RRGwrites

On life…and learning

Archive for October 2015

स्याही का रंग…

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Ink RRGwritesआजकल मैं बड़ा विचलित हूँ। गाय को ‘माँ’ कहने वाले, एक-दूसरे की माँओं को गाली दे रहे हैं। दूसरी तरफ, मज़हबी हाशिये की तुच्छ राजनीति करने वाले कुछ अहमक़ सियासतदां जानते-बूझते इस जम्हूरियत में छेद करके UN जाना चाह रहे हैं और यह जता रहे हैं कि कैसे इक ख़ास किस्म के गोश्त के टुकड़े की भूख़ पूरे देश के भूखे मरते आवाम से बड़ी है। कहीं तो स्याही का रंग इतना वीभत्स हो चला है कि वो लिखने के लिए नहीं, मुँह काले करने के काम आ रही है, ऐसे कि भगवे रंग के हिमायती भी भगवा छोड़ इस काले रंग के मुरीद हो चले हैं। कौन भारतीय हिंदुस्तान में रहेगा और कौन पाकिस्तान जाये, ये बताने वाले कितने सारे हो गए हैं। दूसरी ओर, स्याही के सिकंदर लिख कर विरोध ना जता कर, सरकारी और गैर-सरकारी पुरस्कार वापस कर के जता रहे हैं। जानवरों की ऱक्षा करने के लिए टीवी चैनलों पर इतनी चिंता बिखरी हुयी है कि दिल्ली महानगर में होते मासूमों के बढ़ते दुराचारों की भयावह चीखें नक्कारखाने में बजती तूतियों के समान प्रतीत होती दीखती हैं।

इतनी नकारात्मकता फैली है… अजब हड़बोंग मचा है चारो ओर.… संस्कृति और धर्म के नाम पर। गाय के नाम पर, सारे-के-सारे बछिया के ताऊ, यानी बैल, हुए जा रहे हैं। सुर्खियां और वोट बटोरने के लिए धर्म का बाजार गर्म है।

हिंदी भाषा के महान लेखक, रामधारी सिंह दिनकर ने एक जगह कहा है:

“संस्कृति ज़िन्दगी का एक तरीका है और ये तरीका सदियों से जमा होकर उस समाज में छाया रहता है, जिसमे हम जन्म लेते हैं।”

मैं शहरे-अवध लखनऊ की गंगा-जमुनी संस्कृति का बाशिंदा हूँ; बचपन से मेरे मित्र सभी धर्मों के थे, आज भी हैं। मिशनरी स्कूल में हिन्दू और मुस्लिम दोनों पढ़ते थे, हम अपने सिख दोस्तों के साथ गुरूद्वारे जाते और जब भी मौका मिले, बंगाली रसगुल्ले नाक डुबो-डुबो कर खाते। जब कभी हम आपसे में लड़ते-भिड़ते, वो मजहबी रंग न लेकर दो छोरो की आपसी लड़ाई मानी जाती थी। होली और ईद, दोनों पर खुश होना हमने सीखा। मंगलवार को हिन्दू दोस्त गोश्त नहीं खाते, इस वजह से हमारे मुस्लिम दोस्त-यार ख़ुशी और पूरे मन से शाकाहारी खाना खा लेते थे, ना कि मज़हबी आज़ादी के नाम पर ‘बीफ पार्टियां’ आयोजित करते। दीवाली पर खील-बताशों के माफ़िक ईद पर सिवईंयां मैं आज भी खोजता-लाता हूँ। मेरे लिए ये ज़िन्दगी जीने का तरीका, मेरी संस्कृति है। हमारे मरहूम वालिद साहब कहा करते थे, “जो धारण करने योग्य है, वही धर्म है।” ये सीख बहुत बचपन से मेरे साथ रही। तब तो, कम-स-कम मेरे बचपन के दिनों में, हिन्दू अगले और मुस्लिम पिछड़े या मुस्लिम आगे और हिन्दू पीछे – ऐसा नहीं होता देखा मैंने।

इस मज़हबी गैर-रवादारी और राजनीतिक असहिषुणता ने सारे देश में एक बेचैन कर देने वाली मानसिकता पैदा कर दी हैं। और वो काफी हद तक हमें बाँटने में सफल होती भी दीखती है!

पर क्यों?

Written by RRGwrites

October 19, 2015 at 7:01 PM

How I Learnt A Crucial Leadership Lesson From My Garden

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Leadership Lessons RRGwrites.jpg

While interacting with my gardener today, I realized an invaluable lesson in people leadership and employee engagement. A lesson, that originates from a mistake I made early this summer…

Those of you who know me well are aware that I am gardener at heart.

Having spent my childhood in the lush and greener surroundings of a cantonment, I developed a green thumb from very early on. Baba, my late father, was the one who taught me the nuances of nurturing a sapling. He and I would spend hours every Sunday, attending to our plants. Lot of heart and effort went into what I know now of gardening.

In the concrete world of the Millennium City – Gurgaon, I am one of the lucky ones to have a sizable garden space in my home. I built this green space from the scratch; every day, I feel a sense a fulfillment when I stand there. On weekends, you’d mostly find me working there in a corner, personally managing the growth and upkeep of each of the plants. Each blooming flower and reaping fruit is a resultant of my love and labour for my garden.

Looks like I am losing track. What was my mistake and what is the leadership lesson learnt?

Let me introduce you to CB, my ex-gardener. He was my key aide in building and nurturing this garden. CB was a trusted, old hand for over 7 years. He was extremely dedicated, hard-working and polite. Though I was aware that he didn’t possess the deeper skills of gardening, his efforts and willingness to work with the family ensured better growing plants, blooming flowers and a neat-&-clean garden area. He was also loyal and smart enough to save me money – he’d bring smaller saplings from the greener sidelines of the colony, painstakingly make cuttings of otherwise expensive plants and make my garden look nicer, without burning a whole in my pocket. He would also sit and listen to my rantings of how knowledgeable I was about gardening and amuse me. High on personal integrity – he was a trusted family aide and we would not think twice before leaving him in charge of the home. In that role, he was also helpful as a Man-Friday in all family events; often running small errands, without much ado.

One fateful day, something happened that made me lose my cool, and how!

Around the onset of last summer, I bought hundreds of periwinkle flower saplings. Baba used to love this flower; every year, I would grow them in large parts of the garden. Continuing the tradition, I decided to cultivate them this summer too, expecting the entire garden to bloom within a month. Just a day after we planted these saplings, the entire family traveled out of station. As always the responsibility of tending to the garden was with CB.

I came back after a week, and to my utter dismay, found most of the saplings dried out – dead… Of course, they weren’t watered for days…

CB was summoned. I gave him a verbal lashing; no holds barred. He, and another maid, who shared this responsibility – both had erroneously assumed that the other would have watered the plants. Result: no one did either water or check. Delhi’s on-setting scorching summer heat dried out nearly all the saplings.

Seeing this damage, my emotions took better of me. As I continued to lose my cool, he stood folded his hands in front of me. CB did try to explain. I didn’t pay any heed; I was furious. And as they say, in such temper, you only say words that you regret later.

As a result, CB, my loyal aide for years, was heart-broken to hear my overtly tough words. He was visibly upset being scolded in front of the entire household. And despite the fact that realized my overstepping on the heat and calming down soon after, CB decided to move on. He moved back to his hometown and didn’t come back. Even if he did return to Gurgaon, I didn’t see him… For many days, I rued this loss. All others were upset too at home. My mother didn’t say much, though I know she wasn’t too happy either with my outburst. My ‘better-half’ didn’t opine much either, but I knew that she wasn’t too happy knowing this incident… Other servants too didn’t like it, I know… I too was feeling apologetic…

I waited for a few months and tried to trace him down; no avail. I engaged another gardener…

Working for last 8 months, my new gardener too is a good man. He knows the craft and has gardening skills that CB didn’t. He too works fine

And only just fine… my new gardener works by the clock. He cribs more often. He demanded and got a higher salary. He expects me not to correct him at all, should I see things not going right. I am still not sure of his personal integrity, albeit I haven’t experienced otherwise as yet. He hasn’t yet become a trusted family man-Friday, let alone my mother and wife entrusting him with the home errands or the family events. Does he think and act in my best interest each time, I am not sure. He works hard and yet, takes a clinical approach – not with interest and passion to make the garden look its best. He doesn’t save me money. He knows a lot, much more than CB, but doesn’t bring the passion and politeness…

I miss CB every time when I interact with my new gardener. The garden still looks nice and clean, but not spotless. Flowers still bloom, but they aren’t planted with the heart… No wonder I don’t see the same view, despite all my own individual efforts…

This morning, when we were planting the winter saplings, I found my new gardener again cribbing about the amount of work it entailed… I didn’t stop myself from giving him a sermon on work-ethics. He didn’t seem impressed; I could see it… And I surely didn’t want him feeling disengaged. Hence, to bring him around, I handed him a 100 rupee note as an added incentive… Then only I found him smiling. Something, that CB never expected…

Leadership lesson learnt for life.

Think of my garden as an organization, myself as a leader or the promoter and CB as a trusted & engaged employee. Most often then not, organizations lose good talent because of bad managers or even when good managers lose it on small mistakes. CB did make a mistake and that did cost me money and agony. It also led to a lost opportunity and a poorly bloomed garden the whole summer. That said, he still was a trusted, long-standing employee, with only good for the organization and the leader in his heart. His record of seven years was much meaningful when compared to the loss of one summer… Losing him due to a heart-burn, purely due to a leader mismanaging a crucial conversation, was a big loss. It could have been completely avoided.

Many times, such employees will go join competition – their organizations will bloom better than yours. How often we see this in organizations? Quite often…

We can always hire a more efficient replacement. But the cost of replacement of a trusted employee & team-mate is way high; much higher than only the monetary cost. It costs the company, the leader, the team many bigger things – passion, dedication, trustworthiness, and above all, it dents the organizational culture for all other employees, new and old.

Well, I made a mistake. I dropped my pennies that day. And I realize it thrice a week now. I am sharing this life and leadership experience, which I learnt the hard way, with you all, so that you can learn from my mistake – in your gardens, and in your organisations…

If you are lucky to have a CB in your home, company and team – value him. Allow him a mistake or two. Even big ones at times. When he does make such a mistake, watch out for how you reprimand; handle the crucial conversation that may go awry and don’t lose it then. Trust me, losing CBs in today world of talent crunch can cost way too much…

Now, its your turn. What do you think? Do share your thoughts…

Do You See Strengths In Your Team-mates?

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I am a big believer in the concepts of working and building upon strengths; instead of only working upon my weaknesses. It works for me each time, and helps me become stronger and better. In one of my earlier blogs, ‘Do You Work on Your Strengths?’, I have written on this piece and many of my readers agreed with me.

As a leader of a team, I have always tried building and nurturing a heterogeneous team – no two people are alike! I keep a close eye on their strengths; what they are good at. It helps me more than merely focusing on each individual’s weak areas. It also helps me channelize capabilities where they fit and deliver best. It also enables me improve the teamwork and it’s productivity every day. It is one of the building blocks that, according to me, makes a team ‘work’.

Let me explain it a different way. I meet a lot of people manager, leaders and leadership-aspirants, who keep talking about being inspirational to their teams. They try achieving this by putting forth the length & breadth of their own experience & domain-expertise. They also try resorting to the ubiquitously available, off-the-shelf, motivational tools; sometimes provided by the human resources function. As a talent management person, I find this quite interesting. Inspirational leadership, which has been a talk of the town for some good time now, denotes something else to me. Accordingly to me, a truly motivating leader is one who has an eye and willingness to observe the best in each individual and recognize & work on their strengths.

In her recent blog on LinkedIn, The Secret to Becoming An Inspirational Leader, Jen Roberts, an executive coach, wrote a brilliant and befitting piece: “A truly inspirational leader sees the best in each individual and the gifts they possess. Inspiring, in this sense, is a way of stimulating and lifting people to a new level of creativity and energy. It’s about seeing the greatness and value in someone and going the extra step of sharing this with them.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

Recently, I wrote few sentences on each of my directs. Qualities that I find inspirational and admirable in each individual…

I penned them down and shared with the team. Here it is:

myTeam - Strengths As I See It - RRGWrites

I didn’t enumerate these qualities and strengths in a jiffy; these are drawn upon from my detailed diary notes, which were based upon my interactions, experiences and above all, my observations of each one of my teammates in last 12 months.

I admire these and find them inspirational… And it was important for me to share what I think with the team – not only to recognize the good, but also to make each individual appreciate the strengths of each other and leverage them.

Do you too work on your team’s strengths?

RRGwrites… 4 years and going strong

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RRGwritesYesterday, RRGwrites completed four years. Woh! Seems like it was only yesterday I posted my first blog… It all started with my better half threatening me to buy a laptop (for beginners: I belong to 17th century technology – fountain pen and paper!) and then forcing me to create a blog…

Incidentally, I recall typing my first blog on a Macbook the same day when the news broke that Steve Jobs passed away!

RRGwrites came into being on October 6, 2011.

Much water has flown under the bridge since that fateful morning… 4 years, 151 posts, over 63000 views, 220 followers – the journey has been quite enriching; having written on life – its learning and experiences, leadership, motorcycle diaries, HR, organization, culture & change, et al… And by writing, I have become a better person, each day… My writing seemed to have a positive effect on my being…

Thanks to all the readers and followers… You have been very kind and encouraging all this while.

Will keep writing…

Written by RRGwrites

October 8, 2015 at 12:01 AM

Posted in Life

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