Tag Archives: self-mastery

Wholesome Leadership and Self Mastery

A Google search on  the word Leadership yields 113,000,000 hits. Leadership  is one of the most researched areas when it comes to business. Business touches the lives of almost all of humanity. Of the top 100 revenue generating entities of the world, more than half are multinational corporations. The power of Business for good is therefore huge.

Leaders in the world of Business have the potential to create positive breakthroughs for the entire planet. What kind of leaders do we need for this?

The leaders of today need to be different from the leaders of yesterday. Today, business can no longer  see itself as an isolated island dedicated  merely to the creation of shareholder wealth. Business Leaders have begun to recognize their larger role in delivering value to all stakeholders and preserving the environment for future generations. That is why hear about”Conscious Capitalism” which takes care of People, Profits and the Planet. We are also increasingly reading about  business leaders “expanding consciousness” in organizations.

This  is manifested through outcomes like:

  • Creating a joyful and engaging environment at work
  • Valuing interconnectedness and working across interfaces in Government and  civil society
  • Stewardship of organizational resources and
  • Actively working for an area of social concern .e.g. environment, child rights etc

This sort of Leadership which is based on an understanding of our intrinsic “oneness” and “interconnectedness” is called “Wholesome Leadership” tm. Wholesome leaders actively deliver value to all stakeholders.

What does it take to be a Wholesome Leader? Leaders, irrespective of their industry, need to be good at creating a powerful vision, inspiring people to follow that vision, thinking strategically through various business options, adding value  through innovation, leading teams and people  and most importantly, being in integrity and acting as role models for  their teams.

As Wholesome Leaders, we also need to be grounded in “Self Mastery”. Self Mastery means  both being aware and in control of our attitudes, thoughts, preferences and mental paradigms. It is about the ability to see, understand your mind and its tricks. It involves understanding that we have tools and options for thinking , and having the discernment and awareness to know what to use at the appropriate time.

As  a Leader, it is only when I am helping myself that I am in a position to help and serve others. I can lead others only when I have first leant to lead myself. Self mastery is the ability to make the most out of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. In other words, to be the best you can be. As a result of your efforts, you will be able to help and lead everyone around you.  In order for you to change the world around you, for the better, you have to change yourself for the better, along the way.

As  Business Leaders, self awareness  helps in making the right business choices. Self mastery refers to mastery over self. Being in control of ones emotions, feelings and not letting preferences, biases and prejudices sway  one from making the right decision helps us in Leadership. Paying attention to “self” is the foundational step in Leadership. When we work at the “roots”, only then can we expect significant changes to happen in our behavior and our actions. Self-Mastery refers to these roots. When we nurture the roots,we will automatically get the “fruits” which is the  business outputs we  desire.

Self Mastery refers to a number of attributes that have to do with  self awareness and self management.Some of these are:

  1. Awareness and Presence: Being in the now, unblocking all that comes in the way of being fully accepting and present in the moment Awareness is the foundation for self-mastery. Awareness has its roots in the deep understanding of  life and existence. An aware and conscious leader would be able to see the reasons for a problem/challenge and make choices that look at  the larger picture. All situations in life are inter-connected. What we do in one situation has it implications in another. As situations are interconnected, so are human beings. Being grounded in Awareness helps us to remain centered, calm, and see the oneness in all of life. Presence comes from Living in the now. Being present to the present moment helps us to develop the quality of “Presence”. This is not to say that one shouldn’t learn from the past or plan for the future. Remembering that the”now” is the only part of reality that we have to work on helps us to be grounded in awareness. Practices that help to build awareness  include meditation, yoga, reflection, practice of being in the now etc.
  2. Attitudes of Abundance: Attitudes broadly refer to the way we see things and consequently act on them. Attitudes refer to the mental models that we hold about ourselves, work and life. It is therefore abundantly clear that the attitudes and mental models that a Leader holds will shape not just her behaviour and actions but also impact the way she runs the organization.As a leader, if we consciously choose to see “Life and Business” as realm of possibilities, then we create a very different aura around ourselves. We think big, think out-of-the box and genuinely feel that “all is possible”. Along with this is the attitude of  gratitude and appreciation. This is well exemplified by the best selling book ”The Secret”.Attitudes of Abundance refer  to the attitudes that help us to build self-mastery. It is about being abundance inspired rather than deficiency driven. Working from an inner space of acceptance, appreciation and gratitude. This helps Leaders to attract abundance and positive outcomes through steadily held positive and appreciative thoughts. Thinking in ways that attract abundance is a conscious choice as a leader. It is not a matter of coincidence that “good things” seem to happen more to aware and conscious leaders.
  1. Courage and Audacity: Courage has been defined in many ways. It is deep faith in self and the universe and the conviction that life  will support what you intent to do. Courage is an attribute that we see in most Leaders. It may be a physical act or a business or people related decision. Having courage and relentless faith enables  a leader to tread  the pathway where others would hesitate. Having courage does not mean that there is no fear. Courage is persisting despite the fear. Freeing oneself from the outcome, helps in reducing the hesitancy and also the fear. As a Leader, when we live and demonstrate courage, we would  take on large audacious  goals for our organization, live in integrity with our values, work and hire people better than ourselves, develop people to take on our roles, speak up when things in the organization are not aligned with the values. Without demonstrating personal and professional courage, a Leader would not be able to be effective.
  2. Living out ones Values: Self mastery would be incomplete without a deep awareness and alignment with ones values. A wholesome leader reflects and is clear about  his/her value system – what they hold dear and for which they are willing to stand up. Living out ones values is  a indicator that the Leader has the capacity, conviction and the courage to take the tough road to  success. There would no compromises on Values. Taking tough decisions is  a test of self-mastery.

Where do we start learning the secrets of self mastery? If you accept things around you, without demand, you already have taken the first step. There are two important factors here.

  1. Once you accept people, and situations, for what they are, you won’t waste time and energy with frustration. This causes inner frustration, emotional turmoil, worries, and depression.
  2. Once you change yourself, through positive self mastery, the world around you will change for the better, without much effort on your part.

Self-Mastery is an ongoing journey for a Leader. At every stage in the Professsional Life of a leader, he/ she needs to work on themselves at the foundational level to go to the next level of capability and effectiveness. This is best done by working at the roots of  awareness and building the self-understanding to mature to the next level. Building skills and competencies comes at a far later stage. Business Leaders who understand this mature into effective leaders early enough. Unless one can lead oneself, one can hardly lead others. As the Gita says ”Atha Raja,tahtha praja” (As the leader,so the people).

About the author: Anu Wakhlu. View Anu Wakhlu’s video profile.

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Synopsis of Carpe Diem Mumbai 2013, August 9

Theme: Wholesome Leadership – A paradigm shift in leading change

Venue: Sofitel Hotel, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai

Date and Time: 9th August 2013, 6.30pm onwards

Panel:

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Participant Profile: Top Leadership (Non-HR), Top HR and L&D leaders; Sectors represented included Banking & Finance, Telecom, FMCG, IT/ITES, Manufacturing, Insurance, Realty, Pharma, Engineering, Designing, Real estate etc. with a mix of Small, Mid-Cap & Large scale industries.

Sequence Index of events:

  1. Welcoming the guests at Carpe Diem 2013
  2. Introduction and context setting by the host Mr Vivek Yatnalkar
  3. Introduction to the panelists (CLICK HERE to view their profiles)
  4. First panelist, Mr Anil Swarup’s sharing on ‘Self-Mastery
  5. Second panelist, Mr R Mukundan’s sharing on ‘Relating to & Developing People’
  6. Third panelist, Mr Shrikant Joshi’s sharing on ‘Delivering Value’
  7. Q&A with the audience
  8. Felicitation of panelists
  9. Closing comments by the moderator & host
  10. Dinner & networking

Synopsis:

The stage was set for a ‘Wholesome’ evening at Sofitel Hotel as the first of the guests trooped in for Carpe Diem Mumbai 2013. It was a drizzly Friday evening and a festive holiday on account of Eid at that! Yet, the steady in flow of guests continued and by 7pm the Salon Louvre was packed.

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The host for the evening, Vivek Yatnalkar – the COO of Pragati Leadership, took stage and started proceedings by welcoming the guests. He touched upon the current state of affairs vis-à-vis Business, Social, Political and Economic at a local and global level to lay the foundation for the discussion.

  • ‘What is the prevalent style of leadership today?
  • Is this giving us the results we want/ seek?
  • Are we going in the direction we want to go?’

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These were some questions he asked the audience to ponder upon. Vivek, then went on to introduce Wholesome Leadership and suggested this new approach as the way to lead sustainable change.

He explained the three facets of Wholesome Leadership, namely: Self-Mastery, Relating to & Developing people AND Delivering Value. Explaining briefly the manifestations of these three facets, Vivek justified the What-Why-How of this new approach and its relevance. He used the analogy of the see-saw versus Lift.

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While one shows the current dilemma facing businesses in balancing people development with business growth, the other simply shows that both can happen in parallel. He suggested that Wholesome Leadership can serve to ‘lift’ people and carry them forward towards sustainable change!

Vivek then introduced the three distinguished panelists to the audience before handing over the baton to Arun Wakhlu, our Executive Chairman, who was the moderator for the panel discussion. Taking cue from where Vivek left off, Arun urged the audience to think long-term and sustainable. To hammer in the point, he narrated a little anecdote from the Apache Indian community where elders would place all children and sit in a concentric circle around them while taking all collective decisions. This was done, he said, to ensure that they’re always aware that the effects need to be positively experienced for the next seven generations! As leaders, we need to have a similar ‘Wholesome’ approach, Arun reiterated.

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Thereafter, Arun invited Mr Anil Swarup – IAS, Member of the Cabinet Secratariat, Govt. of India, to take the podium as the first speaker. Mr Swarup spoke on Self-Mastery and livened up the atmosphere with some pointed observations, funny anecdotes and witticisms in the bureaucratic context.

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His inspiring talk for the next fifteen minutes urged the rapt audience to start this journey of transformation with oneself. He laid down some fundamental attributes to Self-Mastery, starting with a belief in a larger purpose and in the potential of self.

  • Mr Swarup stressed that this was crucial to delivering lasting value.
  • To achieve that, he urged leaders to be unwaveringly passionate about the work they do.
  • As leaders, they need to be seen as uncompromisingly honest and transparent, keeping promises they make.
  • They also need to be free to dream BIG and have a vision that is inclusive, he urged.
  • Finally, Wholesome Leaders need to be Efficient in delivering results to ensure that they become the change that they want to see in the world.

(You can watch the full presentation HERE)

A thunderous applause greeted Mr Swarup has he made his way back to the stage. Next in line was Mr R Mukundan, MD of Tata Chemicals, who was speaking on the topic of ‘Relating to & Developing People’.

Mr Mukundan started off the interaction by showing the audience a short video clip of an interview with the late Steve Jobs, chief of Apple. In the interview, Steve explains his mantra of ‘TRUSTING’ his colleagues completely to deliver. He explains how Apple functioned as the world’s largest ‘Start-up’ because it allows leaders to make decisions without any overseeing. (You can watch the video HERE)

Using this as a basis for his talk, Mr Mukundan shared that every year he showed this clip to his team for inspiration and guidance. He then went on to explain that it all began with the right value systems being put in place. If the team had the right values, their actions would facilitate better people relations and development, he justified.

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Mr Mukundan suggested that leaders need to build trust and commitment in their teams by treating their members as people and not just professional entities. To this end, he offered some simple pointers to follow:

  • Get to know key people as persons!!!
  • Set the context – the situation, direction etc
  • Delegate more – Work Levels
  • Stretch Projects
  • Development Dialogue (IDP)
  • Encouraging learning and Sharing
  • Performance Dialogue (PMS)
  • Career Counselling
  • Coaching

(You can watch the full presentation HERE)

The audience seemed to agree wholeheartedly with his take on Mr Mukundan and applauded him generously as he took his seat, making way for Mr Shrikant Joshi to take the podium.

Mr Shrikant Joshi, Chief Executive of L&T Realty, was the third panelist, speaking on ‘Delivering Value’ to all stakeholders, as a crucial facet of Wholesome Leadership.

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Mr Joshi’s presentation was replete with inspiring examples of the wonderful slum rehab work undertaken by L&T Realty in Mumbai, through their initiative, incidentally titled ‘Pragati’! Through this initiative, Mr Joshi explained, over 5000 modern apartment units were handed over to slum-land owners who were now living a comfortable life.

He also explained about how L&T Realty, contrary to industry practices, had pledged to have a 30% women workforce, which it has achieved! Through the many pictorial slides that followed, he threw light on a number of social initiatives undertaken across the country by the team to deliver value to all stakeholders.

(You can watch the full presentation HERE)

The floor was then thrown open to Questions from the audience.

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An invigorated group then sought more clarity on how to implement the simple practices of Wholesome Leadership in their day-to-day lives.

Thereafter, the host, Vivek Yatnalkar, once again took stage. He thanked the panelists for their insights and sharing. Arun then proceeded to hand over mementos to the three eminent panelists, as a token of appreciation and gratitude.

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Finally, Vivek summarized the evening’s learning and prodded the audience to begin this journey of Wholesome Leadership and leading change by ‘taking ownership’. He got the guests to remind themselves of the mantra ‘ If it is to be, it is up to me’ and with that, the evening of learning and sharing drew to a close.

But there was a surprise addition to the flow that no one anticipated. The Sous Chef at Sofitel was welcomed on to the stage by Vivek to share his ‘Special’ creation for the night, keeping the theme in mind. Chef Angad, explained that he had especially prepared ‘Wholesome food’ for Wholesome Leaders’ by a creative use of Wholesome ingredients, much to the delight and laughter of the audience.

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As the guests made their way to a sumptuous spread, the panelists were swarmed by some of them eager to continue the Q&A and to seek some more wisdom from the three stalwarts. At about 10 pm, some good food, banter and networking later, curtains were drawn on a stupendous evening at Carpe Diem Mumbai 2013.

(You can watch the full set of images from the event HERE)

The entire Pragati Leadership Team would like to thank the guests who attended this learning and networking event, despite other pressing engagements. We would also like to thank the staff and support team at Sofitel Hotel for making the event a well-organized and enjoyable experience. Last, but not the least, many thanks go out to our esteemed panelists for taking time out from their busy schedules and gracing the occasion.

 

We look forward to hosting you/ your colleagues at the next edition of Carpe Diem 2013 at Delhi-NCR on October 4th. To register for the event, please send an email to myneed@pragatileadership.com

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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.

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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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