Sunday, July 5, 2020

Rediscover the power within

Several ‘feminist’ movies watched over the weekends during lockdown – Panga, Thappad, Mardaani, Tumhari Sullu, numerous forwards received on Mother’s Day and some interesting conversations with my 7 year old son. The mix of all this coupled with coaching conversations with some women leaders during this pandemic and my overall experience as a Facilitator, here is a piece to unshackle some deep rooted beliefs that often give rise to “Motherly Guilt” and/or “Female Guilt” resulting in self limiting performance.
1.   “I know it all” Syndrome: We need to get rid of bolstering our self esteem by being a so called all rounder. It’s okay to not cook different cuisines and post pictures of it on social media unlike others. The yardstick of success is NOT your culinary skills and how you have pleased people at home or at work by extending your working hours resulting in being perceived as a perfect woman. It’s a fa├žade…it may only resulted in anxiety, pressure, exhaustion and stress. You need to create and rely on self approved success yardstick and not get bogged down with self inflicted socially approved yardstick.
2.   Rewrite the stories: Nature has bestowed wonderful qualities to woman – kind, graceful, adaptive, sensitive, empathy and many more. We need to believe in these strengths and re-write the stories of Sita, Cindrella…about their distress, forced circumstances, hardships and frustrations to the stories of Minal Dakhave Bhosale, Jacinda Arden…stories of leadership, decisiveness, hope over fear, compassion, lead from front. We need not have Barbie with some muscle…however we could blend feeling beautiful and feeling accomplished too.  
3.   Silence the self doubt: Women are prone to getting into a spiral of overwhelming self doubt. With the running commentary in the head that pumps up “You Can’t”…half the battle is lost there.  Instead authentically reflect to recognize is it a limitation, comfort zone, fear of failure, comparison trap or something else. The truth is – you know the real answer…it lies within…it just needs a lot of strength to accept and action upon it. It needs courage to not hide behind the real reason or an excuse of self doubt, instead take the plunge and course-correct along the way. As much as competence, confidence matters to succeed. The fact is we create our own reality.
4.   Seek Help, Seek Support: You have to ask for it…point blank. It isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact unless you ask and at times unless you repeatedly, un-apologetically ask for it, other person won’t realize he/she could help. Sometimes the other person also needs a push to help and support you. Shift your mindset of I will do it all to I need help and we could work on this together. Establish your support systems at home and at work too without feeling guilty about it. It’s okay to not belong to a tribe of 24/7 available mom/spouse/manager/several other roles that you play. The first and foremost important role you play is of self.
To revel in your ambition and success, internalize fierce worth ethic, self regard. Fight your inner enemy by not giving up. “The only battle to win is the battle within, that place where we realize that we deserve to have and create all that we want in our lives.” Ali Vincent
Let Loose! Unravel your Power! Soar High!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Nurture your Soul

Are you nourishing your soul? This Women’s Day take some time out to think about what gives you peace. Do invest a few moments today with yourself to seek what fills your soul with life, what brings you joy and a deep sense of satisfaction? Work, family and several other responsibilities of life often takes precedence over us. However, nurturing yourself is not selfish- it’s essential to your survival and your well being. Always find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive.
I have compiled a list of things that help me nourish my soul. I encourage you to use them as a springboard for nourishing yours.
1.      Pursue a new hobby:
I am learning to play Sarod (a musical instrument). It immensely helps me to sooth my soul. It has an incredible power to fuel my creativity, passion and is completely a rejuvenating experience.
2.      Read/Write:
If you want to awaken your soul or stir your emotions or enrich your mind, just enjoy reading variety of books. Writing has helped me to give a ‘voice’ to my thoughts/ideas and also to de-clutter. So ladies just find a way to hone your ‘voice.’
3.       Commune with nature:
Appreciate the beauty around you. Stimulate your senses, feel alive, quiet the noise within and fill your soul with immense peace and tranquillity.
4.       Develop a lifestyle of Continuous Learning:
The way we focus on our child’s education, co-curricular, extra-curricular activities, its high time that we invest in our own as well. So do have a learning plan in place and implement it in true spirit.
5.      Art of doing nothing:
Once in a while it’s absolutely fine to do nothing. Too much of busy-ness and running around doesn’t really help. So master the art of doing nothing and feel relaxed!
Happy Women's Day!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Decoding Leadership Lessons!

A year ago when I accepted a challenge to deliver training to Union leaders in Marathi, several questions had flocked my mind.
How do Union leaders view behavioural training programs?  Will the participants hijack the agenda of training program & make it an open house to vent their grievances to the Management?  Is the Management serious about the training objectives or is to give participants a feel good factor or is the hidden agenda of amicably completing the process of revision of wage agreement.
I am glad what started as an experiment for me, successfully grew multi fold in a year’s time.
It’s been an eventful journey working with the Unions. In fact I have learned the most from these trainings. I find these participants unique in their attitude & approach and hence these trainings are more challenging than any other leadership trainings.
Several things that I learned while working with Unions & their well educated counterparts:
1.       Education doesn’t make you smart. What really matters while working with Union is are you able to treat them as partners in working
2.       Perception is reality. Your intentions may not matter if you are perceived wrongly. They are far more intelligent to read between the lines
3.       You need to be smarter to implement your agenda; else it is highly possible of them to hijack the agenda by diverting it to a grievance session. (There have been instances where I had to ask the IR head to walk out of the training session, so we could focus on training objectives & not let the participants make it an open house)
4.       To develop symbiotic working, you first need to work on bridging the credibility gap between the employer & the Union
5.       To make your Union progressive & develop collaborative mindset, trust, transparency, mutual interests needs to be worked upon on sustained basis
6.       To build responsible & responsive Union leaders, you need to invest in them. This facilitates positive contribution to the growth of an organization
7.       Don’t interact only when there’s a problem.  If you do so, the relationship will be built in stressful & tense situations. Instead foster positive relationships by rewarding positive behaviours. This will help to build trust on both sides.
What I really love about the interactions with Union members/leaders is it’s a unique integration of willingness to transform workshop learning’s with practical application & a genuine feedback of what worked & what did not. For me it’s been a profound personal transformation about decoding leadership lessons, understanding what really matters!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dare to Care?

As a leader: Do you really care?
This question has been coming up quite frequently while facilitating leadership workshops, team building sessions & while working on couple of Organizational Development interventions.
As an organization you may have one of your core values as Care. You also may have various forums where you speak about care for your employees. However, as a leader do you really care?
As a leader, ponder on these questions.
  • Do I take the responsibility of my team or team member’s failure?
  • Do I treat my people with respect?
  • Do I share mutual trust, empathy, equality – regardless of age, gender?
  • Am I transparent while sharing information?
  • Am I clear, honest & careful while giving feedback?
  • Do I encourage creativity & am I open to acknowledge different opinions?
  • Do I relate to them & not act like I am above them?
  • How emotionally aware am I about my team? Do I recognize anxieties of my people & am I able to relieve those?
  • Am I only a task master or also a people’s manager?
  • Do I empower others? John Maxwell has rightly said, “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”
No amount of learning about leadership theory or situational leadership would help if you don’t respond positively to any of the above questions.
Your team may forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
So will you now dare to care?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Back to School...

Recently I had an opportunity to work with one of the leading educational service providers in Mumbai. With them I worked on a small Organizational Development intervention before orienting the parents of Class IX & X. In the process I realized, children are incredibly wise & they definitely tend to see the world more simply than we do. In fact, I feel if we start taking their advice, our life would be less stressful & we may realize that doing little things actually is good enough to lead happy & satisfying life.
Here is a list of 5 simple things that children expect from parents. Surprisingly it is not exotic holidays or an expensive smart phone! Less than 7% of total students had asked for smartphones, nintendo & things like that. Have a look at what others had asked for! 
  1. Respect:
Treat others the way you would like to be treated. The need for respect is so basic that I feel it should be counted along with food, shelter & clothing. Unfortunately, children shared various examples where respect is missing. After feeling overwhelmed by stress at work, calling your children ‘stupid’ or ‘useless’ or something of this sort in a fit of anger is absolutely not accepted. Shouldn’t we treat them as equals irrespective of their age?
2. Apologize:
A blatant question that we need to ask ourselves as parents: Do we apologize when we are wrong or do we justify our mistakes? Children feel that we dont apologize for our mistakes at all. 
3. Walk the talk:
Do we really practice what we preach? Shouldn’t we lead by example? For example: As a parent you tell your children not to waste time or get distracted by electronic devices, yet you are a smart phone addict yourself. You may explain them the importance of physical fitness/exercise, right diet yet they have never seen you doing either of it.
4. Experiment:
It is very natural of parents to feel that they don’t want their children to experience failure, hardships, struggle, disappointment & pain. However, let them make mistakes, take risks, experiment & learn to take the ownership of the consequences. All you need is to provide them with nurturing environment...feed it with faith, hope & love.
5. Seek my opinion:
Children deeply felt that their opinion should be sought during decision making process at home. Be it buying a new car or planning for a holiday or which coaching class to join. Just don’t push or impose your decisions on us. Make us feel part of the family by asking us our suggestions, seeking our advice.
Dear Parents, do display your unconditional love & warmth irrespective of their grades. Let’s enjoy the process of growing along with them. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they too are watching us to see what we do with ours.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Take your life back!

Scenario 1:
The landline rings. Mother picks up the call. The grandfather on the other side of the call wants to talk to his grandchild.
The 6 year old kid says...I am busy. I will talk to you later. May be over the ‘weekend’.

Scenario 2:
A 5 year old kid pretends to type on a laptop, has plugged in ear phones. An mused Father asks the kiddo what are you doing?
Kids response: I am on a conference call. Kindly do not disturb.

Scenario 3:
An 8 year old kid plays with few trophies & medals. He is very happy hanging around with those. Finally looks at the Father & almost speaks in an announcing manner...I don’t think so you will ever get a medal for being a Best Father & does a thumbs down.

Scenario 4: The child gives a preface that he was enjoying coffee with his parents at Starbucks. The scene that gets depicted is as follows. Child busy looking here & there, kind of liking the coffee. Father on a call. Mother busy coaxing a child to click a selfie & then posting it on Facebook with a title “Time well spent with my kid”

Scenario 5: The child is studying. Mother is on whatsapp & keeps telling the child in between..sit well...

And it was followed by many such scenarios. A theatre based workshop with students of age 5 to 13 years brought out few facts where parents and teachers several times felt like laughing & crying at the same time.

Few questions that facilitated a discussion with parents:

1.       Are we living a weekend life? How can we improve it?
2.       How can we wisely & thoughtfully integrate household chores (that takes a lot of our time on weekends) with kids?
3.       Can we unplug at least social media & whatsapp over the weekends and also while spending time with kids?
4.       Introspect – Do we walk the talk?
5.       If we don’t log in into the office network over the weekend, is it so difficult to catch up on Monday?
6.       Is the work really urgent or have you got into a habit/behaviour to bolster your self-worth with proof of 24/7 availability?

So is it a time for you to take your life back? Your laptop & smartphone also needs some idle time while you live & enjoy your life!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What can you guarantee?

The training head of a large manufacturing organization asked me – “What can you guarantee”? And I very calmly responded “Nothing”. She was taken aback by my composure coz she had probably expected me to fall all over myself making promises of change in participants after attending the workshop.

I am sharing the excerpts of our interesting conversation to highlight:
1.    Organizations play a larger role than the facilitator in making training effective
2.    Can training really change people?

Here is the excerpt of our conversation.

I was very upfront in telling that Training as a standalone event can rarely change people. It does help in brining all participants to a common denominator & also helps in broadening the thinking horizon of participants. Training cannot be a substitute for feedback that the organization was looking for. I have often seen employees being pushed in a training program without any debrief about the workshop. If there is no dialogue between the participant & the manager about how a specific session can accelerate their learning or what are the changes that a Manager would like to see after the session, whose responsibility is it to make training effective?

I believe & I can surely guarantee success of my programs if organizations guarantee:

1.    Each participant have had a dialogue with their Manager about their current skill sets and on how the program can help
2.    The messages or outcomes of the training & that given by the Manager are same
3.    Manager/Organization gives opportunities to the participants in making the desired change or demonstrate the change
4.    Participation in training is neither used a yardstick to performance nor as a substitute for feedback

I do not believe that training alone can change people, however I do believe

1.    A well structured session with a supportive facilitator can help people accelerate their learning
2.    Along with training, a series of activities like debrief, feedback, action plans, reviews should be planned to continue the momentum of learning created/established during the workshop
Learning is owned by the learner. The Manager should own the responsibility of ensuring employees readiness to learn & the facilitator should be able to simplistically deliver key messages that can be readily experimented at work place