Leaders, often have to face disappointing moments – many of these are due to mistakes made by others. A humble leader forgives quickly – remembering the times when he/she was forgiven – and moves on.
Conferred with the “Most Talented Coaching Leaders in India” during the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of “Times Ascent – World Coaching Congress” at Hotel Taj Lands End, Mumbai on 16th Feb.2017
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the learned and distinguished jury who found me worthy of this award. I am honored and humbled to be in the same league as the luminaries who have been bestowed with this award in the past. It gives me immense pleasure to share this honor with all the leaders in different organisations with whom I have had the privilege to work with as their Executive Coach. I am here today because of them.
Sipping tea in my garden this morning, I watched a little butterfly, perched atop a freshly opened, fragrant pink rose. As someone who is mighty fascinated by butterflies, I leaned forward to take a closer look. The little creature had a beautiful pair of wings, with an intricate design which was clearly visible as it stretched open its wings, in an attempt to fly, Also, one of its wings was tattered!!
I felt a sudden surge emotions for the little being. As I was contemplating on what I could do to help and feeling sad at the same time, my gaze was fixed at the little wings trying their best at flapping.
Lo, behold! After several attempts, it flew and landed itself on the next flower. After gorging on the sweet nectar, it went on to fly further.
Leaving me with a thought – You really don’t need a perfect pair of wings to fly!
It reminded me of various conversations that I’ve had with many senior leaders, who choose to stay stuck in the Perfectionist Frame of mind.As their Executive Coach, it was my duty to make them see the mirror and recognize how this mindset was often counterproductive and coming in their way of success.
Over conversations, we slowly worked on the limiting belief pattern and I am proud of so many of my Coachees, who learnt the art of letting go, slowly but surely. Their pursuit for perfection was slowly replaced by a pursuit for effectiveness.
And therefore realized – Yes, you really don’t need a perfect pair of wings to fly.
What are the ingredients that go into making “Mental Strength”?
How do you tap into this strength, especially when you are in a challenging situation and the odds that you are surrounded by, seem absurdly insurmountable?
What is that magic ingredient that defines a Champion?
In light of Roger Federer’s “Epic” win at The Wimbeldon 2016, I was asked these questions at an interview conducted by First post, Network 18. My views as a Life Coach, from a vantage point of observation, where I have had the privilege to see many leaders unleash their greatness, for over a decade now, are summed up here.
A token of humble thanks to Ms. Sulekha Nair, Features Editor at First Post who has summed up our discussion so beautifully.
The fifth game would decide the clincher of the title between Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, two of the best teams in the game during the late 90’s. The five game series had tied 2-2 and the best player in the world, Michael Jordan was going through sleepless nights between the fourth game and the fifth. He wished he be injured during practice, wished that his food be poisoned and he be admitted to the hospital. He wished that some calamity befall and the games stay as they are!
The reason? He did not want to be a part of the fifth match and stake the reputation of Air Jordan, the greatest player centre court had ever seen by losing the penultimate game. At the pinnacle of his career, the greatest basketball player of the world faced the most interesting challenge of his life – “The Challenge of Vulnerability.” It is a different story that he played the game, with all his heart and went on to win the most valuable player trophy at the NBA, but his story certainly resonates with the stories of some of the greatest people who’ve lived their time on earth.
How many of us have faced this situation when the odds are stacked against us, when we really want to quit and give up, when we are haunted by the demons that lie dormant deep within us? How many times in our lives have we almost given up, feeling a sense of desperation and deprivation ready to call it quits when your leadership is challenged? How many times have you felt like a vulnerable leader?
There’s good news. When a Michael Jordan can feel vulnerable, so can you and I. We all have our moments when the odds are stacked against us and we question our own ability and capability.
During those moments you need to realize that vulnerability is not an act of cowardice, but the ability to propel yourself and show your authentic self, first to yourself and then to the rest of the world. It is that force that you experience during the most testing of times, yet you break out of its shackles and emerge triumphant. Vulnerability is what brings out the best from within us and makes us stronger.
There are a few myths which are associated with vulnerability which is very important for us to get done with. The top three myths regarding vulnerability are as follows –
- Vulnerability is weakness: No it isn’t. It is the strength that gives us an opportunity to surpass our weaknesses
- You can stay away from vulnerability: It is a part of our existence and hence a part of us. No one can stay away from vulnerability, however we can cope with it and emerge victorious.
- It is not about going all alone: Vulnerability is also about disclosure, about the confidence to confide in someone who you trust and possibly guide you out of the situation.
There are moments during your course of engagement that you feel low, feel the need to back out, feel that the time and the situation are not suitable for your mind to propel towards action, fret not! Vulnerability could be an asset if used well could guide you into your next orbit of confidence and conviction.
Vulnerability is an asset, use it well!
It is conference call time for a multinational headquartered in Paris. Professionals in three time zones get ready with their details and plug themselves in the conference. The first greeting starts with a small tease with the professionals in three time zones expressing three salutations – A good morning, another one good afternoon and the third one expressing a good evening. They break the ice with another banter stating how the time zones have been made irrelevant by technology. They then get into their engagements, discussing serious issues pertaining to the clients. This is no exception, but a rule in a globally connected ecosystem.
Virtual teams are the new realities of the business world. With physical geographies having been obsolete in terms of businesses being done, to succeed it is but important for every professional to understand the nuances of managing virtual teams across the globe.
Given below are some techniques to manage virtual team meetings effectively –
- Motivate people to engage in relaxed conversations
Being in different time zones and from seemingly different cultures, it is but important to break the ice before hitting the point. Motivate your team from across the world to engage in relaxed pleasantries if they are meeting for the first time so that the team is relaxed to share ideas and opinions with each other.
2. Encourage cultural sensitivity
As your teams move into virtual conversations across several locations, it is pertinent that each one of them attending the meet is sensitized to the cultures of the others who are participating in the discussion. Because it is virtual, it becomes more imperative than face to face meetings as to be sensitive to the diversity that each of the member brings to the table.
3. Describe work process
Each individual has his/her unique way of looking at tasks. In a virtual team, where time is a huge factor, it is important that you upfront describe the discussions and deliberations so that each one of the member is in the same page. Setting standardization in the deliberations will save a lot of time, which otherwise would be difficult.
4. Have clear and detailed deliverables
It saves a lot of energy and effort from either sides when you have an absolute clear and detailed deliverables to be discussed and concluded at the end of the meeting. Everyone, irrespective of the geographies loves to be a part of a professional culture which is focused and has a clear agenda to discuss and deliver.
5. Be meticulous in your approach
Remember that the most important aspect of a virtual team is how you effectively communicate with each other. Hence, it is important that you become a great team player across the board. Make sure you listen intently and ask questions rather than forcing your opinions on others. Also, it would be great if you could call people by their names and get everyone to contribute their ideas to the discussion. Speak slow and use short sentences so that everyone understands clearly what you are saying. State what seems obvious to you because if you assume that people across geographies understand a few things without saying, you would end up in a position to call for the next meeting…albeit the same agenda!
As an Executive Coach, I see a lot of leaders going through the stress of not being able to effectively manage their career and family. The work scenario today, is highly demanding and people are facing the problem of extended working hours. The concept of a 9 am – 5 pm job no longer exists. Added to this, our smart phones ensure, that we are glued to our offices, long after we have physically moved out of the building. In such a scenario, maintaining a healthy work life balance is almost a dream.
It becomes even more challenging in the case of women. Many highly educated and immensely talented women have kept their careers aside to devote time completely for their family. This situation leads to stress and health issues in most people.
Some reasons which trigger this imbalance are :
- High levels of competence prevailing in the society. Executives, in the urge to get high ranks in their careers, keep taking up more and more work.
- A Perfectionist Attitude – Very high benchmarks for self , situations and others
- Another major reason is our global economy and dealings with international businesses. Odd working hours, to match client timings makes it difficult to have proper work life balance.
- Long working hours and no limits on the office timings are a big cause for this imbalance.
Let’s talk Solutions:
During numerous coaching interventions, where work – life balance was a strongly aspired goal, my endeavour has been work on the participant’s limiting belief systems. At the crux of this guilt ridden, unfulfilling life, is usually a powerful belief system at play – The “Either – Or” Belief, which deters us from striking a healthy chord between work and personal commitments.
Let us try and give up this extremist view (Either-Or) and replace it with a new belief which is holistic and encompassing of both spheres.
“Work – Life Integration” is largely how a person prioritizes career and ambitions on one hand and personal life including social activities, health, family, leisure on the other.
This seemingly daunting task of maintaining a healthy work life balance, may not be so difficult, in reality. A few smart moves and disciplined use of simple techniques is all that may be needed to achieve your goal – Career AND Family.
Here are some solutions you can incorporate in your life to attain a healthy Work-Life Integration.
- Never Overbook yourself with work. Set limits to the work you are taking on and then respect these boundaries.
- Efficient planning helps you use your work days, weekends and holidays effectively. When my children get their annual schedule from school, the first thing I do is to synchronise all our calendars. This way we can leverage on the long weekends and vacations and use these as bonding time for the family. All reservations are made well in advance, and that saves us the trouble of last minute woes.
- A monthly, weekly and daily To-Do list is a good habit. Make sure you don’t run separate priority lists for work and home. Life has a tendency to throw up challenges but this practice will help you navigate through them with much more ease and finesse.
- Build up your “Not To Do List”. We often end up doing work, which may seem urgent but later regret because it was not in alignment with our goals (Not important) . Consider this list sacred, and do not give into any pressure which might push you into this slippery territory.
- One of the success mantras of a balanced life is to learn to say “No”. Know when to use this powerful word, and just go ahead, use it!
- Invest time in training your team at work and staff at home so that you can delegate some of your work load. Train your kids to take up their personal responsibilities.
- Take advantage of latest technologies to reduce your work-load, hours and stress. Women can especially make benefit of the latest technology and use techniques like live video streaming for looking after their kids when out for work.
- Keep in mind that things cannot be perfect, at all times.
- Offices and companies also need to understand this issue and take an initiative. They can conduct seminars and trainings on ways to achieve Work-Life Integration. Companies are offering options like half day work, work from home and prolonged maternity leaves for their women employees.
Many countries these days have limited their working hours to increase productivity and make people happier. Sweden, has recently moved to a six-hour work day. Such initiatives by the government are also much appreciated and longed in our country. In a developing country like ours which is flooded with overseas work, there is an urgent need to look into this matter by both individuals and corporates to have a healthier workforce and future.