Leadership – Antique Value or Utility Value

Management lessons from the Paranjoy Guha Thakurta episode in EPW! This is not a post taking any sides, but possible learning and commentary from the Leadership style perspective. I draw extensively from the Facebook posts (click on respective images below for original posts) of  Sri Rammanohar Reddy,  Ex-Editor of EPW

(Currently, the links to Facebook posts are functional – However, in case it doesn’t we have screen shots of the same as on 1st August 2017 @1200 Hrs)

Self selecting boards are the bane. I know organizations whose influential member is sitting on the board for last 50 years and invariably surrounded by “Yes-Sir”s . When you sit on a board as the Executive Chief for 50 years the organization tends to be treated as his/her Proprietary firm. (Not to discount the possible excellence of some Proprietary concerns) For an organization not a Proprietary concern, this management style is counter-productive.

What was good 50 years back cannot work today (Why go back 50 years! these days, what was good last year is out of place today) Control freaks vs Participative Leadership argument. We cannot manage Knowledge worker using methods used on unskilled labor (please note – it wouldn’t work even with them in modern times) it is a recipe for disaster. Processes & systems that worked in the past is out of place today not because of geographical spread, but also due to rights assertion. Multi-locational, multi-product delivery calls for different leadership style and fresh thinking – Not an uninspiring leadership – A 50 year old antiquated furniture is valuable more for its antiquity than utility.

Uninspiring leadership – A 50 year old antiquated furniture is valuable more for its antiquity than utility.

I would like to give an example on how antiquated some thought processes are – I am sure it would be the same with many of the reader’s organizations, especially if they have a “baggage” called history.  A particular person who headed this location was specifically advised that maintaining an open office, with free access to your subordinates is not the right leadership style. Little realizing that a rotting place was converted into a happening and successful unit , people gave up their right hand to work for. Everyone of the stake holder expectations were met (of course, not the antiquated Leaders who advised the person, who still thought no amount of success justifies the legitimate means – it is their way or highway)

Celebrating Her – Happy Birthday Aparna

As much as I resisted not to make myself predictable by writing a blog, I simply could not help but do it yet again this year to celebrate not just Aparna’s birthday but celebrate her  in our lives.

It has been a tough year for the family having lost our eldest brother unexpectedly (and untimely too) , but the way she stood up with us despite her own pain – this brother was the one who was the karta of our marriage – she bore it all within herself and it was thanks to her strong shoulders that helped me go through those difficult times.

This has been the feature of this amazing human being – when going gets tough, she steps back, ready to lend her unconditional support. Not just for the family but to anyone, as many who have experienced this can vouch.

She is a “100% in the moment and with the person” kind of a human being. When she is with you, she is so present – Her priority are very clear and never allows anything in the world to disrupt this, whatever the costs. Always the background person – especially with loud and flamboyant folks like me and children around her, she detest drawing attention to herself for anything. However, she has something to tell the kids, wherever she is

Over the years, we have realized here is an amazing human being – always ensures that even in the worst of situation, the glass is never seen empty, even when it is stone-dry; that is the kind of strength she lends us. And she has slowly opened up to having some fun moments like these

On this special day I thank the Divine for this precious gift to us. Thanks ,my late Brother – Sri Mohan, who brought her formally in to my life. I am sure wherever he is, must be proud to shower his blessings on Aparna on her birthday.

Have a super duper day, dearest Aparna. We adore you – just the way you are!

Loads of Love

And this gratitude is not complete without dedicating one of the songs in my collection of favorites.  This time a 1973 number ” Thanks for Being you”

We are not the Doers – What it really means

“We are not the Doers! If not you, someone else would have done”
Thus spake an elderly man to me, along with a long wound story to prove this point. All fine but No boss! This Gyan from Bhagavad Gita doesn’t work the way you projected. (Your logic works only when you have absolute power over the situation and position which itself is a myth, and when you want to deny someone the credit :-P)
My understanding and flaws of such thinking in organizational context” If wrongly understood and applied, this Gyan has following pitfalls. Hence it is absolutely essential that we understand the knowledge well and then apply before we supply.
Improper understanding of “We are not the Doers” has the following perils:
  1. It lulls many into inaction. Since I am not the Doer anyway, I get attached to Non-Doer ship. Let Divine make it happen
  2. That urge to “Do it well” is lost because anyway you become already detached from “Do”ing. You end up being mediocre or not doing it at all.
  3. You will not work to acquire that Skill to “Do”. Since you are not the Doer, why to hone the skill or even possess it.
These are the essential dangers of wrong application.
The essence of this in Bhagavad Gita is Vairagya (or dispassion). How and why it works in two specific circumstances. One, when we have done a good job and Two, when we have failed. In both the cases, Do’er ship has its pitfalls.
When we are successful and we feel a Doer ship, it ends up as Ego-booster which throws us off balance. Ego blinds us to facts and slowly results in arrogance which is detrimental. We get  feeling of indispensability  (and invincibility) which is not good situation to be in (in fact it is dangerous). Realizing that we are not the Doers in this case, sets the reality (there are lot of contributory factors, a single one failing would have not helped us get the successful result). It helps us to get out of the complacence and perpetual celebratory state and move on.
When we are not successful and we feel a Doer ship, it ends up in despondence. We condemn ourselves as worthless which again it lulls us into inaction. Our thinking would be that anything that unlucky me “Do”es goes wrong. Realizing we are not the Doers, we did the best would help us get out of the mire at the earliest and move on.
In both of the above situations, practicing Vairagya, dispassion (not indifference) helps us be alert and move on in life and not get bogged down by a “Success” or by a “Failure” We do our best and leave the result to the Divine.
In organization context and as leaders, we should also realize – Not anyone can “Do” it. It requires skill and tact. We are not the Doers… But someone has to Do it… And Doing it require Skill… and Commitment
Looking back and considering what is happening today – I am laughing my bottoms off.