagine the power of the Lord with you! It is like adding a one to all the zeroes, suddenly the value changes.

Our vedic scriptures prescribe a simple method of adding this One to our life by establishing a relationship with the Supreme One and any relationship requires good understanding and communication.

Prayer is a powerful means of communication with the Supreme Lord and the most effective prayer in the day and age is the chanting of the Holy names of the Supreme Lord. The chanting of the Holy names will cleanse our heart of all the impurities and will bring us to our natural state of being a humble servant and this will inspire people around us to become humble leaders leading to a more cooperative and loving society.

By Deepak Bharwani

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