Rules of Engagement and Realm of Influence


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It’s the people, human resources that are the most important asset of any organization. It is these associates, employees, contractors and those engaged in various capacities that turn the wheels of the organization every single day in the direction of its aspirational mission. These associates come together in various roles, manning several myriad functions that together create the structure of the organization.

The roles and responsibilities of such associates, often times are overlapping and most definitely closely inter-twined to form the fabric of the organization. That is where rules of engagement and the sphere of influence come into play. Rules of engagement vary for every role within an organization and are based on their core responsibilities toward the organization. The job description lays a framework of expectations from a role & its associated responsibilities as well as expectations from the incumbent. However, rules of engagement are unique and evolve based on several factors. The role and its connectivity to other roles as well as the overarching organization are crucial. But what makes it unique, is the personalities occupying those roles. Every person is unique and is a sum total of their experiences at a given point in time. Their understanding of the role, responsibilities and inter-personal dynamics are unique as well. Their interpretation of this has an impact on their framework of rules of engagement. They engage and act based on all that they are influenced by.

In order to succeed at a role, it’s a given that one has to have clarity of vision of their role’s expectations and responsibilities, but more importantly, they need to develop a keen insight into the unique organizational dynamics at play and learn to shape their transactions accordingly, to the benefit of what they are set out to achieve as a part of their role with an eye on the big picture mission of the organization. This helps them maneuver well in reaching their professional as well as personal goals. Rules of engagement and the realm of a role’s influence, although have a rough framework; they are extended, expanded and emphatically executed by the unique personalities occupying these roles. The incumbent’s unique understanding and engagement with these rules, which, predominantly is influenced by their personalities, shape the fluidity and flexibility of a role’s influence. It is for this reason that several factors are looked at when recruiting people to occupy roles. It’s never just about the role that is vacant. It’s also about organizational fit. Beyond that, it’s the organic evolution of Darwinism within the organization, evolution by natural selection.

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Taking the first step….


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I believe ambition drives the world and what keeps it going is the hope to see it realized. There is no end to it. You achieve one goal and you aspire for the next. After all, you have to live and that is what is called living.

However, many a time, a lot of people spend tremendous amounts of time and energy on dreaming and preparing to start, waiting for the opportune time.

What they do not understand is that time is always NOW!

You can dream all you want, prepare all you want and keep waiting forever for the opportune time; time will pass, but nothing gets realized until started. What better time to get started on your ambition than now.

Hope is the elixir that keeps you going. However, there is no going anywhere if you keep planning, dreaming and preparing.

Take a stand and get started. Half the battle is won right there! You are moving on the path of achievement. You will face trials and tribulations, you will fall to rise again, and perhaps fall again to rise once more. Your will shall be tested, your patience, self respect and talents will be bruised and battered, however, you will still be inching closer toward the realization of your goals. Never give up no matter how bad the situation seems. You are one of the lucky few that actually started down the path of working for your goals; being resilient and holding steady will eventually see you realize them.

That is success. Not the realization of your dreams, goals and ambitions, those are the fruits of your getting started and holding steady. But the actual journey of making it there is what defines your success.

To achieve your dreams and realize your ambitions, start now for there is no better time than NOW!

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In Pursuit of “You”


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It is said that as you hit middle age, you start to come to terms with yourself. Well, in some cases, I believe you struggle to do that. However, I have seen that most people start looking back and introspect to find themselves, their purpose, start to analyze if they are on the path to what they have always wanted to do. If not, they make plans to adopt the path they are on. Overall, everyone looks to make peace with his or her existence.

There are a lucky few, who get to do this much earlier in life. They are blessed. Blessed, because, this sets them on the path early on where they set out to do what they really wanted to. For most, the realization itself takes time.

The first ten years of life pass in playful abandon, blissfully ignorant of a higher purpose in life. The second decade brings along with it, the pressure of growing up. We set out on a path that we have grown to recognize during the first decade of our life; a path traversed by our parents, relations and other elders we see growing up. We are unsure; if this is our calling, yet trudge along on what is in front of us. The third decade brings with it the responsibilities of life: work, relationships, marriage, kids and all that raising a family entails. There is hardly time for anything else. Toward the fag end of this part comes the retrospection and introspection I talked about initially.

Better late than never, you correct course and proceed.

Life is actually very simple, yet we make it so complex for ourselves as we pass through it. Part of it is due to the continuous influx of all that life has to offer and the rapid pace at which we pass through it, that we never get a chance to catch a breath and look at it from an external vantage point. And, part of it is due to the fact that we have never known it any other way. Of course, there are those lucky few who catch a break early on and are thrown on the right track to begin with.

Life’s simplicity lies in not taking it seriously and just knowing that, you need to take it one step at a time, living in the present. Its like when you learn to walk, take one step at a time. Put your first foot forward firmly, and then lift your second foot to put it in front of your first. Once you do that, repeat the process.

At whatever juncture of your life you are at now, just remember this and follow through. You will be happy and fulfilled. Do not overthink or over do, just focus on what is in front of you and do it with utmost sincerity. Although the future may seem uncertain, as long as you are in control of your steps, the path you seek will reveal itself, guaranteed.

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Can you Think Yourself into Your Desired Level of Success?


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During the days when I taught management courses, many a student has asked me, “How do I become as successful in life as I possibly can?” In some cases, the question was, “How do I become as successful as I want to?” The de facto answer was, “Work hard.” And there were several others such as establish goals, pursue them diligently, dream big, focus, plan your work, work your plan, etc.”

Now, in hindsight, I would have given a more introspective answer for them to reflect upon. Not that all said above is untrue; it surely is a requirement for success. But, there are several intrinsic behaviors and patterns that determine the level of success you achieve in life.

It’s often said that in order to be successful at what you do, know your strengths and weaknesses and surround yourself with people who are strong in your weak areas. As a result, you develop a circle of strength from which to operate and find positive results in your endeavors.

However, how do you determine your level of success? I mean, how do you ensure you make a positive impact in the lives of thousands of people versus a few hundred or even tens? How do you build a business that is multi-national than locally or regionally focused? How do you build a billion dollar corporation than one that plays in the hundreds of thousands? How do you land the job you desire in the field of your choice in the organization you aspire to work for? How do you grow your career prospects as you gather experience? How do you move into your desired lifestyle? The answer to this lies in the daily life you cultivate and nurture. In other words, your daily interactions, the people you interact with, the books you read, the inspiration and thoughts you cultivate and the rapport you share with those that have done it before.

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Dreaming big and executing on a roadmap to realize your dream is just not enough. You need to build and interact with the right network, develop a nourishing atmosphere so that you can constantly draw inspiration; all your interactions, thoughts and actions need to be a sum total of this. Draw inspiration to chart your own path, the way you see it. Talk, read, and contemplate on what you aspire to do every second, every minute of your existence. Build on the intensity so that your thoughts are shaped by it which shows in your decisions, your actions and finally in your results.

It’s also often said, “When in Rome, act like the Romans.” Well, this is not about acting like Romans, but about getting to be the King of Rome. Not when in Rome, but on the way to Rome, so you arrive King!

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Befriend Uncertainty for it’s certain!


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Uncertainty is your friend, a friend you fear. Moreover, you might not see it as a friend at all.

Uncertainty is such unpredictable territory. What will happen next? What will tomorrow shape up to be? What does the future hold? The anxiety these questions set off and sustain in the background is what most people experience. Once in a while, this anxiety flares up to disrupt life, as you know it. Eventually, you learn to tame it, to be just that little flame flickering away in the background while you anxiously act to keep it from flaring up again.

That’s how many have come to accept and treat uncertainty. As a result, we are cautious with what we do and live in the light cast by our yesterday. Generally, many are risk averse, play out their fears and live within the confines of their comfort zone. As a result, there is not much to expect in terms of change since comfort breeds stagnancy. Over time, it dawns that there is not much excitement and zest for life when it’s the same old life day in and day out.

Uncertainty has turned into something we are fearful of, avoid in all circumstances and cannot image to even skirt with it.

A cautious approach is good but to the extent you can see it. Being prepared is a virtue, but you can only be so much prepared.

Hence, learn to embrace uncertainty. Probably, cautiously at first! But, do give it a try. I assure you, you will be addicted to the fun and excitement that you experience along the journey. It’s exciting to not know what’s around the corner while you toil away at what’s in your control. You follow through logical steps to complete tasks, execute plans and then, do enough to assure yourself of the outcome you desire. Sometimes, you confront unseen roadblocks that you have to work around; at other times you come across unsurpassed surprises that galvanize the outcome way beyond your expectations. And, at other times, you simply get just what you expected. However, you feel more in control, as you no longer fear the outcome.  You feel more confident and self assured, since you put your best leg forward. The rest just follows through as an outcome of your actions. Life will feel richer and well lived when you look back; no regrets or should haves, could haves staring back at you. What you do will be worth the effort. Among other things, you will discover a nugget or two of your own innovative and creative capabilities.

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Leadership Today – From Command & Control to Being Inclusive


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Leaders are built, not born…..

Lead from the front…..

Yawn! This is old school.

Let’s look at leadership for what it is in the new age. Gone are the days of command and control. Today, there is an altogether different leadership that is expected.

Leadership, as we have understood it through the ages, stands for someone, being the champion of a cause and then, enlisting the help of others and influencing them in the realization of the same. It has also been seen as the act of leading others, directing them toward specific achievements through a means that is most effective.

However, leadership is not always about being at the forefront of a team and giving directions as to what they need to do next and how.

The entrepreneurial and corporate engines of today run with a different fuel, an altogether different steam. Nobody is directing anyone, people have the intellect and drive to choose and follow the paths they want to adventure onto 

Leadership is effectively sharing a compelling vision

What they need is a purposeful and meaningful vision, an articulation of how to get from point A to point B and finally, if you are someone who has been there and done that, there’s acknowledgement of what you’ve done and people want to listen to you. Mind you, I said listen. Today’s generation would love to listen to glean lessons from someone else’s experience. They do not care for direction. They will chart their path as long as they buy into the vision, the strategy laid to adopt and the results to be realized. They will chart their own path, a path that works for them to get there under the larger realm of the organizational vision and mission.

Leadership is being respectful of other’s intellect, skills and time

Everyone develops expertise over time at different things and then, can lead within that field, thanks to the skills they have accrued. Leaders are respectful of that. It’s often said that good leaders are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and surround themselves with people better than themselves in areas they lack expertise in. It’s important that to effectuate strong leadership, leaders are respectful of those that work for them and with them. These helps nurture a mutually healthy relationship between leaders and followers and only then, do those that follow, do it willingly. Followers have the freedom, not to just follow blindly, but to question and opine before they follow. A leader’s recognition of every associate’s skills, role and contributions are critical to maximize productivity in any organization. 

Leadership is being transparent, showing strength of character and conviction

A leader is respected for who they are more than what they represent. People need to believe in a person before they decide to follow. A leader needs to ensure that more than having a charismatic personality; they are transparent, just in their dealings and have a high level of integrity and moral values. Trust is a key aspect of any relationship and nothing can establish it more than your true self, reflected in your words and actions. Another important aspect of reflecting true leadership is to show conviction in what you believe and stand for. Decisions that you take need to be solid and no matter what, you should be able to stand behind them. You should not take a decision without much forethought and facts to back it up. And when you do, stand behind it, no matter what. These qualities are vital in ensuring true followership that will stand behind you all the way.

Leadership is putting your shareholders, but first, your employees before you

Leaders focus on the big picture. Yet, they need to have a handle on the tactical stuff. Leaders focus on providing shareholder value, and will put their employees, those that are working on the realization of the articulated vision before everything else. Happy employees lead to satisfied clients and they, in turn lead to a thriving business, eventually ensuring shareholder approval. As long as you’ve got your people’s back, they will have yours.

Leadership is not about directing, but about listening and co-sharing direction

Leaders of this age are no longer the ones that can sit in their ivory towers, draw the shades down and call the shots from yonder. In this day and age of Internet, social media and fast paced actions and outcomes, its important for a leader to stay in absolute touch with their organization, the competition and the market. With rapidly shifting dynamics, it’s about effectively listening to what your people have to say to you. What are they seeing out there? What are they experiencing? What do they advise? All of this needs to be appraised constantly and decisions need to be made based on every input you can possibly get. Its shared leadership as to which direction the organization should take. This is the only way to remain relevant is a fast paced ever changing market.

Leadership is personal

Leadership is personal to every leader. Every leader is unique and to be effective, needs to be comfortable with their own style. You can be at your best as a leader when your leadership reflects your values, skills and life experiences. People seek to know you for who you are. They will look to you to be ethical, moral, righteous etc. before they follow you but eventually, your unique self will be a key aspect of why they would follow you.

Would you rather lead from the front or follow through?

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Leaders and Followers are both vital to the fabric of any organization. As much as you need leaders to set the path and motivate others to follow through, you also need productive followers who are willing to listen, learn and execute on the plan set before them. No organization can do without one or the other.

The world is mostly made up of followers and a subset of leaders. Of course, leadership is a learned trait and most of us play both roles within certain limits.

Leadership is about:

  • Developing a vision, sharing it and building support around it.
  • Strategizing and planning execution to realize the vision.
  • Leading execution of the strategy while overseeing the completion of planned goals.

These tenets are universal to any organization and are mostly measured through fiscal success, I mean EBIDTA, profits, market share, stock value etc.

But, true leadership has other dimensions as well; corporate social responsibility and emotionally intelligent people management being two of these.

An organization that aspires for success ensures that every associate in the organization knows and lives the true reason of its existence. In order for this to happen, every leader in the organization, from the CEO to line management needs to imbibe and practice the principles of valuing the people assets of the organization. Customers and those that serve them are equally important to the organization. Motivating associates to perform to their potential by managing their individual hot buttons and then, channeling this work to meet the needs of the clients is the salient execution principle of any successful organization. This ultimately leads to the realization of organizational goals, the yardstick it measures its success by.

At all levels of management, a prime factor of success is optimal people management. The amount of effort put into strategizing and planning an organization’s path also has to be put into managing and growing the people assets who are instrumental in realizing the plan. With leaders that share in the vision and willing followers, any organization is destined to meet its set goals!

Finally, an organization has to think and act beyond itself.  Making an impact in the community it thrives in and standing up to be a pillar of the community’s progress enhance the perpetuity of the organization and take it beyond the plans it was conceived with. That, in sum is the true culmination of its existence and success.

Now, ask yourself some key questions to understand where you are and how you need to fine-tune your work style to get where you want to be;

  • What do you do for work? Do you believe in the vision set forth by your organization?
  • Are you a leader or follower?
  • As a leader,
    • How much do you value your team? Do you take time to listen to them or are you just giving instructions most of the time expecting follow through?
    • Do you treat your team with the same respect that you expect of them?
    • Is your team totally sold on your idea of execution so that it will be a success?
    • Do you know your team members’ hot buttons so you can work on keeping them motivated and provide direction and help in the realization of their goals?
    • Do you exhibit enough appreciation for what your team does?
  • As a follower,
    • Do you truly believe in the vision and plan set forth by your leadership? If not, do you question and make suggestions?
    • Do you listen and follow through per expectations? Do you go beyond?
    • Do you feel a valued member of your team? If not, do you express concern and work with your leader to ensure mutual transparency and work to build a plan to help get there?
    • Do you offer suggestions and new ways of doing things?
    • Can you be the best lieutenant your leader can ever find?

Find your answers, make your course corrections and let me assure you, the journey towards your goals will be as fulfilling as attaining them!

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Do “nice” people make poor leaders?


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Definitely not! Well, let me start with that so you know where my sensibilities lie right at the beginning.

Niceness is a very valuable trait in any person, something that is becoming rare in today’s competitive environment.

“Nice” character traits most generally include agreeableness, trust, being a straight shooter, modesty and kindness. A person with niceness as a part of their personality generally tends to stay the same through life. Character traits are the blue print of a person and very rarely change unless the person experiences certain very hard life situations. As a result, the person develops a shield that they try to use to cover up their original personality fearing a recurrence of the bitterness that affected them.

It’s also a fact that more often that not, nice people are taken advantage of. But, that is where the use of personal charm comes into play so as to ensure that one is not abused. People in general are subtly biased towards niceness and feel that a nice person wouldn’t mind being pushed a little. Again, being nice is one thing, but you should also hold your stand and be firm. Niceness is not a weakness; it’s a virtue that is bolstered by being firm.

So, being nice is not always about putting others before you but is about putting yourself before others where it would benefit you as well as the others.

Leadership is about setting example, being a role model and leading the way towards mutual success. What better example to set than being nice yet being firm for a leader’s traits tend to permeate through the organization.

Any organization has

  • a responsibility towards its shareholders, employees and customers; its corporate responsibility;
  • a responsibility towards the community it thrives in and where its people resources live, its social responsibility and;
  • a responsibility towards the business it is in, towards the intellectual capital used; which in today’s time translates into intellectual responsibility.

It’s a leader’s duty, no matter at what level within the organization to safeguard and work towards the fulfillment of these responsibilities on an ongoing basis.

There are leaders that consider that corporate responsibility trumps it all. Again, there is bias towards the shareholders or the customers over employees and vice versa.

If employees feel neglected, their morale goes down and as a result, customers and shareholders suffer. If customers are neglected; no matter how much you may focus on the employees, the business as a whole suffers paving way for not being able to support those employees at all. If shareholders suffer, it has a ripple effect on the well being of the employees and customers.

Not one of them is exclusive. Hence, sound decisions have to be taken in consideration of the business as a whole. That is where the trait of niceness kicks in. A “nice” leader tends to see the big picture and contemplates about the morale and well being of the employees, the health of the business, the focus on shareholders as well as the top notch service that the customers deserve. The key is business health, not purely the financials or what the shareholders seek in terms of financial gain; which can at times happen at the expense of employees or customers. In such unharmonious situations, the rewards are short-lived.

Investing in the community where the organization lives and safeguarding and investing in the growth of intellectual capital are equally important to the long healthy life of a corporation.

As a business leader, it is important to have a sound mind and make sound decisions. There are 2 schools of thought; one that suggests the importance of empathy in business and the other, which states that business decisions are to be devoid of emotions.

I am of the opinion that a balanced approach to decision making is important. Too much or too less of anything can hurt. After all, a business is not just about money. It’s about the knowledge capital invested, the people and their skills that come into play to serve the customers that pay and expect the best possible service for their dollar. Each of these is vital and more important than that, the harmoniousness of their coming together to form the corporation and all that results from it is unique and truly admirable.

Someone who truly understands this and keeps it top of mind while imparting their duty makes the most ideal employee, the most ideal leader.