Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Lessons from School

A few months back, I organized an old girls alumni meet of my school.   As I went about planning and  organizing the meet, I talked to many old friends, contacting them , talking to them after two to three decades ! We were so excited and could barely stop talking after the initial squeals of delight. We reminisced about our naughty childhood days, the mischiefs, the plays , the examination, gossips and what not. But there was one particular person who came up in my conversations with almost everybody. Mrs Nadkarni - our class teacher of  Standard 5. 

What was it about her that all of us remembered her even after 30 years ?  As I thought about it,  it was amazing to relate it with my corporate work. 
  • Empathy : Unlike other teachers, she could sense how each of her students were feeling and would make it a point to talk to the student who needed her attention after the class was over. All of us confided our joys, sorrows and innermost secrets to her.  She remembered our birthdays and we got a book from her every year as a birthday gift. I still have these treasures in my library. We coveted to be near her, learn from her. And our favourite subjects were the ones which she taught us.  As leaders, do we empathize with our team ? Do we notice their expressions when they come to office in the morning or we are drowned in our huge pile of emails and deadlines ?
  • Mentoring :  She was great mentor. If we were stuck with a difficult maths problem, she would never scold us. Instead, she took pains to explain the aspect of the problem to us clearly , as many times as needed.  She made the most talkative girl of the class as the monitor. She made us organize birthday parties, year end bashes and elocution competitions. While doing these, we learnt about teaming, initiative,participation and definitely leadership. How much have you planned and taken care about the growth of your subordinates ? Great leaders are multipliers of talent. And the multiplication happens with solid mentoring.
  • Trust and belief :  During our annual examination, all the other classes had invigilators to see that the students are writing honestly and without talking to each other. Her class was the only exception. She had so much of trust on her students that she had a standing instruction not to put any invigilators. Due to this, none of her students broke her trust.  Trust is something which has to be earned. A leader should be full of integrity, she should walk the talk, be passionate and fair. 

The above three things seem simple, but implementing them at the workplace work wonders. 

And , if you can  do so successfully, one day the people around you will remember you just like we remembered our dear Mrs. Nadkarni.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Power of 1

Recently, I experienced two incidents which reinforced my belief in positivism.  

The first one . A couple of days back,  I was travelling in a bus in the evening where most of the passengers were returning home from work. All of them were visibly tired and sat with a disinterested look on their faces. As I boarded the bus, I looked at my fellow passengers and  groaned -  my journey will be very boring , I thought. But I was in for a surprise.  As the bus started moving,  one person who was sitting near a window , started talking on his own !  He was an ordinary looking middle aged person , wearing ordinary clothes but had an enigmatic smile on his face.  He started describing what he saw outside. "See the beautiful child ! His face is like an Angel". "Look , the trees have different shades of green.. so beautiful" "The sky is ink- blue and the hues of orange in the sun set looks like Gold" "Now we are near Dalhousie square.  The streets look so busy and all the people have different clothes, different expression on their faces.  It is so very interesting !"  As he continued talking, everybody looked out of their windows. One person joined him and exclaimed " Look ! The shop in the corner ! It has been renovated and looking so different !" One by one most the passengers joined the game.  They became animated and interested. Everybody laughed and talked. I was amazed.  When the extraordinary person stood up, I looked at him. He smiled. I saw the bus conductor help him with his crutches. He had only one leg.

Second one.  Last week I had the opportunity of  conducting a session on TQM (Total Quality Management) for a reputed organization. It is a 150 year old organization. The factory workers and staff who attended the training session were all middle aged people, above 50 , and had served the organization for more than 25 years. Around 30 people sat in the training room with a  sullen, cynical look on their faces. As usual I started the session asking the participants to introduce themselves and talk about one thing which they loved about their organization. As the people started talking, the first, second, third and the fourth, strangely, none of them could say any good point about their organization. Just as I was giving up, the sixth person said  "Everyday when I come to work, I take a second to look at the Name of the company engraved on the gate. I am very proud about the quality of goods we manufacture".  Then , there was magic !  This was the spark which was needed.  One by one , all the participants had something positive to say about the organization. The sullen and cynical looks changed ! They smiled and beamed at each other. Yes, there were lots of things which could be improved they said, but all of them were proud to be a part of the organization. 

Yes.  One person can make a difference.

YOU can make a difference !