10 things to do when stuck in a situation

July 30, 2012

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.  – Alan Cohen (A prominent businessman from Florida)

Once you find yourself at a fork in the road, or clueless about which path to choose from – you wonder …..where should I begin this journey?  I have been there many time.  Sometime stuck or sometimes clueless.  I ask others and choose what fits in. You will be amazed how many resources are available for help and how different perspectives let you find the right solution. Choice is always yours, some times things work out as expected, other times you find out what does not work.  There is no template or documented way as we all have unique abilities and unique challenges. 

You have the solution, all you are doing is uncovering with the help of others. Because it is meant to be like that.

But when should you begin asking? After doing your home work. If you do not do your home work, you will be overwhelmed by choices and might be victim of analysis paralysis. Here are some thoughts to prepare you to ask help from others, in many cases you do many of these things in parallel:

  1. Use mind mapping technique to put thoughts, situation and desired result on paper.
  2. Talk to couple of your trusted friend and seek advice who has been in the similar situation.
  3. Check with a life coach, a professional mentor or an expert is situation requires professional input.
  4. Contemplate and jot down best-case and worst-case scenarios.
  5. Do on-line search, check out blogs, forums, libraries or book stores.
  6. Join a group, attend networking event, take a class where like-minded people will gather; or take a vacation, sleep well and go for a walk or jog with all the advice, a solution may pop-up automatically.
  7. Do not do all thinking in the head alone, jot down your thoughts and give them shape by arranging them as they make sense.
  8. Put a milestone chart for action steps. Start with question mark and end with desired outcome. Then fill with monthly and yearly milestone.
  9. Now describe what needs to be done to achieve those monthly and yearly milestones.
  10. Stay up-beat and keep focused.  Don’t be bothered about nay sayers. Per Nike’s tag line – just do it!

Any decision you take, remember Steven Covey’s 2nd principle – begin with the end in mind.  We all do most of the things but my experience working with others is that folks do not write or do not jot down any of the plan. You got to do it.

Further reading/references:

  1. Seven steps to problem solving – http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.html
  2. What is mind-mapping – http://litemind.com/what-is-mind-mapping/
  3. Scenario planning – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scenario_planning

The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given..

September 6, 2011
  1. Don’t ask for what you don’t want.
  2. You carry five balls in the air; all but one is made of glass. Glass is health, family, friends, spirituality. Rubber is career. Juggle well.
  3. Be passionate but not emotional.
  4. Master hard skills early in your career. Master soft skills to get ahead later in your career.
  5. Know when to ask questions – sometimes in a group, sometimes one-on-one.  There is big difference in perception and outcome in these two situations.
  6. Always do what you say you will do.
  7. Take lunch – you are not that important.
  8. Read the cover of sports page every day (no joke!).

I was reading Canadian Business magazine‘s The Next Power Elite cover story and found these gems at the bottom of the page.  I could not resist sharing with my readers. Credit for the content goes to August-September issue of Canadian Business.


How to Become a Trusted Advisor?

July 30, 2011

How to build trust with the Boss or Customer? What do you think of your boss or customer? 

I guess more important question for your success is – what does your boss (or customer) think of you? Does your boss (or customer) trust you? Trust is invisible currency of faith. Once you have earned it,  you become trusted advisor. It takes time to develop trust, but can be lost in a flash.  Trust makes work life more enjoyable, gives satisfaction and makes one more productive.   I believe that if someone genuinely applies below given 7 pointers, sure will gain trust. 

He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted. – Lao Tzu

Lets imagine customer is also a boss.  Getting a good boss is mostly in our hands.  I say mostly, because there might be some bosses with whom you can not connect at all because their wavelength is quite different from yours.  In spite of it, I think one must take initiative to build trust and get connected with boss instead of waiting for boss to realize how invaluable and resourceful one is for the team and organization. 

So how to become trusted advisor?  Answer is – by cultivating trust.  My understanding is “Giving trust leads to earning trust“. You got to understand the uniqueness of every individual in terms of how one thinks and operates.

Here are 7 key pointers to build trust over time with your boss and work on addressing the questions –

  1. Be reliable and competent: can your boss count on you? can you get things done you are supposed to do?
  2. Be accountable: are you ready to own your mistakes? are you concerned about success of your organization?
  3. Learn to anticipate: do you know what questions will be asked on the subject? are you strategic thinker?
  4. Be solution oriented: are you just posing questions or problems? do you strive to help resolve issues?
  5. Seek feedback and be candid: are you engaging your boss? are you holding back something from your boss? 
  6. Be professional: are you delivering value to your boss/organization? are you respectful to your boss on his/her back?
  7. Be a good communicator: do you understand how your boss wants to know things? do you connect with your boss?

And what you do if you and your boss are on totally different wavelengths? Keep doing good job and move on when opportunity arises, simple is that.  Its nothing wrong with anyone, we all are unique and bring different perspectives to life and its ok to be on different wavelengths.

Hope you like the post, if you think there is any other valuable point to add, share it.  Thanks for reading and feedback.


Fountain of Wisdom

February 18, 2011

Rose & Robert Skillman Library in Detroit has engraving “The Fountain of Wisdom Flows Through the Books“. To drink from this fountain, I continue to read books and here are some that I have completed recently and would like to share with my subscribers and visitors.  I have more detail posted here.

These 3 books are totally unique but fit in for a balanced approach towards any leadership or managerial role that you play in your life.

  1. Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Press, 2010
  2. Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t Jeffrey Pfeffer, HarperBusiness, 2010
  3. It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships Tommy Spaulding, Crown Business, 2010

Why Should You Read These 3 Books?

Buy-In:  A leader or manager has to sell the idea, proposal or get an agreement.  Getting people buy-into is the critical task.  You will learn two things – first, how to protect your good ideas from being shot down and second, how to win the support of stakeholders when it really matters.  Naysayers will use 4 strategies of fear mongering, delay tactics, confusion and/or ridicule to derail the idea.

As we all know that good idea alone will not survive. This book offers 24 major attacks or objections (that people use time and time again) and how to handle them properly. Link provides 24 responses to these attacks.

Skillman Library in Detroit

Skillman Library in Detroit Courtesy: Wikimedia

Power:  For a leader or manager, being power less is not an option. If you can influence any decision, you got some power. Projects and initiatives of people who are associated with people of authority gets their way in any organization.  Some might have the different opinion of the use of power (i.e. Machiavellian style), but lets use the perspective that if you have power, you can do more good to your cause, organization and society. I will add quote from Baltasar Gracian:

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.  The Art of Worldly Wisdom, 1647

This book contains excellent advice and analysis about gaining power in corporations and politics.  You may not agree with all that is said like perception is reality (but for how long?), but its a good read and use what you feel appropriate with good intentions.

It’s Not Just Who You Know: Leaders and managers accomplish a lot by building rapport at all the levels, they are resourceful and get the work done for greater good.  This book fits right where both other left.  If you believe that great relationship in life make all the difference, you will enjoy it. Author does not give out any specific formula but shares his own experiences and then elaborates on how one should apply them in life. I used this book to learn from someone’s life how genuine interaction helps build great relationships.

This book is not you scratch my back and I scratch you back type but follows Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends…

Author shares many inspiring stories and all underscore that relationship building begins with your genuine and sincere attention on the others and it’s not about you. Do not push for the things that you want, figure out what they need.  Also, author stresses that exploiting relationships for quick personal gains or favors will eventually ruin the foundation and it soon becomes transactional business relationship.

As a leader, you do not want to accomplish a lot in business but also would like to have strong relationships similar to great balance sheet or super annual report.  If you miss out building genuine and sincere relationships at all sectors of life, work and business included, you will be alone at top.

References:

  1. http://www.kotterinternational.com/KotterPrinciples/BuyIn/AttacksAndResponses.aspx

7 Step to Effective Networking At Any Event – For Starters

April 26, 2010

I have been a shy networker before.  I attended the meetings/conferences with many business cards in my pocket but I rarely exchanged business cards and developed any new contact. I had good questions in my mind to ask but hoped that someone else would ask.  It wasn’t working out for me.

After reading many books, studying other successful people and learning from some of my friends – I found out where I was failing.  I was mainly staying in the group of people I knew.  I had objective to gain from the event but not to contribute something in some way.  I hoped someone else will show interest in me and will strike conversation and only phrase I used to initiate conversation was, “How are you today?”.  I got rid of shyness, gain confidence and equipped with knowledge by knowing that we all have unique styles of interaction and capabilities.  Asking question or solution proposed to clarify any issue will not only help me but many others.   We all benefit from each other thru interaction.  Now, one of my friend says, if I am not working then I am networking.  I guess, its good compliment!

It’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference. – Anonymous

Networking is the must-have capability for any professional these days.  We all need good networking skills and should take advantage of connections we develop at any professional symposium or meeting.  Networking is absolutely the primary technique that is used to find new job opportunities, career transition or career advancement.  While we all attend various meeting, active on LinkedIn (and social media) and attend seminars with networking as one of the objectives; but many times it is not accomplished that well.    

Here are 7 points to keep in mind for effective networking at any event –

  1. Setup your agenda for the event & find what unique perspective you bring.
  2. Choose your sessions in advance if its multi session event and jot down your questions on the topic.
  3. Arrive early to meet people; also participate in the sessions by asking questions or sharing your perspective.
  4. Sit with strangers and introduce yourself – don’t wait for others to make move.
  5. Initiate conversations – go beyond “Hi, how are you?”.  Show interest in others and listen.
  6. Share expertise and help people solve issues discussed, make note of what you offered to the new contact.
  7. Follow-up with your new contacts after you get home.

Other Useful Link –

http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_12_Tips_for_Shy_People


Community Leadership – Lessons Learned

March 3, 2010

How do you play shows some of your character, how do you win or lose shows all of it. – Anonymous

For last couple of months, I have been quite busy with community leadership related work.  I had an opportunity to mentor and advise leadership team on the issue that was dividing the community. I  also had to stand up against the group of people whom I found was neither acting fairly nor was impartial. Per my research, it was abuse of power and leadership role.

It is now over and resolved satisfactorily, but it was a learning experience for me and I would like to share my lessons that I have gathered from both sides, without referencing to any incident.  One side was new and young group of individuals who was selected to lead the community and other group had been in control for over 16 years was not giving up the power and resisting the change.

When I reflect on my decision to support the new and young group get their right, I feel great that I could serve the community. 

Here are some of the common sense lessons I learned from both sides of the issue –

  1. As with each problem, understand the issue; background of politics & people involved and their agendas;
  2. Always be fair, remain truthful and act impartial towards all – if you want to be really helpful;
  3. Read any relevant document being referred; do not just believe what is being told;
  4. Don’t sit on the fence and enjoy conflict, become active if you are passionate about the issue and can contribute;
  5. Talk to leaders and offer your help to mediate; negotiate with win-win mental model;
  6. Not every effort to resolve issue will be welcomed, negotiations will fail miserably, stay hopeful – any conflict has its own life cycle as well;
  7. Expect rumors, allegations and indirect threats – do not waste all of your energy on addressing these;
  8. Talk to community members, educate about the issue, tell the truth and share the facts;
  9. Keep all doors open for compromise; find out what price are you willing to pay to keep community together;
  10. Find influencers in the community, get them on your side and ask for help, validate your interpretation of the issue;
  11. Do not quit or bend against pressure if you know you are standing for the truth and justice, you will face lots of pressure and many curve balls;
  12. Whatever you negotiate, offer or communicate, make in writing;
  13. Do not go negative; don’t get involved with personal attacks on opposite group;
  14. Deliver response to any negative propaganda with facts and positive tone – remember truth is like the Sun and false propaganda as clouds, the Sun will eventually shine, the truth will always prevail;
  15. Do not get into reactive mode, expect urge to say negative – but control it;
  16. Remember truth has to go through tough test before it wins;
  17. Keep your head high, keep thinking positive and stay visible in community or group;
  18. Always remember that difference of opinion is natural human behavior, other people might be thinking you are wrong;
  19. Seek lawyer’s help if needed, you need to get involved in fund-raising, planning course of action is key to success;
  20. Do not twist the facts, do not talk out of context, do not exhibit attitude towards people who aren’t agreeing with your opinion;
  21. Always seek advice of people who can tell the truth and fact of the matter, not your supporters only who speak your mind and tell you one-sided story;
  22. If what you hear is truth and is contrary to your belief, consult and reflect that you are not manipulating the situation;
  23. Establish a core group who offers views of issues without any prejudice;
  24. Listen to truth and act upon it, keep your mind open to everything but attached to nothing;
  25. Do your best in every circumstance even if no one is watching you, do not do things to impress others;
  26. Expect victory if you are truthful, impartial, positive, open and just towards all;
  27. Do not give advice to score point or take credit, keep it simple and make it team effort;
  28. Expect confusion in your group, keep all informed and motivated;
  29. Once you get what you want, do not demean other group but let it go;
  30. It will take some time to heal the divide, but keep focused on delivering value to community;
  31. Do not cling to power but work on empowering others to lead;
  32. Power is to serve community not to rule, you may have to make tough decisions;
  33. When you are serving as a leader, it’s not walking on red carpet – you are there to take on challenges; and
  34. Any choice or decision should be based on good for all not only for you.

When I talked about the issue in my community with friends in other communities, all told me one or other kind of similar story in their community or organization.  I hope my lessons will help or guide someone someday.

Thanks for your visit and comments on the post.


5 Quotes for Leaders

January 14, 2010
 

  

  1. Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.  – Tom Landry
  2. People ask the difference between a leader and a boss . . . The leader leads, and the boss drives. -Theodore Roosevelt
  3. Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. – Karl Popper
  4. Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy. – H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  5. The man whose authority is recent is always stern. – Aeschylus

  

 

 


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