Friday, December 24, 2021

Do you know how things work?

Mental Models 

There are issues, mysteries, and questions around us. On the other side there are solutions, resolutions and answers for everything. However managing those and finding appropriate solutions is the critical job. Everyone does this depending upon her/his experience and wisdom earned through the learnings and reflections. If you know how things can work in the real world, possibly you may find solutions fast. This is possible when you have some image in your mind on how to approach any situation. You are able to connect the dots and create the blueprint to reach the solution. 

Some examples of mental models are, understanding how demand can impact on the supply, how training can  positively impact on productivity, etc. or even addressing some issues, improving something, understanding behaviour of people and understanding some patterns etc etc. Mental models are how we understand the world. They shape what we think and how we understand. They shape the connections and opportunities that we see. By using mental models we simplify complexity, understand the logical sequence. To be accurate, of course we also need to understand the behaviour of others while preparing the model. 

Solutions can be products, services or simple answers addressed to something. The main function of mental models is to organize the area specific knowledge in order to lend subjective plausible phenomena and give them meaning. Processes of conceptual changes are postulated based on analogical thinking and strategies of successive model construction and completion. There are already ample mental models available in business, psychology, personality, science and so on. You can use those for handling the problems, however you can also define your mental models. 

It is a simple but effective tool to check how things work and implement the logical thought process while working on any initiative.

Process of creating mental models.

Process of creating Mental Model

  1. Identify the problem and scope,
  2. Collect the data through surveys, focused group discussions, interviews, or asking the experience of others. You can use your own experiences earned over a period of time. 
  3. Summarize and synthesize the data,
  4. Make interpretations and assess the results,
  5. Finally visualize the outcome and design the model based on the outcome.  

I recently created the “Industrial Relations Framework” based on the model and study, however I extensively used the research methodology. Please click here to read Industrial Relations Strategy Framework

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Wish you all a happy X-mas and happy new year!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

How to create a sense of belonging?

Belonging is the sense or feeling of being included in the team, group, organisation, society etc. It is a basic psychological need, everybody wishes to be a part of something. The feeling of the sense that you belong somewhere is always amazing. Most of the time, people feel that the sense of belonging is based on the behaviour of others. They search for it everywhere in the arms of kin, on familiar streets, among friends with similar beliefs. Yet, people experience loneliness. With the competitive world having a lot of expectations, loneliness is leading to frustrations, disappointments and finally depression. The solution is to create a sense of belonging.
Image: BMC Blog
At different levels we should work to create a sense of belonging. If you are in management, leader in any organisation, think how you can create that sense of belonging in your employees and team. If you are facing some challenges and lacking the sense of belonging personally, think, reflect, and try to understand what those reasons are. Sometimes the behaviour of others irritates us, some experiences hurt resulting in going into the capsule and feeling of loneliness. Belonging has psychological and health benefits.

We are, after all, surrounded by many others to link with. We have a lot of opportunities to connect with each other. Yet, most of us know the agony of non-belonging. It is like a music chair, like turning around during a “game of musical chairs” and finding no place to sit.  In the brain, the social pain of severed belonging shares neural substrates with physical pain, while in body and mind it can leave a trail of adverse consequences.

How do you increase the sense of belonging?

There are four elements where you can foster the feeling of belonging. As part of our dynamic social systems, those elements interact and influence each other throughout our lifespans. (Kelly-Ann Allen who is an expert in society and professor in Monash University along with his team, wrote the article based on his research, “Belonging: a review of conceptual issues, an integrative framework, and directions for future research.”

The good news, according to Kelly-Ann, is that a sense of belonging can be nurtured and strengthened. We can develop our social, emotional, and cultural skills. We can become more self-aware. We can learn to regulate our emotions more constructively and communicate more effectively. We can align with our values more authentically and connect better to people, places, and our surrounding systems. 

Those elements are,

Competencies: This starts with the question; do we have the right skills and capabilities needed to relate with others. Other skills and competencies are about your ability to resolve conflict, regulate your emotions, and utilise your psychological assets like empathy and kindness can go a long way toward building relationships. These social and emotional competencies are core skills when it comes to building belonging.

Opportunities: It means how you are finding common interest areas and interest to join the groups and platforms. Are you engaging with others online (during the pandemic) and offline?

Motivations: We all have the need to belong, however the motivation to fulfil this need can vary from person to person. Are you truly motivated to belong, to connect with others, and to feel like a part of the surrounding systems? If the answer is a resounding yes, then you’ll more likely seek opportunities for connection.

Perceptions: People observe us and based on our experiences; we create perceptions about each other. Perceptions about belonging can influence how we feel and behave. Behaviours that we demonstrate are crucial in creating perceptions. Understand those behaviours and reflect what those behaviours are, we need to demonstrate so that people include you. Also think that are those factors which make you feel included, accepted, and valued?
"Sense of belonging is important in our life. It keeps us connected to others, however mindfulness is understanding how we are connected with ourselves. The better connection is being connected with the inner self. When you relate to your inner self, you find the purpose and then a sense of belonging comes naturally."  

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Don’t shy away from your failures

In any event or situation, success and failure are two possible outcomes. We become happy when we achieve success. We plan for success, we desire success, and we design our all efforts to get the success, however failures are also a part of life. We never plan for failures; we never imagine that something may go wrong.  In spite of putting our best efforts, we may fail. Falling flat on the face is not recognized and accepted easily. People assume that failures mean losing something. The fear of failure kills a lot of dreams. People don’t dare to take the risk. Once upon a time, failing was the routine for me. I was trying hard but then I was not getting desired results. When I started reflecting, I realized that I learnt a lot many things only because of failures. I understood the philosophy that there are no regrets in life, there are only lessons.  

It is natural to feel bad when you are unsuccessful in spite of putting your best efforts. We are human beings, and we should recognize those feelings. I learnt a lot as I grew up. I use the following tactics to overcome the situation.


Recognize: Sometimes we have the tendency to justify the outcome by equalizing efforts to success. We feel bad and get disappointed. I look at this as one of the events in life and recognize the failures or issues.

Accept: Once you are clear that there is learning from such events, it is very easy to accept it.

Respond: After accepting, the situation, response is different. Instead of disappointment, frustrations, panics etc, the reaction can be converted into a positive response. For example: looking for the silver lining. There is always some learning. I believe that there are no regrets, only lessons.

Reflect: Taking the stock of the situation and reflecting on lessons learnt. It is always good to reflect and understand how we can do better next time.

Learn: Finally understanding what I learnt and development areas for me.

Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Compassion and Empathy

Almost 70-80 employees were sitting and agitating against the company for their pending dues which the company could not pay on time. 

Those workmen were given the golden shake hand by the company before entering the joint venture with one of the reputed MNC. The workmen were given quite handsome severance package along with lifelong pension, medical cover for self and family. Once upon a time this company was a blue chip company, however company was not doing good. Company had applied to BIFR. One of the measures was to sell few businesses or have the JV with some good company. The MNC wanted to enter India, and it was a great opportunity for them to enter through the JV with majority stakes. It was a great opportunity for both. The main condition was new JV would hire only required employees with new employment conditions. It was clear that redundant employees would loss the job.

I was the HR Head of a newly joint venture organization. This issue was supposed to be handled by the minority company as they had an agreement with the workmen. 

What should we do in such a situation? It was a common gate for new JV company and another plant which they retained. The separation and integration plan were in the process. Few activities were as per the plan, but this agitation has put the hold on everything.

I had a discussion with the HR Head of that company who was operating from their corporate office. From the discussion, I got the impression that he was least interested to visit the plant and speak with the workmen. Our management was constantly in touch with the top management who was the ex-employer of agitating workmen. It was almost 3-4 days, workmen were sitting In front of the gate. Me and our plant head had a discussion and I suggested that why not speak with them and explain to them that they can take alternate actions instead of agitating In front of the company? We had a discussion with our CEO and he allowed us to go ahead. 

We visited the site to have a discussion with the workmen and a few leaders. Everybody started speaking and we just listened to them. We had a candid discussion with them, explaining that there is no point agitating in front of the gate as it is a totally different company, we also assured them that we will arrange their meeting with their ex-employer. I realized they were really struggling to meet the livelihood, because the financial issues, however nothing was in our hand. It was a hot summer. I asked the admin team to arrange the temporary pandal, fans and water arrangement for them. We also arranged snacks and tea for them every evening. It was a small gesture, but it helped to break the ice.

After two days, the managing director of the company visited the factory. He explained in detail why the payment got delayed. He was a good man; however, he was also struggling to arrange the funds to run the show. Finally, workmen agreed to take back their agitations on the assurance of their pay out by the managing director.   

This incident was a big learning experience for me. You may face situations for which you are neither responsible nor accountable, still you have to face those situations and help to solve the problem. This is the most difficult task when you don’t have any control on the situation, however you can face such incidents, with care and showing empathy. 

I started the conversation, listened to them for almost an hour. I was compassionate with them, however at the same time, I was non-committal and firm on our stand that their fight is not with us but the company where they were employed earlier. I was empathic and my small gesture of arranging smaller things helped to break the ice. Somebody may say that's why we should arrange fans and tea for them. This may not be possible in every situation, but they were humans and loyal workmen of the company for so many years and they needed to be treated with respect. 

I encountered similar or more serious situations in professional life. During all situations, the first thing I do, and that is to understand the context of the situation and give empathic listening to the people who are affected. I may not agree with them, but I always put myself in their shoes and try to understand their thought process. Another benefit by thinking like them is, I can predict what can be their next action. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Redefining Performance Management System

One of the positive impacts of covid19 on performance management systems is that organizations are converting the annual process to continuous review and feedback system. During the lockdown, the majority of employees were working from home, and it was necessary for managers to keep them engaged, motivated & productive. Initially employees and managers were overwhelmed because of constant calls and reviews from managers and seniors. Daily, weekly check-ins were too much, however, after a few months it was a routine for all. Managers and employees learn how to manage this. Continuous reviews and feedback became a practice. Employees who were not comfortable became stressful and few left the job because of stress. 

Image: Getty/Google

Organizations realized that this needs a balanced approach. My hypothesis is as under:

“Pandemic and consequent lockdown has forced organizations to review their performance management system.”

“They are focusing more on continuous review and feedback mechanisms which helped them to reinvent the performance management system.”

So, what has changed?   

Performance management became the integrated part of the business processes (and not a HR process)  in organizations. Organizations started working on following five areas,

  • Continuous Reviews (Goal and reviews, earlier so-called PMS)
  • Continuous Feedback, (Feedback and development actions)
  • Continuous Recognition, (Reward and Recognition)
  • Timely Reprimand, (Consequence Management System)
  • Learning and Development, (Overall Learning & Development plans)

Not necessary, above all is one approach and mechanism, but different approaches encompassing all together for one purpose. Systems and practices may be different but contribute to overall performance management. 

This brought a need of 

  • Transferring the HR Process to Business Process,
  • Digital platform to integrate above 5 areas,
  • Creating the culture of accountability and ownership,
  • Educating and Empowering managers to manage their teams. 

Of course, this is not rocket science. Most of the time, we get carried away with technology and digitalization and think that implementing it will solve all your problems and your world will be perfect. Technology is the media to record; it helps you to analyze, review and retrieve the data whenever you need it. However, it is not the replacement of human interaction while reviewing & feedback. 

This is not possible without the proactive role of managers by owning the process. Managers have to change their mindset of management towards leadership. HR role is to facilitate the culture of continuous learning for managers and employees. In this process managers have to learn the approach where employees don’t get overwhelmed by the reviews and feedback. They should see the benefit by participating in the process. Employees may perceive this approach as micromanaging by managers. They may perceive the overall process as being watched too much.  I came across the approach, “tight, loose and tight.” 

Tight: Tighten the goal setting, (even flexible, changing by every month) process discussing ambitious goals (SMART) without compromising on the quality of goal. 

Loose: Give the freedom to work. Let employees decide how they wish to achieve those goals in a given framework and as per expected behaviours. 

Tight: Again have a review and feedback session seriously. Appreciate and acknowledge their contribution and achievement however understand the reasons for non achievement and  give them critical feedback directly without sugarcoating it. 

As a leader, your empathetic and compassionate approach will help you to run the process successfully.  

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

How do we learn?

Learning is a lifelong process. We always keep learning by observing, through experiences, reading or listening to others. The person who stops learning is irrelevant in the world; those are the people who are always suffering in life. There are people who observe, read, experience, and listen to others, but never learn. Those are the people who go for bathing in the river without getting wet. They are faking the learning. They take feedback but ignore that.

David Kolb published his learning style model in 1984. He says, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p. 38).

Learners’ internal cognitive process decides how the learning is effective. When you get any experience, encounter any situation, your mind is conditioned, and programme is created in the mind. It is used when similar types of situations occur. First time is experiencing the situations, responding to those situations, demonstrating the behaviours which the person thinks right. In this process the person learns, and that learning is replicated in similar circumstances. According to Kolb “learning involves the acquisition of abstract concepts that can be applied flexibly in a range of situations.”

Kolb's experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four-stage learning cycle in which the learner 'touches all the bases':

Concrete Experience - a new experience or situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience.

Reflective Observation of the New Experience - of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding.

Abstract Conceptualization - reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept (the person has learned from their experience).

Active Experimentation - the learner applies their idea(s) to the world around them to see what happens

The learning is effective when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages:

  • Having a concrete experience followed by
  • Observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to
  • The formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and generalizations (conclusions) which are then
  • Used to test hypotheses in future situations, resulting in new experiences.

This can be shown in a graphical way as under.

However, effective learning only happens when a learner can go through and demonstrate the behaviour in all four stages. Therefore, no one stage of the cycle is effective as a learning procedure on its own.

One interesting point we should note is that whenever we approach the task or experience, we have certain approaches and attitudes for the tasks, this is called, Processing Continuum. Another dimension is while experiencing the situation or approaching the task, we have responses in terms of our emotions. Situation triggers emotions, we respond emotionally, this is called Perception Continuum.

Based on these continuums, there are 4 different styles of learning which are described in the following model.

We need to create learning initiatives based on the different styles as above. Those 4 styles are as indicated in above graphic are:

Diverging (feeling and watching with Concrete Experience and Reflective Observation)

These people can look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. They are best at viewing concrete situations from several different viewpoints.

Assimilating (watching and thinking with Abstract Conceptualization and Reflective Observation). These people are concise, have a logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people for them. These people require a good, clear explanation rather than a practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organizing it in a clear, logical format. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value.

Converging (doing and thinking - Abstract Conceptualization and Active Experimentation)

People with a converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems.

Accommodating (doing and feeling - Concrete Experience and Active Experimentation)

The Accommodating learning style is 'hands-on,' and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people's analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans.

Knowing a person's (and your own) learning style enables learning to be orientated according to the preferred method. That said, everyone responds to and needs the stimulus of all types of learning styles to one extent or another - it's a matter of using emphasis that fits best with the given situation and a person's learning style preferences. 

(Article is based on David Kobe’s Learning Model)

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past)

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Learning styles based on experiences

Experiential learning is still an effective mode of developing people. 70:20:10 methodology is commonly used to develop talent. It is believed that 70% development happens when people are actually doing the job which they want to learn. This includes actual on the job training, project assignments, short term or long-term assignments, job enrichment, job rotation etc. 20% development happens when people are watching, observing the job and learning from others. This also includes coaching and mentoring, and 10% development happens through attending training and workshops. 

Hence while designing any people development initiatives, we need to focus more on 70% aspect and that can’t be effective with external agencies or trainers. Most of the talent and people development initiatives fail because we ignore the uniqueness of personalities while designing such development programmes. We all have different learning styles. Those styles are developed based on different experiences. Generally, experiences play a major role in learning and development. Based on the experiences people have, there are 4 types of learners. 

  • Learning activists,
  • Learning reflector,
  • Theorist 
  • Pragmatist 

Learners can switch or start their learning at any stage, but their dominant styles decide which learning stage they are effective at.

Learning Activists are the people who learn through experiences and have a preference for this stage of the learning cycle are always active and can't sit still. They always want to try something new. One example is the person who always seems to have a new hobby. This stage is for having an experience. 

They are usually open minded, enthusiastic and thrive on challenges. They get bored easily and are not overly concerned with implementation or consolidation.

As a manager or HR professional you can bet on them to give them more responsibilities. These learners have strong learning agility and are definitely high potentials. 

Learning reflectors have a preference for gathering data. They don't particularly like a "hands on" approach or reaching a conclusion quickly.  They think and reflect on what information or experiences they have. They are naturally cautious and like to observe rather than take part.

As a manager, you can rely on these employees. You can groom them and push them towards having more experiences. They may be in comfort zones, and you have to push them in the growth zone.

Theorists have a preference for reaching a conclusion quickly. They tend to like things which are in order. They value theories that are logical and rational. They feel most comfortable where things "fall into place". They conclude fast through their experiences. 

Lateral thinking or discussions that do not have a direction do not come easily to them

You can retain them but don’t expect more from them like activists and reflectors. 

Pragmatists are the people who are keen to try out the theories and ideas to see if they work in practice. They are down to earth and would not reflect on the merits of a theory but the practical aspects. They are attracted by what works for them. They are good planners and find opportunities to practice but if they are not convinced, they will not listen. These learners are not highfliers but then if you want to change something drastically, you will not be able to push these learners. 

Each person has a preference for one of these styles and therefore as the organisations we should always consider these aspects while designing your talent management and people development initiatives. Every individual should be aware of their own style of learning since this will influence the way in which they will build their experience and execute their learnings. 

Managers and HR professionals need to be aware of the preferences or learning styles of those who will be developed for the future roles. 

Learners can pick up the learnings at any stage and can switch the style based on the experiences as under: 

(This article is inspired from the Learning States Theory developed by Dr Alait Mumford and Peter Honey.)

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Anxiety at workplace

Anxiety & Stress at workplace

Last week one of my friends collapsed while he was visiting a customer for inspection. His colleagues rushed him to the hospital. Doctor said that this was because of anxiety. 

Anxiety is the inevitable part of professional life. Highly demanding jobs are creating stress at work. Pandemic and work from home has added another dimension into the stress. Long working hours and increased screen time, wrong postures are creating issues. Anxiety in the workplace is at an all-time high and is rising in professionals. Anxiety in young talent is the bigger issue for organizations. As per one of the research, there has been a 67% rise in the number of employees who reported they feel anxiety at work over the past two years. Employees are leaving jobs not only for monetary gain but also to explore the things which they have not explored in the past. However, one of the reasons is stress and anxiety. Employees are feeling that they are not taken care of enough. 

In spite of having this all, employees are not willing to discuss the anxiety at the workplace because they feel that employers and managers may  take it negatively impacting their performance and career. 

Stress is defined as a biological reaction when changes occur, to which the body responds physically, mentally, or emotionally. Anxiety involves the body and the mind and can be serious enough to qualify as a mental disorder when allowed to become chronic. The fundamental difference between stress and anxiety is stress is typically short lived and event-based where anxiety is a sustained sense of stress, fear, or worry that can interfere with life when left unaddressed.

Positive side of the stress

Psychologists are in the opinion that optimum stress is required. Positive side of stress is called “eustress” (Dr. Hans Selye). When focused on the positive, stress enhances motivation, builds resilience and encourages growth, promotes belonging among peers and is part of a meaningful life (It is the challenge that creates the moments of accomplishment and feeling of self-worth)

As leaders, we need to recognize and appreciate that a certain degree of anxiety is essential for driving performance. The goal for leaders is not to eliminate anxiety but rather manage the degree of anxiety a workforce feels. 

When challenges and high demand are inversely proportional to the confidence and competence, the chances of anxiety are more.  When confidence is low and challenges are high, then anxiety is the outcome. 

Emotional intelligence and empathy are the antinode for stress and anxiety. To address anxiety in the workplace and transform anxiety into performance, leaders need to demonstrate empathy. It is actually quite easy to do. All it takes is to ask, “How do you feel, and what do you need?”; actively listen to what they say, and then act upon it. Transforming anxiety into performance starts with caring enough to ask the question. 

One of the consultancy firms (the culture think tank) which extensively works in the area of stress, anxiety and wellness, explains three Dimensions of Anxiety:

  • Security is the sense of confidence employees have in their position within the workplace and their ability to accomplish their assigned responsibilities
  • Understanding is the sense of confidence employees have in knowing what is going on within the organization and how their duties support the organization
  • Acceptance is the sense of belonging employees have within the organization 

Understanding and addressing anxiety in the workplace is not complicated nor difficult to manage. Managers need to be trained on how to respond to the above dimensions of anxiety. 

Organizations need to come up with key metrics to measure the stress and anxiety at the workplace. Health and wellness initiatives has to be considered as a one of the people agenda focusing on Physical, Psychological, Social and Proper Employee Assistance Programme. 

Managing anxiety is not something leaders need to actively address everyday; but it is something they need to address frequently. However, asking employees “how do you feel and what do you need?,” once a year during the employee engagement survey or performance appraisal is not a good idea to actively manage anxiety in the workplace.

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Human needs during the new normal

The pandemic has shifted the workforce to different levels considering human needs. We all know Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Those needs are physiological needs which are basic needs, safety needs, belonging & love needs, esteem and then self actualization needs. During the pandemic employees lost their jobs, they were worried about their and family’s health and hence basic needs like physiological, safety and belonging, love needs became more dominant. However, there was another need which we never thought of and that was cognitive needs - knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability. Employees wanted to be aware about the situation, they wanted more information, and a clear understanding of the impact on them. 

Cognitive need is the new need of the new generation. We all know that the future has already arrived and considering the disruptive trends and pandemic the future will be different. In this whole process people are more concerned about their identity. The human being is becoming more smarter, explorer, curious and want to experiment in his own career. 

In any case, you will find five fundamental needs of human beings at new workplaces. 

Identity: They want the identity in the organization. Each human being is different; however, they want what is their role and how they are uniquely contributing to the larger purpose of the organization. 

Image: Atharva Bidwaik

Inclusion: They want to be part of the team. Each member of the team needs to feel part of the team. They want to be included and hence creating inclusive culture is very important. 

Clarity: They want clarity of everything. They need clarity and the impact of different changes on their life. They are curious about what is happening in the organization and how they are engaged in different things.  

Contribution: They want to contribute to the larger purpose of the organization and expect that their contribution to be values and respected. 

Respect and trust: They expect respectful treatment. Organization needs to create the trust capital in the organization.  

Image: Atharva Bidwaik

Employees in the new normal want to be productive and engaged members of the team. They want to accomplish things together. Once leaders start taking care of the above five needs, teamwork will flourish, and your organization will excel towards the best place to work. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Executive Presence

Image by Gerd Altmann from 

In the last two articles, we spoke about Gravitas and Signature style. Both are imperatives of leadership and creating authentic leadership. Authenticity, gravitas and signature style make your leadership presence impactful, also called as Executive Presence. 

Executive Presence is a persona that lets everyone around you know that you, as a leader, are in charge, confident and capable of leading others. Executive Presence is not related to the position, power, or hierarchy. It is about creating the impact in a meaningful way. It is about your ability to inspire confidence, in your team that you’re the leader they want to follow, inspiring confidence among peers that you’re capable and reliable and, most importantly, inspiring confidence among senior leaders that you have the potential for great achievements. So executive leadership is not about what position you hold.   

ABC of Executive Presence.

Attitude: It starts with the attitude. The attitude of taking proactive actions, continuous learning, acumen and leading the self and others.

Behaviour: Demonstrating right behaviours and being flexible enough to adjust the mindset in the changing world. For example, during the pandemic, you may have demonstrated behaviours which you might not have demonstrated during the normal course. 

Credibility: It is about how you build a trustworthy relationship and atmosphere around you. You need to build trust, earn trust and gain trust. There are different methods. Being credible also means being consistent in your approach. People will trust you when they know that whenever they approach you, you would give them attention and support to solve their issues. Being knowledgeable in your area, sound in the technical competencies will help in building credibility. 

As per the research, elements of Executive Presence are 

Gravitas: How do you Act? 

Communication: How do you speak?

Appearance: How do you look?


Though the major impacting elements are Gravitas and Communication. Appearance also plays a role to some extent in developing the Executive Presence. Most of us say that appearance doesn’t matter much and that is true to some extent. “Simplicity has the glamour when you are a celebrity. It doesn't always work for common people. People will be judgemental and hence it is necessary to create simplicity with elegance and beauty”. Here, appearance doesn’t mean physical personality. It is about overall grooming, dressing sense and cheerfulness. 

“Always remember, people create perceptions. Everything we do, impacts perception and perception impacts credibility. Hence your overall leadership persona has to be developed considering the impact on others’ perceptions.”  

Few more tips to develop the Executive Presence,

  • Create your own signature style

  • Have a personal vision, and articulate it well,

  • Understand how others perceive and experience you.

  • Build your communication skills, learn storytelling technique, Use proper body language. 

  • Become an excellent listener,

  • Cultivate your network, understand socio-political dimensions of the organization and be political savvy,

  • Be emotionally intelligent, learn to operate effectively under stress,

  • Be polished & poised. Dress professionally, pay attention to your clothing style & grooming.

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Your signature style

The leaders in all spheres have their own unique style. The style of influencing by overall behaviour while interacting with others. In the last blog we discussed gravitas. Gravitas play a significant role in influencing. However, an essential element of gravitas is the unique signature style you have. Every person has the opportunity to demonstrate the leadership behaviour, however if you synchronize this with your signature style, the impact is more.   

Image: Pixabay
While deciding the signature style think about following building blocks,

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • How do you create your impact?

Who are you?

While answering the first question, we need to introspect and decide what leadership style you can adapt depending upon your organization, culture, and circumstances. There is a lot of research and material available on leadership, but still, you can’t decide what works for you. Leadership is about experimentation, exponentiation and learning through the process. You may have your experiences where you have demonstrated those behaviours which had a long lasting impact. Learn from those and decide your signature style based on those experiences. 

Self-awareness is the bottom-line. Assess your leadership style and reflect on those elements of leadership. You may be an authoritative, democratic, coaching, or situational leader. Just think, is that style helping you to create the right impact? If not, start working on those behaviours. There is no right or wrong in leadership styles but it is always good to understand what works for you in a given circumstance.

What do you do?

Just imagine you are observed in a lab by senior leaders, team, peers etc in your organization. You are constantly watched, and your behaviour is recorded, what will you do? Perhaps you will become cautious, perhaps stressful, and maybe you will make some mistakes. This exactly happens in the real world, you are always watched and observed; opinions are made about you by the people. If you have a strong signature style, people will relate your behaviour with your style. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But this will help you how you are able to create an impact on others, positive, negative, or neutral?      

One of the elements of your style is understanding how you are likely to react to and deal with complexity and ambiguity, how you are confident while handling the crisis and difficult situation, identifying situations and contexts in which you are likely to be most successful and where your leadership skills are stretched

How do you create your impact?

One of the leaders to whom I worked always emphasized authenticity and he was absolutely right. Your every action and every word has an impact on others. People may not understand your intentions but if you have the authenticity people understand the intentions. Authenticity creates the impact. You can demonstrate that impact by your signature style. If you have leadership differentiators, acumen, ability to define the purpose for the larger group, ability to create the sense of purpose, the impact can be seen manifold.    

Developing your own signature style is an ongoing process, it starts with developing your emotional intelligence, specifically self-realization and social awareness. 

I found following quote very interesting to reflect upon,

“You had only one chance for a signature in life, but most people left no impression.” Quoted by Meg Wolitzer. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

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