Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Story on "Motivation"

There was once a rich landlord who desired to feed his entire village on a special occasion. He decided to hire the best cook in the district and sent for him.

'There should be no question of any compromise. Only the best for the best occasion.' Such was the landlord's desire and wish. Sensing the rich man's need and desire, the cook asked for a fancy price, to which the zamindar agreed without haggling. Happy at the thought of getting what he had asked for, the cook set about his task earnestly. On the D-day, the cook and his team arrived with full enthusiasm.

The very thought of the high monetary return motivated the cook to such an extent that he in turn inspired his subordinates to give out the very best for the day. Together, the team produced a sumptuous spread that satisfied the palate, the hearts of the villagers and the landlord who had hired the cook. Every dish was perfectly done and presented. They served the guests with great love and care. The food was so good that there occurred a shortfall. The landlord therefore asked the cook to prepare more of the same items. At this, the cook was slightly upset; nevertheless, he executed his job without complaining.

As it happened, there was a difference in the quality of the food produced the second time. It was not as good this time. Because by now the enthusiasm of the cook had dropped and it had rubbed off on his workers. Somehow, the cook began to get the feeling that he was giving more than he had bargained for. Nobody seemed to have noticed and very soon, as it happened the first time, there was a shortfall again and the zamindar felt there were still some important members that had been left out. He therefore requested the cook to repeat the magic of producing the same quality of food a third time. This time, the cook was positively not enthusiastic. Surely, the zamindar was asking for much more than he had bargained. The cook did not open his mouth, but there was no denying the fact that the quality was nothing compared to the previous exercises.

The evening drew to a close and the cook and his team began the task of clearing their things. The money was handed over to the cook and he accepted it without too much enthusiasm. As the cook was preparing to leave, the zamindar asked him to wait. He then ordered his servants to bring the packets that he had kept aside for the cook.

The cook was initially surprised. He was totally taken aback when he realised that the packets the zamindar had asked for were indeed the last lot of food cooked by him, now packed for him in neat containers. The zamindar had been so pleased with his cooking that he didn't want the cook's family to miss the fare. The important members that the zamindar had referred to had been the cook's family members. At this, the cook blanched. If only he had known…

Does it not tell us how important it is in life to keep our motivation level at its best, whatever the circumstance?

- Source Unknown

Thought:Think Different!

It is what we often fail to notice everytime we falter in something that we took up to succeed and come out with flying-colors. It is the deceit of the inherent belief in the task taken up by us, that's pre-defined and pre-designed and even pre-expected only to succeed, but no failures!

That definitely is now on the contrary to what we have been fed-enough to go by the ancient adage"Give your best and Be prepared for the worst to come!"

Having said that, its quite a common belief to tread a beaten path which is perhaps safe.But, sometimes it could be uninspiring too. Always tracing a known path will get you results that are already experienced and expected. The outcome of walking through an used corridor is never going to be phenomenal. For those of us who want to be different, be noticed and who want to achieve success in life, the secret lies in daring to be different.

Deep down, all of us want to be known for something exceptional, something unique and something that identifies us on a podium amidst the mundane crowd. This is an inherent human attitude by nature. We see it manifested in our attitude towards our style of living, among other things. It is an attitude that should be harnessed and utilized in the right direction to ensure that it is reflected in our personal and professional growth rather in procuring material acquisitions. The first step in this direction lies in thinking differently. All of us go out everyday and see various things. Some people manage to find deep inspiration in ordinary things that they see. On many occasions, the outcome of this inspiration has proved invaluable to mankind.

For instance consider this example, that’s awe-inspiring to read, but which has immeasurable amounts of pains and failures attached to it to make it a reality as what we see it today:
The employees of the US Census Bureau were going about their work of taking the census count. One particular employee, Herman Hollerith, when travelling by train, noticed a train conductor punching tickets. He perceived that simple everyday occurrence, witnessed by thousands of people daily, differently and it started him on a chain of thoughts. The result of the practical application of his thoughts was an invention that would help in his work of tabulating census reports. This invention was the tabulating machine designed by him in the year 1890. Once his invention proved useful and popular he started a firm to market it. Initially known as the Tabulating Machine Company, it went on to become the renowned IBM - International Business Machines Corporation! (Source: tobeyourbest/Abridged version/IBM Archives)

This ability to perceive things differently can be developed over a period of time. However, it is essential not to attach too much of importance towards having a positive and beneficial outcome. Each and every outcome need not be sensationally outstanding. One should be prepared to deal with disappointments and take them in their stride. Dwelling on attempts that have borne not so successful results would only create a feeling of depression and sadness. So one should be able to rise above it and make a renewed attempt from an entirely different angle.

The secret goes in here! Many times, disappointments have led people to make revisions or improvisations that have eventually led to phenomenal success. Well, even if we did not get phenomenal results, let's look for newer avenues in the failed venture and if there isn't any that is apparent, do not hesitate to look for something else to do. Do not let one failed project or attempt ruin your spirits for a lifetime!

After all that’s not what life’s all about!!

Always remember the adage "Great people do not do different things, they simply do things differently". A different perception is bound to result in a creative solution. A good way to increase this particular skill would be do the usual things that you do in a slightly different manner from time to time. For all you know you might discover a more efficient way of doing the same thing!!

That’s a point to ponder for all of us!

Thought: Effective Leadership

In today’s world of competition, effective leadership is playing a major role. It not only enables each individual to prove his leadership skills, but also shows the individual ability in effectively dealing other team members. The present short article discusses about how effectively one can lead the teams in an efficient manner.

"Being the leader doesn't make you one, because leaders don't automatically get the respect and acceptance of their group members; so in order to earn the leadership of their group and have a positive influence on the group members, leaders learn some specific skills and methods." -- Thomas Gordon

Effective leadership does not mean that how effectively the leader is leading the team. But it does mean that how effectively the leader is working with the team and how effectively the leader is managing the team. In order to be an effective leader, one should be able to motivate the team in an efficient manner. As all of you are already aware, success of any project depends on effective leadership, effective leader does mean that, in the absence of leader, team should be able to work. Leader should not become critical to the team, but he should become critical in making the team to achieve team goals or meeting the deadlines. Team should not get prejudiced with the assignments that the leader does. Leader should assign the work to each and every individual by keeping the following things in mind.

  1. Strengths of each team member
  2. Weaknesses of each team member

Leader should provide a facility in such a way that juniors will learn from seniors within the team. He needs to motivate the team in all the aspects even during crisis period of a project. He should be able to effectively delegate the work to his members and at the same time he should make sure to meet the deadlines. Leader should be able to communicate to his team members in a language that is understandable to both of them.
Effective leader should be able to identify the strengths of each and every individual effectively within the team and should assist the concerned individual to grow. The feedback that the leader is going to give to a team member should help him work in a better way than earlier. During feedback, leader should not compare the team member with any other member in the team. He should mention clearly to the team member stating what was expected out of him and what was not met by him and what were the reasons resulting in those unmet expectations. Leader should also make sure that he has set all the objectives for each and every individual team member well in advance at the beginning of the project. This enables the team member to work in a better and a much more challenging environment. Leader should also need to take care of knowledge sharing among the team members/across the teams. This not only enables each and every individual to expose their skills and also puts the overall talent and maturity of the organization in a commendable manner. Effective leader does not need to necessarily have soaring technical capabilities. But having the technical skills not only enables the fast career growth for him and his team but also helps him resolve any technical issues with-in and across the account in an effective and efficient manner, there by making his presence known and well-acknowledged with in the organization and among the clients that he is working with. Effective leader should be able to forecast any problems that may likely to come in near future and should be ready with action plans to resolve them. Leader should be efficiently able to track any issues in the team and also should make sure to close those issues by prioritizing them. And finally he should try to establish himself as one of the family member within the team. This helps all his members to exchange their ideas/problems without any hesitation with him.

All these qualities specified above exclusively leverages the capabilities of a Leader and also allows him to quantify the “measure of success criteria” in his projects and amidst his team members.

To sum it up, wise men define the following as the most renowned and much sought-after characteristics of a winning leader who’s more effective and very efficient by all means: (Source: Agdex 1912-1. Revised August 1998.)

Effective Leaders will always be honest with their team members. This gives them credibility, resulting in the trust and confidence of their people. Credible leaders foster greater pride in the organization, a stronger spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and more feelings of ownership and personal responsibility.
  • They do what they say they will do. They keep their promises and follow through on their commitments.
  • They make sure their actions are consistent with the wishes of the people they lead. They have a clear idea of what others value and what they can do.
  • They believe in the inherent self worth of others.
  • They admit to their mistakes. They realize that attempting to hide a mistake is damaging and erodes credibility.
  • They create a trusting and open climate.
  • They help others to be successful and to feel empowered.
  • They don't push too much. They encourage members to do more, but know when it's too much.
  • They roll up their sleeves. They show the members they aren't just the figurehead or decision maker. Members respect leaders more when they show the willingness to work alongside them.
  • They avoid phrases that cause resentment, reluctance and resistance. For instance, instead of saying you have to do something, effective leaders request or recommend that members do something.

All though all the above might not be feasible to put in action due to organizational, regional, cultural and environmental constraints that are generally overlooked at a global level, we all can at least give it a try, A genuine attempt should never really hurt!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Meeting a Stranger!

More often than not, certain rudimentary or fundamental things become so inexplicable yet so adoring that you are not really complaining that it has happened, but you are actually enjoying and are actually craving for more of it, at times.

So was this pleasant-sweet acquaintance of mine in an interesting training session that I attended very recently. Names are withheld for all known and unknown reasons.

For the first two days I didn’t know it was this guy that I was talking to for nearly 8 months or so officially. I have heard a lot about this dude and have wanted to see him sometime or the other, a plain curiosity at that, like how managers say “Just wanted to give a face to the name that has been much praised”.

Well, so we spoke on the first coffee break of day 1 during this training and he tells me that he knows me and asked about which project I am into right now and so on.
I was a bit pissed-off at that because, for once I wanted to disassociate myself from the project/domain/account that I belonged to, which has been tagging along with me like a 24X7 shadow or the “Hutch” doggy that keeps following you wherever you go for nearly 3 years now! I don’t have a choice now do I? So, I update him with whatever that I am up to presently and even then the foolish girl in me doesn’t seem to realize that it was the very same guy that I knew of or wanted to meet.

There was an air of significant arrogance and “I-kind-of-know-it-all” around this guy that made me think about the faint similarities that he had with one of my closes friends.
Well, temporarily I discharged the thought and went back to the training after the break.

The next day, I had to deliberately attend to my unsettling fetish for “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows” to take it along to the training classes with the hope of finishing it off (for the third time!) as I was in the trailing end of the book’s completion.

It was lunch time and I was rushing past the pages of HP7, sunk neck deep into it totally unawares of the surroundings, when I was startled by a voice that said “So, you are a fan of Harry Potter??” For once, I thought I was hallucinating as I didn’t see anyone right ahead of me or next to me, but then instantly I realized that the voice came from behind me and then I craned my neck to turn around and see the owner to whom it belonged to.

Bingo! It’s the same dude. I was like arrghh! I don’t want to start a conversation now, that too not on HP7 where-in I have to talk for it while the other speaks against it. With the gush of these thoughts clambering over each other inside my head, I utter a muffled “Yes”, hoping hard that a monosyllable response would end the conversation at once.

But I was wrong. He said “So this is that last book in the series eh?”.

Still not looking up fully I said “Yeah!”.

With that he quickly added “But hasn’t it been almost two months since the book got released, and are you reading it only now?”

Now, I HAD to look-up, holding the page I was reading with my index finger on it I closed the book and told in an irrefutable voice “I am reading this for the third time”

He didn’t stop there either, instead continued on asking “Ohhhh…So, you were one of those that pre-booked, stood on those long lines on first day and got the book? But why do you read it three times?”

I was really irritated now, “Do I really have to get into the details of how I procured this book now? Does it really matter? I read it more than once because I like it, is there a problem with that?”

A little flabbergasted with that reply, he said “No, I was too curious to know what’s there in that book to be read so passionately?”

With piling up anger showing its shade of red on my face I retorted back saying “What’s NOT there in that book for NOT to be read so passionately? And in any case you wouldn’t know about a Book unless you read it!”

He shrugs his shoulders and says “whatever” and walks away. And I go back to my book.

It was in hindsight that I realized that may be he wasn’t even trying to mock me, but was genuinely trying to make a conversation with me, which I overlooked to understand and reciprocate in a normal manner.

Phew! I hope he forgives my nutty sorta behavior and with any luck we may get to meet and have some decent talking soon!