Sunday, June 30, 2013

Leadership >> Make it happen!!

Leadership is many things to many people. For some it is about about leading an effort, for some it is about steering a ship, for some it is about bringing in a new idea, for some it is paving a path for success, for some it is about motivating people, and the list does not end here. But according to me, Leadership is about making things happen!

To be a leader takes much more than what you are made of and rise above any odds that comes on the way in the execution of a task, a goal or a project.

We are into highly competitive environment where everything is being watched under microscope that includes time, effort, resources,  team dynamics, work-life balance, changing priorities and at the same time ability to get things done in time with utmost quality meeting core objectives of a project. Leadership is about how effectively and efficiently you juggle all these dimensions and making it happen in a way that management could count on you for even tougher and challenging task.

So how is this done? What it takes to get all the ducks lined up for a perfect score? Here are 5 core components which are crucial for a leader:

1. Attitude

The first and for most is the attitude which which you take up the task  and plan around its execution. You are in the game to win and not just play. You must come up with a wining strategy and mindset which sets the course from the get go. Seeing of the big picture and getting on with positive foot hold from the get go is the key to get the project off the ground with a solid start.

2. Purpose

You must be very clear on the purpose of over all task on hand and establish the clarity with the team. It is very important to not limit the goal to list of tasks but to tie with larger objective which could be performance improvement, cost savings, customer satisfaction, technology innovation, process improvement, global campaign or product innovation. This plays a vital role in team engagement as all individual tasks are being implemented.

3. Motivation

Any rock can be moved but for that it is not only requires you to be motivated but entire team and partners involved to make it happen. You need to have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to help motivate your team. This does not come easy. It requires total dedication, commitment and positive mindset to drive yourself and team.

4. Focus

With the continuous changing environment and priorities, it is very difficult to keep focus and stay on the course. The key differentiator here is to have agility and nimbleness to adjust, adapt, respond,  and be resourceful in the face of change. And ability to seek opportunities to learn and learn quickly as things happening as well from experiences to apply as needed.

5. Skill

To achieve results, you must effectively manage people and processes. This requires skills along with attitude, motivation and focus. Based on my experience, the skills needed the most are:

  • Self-awareness - You must be able to continuously evaluate the proceedings and health of project under way. This includes team spirit, dynamics, and external environmental factors which are not in control. Along with this you must be in total understanding of style, shortcomings, strengths and motivation to help take day to day decisions, delegation and taking a stand on approach to be taken keeping partners/stakeholders into perspective.
  • Communication - Clear, direct and inclusive communication is must to set the direction and guide the implementation. You have to make sure that the channels of communications are open to enable sharing of ideas and induce creativity. It is very important to learn and have skill of communicating top, down and accross of the same message to have its impact in its respective space. It is always good to share more information rather than hide it with team, partners, stakeholders and sponsors.
  • Influence - It is vital to develop variety of influencing styles to help you get different people with different people perspectives on board. This involves networking and building lasting relationships with people on team and outside of team to help reaching out in times of need where time is of essence. For any project to succeed, it requires 4C's:  Cooperation + Coordination + Communication + Collaboration. And each of it requires good influencing skill to have commitment from all parties involved to achieve successful results

With these 5 core competencies under belt, leader can navigate through any storm, twists, uncertainty and roadblocks to guide the ship to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!!!

Roopak Desai

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Half way through year 2013 >> Learn to change...Learn to live!!

Change is inevitable. Change is constant. There is nothing permanent but Change.

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." – Benjamin Franklin.

If you keep on doing things the same way, you ought to get the same results. In order to grow and get noticed, it is important to look into ways you can do things differently.

Don't get intimidated by what you don't know. They can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else. - Sara Blakely

Change is never easy whether it is to new habits, attitude or direction. But if you don't change with change in times or requirement then you will either get dull or obsolete. In order to keep that spark going it is important to do self evaluation of what you have doing at your work, home and see where you can change either approach, style or pattern to feel rejuvenated.

Lot of times the boredom or feeling of stagnancy is due to non ability to change the course of action with time and need or fear of change. 

Today, being June 30th 2013 a half way mark for year 2013 it is the best time to look into last six months and see what you have been doing, how you have been doing an why you have been doing?

The secret to making change is first getting aware of need of change. Once you are aware and decide you will find resources and help at your finger tips to make it happen. Again, I don't say it is easy and it is following schedule, routine and creating new habit but then you focus on the purpose not on activities and needs around the change while approaching it persistently.

Richard Boyatzis, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, created the Intentional Change Theory (ICT) and published it in the Journal of Management Development in 2006.The model recommends that you use the following five steps to make a lasting change:
  • Discover your ideal self.
  • Discover your real self.
  • Create your learning agenda.
  • Experiment with and practice new habits.
  • Get support.
You can use the framework to customize your change process to suit your own life, learning style, and environment. However, change will only happen if you build small changes into your life, practice them to build new habits, and ask for support when you need it.

Change starts with changing your thoughts and you change your world. It's your Road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you!

Roopak Desai

Monday, June 3, 2013

Leading and Building a Successful Career.....

According to me, career building is to be on a scenic route and winding lanes. It is never straight. You must be ready to gather experiences along the way, keep learning as you build experience, develop relationships as you meet new people and enjoy as you find new stuff and things to do. 

Keeping open mind and positive attitude to what come along the way is the key to build and lead a successful career.

There is no short cut and there is no easy way out..It is smart work, showing keenness and adopting as you grow along the way.

Leading and Building a successful career involves primary 5 steps:

 (1) goal setting
 (2) personal evaluation
 (3) experience building
 (4) relationship building
 (5) continuous progress assessments

It’s a basic process - determine where you want to go; figure out where you are today; identify what you need to do; and do it.
Goal Setting - Studies show that people who set goals often achieve success and those who don’t generally achieve very little. You need to know what you want and put building blocks in place. 
Set clear and actionable targets for the short-term and long-term.
Personal Evaluation - It’s critical to have an objective and realistic perspective of yourself. You should understand your strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in skills, knowledge and experience (especially in relation to your goals). 

We all have areas in which we excel and leveraging your strengths should be your primary area of focus. It’s unrealistic to expect to eliminate your weaknesses – the key is to make sure they don’t derail you. So recognize your weaknesses and tackle them by limiting their negative impact on your performance and reputation. 

Make sure you get ongoing feedback from as broad a group as possible (trusted business colleagues, managers, family, friends) and take it non-defensively.
Great feedback mechanism is to observe behaviors of people who you respect and compare yourself to that standard.
Experience Building - Simply put, take personal responsibility for your career – you own it. Talk to your manager about your aspirations and discuss options that can get you there.

Always seek opportunities for continued learning, development and growth – read, take classes, ask questions and try to build as broad a knowledge base as possible.

 But most importantly, move around. Studies show that 70% of learning comes from experience, so your best bet is to try different roles, accept stretch assignments or work on different projects. 

Don’t view each opportunity solely through the lens of whether it is a promotion or larger role; assess whether it will strengthen your foundation. 
The genius of Steve Job said this right in his the famous Stanford Graduation speech as his first take way "You can only connect dots backwards, seldom forward"

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, described her career as a “jungle gym scramble…I could never have connected the dots from where I started to where I am today,” she said. 
Relationship Building - Per Mark, it's not enough to be good – the right people need to know that you’re good. So you need to build your personal brand. 

How do you do that? First and foremost – be great at what you do. Build a reputation for excellence and have really high standards.  Mark's on of the fav quotes is from the famous National Football League coach Vince Lombardi - “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” 

Secondly, always collaborate well, develop strong relationships and don’t compete with your colleagues. Become widely viewed as trustworthy, helpful and team-oriented. 

Third, get your work and talents noticed. Don’t’ shamelessly market yourself, but find a way to make sure people hear your thoughts and see what you do (dialogue, sharing of ideas, selective emails, etc.). 

And fourth, build your network with substance – you never know who can help you in the future. Reach out to people you want to get to know better and engage them or ask for their advice on real business issues (not networking for the sake of networking). 

Key to build a relationship through face-to-face and phone interactions. 
Don’t shy away from difficult encounters or relationships; you need to build effective working relationships even with challenging people.

Focus on 4C's: Cooperation, Coordination, Communication and Collaboration
Continuous Progress Assessments - Always have a critical eye on yourself and self-assess how you’re doing. Are you happy? Are you sufficiently leveraging your strengths? Are your weaknesses becoming less of an obstacle? Are you closing gaps in your knowledge, skills and experience? Are you building the right relationships? You can and should course-correct along the way.
Do what you do keeping things in perspective and always be open to change with time!!

This is a based on coverage of keynote speech by Mark Alexander of Bank Of America - Merrill Lynch during Learning and Development Days (May 20, 2013).

Mark Alexander is Chief Information Officer, head of Technology and Operations for Global Wealth & Investment Management business.

by Roopak Desai