Through this article, I share with you few basic, common-sense led plain speak approaches which may just help you that bit extra to bounce back and race ahead, whether it is about yourself or about the team that you lead or an organization that you are responsible for, or, in that rare case if you are leading a nation! So let’s see what these simple steps are all about and the kind of impact that they can create, when executed well! Before we move ahead, it will help to always remember that humankind is perhaps the most unpredictable species of all, and at times may end up doing quite the opposite what it’s mind will ask it to do, just to teach someone else a lesson, irrespective of what compounding damage that kind of reckless act may cause, and no where in the animal kingdom, will you ever find any other “social animal” displaying this kind of behavioral disposition, hence, this disclaimer to let you know,there are no easy slides to heaven and why no matter what anyone tells you; rational wisdom suggests that common-sense always holds the foundation to give one an ability to bounce back and keep surging ahead! So here we go…
Through my engagements and shared learnings over the years, there have been few broad and common approaches- which when mapped to individual specificity of a problem tend to provide a more meaningful way through , over or around the problem! Here are a few of them (and yes, these are not the only or holy grail of problems solving!, so keep adding to this what life has taught you and I am sure you will do exceedingly well, at times surprising yourself!)
Measure what matters
Find the “Why” of your discomfort
Be a Realist- Not an Optimist, nor a pessimist
Clarity of Thought and Communication
Plan for others around you as well
Keep milestones close and within view
Cultivate your common-sense
Be grateful and thankful
Keep what you must and discard all that you can
Measure what matters: We live in an era where we are bombarded with information 24×7 across touch points and irrespective whether we are interested or not! In this kind of an environment and the mad rush to stuff information down the throat of people regardless whether they have a discerning mind to understand, evaluate and conclude rationally with that information they are served is perhaps the most paradoxical problem of over indulgence after obesity (which is caused by overindulgence of food- most of the times!). Even in the current crisis that the world is facing, people are bombarded with statistics, number of total cases, deaths, new cases so on and so forth, what point is being missed out is real sensible data, what are the real active cases today? , what is the fatality percentage, what is the percentage of population infected from the total population and importantly what is the severity or potency of the infection! If people had focused on these parameters, over half of the 184 nations would have never gone ahead with the dumb lock down strategies that they initiated in the first place! Hence it matters and always it is only about measuring what matters and is relevant as we deal with problems in the real essence of it!
Find the “Why” of your discomfort: If you have read “Start with the Why” by Simon Sinek, you probably know what I am suggesting, If you haven’t read that book, do yourself a favour and do read it! One of the most fundamental mistakes that people tend to get into is trying to solve a problem – thinking that “what they are solving is the problem”, truth actually can be far away from that and in few case the people happen to be the biggest problem, because of their limited intelligence and skewed perceptions of the world around them- which is nothing more then defence mechanism to either hang on to their dear job, career or a failing business, simply because they can’t imagine a life without their business cards! Unless you do not come up face to face with the singularity of your problem or challenge that you face and understand that all solutions and remedies begin by altering yourself from within as you try to set things straight, no matter what you say and do, you will end up wasting the valuable seconds of life coming back to the same problem over and over again – albeit with differing intensity but continuing with the broader flavor of distress will tend to remain the same! Once you have found the true “Why” rest assured that will give you enough bearing to keep moving in the direction which will remove you away from the senseless loop and give a sense of forward motion even as you untangle the mess of the problem at hand!
Be a Realist: Not an Optimist, nor a pessimist: As much as thinking negative, being hopeless, constantly nagging, cribbing and sulking is bad, dancing about and fiddling away meaninglessly as if everything is always great and you are experiencing heaven even as the world around you is turning into a hellish nightmare, can be far more damaging to a point where people start to actually doubt your mental construct and frame of mind- whether you are displaying psychopathic behaviors or have a complete hard disk failure! The whole challenge with the “Stay Positive” movement around the world has been that few of the so called masters have ended up making it a big joke unto itself, I mean you may have an individual being diagnosed with terminal cancer and you want that person to stay positive? or a person in a terrible terrible financial mess and you want that person to believe that all will be glad stay positive? Shouldn’t it rather be asking these people to first understand what the situation is then help them rationally evaluate what are the meaningful solutions that are available to them so that they can lead the time at hand in the most productive manner so that their pain is comforted and there is a sense of achievement in the way the simply carry out their day to day chores or start ton re-build their financial credibility one day at a time? Certainly let’s not even bother to talk about the “nothing will be good ever- ultra-pessimistic way of thinking- that is painful even to write here forget about thinking that way! Having a true assessment of the situation in a given context (which comes from deciphering the “Why”) and mapping it to ones’ individual abilities and competencies is the only way to make the best of any situation that comes your way! Nothing more and nothing less! Staying real, pragmatic and exhibiting courage to confront and deal with the granular reality of the moment will alone help one move ahead and simplify ones’ ability to know the real challenge within the fog of ambiguity!
Clarity of Thought and Communication: This is of utmost important, especially when you are dealing with others and others are looking unto you for guidance and leadership in crisis, whether it is a small crack team that you manage for an assault as an officer, or whether you lead a team of 100 professionals which are working to meet team objectives- the sooner you can provide or rather continue to provide clear communication (which can only occur once you have ample clarity of thought). This clarity has be at all levels, what is expected, what is being asked and what is been provided to have the tasks accomplished- this all can only be manifested when there in intrinsic clarity of thought about how the team is being led and what is the shoreline that has been earmarked to anchor the team – if required. When Leaders provide clarity at this level- the same is resonated down the line and that makes the jobs of the leaders a breeze and that sets up the team and the organisation for a fast recovery to everyone’s surprise! Importantly, the sensible and impactful communication pieces are Realistic and don’t share misplaced optimism and unwarranted pessimism!
Plan for others around you as well: Very often when crisis hits, the first and natural response is to make oneself safe and have your immediate responsibilities (family) accounted for, likewise when it is a team that you lead, you are the leader for that unit of your’s and it only makes sense that you lead, guide and provide for you teams like you would for your family in the way and manner that is aligned to the organisation culture and ethics! No one is asking you to become a cult leader or go out of the way and pick up fights with senior members for your team, the point here is to be responsible and accountable so that even in worst case scenarios wherein you need to have a few members offloaded, that whole process remains dignified, so that if ever you need them back, they will be happy to oblige and join you back! This approach of being emphatic, sensitive, and accountable to every member of ones’ team should be intertwined in the soul of the leader and that empowerment of the soul must be used to take calls and decisions which make sense and serve the larger good!
Keep milestones close and within view: Often people- leaders like to share milestones- what will happen in next one year, three years, five years, well good- nothing wrong with it, but real fact of life remains, that even if the leader remains (which by itself is a miracle- because people leave even at leaderships levels around 3-5 years) there will be new people in the team on an ongoing basis- and each time you have new people – if you were to make the same presentation, it will end up being routine for some and “wow” for few others! The only way to beat this type of meaningful shit is, spell the broader strategy few times through the year, make it a decisive point and revisit that only when you need to and through the course of the journey have meaningful milestones which are more relevant, visible and actionable- perhaps having monthly or quarterly ones’ that keeps everyone updated, everyone feels involved and everyone gets a sense of forward motion! This will un-complicate whatever you try to pursue and keep enough cohesion to make things easier so that even when hurdles are met, the team knows what needs to be done to overcome them!
Cultivate your common-sense: Human mind works well as long as it is sharpened and that sharpness only comes alive and working when we are presented with compelling cornered spaces and challenges which have no routine parallel! This is where, trusting and following your common-sense, gut feeling becomes all the more important! You may have tons and tons of data and metrics to deduce and take scientific decisions, nothing wrong with that as long as you are choosing one robot over the other or one product range over the other, but the moment decision making starts to impact people without bringing in the human element in the framework, disaster can strike! Consider this, currently many firms are laying off, announcing wage cuts (as if doing a favour that you still have a job), but not releasing, where will they get that very talent back which would have been nurtured, trained and developed over a period of time to meet the organisations exacting requirements in coming times?, Sure people are aplenty and so is talent, but the time needed to retain and re-equip which will be dangerous lost opportunity (in the hands of a right competition can spell a disaster for the business) and can cause severe unpleasant business damage! Even more funny is what does the wage cut say? Does it suggest that an individual was paid more then their real worth or does it say that ones’ worth has gone down or does it say that the hiring strategy was astray to allow that kind of omission to occur and pay someone what they were not worth of in the first place? What is the messaging that is being sent out? The only and only sure way of doing away with all this unwanted nonsense is cultivate common sense so that even rational decisions; when and as they are forced upon can be routed through the test of common sense and than action can be taken once these decisions stand the test of common sense!
Be grateful and thankful: This simple exercise will work wonders for you as an individual or as leader of a team, be grateful for what you have- as you start the day, your mind, the resources that you have access to so that you can go ahead an weave the magic that you need to, playing your role and discharging your duties so that you keep creating the subtle difference which matters and keep the momentum going in the forward direction! Being thankful helps, it helps you to begin with so that you know what you could have achieved or not and what is that you are able to achieve or not with the people and resources around! Once you have reached this space of being grateful and thankful, and you begin to rub off this simple yet powerful thought within your team, you will see magic happen as the narrative will change from what is not there to what can be done with what is there!
Keep what you must and discard all that you can: If life is a walk, a marathon or a race, depending on how you see it, in any case, it will always make sense to reduce the baggage! De-Cluttering will help you individually and also as a leader! Knowing what to carry along, what helps and letting go off things and people that harm and obstruct is the key element to ensure that you are able to bounce back fast and in time to make the most of an approaching wave which can propel you further ahead and give you that much needed early mover’s advantage as businesses race to be the first one’s to re-engage with their clients and customers!
I will leave you here, perhaps you want to add a few more elements, remove a few, the choice is your’s; for you alone know what is the contextual reality of your world and these are but beacons which can help you to glide along safely without running into mountain faces and odd weather, so that as you embark to your climb, you have all the power you need from the people on your team and the machine that you have!
Ciao for now, will be back with another piece soon!