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!

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.

Captivating Traits of Great Leaders

Captivating Traits of Great LeadersWhat is Leadership? There seems to be something about great leadership that appeals to us, inspires us and draws us in. Sometimes it is charisma but more often it is something that is not superficial but intangible and yet so externally apparent. Across the centuries, the world has seen the rise and fall of leaders. Even notorious leaders like Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin had leadership qualities that they chose to abuse and use to their advantage instead of for the good of their people. This of course doesn’t make the leadership qualities in them intrinsically evil. They were used toward an evil purpose. Leadership traits like ‘courage’ and ‘determination’ are neutral because they can be exercised for morally good pursuits but also be abused in the pursuit of morally wrong endeavors. Traits like ‘truthfulness’ and ‘honesty’ are intrinsically good attributes that many leaders do possess.

In general most leadership skills, provided they are exercised within a legitimately good framework, bear good results. Leaders intuitively understand the responsibility they bear on their shoulders and feel a sense of duty toward those they are obligated to lead or serve. It may seem like an oxymoron to use the word ‘serve’ in the context of leadership but businesses today are beginning to understand the indomitable value of those leaders who make it their primary concern to serve those who follow them. This is leadership by example.

The most obvious avenue for leaders to shine is in relational areas. This would seem rather obvious to some but it can easily be overlooked in an age when social barriers are erected through media and technology in the name of getting connected. Leaders show people vision, trust, responsibility, honesty and conviction by their mere actions and words. That it must be genuine would be a no-brainer I would suppose. And yet in the most intuitive way, people sense these leadership skills and are captivated by them. Companies today understand the power of these incredible traits and constantly try to incorporate them into their Leadership Training Programs

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?

 

 

Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

Simple Solutions to Complex ProblemsThere’s a story I heard, it may be apocryphal, but even if it is, it serves my purpose in introducing my thought.

A huge U.S corporate giant built a new high rise headquarters. A month or so after the headquarters was fully occupied, the employees began to complain about the slowness of the elevators. Soon, the complaints were so rife that the management spoke to the architects of the building for a solution. The architects were asked if the elevators can be made to move faster or the size of elevators be increased. The architects were quick to respond saying it is possible to increase the size of elevators but it would involve months of work demolishing, extending and reconstructing around the elevators shafts. The noise and commotion surrounding such a task would be highly disruptive to all the employees.

The story goes on to say that the corporation did nothing to the elevator shafts. Instead, full length mirrors on every floor were placed beside the elevator doors and on the inside-walls of the elevators. The employees spent an extra few moments grooming themselves and looking at one another in the mirrors and the complaints faded.

My point is, almost every problem (not all) has a simple solution to it.  I concede that there are a few things that are not simple. For example rescuing people in a building that is engulfed in fire. It involves a lot of coordination, resources, courage and competency of a big team of rescue-workers. But fire-fighting is not a daily affair, or is it? Our day-to-day problems that we face at work or at home are, in reality, simple. Many a time we look for complex solutions when simple ones would be easy to find, easy to implement and appropriate to the problem. Here are few things I suggest that should help you in becoming better problem solvers.

  • The problem should be described in not more than 25 to 30 words
  • Ask simple questions – who, why, what, where, when, how
  • Expect simple answers
  • The solutions should be described in not more than 25 to 30 words and in 30 seconds or less.
  • If your solution is way too complex, please ask yourself if there is a simpler way.
  • Check if you made any unnecessary assumptions about the problem and allow lateral thinking to give you simple answers

 

Most problems can be solved if we use simple logical thinking. Our mind has the ability to search for simple answers to seemingly complex problems. Instead of getting lost in the details and complexity of the issue, let us stay focused on the most important part – the solution.

“You don’t drown by falling in water; you drown by staying in there” – Edwin Louis Cole

Can ‘Tough’ Feedback Make You ‘Tougher’?

Lizzie Velasquez started her talk by saying that she was called the ‘ugliest woman in the world’. She also said that someone wrote an online comment about her asking her to ‘Do the world a favour and put a gun to her head’. Imagine what it must have felt like to be Lizzie at that very moment.

She then said something that revealed the strength of her character. She said that she chose to take those negative comments and let them fuel her rather than dishearten her. She chose to define herself the way she wanted to be, and not by the perception of others. Hers is a truly powerful story.

So, what lessons can we take away from her life experience. I think the power of choice is one of the greatest gifts that a lot of us have today. The power to choose our response to a situation. The power to choose how we want to ‘define’ ourselves. The power to choose who we want to be.

When I first failed in making a presentation in front of a group, I also had negative thoughts. I had people smile at my misfortune. For a while, I defined myself by my negativity and said that “I am not going to do this again”.

Fortunately, something in me ‘clicked’ and I chose to overcome this challenge. I took my fear of public speaking and used it to drive me, to change the way I made presentations. I consciously put myself in positions where I would need to present in front of an audience. I wanted to turn this ‘tough’ feedback into fuel for positivity.

It helped me overcome my fears and I ended up making a career out of it.

The questions I would like you to reflect on as readers is ‘Do I want to be ‘tough’ on myself?’ ‘Do I want to seek criticial feedback?’ ‘Do I want to turn the criticism into a driving force that will fuel my growth?’

Criticism is simply a matter of perception. Although, Lizzie was called ‘ugly’ she embraced the beauty that was inside her. Today, we see the beauty that she embodies and the strength of her will, because that is how she chooses to see herself and, as a result that is what we see too.

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly” – Lao Tzu, a key wisdom that MMM Training Solutions uses in leadership training.

Creativity and Appetite for Risk – Is Jeff Bezos a fool or a leader?

As I read about the octocopter drones in the newspaper yesterday morning, I thought I was watching a science fiction movie in my dream. After pinching myself to reality, I raced to the Internet and watched Jeff Bezos of Amazon being interviewed on 60 minutes.

I was entranced by the octocopter but even more mesmerized by Jeff Bezos who has the courage to take such a huge risk. Bezos stated that the time between receiving the request from the customer and delivering the product to the customer is shortening everyday and if the innovations are not targeted in this area, the business dies. In his quest to keep his business fresh and listening to the voice of the customer, he has revealed that Amazon has invested in the research and development of the octocopter which is a GPRS driven electrical device that will deliver packages (of maximum weight of 5 pounds) within a 10-mile radius in a window of 30 minutes. The description of ‘fast’ needs to be rewritten in the dictionary!

“A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”― Albert Einstein

As a leadership trainer, people who push the limit and are willing to take the fall always fascinate me. Managers who are conservative and cautious are becoming obsolete in today’s market. The ability to explore unexplored paths and make imagination a reality are core competencies of a leader today. In the 19th century, business encouraged people to be risk-averse but today people have to risk-hungry. Situations that are risky are seen as an opportunity for creative thinking and growth.

Corporates that focus on leadership development should be asking themselves some key questions – Are we encouraging creativity, innovation and risk-taking in our people? Are we rewarding these qualities and is it a part of performance management? Are we talking about these qualities only for the top management or are we creating this environment for people as soon as they join the company?

The leadership programs conducted by MMM Training Solutions focuses on the core competencies of a leader that are essential for success in the 21st century. Some of the distinguishing features of our program are – duration of 3 to 6 months, combination of individual coaching and group training and individual assignments that help the participants to put the learning into practice.