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Encounters with brighter minds invariably leave an author invigorated. When managers, whether the practising kind or the aspiring kind, ask searching questions based on what one has proposed in one’s books or blogs, the writer’s thought process also gets enriched. The more pungent the query, the more fulfilled one feels.

Over the past few years, yours truly has had several opportunities of interacting with youth who aspire to be future managers and entrepreneurs. The topics have been wide ranging, like Work Life Balance, Management Lessons from Movies, Management Lessons from India, Ethics and Values in Business, Managing Interpersonal Relationships, Four Pillars of Integral Management and Surviving in the Corporate Jungle.

Here are some of the outfits which have been kind enough to grant such opportunities:

  1. Catolica Porto Business School, Porto, Portugal.
  2. Department of Management Studies, Universidade Europeia, Lisbon, Portugal.
  3. Madras Management Association, Pondicherry Chapter, India.
  4. Sri Aurobindo Center for Advanced Research, Pondicherry, India.
  5. C K College of Engineering and Technology, Cuddalore, India.
  6. Sri Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College, Pondicherry, India.
  7. Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow: NOIDA Campus, India.
  8. International Minds in Finland, Finland.
  9. Madras Management Association, Chennai, India.
  10. Department of Management Studies, Pondicherry University, India.
  11. Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India.
  12. Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, India.

And mentioned below are some of the frequently asked questions yours truly has encountered in the recent past. Against each query, you will find a short summary of the response.

What precisely is Spiritual Quotient (SQ)? How does one develop it?

Those who have a high SQ have this uncanny ability to be creative and insightful in their approach to problem solving. They build up their level of self-awareness and there intuitive faculties. They realize that there is a realm of intelligence which is beyond the five senses that our physical bodies are endowed with.

SQ has several components: gratitude, self-esteem, self-awareness, consciousness, compassion, surrender, service and ego.

Meditation can help develop our Spiritual Quotient. So can heartfulness and mindfulness.

When you speak of the ‘Draupadi Syndrome’ in management parlance, you are speaking of managing multiple bosses. How does one handle such a situation?

Organizations are becoming flatter. Functional silos are breaking down. This means working in multi-disciplinary teams and reporting to multiple bosses at times.

Tact, patience and a better understanding of the psychology of each boss can help a manager to handle many bosses at the same time. Bad-mouthing one in front of the other would not help. Playing one against the other could also land one in a soup.

Due to parental pressure and financial insecurity, can one take up a job which is with a company which is marketing a dubious product?

It is not advisable to go in for a job where your value system does not match with that of the organization. You will not be able to put your heart into it. This may result into your being caught in a low-result and lower-rewards vicious cycle, undermining your self confidence.

If you are absolutely with your back to the wall, you may do so for a very short stint; be ready to change to the next one at the first possible opportunity.

 

You advise us to avoid being a Yes-man. How does one convey one’s difference of opinion to a senior? How does one say ‘no’ to one’s boss?

Politely. By marshalling your thoughts and sharing those with the senior at an appropriate time. Be open and respectful to his views. Registering dissent is a responsibility we all carry on our shoulders.

Please give examples of Eustress, the positive kind of stress you speak of.

When you are rushing for a meeting with your girl friend, or going to a movie, you feel a kind of stress which is positive in nature. When the end result is likely to be a pleasurable experience, you feel Eustress.

It follows that when we handle an assignment which connects us to a cause we happen to be passionate about, we experience positive stress. We enjoy doing it.  

 

According to you, interpersonal relationships have a half-life of their own, much like that of a radioactive substance. How can one increase the life span of a relationship?

I believe this can be done by avoiding anger, greed and a tendency to bad-mouth the party of the other part, especially when he/she is not present. Anticipating the needs of a person and assisting him/her in achieving a goal helps.

 

Ethics and Values in business: For an entity which is geared for generating a surplus for its equity holders and boasts of a great market valuation, just how practical is this concept?

Most businesses run on a quarter to quarter basis, with a focus on guideline values. But those which care about developing their brand equity operate based on a compass which is configured on a basic set of ethics and values.

In the Indian context, why do we respect Tatas? Because the group has a 150-year old tradition of good thoughts, good work and a basic sense of decency and honesty. They continue to do so much for the society, mostly in fields which have no direct connection to their diverse businesses.  

Any general career advice you would give to us?

Five years down the road, do you not see businesses becoming more dependent on technology? So, the writing on the wall is pretty clear. Be ready to embrace change. Learn digital skills and be ready to play a relevant role in the business, whether your own or that of someone else.

Do not be scared of bargaining for a better work-life balance. Remain connected to your inner self. Introspect, do a SWOT analysis, and create a USP for yourself. Invest in a good image on social media.

Build credibility. Observe company culture. Volunteer willingly. Build healthy relationships. Keep improving your skill-set.

Book cover English Front

Each interaction proves to be a good learning opportunity!

(Wish to look up my profile? You can find it here.

Related post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/about-me)

 

 

 

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For those interested in the art and science of management, here is a video clip which captures the journey of my book so far.

Feedback is welcome.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/a-tale-of-two-countries-and-a-book-launch

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/surviving-in-the-corporate-jungle-some-comments)

 

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How does one handle bosses and secretaries? What are the scientific laws which govern interpersonal relations? What kind of management lessons can be drawn from Indian epics?

Launched in the Portuguese market in March 2016, the book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’ was recently unleashed upon unsuspecting business magnates and management honchos at Pondicherry in India.

The book, published by Partridge India, presents insightful lessons for managers at all levels – the aspiring kind, the practicing and the tired kind, and even the retired kind. For hassled business executives and entrepreneurs, relentlessly chasing goals and deadlines, the punchy prose – infused with a Wodehousean humour – should come as a relaxing and uplifting read.  

No connection with Vasco da Gama

One does not claim to be a descendant of Vasco da Gama, but it so happened that the original manuscript, penned in English along the coast of the Bay of Bengal over the last three years, found its way to Porto, Portugal, on the Atlantic coast. CEO World, a unique start up there, managed to secure the support of Liberty Seguros. Vida Economica took it up for publication in Portuguese.

The Portuguese version, ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’, has found its way to the office of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Portugal, His Excellency, Mr. António Luís Santos da Costa, GCIH, who has roots in Goa.

It has also been presented to Ms. Clara Nunes dos Santos, the Ambassador of Portugal in Norway, and to Mr. José Manuel Castro Santiago, Minister – Counsellor at the Embassy of Portugal in Switzerland.

The book has also been discussed at IMiF (International Minds in Finland), a select group of entrepreneurs and intellectuals in Finland.

English version launched at Pondicherry, India

Recently, a book launch function was organized at Pondicherry, India, by People for Pondicherry Heritage (PPH), a group of individuals and NGOs who are passionate about protecting as well as showcasing the unique heritage of Pondicherry.

Ms. Sunaina Mandeen of PPH spoke of the need to preserve our values and our rich heritage, the latter including works of literary kind.

Ms. Sunaina Narang introduced the author to the audience.

While launching the upgraded English version of the book, Mr. R Mananathan, Chairman of Manatec Electronics Private Limited, spoke warmly of several topics covered in the book. He found it to be a unique book which covers a vast area of business management. In particular, it touches upon leadership, administration and refined concepts in the domain of human resources. He felt that I deserve credit for having summed up my forty year long practical experience and present it in a crisp and humorous manner. He wished that the language used could have been somewhat simpler in some parts, though.

Mr. P Rangaraj, Chairman and Managing Director, Chemin Controls and Instrumentation Private Limited, said that the book is replete with rich management lessons which would be useful to managers and business owners of all kinds. He was appreciative of the fact that the book also draws upon such Indian ancient scriptures as Ramayana, Mahabharata and Thirukkural.

The book presentation on the occasion touched upon some of the hundred odd topics covered in the book, like Meeting the Boss halfway through, Female Power and Stress, among others.

The presentation also brought into focus a new perspective on leadership by means of an upgraded Blake Mouton Grid, wherein a third dimension is proposed – that of the Concern for Ethics. It advocates the importance of developing not only one’s intelligence and emotional quotient, but also one’s spiritual quotient.

The book transports the reader back to an era when the instructive yet delightful works of such luminaries as C Northcote Parkinson, Lawrence J Peter and Sharu Rangnekar ruled the management book market.

 

The launch of the book in two countries is a reaffirmation of the fact that managerial knowledge and skills happen to be universal in nature. Books can act as bridges between two countries and two civilizations and bring these closer to each other for the purpose of forging mutually beneficial relationships.

Press coverage

Here is a press report covering the launch event: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/the-art-and-science-of-management/article19338392.ece

Details

“Surviving in the Corporate Jungle”

By Ashok Kumar Bhatia

(http://www.amazon.in/Surviving-Corporate-Jungle-Ashok-Bhatia/dp/1482888505)

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/the-book-como-sobreviver-na-selva-empresarial-guia-pratico

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/an-interaction-with-senior-professionals-in-finland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/a-book-presentation-session-at-madras-management-association-chennai-india)

 

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Finland is a country which has smoothly embraced rapid change from being an agrarian economy to being a knowledge economy. Innovation happens to be a key priority. India, on the other hand, is still grappling with the disruptive changes that the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution bestows on its citizenry. It has earned global acclaim in the realm of “Jugaad”, which could be translated as either Informal Innovation or as Frugal Engineering.

INTERNATIONAL MINDS in FINLAND (IMiF) is a global community of 500 plus inquisitive souls whose IQ (read Intelligence Quotient, also Inquisitiveness Quotient) is rather high. It believes in co-aggregating and creating value in/with/for Finland. The community works with the single purpose of soaking in as much knowledge and wisdom as they possibly can from our vast universe. To this end, the community provides a platform for such persons of universal good will who would not mind sharing their knowledge and experience with them.

And that is how it came about that yours truly recently had an opportunity of interacting with some of the finest minds in Finland. While more than 500 luckier souls comprising the community continued to play the roles assigned to them in life elsewhere, a motley group of 5 singularly unlucky ones had to undergo the trauma of listening to some boring stuff dished out by yours truly. Their risk taking appetite surely deserves kudos.

While Lorena provided administrative support, Ludwig (Mylly´s CEO), Alexey (A professional who has mastered some of the intricacies between Russia and Finland, even in terms of logistics), Roman (IMiF´s Chairman and founder of TPOINT), Olavi (Young at heart, though an officially retired university professor), MARCO (co-initiator of IMiF) and Tim (An international business person), assembled at Mylly, a cultural centre at Kotka, to hear what yours truly from far off India had to convey.

Title of the talk

Surviving in the Corporate Jungle.

Key Takeaways

Analysis Paralysis

The role of intuition in decision-making can never be underestimated.

Meeting bosses half-way through

It is crucial to help one’s boss to keep his blood pressure under control.

Female Power

It pays to have gender parity at the work place.

His Master’s Voice

Avoiding being a Yes-man pays. Senior managers have the responsibility of registering dissent.

Overstaying One’s Welcome

Does the flight of your career appear to have rough weather ahead? Press the EJECT button in the cockpit.

Managing Stress

Build inner resilience. Meditate regularly. Do not allow garbage to get collected in the mind. Carry out a cleaning exercise every single day.

Quotients

Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient are fine. What we also need to develop and use in business is our Spiritual Quotient.

Work Life Harmony

Avoid becoming a slave to technology.

Of Production, People and Ethics

Various leadership styles emerge. Charmless Charlies. Missionary Zealots. Road Rollers. Armchair Revolutionaries. Crazy Conformists. Sponge Comforters. Incumbent Chiefs. Super Chiefs.

Details can be accessed here.

A comment from one of the five wise men

Why is SQ (Spiritual Quotient) so very important in decision-making?

Being spiritual means one takes decisions which create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Ethics and Values also come into play. In the long run, brand equity grows. So does shareholder wealth.

An example from the Tata-Benz collaboration during World War II was cited. Details can be found here.

(Others skipped discussing any other ideas, so relieved they were that the ordeal of listening to yours truly was finally over!)

The global nature of management thoughts

Managerial thoughts transcend national boundaries. Possibly because the principles of setting up and running an enterprise happen to be universal in nature. The core of the psychology of a manager also does not vary from country to country.

It is great to be able to share some experiential insights with, and also learn from, senior professionals who operate in another business environment and in a distinctly different work culture.

 

(Notes:

IMiF can be found:

In the public presence https://www.facebook.com/internationalmindsinfinland

In the private presence

https://www.facebook.com/groups/INTERNATIONALMINDSinFINLAND

Presentation based on my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

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