Aug 30, 2013

Leadership & Self Awareness

Self Awareness is the key to success. A crucial requirement for a successful leader.

Introspection is the way to attain Self Awareness.

Introspection defined:


- a reflective looking inward : an examination of one's own thoughts and feeling.

HBR- Leadership Behaviors

Leaders, Stop These Behaviors Now

If you want to empower, engage, or motivate others, don't just focus on increasing your positive behaviors. Pay attention to the things you need to stop doing at the same time. Here are three to avoid:
  • Judgmental body language. No one likes perceived condescension. Watch out for scowling, furrowed brows, and quizzical or sarcastic looks (as if to say, “Are you stupid?”). While seemingly harmless, each of these subtle darts creates a considerable amount of relationship damage.
  • Interrupting. It's almost impossible for people to feel safe if the boss takes up most of the airtime or cuts people off. Do more listening than talking, and let people finish their thoughts.
  • Being inconsistent. It’s hard on employees to wonder who is going to show up: "smiling, charming, funny boss" or "judgmental, intense, snapping manager." Try to keep your tone and personality consistent so people know what to expect. 
Original content can be found here:

Jul 24, 2012

Essence of Life: Successful Per Your Own Terms

Over the many years of being in the workforce I have learnt a great deal from my peers, my bosses and my direct reports. My personal learnings that form the essence of my life are a result of my learnings from work force and through personal experiences but still related to work-life.

 I have learnt what ought to do, what not to do and more importantly what ought to do to be successful. By success I mean meeting your goals and your own objectives- what better way to measure your own success than weighing it against your own expectations. The essence of life lies in ones own hands and not in the hands of others.

 Here are a few things I think are important for any person for a long term success:

1) Optimism and Learn From Failures: You fail, you fall! Such is life- get over it. What is important is to learn from the fall. Have you learnt from the failure? Do you know what not to do or what to do even better? Answer to these will get you far. Of course you can self pity or seek pity. ALAS! that won't get you far. Sooner or later you are bound to sink yourself in "self created sorrow".

 Rise above the failure, rise above self pity and more importantly rise up higher than where you were before. The way to get around the negativity that surrounds you when down is to force yourself to think positively. Think of great days you've had and plan for how you can get to days that are better than those. You have to envision your good future. See it as if it is happening, feel it and then you will achieve it. A man without vision of his future is as good and non existent.

2) Treat Others Well: Stop being mean just because things are not going as you planned. Find a mirror and take that grudge on self! Spare others of you misery. When you impose your bad moods on to others, you are doing nothing but demeaning your self, letting your self down, because deep inside you probably know that they are better. At least that is what you convey by being mean to others.

Have you ever said "forget him/her, he/she is just grumpy or unhappy", "who cares what they think" , "they are just unhappy because ...."- well all this essentially means that you do not care for the person mistreating and you. You do not have any high regard for them. Well then the same would apply to you, wouldn't it? Don't forget "Karma is a Bitch". What goes around comes around.

3) Stop Finding Excuses: Think hard of what the root of your problem is. Stop blaming others. For you to be happy or rise above your low state you need to know what got you there. Once you know what got you there, figure out how you can avoid getting back there again --- there you go, that is your solution. If you have identified the solution you are a better person that a second ago. That is the essence of life.

Jun 30, 2011

Managing emerging Markets

A great article on how compnaies can get the best out of their emerging marekt operations. The use of “reverse expat” strategy is next big thing according to Jeffrey Joerres, chairman, president, and CEO of Manpower.

Identify Bad Strategy and Do Not Succumb To It

A great article on McKinsey Quarterly about how a leader should differentiate between a good and a bad strategy. The author goes on to discuss the hallmarks of a bad strategy:

I have condensed my list of its key hallmarks to four points:
1) the failure to face the challenge
2) mistaking goals for strategy
3) bad strategic objectives - fuzzy objectives
4) fluff.

Here are a few excerpts from the article.

Horatio Nelson had a problem. The British admiral’s fleet was outnumbered at Trafalgar by an armada of French and Spanish ships that Napoleon had ordered to disrupt Britain’s commerce and prepare for a cross-channel invasion. The prevailing tactics in 1805 were for the two opposing fleets to stay in line, firing broadsides at each other. But Nelson had a strategic insight into how to deal with being outnumbered. He broke the British fleet into two columns and drove them at the Franco-Spanish fleet, hitting its line perpendicularly. The lead British ships took a great risk, but Nelson judged that the less-trained Franco-Spanish gunners would not be able to compensate for the heavy swell that day and that the enemy fleet, with its coherence lost, would be no match for the more experienced British captains and gunners in the ensuing melee. He was proved right: the French and Spanish lost 22ships, two-thirds of their fleet. The British lost none.1

......if you fail to identify and analyze the obstacles, you don’t have a strategy. Instead, you have a stretch goal or a budget or a list of things you wish would happen.

.....“This is what Jack Welch says,” he told me. The text read: “We have found that by reaching for what appears to be the impossible, we often actually do the impossible.” (Logan’s reading of Welch was, of course, highly selective. Yes, Welch believed in stretch goals. But he also said, “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”)

The reference to “pushing until we get there” triggered in my mind an association with the great pushes of 1915–17 during World War I, which led to the deaths of a generation of European youths. Maybe that’s why motivational speakers are not the staple on the European management-lecture circuit that they are in the United States. For the slaughtered troops did not suffer from a lack of motivation. They suffered from a lack of competent strategic leadership. A leader may justly ask for “one last push,” but the leader’s job is more than that. The job of the leader—the strategist—is also to create the conditions that will make the push effective, to have a strategy worthy of the effort called upon.

Another sign of bad strategy is fuzzy strategic objectives. One form this problem can take is a scrambled mess of things to accomplish—a dog’s dinner of goals. A long list of things to do, often mislabeled as strategies or objectives, is not a strategy. It is just a list of things to do. Such lists usually grow out of planning meetings in which a wide variety of stakeholders suggest things they would like to see accomplished. Rather than focus on a few important items, the group sweeps the whole day’s collection into the strategic plan. Then, in recognition that it is a dog’s dinner, the label “long term” is added, implying that none of these things need be done today.

Good strategy, in contrast, works by focusing energy and resources on one, or a very few, pivotal objectives whose accomplishment will lead to a cascade of favorable outcomes. It also builds a bridge between the critical challenge at the heart of the strategy and action—between desire and immediate objectives that lie within grasp. Thus, the objectives that a good strategy sets stand a good chance of being accomplished, given existing resources and competencies.

.......the transformational leader (1) develops or has a vision, (2) inspires people to sacrifice (change) for the good of the organization, and (3) empowers people to accomplish the vision.

Despite the roar of voices equating strategy with ambition, leadership, vision, or planning, strategy is none of these. Rather, it is coherent action backed by an argument. And the core of the strategist’s work is always the same: discover the crucial factors in a situation and design a way to coordinate and focus actions to deal with them.

Read full artcile HERE

Social Strategy- Critical for a business's future success- 78% Executives say

While the data is for the US, I am sure there is a great learning and change of attitude that can be picked up by the Indian Execs.

May 17, 2011

The Conversation Prism

Awesome Resource !

Twitter Overloaded and Over Capacity !!

Twitter's having a hard time time catching up with all the traffic its getting looks like! Came across this message just now- disappointing !

Is this acceptable from a company valued at about $4 billion with millions of active dedicated users?

This is not the first outage issue either - more here :

May 16, 2011

HBR Discussion on how Microsoft can Destroy Skype (My thoughts in Sync with HBR's authors)

In sync with my article on Microsoft's acquisition of Skype and concerns in there (on May 10th, 2011)- HBR's recent article (on Friday May 13, 2011) warns Microsoft (MS) and predicts how MS can make this all go wrong if not careful.

The warnings are around possibly destroying Skype as as a brand and potentially not knowing how to integrate Skype (or recklessly doing so) within MS, and needless to say how the bureaucratic red tape within MS could kill Skype.

The HBR article can be found HERE.

You can read my article HERE- very similar thoughts as the HBR post.

May 10, 2011

Microsoft Eyes Skype

You must have heard the news - Microsoft (MS) is close to sealing the deal with Skype. The acquisition cost is rumored to be between $7 and $8 Billion.

The last time I heard of such a high value buy from Microsoft it was 2007 and the company was aQuantive. The cost- $6 Billion.

Microsoft acquired this firm for its creative and digital ad agency (Avenue A Razorfish) and adserving platform (Atlas DMT). This saga was of great interest to me as I was with Avenue A Razorfish, though before the acquisition, but was interested in knowing how this would end. Especially knowing that these two firms had completely different cultures, operational philosophies and at some level Atlas would be redundant considering MS already had a ad serving platform of its own, made the story even more interesting to me. I followed the news online and through friends at both MS and Avenue A and the industry.

Of course as one could guess based on Microsoft's history- the integration of aQuantive did not happen smoothly and MS sold Avenue A to WPP and launched its own search service and technology. aQuantives original management left MS within a year or two.

Now, coming to the Skype story- Skype became popular by providing voice and video calling services for free or for cheap to the mainstream consumers- especially in the international calling segment. The interface is simple and easy to use. The quality of voice and videos crisp. With Skype credits users can 'charge' their account and call anywhere in the world to any land-line or mobile number. Users could also forward their calls from their skype numbers to personal phones.

Skype is reasonably well established in the consumer as well as in the small and medium business world. With the acquisition of Skype MS gets this large consumer base and the opportunity to integrate Skype's technology with its existing platforms. For example, MS has a product called Lync which integrates email, IM and voice on to one platform. Skype can play a major role here.

More importantly I see Skype playing a vital role in supporting MS's Windows Phone 7 OS. MS has been struggling to establish itself as a strong player in the mobile segment and Skype could be the answer, providing a little bit of an edge - and MS needs every little bit of the edge it can get.

One way to make this partnership work could be by using Skype on Windows enabled devices. Using Skype consumers could now make free or cheap calls (within and out of their network). While feasible, this comes with its own challenges of dealing with operators. In fact the way I see it, this strategy could be more successful out side of the US, such as in India, where the telecom markets are device driven and not operator (as in the US).

Given the history of MS though it will be interesting to watch if Skype actually makes it out of the "blackhole" once the deal is closed and it goes in for integration with MS's existing products (which is where I see Skype's true value to MS) or like its previous acquisitions Skype too will be consumed, and possibly painfully so, by the giant. Only time will tell.