RRGwrites

On life…and learning

Posts Tagged ‘Leadership and Communication

How I Learnt to Conduct Positive Arguments…

with 6 comments

imagesAs an organization and human resources professional, my job involves conducting a lot of conversations, discussion & arguments and managing conflicts therein. As any other well-meaning professional, I have made my fair share of mistakes during such conversations; introspection told me that many such discussions could have been conducted in a more fruitful manner. Having said that, I would like to believe that I am better off today by making such mistakes and learning from them.

After all these years of being a true argumentative Indian, often straight-worded and carrying ‘When right, say it hot’ mindset, I wanted 2013 to be a better year. So, I took as one of my guiding principles/quotes of 2013 as – “I will not attend every argument I am invited to” (Author Unknown). I sat down in early Jan, dug deep into my experience and wrote down all the errors I tend to make during a discussion or an argument. And from that exercise, I learnt these two invaluable lessons, which now help me conduct a positive argument.

Now, during every discussion-turn-argument, I continually remind myself:

  • “I need to share my thoughts, without building a perception that the other person’s thoughts are incorrect. I may have my well-intentioned and valid reasons to state my views firmly, AND that does not make the views of the other person any inferior.” I keep telling myself that I am not trying to win over a personal victory here, I am just bringing my views and thoughts to the table.

  • “I must end the conversation purely on the merits of the two sides of arguments AND do not bring THE person in between the debate.” I keep reminding myself that if I state all my views with necessary facts, share my thought process clearly, I need not push or act aggressive. Not raising voice, and improving the argument is what I do – with a belief that the argument on its own merits will end up winning, if it is worth it, i.e..

How it helped? Well, I do not bring along my ego as an additional participant to a discussion any more. I listen with an intent to listen and not with an immediate urge to respond right back; to share with you, that was tough and I am indeed doing better by learning this art. I try not to allow my smile and/or my positive exterior to fade, even amidst the most trying arguments. And best of all, I do not end up making the other person feel being gunned down by the volley of arguments.

And I must tell you, I have started enjoying arguments even more now, they are a lot more harmonious and outcome-oriented! I still make some mistakes; few arguments still could have ended better… and that is the key, I now quickly scan my own self post every such conversation and reprimand self for any uncalled-for step. Next discussion turns out even better!

This was my experience. Now it is your turn. How do you conduct arguments? Do you follow any rules to conduct positive arguments? Do share…

5 Things You Should Say Today As A Team Leader

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LeadershipWhen I wrote my recent blog on ’10 Mean Things You Shouldn’t Say To Your Star Performers’, many of my readers, friends and colleagues, who were team-leaders themselves, asked my views on the things they should be saying to their teams. That made me think… for there isn’t any dearth of to-dos on this subject. Try googling, and you will get a laundry list of things leaders should be saying to their team-mates.

However, after much deliberation and digging into my own experience of observing leaders and managers and managing large, diverse teams, I am of the view that as a Team Leader, you should be saying these 5 things to your team, given the opportunity, daily:

  1. I am observing the efforts being put in by you. Thank you and keep up the good work. I am sure many subordinates don’t get to hear this sentence from their Team Leader. And worse, at time when they do hear it, it is mostly a lip-service done. Authentic and timely recognition is what a team looks for from their manager.

  2. Hey, all conflict is not necessarily negative. Let’s use it constructively to get better as a team. At times, two or more teammates, either in their pursuit of excellence or otherwise, enter into conflicts of all sorts. Affirmation from the leader that all conflict is not necessarily negative, will not only bring positive energy, but will also help teammates connect better, resolve the issue and not confuse conflict with personal vendetta or mala fide intentions.

  3. It is great that you disagree with me on this subject. I am sure It will bring a different view, let’s understand what you have in mind. This one’s a real big gap today. Leaders often have and/or demonstrate, sometimes inadvertently, big egos. Allowing your teammate to disagree with you is not only helpful in building an open culture, it also saves you from falling prey to the ‘The Boss knows it all syndrome.’

  4. Let me know if you need any help; I am there. All of us look for help from our leaders, and the need is all the more crucial when we fail or make mistakes. When the team hears its leader say that it is OK to fail, and that she will help if they do, it does wonders to the team’s morale and output.

  5. Hey, I told you that I will call you back when you reached out to me. Sorry, mate, I was not able to. Let’s connect quickly now. We all know boss is always busy; but if he is so busy that he forgets to call back most of the times, disconnects start. Even if you say this sentence once a day to one of your team-mate, albeit authentically, not only he, but others will also appreciate your leadership.

Are you a team-leader? Then do you agree with above? Please tap into your experience feel free to add to the above list.

Do you work with Team Leaders? Do you hear above sentences from your leaders? Do share your experiences.

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Post-script: You would have observed the extra stress I have laid on the word ‘Authentic’. Well, that is the real key in leadership & communication. You may read about it in detail here (‘Are You An Authentic Leader’).

10 Mean Things You Shouldn’t Say To Your Star Performers…

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Angry BossWell, you are the boss. And like to believe that you are a good one.  You lead a bunch of smart, hardworking and well-intentioned subordinates or, as I call, teammates.

These subordinates are real stars; they are result-oriented, ownership-driven and work with high passion & commitment. They have a reputation of delivering consistent results.

And then, there are those rare few occasions, when these smart, hardworking and well-intentioned teammates make mistakes; sometimes, really silly ones.

Well, since you are the boss, the said mistake of your teammate makes you suffer poor results, undue embarrassment and/or undesired pressure from seniors, you get to hear not-so-nice words from your own boss, and what not.

And with all the right and might of being the boss, you would like to reprimand the one who erred.

Oho! That could be really tricky.

Many of otherwise well-meaning, well-respected and admired managers make an uncalled for error on such occasions. They end up saying undermentioned ten sentences whilst engulfed in the fist of fury, or shall I say, in a weak moment of lapse of good judgement. These 10 sentences, once uttered, can be the real deal-breakers for the motivation of your star subordinates.

Let’s see what they are:

  1. “Well, you are really turning casual in your approach these days.”
  2. “You let me down, terribly. How could you?”
  3. “I should not have trusted you with this big responsibility.”
  4. “I trusted you, and you broke it.”
  5. “Henceforth, don’t even try this. Let ABC do it.”
  6. “Can’t you do just one simple thing right?”
  7. “I knew it. You are just not up to the mark.”
  8. “You failed all of us.”
  9. “It is because of your stupidity that the entire team suffered embarrassment.”
  10. “You will not be able to successfully complete this. Let me take it back from you.” 

Well, well, well… there you go. Above cut-&-dry sentiments, once verbalized whether using same words or similar, leave a casting negative impact on the recipient. Worst, it affects their personal sense of dignity and hurts their self-pride. Remember, the very fact that these are your star performers also makes them feel a higher sense of pride in themselves and their achievements as a professional. As a result, such criticism hits them even harder.

One such sentence, uttered in one such momentary lapse of good sense, ends up alienating your star teammate from you, most of the times. And that is where the entire disengagement at work begins.

Dangerous, isn’t it? Then think of it, do you too say similar things when your star performer goofs up?

I encourage you to share your experiences when you were the recipient of such a bashing. I am sure our experiences will help many managers reflect and become better leaders…

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Image-credit: chrismower.com

Your Leadership. What is in it for me?

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Just heard the magnetic speech of Narendra Modi, who was speaking from the dais of the renowned Shri Ram College of College, University of Delhi. As the chief guest of the Business Enclave 2013 hosted by the college, he was delivering the Shri Ram Memorial Lecture of the year.

He spoke at length about several initiatives that have led to the all-pervasive growth of the Indian state of Gujarat for over a decade or so. However, I am not writing to praise Modi or the work his government has accomplished in Gujarat. That’s not what made me tune in to his speech in the first place. Rather what made me listen to his speech with attention was my keen desire to observe and note his leadership & influencing skills, a key area of my focus and learning.

And I am so impressed! Not because he spoke so well, Indian polity is replete with many eloquent orators across party lines. Not because he spoke of facts and figures of development, I know speechwriters are good at that. Not because his model of development is catching the eyes of the world, and certainly not because of the running debate of whether or not he should be or would be the next Prime Minister of the nation.

I am impressed because he reaffirmed my belief in the dire need of leaders connecting with their followers in a meaningful and persuasive manner. He spoke with charisma; and more than that, he spoke with real influence. And why I felt so? Because he spoke with enthusiasm. He spoke like a man possessed with raw energy and pleasurably sounded like a leader who wanted me to belong to him. Laying down his thoughts and vision, he indeed provided the thousands of young minds gathered there and millions more on the Television the answer to the quintessential question – What is in it for me?

Often I have pondered as to why the leaders of the present times don’t sound authentic and appear compelling to me and not only to me, they don’t appear compelling to the entire youth. I ask, why is this missing in the present Prime Minister, who has the distinction of being the most celebrated economist? Certainly not the competence or the character, the twin bedrock of leadership; those we know he has, aplenty. Then what’s missing in his words, and in most of most of leaders we meet and see around us?

What is missing in most of the leaders of the political class, and otherwise, is what I call the soul of a leader. They don’t answer as to why should I feel connected, why should I feel belonged and what is in for me in all they are saying and envisioning.

Narendra Modi was inspiring – he appeared bold and forthcoming in his speech and demeanor. He was also relevant – made me as a listener quickly calculate the leader’s capability, basis the proven track record of his competence. I won’t say I got sold, but he did get my serious attention over his offer of providing me with a win-win proposition, a victory for him a leader and for me as a follower.

In my earlier blog on a leader’s authenticity and trustworthiness, I wrote at length about the importance of connect of a follower with his leader. Modi proves my point today. I am not sure how many of you would agree with me, but if the reaction of the youth brigade present at the event was to be kept in mind, they proved with their attention and applause that even they felt belonged.

India; the youngest nation of the world. A nation, which is in dire need of and search for visionary leadership, not only in governance, but also across industry, education and other sectors. A nation of all brilliance and capability that one can put on offer. A nation with growing knowledge-workers and rising aspirations. Quite like a corporate organization brimming with talent across levels, waiting to deliver superior results, only when guided and led by a true leader. This talent would look for leaders not only worthy & competent to lead them, but also who appear keen and enthusiastic to do so. And don’t mistake this talent as one merely looking for and getting sold to the word-weavers and eloquent seller of dreams. This talent is smart and calculative enough to measure the reality and then invest their faith in the leadership.

This talent will carefully watch out for their leader’s passion and commitment; they will be unrelenting in pursuit of leader’s sincerity of purpose and would demand to know whether the leader would take them towards an environment where they can deliver their best. And they would keenly watch for the growth and success that gets offered on the cards, should they commit their faith and hard work to the vision of such a leader. Thus, mere oratory won’t work.

I am no fan of Modi, and this isn’t a political critique I am writing. I also do not have any good view of the hardliner politics he has been accused of practicing and rather have a dislike for it. I haven’t even started thinking to become a follower of his. The jury may be still out on his capabilities as an administrator and I am sure the opposition leaders will be vying for his blood after today’s speech. Yet, what he did convincingly today was to sound honest and meaningful as a leader to me – a commoner. Something that most leaders, across domains, fail miserably at.

Somewhere amidst his enthusiasm and vision, I could see – ‘what’s in it for me’…

I am sure more leaders are tuning in…

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are author’s own and not of the organization he is associated with.

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