26 April 2010

How to Transform Your Workplace BY Transforming Individuals

Leading people is no different from parenting. Our parents are highly influential and inspire in our personal lives. They crafted our life in a best possible way and that is why we feel so good about them. They gave us everything but yet never blow things up. But, at work, why we aren't parenting? Why are we so focused only on our growth, prosperity and satisfaction and less focus on people that we are privileged to lead. Based on my experience, I have few thoughts on leadership and followership. This is a daily ritual and this is not something like "panic and patch" or "invest and harvest today". This has to be your leadership lifestyle and lifeline. Never cross the lifeline :-)

People think speaking is leadership. They speak a lot and lot endlessly and without any boundary on subject and time. When you speak, you understand less about the people and the issues that block them. Rather try to listen. Listening is a great skill which is quite different from hearing. While hearing, we don't empathize and it is the sound waves hitting the ear drum. Listening is interpreting and empathizing. If you are more serious about listening, try to take a notepad and keep taking notes. One of the advantages of listening is that you get an opporunitity to see many perspectives of the subject under discussion. The person whom you are listening to will feel like a hero because you are LISTENING him. While listening make an official eye contacts and have each eye contacts crisp and short. You may show some gestures that is welcoming and shows that you are authentic listener.

There is nothing greater than being respected. Keep your hand on your heart and say won't you feel happy if someone respects you. Respecting and acknowledging the respect is a fantastic thing. When done properly, the person who is respected feels that he earns the respect and this improves synergy in the team. Everyone in the team works like a rock star. They love to work and show at least 100% at work, if not more. How to show that you are respecting your teammate? It is simple. Before taking any crucial decisions, consult your teammate and take their opinions. Count on them and make them to have their head high. If you have any doubt on how respecting will improve performance, try to respect a kid that is lesser than 2 years old.

The next thing that comes is "understanding". When you listen and respect your teammate, understanding blossoms automatically. Understanding is nothing but everyone in your team sells every others in the team authentically. Understanding is about having confidence in your teammate that he is a champion and stand by him in an occasional setback. People too understand that failures are bound to happen when they become extraordinary. Once you stand by him, even if your competitors give him 400% hike, he just stands by you like a dog. But listening and respecting should precede "understanding" so as to make "understanding" authentic.

One of the key requirements for modern day managers/leaders is ability to coach and mentor the juniors. If you listen to freshers, most of them (if not all of them) say that they see work as school and their leads as coaches. Nothing is on par with the coach. He commands, scolds, yells, appreciates and pushes his student. Set them a very big vision for their career in line with their aspirations  (and set aspirations in some cases) and its impact on their career. Build a skill that they will cherish/reflect when they retire. If you are mentoring freshers, just tell them that you are coaching a CEO not an entry level guy. Their eyes really go bright.

Push the performance envelope. Many records are broken everyday. They aren't records but benchmarks to be reached and redefined. Never make them to touch the ceiling. If they touch the ceiling, it may lead to complacency. Rising the bars to a level that it appears neither it is too easy nor too difficult to achieve. They should be attained not easily but with little stretch. The little stretch matters a lot. This makes life very interesting both for your teammate and you.

My father was in total control until he was 63. Now, for the past two years is following me. Following is not doing whatever someone asks. Following is also about "not following" when something is wrong. Blind follower follows like a drunkard but a real follower questions every step, validates each move. Once the coaching is done at sufficiently level, it is always good to take an occasional test drive by asking your guy to lead you (and also test the effectiveness of your coaching). Every generation proves that it is more intelligent than the previous one. So, when you follow, be confident and follow. For sure, you will love it and so proud about your guy, a new leader for you.

While all the above things are qualitative. As a leader (or an organization), it is your responsibility to compensate people well. At the end of the day (month), pay check is what they can deposit in their bank account. They need money to feed themselves and their loved ones. Never exploit people giving everything but money. Compensation is one of the stickiness factors.
Ok. if you ask me whether i do all these, my answer is no but i m trying :-). Transformation is not a choice. The choice is whether you are going to do it or someone else. This is not an effort to become self proclaimed leader. I dedicate this to people who are trying to transform me.

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