Tag Archives: Leadership Development

Leadership Training

Why most Leadership Trainings don’t work?

Leadership TrainingMost organizations realize the importance of leadership development. However, their intention to develop powerful leaders often ends up being a damp squib or an also ran exercise. Clearly, the business leaders have not paid closer attention to the factors which contribute to the success of leadership training programs.
Through my own experience as a recipient of such trainings and also, while running such leadership development workshops for our clients, I have identified five key factors which every organization must keep in mind while developing and designing leadership training programs in their organization.

1. No linkage to business goals or missing context:
Running a leadership intervention for the sake of itself is a sure shot guarantee to failure. It is an imperative to spell out in clear quantifiable objectives as to how this leadership development program will contribute to the organizational goals and help leaders develop key skills to make these goals happen. In the absence of such clear linkages, the buy in of the participants remains weak. Strategic goals must always drive the learning agenda in a leadership development initiative.

2. Inadequate probing into root causes:
Often, behaviours demonstrated by leaders are related to other factors in the organizations such as prevailing culture or DNA, business environment or the industry characteristics, workforce composition etc. Putting them through a training program and expecting them to demonstrate behaviours which don’t fit into the overall environment is akin to planting a coconut tree in a desert. In an organization which was very customer centric, teaching behaviours on efficiency were not aligned to the DNA and eventually didn’t create any further impact.

3. Poor involvement from the participant’s Manager:
The participant’s supervisor plays an important role in reinforcing the learning in the participant. I have seen many managers being dismissive of the new learning experience the participant has gone through or being reluctant to incorporate new ways of working to reap the benefits. HR or L&D department cannot alone make it successful, the role of line managers in this is vital.

4. No clarity on needles to be moved:
Expecting leaders to demonstrate key leadership behaviours or traits also requires the organization to define how these would be measured or evaluated. For example, when I asked the senior in an organization on how would they currently measure behaviour like taking ownership, there were only vague descriptors. Efforts to quantify or make it measurable are often missing leading to vague inputs for making the shift happen.

5. Short term inputs or commitment:
Let’s be clear. Leaders are not made overnight. Organizations often expect miracles through a 2-day workshop. Essentially this becomes a tick box item. While participants do walk back picking up a few insights, making these learnings become their very nature requires serious nurturing. It requires repeated inputs through multiple touch points. A spirit of community learning is also essential for people to learn with each other. Slipping back into one’s work zone and not re-connecting to deepen the learnings is one mistake I see in most organizations. This short-term approach does not allow for maximising the ROI from the inputs. Since the organization has already committed several man days, other means to engage the participants with a long term commitment should be explored.

Oh! Other than these five, there are few others including not selecting the right facilitator that can also contribute to poor outcomes. In my next article, I will outline how to select the right facilitator for your leadership intervention.

Vikas Bhatia - Pragati Leadership


Strategy at All Levels of Leaders

It is a common belief that Strategic thinking and Strategy development are the privileges of the Top Leadership of an Organization. This arises from the assumption that Strategies are defined to address the high level Corporate and Business Objectives.


I follow a simple definition of Strategy – It is a possible pathway or approach to achieve an Objective. With this definition, therefore Strategy becomes relevant and applicable to every Leader who works towards the achievement of Organisational Objectives – that means to Leaders at all levels! The strategy therefore needs to be an integral component of Leadership Development initiatives at all levels.

When every Leader at every level in an Organization routinely starts asking the question – What are the possible approaches to achieve my Objective/s, Strategic innovation starts getting into the DNA of that organization. Every Functional head explores multiple Strategies in her own area – be it People Management, Marketing, Information Technology, Production, Sales and so on. This inculcates a habit of always looking for better approaches for achieving Objectives, encourages challenging the status quo and also enhances the energy levels all around.

One more interesting aspect of Strategy is that the selected strategies at a level of Leadership translate into the Objectives for the next level. Spend some time in reflecting on this – look for examples (I have not given them intentionally!).

Happy Strategizing!



The Yoga Marga to Freedom

The western world has made the word “Yoga” very fashionable.  Since lot of celebrities now endorse as an essential part of their lifestyle,  it seems that this path is really popular.  But contrary to what one labels as Yoga, the principles and practices as described by Sage Patanjali are very profound.


How does this Marga work in our quest for liberation, freedom?  And freedom from what?   The ancient philosophers had already worked out that the self is Supreme and all the other things which bond us, restrict us is Maya.  But the stranglehood of Maya deludes us from the truth. The prescription to transcend this is called Yoga.   The Sanskrit meaning for Yoga is Union. Is it Union with the self?  But aren’t we united already?   Yes, in the broader sense, we are.  But somewhere the disconnection arises because of the delusions cast by Maya.

Ignorance of that brings darkness.  Moving from the darkness to light that we are is Yoga.  The self is illuminated, powerful and yet we suffer.

So let’s begin on this path of Yoga. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called Ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, directed at the ultimate bliss of the self.. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health; and they help us to connect with the ultimate reality of self.  The eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

The eight fold approach need not be sequential. In fact, they are supporting processes.  For eg. Practicising Niyama helps in Asanas, and practicing Asanas helps in Dhyana.   The ultimate goal is Samadhi – being one without any effort, in bliss and with complete transcendence, united with the Self.


The description sounds exotic, but in reality, we do attain Samadhi, albeit for a very small period of time.  The pleasure of Samadhi has been described as 1000 times more than that of a sexual orgasm.  Osho, in his book from Sambhog to Samadhi, describes how man seeks sexual pleasure not knowing that he is seeking Samadhi!!!

Where does one start?  Just imagine your journey has eight options. Which one would you choose? It can get confusing.   The physical plane is the easiest one to relate to.   Start with practicing Hatha Yoga and learn a few Pranayama’s. With gradual practice, one starts observing the other principles also.

The obstacles in this path can be many.  The worldly pleasures are likely to sway one’s mind back and away from the path.  It takes continuous remembrance and patience to stay on this path.   The ultimate treasure of freedom is not at the end of the path but the very path itself.    But one stops walking, and the treasure is gone.

Yoga in a sense – is the knowledge of Oneness in everything.  As Patanjali says in one Verse,

Tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam

Living through this stage of Yoga, reveals the Seer or the Self, in its most brilliant form.

sculptor at work

A way to understand Yoga is the analogy of a sculptor working through the stone.  It is the removal of the unwanted material which brings out the statue.  The sculptor doesn’t add anything!  Similarly, the practice of Yoga removes the unwanted materials (read the Samskara’s or the impressions of the mind) which block the Self.

You are the diamond which needs to be cut and polished!! That’s this path about…Are you yet ready to shine?

By Vikas Bhatia