Enhancing Leadership Development through the Power of Visualization

Enhancing Leadership Development through the Power of VisualizationWe grew up reading fascinating fairy tales. It encouraged us to dream. We just had to close our eyes and the prince and princesses became real; castles came to life; magic wands made wishes come true; there was always victory of the good over evil; witches failed; goodness prevailed. We could listen to the same story everyday and still experience the surprise and the feeling of relief when ‘they lived happily ever after’. Fairy tales use the powerful tool of imagination and visualization. But as we grew older we lost this fascination. Why? Because we became logical beings subject to rational thinking, devoid of imagination.

Florence Chadwick was the first woman ever to swim across the English Channel twice both ways. When she first tried to swim the twenty-six miles between Catalina Island and the California Coastline, she had to give up as heavy fog set in. Two months later, she tried the same and completed it successfully, in spite of facing the same challenge of impermeable fog. So what was different this time? During the two months before her second attempt, she spent hours visualizing the image of effortlessly swimming through the dense fog with her eyes focused only on the shoreline. The hours spent in this repeated visualization gave her the capability to face a situation that had now become familiar to her.

Creative visualization uses the power of the mind as it trains our sub conscious to strive to make our images a reality. Transform the visualizations to pen and paper, and bingo! You have a double guarantee of giving life to all your goals. A natural power given to us that does supernatural wonders!

“If you want to reach a goal, you must see the reaching in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.” – Zig Ziglar

Leaders are people who are able to keep their teams on track and highly motivated up until the goal in achieved and beyond. With dreams getting bigger, goals getting tougher, competition getting tighter and the platform getting more globalized, the need for leadership skills that has an unwavering focus on objectives has become indispensible. True leaders should be motivated and not discouraged by today’s fast paced and unpredictable marketplace. Leadership training programs are oriented towards bringing such outcomes in an organization. After all, leadership development lies in making the impossible look possible with a lot of conviction!

Is There A Difference Between Leadership Development & Training?

Is There A Difference Between Leadership Development & Training? I’m no expert in English grammar but I do recognize synonyms when I see them. What are synonyms? Synonyms are words that share the same meanings with other words. We can usually identify these when we come across them. But a lot of times we don’t. Within business circles for example we equivocate between Training & Development. But there are some fundamental differences between them that leadership programs don’t always focus on. And I want to make the case that Leadership Development is better. Here is my argument:

Training by nature is finite in its scope because it looks forward only a limited span of time. Development on the other hand looks far ahead into the future sometimes going beyond he career of the person. It is infinite in nature. Another aspect of leadership skill is to operate even under conditions that are not optimal. In that context, Training gives you just enough to put one in a comfort zone to do a job. But development is designed to intentionally get a person out of their comfort zone and be equipped for extenuating circumstances.

Training people may equip them with a set of standard guidelines to help them operate in controlled environments. In other words it helps them within a ‘box’. Development on the other hand equips them for greater things by liberating them from accepted norms or standards that might stifle creativity or innovativeness. And lastly regardless of the leadership style required, Training tends to focus on the role that the candidate plays while development focuses on the person himself or herself. It aims to hone their intrinsic skills and abilities for the greater good of becoming better at who they are instead of better at what they do.

Leadership Training programs are designed to equip employees with the right tools and resources necessary to not only do their jobs but also thrive in challenging working conditions. For more info on how companies do this, please refer to the following like:

http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2010-02-16/how-companies-develop-great-leadersbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

The Failed Yogi – Leadership Lessons from Baba Ramdev’s failed Crusade

Why did Baba Ramdev fail, when Anna Hazare was super successful, in his crusade against black money though both opted to follow the path of fasting so strongly advocated by the Mahatma?

The Failed Yogi – Leadership Lessons from Baba Ramdev’s failed CrusadeWhat went wrong – This is a case study on Leadership. Ramdev’s craving for popularity is not new – he has his own TV channel Aastha that broadcasts his yoga initiatives 24/7. Anna’s fast gave him hopes of achieving super stardom in social activism. He miscalculated the effect of riding on the back of the Anna Aura – and how!! He gave up his fast once the realization that his call had lost its fizz and that it was not too great to die a loser hit him. Here’s where he went badly off the mark:

1. He did not have facts on the table – Just a good intention to get black money back into the country won’t work in this dark complex world – how much? Where? Whose? He had only vague answers when quizzed by the media. Beyond a generic estimate he could not prove even one of his allegations.

2. Over Ambitious – A classic case of biting off more than one can chew- did he not know that he was taking on a one billion nation that topped most of the world rankings on corruption and black money laundering?? And he was hoping to fix centuries of misappropriation in one week of fasting?? Uh??

3. Super Simplistic – This is what happens when you simplify an issue – Black money is a tricky and complex issue – too tricky to put your fingers into – If it is complex arm yourself accordingly. Can’t after all catch a crocodile with a rat trap can you?

4. Misusing Core Competence – Face it Ramdev – you are good at Yoga and very good at teaching to others – but people do not go to a yoga teacher when they have a tooth ache! He was trying a tooth extraction with a degree (?) in ayurveda. Perhaps he should consider enrolling for a course in politics now.

5. Lack of Flexibility & Adaptability – The government bent backwards to accommodate him – The Ramlila grounds, water, tents, electricity, security – they were willing to co-operate even further. What was the point in fasting then??

6. Undemocratic – Call to arms?? Are we the Taliban? No self respecting democracy would have allowed him to go any further. He shot himself in the leg with this one.

7. Poor Emotional Intelligence – First he cries and then he talks of creating an army complete with arms and ammunition. Public display of poor emotional intelligence definitely contributed to the dent in his image and drop in public support. Nobody expects a Leader to be whacky!!

8. Misuse of the tool of protest – Anna used this tool and it worked – he’s a Gandhian – in thought and in action. His simplicity worked for the people but for this island owning yogi it failed miserably. People rejected the lack of congruence in thought, action and reality.

9. Skeleton in his Backyard – Was he hoping to take on the industry moguls, the policy makers, the law enforcement agencies, the politicians and the regular aam aadmi when his own backyard was full of junk?? Make sure you have no skeletons buried before you attempt to dig out others’.

Leadership training can help you understand your core competencies by doing a self-analysis. It can help you focus on the areas that you are equipped to handle. All of us have certain core competencies and strengths. A good leader is somebody who capitalizes on his strengths and works in that direction to make a success of things.

The Difference between Leadership Training and Leadership Development

I read an article recently that said, according to the ASTD (American Society for Training & Development), the US spends over $170 billion dollars on leadership curriculums, specifically focusing on Leadership Training. However, the article went on to say, that the investment never really pays off in the real sense of actually creating leaders. These ‘leaders-to-be’ start off with great gusto and grandiose ambitions but quickly burn out when the going gets tough. I couldn’t help but smile sympathetically, not at the financial payoff (or lack thereof) of the program but the sheer misunderstanding of a fundamental concept – leaders are not trained, they are developed.

The first question that tends to come up now is if this is really a matter of semantics. Are we just playing word games? Are we just being equivocal about the way we use terms? The honest truth in response to the above-mentioned questions is “NO”. There are foundational differences between Leadership Training and Leadership Development. And it is these differences that we’re going to focus on in this blog:

  • Training is objective while Development is subjective

Training generally tends to adhere to a preconceived set of ideas, rules and systems that were created based on past experiences and administered within controlled environments. Development on the other hand is custom-made for the individual based on his or her individual traits in preparation for future and possibly unforeseeable circumstances.

  • Training is ‘system oriented’ while Development is ‘people oriented’

Training tends to focus on methodology, system and manuals. It generally adheres to fixed standards and operates within a rigid framework of repetitive efficiency. Development on the other hand focuses on the people involved and works with the aspects of individual character and personality to develop maximum potential.

  • Training aims to ‘indoctrinate’ while Development looks to ‘educate’

Training generally looks to the immediate application of specific methodologies. It is transactional in nature and focuses on maintaining a certain performance trajectory. Development however focuses more on the future adaptation of the individual being developed and looks to educating the employee for maximum efficiency through potential.

Modern Leadership Training Programs however have discovered the subtleties between training and development and try to bridge the gap with a more comprehensive approach to grooming an employee with leadership potential.

Leadership Is All About Handling Adversities

Life is full of problems but what really matters is how we react to those problems. We have various options – to become hard and miserable or react positively to the various situations that life throws at us. Then, “What is leadership?” Leadership is all about handling life’s difficulties with courage and forbearance. Business leadership is being able to handle organisational problems with the right attitude.

“Giving people self confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do because then they will act.” – Jack Welch

Recently I read a thought-provoking story about a young woman who learnt a revolutionary lesson from a simple demonstration from her father. She was once complaining to her father that her life was full of problems and that she did not know how to handle them. Her father, who was a chef, listened to her patiently. He did not say a word to her but took her to the kitchen. There he took out some eggs, some potatoes and some coffee beans. He immersed them in separate bowls of boiling water. After a short while he asked her to touch all the three ingredients and share her observations. She noticed that the potatoes had become really soft, the eggs had become hard and the coffee had a rich aroma to it!

The potato, eggs and coffee beans had all faced the same problem– that of the boiling water. However, each one responded to the adversity differently. The potato went in hard but came out soft and weak, the egg was frail when it went in and emerged from the water harder than before. However, the ground coffee beans were different! After they were exposed to the boiling water, they created something positive about the experience – fresh, delicious coffee!

“Which one are you?”, asked the chef. ”Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

A leader should be like a coffee seed. When he faces problems he should see this as an opportunity to transform.

In life problems are only 10%, 90% is about how you handle these problems. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, one should be able to develop leadership skills that enable one to adapt to uncertainties. Leadership qualities that help one to make predictable the unpredictable are critical in the 21st century.

Leadership training programs that help to develop the blind area and the unknown areas of the Johari Window are the programs that one should attend. It enables one to develop the untapped potential that helps to traverse unchartered territory.

Leadership – Asking the Tough Questions

Leadership – Asking the tough questions

Being a leadership coach I often have the privilege to be in the presence of future leaders. There is one question that I ask in every session, “Who is the leader that you emulate?” I get answers like, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and disappointingly………… Hitler. It happens session after session.

 

Regardless of how consistently it happens, it still saddens me to think that mankind can see something remarkable in a human like Hitler. It takes me a while to re-center myself but after I do, I ask a simple question, “Are you aware of how Hitler died?” There is a pregnant silence after which they say, “Suicide.”

 

Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon

 

After this awareness is created, the participants always reconsider their stance that Hitler is a leader to be emulated. I heave a sigh of relief; there is hope for mankind ………..

 

Being a leader is about asking the tough questions – it is not about providing the answers but it is about the asking the questions that stimulate thinking. It is about knowing that your opinions go through continuous change as you enhance your awareness and learning through your journey in life.

 

A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there. – David R. Gergen

 

Leadership Traits of The Legendary Leader William Wallace

Leadership is one of the most admirable traits in the long history of mankind. Almost every nation and era has seen the rise (and sometimes fall) of great leaders; men and women who changed history for the better, who made a dent in the universe, who irreversibly had a lasting impact on all mankind. In the great nation of Scotland, lived the 11th century legend of William Wallace, who though being an ordinary landowner at one time went on to become one of the leading persons in the revolutionary Wars of Scotland. Wallace’s remarkable tenure in the War was portrayed magnificently by Mel Gibson in the 1995 Academy Award winning movie, ‘Braveheart’. Although a historical depiction, the movie is full of enduring illustrations in leadership skills. For our purposes however, we will look at one of my most favourite scenes that exemplifies this.

Before an intimidating array of English forces, stand the Scottish army, weary, low-spirited and reluctant to fight the English for fear of loss and death. Wallace rides from atop the hill, blue war paint streaked across his face, with his eye on the English forces on the horizon. He faces the battered Scots and begins talking to them. Several features of his leadership skills emerge from this breathtaking dialogue which leadership can incorporate even today:

“If this is your army, why do you go?”

Wallace asks the forces what their purpose is amidst their identity as an army. This is a crucial first step in helping people see the bigger picture – who are they? What are they here for? What drives them? Before focusing on the objective at hand, he gets to the heart of their personhood. Leaders must first learn to get to the hearts of the people they lead.

“I see my countrymen as an army…here in defiance against tyranny”

To the bickering and skepticism of the Scots, Wallace reminds them of the significance of why they are really here. People, including employees within a company, can easily be intimidated or skeptical of the task ahead of them. It is then when leaders must remind them to stand strong, face down the challenges that stare them in the face and stand for something bigger than their fears. It is when the odds are against them that true leaders find the strength within themselves to lift everyone else up.

“They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Wallace reminds the Scots of what is on the line here – not their comforts, happiness or even their lives but their legacy, their destiny, their freedom. Leaders must always be ready to remind their followers of those things that are bigger than them or their challenges. There is more at stake than just a job, a paycheque or profits. There is integrity, effort and excellence. And when the day is long gone and the problems are far behind, one can rest in the fact that they gave it their all, for the greater good.

Leadership Training Program focus on developing such intangible qualities that help their managers and leaders, not only achieve their goals and targets, but strive to empower everyone around them to reach greater heights as well. Here is an article on 10 qualities of superior leaders: 10 Qualities of Superior Leaders   

For more information on Leadership Training Programs refer to this article : Is Intuition an Important Leadership Trait?

 

 

Authenticity – A Leadership Essential

Authenticity - A Leadership Essential
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nelson Mandela’s life is perfect story of authenticity………..

Mandela spent the best years of his life in prison. When he was released from prison he rose to the highest level becoming the President of the country. What a wonderful opportunity to take revenge on the people who imprisoned him because he demanded equality! But instead of taking revenge he displayed forgiveness and the first act of his presidency was to support the ‘all white’ rugby team to win in the world cup. This win was a much needed morale booster for the country. Color did not matter to Mandela; people mattered.

This is a powerful example of the power of authenticity as Mandela did what he expected others to do if they needed to leave the past behind and move forward as a nation.Being an Executive Coach I am constantly challenging myself in this area.

Recently I ran a leadership training session with a co-facilitator, Maria (this is a fictitious name). One of the topics that we were training on was ‘Conducting Performance Appraisals’ – as a leader how can you give empowering feedback to your team about their performance.

In this article I would like to reflect upon a short incident that happened during the session. I want to say upfront that I do not want to insinuate that I am perfect. It so happens that in this one incident the spotlight is on the other trainer.

We were working with a group of 60 people. Prior to the start of the session we talked about how each of us would like to run our sessions. One of the requests I had was that when I am facilitating I would not like to be interrupted by the other facilitator. The lead facilitator should hold the major space and the supporting facilitator only comes in if there is something very important. We both agreed to honor this expectation.

Maria opened the session and I played the agreed role of the supporting facilitator. In the next session I was the lead facilitator. I was winding down my interaction when Maria stepped in and took over the session. We then announced a 15 minute break. As the participants were leaving Maria turned to me and said, “I think the way you handled the session stifled the sharing and the energy in the group.” I felt that someone had knocked the wind out of my sail. All my excitement and exhilaration suddenly vanished.

Maria was oblivious of the impact that her words had on me. She continued to get ready for the next session and put up the power point slide titled ‘Proactive Language vs Reactive Language’. I could not help notice the irony in the situation – she was going to train the leaders on the importance of using Proactive Language (and avoiding Reactive Language), while giving feedback, when she had just used Reactive Language to me.

I took a few minutes to gather my thoughts and then, pointing to the slide, I told Maria, “I wished you had used proactive rather than reactive language”. I also informed her that I did not feel that she kept her commitment of giving me the space as the lead facilitator.

She was very upset with me and said that she felt stifled if she did not speak whenever she felt the need to. A couple of days later she informed the co-coordinator of the network that she did not work with me anymore as my style was not comfortable for her. I was devastated. I hoped that we could have worked it out. We are leadership trainers who encourage people to climb mountains and not go around them.

The word authenticity came to mind…………….

As a leadership coach Maria is training leaders to treat each member of their team based on their individual style and needs. However, she has decided not to work with me because my style caused her discomfort.

As a leadership coach Maria is training leaders to give feedback by asking questions and intently listening so that the situation can be understood from all perspectives. In other words, the feedback should be based on facts rather than feelings. This makes it proactive and not reactive. Was her feedback to me reactive?

“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The critical question for me is, “Can we be effective as a trainer in an area where we have not mastered ourselves?” I agree that we are all on a journey of continuous improvement but does walking away indicate that we feel that we have reached the destination or we are not interested in continuing our difficulty journey?

Team Building Training for Optimal Corporate Growth

Recently we conducted a corporate training program for a large multi-national company. The topic was team building training for the new joinees. The objective of the program was to get the new comers ready for the disciplined life of a working professional.

There were about 200 trainees around the average age of 25. Within the first few minutes of the training we understood that a lot of them did not feel that they needed the training. Even though their supervisors were part of the training they were offensive in their directness and lack of commitment. They clearly lacked the hunger for growth and development. The learning was lack luster.

I asked myself, “What have we done to our next generation? Did the parents not have time to trigger the hunger pangs? Did they not romanticize achievement and hard work? Where did the education system go wrong?”

But I did not have the time to explore the root cause as the team building training was not going the way I envisioned. Something needed to be done and this needed to be bold and shocking. So in the midst of an activity I stopped the activity and asked everybody to think of an experience that was life changing. We then asked 4 volunteers to share. Suddenly the fighting energy was transformed to a pensive energy and the teams started to function more seamlessly.

When conducting corporate training it is important not to be rigid about covering the content but to sense the need of the group and provide accordingly.

Online Training – A Platform for Leadership Development?

After 25 years of conducting face-to-face leadership training, one day I was introspecting on the new buzzword ‘Adaptive Leadership’. So I asked myself, “Am I an adaptive leader? With all the technological advances, am I hiding behind face-to-face training because it is in my comfort zone?”

So what are the issues that businesses are faced with today? Rapidly changing environments, overworked staff, attrition and the lack of time for leadership development. Online training………… I pondered; it will be able to provide the training amidst these challenges. But the thought of online training invoked a lot of negative emotions in me. I shrugged away the thought instantly. But as soon as I did this I quietly questioned the flexibility of my leadership.

But the universe has an amazing way of pushing you into your areas of discomfort. Two days later I was in my office when I got a call from a French woman who wanted to explore the feasibility of conducting online training for her staff from USA, Europe, Asia Pacific and India. I was candid about my fears about the efficacy. But she had done her homework and encouraged me to conduct a pilot.

And we did……. And I am glad we did because the audience thoroughly enjoyed it and could not stop talking about the benefits. This outstanding success led MMM Training Solutions to launch soft skills training using the online platform. The advantages are many and the most significant are: short sessions, lower training costs, trainees can do it from their desks, they can interact with their peers sitting in different parts of the world.

The main challenge is that the topics have to carefully chosen and the content has to be designed with careful attention to the fact that there is no video available. But as we ran the programs we saw clearly that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Our French client summed it up when she simply said, “Superb”.

Come join us for our second free online training session, which we will be conducting on April 16th at 7pm Indian Standard Time. Space is limited so sign up at the earliest by sending your name and email id to administration@mmmts.com.