While coaching High Potential Executives, I find one common "leadership de-railer" Its the want to be a perfectionist
A Perfectionist is someone who fails to recognize when something is “good enough” and is obsessive or uncompromising about a situation or outcome.
My coaching conversations with such individuals find their way into talking aboutSelf Worth.
Self-worth may be seen as a continuum from very high to very low. For Carl Rogers (1959) a person who has high self-worth, has confidence and positive feelings about him or her self, faces challenges in life, accepts failure and unhappiness at times, and is open with people. A person with low self-worth may avoid challenges in life, not accept that life can be painful and unhappy at times, and will be defensive and guarded with other people.
Rogers also believed feelings of self-worth developed in early childhood and were formed from the interaction of the child with the mother and father. As a child grows older, interactions with significant others will affect feelings of self-worth.
The ultimate test of self worth is how one handles rejection. The underlying root cause of striving to be perfect is to avoid rejection at any cost. One can deal with rejection, when one has built up ones self worth to a degree where rejection is a part of life and something to learn from
The question one has to ask oneself is what do I need to do to feel a sense of high self worth?
For some people this could be talking to someone who is an unconditional supporter, or immersing oneself in a hobby one loves - painting or composing a piece of music. Find what works for you. Ensure you have set aside time to do that everyday.
Second, learn to silence the "inner critic". You can stop and focus on something else. Do this over and over again , until you realise you have the choice of "not feeling a sense on rejection"
"I realise that my life was a game of Snakes and Ladders* last year. For every step forward I took ten steps backward, because of various crises- personal, financial, family related. I feel apprehensive about starting my new business and have started to question myself on the decision" said a senior leader as we wrapped up coaching sessions for the year.
It took me a while to react to, reflect on and understand what he was saying. It was indeed a powerful statement and we have all similarly struggled in our lives.
Here were some of my coaching tips:
Ambidexterity while navigating through Life is critical
Life is not a one-way street. You face both good and bad times. Bill Gates once said "Life is unfair, get used to it".
Being dexterous about handling the duality of success and failure, happiness and unhappiness, health and sickness is the key. There is great learning from our bad times, as well as our good times and we need to build the confidence to embrace and handle it.
Focus on the goal
It's all about the goal and what it means to get there. The journey is never an easy path, treat setbacks as rugged terrain. Ideally, chunk down your goals to small achievable daily objectives. If you are driving a car on a dark rainy night, even though you know your ultimate destination, its navigating the next 100 metres that matters to get to there. Focus on that, and you will achieve your final goal eventually.
Never give in
Remember the story of King Bruce and The Spider ? Look for reasons to boost your spirit. Seek to meet people who have striven and achieved, have conversations with them. Search the internet for inspirational talks to listen to, videos to watch and books to read. Keep yourself motivated. Try and try again, life is to be lived like that, give it another chance. It always turns.
Happy 2015. hope this is wonderful year for you!
*Snakes and Ladders is an ancient Indian board game regarded today as a worldwide classic. It is played between two or more players on a gameboard having numbered, gridded squares. A number of "ladders" and "snakes" are pictured on the board, each connecting two specific board squares. The object of the game is to navigate one's game piece, according to die rolls, from the start (bottom square) to the finish (top square), helped or hindered by ladders and snakes respectively. The historic version had root in morality lessons, where a player's progression up the board represented a life journey complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes). Wikipedia
Kalpana Sinha a champion of tangible, measurable sustainable business transformation through building and delivering a strong people and organisation capability. She is the CEO and Co Founder of Cosmode Consultants
We are always going through change – it’s inherent in our business and our industry. However, the changes involved in layoffs can be particularly tough on who are not getting layed off.
Even if no one in your group loses their job, you may feel impacted emotionally because you may know someone that is involved in a layoff, or you may start to wonder about what the future will bring. It’s to be expected.
Researchers in the field of organization development coined this term Survivor Syndrome.
What is it? Its a set of attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that typically occur in people that continue to have roles in an organization while others are let go due to economic or changing business needs.
In times of layoffs, organizations typically work very hard to treat released employees with respect and support as they leave the organization. This is about how to help yourself and others who stay on, deal with common feelings and stay focused on business commitments.
For a survivor, the typical attitudes are : cynical, uncaring, emotionally exhausted, detached. And the typical feelings are are anger, depression, fear, distrust, guilt, violation, de-valued.
This results in behaviors that look like
Lack of commitment
Distrustful of management
Less team focused
Focus on job instability
Every person is different, so everyone may or may not exhibit these common attitudes, feelings, and behaviors - but the do in varying degrees.
What should you do?
Indra Nooyi, the Pepsi CEO's interview in The Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/why-pepsico-ceo-indra-k-nooyi-cant-have-it-all/373750/ on why women cant have it all has created waves. It always helps to have a role model, make full admission of the fact that there are severe challenges, guilt trips and the need to have a huge support system to build a strong career. Women across the world are overjoyed. It resonates - and we feel like we no longer need to feel apologetic about our trials and tribulations.
What resonated the most with was her description of the corporate clock and the biological clock and how they just do not synchronise.
But guess what, men can't have it all either. In my work on Women leadership in Asia, I work with the male leaders as well, because they usually the people who are the managers to the women leaders we are trying to groom. And, I see such an amazing trend when I talk to these senior executives. Most of them have spent over 25 years in the workforce and have had stellar careers.
- they are inevitably regretful of how much they have given to their careers and how little time they have spent with their families - either their children's development , spouses careers or in elder care.
- they wonder if "leaning out" is ever an option - because of the immense pressure of being the sole bread winner
- they believe that they've lived an uni-dimensional world, and now that the years have passed them by they wonder if they can have another life outside of work
- and finally they internally crave for similar "flexibility, holistic life and purpose" as their women counterparts
So, corporations please rise! Rise to the fact that the structured linear career progression is soon going to be a thing of the past. Families , work- life and motivations are rapidly changing - lets also listen to the men and if they want something different.
cc Tony fernandes
On 2nd July 2014, I was taking an Air Asia flight AK 700 from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, for a day trip on business. As I reached the airport at about 630 am, I was met with Mohammed Shairul at the check in counter who took about 3 minutes to check me in. As he handed me my boarding pass, I realised that I had left my Iphone in the taxi that had just dropped me off. What a disaster!
I asked Shairul if I could borrow his phone to call the taxi company.
The minutes that followed were nothing short of a class act.
Shairul stood up from behind his desk, and asked me for my taxi receipt, dialled the number on his phone and started logging a complaint. While he was on the phone, I asked him if we could call my phone as well and see if we could find the taxi driver. So, while on the call with the taxi company he walked across to his colleague at the other check in counter, picked up her phone, asked me for my phone number and dialled it himself. The taxi driver picked up my phone on the other end. Shairul asked him for his location and to come back to return my phone. Apparently the cabbie had a flat tyre and said he could not drive back to drop the phone off. I heard Shairul plead with him for a while (all this while he was simultaneously talking on the other phone to SMRT- the taxi company) and then understood that the cabbie was at the taxi queue in Arrivals (one floor below, across a large airport). He hung up the phone, looked up at me and asked me to wait right there (he also looked at the clock, realised that I have about 20 minutes to board) and he sprinted to go retrieve my phone. As promised, he was back within 7-8 minutes with my phone, handed it to me, informed me that he has let SMRT know that the phone was found –and wished me safe travels!
As a leadership consultant I spend many hours in the day coaching and building teams with senior clients on executive presence and dealing with ambiguity. But it was a delight to see this behaviour first hand and handled so beautifully. What really stood out for me was that
Kudos to you , your team and Air Asia. Mohammed Shairul saved me a huge business deal that day and for that I will be always grateful.
Good luck Air Asia and hope you continue to soar!
Co Founder and CEO
Management guru Ram Charan in the latest issue of HBR http://hbr.org/2014/07/its-time-to-split-hr/ar/1 proposes that the “Its time to split HR”. His basic argument being`
“When I talk with CEOs across the globe who are disappointed in their HR people. They would like to be able to use their chief human resource officers (CHROs) the way they use their CFOs—as sounding boards and trusted partners—and rely on their skills in linking people and numbers to diagnose weaknesses and strengths in the organization, find the right fit between employees and jobs, and advise on the talent implications of the company’s strategy.”
He then goes on to propose the following
“My proposal is to eliminate the position of CHRO and split HR into two strands. One—we might call it HR-A (for administration)—would primarily manage compensation and benefits. It would report to the CFO, who would have to see compensation as a talent magnet, not just a major cost. The other, HR-LO (for leadership and organization), would focus on improving the people capabilities of the business and would report to the CEO”.
In my 25 years in the profession and having been an entrepreneur, an internal L-O ( as he describes it) person and an external consultant, I can’t help but bring a few ground realities to light
1. We have to build Human Capital Mindset : HR is at the table but may not have the seat closest to the CEO because ultimately the investors and the stock market want to see quarter by quarter profitability and ROI. How many HR metrics get talked about in an investor meeting? At the most you may see a Best Places to Work survey, which feels good. So until we are clear about the metrics investors value from a Human Capital perspective, we will always not be as crucial as the CFO.
2. The CEO needs to undersatand the true value of L-O: While I wholeheartedly agree and L-O should report to the CEO because of its strategic nature (and in any case the founders of Organisation Development in the 1960’s always proposed that, but since at the time there was no stategy function – they only found HR as the place to park it) I have been in situations where the CEO wanted change and helped drive it too. It was all very fine until it came to working with dysfunctions within his top team. That’s when we faced the most push back and ultimately as internal consultants had to relent. And the work became change for change sake.
3. Re think Finance: Putting anything under Finance will just defeat the purpose made here in point one. Finance typically comes from a mindset that people are cost. Which is why when the going gets tough the first thing to cut is spending on people development. If Finance has to become the “resourcing” function, then – “people are an asset” needs to become the true mantra
In summary, HR struggles because at the board level we are often not concrete about what we want from HR except rhythm of the business and feel good surveys. Lets put that on the table and go from there.
Gay Hendricks a psychologist in his book the The Big Leap (http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Leap-Conquer-Hidden/dp/0061735361), talks about the Upper Limit Problem. Its about how we sabotage ourselves when we’ve reached greater success than we imagined.
Rajat Gupta the ex McKinsey Chairman is a good case in point. He was revered , respected and had an exemplary career. His rags to riches story was aspirational. He was an intellectual and made his footprint across the globe. But he clearly had an upper limit problem - a limited tolerance of how successful one can get. Somewhere deep down - maybe he had a feeling that he could never be a part of the billionaire club.
The upper limit problem manifests in self sabotaging. The stupid email you sent, or the wrong thing you said just as the deal was being signed, or trusting someone you know deep down may just betray you.
Each of us have an inner thermostat that determines how much success - professionally or personally we allow ourselves! That thermostat setting usually is programmed in early childhood. And, once programmed, our Upper-Limit thermostat setting holds us back from reaching a peak that is ours.
When I hit my Upper Limit, I strangely start to fall sick. So sick that I have to stay away from work and friends, and almost having to reboot. Recently just as everything was looking fabulous in my consulting business , I had the worst attack of laryngitis that took me away from work for three weeks!
So how do you know you're going into self sabotaging mode? And what do you do?
1. Look for patterns in your life. When have you had the most "down"? What were the circumstances? Is there anything in the current situation that is similar?
2. Understand and pin point your greatest fear? Financial Security, Personal Relationships or an Unfulfilled Career? Are you stepping into that zone?
3. And finally, learn to listen and DISCARD the inner voice. What is the inner voice saying right now? You cant do it.You will fail. or You don't deserve it. These are childhood programs we must erase consciously.
So, do you have an upper limit problem?
Do you like yourself? Can you write down a 100 things that you like about yourself? Most often people have difficulty getting to 10. Its fundamental, if you don't like yourself, and really like yourself, there is little you can offer others by way of coaching, mentoring or teaching.
In my work as an executive coach, I always spend time on understanding if the coachee likes herself/himself.
After having worked through the initial development feedback, goals and challenges, I ask them to do some homework.
1. On a scale of 1-10 how much you like yourself?
2. Break this down into Profession, Health, Finance and Relationships. How much do you like yourself in each of these areas?
3. Write down three paragraphs of instances when you really liked yourself. Example , when you gave a public performance. or when you nursed you sick parent. What exactly did you like about yourself?
Liking yourself helps others like you. You exude positive energy, are open minded and let everyone be open with you. Life doesn't feel so hard.
So, what do you need to do to really like yourself? Set a small goals and achieve them. Like exercise for 30 minutes everyday, call my mother every week or give my co workers positive feedback.
Start now and the world will feel like a very different place.
The obstacles to gender equity in India seem to be less about a “glass ceiling” and more about a “sticky floor”
(published in People Matters March 2014)
SEBI, India's market regulator, announced on February 13 that all listed companies in the country would have to appoint at least one women director to their Board. This symbolic decision is guaranteed to open up a thicket of questions: What stands in the way of corporates in India filling their pipelines with higher numbers of women leaders?
Indian women fare the worst among the Asian countries in terms of career progression. Starting with a low of 42 per cent university graduates, of whom 29 per cent join the ranks of first-time professionals, the numbers hit a dismal 9 per cent at the mid-to-senior management level (McKinsey & Company, Women Matter Asia, 2012).
Let us then zoom out to consider whether the economic, educational, and healthcare opportunities afforded Indian women is equitable. According to a World Economic Forum report, which quantifies the magnitude of gender-based disparities, India’s overall ranking is 105 among 135 countries and shows scant progress since the measure was created in 2006 (The Global Gender Gap Report 2012, p. 211).
Why should corporates care? There are grave implications to the country losing half its workforce and leadership talent. Economic progress and societal stability call for our urgent attention to gender inclusivity in our organizations. To be globally competitive, this gender gap must be closed.
To be fair, Indian companies are introducing a slew of measures such as on-site childcare, flexible scheduling and work arrangements, family leave, and extended childcare leave with re-employment. In keeping with global trends, Indian companies are also on a quest for role models for upwardly mobile women, and are embarking on programs of professional development, mentoring, sponsorship, and in-house forums led by women.
But we believe that women’s career advancement is a “wicked” problem. Coined by Horst Rittel, a design theorist and university professor, “wicked” means that the factors compounding the issue are inter-connected, there are a large number of people with conflicting opinions, and there is no template to follow to tackle and improve the situation. In addition, the nature of the gender inequities is almost always uniquely determined by local context and so there are no universal solutions.
This is why we undertook an in-depth study of gender equity in Indian business organizations. Our initial exploration has been fruitful and we are learning a great deal. For example, women today want to be women. The 80’s and 90’s saw women succeed because they became “men”. Now women do not feel the need to be men but to be themselves. Their feminine strengths of nurturing, empathy and connectedness can combine with masculine strengths of assertiveness, hard-headed negotiation and goal-oriented drive to deliver results.
Another obvious but not widely admitted “truth” is coming to light: Both men and women are equivalently ambitious about achieving impact and success in the workplace and desiring lives in which their emotional commitments to the family are honored. Our sense is that these deep and basic human needs cannot be quarantined or segregated by gender.
The obstacles to gender equity in India seem to be less about a “glass ceiling” and more about a “sticky floor”. A promising sign is that senior women who have been in the workforce for 15 or more years have figured out how to make their way through the career labyrinth and are more likely to opt to go up, not out. The more pressing issue is to provide stronger guidance and support to women during their critical junior-to-middle and middle-to-senior career transitions.
Our current situation in Indian business organizations calls for urgent attention and remediation. We believe that the need of the hour is to build holistic organizations by having conversations that resolve gender issues more systemically. In this way, the country can weave together sustainable business growth and socio-economic equity, which is the fabric of modern societies.
About the authors: Meena Surie Wilson is Senior Enterprise Associate at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) and Kalpana Sinha is the CEO and co-founder of Cosmode Consultants.
My father grew up in a village in the most backward state in India and worked his way with a Fulbright scholarship to the United States in the late 1950's. He followed his passion became a pioneer in the Organisation Behaviour movement which at the time was a new field in management. Sometimes I joke and say I didn't have much of a choice in what I would do because I was so surrounded by the "OB movement" as I grew up. When i pause to think of why, I realise that my father exposed me to the profession by just letting me hang around him. And honestly I learnt a lot. Other than learning to be a what it means to be a top class professional, here is what i learnt as I followed him to his speaking sessions, conferences, board meetings etc.
1. People above designation : Janitor or CEO ,he always made it a point to see people as "people" regardless of office/power/designation. He made everyone he met feel good about themselves.
2. Preparation is the key : for every meeting he went very well prepared. Researched on the person/company, the questions he would ask and the notes he would write. He always followed it up with a thank you note, summarising the meeting. He was a class act
3. Stretch - always STRETCCCHH. Challenge yourself, next role, next assignment. take things on you half know and learn it as you go along. Learning is lifelong, embrace it.
As parents, we can only advise so much. But seeing what we believe in action help children imbibe it and use it forever. Happy Fathers Day
Kalpana Sinha is a Leadership and Organisation Professional. Her blog has reflections from her work experiences of over 20 years.