Tag Archives: Manager

Exit: Managers Enter: Intrapreneurs

Circa recent past: You’re an efficient Manager at a reputed enterprise. You enter office at 9a.m in full corporate armoury. You fasten your seat belt, focus on deliverables and get cracking. Before you know it, the clock has struck 5p.m. You shut shop and ride back home. This happens sometimes. Most other times, you’re clocking 10 to 12 hrs a day. And yet you hear the one thing you don’t want to hear your boss say – Give me newer ideas and innovations. You feel like chucking it all away and wish like hell that you were an entrepreneur.

Cut to the near future: You’re an Intrapreneur at a reputed enterprise. You enter office at a time of your convenience. You have two-three ideas for new products/ services. You’ve been given the financial backing, the tools and the team. More importantly, you’ve been given the freedom and autonomy to see your ideas through to fruition as though you were your own boss. And yet, you’re still an employee at a reputed enterprise and happily so.

Wondering what this is all about? Well, you just read about the latest phenomenon that is promising to revolutionize the way India Inc functions. We’re talking about Intra-Entrepreneurs, stylishly called Intrapreneurs. Who are they? An intrapreneur is any enterprising, passionate and driven employee who is full of ideas and result-oriented innovation. But that’s just the cake. The icing is the fact that this entrepreneurial employee is backed and supported by his employers to innovate and realise ideas for the enterprise.

Think that this a fantastic development? We think so too. Now take a moment and imagine the happy repercussions of this welcome change. Attrition rates will probably fall to negligible levels. Innovation will no longer remain on the wish-list of companies but become a way of life. Hierarchies will be dismantled to usher in open work-systems and banish that dreaded word –Silo from corporate jargon. And not to forget, the utopian idea of a work-life balance will become an enjoyable truth. The list of course is endless.

Why did we choose this topic as our very first blogpost? That is because at Pragati Leadership, it is our mission to transform organizations through wholesome leadership. It has been so for the past 25 years during which time some of the biggest Leaders have come to us for developing leaders within the organisation. Not because they’re in positions of power by circumstance or default but because they are there to lead by example. And they believe in what we’ve believed all this while – that every individual, team, organisation, society and civilization has infinite potential. Our purpose is to help in the expansion of that very potential in order to create a wholesome world.


What Organisations can Learn from Masterchef Australia

I don’t watch much TV, and I definitely don’t watch reality shows, but in a contradiction of all of that, I do get to see Masterchef Australia pretty regularly because of my better half’s interest in all things culinary. I’ve been following the 2012 edition on Star World.

I’ve always admired the show for the warmth of the judges, the lack of obtrusive background music and melodrama. In contrast, whatever little I’ve seen of Indian reality TV, is replete with melodrama, playing to the gallery, their harsh, rude judges, and is therefore so (how do I put this mildly) unappetising.

Apart from the inherent civility of Masterchef Australia, one thing that strikes me is that it’s a role model for how organisations should be run. Consider this:

Aspirants come to the show relatively raw. While it’s a contest, what stands out about the show is not the competitive spirit of the participants but the camaraderie. At stake is a big, prestigious prize, but there’s no bitter rivalry that is visible. How do the judges, producers etc. manage to keep things so civil despite the “recipe” being ripe for acrimony?

It’s a great statement for Australia, generally thought to be a rude and boisterous country, mostly because of what we read about them, especially about their cricketers. (Even their cricketers seem better behaved these days!)

There are two lessons in there for Organisations.

1. Competition doesn’t need to be cutthroat. You can compete like crazy, but always be gracious in either victory or in defeat. And the Leadership can create a Culture that is more camaraderie & collaboration than competition. More We than me.

2. How your people are seen by the outside world, does a lot for your Brand as an organisation. This, coupled with the above point could have telling implications on the type of employees who will want to come and join you.

Now, these raw aspirants are brought on after checking how good their skills are. Meaning that they are being hired for tasks that they have demonstrated the competency to deliver on.

Next, they are put through cooking test after cooking test. Their skills are tested, they’re constantly challenged. What is noteworthy is what happens during this process. The judges or the experts walk around to each of the contestants briefly asking them how they’re doing. They give them gentle suggestions on what may be going wrong (or could go wrong), they give them tips and suggestions as to what they could do right.

Once the dish is done, and has been tasted, the feedback from the experts is exemplary. Their demeanour and tone is friendly, gentle and encouraging. The feedback is never personal; it’s always about that particular dish/attempt. They talk about what went well with the dish. They give specific feedback on what didn’t go well. And they also say what they would have liked to see instead. And this feedback is being provided in public. And at the end of it, everyone applauds the “effort”. It isn’t “all about the result” kind of show.

Lessons for Organisations (3, 4, 5 & 6):

3. Hire for competence or skill. Get your people trained on and using Competency Based Interviewing.

4. While your people are at work, walk around, supervise, offer suggestions, but don’t hover around. Make an attempt to offer your expertise, don’t just sit there waiting for the work to arrive at your desk. Invest some time in coaching your people, in between if not during tasks.

5. Get your Feedback Skills right. It’s the difference between a boorish workplace and an encouraging one.

6. Applaud the effort. Just because someone got it wrong, doesn’t mean he/she didn’t try hard. As long as you saw them (refer to # 4 above) try hard, praise their effort, offer feedback on what they should do going ahead, and send them on with words of encouragement.

Whether you’re a top leader or a manager, make sure that you and all your managers have got all these above skills right.

While it’s a competition, the Masterchef journey isn’t primarily viewed as that by the participants as that. They seem to look at it as a tremendous learning opportunity. Replete with tasks, feedback, Masterclasses, restaurant and market tours, foreign locales, and what not, each participant knows that he/she is learning more by the day.

Let’s move to the exits. Mercifully, isn’t through audience voting! It’s through a panel of experts who judge with absolute transparency.

Every time a participant exits the show, they seem to be saying the same things – How wonderful they thought this opportunity was, how thankful they are to the show & the judges for the opportunity, to have learnt so much. And many if not most of them move on to their dreams of starting restaurants or being chefs at restaurants! It really seems to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for them!

 Lessons for Organisations (7, 8, 9 & 10):

7. Organisations while they’re chasing down projects, targets, deadlines, should primarily seek to be Learning Organisations. Each day, each task, each project (because of # 4, 5 & 6 above) should be seen as an opportunity to excel, but also to learn something new, master a new skill.

8. Organise Masterclasses by Experts, for your people to learn/hone skills from these experts. The organisational equivalent of these expert Masterclasses would be Training.

9. Mix it up. Make sure that people keep learning new things. If you let monotony set in, you only have yourself to blame. Refer to Csikszentmihalyi’s work on Flow.

10. Imagine a workplace, an organisation where people thank their managers and leaders when they get fired. Where they step out smiling, knowing that what they have learnt will stand them in good stead. I’m not recommending you fire anyone. If you do the above things right, you may never have to, but consider this more likely scenario: Your people are learning so much, having so much fun, have such great leaders & colleagues-comrades that they don’t want to leave! If people have to leave, or move on, they do

so most unwillingly. And even when they do, they leave grateful for all that you have done for them.

Do we have set-ups like that in the world of business? Yes we do. Can you become one? Yes you can. Masterchef Australia is showing you how.

By Aman Zaidi


Creating the GOD Company

There is divinity in every enterprise, Big and Small. I will go so far as saying there is GOD in every enterprise! Did you just raise an eyebrow? Let me explain. Spiritually speaking, if GOD is in each one of us and we’re but HIS manifestation, shouldn’t there be a more powerful version of HIM in a collective enterprise that has energies working together for a greater purpose (or at least trying to!)?


If the infinite supreme that we refer to as GOD is all-pervading and all-inclusive, then by the very nature of HIS being, enterprises of all sizes are necessary and deserve to co-exist within HIM and as manifestations of HIM. There is a natural, self-regulatory balance that is achieved because of this. It is then safe to deduce that the measure of the enterprise’s success and how long it lasts is then defined by how much or less of HIM is in the fabric of their being.


Metaphorically speaking, therefore, every sustain-ably successful enterprise has three gears working together, endlessly, without friction, feeding into each other’s ceaseless motion forward: Generators, Operators and Destroyers, GODs for the acronym-lovers. Why do we need them and how do we go about surrounding ourselves with these manifestations of the ‘holy trinity’ in good measure? That is the name of this game called life or business or both, since one is the other, right?

Generators: These persons are the natural creators/ ideators/ initiators. This is their Swadharma – their natural wont, inclination, their destiny if you will!


These are the Brahma manifestations that come up with ideas, create the concepts, identify opportunities, fathom projects/ products etc. that pretty much define the collective enterprise. They are the architects not burdened by logic or reason whose minds can see endless possibilities, the very engines of change and initiative. They give life to the collective. BUT, they are not almighty by themselves.

In expending all their energies on the aspect of Generation, they unconsciously seek out others who can maintain, nurture, preserve, incubate, monitor, moderate etc. in order that their creations do not die. They NEED Operators to complete their task and in a sense complete them! The irony, of course, is that Generators more often than not, despise Operators!

hands of god

Think about it – Generators are free-thinkers who despise rules, hate micro-management, are annoyed by processes and deplore routine. In effect, they despise the very character of their bête-noire Operators and yet cannot thrive without them! Is this a problem? Nope – it is in fact a God-sent opportunity! Read on…

Operators: They are the nurturers/ protectors/ guides/ mentors/ managers/ leaders et al. This is their Swadharma. They are the Vishnu manifestations that nurture ideas, give shape to concepts, execute and ensure project completion.


They are the ‘Managers’, if you please, who can appreciate the brilliance of creativity and yet excel in working with logic and reason.  Their minds are focused on ensuring prosperity and abundance, while being pragmatic and fair, without getting swayed. In effect, they nurture the life of the collective and balance change with continuity. BUT, they are not Almighty by themselves either…

While they use their energies on this aspect of Operation, they consciously seek out others who can finish, close out, stop, and destroy etc. in order that the created leave the stage after their lifespan, to make way for the new. They NEED Destroyers to complete their task and in a sense complete them!


As irony goes, they too despise their Yang-halves, the Destroyers! After all, if one is naturally inclined to preserve and nurture, one will therefore hate the disrupters, naysayers, the critics, the tough-task-masters, the finishers if you will. Yet, they cannot thrive without these chaps! And therein lies our other God-sent opportunity…

Destroyers: These are the disrupters, critics/ doubters/ the skeptics/ the tough-call-takers/ the closure-specialists/ the devil’s advocates if you please. It is their Swadharma.


They are the Shiva manifestations who know when it is time to pull the plug, kill an idea, stop a project, phase-out a product, ease out a resource, disrupt an entrenched process etc. They are unaffected by the creative genius behind a creation or the perseverance that nurtured it. They are neither driven by emotion nor by logic. They are the change-agents who decisively influence the course of the collective’s journey. BUT, they are not Almighty by themselves.

While exhausting their energies on this aspect of Destruction, they actually seek out Generators in order that creation can start again.


They NEED Generators to complete their task and complete the trinity, even though they hate their ilk! It makes sense doesn’t it? By nature, if they are adept at disrupting, they must abhor the ideators, the creators, the dreamers who made those things in the first place!

OK. Point made and well-taken I hope. Now imagine the perfect collective enterprise that has somehow managed the perfect mix of Generators, Operators and Destroyers, who are working with and seemingly against each other, in a symbiotic manner. They could have managed to achieve this by having an eco-space that encourages each of these manifestations to blossom individually as well as collectively.


How could this have happened? In HR parlance, we can hazard to guess that their ‘self-defined KRAs’ demanded that Generators actually seek out and bring Operators who can nurture their creativity, into the Collective. Similarly, Operators are expected to find and bring in Destroyers who can put out their outdated projects and disrupt the cruise-mode. Finally, the Destroyers are mandated to hunt for Generators who can create anew post their disruptive actions.

Net-net, there is a self-sufficient eco-system that looks after itself and its talent needs! They are all leaders in their own right, working autonomously yet collaboratively as stakeholders. This three-way yin-yang, if you can imagine it, is naturally self-balancing, fair, self-feeding and sustainable, destined for equitable success, don’t you think?


Can you visualize its in-built, self-check mechanisms because of the very opposing natures of the three forces that drive it, like conjoined levers or gears, a smooth, flowing three-petaled Yin-Yang?

And then there is the aspect of balancing the G-O-D that is within us! It is safe to say that all three qualities Generator/ Operator/ Destroyer are in some measure inside each one of us. The challenge is to nurture and allow these manifestations to express themselves at the right time and in collaborative response to the expressions from our colleagues. That will also mean an inherent respect for the G-O-D in the other person and awareness at all times. It is possible isn’t it?


Now do you believe you can help create a GOD company within your existing set-up or even outside of it when you start your next entrepreneurial venture? Well, what are you waiting for my dear fellow manifestation? Godspeed!

By Nandakishore Padmanabhan (with inputs from Vikas Bhatia & Aanchal Sethi)