Are You an A, B or C Player? What Kind of Players Do You Have on Your Team?


Are you an A, B or C Player? What kind of a player are you in your chosen field, organization and industry? What kind of players do you have on your team? What kind of players do you want on your team to ensure your team performs fluidly and meets its goals successfully. As a manager, what is your responsibility toward the various players you have on your team? How do you maintain the balance and coach your players to play as a team? Let’s dive into the episode and find out…

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Nurturing High Impact Decision Making…


Decisions, decisions and more decisions……

Voluntarily or involuntarily, consciously or unconsciously, there are numerous decisions we make every day. Big and small, they all collectively design our lifestyle, our personal and professional relationships and pave way for our life to unfold.

The larger the decision, the more profound its impact, the more cautious we should become to think through, deliberate and finally arrive at a decision before its executed. And, the smaller decisions that do not have that much of impact, should come to us pretty naturally. 

Why do you think so?

Is it because, when impact does not have much of an influence in the larger scheme of things, we make them quickly? Or is it because we do not have to think through much when we frequently take smaller impact decisions or because, if they do go wrong, there’s not much at stake and it can be easily corrected?

Take a moment, and reflect on this.

Decisions whose impact will be felt long term, which can be far reaching for years to come and can determine the course of our own or several other lives; require in depth deliberation before they are made and it is a very unique skill, that is not much recognized. We generally tend to sweat the small stuff more. Decisions with smaller impact are what we end up wrapped in. However, there are also larger decisions with long-term impact that get made without as much deliberation on our end. That is because they are decisions that have been made, perhaps numerous times by others and each has its own impact on the decision maker’s life and yet, they are made time and over again without as much deliberation by others because they are happening all around us.

It’s also important to note that all decisions are not made with a clear view of all details influencing such decisions. Many a time, though we may strive, there is information missing that allows for a more robust decision. And yet, the decision needs to be made. The best approach to take is to review the best possible, worst possible and a mediocre result of a decision before deciding on it, knowing that it’s a decision being made in imperfect circumstances. This will allow us to review the far reaching effects of the decision and help make a choice, where we can see ourselves live with that decision falling somewhere in the band of best to worst we have created.

While decisions are made to maximize the value of what we are set out to do, over time the values may change or shift and review of such a decision may still hold its viability in this situation.

Every success, failure, opportunity availed or missed is the result of a decision made or missed.  Making decisions quickly, consistently and effectively is the cornerstone of making strides in the right direction.

Decisions, although seem to be making us resolute at the point in time they are taken, they are instrumental in shaping us into who we will be. However, is it the same as who we want to be? That’s where our cognitive skill of decision making comes into play and its uniquely you, who determines whether who you want to be and who you will be are on the same path.

Testing Leadership Mettle…


I am sure you have heard, more than once, that every individual is unique. The hot buttons of each one of us are different. However, we all aspire for and come together as teams and organizations, in pursuit of the achievement of objectives much larger than our individual selves. Some tend to do it better than the others. While we work together toward common objectives, there are multiple threads and hot buttons that need to be managed at the team and individual levels. This ultimately constitutes leadership and its varying degrees of efficiency that determines the health of the organization.

The premise of leadership is founded on the universal notion that a leader can motivate individuals and energize them to go from their current state to a desired state of optimal productivity. However, to do that, a capable leader needs to understand individual motivational needs and be able to work on them. Without intervening at the individual level, optimal productivity and more importantly, a willing pursuit of common objectives of the team or organization at the highest levels, is not possible. It should be a prerogative of every manager to understand their individual team member motivational needs and to be able to act on them, to bring common objectives achievement into focus.

While we all have finite time and energy to do a multitude of tasks, an important aspect of management is the ability to interact with teams and its individual constituents. Many a time individuals themselves do not have a clear understanding of their own motivational needs. This is where the need for a mentor becomes clear, in order to help the individual grow. Mind you, I say a mentor who can help individuals identify their own needs and help them focus on fulfilling those. External motivation has limitations and the focus should be on awakening internal factors of motivation for the individual and igniting the spark within to have them act on their own needs.

The best form of motivation however, is inspiration. If the leaders embrace the principles they spout and act in ways to show that they embrace what they preach, it goes a long way in inspiring others, that look up to them and respect them, to follow and reflect better selves.  Do note that a leader cannot actively try and inspire someone; it is for the others to get inspired. Hence, leaders can do themselves a favor by not always focusing on external motivation for their teams, but embracing ideals they would like to propagate within the cultural fabric of the organization. These will find ways of spreading through the organization as inspiration. And inspiration allows willing changes that individuals make in how they act and behave, purely because they believe and also out of respect and the need to see themselves in the same frame as those they look up to.

A leader’s effectiveness is determined by the inspiration they can invoke within their team. A key aspect that leaders need to take note of is that not all individuals are made equal. Some are motivated to do the minimum for a paycheck and others, to do just enough to hold on to the job. Inspiration may not awaken in them due to multiple personal complexities and it becomes important to recognize and understand, that a team is made of individuals with varying levels of motivation and it’s the leader’s job to ensure that this mix doesn’t affect the team objectives in a detrimental way at any time. The key is to work on individuals feeling engaged in their roles, for that is when they have the freedom to be creative and express themselves through their work in the best possible ways.

While setting an example and inspiring the individuals is the highest tenet that a leader should hold themselves to, communication is a two way street, where they should be willing to listen to the feedback and act on it, for the benefit of everyone involved. Transparency and empowering individuals to unleash their creative freedom in their roles goes a long way in bolstering their attitudes and getting the best out of them. Caring for each other, is finally the one aspect that cements a great relationship between everyone where no matter the challenge, they will all rise up together to take it on.

Playing with Fear


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Fear is a primal response to threat. And, it has played a crucial part in the management of human instincts and survival trends through the ages. While it served its purpose of taking a fight or flight decision when faced with physical danger during primitive times and also serves for the same, during modern times; it has also shaped into a formidable management tool through the industrial age to modern times. This time, it’s not necessarily about facing physical danger but facing uncomfortable situations as a result of not following planned direction. However, it’s usage and potency is arguable and I am sure there will be people on either side of the fence deliberating fear’s effectiveness as a management tool.

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Today, I am more interested in exploring fear for what it is and how, as an individual and leader, you need to understand it, to use it effectively to your advantage. Like someone said, risk or danger is real, but fear, it’s a choice. Either you can decide to let it control you or you take over the reins and control it. And, if you do manage to take the reins in your hands to manage fear, let me assure you, you will experience freedom in its full glory.

Fear, like many things that are the most potent when used in calculated measures, is the most effective, when used sparsely. Life is a swing, there are ups and there are downs. That’s a given and most of us have experienced it and continue to experience it. There is euphoria with the ups and fear with the downs. However, with effective preparation and management of the downs, fear doesn’t have to rule you when you are experiencing them. Fear, at optimal measures, can be a great motivator for yourself as well as when applied to a team that is pursuing a goal, to nudge them in the direction of achievement, deft responsibility management and understanding accountability. In such situations, triggering fear can help with the release of tension and buildup of energy to tackle the problem at hand and eventually result in a sense of accomplishment.

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However, when fear starts to engulf you or you end up using it beyond its potent value, it can be very damaging; its potency is lost to keep you or your team on track and as a result, chaos can take over. Knowing when to pull back is as important, if not more than to when and how much to push. When fear takes control, it tends to paralyze creativity and decision making prowess. As a result, there is a tendency to shift responsibility and depend on others’ decisions to act on, in order not to be held accountable. That just goes against the grain of accomplishment and progress. Be what you expect of others. Foster a flexible and positive atmosphere where mistakes are allowed but challenged not to recur, and when not on track, to come back to it. Knowing that its okay to screw up, so long as you learn from it and get back on track, helps everyone and instills a sense of camaraderie and trust among co-workers. It’s also important to understand that being on a constant alert to tackle stress is not healthy and can cause burnout. Winding down, relaxing and rejuvenating before picking up the mantle, is all a part of fostering the right stress management process.

On the individual front, fear tends to curb adventure and can hold you back for no reason. Any venture can either flourish or flounder. The risk or reward for any steps you take, tend to stay defined. If you fail, have the willpower and planning to get back up and try again. It can’t get worse than that. Then, why, let fear take you over and hinder you from make an attempt for a prolonged period, when there is a decent chance of you succeeding? Go ahead, and do what you plan to do. Believe me, the rest will all follow through.

Fostering Team Camaraderie – It’s NOT always about the mission!


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Fostering team camaraderie is no easy task. For many, the team leader-member relationship is that of someone who leads and directs and others who follow. Nothing can be farther from truth than that. You can argue that a good leader leads from the front, is empathetic and so on and so forth. But, that’s not what I am here to discuss today.

I am here to discuss how to invigorate, spread and share the same essence of doer ship and direction across the team, to do one’s best to ensure that each team member is touched by it and dwells in that spirit, so that ultimately, the whole team moves in one direction toward one mission. That’s the stuff great teams’ and great organizations are made of. It takes them over and above individual needs and wants, the organizational benefits and aspirations and toward pure execution to attain a unified mission as one team. It’s an experience par any for the proud members of that team which they cherish forever.

Like I said, getting everyone on the team to think like one is not an easy task. Not easy, but definitely possible! While all individuals have different hot buttons that motivate them and it’s the job of the leader to ensure that they are being actively responded to, its these individuals that come together as a team, to act on one unified objective. The leader and the team members have shared responsibility in helping each other align closer with that mission. And that comes about in several forms of interactions from group to individual settings. Not everyone needs to see the big picture but everyone does need to see the picture from where they stand and understand very clearly their part in fulfilling it. At the same time, team dynamics play a crucial part in how effectively a team performs. This is where the unique differentiator between teams lies. Team dynamics is not strengthened, just by focused concentration on the work at hand. It gets stronger and more effective when the team interacts socially and participates in activities besides work. I am not talking about hitting the bar and sharing silly jokes. For some, that might work to an extent. I am talking about doing things besides work that strengthens their bond and fosters mutual respect and awe for each other. This could mean, sharing hobbies and other skills, connecting to discuss and act on social and volunteer projects, opening each other to new avenues and opportunities, thus fostering learning and cultivating new horizons for the team.

This goes a long way in forming true friendships and bonds between teammates. It takes the relationship to the next level where they draw inspiration from each other. It helps members recognize new strengths and skills in each other, allowing them new found respect for their peers. All of this comes through eventually, when the team acts as one and takes on a challenge head on, in not just successful accomplishments, but accomplishments of a greater quality and higher caliber. This elevates their professional interactions to a new level, helps them find better and more capable personalities within themselves, and most important of all, true happiness in what they do and who they work with everyday.

Image Courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It takes a village to raise a child!


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It takes a village to raise a child, they say.

Whether on a job, running a business, when in school or even when raising a family, any pursuit demands constant self-analysis in comparison to the environment around to assess where and how you fit in, to make the most effective impact on what you have set out to do. I have come across many that pay more attention to what they do not know or aren’t the best at than what they do and rock at.

For instance, those with strong technical skills question the business acumen they possess while those with a strong business background, question their technical knowledge. Financial whiz’s’ are uneasy with specific business domain knowledge they work in. Operations stalwarts tone down when it comes to business development.

This is something that I have seen to be very dominant in our times. Being aware of your shortcomings is wise and essential. But, to fret over it is not. Not everyone can be a star at everything they do. What is important is that they make an effort to know about things the best they possibly can so they are, in the least informed, when it comes to understanding how that fits in the big picture and this gives them the ability to make good decisions, many a time in their own work realm.

When you know your preferences, likes and strengths, focus on being the best at them. Do not worry about the rest. In fact, find the best possible help you can get on things that you are not very good at. It’s smart to surround yourself with people who are better than you so that you have that part of what you want to do covered. Now, you can focus on what you are excel at and trust others to focus on what they are good at so, all around, you come out successful. Remember, everything in life is a team effort; no one person did it all!

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Making Things Work…..


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In the most trying of times, those that come out, probably tired, exhausted and even with a few chinks in their armor but definitely, triumphant are the ones that work together as a team.

After all, we have all heard that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

In business or personal life, working together is inevitable. After all, no monumental accomplishment was due to a single person’s effort. Working together can mean tremendous pressure, but if the pressure is faced and the energy channelized to build on the effort, it can mean great experiences, stronger bonds and finally impressive accomplishments for those involved.

With generations to come, and the need for instant gratification, there is less patience in those that interact. Just a tad bit of perseverance; restraint and focus can make things work through interaction, than personal gripes and would mean so much more for everyone together and individually.

Yet, this is hardly understood in colleagues working together or families working on their relationships. Personal egos get the better of everyone and as a result, everyone collectively and individually suffers whether they acknowledge the latter or not.

No matter who you are and what your role, the end goal has to be upheld over personal goals. And eventually, success in togetherness reflects on individual success as well.

So, teams out there that are working on projects 24×7 because, that’s what they demand to get accomplished, work together with complete trust of each other. There will be a time to reflect, work things out between colleagues and gather lessons to improve the next interaction. For now, focus on resolving tasks at hand to accomplish the end goal.

Families and friends, the relationships you cherish are a blessing. Happiness is in giving. Give of your time and attention to nourish and strengthen these relationships. All those tasks that you pile up to get done and seem so urgent vying for your attention can wait a tad bit. You will always have the time in the world to get them done. What you will not is the time to interact with your family and friends. Put them before your chores. Better yet, spend quality time on doing stuff together. You will enjoy such time and tasks get accomplished before you know of the effort put in.

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Quality Assurance – An Impediment or a Necessary Evil


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There is a famous tenet that applies to any project, be it tech or otherwise, although it has mostly been heard in the tech corridors for a while now.

If you want a speedy delivery, quality may not be optimal.

But, if the delivery needs to be stellar as well, costs will shoot up.

If you want to save on cost, it may take longer to deliver.

Basically, however you look at it, something’s got to give between cost, time and quality. Apparently, you can’t have all the three.

I beg to differ. It’s an old adage and many a project has been delivered and continues to be delivered in its guise.

I believe projects can and need to be delivered in earnest. In fact that’s the current market ask and if you do not respond to it, what you get to the market may be a tad bit too late to create any demand, for the market expectations have moved on a lot further due to the competition taking over.

Now, does speed really mean more cost? Not necessarily! It’s not about how complex the work at hand is, how enormous a job it is or how many resources will it consume. It’s about how well planned is execution, what kind of strategy and preparation have gone into the plan itself and what options are tapped to execute in an agile mode.

Also, does speed mean less optimal quality? And in order to ensure great quality, do you need to spend more money and need more time? I think that’s just regressive thinking.

Here’s a popular saying in the project management world, “Every birth takes nine months. Similarly, every project needs the time it deserves. You can’t deliver what takes nine months within a month just by adding more resources.”

I agree to the above to a certain extent. Throwing more resources at a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it. However, there is a threshold after which certain changes can be brought about, either by induction of the right resources, parallel processing where possible or taking productivity to a higher level by managing the team mechanics to deliver.

Speed to market or deliver doesn’t mean less optimal quality or more cost at all. When it comes to quality, how that’s perceived within the team at work and how it’s executed upon become very crucial. If there is a professional quality assurance team in place to handle that function for a project, then, it’s only viable if the scale of the project demands it. In such situations, it’s important to ensure that the whole project team clearly understands the precise objectives of the quality assurance team. From requirements gathering to the architecture design, every function has to be focused on simplicity and speedy delivery. Developers have to be on top of their game to ensure cutting edge code is going out and the quality is checked within their realm, before it goes out the door. QA should be more focused on functional review to meet market needs and push the envelope for a speedy delivery. If the team works in this fashion, orchestrating in high productivity modes, miracles are possible where costs are kept under control, and a high quality product reaches the market on time.

However, the truth of the matter is that, in more cases than not, the quality assurance team ends up being a gatekeeper for the work churned out by the development team and that’s where the issue rests. A top-notch development team should not need a quality assurance team behind its heels cross-checking each line of code being churned out. The development team should be accountable for what they deliver and should be proud of the job they do sans the quality team. The quality team, as I said before should be just focused on ensuring the market gets what it demands. In fact, their work should be non-existent.

And the day, we get there with minimalistic or non-existent quality teams, would be the day where cost and time also do not have as much bearing on projects and what gets delivered to the market. The best part, neither the creator nor the consumer would have any apprehension as to the product that has been put out in the market.

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#IfIWere22 – Wouldn’t Change a Thing


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One thing I have noticed is that as you grow up, I mean as you age, life seems to pass by faster. I am not sure if that is, because of the number of pursuits you setup for your self and are so engaged in them that life just seems to fly by. It definitely was much slower when I was younger, perhaps because things were new to me to learn, experiment and enjoy my leisure. I also do not know how it will be when I get to my 60s. But, that’s for another day to talk about.

My 20s were a great time in life. When I was 22, I was in grad school working on getting my dual masters. Life was great as I was working and playing hard. I was like a sponge just soaking in whatever I came across, studying at a coveted university while living in a new city. It was time for exploration, in life, at school and trying to strike it out on your own.

It was in my 2nd year at grad school, when working on getting my MBA that I chose to go down the less trodden path. While my friends pursued studies diligently, I decided to explore new avenues at the same time while studying. I took up a direct sales job at an MNC that had just established in India and was expanding across the country introducing direct sales of consumer durables. The commission was handsome and I would be able to earn enough to be self-sufficient. But, I didn’t join for the money. I joined for the promise of a brighter future. It was a pyramid concept where you built a team, trained them and consistently generated enough sales for a certain period before you struck it out on your own. Then, you proliferated your network and made residual income on other locations you opened up. I must tell you, it was enticing enough to make me work full time when I had started, assuming it would be a good part time gig. I was always a good student and hence, my studies didn’t suffer.

I remember the very first day I went out by myself to make some sales. I picked up a heavy bag and went door to door for about 4 hours until noon. I must have knocked about 100 doors, not a single sale! I had experienced people who closed the door on your face, frustrated people who shooed you away and not so pleasant smirks from un-obliging customers. That was it! I was broken and returned to the office dragging my bag behind.

My trainer, whom I had shadowed the last three days came over and listened patiently to me, venting. I was angry, unhappy and just didn’t want to do this anymore. I thought I deserved better. My trainer explained the law of averages to me and said that in order to get 30 yes’s, you need to learn to go through 300 knocks and 270 no’s. He taught me how to take in each “No”, and make your pitch a little better with it, your demeanor a bit more pleasant and your resolve, stronger. After that he gave me two choices. He said that I could either walk away from all this and he would consider me history or I could go out there and work it one more time and put into action what he said. At the most, I would be a tired guy by the end of the day but the law of averages had to work.

I mulled over this for several moments, had a glass of water and stepped out to try, one last time. I went back to the area I was working. I was curious to try the law of averages and worked through that neighborhood for the next 4 hours. I kept knocking doors, became thick-skinned to all the negatives and just kept going. By the end of that day, I had sold 10 pieces! That changed my entire outlook toward struggle and achievement!

I went on to build my team, open my own location, start my own direct marketing company and open up about 12 locations in a year!

I wouldn’t change a thing about when I was 22! And my advice to you, seek your own adventure and blaze your own path to triumph. One piece of advice, never ever give up. It may come to you late, but it will!

#IfIWere22

The power of “I”


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“I will _________________.”

“I deserve _____________.”

“ I need _______________.”

“I want ________________.”

“I can _________________.”

“I am going to __________.”

“I demand _____________.”

“I” is a very powerful word. Yet, it is not encouraged & celebrated as much. Infact, it is a word that has been associated with a certain negative connotation. In environments that we congregate in, at school or at work, it is teams that are encouraged and one being a contributing member is looked upon in order for the team and everyone associated with it to succeed.

I have seen and heard so much about being humble, not tooting your own horn and no matter how successful you are, never let it get to your head. Not all, but some of it is great advise. But when it comes to the use of “I”, the general treatment of what it represents has been misunderstood. It doesn’t necessarily stand for ego, pride and glaring self-centeredness in all cases. “I” has the power to elevate you to your super self. It represents and promotes self confidence in who you are, what you do, reflects your aspirations and helps reaffirm that assuredness, showing you are thinking and doing what you deem right.

Here’s a small exercise I would like to propose that you try out to test the immense power of “I”. Every morning, before you begin your day, stand straight with your head held high in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye & say the following out loud so you can hear your own voice clearly.

“I will have a great day today.”

“I will be successful today.”

“I deserve __________.”

“I will ______________.”

For the last two sentences, you can fill in what you aspire for. Do this for a week and see the change in your attitude, your confidence, your interactions with others and the results thereby. What the repetition ensures is your belief in your own aspirations which leads down  the path of you making them happen.

You will also see a positive change in how you deal with your day to day activities. You will be more vocal of your needs, aspirations, thoughts and opinions. Your realization of what matters to you is infectious and ensures that those around you believe as well. As a result, you get more out of your life.

Go out there, be confident and fear not to use the word “I”. After all, you deserve every bit of success and fulfillment that you aspire for.