On life…and learning

Archive for December 2013

Do You Work On Your Strengths?

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I have been a big proponent of following my strengths and bettering them year after year, than only focusing on what my weaknesses are. Not that I do not work on my development areas, it is just that I focus more on my strengths – and believe you me, it pays.

strengths-vs-weaknessesToday, I am writing this blog to share with you what Marcus Buckingham, a British-American bestselling author has been saying. A key promoter of ‘Strengths’, he has written extensively on this subject, basing his writing on far-reaching survey data from interviews with employees working all over the world. He has been stressing that people will get the best results by making the most of their strengths rather than by putting too much emphasis on weaknesses.

As an ardent student of leadership, I have been following his work for a while. And I must tell you; quite a lot of his writing has given me a lot of learning in the realm of people leadership. Some of his thoughts are quite simple, yet astonishingly effective.

Now, let me say, this one is a rather long blog… and in these twitter-happy times, it may appear even longer to some of you! However, in case you aspire to be a leader, do read on…

Here are the top 12 nuggets of his wisdom that I wish to share with you:

  1. Hand Off Praise. One key to success as a manager: when praise comes to your team, hand it off to your people; but when criticism comes, stand in front of them and be their shield. Deflect the praise and take the criticism, and they will do anything for you.
  2. Break the Golden Rule. The best managers break the Golden Rule. Do not treat each person on your team as you would like to be treated — this assumes that your team members each share the same strengths as you. And they don’t. Instead, treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. Treat each person as his or her strengths demand.
  3. The Two Things Your Team Members Need. Although your people want many things from you, their two most pressing needs are: 1) Does my team leader know me for what I do best? 2) Has my team leader set me up to do what I do best most of the time? Meet these two needs and your team will win. Miss on these two needs and everything else you try as a team leader will be less effective.
  4. Do You Make Your People Feel This Way? Think of the best team leader you’ve ever had. Get him or her clearly in mind. How did that team leader make you feel? Did he or she know you for what you do best? Did this team leader give you opportunities to show what you were capable of? Did he or she know how to focus, recognize and challenge you? Did you know this team leader would support you if you made a mistake? Do you make your people feel this way?
  5. Focus on Their Wins. You can’t be insecure and be a great team leader. Your insecurity will cause you to compete with your own people, which is the opposite of what a great team leader does. You are there to speed up their success, not compete with it.
  6. Experiment More. You value experimentation and hands-on experience. This drives your people. They know that it’s okay to make mistakes. They will soon appreciate that you expect them to articulate what they learned from those mistakes and thereby increase organizational wisdom. Make this an explicit part of your leadership.
  7. Strengths ROI. Great team leaders invest in each person’s strengths for these three reasons: a) Strengths are an accelerator: people will learn faster in an area of strength. b) Strengths are a multiplier: people are more creative in their areas of strength, more collaborative, and more insightful. c) Strengths are a reinforcer: people are more resilient in areas of strength — if they experience a setback or poor performance in an area of strength, they bounce back faster.
  8. The Real You. Show your people your personality. Sometimes they feel they don’t really know you. Take the time to tell personal stories and they will feel more connected. You don’t have to be the entertainer at the front of the room; just look for opportunities to make personal connections as you walk the office or share their successes.
  9. Practice Individualization. The most important skill you must develop, as a team leader, is individualization: namely, do you know how your people are different from one another, and have you figured out how to make the most of those differences? Perfect this skill and you will excel as team leader.
  10. Know Their Triggers. As a team leader, your job is to speed up the reaction between the strengths of each of your people and the goals of your team. You can do this job only if you know clearly how to trigger each person on your team in the right way. Remember, strengths are an accelerator, a multiplier and a reinforcer.
  11. The What, How and Why. Ensure that your people are prepared. Clearly articulate the what, how and why of “quality” and the steps needed to maximize it. Create opportunities to practice activities your people might be expected to perform. That way, when it comes time to measure the “quality” of their work, they won’t fear this; they will look forward to it.
  12. Get In Their Shoes. Support your people’s training and lead by example by keeping yourself up-to-date. Take over for someone on your team occasionally, to keep abreast of system changes and challenges. Keep in mind, if you’re able to use a system more efficiently than your people, that’s probably a good opportunity to give them additional support and training.

With these leadership nuggets from Marcus Buckingham, I am signing off for the year. Hope some of these learning will help you take on the leadership journey in 2014 with all your ‘strengths’.

All the best…


Image-credit: thebloodsugarwhisperer.wordpress.com

Let’s Be The Real ‘Straight’ Ones…

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Well, Supreme Court of India tells us that gay & lesbian sex is yet again a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Court! That one needs to be ‘straight‘ and not gay in this country. And that if you do not harbour any interest in companions of the same sex, only then you have a right to be addressed as straight, rest all are under some form or deviation and hence, needs to be criminally tried under the law of the law of this cultured land!

q020_displayLet me tell you what I think a ‘straight‘ and ‘cultured‘ person is:

  • One who doesn’t abuse, rape, molest women on the roads.
  • One who doesn’t take bribes, evades taxes and jumps traffic signals.
  • One who is not a religious extremist and fanatically looks down upon other religions.
  • One who is not prejudiced against caste, colour, creed or race and allows a bias-free society to thrive in an open, accepting manner.
  • And before I miss, also the one who, again unlike our Lordships of the Hon. Supreme Court, does not think that while a particular section of the society may constitute “a minuscule fraction of the county’s population“, they TOO have a right to life, respect, non-discrimination and equality under the Constitution of the very same country.

That one person, to my mind, is far, far straighter and cultured than any one who merely prefers to sleep with a person of different gender only.

Time To Eat Your Own Words, Judge…

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Eat Your WordsRetired Supreme Court Justice AK Ganguly is there in news for all wrong reasons for last fortnight. Specially after today, when a Supreme Court panel indicted him for sexual harassment of a former law intern, fresh war-cries have erupted across the nation demanding his resignation as the chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission.

I do not know what really transpired behind the closed walls of the hotel room, where the alleged act of harassment was reported at. Hence, I am staying away from being judgmental about it.

However, I would like to take you back to the February of 2011. This is Justice AK Ganguly, then Supreme Court Judge, talking…

“The former Maharashtra Chief Minister is still a minister. He is looking after Rural Development… continues in equal glory. We cannot pull him down from that…” 

You should note that Justice Ganguly had, in December 2010, held Vilasrao Deshmukh guilty of using his influence to stop the police from registering a case against a private moneylender.

He didn’t stop at that, and thundered,

“It is sad and shocking to see how the government allows and appreciates such ministers. Not only that… also gives them a cabinet post. It is not a dignified act, I would call it a shameless act.”

Well, notwithstanding the Supreme Court panel indicting him and moral police of the country vying for his resignation from the reputed post of Human Rights Commission’s chairman, even Justice Ganguly “continues in equal glory”.

Time to eat your own words, Judge…


Image-credit: idioms4you.com

Written by RRGwrites

December 5, 2013 at 9:08 PM

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