Tag Archives: Potential

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.

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To become a Wholesome Leader, invoke the power of ‘Shakti’ within you!

These are complex times. Uncertainties abound and change has become a veritable norm. We’re swamped with data and analytics and yet, ironically, decision-making and hence leadership has become more complex. And complex times demand complete, Wholesome Leaders, don’t they? Gone are the days when a sharp mind that could access data, crunch numbers and decipher patterns from it, in order to make purportedly logical decisions, was considered a good leader. Today that same left-brained, logic-data driven leader, who was risk-averse, will be seen as a Partial Leader, unfit for these times!

Data - analyticsEnterprises of this era are caught in so much flux in terms of technological change, societal churn, changing attitudes and priorities, cross-cultural challenges et al. That’s why they demand more ‘Wholesome Leaders’ who can:

  • Lead from the front
  • Think out of the box easily
  • Take calculated risks when needed
  • Display emotional intelligence while building meaningful relationships AND
  • Continue to grow the business

wired brain

Now, that’s a tall order for most leaders, don’t you agree? We’re after all, wired differently and conditioned to stay on the left side of things, so to speak. The right side (pun intended) has pretty much remained dormant. No wonder then that most leaders find it difficult to rely on and utilize their Head-Heart-and-Guts* simultaneously while leading their functions/ teams/ organizations. Going by the definition of Dotlich-Cairo-and-Rhinesmith*, they are NOT the ‘Whole Leaders’ that today’s global enterprise desperately needs. Mind you, this applies to both men and women leaders who’ve not yet invoked the power of Shakti within!

Hindu mythology, Paganism and many ancient religions, backed now by Astro-physicists and Quantum Physicists, state that the primal source of all energy that gives life to our Universe is feminine in nature. By that we must understand that it is life-giving, emotional (if we may use that adjective) and instinctive.

shakti

This Shakti or the divine feminine force/ primal energy, exists in each one of us but it is conditioned to remain dormant or under-utilized. Our industrial evolution in recent centuries has necessitated it to be so, don’t you think? So what can we do as leaders to wake this Shakti from her slumber and goad her to unleash her full potential in her full blossom?

1)      Heart-first: Easier said than done isn’t it? From childhood, we’re trained, almost brain-washed into believing that ‘using the head’ meant improving and becoming a better achiever. Now we’re increasingly expected to suddenly ‘think from the heart’ and learn to ‘Manage and Lead’ people and teams ‘from this heart’! What if decisions are taken with a strong emotional foundation with full empathy? Isn’t that why and how meaningful bonds are made? Suddenly colleagues, peers and subordinates are all part of one big extended family that thinks and feels for one another.

heart-first

Even though such relationships are volatile in nature, they’re more likely to last the distance than say a negotiation-based, head-first relationship, usually built in the corporate world. As leaders, we must, therefore, learn to be open about our feelings and transparent in our communication.

This change can happen only if leaders are encouraged, from a very early stage of their career path, to openly and confidently show emotions and demonstrate heart-based decision-making.

2)      Instinctively decisive: When was the last time you, as a leader, had an intuition about something occurring? Doesn’t happen often, right? More importantly, that intuition would have likely been brushed aside as a frivolous thought by that all-weather-ally, Mr. Rationale! Again, this is an after effect of academic and social conditioning. The Shakti-power inside is actually the force that gives us gut-feel, intuition, premonition, call it what you may. Believing in this manifestation of Shakti and honing this quality is becoming invaluable to leaders across sectors and levels, in today’s uncertain times. After all, we’re not always privy to robust and indicative data and analysis that will help us take apparently correct decisions from the head. We cannot wait for all info to arrive on our desk either, can we?

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From an early stage, if leaders are encouraged to take gutsy, instinctive decisions, every now and then, it is bound to become a source of immense strength at a later stage when the stakes are high. Mind you, failures are bound to happen but the rewards in the long run are much higher because they’re likely to develop a keen eye to see opportunities that don’t seem to exist.

More importantly, by that time, these leaders will more likely get it right than wrong because taking gut-feel-decisions has become second-nature to them! Such leaders will not be risk-averse and will seem to find innovative ways out of sticky, almost impossible, emergency situations in business.

3)      Strength from Spiritual Awareness: You have a divine, infinite core within you that is the fountainhead of potential. This core is essentially Shakti in all her splendor and glory. As a leader, when you are truly aware of this potential, you have invoked Shakti to guide and lead on your behalf. Think about it. Traits that can never be taught or acquired through rote or sensual experiences are actually the ones that will step you up from a good leader to a great inspiration!

resilience

We’re often taught about developing mental strength. Most often this is mistaken for being stoic, logic-driven, sans-emotion and almost brutally realistic, to use a cliché. True leadership strength springs from an awakened spiritual core or Shakti in blossom. When one has the ability to really think and feel from the heart and be instinctively decisive, one has truly developed strength to take on any challenge in work and life. Sudden mishaps, dramatic changes, road-blocks, startling course-corrections et al will then seem a happy part of this leadership journey.

If you’re looking for examples of such leaders who’ve truly lead on behalf of the Shakti within them, two names come to mind immediately – Mr. Narayana Murthy – co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Infosys AND Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw – Chairman and MD of Biocon. Sample these facts/ traits about these two leaders:

  • Both saw an opportunity to start something new and jumped in head-long, driven purely by their gut-feel
  • Both faced tremendous challenges, many unforeseen, along their growth journey but overcame them all through sheer grit, ingenuity and strength of will
  • Both lead organizations that are globally amongst the largest employers of talent and are known for the care shown to nurturing their teams

entrepreneurship

The list can go on but you get the drift right? The standout takeaway in invoking ‘Shakti’ within each one of us is the removal of fear and pre-conceived notions. This state of being essentially manifests as entrepreneurship in the business world. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to lead an entrepreneurial team that is led by Shakti at all times?

ardhanarishvara

In fact, wouldn’t it be wonderful to lead on behalf of Shakti by tapping into that fountainhead of divine feminine energy within?

Wait… did someone say the word ‘Man’ is contained inside the word ‘Woman’?

 

By Nandakishore Padmanabhan

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The Perfectionist Mind-set

I am sometimes accused by colleagues and family of being a perfectionist.

Specifically, I am accused of being perennially dissatisfied about training scores. Even though this isn’t wholly accurate, I plead guilty.

I do tend to stay focused on what could’ve been done better. I agree that this is an opportunity area for me. I realise that I need to lighten up a little & learn to celebrate good scores, but I am convinced of the need to focus on the opportunity areas even in good programmes.

Here’s why.

Take Ashutosh Gowarikar. After he tasted success with the excellent but long Lagaan, he attempted the excellent but again rather long Swades. All this while, he was being hailed as a director who was making different, meaningful, grand cinema. Encouraged by the response he was getting he went on to make Jodhaa Akbar, yet another really long film, but again one that the audiences enjoyed.

By this time, as reactions showed, his fans were  beginning to wonder whether his movies couldn’t be made just a little crisper, a little shorter in length. Encouraged by the success of his style of filmmaking, Gowarikar went on to make another two long films, both of which bombed at the box office. Gowarikar was possibly not paying attention to which elements were making his films work, and which elements his audience didn’t agree with. He seemingly stayed with the belief that he was succeeding & carried on as he knew best.

Similarly Imtiaz Ali. His first few films established him as a director to reckon with. His latest has evoked mixed reactions but has also been declared successful. If he too shrugs off the flaws in his latest product, focusing only on the fact that it was successful, he too may end up in the same trap that Gowarikar finds himself in.

On the other end of the spectrum is a company like Flipkart. Here’s a team that isn’t satisfied with customers being merely happy with its 3 business days delivery proposal.They raise their benchmarks even higher and start delivering in 2 sometimes 1 business day. They’re making customers talk about them. They’re not going for satisfaction. They’re not satisfied with satisfaction. They’re chasing customer delight. Each and every time.

And that is what accused perfectionists like me enjoy chasing too!

Therefore, it is not that I or people like me are being perfectionists or a nit-pickers. We don’t consider being focused on improvement as being negative. And it’s not like we’ll be disheartened with an average performance.

It’s just that we keep looking forward to going one better. That to me is a positive attitude.

Our founder Mr Arun Wakhlu often says, “Everything is perfect. Everything can be improved”.

I believe that this kind of an attitude is central to raising the bar for what we deliver to customers.

Allow me one last example before I rest my case. Braking systems -When does one decide that the advancement made is enough? We thought so when they moved from wooden brakes to drum brakes, didn’t we?  Didn’t we say enough work on brakes had been done when we went hydraulic? What about Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)? Surely after that we could’ve said, this much perfection was enough to chase? Are we going to stop now that we’ve got Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)?

The truth of the matter is that going one better than yesterday feels great! It represents the “Pragati” in Pragati Leadership. More so, it is a sign of our moving towards our fullest potential. And in the process we deliver to our clients what they need in order to move towards the destiny they have visualised for themselves.

By Aman Zaidi

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