Evolving Level Of Influence As A Leader And Creating A Distinctive Career:
Three natural rules or values I have lived by.
My first rule in life has been not to shy away from the assignments that seem to be the least glamorous as long as they have great value add to organization and people around me. All my bosses over the years can vouch for it that I am usually the first one in the room to raise my hand for a problem that seems to be the toughest nut to crack, where there is maximum noise and then transform it or overhaul it, whatever it takes.
My second rule has been to do that assignment so well that it reaches a level of delivery no one could have imagined and it raises the bar overall.
Third, I have never ever worked for my personal gains - I love working with people and making them successful. My teams usually hear me repeat two mantras very often - "we are in it to win it, together" and "ensure whatever we fly, we land it well". And I have been fortunate to have committed individuals on my team through my career.
Using Setbacks As Learning Experiences And Make Them Stepping Stones To Future Success:
I look at work in four quadrants and I put my failures in the top right quadrant. They are my best friends, teacher and mentor. Every year of my 26 years of being in the industry, I have found at least one failure (and usually there are more) to put up there on top right as my shining jewels which act as a lighthouse throwing a beacon of light when my ship is in swirling waters. Over the years, as you can imagine, I have collected many such jewels and they have only made my journey of life and work easier. I freely borrow learnings from them every now and then, and if I can leverage them to make a difference for someone around me - it makes me even more happier.
Inspiration For Writing Your Book:
Over the years, I would have interviewed nearly 11000 people and hired 2000+ leaders. I have stayed in touch with many leaders and followed their careers closely. While all of them had their own share of success and failures, one common thread that seemed to emerge was the sudden sense of disillusionment in their mid-careers. They realised what they were learning or getting from their organization including monetary returns was inversely proportional to their commitment and hours at work. Now even more, with the growing economic uncertainty professionals are trying hard to balance personal and professional priorities towards attaining their life and career goals.
It intrigued me to no end that while there were various esoteric concepts on achieving joy at work, there were no practical solutions being offered. During the course of my research for my book, I went through some amazing work by various positive psychologists and mentors in the industry. Finally, based on my interviews with over 300 top executives and my long hours of personal reflection I had my eureka moment - I invented the Q-APA framework which can be simple to understand and even simpler to execute. Since then, it's received blessings from the HR doyens of the industry and has been leveraged by various careerists at various junctures of their career to great results.
As a personal mission, every year, I take out time to personally mentor at least ten mid career professionals, entrepreneurs or homemakers looking to make a comeback to greater career success. To get my framework across to a wider audience, I wrote Breakthrough last year and I will be the happiest if many can take advantage of this opportunity to cross their own "bridge of fear" and connect to their "True North". I have heard from reviewers that while reading the book, they felt like the Sherpa (my nickname as a mentor) was sitting across the table nudging them on their career path to reach the summit of success.
Your Mentors That Have Guided You Along The Way And Lessons Have You Learned:
The concept of "guru" has been propounded since ancient times across cultures and geographies. Specialists in sports or business leaders all have consistently shown improvement in their performance when they have partnered well with a coach. The best of people stumble upon a conundrum in their life and career journey, which they can’t resolve with all the skills in their repository. This is true for teams also. I recall how early in my career as an engineer in a steel plant, when I took on a team notorious for their lack of delivery, my seasoned mentor advised me that to be accepted as a leader of the team, I needed to first work in the team. I recall that the simple tip helped me to transform a team of twelve very senior workers from a team of laggards to a team of golden players as they later came to be known as. Since then, I have always believed to have a panel of advisors and mentors around me and they have stood by me whenever I have reached out. At times, even without my reaching out, they have been kind to simply drop a tip-ping as I call it, if they have seen me go off course. One of my key lessons I learnt from my mentor Mr. SV Nathan, in my Deloitte Consulting days was to prepare hard and prepare well for every conversation with an internal or external client - no conversation or meeting is small - each has a potential to be the pivot to something great. And at a very personal level, my wife has always been my clearest mirror and sounding board
Advice To The Upcoming Leaders:
Be a marathon runner. Prepare for the long haul, but focusing on micro goals to win every mile is key. Practice and prepare well, there are no shortcuts. Do not get upset with losses, go after the small wins. Please understand, the uncertainty is not going to reduce in the world, so do not crib or wait for it to get over. Take a mentor's help to help you detect and connect with your sense of purpose, which has the potential to give you endless energy to overcome the fatigue caused by the uncertainty or specific challenging situations. If I can wear my Sherpa hat and be of any help more than happy to step forward.