Leaving it to your boss? 5 reasons why it’s not a bright idea

If you are like lots of knowledge workers, chances are that you leave your career in the hands of your boss and bosses. By career, I mean not just your next raise or a promotion. Your career will hopefully outlast your boss. You will want to be doing different things in future. If so, it is not a wise to leave your career in the hands of your boss. To understand what can happen, read this story of Reema

Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t take things as they come:

1. Your boss may leave: you will then have to establish a good working relation with your new boss and hope she or he will take care of you.

2. Your boss doesn’t recognize your need for new skills for next career step.

3. Everybody, your boss and your other bosses, are busy in delivering results all the time

4. You have done well so far without much need for a new skills. Your talent has seen you through. This may not be always realistic.

5. You may yet get promotion due to circumstances and because your are doing well in your current job. If this happens you may get into hot water. You may continue doing your old job and will get exposed for lack of skills needed to handle a new responsibility.

The trend is that more and more alert knowledge workers are taking control of their careers. They identify what additional technical or domain skills they will need for their progress. Some of them go one step further and they invest in learning some generic skills like leadership. They rightly think that leadership skills will become more and more critical to have even when they plan to advance in specialist roles.

What are your thoughts? Did you already invest in yourself?

About me:

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadership coaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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What if teamwork is going for a toss?

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing your people quibble, argue, and back bite over petty issues. May be you have tried pep talks, outdoor and indoor team games etc.

So work it must be. The cause of lack of teamwork. The other cause might be the values. Run these checks:

1. Do you have your project goals well defined? Are there any formal project plans. If yes, task the team to improve the plans for risk mitigation.

2. If your team is running processes (repetitive work cycles), check if they work according a defined work flow. Task the team to improve process performance. Caution: this may involve process redesign. Be ready.

3. Check if people, their tasks, skills and attitudes all match. Act to close gaps if any. It may involve training, job rotation, counseling etc.

4. Check your reward systems. Are they fair? Are they skewed more towards individual performances at the cost of others?

5. Check if straight talk is encouraged. Best way to check it is to find out how many times people come to you and disagree with you or criticize you.

Try the above. Throw good work at your people. Lead. You will be surprised.

About me:

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadership coaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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From a clerk to a musical instrument specialist

Source: wikipedia.org

Source: wikipedia.org

You won’t give him a second look, dressed that he is in a very ordinary way. He has a diminutive frame and a sunken face with stubble that comes with someone working quite hard and not having time for anything else.

His name is Pradeep, and when he came home to make adjustments to my drum kit, I chatted with him as he set about his work without any fuss. I asked him, “How long have you been setting up drum kits?” He said, “Over forty years and not just drum kits”. It didn’t look that way. He didn’t look young but he didn’t look someone who would be over fifty at least. There are people like him who look to be in thirties or forties forever.

“How did you start doing this?”, I was curious. He said “I was a clerk in a private company and our boss’s son had a drum kit. He had some problems with the kit. So I tried my hand, since I was good with screws, nuts and spanners and things” That put his age well into sixties.  He continued, “and I realized that I could discern the musical notes and could tune the kit in a very natural way. So started handling other instruments like guitar and later even pianos”

His age of over sixty didn’t tally with his quickness and dexterity. But before I could ask him about his age, he got up and said,” Please call me, whenever if you need anything”. He couldn’t find the door  and sheepishly asked me the way out.

Pradeep found what he got to be doing happily for over decades and without any thought of retirement. He found it accidentally. But he found it because he tried and he noticed something about himself and he took some more steps. He saved himself from a drudgery of work which he wouldn’t enjoy. He saved himself from a life of forever looking forward to holidays and retirement.

I think everyone has some special talent, just like Pradeep has.

A very systematic program for developing your own talent of leadership and recognizing talent in your people is in the book ‘Lead to Regenerate

Interactive coaching based programs are available via our web site at www.learning-leaership.com

 About me:

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadership coaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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A primer and programs: recognizing talent

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

We have been figuring out ways of recognizing talent inside and outside organizations through several stories in this series. Recognition of talent is crucial to hiring and development of people. It isn’t always straightforward because some talents like the one we saw in Salil’s case aren’t obvious during interviews. People themselves may not be aware of their talents and may have ended up in their jobs by accident or may have been swayed by some other considerations.

Here is a primer

1. Shun nouns and adjectives:

Figure out what you really mean by ‘talent’. Shun ‘catch all’ skills or traits like ‘communication skills,  hard working, resourceful, networker’. These are nouns or adjectives. Consider verbs like “planning a project”, “improving a process”, ‘writing a story”, “evaluating people”, “framing a problem”, “framing actions” It is easier to ask for examples of these and evaluate the answers to compare with what you need. Also consider what the candidate might need to be doing after one or two years on the job.  Read the post

2.  Look deeper into your needs:

There are two kinds of skills. There are basic skills like coding, selling, writing, planning….. Then their applied skills like using computers, using Photoshop or SAP. The latter type of skills are about specific tools or being used to working on a specific platform. Avoid the mistake of looking only at the latter of the above two types of skills. You may know how to use MSWord well, but that doesn’t mean that you can write well. Read the post

3. Observe:

Talented people are passionate about doing things which utilize their talents. They forget everything else when they get going. They don’t waste time. They don’t wait for formal instructions. They simply start doing things. Observe them. Read the post

4. Ask & listen:

He was excited  and proud as he talked. He was passionate.  He had no experience. But he clearly had taken on a challenge. He had gone into details. He had identified root causes and solution to at least one of them by talking to his colleagues. He also got the solution implemented.  Talented people put their soul in their work and they take on challenges. So ask and listen to them. Read the post

5.  Be ready:

Talented people are restless and they try to improve their knowledge and skills all the time. They put in extra efforts for this. They do it on their own. It may seem abnormal and paranoid of them.  Read the post

6. Draw them out (you will need someone as talented)

Talented people love appreciation of finer aspects of their work. They also love informed criticism. These are their rewards. They thrive on such rewards. Read the post

7. Waste their time and observe (you don’t need any talent to waste their time, but you do need talent to observe)

Talented people hate wasting their time in doing things that are not or can’t be done well. Waste their time and sense their frustration. Read the post

8. Ask them & listen

Talented people seek help in order to do a much better job. Ask them about their teachers, trainers, instructors, coaches, mentors. You will learn plenty. Read the post

9. Look at who gather around them

Talented people recognize talent in others even if the talent is unrelated to their own area. Yes, they have a knack of knowing and and a yen for sticking around with talented people. But you need some talent to recognize all this yourself :-) Read the post

So we need to look for certain behaviors, we need to ask pertinent questions, we need to shut up, we need to listen & observe, and we need to have some talent ourselves for us to recognize talent.

Does your hiring process and your development process incorporate the above?

A very systematic program for developing your own talent of leadership and recognizing talent in your people is in the book ‘Lead to Regenerate

Interactive coaching based programs are available via our web site at www.learning-leaership.com

 About me:

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadership coaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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How do you brand ‘thinking’ ?

When some eminent intellectuals of Pune, got together with an idea  of setting up a think tank, they needed to communicate:

PIC LOGOPune has always been a city of learning, scholarship, values, enlightened thinking and action. The city today boasts of the presence of thought leaders from all walks of life be it art, culture, education, law, science, engineering, politics, trade, commerce, manufacturing industry, knowledge based services, and so on. The Pune International Center (PIC) is a world class think tank, it provides a public forum for free & fair debates on policy, and it promotes art and culture.

That was the design challenge. We needed to communicate profound and abstract thinking prowess. We needed to reflect aspirations, yet bring out the quality of intellectual output rising above the ordinary.

After much brain storming a logo concept was finalized and designed by Falguni Gokhale, Director Visual Communications, Design Directions, Pune.

About the logo:

Lotus which is a symbol of beauty, art, intelligence, enlightenment and growth was chosen. The ‘whirls’ signify churning (manthan) of thoughts which bring out the core or the essence. The gold signifies purity of thought, the burgundy-pink express the youth and festivities and the blue signifies wisdom of people of Pune. The traditional motif in ‘international’ context creates a modern but timeless expression.

The logo received CII Design Excellence Award.

The PIC produces its brochures and policy papers under this identity and these are well received. PIC

 

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More important than finding a good job and securing that elusive promotion

With the conclusion of the series : “How to recognize talent?” when we were looking at others,  it is time to turn our attention to ourselves -to our talent.

If you don’t know what your talent is, it doesn’t mean that you have no talent. It simply means that you haven’t stumbled on it yet, unlike the luckier ones who did so. I think some of the most important questions one can ask oneself are:

“What am I good at?”

“How do I find it?”

“How do I build on it?”

“How do I make it a part of my life and work?”

I have met some people who not only found their talents but they also could make it an important part of their careers and life. I haven’t met more energetic, open, and happier people than them.

Therefore finding one’s talent and making it a nice part of one’s life is clearly the most important task. It is more important than finding a good job and securing that elusive promotion. You may land that so called ‘good job’ but your heart may not be in it and after some years you would be at loss to understand what has gone wrong despite all signs of success.

We owe it to ourselves to persist with this quest.

Our ‘Regenerative Leadership’ programs help in your quest.

Interested in knowing more about our Regenerative Leadership programs? Get in touch with me.

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadership coaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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A unique talent

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Salil, 35 owns and leads a medium size successful company which he built over just five years. His company manufactures precision parts needed by automotive safety subsystems like airbags and seat belts. He had worked in an automotive OEM major as a mechanical design engineer for about seven years. His stint as a mechanical design engineer provided him with good insights into the technical aspects of the precision parts needed in cars. He knew that various automotive parts interacted with each other in many ways during and after assembly and during actual use -and not all these aspects ever get documented and get into the spec sheets. As a result, typically OEMs ask for much tighter specs than needed.

As he turned 30, he felt that his insights like the one above could be used to economically manufacture parts and assemblies that performed well when assembled into automobiles. He decided to quit his job and start his own venture. After some years of struggle to get a chance to prove his ideas in manufacturing he received trial orders. He funded all this through his savings and from his family and friends. His company and its precision parts soon became well known among automotive industry. One business magazine interviewed him and his team for their cover story.

When asked about his success, Salil said, “I think I was lucky to come across many talented people -our designers, manufacturing technologists, purchasers and even back office people are exceptionally talented. I am fortunate that they chose to work with me and continued to do so for all these years. It is one thing to have great ideas, but it is another thing to have good people. Without good people your ideas are worth nothing” His people said about Salil, ” He is like a magnet who draws us to him and he draws the best out of us”. His manufacturing technology guy said, “I think he put more faith in me than I was prepared to put in myself” Another of his key people said, “We vigorously argue on technical matters. We often have shoot-outs for selecting correct technical solutions. But when we make decisions we match up up well about the values involved -e.g. all of us agree to delay a shipment if we are not 100% sure of quality and we do this even if there is risk of annoying our customer because we are sure that we will be able to convince the customer about our choice.”

Salil said about himself, ‘ I come from a modest background. It helped that we lived frugally and it meant that we thought deeply about everything. Another things which I always do is to ask around for ideas, guidance, and help from everyone I meet. I often give an impression that I am wasting time in talking to what many would consider as people of less education or experience or caliber. But I have always found that there is something to learn”

Salil obviously is gifted with a keen mind, an eye for talent, willingness to learn and try, and humility. He may or may not have commonly known talents like public speaking, communication skills, coding  some art, but he is uniquely talented.

Interested in knowing more about our Regenerative Leadership programs? Get in touch with me.

I help people and businesses in developing themselves through Regenerative Leadershipcoaching. See Learning Leadership for web based programs. You can undergo self learning program in my book Lead to Regenerate. Do keep in touch with me either here, or on Google+ , onTwitter, or through my blog Regenerate!

I consult in Branding, Communications, and User Experience Design.

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At a boot camp of a start-up in Agri business

Boot Camp

The weekend’s Saturday saw me participating in boot camp of a start-up in Agri business. Well, it was a pre start-up stage. The business entity is yet to be formed. But the core group of 7-8 people was huddled together planning activities over next three months and beyond. They had spend last about an year reaching into the market places and shaping their ideas.

Most of them were men in their twenties and thirties brought together by a ‘veteran’ who must be in his forties. Two other veteran’s couldn’t make it due to unavoidable reasons.

The group’s veterans were concerned about going forward without doing enough about developing their core team to take on various roles which would unravel as their business starts and picks up momentum. So, they had called me to help out.

Instead of typical psychological, motivational, or behavioral assessment stuff I discussed with them about their immediate goals and ways of achieving them. I also suggested them to think along two time windows -the next 3 months’ window and the 4 to 12 months’ window for figuring out ways of doing those activities.

This morning, the ‘veteran’ sent me a summary of the boot camp. He added a small comment:

My take: 
Operations Group was much more organized and quite logical in understanding various steps and identifying the sub-processes and projects. Their group dynamics was also quite promising. Each team member absorbed your coaching and their learning. However, they are too weak in English language. 
 
The Preparations Group was not organized. They had to reworked on one document and could not complete the another document. There was complete lack of group dynamics. 

It is clear, that the boot camp was quite productive. Not only they know much better about what all they need to do and how, but they also have a good idea about what kind of talent they have and what are the gaps which they will need to plug. The allocation of talent can now happen in more relaxed and rational manner.

One can also discern a remarkable and unconventional leadership by the veterans in shaping a business vision and bringing some capable people together!

I used some workouts from www.learning-leadership.com and my Lead to Regenerate book for the boot camp. We shall have follow up sessions and an extensive workshop down the line.

My point is: Tweet: we can recognize talent (and nurture it) through some very productive, engaging , and innovative ways like these http://ctt.ec/KYb8b+

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Brand identity & visual language

It is very easy to try very hard at creating a brand identity through a so called ‘visual language’. When you try to convey things in ‘clever’ ways the results seem to be contrived. This can also happen if you try to convey too many things or if you try to combine different visual elements assuming that the result of combining them will be ‘additive’. It doesn’t work that way.

A brand identity, on the other hand, must grow out of the essence of the brand in a visual form, so that it works and continues to work for you.  Here is a great example:

wpid-wp-1411529990848.jpeg‘Pune Farmers’ Market‘ conceptualized and established by Karen Anand, a well known Culinary expert and food writer, is the first whole foods and lifestyle market and a source of exceptional Indian and International produce. When it needed to convey the essence of its offering. Falguni Gokhale, Director Visual Communications, Design Directions, Pune came up with this. wpid-wp-1411530003127.jpegInvoking the freshness of farm produce and joy associated with consuming it through a familiar visual has helped brand. The market has now spread to Mumbai, Gurgaon, Goa, and to Kolkata.

 

 

(The above logos, trademarks etc. remain the property of respective owners. They have been shown only for the purpose of illustration of the above point)

 

 

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How to recognize talent? -8

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Recognizing talent does take some efforts

Shalini works as a manager of the consumer loan processing department in a finance company. She spends long hours at work. Frustrated with long hours, which were taking a toll on her family life, she decided to do something about it. A bit of reconstructing of her typical day-at-work showed to her that she was spending majority of her time (over 60%) in meeting deadlines or in dealing with complaints from customers or audit observations.

Shalini met Alec, her engineer friend, who had worked on the shop floor and was not averse to jumping into new areas. Alec told her that so many ‘rejects’ and ‘rework’ (his shop floor words) meant there is a problem ‘upstream’. In other words, the loan processing work flow needed some serious fixing. He showed her how to make flow charts and how to put some data there. Shalini was determined to put an end to those frustrating deadlines, audit questions and reprocessing. She decided to investigate as per Alec’s suggestions.

She made flow-charts of loan processing work.  As Alec had told, her she examined various parts of the work flow and guessed what could be the problem areas. She called Alec again to share her hunches with him. She then called for quick discussion on the problem area with her team and redesigned the ‘troublesome’ part of the work flow.  Over next three to four weeks, she started experiencing periods of ‘lull’ at work. A bit unnerved, she obtained feedback from other departments and found that things were going on quite smoothly.

Talented people seek help. They seek out mentors, teachers, or trainers or anyone who might provide insights into what they might need to do in order to do a much better job.

A workbook for you

A workbook for you

Tweet: Talented people seek help. They seek out mentors, teachers, or trainers They are also keen learners.

Have you come across such people?

For more such stories of talented people and how they can improve further, please use “Lead to Regenerate” program book. The book has a complete practice program for practicing and improving your talents further. You can also sign up and enrol in the web based coaching programs at Learning Leadership.

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