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

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

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

 

Effective Leadership & Power of Choice – Voting

As India votes in the Lok Sabha Elections 2014, here are some important lessons about the way we as leaders can choose to view critical life situations.

An incident that happened today reminded me of a key principle that should be a part of every Leadership Training Program. I was on my way to exercise my right to vote for the Lok Sabha elections this morning, I met the Garbage Collector of our colony. He was earlier than usual. My neighbor asked him “Why so early today?” He replied. “Well, I have to go and cast my vote. So, I am finishing my responsibilities as early as I can so that I can go and vote.”

It made me proud to hear this. Around me today democracy is alive. It is displayed by empowered people exercising their right to vote. From neighbours to friends to colleagues and even domestic help. Almost everyone I have met today seemed thrilled to vote.

This reminded me of the amazing ‘Power of Choice’. While circumstances are often not in our control, we can choose our responses to them.

With a vote, we have the power to choose our future leaders.  Similarly, we have the power to choose our responses in a given situation. We may get criticized. We have the power to choose to let it bog us down or learn from it. We will face challenges. We have the choice of letting it deter us, or turning them into opportunities for growth. We will have situations that cause anger. We have the power to choose between ‘being angry’ and ‘channeling that anger’ into productive energy.

One of the most amazing gifts that we have is that we can choose our mindset in any given situation. An interesting example of this happened very recently in a training session I conducted. The session was being held on a Saturday, which was normally a ‘day off’ for the participants. Their collective energy was very low, at the start of the session. Most of them wore a look on their face that said ‘I would rather be somewhere else’. I knew I had to do something different.

I said “We have a choice. We can choose to brood about all the things we would rather be doing today. Or, we can acknowledge that we are here for learning and choose to make this a day where we enjoy ourselves and the process of learning that we have been given the opportunity to embark on.” Immediately, I saw a smile on all their faces. They had recognized that there is an opportunity for choice in the situation. I then asked, “Who is ready to take this learning journey with me today?” Everyone sat upright and put their hands up. There was an immediate shift in energy in the room and the rest of the session went well.

This is something that we focus on in Leadership development programs. This could also be an interesting talking point for Leadership training in India.

The power to choose is a blessing. India fought for its freedom to allow for its citizens to have the freedom of choice. Martin Luther King fought for equal voting rights for Americans from varied ethnic backgrounds. This power is not to be taken lightly. It comes with responsibility. Research the candidates, read the political party’s manifesto and then cast your vote. When making a choice to vote, make it an informed choice. Let us make a choice to have Effective Leadership.

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.” – Larry J. Sabato

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

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.

Thought Leadership

 

Gautama Buddha, SriSri Ravishankar, BabaRamdev, JKrishnamurti, Paramahansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Osho Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba, Srila Prabhupada of ISCKON fame – What common thread binds all of these big names – yes they are all spiritual gurus revered and followed by millions all over the world. Apart from this they have another amazing quality – their power to influence the thoughts of their followers – these are spiritual gurus whose kingdom far outreaches the geographical influence of any king or government stretching as they do from one corner of the world to the other. Their followers hail from diverse backgrounds – the common man, artists, politicians, world leaders, homemakers, children, drug addicts, the conscientious working man – the spectrum is really all encompassing.

As early as the 1920’s saw J Krishnamurti urging people to “reject authority particularly one that instructs you on thought”. The promise of freedom from thought instructing authority had thousands eating out of his hand!

These pied pipers of spirituality recognized many years ago the power of establishing the value of a thought or an idea in the minds of their followers. Vedanta, meditation, yoga, kriya, karma and dharma were tied together with the firm thread of “Thought Leadership”. Spiritual Gurus come and go, much like the flavor of the day, they remain in the minds of people for a while – what lives on is their power to influence the thoughts of their followers.

So what is “Thought Leadership”? It is the ability to sell an idea to a group of people – one does not necessarily have to have power, position or authority to display thought leadership. And the changes may not be initiated at the organizational level. The changes can be small scale at the team or group level. Thought leaders can demonstrate using a prototype or use logic and evidence to persuade people.

To be a thought leader a person must be the king of content – the stronger the content the lesser the effort to sell the idea – content, evidence and demonstrated usage will speak for itself. The credibility of their idea is the key to its acceptability. Thought Leadership is radically different from traditional top down leadership.

Let’s compare this to a journey – Traditional leaders define the destination, lay down the road map and sell tickets to reach there as well. Thought leaders on the other hand merely sell the tickets for the journey and allow people to get there on their own or with the help of facilitators, coaches and managers. They just promote a better way to get to the destination.

Thought Leadership ends when the target group accepts the idea. This is where the thought leader becomes a manager and starts to manage the implementation of the idea either on his own or with the help of other managers.

Thought Leadership requires a youthful rebellion and tremendous courage, bravery and conviction to charter new paths. Once a part of an organization’s culture Thought Leadership can add to the sustainability in the long term perspective. Folks go out there and break the mould..yet again!

Creating Leadership Readiness Through Animated Movies

 Where do the best learning’s take place – in schools? In colleges? At home? At work??

Well the best learning takes place in a movie hall – specially when we watch movies of the animated kind – have you ever noticed how these creatures we call animals so beautifully mirror thoughts, actions, behavior, attitudes and morals as recorded in different faiths – they are perfect teachers – from whom we can glean a wealth of insights on human behavior.

Animals for centuries have been used to depict life’s lessons and the inevitable truths in a magical way. For many decades now we have experiences this magic through animated films. These films inspire charm and teach in ways that live -people films, limited by shackles of reality, struggle to do.

Let’s talk about Cinderella – Once the magic of the fairy tale wears off what life lessons are we left with to ponder over?

Cinderella had a step mom who made the devil scurry home to finish his housework before he dared any devilry – what did she do about it? Did we ever hear her complain – not one whimper from those pretty lips. It is so commonplace to complain, lament and lash out at the world for our miseries – Cinderella was the epitome of quiet strength and beauty. Harsh treatment and harsher words did not deter her commitment to her responsibilities – heck she even made the most of her adversity by daring to dream.

Cinderella teaches us an invaluable lesson – persist with the cards life has dealt you with and you will find gold at the end of the rainbow. It also teaches us the priceless worth of forgiveness – Beauty is a treasure but graciousness is truly priceless. If she could forgive her step sisters and step mother at the end of the story, we can surely try to forgive to build and further relationships.

Persist..One day a prince will appear who will help us flourish into the princess we always were.

Lots of hard work, a little patience and the clock striking twelve will definitely not turn our carriage back into a pumpkin!

Leaders – How Clean is Your Window?

It was raining very heavily and the little restaurant where I was having dinner was very crowded. All the tables were occupied and some hungry customers were waiting for their turn. Some children were crying as they had to wait and the harassed waiters were hurrying to serve the diners.

Amidst all this confusion there was one waiter called Chandran who was serving everyone with a smile. His communication skills were fairly advanced. He was serving each customer according to their need, carefully listening to each order, checking his understanding and then executing the order. But Chandran’s smile was short lived as very soon there was a huge commotion at one end of the restaurant. One angry diner had flung his plate across the room and was screaming at him.

All eyes turned to that part of the room. It was surprising to see that Chandran was involved in this situation. As a regular diner I had always admired Chandran for his skill at customer service. Always polite and quick to serve the customers, he was indeed very popular with everyone. In fact he had also very recently received the “Employee of the Month” award from his employers. So what was going wrong?

The customer was actually accusing Chandran of physically assaulting his little son. The manager rushed to the spot and, after pacifying the customer, got to the bottom of the issue. Most of the people around also had seen Chandran drag the little boy across the room but what was Chandran’s version?

Then we came to the final truth. Unnoticed by the parents the little boy was playing with a fan that was kept nearby. As Chandran was passing by he noticed that the child was pushing his fingers dangerously close to the fan. Chandran quickly dragged him away from danger. A moment’s delay would have had dire consequences. Instead of thanking him these parents were shouting at him!

The attitude displayed in this situation reminded me of something that I had recently read:

“And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.” – Author Unknown

When we look through a dirty window the world outside looks dirty and when we clean the window and look through it, the world outside is a beautiful world. The window we look through is really the perception we have of people and situations.

If only those parents could clean their window and look at the situation. Instead of shouting at him they would be thanking him for saving their little boy!

“We see the world not as is but as we are. By improving, refining, and defining who we are, we see the world from the highest, most enlightened perspective”.

– Robin Sharma in Leadership Wisdom

Follow your heart – Courageous Leadership

On December 1, 1955, when a White person got into the bus, Rosa Parks, a 42 year old Black woman refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus and move to the back. Today the action seems simple but not in 1955, when black people were treated like slaves and second class citizens by the white people. This action created a major uproar and Rosa Parks was put in jail overnight. When in jail, she got up to get herself a glass of water and she was informed by the jail warden that the water fountain was only for white people. This was the straw that broke Rosa Parks’ back. She decided that she would do what it took, even at the risk of losing her own life, to attain liberty for Black people from this oppressive situation. She joined forces with Martin Luther King and was one of the key people responsible for the Civil Rights Movement which released the Black people to a life of freedom.

Now what would prompt a woman who was a seamstress in a local department store to take a brave stance of this magnitude? I think that she had a clear vision for success that was propelled by her passion. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” John Maxwell quotes.

What Rosa Parks did was not an act that was planned with a specific personal objective. In fact, what she did was spontaneous, triggered by her quest for equality and her rejection of racial discrimination. The loss of a job or even the loss of her life didn’t deter her from continuing her quest for equality. Leadership takes courage – courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and explore unknown territory. Rosa Parks did just that.

Are you willing to constantly challenge yourself to go beyond what you think you are capable of?

Follow your dreams!