Tag Archives: Wholesome Leadership

Carpe Diem Mumbai 2015- Highlights

At Pragati Leadership’s flagship annual event, Carpe Diem, the first speaker was James Brook, Co-Founder and MD, Strengths Partnership. James spoke on the “Strengths Based Approach to Leadership”.

Mr. Brook began his talk with thoughts on the strengths based approach to leadership development, and how it challenges the traditional assumptions of leadership. He pointed out that organizations are investing so much into leadership development, that when combined, these investments equal the GDP of a small country. Yet there are not many promising leaders out there today. This is because employee engagement is deteriorating.  An indicator of failed leadership would be the many scandals that are unearthed regularly. There is a lack of longevity in the process of leadership. All this suggests that the development is not working in the right direction.

James BrookHe went on to question the audience:  ‘Is it necessary for a leader to be well rounded?’ and ‘What makes a good leader?’

He threw light on these issues by saying that it is not necessary for leaders to be well rounded. Effective leaders like Steve Jobs for example focus on their key strengths and work on them. Not all leaders have the same strengths, but the best ones build on their strengths and conquer their weaknesses to move forward.

He went on to discuss whether leaders are always right and do they know it all, then went further to say that this is not mandatory. A good leader is someone who appreciates and inculcates the importance of strengths, gives direction, goes beyond the usual and engages every team member.

From a psychology perspective, he shared that strengths are innate and developed mostly during childhood but behavior is something that can be learned and implemented strategically.

He also spoke of two very important qualities of a leader:

In conclusion he emphasized  that stretching strengths beyond the comfort zone will help a person to grow.

The second speaker, Arun Wakhlu (Founder and Executive Chairman, Pragati Leadership) spoke about “Exploring the Core Strength of Wholesome Leadership™”.

He commenced the session with his trademark ‘Namaste’, a traditional India greeting. He went on to emphasize the importance of understanding the kind of leadership that is needed for the good of the world, and the dangers facing the world not getting the necessary attention.

Arun Wakhlu“What kind of leaders, are needed to create a truly progressive world?” He questioned.

Arun went on to share that leaders who can inspire and energize, those who are fueled on passion and energy are needed. The one thing that is not given importance, is our strengths, this is the missing element that hinders our productivity on the path of Wholesome Leadership™. Two things that need focus are Context, ie., running a business holistically and looking at the bigger picture. The second is Consciousness, ie., living in the moment, taking each day and each opportunity, one at a time. It is pointless carrying the baggage of the past and anticipating the future, for our actions are determined on the basis of how we see things.

Arun raised the question “What are the effects of this ‘baggage’ on productivity?”.  A general consensus among the members of the audience was that it caused loss of energy, time and positivity.

Arun said that this realization would result in the leader being on fire! He went on to question, “Is it possible to put others on fire if you yourself aren’t on fire? There is no vitality in the motivation of others if you aren’t motivated yourself. Looking at it from the outside will lead to freedom and clarity of thought which in turn would lead to thriving innovation.”

According to him the problem lies in the attitude. He said, “there is no focus on, or nurturing of, strengths. Negative qualities are given more attention. Awareness which is ignored, is the deepest level of consciousness.”

He stressed on the concept of “Carpe Diem”, seizing the day.  “Seize the day” he said “as you never know what can happen to you tomorrow. “

He left the audience pondering with the parting thought, “It is all about taking calculated risks.”

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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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Developing a Second Line of Leadership

Leadership is ultimately about developing other leaders. There are many qualities of leadership that we seek in our leaders that are highly valued e.g. Integrity, Business Acumen, Power of Vision etc. These are certainly important. However the primary task of leadership is to develop other leaders and therefore build organization capability for the present and the future.

The role of a leader is to create successors for their role and that of other critical roles in the organization. However, in most cases this is the one aspect of the leadership role that receives inadequate attention. At the organizational level too, this remains an area of challenge.  In a recent study conducted by Bersin and Associates for over 700 Human Resource and Learning and Development Managers- the number one challenge they all stated was “filling gaps in the leadership pipeline.” And yet there is overwhelming evidence that organizations who have a depth of leadership deliver better business results! In another study conducted by Hewitt Associates (TCFL – Top Companies for Leaders study), a clear co-relation was identified between building leaders and achieving significant business targets.

Companies are realizing that building leaders and developing potential successors for critical roles in the organization is of strategic importance for the organization’s growth. Indian companies have started putting this on top of their strategic people initiatives. In the same study it was also found that five of twelve companies that have robust practices of developing leaders in the APAC region, were Indian! These included organizations such as ICICI Bank, Aditya Birla Group, Infosys, Wipro and Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

The role of developing leaders from within is the responsibility of three broad stakeholders:

  1. The CEO and the Board of Directors: The role of most CEO’s is to grow the business and ensure operational excellence. What attracts their attention therefore in most cases is the strategic planning process, future growth prospects, operational optimization etc. The role of the CEO in building leaders is often delegated to the Human Resource/ Learning and Development functional head. And yet, this is probably the most important aspect of the CEO’s role: building the human capital for the organization to grow and flourish. The role of the CEO is therefore to be the catalyst and champion for Leadership Development at all levels. This would start by personally identifying and developing as many potential CEO candidates for his/her role. It would then continue by offering opportunities to these candidates to learn, excel and grow in their exposure to the business by personal coaching.Similarly, there are very few Boards who would have the agenda of CEO and senior Leadership Development as part of their regular Board agenda. In cases, where the Board asks for reports on the Leadership Development as much as they ask about profitability and strategic alliances, the agenda of People Development gets a firm footing in the company.
  1. The role of Human Resource/ Learning and Development Function: Development of Talent and specifically development of leaders in the organization is one of the critical areas that the Human Resources and the Learning and Development Function of organizations needs to pay attention to. It would start by identifying Leadership Competencies for the present business as well as the future. People across the organization would then need to be mapped on this. Interestingly while most organizations do have a competency framework, most of the time this is limited to functional competencies or then soft skills. Clear leadership attributes and behaviours are not always identified.Then an integrated Leadership Development framework and programmes need to be institutionalized and implemented. It is very important to make this a business initiative and not just an HR initiative. Interventions for developing leaders need to be done at all levels in the organization. This would ensure that the leadership capability for all gets enhanced. This would then result in better leadership band-width in the organization. Special programmes for high potential/ emerging leaders also need to be run as accelerated leadership development programmes. These would need to have opportunities for the leaders to experiment with new business opportunities/ challenges beyond their existing roles.Internal Coaches and Mentors are helpful in developing internal Leaders since they can support and accelerate the process of tacit knowledge and experience sharing. The Essar Group in India has based their entire Leadership Development initiative on the practice of Coaching and Mentoring.
  1. The role of Individual Leaders: Each Manager and Leader in an organization needs to own their role of being mentors and people developers for their respective teams. In our own experience of working with over 1,00,000 people in over 600 organizations, we have experienced that when line managers assume the role of HR managers of their own teams, they are able to develop leaders for their functions. This can happen when People Development and Leadership Development are seen as their primary role. Getting results is a by-product of this primary role. Such leaders need to do so by paying attention to processes like the Performance Management System and by recognizing its importance in tracking both the potential and performance of their team members. Similarly they should be interested in the competency building and the training and learning initiatives for their teams. They could sit with their teams prior to them being sent for training and clarify their expectations. After the training, they further need to track the improvements the person is making on the job and give constructive feedback. Such Leaders should also spend time with their team on a one on one basis, coaching and supporting their colleagues. They need to ensure that the team has exposure to new concepts and best practices of similar industries, so that they are familiar with the external environment.They need to be passionate about their roles as “People Developers” and spend more than 50-60% of their time on this aspect of their role. Delegation will ensure that they are building capability within their own function.

Leadership Development would require leaders to be supremely confident of themselves and their capability. Only leaders who are secure and focused would want to develop other leaders in their own functions and teams.

Organizations that are led by wise and visionary leaders and are supported by a proactive and credible Human Resource/ Learning and Development function create a cadre of leaders who promote building the leadership pipeline from within.

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

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Advaita and Wholesome Leadership

As we look forward to the start of a New Year, I feel a sense of both satisfaction and excitement, and write this blog post to share certain key insights with readers. I believe that these insights will help us to define new paradigms of business, that are based on treating people and communities with respect, sustaining our environment and serving the common good. The transformational power of these new paradigms will mean that it becomes possible to co-create joy, peace and wealth for all on Earth!

The reason I want us to start thinking and working in this direction is because I believe that the existing theories of business are no longer serving individuals, organizations or society as a whole. On the one hand, businesses are under pressure to improve profit margins and reduce costs, while on the other, all kinds of waste – of resources, opportunities and energies – is allowed to continue undeterred. Individuals within organizations suffer from the effects of high stress at the workplace, as well as a lack of engagement. This leads to a feeling of being cut off from their personal power and the expression of their natural talents and gifts, and even depression in extreme cases. The business environment demands constant learning and innovation, but opportunities to relate, converse and exchange ideas freely are getting scarce. We see many cases where organizations function without a sense of responsibility and cause environmental damage or contribute to corruption in society.

The new paradigm that I visualize is based on the concept of Wholesome Leadership, and assimilates the principle of Advaita, which is an ancient teaching (Vedanta) from India. Understanding and adopting these principles can help to build leadership that functions in an integrated and holistic manner, caring for people, the planet and profits. We can develop leaders who have a systems perspective …. greater breadth and new ways of seeing and responding to the challenges that life and business is throwing up rapidly at us. This also calls for understanding the interdependence, complexity and connections not just in organizational life, but in social, environmental, technological, markets and political landscapes as well.

Such a unifying and integrating paradigm is the paradigm of Wholesome Leadership.

Wholesome Leadership is leadership coming from a space of Wholesomeness. Wholesomeness is a space wherein all notions of ones limited self (or “I”) have dissolved. When we define ourselves in any limited way, we are not wholesome. We then “see” our capacities and potential in limited and bounded ways. This also limits our perception and thinking.

On the other hand, if we know ourselves as “that which sees everything and cannot be seen”, we are unable to define ourselves in any limited way. All notions of who I am are dropped. We let go into the silent space of the witnessing Awareness and all boundaries of my “self” disappear. This is ‘Wholesomeness’. It is also about being one with all of life. (When we are none, we are one!). Wholesomeness is the dissolving of all limitations and being one with all of existence. All seeming divisions and separations (which come from the mind) are transcended. Being Wholesome means being one with the indivisible, peaceful and unchanging reality which contains (and is) all things. We can also see Wholesomeness as a space of balance, freedom, joy, peace, love, compassion and gratitude. It is the space of pure Consciousness or Awareness which is the source of all values. It is non-duality.

Leadership that “happens” from the loving and creative space of Wholesomeness is “Wholesome Leadership”. Living a life based on a deeply lived experience of Wholesomeness is the foundation for being a Wholesome Leader.

Wholesome Leadership is leadership that emerges from being fully present in the “now”. It is spontaneous and creative. It is instrumental in unfolding wholesomeness in other people. Wholesome Leadership is about initiating action on things that one deeply cares about. It is leadership for the well-being of all.

As we practice Wholesome Leadership, we see things happening of their own accord. This includes an experience of one’s bodymind “doing” things! There is an amazing sense of wonder as we witness this paradox of total inner stillness co-existing with intense goal directed action. A deep attachment to people and things co-exists with a supreme detachment. There is just a vast stillness, peace and a deep contentment which is undisturbed by anything or anyone.

Advaita and Wholesomeness

“Advaita” is Non-duality (“A” means “non”, “dvaita” means “duality”) or absolute unity. This ancient teaching (also known as Vedanta) from India, comes to the conclusion that there is no duality between the subject that knows and the object that is known.

Both Wholesomeness and Advaita refer to non-duality or oneness. Both are grounded in the principles of Awareness. Awareness is that which sees everything but cannot be seen …,the innermost witnessing essence which has no boundaries. Since Awareness has no boundaries (remember, it is the witness of all boundaries), everything becomes Awareness. This everything is the Whole all together as One.

Both Wholesomeness and Advaita talk about the feeling of joy, freedom, exhilaration, totality, health and harmony that come from living from this space of understanding and awareness. Wholeness is the union of all opposites.

A discerning reader might wonder why we need another label for Advaita when Advaita and Wholesomeness are exactly the same? To respond to this, I would like to share a small analogy. Electricity at 250 Volts and 50 Hertz is the same all over the world. However, the shape of plugs and sockets in different countries are different. If you try to use the plug that works in India with a socket in Hong Kong, it won’t fit in. So we need adapters which help the connection to become easy. The word Advaita is linked to Vedanta and to India. For many, it is also the foundation of Hinduism. While it is a profoundly universal and all-inclusive concept, it may prejudice some people and therefore may not be accessible to them. The word Wholesomeness on the other hand, is culturally neutral. It is a scientific term easily understood. It is our hypothesis that the business and scientific mind may find it easier to identify and relate with the notion of Wholesomeness.

Wholesomeness provides an excellent foundation for a new kind of leadership that would help us to meet the current and future challenges of Business. The principles of both Wholesomeness and Advaita are eternal, and grounded in the dynamics of the wholeness of life. I will keep sharing more aspects of Wholesome Leadership, its applications and benefits, on this blog. I wish each of you a very Happy and Wholesome New Year!

About the author: Arun Wakhlu

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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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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.

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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.

med1

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

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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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Talk less. Say more.

The fool talks. The wise man listens. So goes the adage. What it tells us is that there is much more to learn by listening and observing than expressing. How many times have we met that one odd person who just listened wholeheartedly and made us feel so nice as we did all the talking?

So the first step to a good conversation is to be able to listen with undivided attention, to make the other person express thoughts freely, to be able to paraphrase and grasp the exact essence of the communique. Once this is achieved, we’re most likely to enjoy and purposeful, enjoyable and energizing conversation ourselves.

Then comes the actual communicating bit. Is it all about a fabulous vocabulary, accent or the unique gestures that go with speech? In our digital age, is communication primarily about sending that topical email or that cryptic sms that is hip and with the times? And is it all worth it if it doesn’t touch the recipient at the heart?

The key therefore is to communicate from the heart to the heart. And there is more to it than just words. The things we tell the world when we don’t say a word are perhaps more informative than when we do. Ever heard of the term ‘silent communication’?

A frown tells the world you’re concerned, arched eyebrows announce that you’re ready for a fight, the stiff upper lip (apparently perfected by the British) would flaunt your superiority and stoicism, while a firm chin can convince the world of your determination. And that’s just the face we’re talking about mind you!

Drooping shoulders, sweaty palms/ fidgety hands, folded arms, shaking legs… the list can go on and they all say a lot to the other person don’t they? It is popularly called body language and it makes or breaks opportunities than anything else we’ve ever known.

In fact, studies have shown that communication is one of the biggest challenges facing the modern world despite the advancement in the tools for communicating. More friendships are broken, more families are torn apart, more jobs are lost and more deals come unstuck because of incorrect/lack of communication. The challenges are far greater within the workspace than anywhere else because of differences in culture, language, religions, perspectives, hierarchies etc But it is not separate from what happens outside. We carry the habits and experiences of our family/ social lives to work and vice-versa. That’s why it is all the more important to consciously practice our learnings at every moment, irrespective of the situation or audience.

After all, communication brings life into relationships and brings people closer. It helps rebuild broken bonds just like it creates new ones while throwing up opportunities. Relationships need investing in. And that investment comes though communication, be it sharing a thought or listening to feedback, opinions and perspectives. It is never truer than in the context of leadership where one needs to constantly communicate to various audiences using various means. A lack of communication leads to a breakdown in relationship which leads to a loss of leadership.

That is why if you want to make any organization work, communication is key. How information and feedback is passed around matters more than most other things because information affects the way people act and behave. Eventually it affects the way they work and hence the way the organization grows.

Communicate from the heart – that is the foundation of wholesome leadership. As a sign off, here’s an example of the power of words http://bit.ly/fFcKeB

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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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