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Posts Tagged ‘Human Values’

(Sanjay Sehgal is Chairman & CEO at MSys Technologies, USA. His profile is accessible at https://www.linkedin.com/in/sehgalsanjay. In this post, he examines the relevance of some of the basic tenets of Bhagavad Gita to real-life business situations.)

 

The saying “As you sow, so shall you reap,” is considered one of the best-known representations of the concept of “Karma.” It got me thinking when it comes to work, how far can we caution ourselves about what we are “sowing” into our business (money, work, culture, decisions, conflicts, resolutions, etc.)? More importantly, how will we know if our dealings are in line with constructive evolution (the good side of the scale of karmic balance) or submerging us further into karma’s vicious cycle (the bad side of the scale of karmic balance)?

A rare tale of a leap of good faith

I still remember reading this inspiring news that made me smile with moist eyes. In 2015, Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, raised the minimum wage of all his employees to $70,000 a year. Dan had slashed his salary to $70,000 from $1.1 million to do so. Dan had once pronounced that he wishes to buy his dream car. To return the favor, 120 employees of Dan’s firm saved their one month’s salary and gifted him his dream car. It was Karma unfolding in its classic style.

Karma – the good, the bad, and the ugly

The notion of karma is comparable to a balance sheet, with the golden principle – debit in, credit out. You earn credit for all your debits. This credit will be good, bad, or ugly, depending on the debit you produce.

When you marry karma and business, you are bounded by the law –

A.   Good karmic debits = Good Credit>input

B.    Bad karmic debits = Bad Credit >input

C.   Ugly karmic debits = Ugly Credit >input

Where karmic debits are your intentions, the input is your action based on intentions, and credit is your output. In any way, your output is greater than the input. Therefore, rule A is what we all must aim.

After having set up several ventures, and mentoring start-up enthusiasts I’ve consolidated the five Sutras of Karmic Management, which I feel can be applied in almost all situations:

1. The Law of Growth

While starting a new project, venturing out to materialize an idea, or managing a team, hasten the course of inevitable failure and stop doing anything that is not working out. That way, you may fail fast but it will turn out better if you also learn fast, and can help you grow faster. Take a new path that promises to take you to your destination. The great Abraham Lincon lost elections eight times and failed in business twice. But, he quickly moved on by failing fast and recovering faster for success.

2. The Law of Synchronicity

You’re thinking of replacing your car while driving on a highway, and you drive past a billboard, which advertises a good exchange offer on a car. This phenomenon is called synchronicity. The law of synchronicity is looking out for signals or events in the external surroundings that can help us achieve our objectives. You’re attracted to such signals unconsciously; as you’re constantly thinking of your objective, you are linking everything around to it.  Logically, the idea emanates from the bedrock of curiosity that makes one look for the answer in everything around. Therefore, you are more aware of the external world that attracts you to the desired answer quickly, just like the law of attraction.

3. The Law of Reflection

We reflect our surroundings, and our surroundings mirror us. When we carry positivity within, we also reflect the same in people around us. Resultant – you are appreciative of people’s efforts and become a source of motivation. On the contrary, when you’re always complaining and criticizing, it is a clarion call to look within and reignite the fire of positivity. Take someone like Mahatma Gandhi, who was filled with hope and selflessness. He invariably saw the same in everyone and inspired the whole world to lead the life of righteousness.

4. The Law of Focus

In the face of problems, if you tend to lose direction, you are giving way to insecurity and rage. Instead, the best way to rise above challenges is by seeing them as opportunities to focus on your goals. Despite hurdles and lawsuits, the great Nicolas Tesla never lost sight and created over 300 patents to his name. It is said that he once worked 84 hours straight.

5. The Law of Significance and Inspiration

Your good returns are the fruits of your energy and intent. Fair use of intelligence is to have positive intentions and to put your energy into fructifying them. Invest in improving your business conduct. Use the profits to thank, encourage, and improve the lives of those who helped you succeed. Humility is the best form of investment.

The Karmic Philosophy of Business Sustainability

The core objective of any business is sustainability. A good business Karma will ensure a long run for any organization. Let’s decode further. The business Karma consists of four key elements

  • Strategy – Implementing decisions that are thought through and would reap long term benefits. For example, mergers and acquisitions or product diversification.
  • Transparency – Acting per policies and communicating in all openness, honesty, and goodwill to employees and customers. For example, intimating clients in case of an operational-hiccup.
  • Nurturing – Promoting a culture of care and empowering employees to grow in the system. For example, a manager guiding his/her team by sharing expertise and wisdom.
  • Objectivity – Acting fair by ensuring pragmatic criteria to arrive at a decision. For example, eliminating personal biases when addressing employee grievances.

When actions comply with these four elements the good business karma is manifested in form of sustainability. On contrary, bad business karma will impact a business’s lifeline.

(Link: https://yourstory.com/mystory/apply-good-karma-business?utm_pageloadtype=scroll)

 

(Related Posts: 

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/when-ceos-are-left-twiddling-their-thumbs-bhagavad-gita-could-help

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/the-karma-operating-system

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/ignoring-the-small-stuff-focusing-on-values-in-business)

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How have some of our business leaders responded to the challenges posed by the pandemic? Well they appear to be following the popular saying that when times get tough, the tough get going!

As per press reports, Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman and MD of Hindustan Unilever, has spoken of the kind of steps taken to boost the company’s prospects by focusing better on health, hygiene and sanitation products. As many as 50 new product and pack innovations are said to have been made. Agility and speed have helped.

Manu Jain, MD of Xiaomi India, has said that the pandemic has taught him the importance of empathy and patience during tough times. The ability to be able to put oneself in another person’s shoes stands out. Instant gratification is nowhere on the horizon; patience alone helps. So does slowing down and staying calm.

Ronojoy Dutta, CEO, IndiGo, has highlighted the importance of staying connected as well as being transparent with employees so as to retain their trust. According to him, irrespective of the situation, honesty and transparency win in the harshest of times. According to C P Gurnani, CEO and MD, Tech Mahindra, leaders need to give up their ‘command and control’ mindset and shift to a ‘mentor and inspire’ mindset.

Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, Teamlease Services, concludes that resilience matters as much as performance.

(*Source: The Economic Times Magazine, August 30-September 05, 2020, etc)

Leadership traits which help

Leaders who thrive in an era of heightened uncertainty and bloated entropy are better placed to steer their organizations more purposefully and effectively. The virus has highlighted the following qualities in someone who leads an organization in such stormy times: Prioritizing people. Creating clarity on what needs to be done; providing hope and refusing to let a mood of despondency creep in. Having an ear to the ground and being flexible in an evolving crisis; engaging with other stakeholders, including employees, to understand their concerns better.

The virus has brought into focus the dire need for such leaders. It has even indicated the kind of traits such leaders should have: empathy, compassion, higher resilience, an inner sense of peace and equanimity, brain stilling, actions which are rooted in basic human values and better concern for the environment.

It is already understood that leaders who believe in delegation, decentralization and quiet consensus building are able to handle crises better. The approach to problem solving needs to be non-muscular. A shock-and-awe tactics is best avoided.

Leader Mindsets and Human Values

Prof G P Rao, a behavioural scientist of repute and the founder of SPANDAN, a NGO which espouses the cause of human values in organizations, demonstrates that leaders have three kinds of mindsets: ‘I am Everything’, ‘I am Nothing’ and ‘I am Something’.

In a recent study, he has identified the following five topmost values perceived as being conducive to tackling the pandemic successfully:

  • Faith in basic goodness of human beings
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • A positive outlook: Happiness – contentment – self fulfillment
  • Respect to nature and mother earth, and,
  • Preparedness.

The empirical study covered a total of 100 professionals, of which 57 were drawn from the senior and middle management rungs of a software company and 43 belonged to a mixed group from different professions and organizations. The study was conducted during the months of July and August, 2020.

The basic premise is that ‘I am Something’ leader mindset needs to balance the needs and aspirations of others and that of the environment, choose suitable human values and facilitate others to do likewise.

Examples quoted above from the practical business world also testify to the proposition put forward by Prof Rao – that the aim of a leader should be to strike and acquire an optimal balance between and among the select human values so that there is synergy between ‘I am Something’ leadership and human values.

By reposing one’s faith in the basic goodness of human beings, by responding to fresh challenges in a creative and innovative manner, by adopting a sunnier disposition, by preparing for contingencies in advance and by reconfiguring operations with due respect to nature and mother earth – that is how the challenges posed by the pandemic are being met.

(Inputs from Prof G P Rao are gratefully acknowledged.)

(Part 2 of a series of articles on Corona virus and Leadership) 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/corona-virus-and-an-early-onset-of-industrial-revolution-4-0

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/09/14/corona-virus-some-lessons-from-bhagavad-gita)

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Background

In this series, we have tried to look at some movies through the spiritual lens of 12 personality traits mentioned by The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry in India.

Part 1 had covered the traits of Sincerity and Humility. Part 2 had looked at movies which touch upon such traits as Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration and Receptivity. In Part 3, we had checked out some movies which could be held to be representing the following personality traits: Progress, Courage, Goodness and Generosity.

Here is the concluding part, which covers the remaining two traits, namely Equality and Peace.

Thank you for joining me in this exploratory journey!

 

Equality

Here is a rare virtue, seldom practiced, whether at an individual level or in a society. Walls of race, caste, colour, creed, gender and financial well-being keep going up. The notion of ‘I’ takes precedence over that of ‘We’. Deriding ‘the other’ often satisfies our ego more readily. In many parts of the world, even some professions get looked down upon.

 

Boot Polish (1954) brought home the point that one’s self-respect is paramount, that polishing shoes is better than begging and also that work of any kind is dignified.

 

Shree 420 (1955) showed us how Ponzi schemes trick ordinary people into parting with their hard earned money. The stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots of the society formed the backdrop of the movie.

 

 

Meri Surat Teri Ankhen (1963) and Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) both highlighted the need for giving more importance to inner beauty rather than the external appearance of a person.

 

Rudaali (1993) touched upon the plight of social discrimination, based as it was on the tribe of women of a lower caste who are invited as professional mourners when a person from higher caste passes away.

 

Philadelphia (1993) covered the trials and tribulations of someone who suffers from AIDS and is a homosexual. He is sacked by the legal firm he works for on made-up work-related grounds but fights for his dignity and his rights.

 

Article 15 (2019) is a telling commentary on the perils of the caste system prevalent in the Indian society.

 

Several movies have touched upon the issue of racial prejudices. Schindler’s List (1993) and Munich (2005) are some examples.

When it comes to gender equality, our dream merchants appear to have kept the issue under focus for a long time, much before the #MeToo campaign gained popularity.

In Aandhi (1975), we meet a couple who get reunited after a long time, but decide to keep pursuing their different career paths

 

Arth (1982) and Luck By Chance (2009) had the heroines walking off from a relationship.

 

If Abhimaan (1973) touched upon the balance of power between a couple, Ki and Ka (2016) showcased a role reversal between the husband and the wife.

 

 

Parched (2015) narrated the story of four women breaking through the shackles of rigid practices of patriarchy. Thappad (2020) highlighted the issue of patriarchal attitudes and the lack of gender equality within the ambit of marriage.

 

Peace

Many movies depict the gory details of a war to highlight its futility. Here is but a random sample of the ones which drive home the importance of peace in our lives.

 

Life Is Beautiful (1997) made us feel not only the pangs of separation of a couple but also the blossoming of a special bond between a father and his son when they are held in confinement in a concentration camp. When the war gets over, the son, unaware that his father has met his death, excitedly tells his mother about how he had ‘won’ a tank, just as his father had promised if he played the game between them right.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) was a poignant tale of the kind of affection which develops between two strangers in the midst of chaos and uncertainty caused by communal riots.

 

Veer Zara (2004) narrated the travails of star-crossed lovers. The Indian Air Force officer Veer (Shah Rukh Khan) sacrifices his freedom to protect the honour of the Pakistani heroine’s family. The latter, Zara (Priety Zinta), after a failed marriage, decides to support his elderly parents in India. Both get reunited, thanks to the efforts of a lawyer (Rani Mukherji). Not a single bullet gets fired. Nowhere does a prisoner get tortured. Yet, the message of peace between two warring nations gets delivered.

 

Life Is A Miracle (2004) had the backdrop of the Bosnia-Serbia conflict. When the hostilities break out, Luka’s wife goes away and love blossoms between him and Sabaha. His son is conscripted in the army and is then taken a prisoner of war. The dilemma faced by Luka is that of an exchange between Sabaha and his son Milos. Family gets reunited in the end.

 

From Heartless to Heartful

The movies mentioned here were not necessarily made for any spiritual purposes. These appear here simply because a part of theirs touches upon the 12 personality traits under discussion. In fact, some of these – like Saving Private Ryan and Lakshmi – have graphic violence which often creates revulsion and intellectual indigestion. Perhaps these are designed to hasten our progress from practicing heartlessness to heartfulness!

 

Almost all of these have an underlying streak of spirituality. These affirm the positivity of life, hold human beings as sacred rather than expendable, depict the practice (or otherwise) of human values and encourage the audience to ponder over their existence more deeply than they would in the course of their day-to-day routines.

Another common trait of these movies is that these do not promote a sectarian or religious worldview. Rather, the focus is on highlighting what, in essence, our scriptures and spiritual masters tell us.

Movies with a streak of spirituality stand in sharp contrast to the kind of inane ones which win popular appeal by using item songs, soft porn, obscenity, graphic violence, sadism and torture for sport. This virus, to be dreaded more than the current pandemic, has already spread into video games, kids’ cartoons and gaming applications, polluting the minds of the coming generations and promoting a shoot-first-think-later culture.

We also get hooked by the car chase/big explosion flicks like Fast & the Furious series; high-tech gadget movies like the Mission Impossible franchise; nationalistic movies like Independence Day; heist-based movies and web-series like Ocean’s 11 etc, Money Heist and Jamtaara which do not feel shy of using cuss words; and high school sex-obsessed, gross-out films like the American Pie franchise. Thrillers like Sholay, Khaki, Kahaani and Mom also keep us glued to our seats. But so do such movies with socially relevant themes as Gulaab Gang, Padman and Toilet – Ek Prem Katha.

Perhaps there is an emotional disconnect between Mother Earth and its denizens. Perhaps we are bringing up a bunch of bleary eyed kids glued to their screens – oblivious of the joys of human interface; in the process, dehumanizing them.

Rays of Hope

But we can find some solace in the fact that movies with a dash of spirituality do keep turning up. These keep illuminating the world outside and within us, restoring our faith in the basic goodness of Homo sapiens. Even though these may be few and far between, our producers, directors and script writers have a sharp eye for public tastes. The fact that these are getting made is a positive sign in the first place. There is hope.

Moreover, there must be several others which do not boast of popular stars. We would have never heard of the same. All these, in regional and other languages, must be out there, waiting to be discovered by a receptive audience.

Different approaches to spirituality could lead us to yet another set of movies. But the challenge of choosing the right movies on one of the media platforms we subscribe to would always remain. More so in times which are highly uncertain and when the fear of contracting a disease keeps nagging us from within.

To change and enrich our taste of movies – from heartless to heartful, from mindless to mindful, from hopeless to hopeful, from gory to glory and from demonic to angelic – may not be that easy, unless our own mindset changes. When that happens, our craving for a deeper meaning in our movies would get a leg up. Producers and directors would then offer juicier flicks. Once a ‘critical mass’ is achieved, our collective consciousness shall start changing its contours.

This could be our own humble contribution to some desirable changes in the society at large.

(This series of posts is dedicated to Ms Usha Bhatia, my late wife. Inputs from Mr Sanjay Mohan and Ms Gargi Banerjee are gratefully acknowledged)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/13/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-1-of-4

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/16/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-2-of-4

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-3-of-4)

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The 24th of March, 2020 dawned upon us as any other normal day. Denizens of India were going about their daily chores with as much zombiness as they could muster. Flowers were in bloom. Birds and bees were going about doing whatever they normally do. Trees were swaying in the gentle breeze coming in from the Bay of Bengal. In other words, God was in heaven and all was well with the world.

However, by 2030 hours in the evening, our world had turned upside down. The Indian government imposed a comprehensive lockdown across a country comprising 1.3 billion persons. The Prime Minister himself appeared on our TV screens and announced this decision. By the time he finished, a mere three and a half hours were remaining for the decision to take effect.

This sudden whammy left all of us twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out as to how to survive the depressing phase staring us in the face. This was one of the harsher slings and arrows of fate which had hit us. Initially, a sense of shock and awe prevailed. Gradually, reason started reoccupying its throne. Travel plans had to be junked. Medical issues came to the forefront. For the digitally illiterate, banking transactions went for a toss. Gadgets at home needing urgent repairs were left in a limbo. Some missed their daily dose of morning newspapers. Our hearts might have bled realizing the plight of migrants, but we took a jaundiced view of the humble house maid coming in to earn a living. Many other challenges tested our grey matter no end.

Even today, the virus continues to offer a unique experience to most of us, whether by way of making us fearful of its ferocity or by snatching away many of the degrees of freedom we have always taken for granted.

 

The Guardian Angels

It is not that yours truly has been very brave or wise in handling the depressing effect of virus-induced extended lockdowns so far. Much like the V-shaped and W-shaped depressions which plague many of our economies – developed or otherwise – these days, the dark forces of depressing thoughts have been frequently snapping at my heels.

As a loner whose cooking abilities are limited to boiling milk and eggs, and whose procurement related negotiation skills are outdated, life only got tougher in the post-lockdown phase. The horizon of mundane challenges expanded to include sourcing of fruits, vegetables, groceries and medicines. For someone like me who is battered by multiple health risks and is rather shy and diffident, especially in the presence of the members of the fairer sex, the challenge is even mightier.

Luckily, my Guardian Angels who, I am told, go around these days with their fancy i-Pads keeping a track of their favoured ones, noticed my name flashing in a deep red colour on their screens and decided to pitch in. Gradually, a host of characters straight out of the many narratives of P G Wodehouse started popping up around me, making me smile – even laugh occasionally – assisting me in keeping my body and soul together, besides keeping me emotionally afloat and cheerful. Thanks to the virus, a transient family came into existence, with the tantalizing possibility of lingering bonds of friendship which may survive the vagaries of time.

 

Some Supporting Characters

Here are some of the honourable mentions in this context:

Aunt Dahlia and Uncle Tom, my next door neighbours, who keep offering delicious lunches in a routine manner. Their large house is surely not a patch on Brinkley Court. Nor do they have Anatole around. The lavish spreads are an outcome of the culinary skills of Aunt Dahlia, who only calls me a blot on the landscape if she finds me not tucking in enough of the lavish spreads she whips up.

Uncle Tom, besides worrying about taxation blues, could share a great deal of spiritual knowledge. One of his tips to invite a state of happiness is to sing one of his favourite songs at least three times a day without worrying about the reaction of either the humans or the asses around.

At their doorstep, one is apt to find Augustus catching up on its beauty sleep. If awake, his supercilious body language does not encourage one to endeavour to tickle it behind the ears.

Piggy and Maudie, who take care of my pangs of hunger at dinner time, ensure that their dinner spreads are full of nutrients and soluble vitamins, a sentiment that would meet a hearty approval of Laura Pyke.

Piggy happens to share my passion for poetry, books, movies and general affairs, and a personal meeting with him never fails to uplift my spirits. Likewise, a brief session with Maudie on spiritual matters is invariably enriching.

When it comes to being woolly headed, I could offer competition to Lord Emsworth. But I have neither a big castle nor a large estate to take care of. Nor do I have the need to hire a bevy of supporting staff to take care of my affairs. However, someone cast in the mould of Beach the butler, my Man Friday, takes care of mundane upkeep of my modest abode. On this angel falls the burden of ferrying my dinner from Piggy and Maudie’s home every night. How he dodges the ‘oh’s and ‘ho’s of cops enroute in these locked up days and manages to bring home the bacon, so to say, is praiseworthy.

Emerald Stoker, a long time friend and a tough cookie on some days, is otherwise one of those soothing and sympathetic ladies you can take your troubles to, confident of having your hand held and your head patted. She keeps calling me up frequently, not only to check if I am still alive and kicking but also if I happen to be under the grip of any depressive thoughts and need to see Sir Roderick Glossop. I have reason to believe that she keeps a distant track on my emotional peaks and troughs, often directing Guardian Angels in my immediate vicinity to ensure that I remain in a cheerful state of mind.

An architect by profession, she also happens to be a passionate cook. On several occasions, she has shared with me the exotic vegan stuff whipped up by her for the day. All this support from her comes even as she battles severe problems in her personal life.

Jeeves in my life during this phase happens to be a movie maker. He also wears many other hats. His driving and networking skills are exemplary. A globe trotter, he, like all others on this list, suffers from an abundance of the Milk of Human Kindness.

He has the knack of ferreting out sensible movies from the many online streaming options which are in vogue these days. When he shimmers in with a cup of his spiced tea or lays out a lavish breakfast spread, one would need to have a ready supply of tissue papers handy so as to keep one’s drooling under control. Whenever the Guardian Angels are in a celebratory mood, he ensures a ready supply of tissue restoratives.

Angela and Tuppy Glossop

At the start of the lockdown, Jeeves introduced me to Angela, a sprightly spinster who popped up in Pondicherry to soak in its unique ambience, but got stuck due to severe mobility restrictions imposed then. The same fate befell Tuppy Glossop, a friend of hers and a space scientist to boot. My house was blessed by their presence.

Besides a sense of decency and an ample supply of the Milk of Human Kindness coursing through their veins, their sincere efforts at dishing out something which I would find to be palatable endeared my heart. They took over the procurement as well as the household management functions rapidly, the result being that one never had to miss one’s vitamins.

As someone who relishes the pleasures of the table and also aspires to be a sous-chef, Tuppy, in one of his finer culinary experiments, even succeeded in making a ‘perfect circle’ puffed-up chapatti.  Angela was quick on the uptake and sharpened her skills at cooking delicious lentils and kheer (a kind of pudding popular in India).

Both have been going out for beach walks together but I am not aware if any dispute concerning Angela having spotted a shark in the waters ever arose between them. Perhaps the credit goes to the sharks which avoid being in shallow sea waters around Pondicherry.

Pauline Stoker, a fashion designer, a marketer and a fitness enthusiast, keeps popping up with her home-cooked stuff on several days, brightening up the evenings with her effervescence and charm. Often accompanied by her well-mannered Kid Clementina who is sorely missing opportunities to put sherbet in ink pots these days and is invariably struggling to complete her home work online.

Captain Biggar and Galahad happen to be neighbours who pitch in occasionally to spice up the proceedings. One ensures a ready supply of several works of P G Wodehouse borrowed by him from a library nearby. Another offers a fresh perspective on current affairs over a steaming hot cup of tea. He has even ensured home delivery of farm fresh milk, duly sourced from contented cows.

All this is not to say that my immediate family, stationed about 8,000 kms away, does not bring in emotional succour by ardent enquiries made almost every other day. Each interaction with them is akin to a tiny drop of the elixir of inner bliss. Then there are relatives, friends and cousins who are keeping in touch, sharing their experiences during the lockdowns.

 

Meditation and Spiritual Upliftment

Twice a week, the group gathers for a spot of meditation at my place, thereby retaining the members’ sanity and equipoise.

The positive spin-offs of the virus are many. Lesser noise pollution. Minimal traffic. Greener environment. Virtual meetings. A unique time to relook at ourselves and our priorities in life closely. Better sharing and caring between neighbours. A hastening of the onset of Industrial Revolution 4.0.

On the flip side, at least three friends have so far handed in their dinner pails during the 90-day period under reference. For yours truly, some fresh challenges have popped up on the health front. I shall be deceiving the public if I were to say that such incidents do not dampen my spirits. However, help is at hand to pull me out of a deep emotional pit whenever necessary.

The eventual result is a kind of spiritual upliftment, perhaps of the kind that vicars experience when someone like Thos happens to be around.

An Abundance of the Milk of Human Kindness

To sum up, the Guardian Angels are keeping loneliness, depression and negativity at bay. An openness in making new friends, a tendency to help others nearby in whatever way one can and a positive frame of mind facilitate a healthy dose of laughter, mirth and joy. All efforts are being made to keep the body and soul together, so there is no shortage of feel-good hormones in one’s system.

As we gear ourselves to getting used to a long term presence of the virus, or its subsequent off-shoots which it plans to unleash upon us in the days to come, we would do well not to forget that it is here to teach us a rich lesson: that true happiness lies not in material comforts but in sharing a part of what we have with others who, at that point in time, may be in dire need of. Of being able to put ourselves into others’ shoes, anticipating their needs and trying to address the same. Adjusting to what is and not repenting what is not; accepting that life is never perfect. Cultivating a sense of gratitude.

To put it simply, keeping human values on the top of our dealings with those who deserve the same; being humane. As one of my professors would put it, by adopting the Spandan (heartbeat) approach to life.

(Allusions to characters from the works of Wodehouse are purely imaginary; depending upon some personality traits of the real persons alluded to here. No offence is meant to either of the two categories.)

(Illustrations courtesy Mr Sanjay Mohan and the world wide web)

 

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ashokbhatia

Why do we hold leadership to be something which is fascinating? Perhaps we do so because of the inherent complexity it represents.

One, it is the outcome of a delicate chemistry between an individual and his/her environment. All individuals have personality traits. Some of these come to the fore under some special circumstances. Take away those circumstances, and the trait may continue to remain dormant for a long time.

It follows that there is as much probability at work here as, say, in the tossing of a coin or in a game of chance. In the realm of human resources, we see examples of dullards becoming heroes in a given situation. In case of brands and organizations, we come across several cases where some which were ‘nothing’, when assiduously worked upon and when the market conditions were right, evolved into ‘everything’ and started enjoying commendable market equity.

Two, experts have…

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Hapless leaders keep getting bombarded with an overdose of new ideas these days. Other than leading their followers into a world where the roses would always be in bloom and where the sun would never set, poor souls are expected to work upon path-breaking ideas. Consultants keep dishing out advice, followed by hefty bills. Other leaders whose scintillating speeches act like Botox shots to the sagging visage of their organizations have to be incessantly tracked. Political outfits of all hues and shapes need to be kept in good humour. Hellhounds of various taxation departments have to be kept at an arm’s length. Relentless window-dressing of quarterly accounts leaves them no time to pause and reflect on the basic meaning of life. Being connected to operations makes it impossible for them to relax and unwind.

Authors and intellectuals, whose contribution to the evolution of our species is dubious in any case, also do not leave them in peace. They keep churning out literary tomes and books which a leader would not touch with a hundred foot pole even on a space flight to a distant galaxy.

Take the case of the latest book on Leader Mindsets. Here are some reasons they can avoid picking it up.

  1. Even though the focus of the book is on universal human values, it appears to be based on an Asian view point. When leaders think of this part of the world, they only remember irrelevant scriptures, outdated religious beliefs, widespread poverty and illiteracy, and a certain lack of decency in public spaces which others on the planet could readily deride. In other words, there could not be much to learn from the book.
  2. At a time when leaders are grappling with the upheavals being caused by Industrial Revolution 4.0, the need is to understand and adapt newer technologies. The underlying belief is that in the times to come, the human dimension is going to be less important. Understanding machines is what should be a priority. Human behaviour has already been mapped thoroughly. Even if one were to understand it better, one would run the risk of ending up being a ‘soft’ leader who is unable to take ‘hard’ decisions, thereby compromising one’s effectiveness as a leader.
  3. The book appears to be based on the premise that to become an effective leader, one has to change oneself – a tough proposition, indeed. There is nothing wrong with the leaders in their present mould; hence, there is no need to tweak anything within them.

The book goes on to propose that having changed one’s mindset, one should help others to change their mindsets. If the first step is undesirable, this one is near impossible; and the next one – that of changing the entire organization – even more so.

After all, management is the art of the possible. Leaders are happy the way they are.

Smart leaders would do well to brood over these thoughts. It would save them lot of time and trouble. Their followers would heave a sigh of relief upon realizing that they have been spared the trauma of being asked to change themselves in any way; that they can trudge along merrily without a care in the world, focusing on immediate and important tasks at hand. If the critical and strategic tasks get neglected in the process, so be it.

Even if the author were to gift a copy of the book to a leader, the latter would do well to either gift it to one of his arch-rivals, or to simply throw it into the nearest waste paper basket. If the shameless author persists by sending a soft copy as well, prompt use of the delete command would be highly useful.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/a-word-about-the-book-on-leadership)

 

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The Spandan (Heartbeat) perspective

   

  • Innate divinity, intrinsic altruism and basic goodness of human beings are determinants of human existence and growth.
  • Spandan (Heartbeat, vibration, pulsation, echo) is the binding element of the entire universe and its living organisms.
  • A Maternalistic style of Management: The Mother as a symbol of – among others – (a)  Nurturing – caring, sharing and compassionate; (b) Faith in basic goodness of others; and (c) Empathy of the highest order.
  • Spandan approach, with emphasis on a high degree of sensitivity towards others’ needs (like a mother) as the quality of a leader.
  • Spandan Spectrum of Human Values 2013.
  • Spandan 3D Process of Diagnosis, Discovery and Development; Inculcation of Human Values in Organisations for sustained success.
  • Functionally Humane Leadership (FHL).
  • Functionally Humane Organisation (FHO).

 

‘I Am Something’ leader mindset

 

  • Leaders operate in three kinds of mindsets: ‘I Am Everything’; ‘I Am Nothing’; ‘I Am Something’.
  • ‘I Am Something’ believes that I am neither above you, nor below you. I am neither in front of you, nor behind you. I am neither away from you, nor near to you. I am along with you. I am however different and distinct. So are you.
  • Self is the pivot: For any meaningful change to take place, leaders themselves have to take the initiative.
  • The process of transformation involves three steps:  Remaking the Self to adopt the ‘I Am Something’ mindset; Facilitating others remake themselves along similar lines; Initiating a mindset change across an organisation.
  • An empirical study done by the author found that as many as 75.55% of those who participated was operating as per the ‘I Am Something’ mindset.
  • A practical roll out of the ‘I Am Something’ mindset is already underway at a company in India.
  • Globally, several businesses show a tendency to veer around the ‘I Am Something’ mindset. Some of the existing theories of leadership match the concept of this mindset.
  • Teachings of Gautama Buddha and Ramana Maharishi relate to the ‘I Am Something’ mindset.
  • With the onset of such technologies as AI, Robotics, Machine Learning, and the like, the importance of human values and ethics in management is bound to go up in the times to come. ‘I Am Something’ is a mindset concept of which the time has already arrived. Leaders of tomorrow need to hone their skills and attitudes in tandem with the impending changes.

 

 

 

 

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You are a leader in any realm of human endeavour, whether managerial, social, political or cultural. You could be an entrepreneur, an institution builder, a Chief Executive Officer, a policy maker or a related functionary, either in the private sector, or in the public sector. You could be serving as a senior officer in a government department. You could even be heading the operations at a non-governmental organization.

You are perceived to be a successful leader. However, somewhere deep within, you carry within you a sense of creative dissatisfaction; a yearning to discover a practical way to transport yourself, your team and your organization into a happier and contented frame of mind. You are keen on going beyond your own professional and personal interests and in getting involved in humanizing your organization.

If so, this book could prove to be a game changer in more ways than one. It makes you see the world around you in a new light, without the filters of your preconceived notions. By making you aware of the kind of mindsets which affect your decision making, it offers a new lens with which you can view the phenomenon we call leadership.  The book then goes on to capture the results of an empirical study done by the author, thereby demonstrating the practical wisdom of what it proposes. Eventually, it offers you a practical guide as to how to go about implementing the changes you wish to make, so as to become a happier and a contented leader.

This book is not about a new leadership theory which might leave you fuming after discovering that it merely offers the proverbial old wine in a new bottle. It provides a fresh perspective on leadership. The perspective it presents has already been tried and tested in real time. Much along the lines of the famous Hawthorne studies of the 1920s, the approach to leadership is being rolled out in a corporate entity in India even as you go through the book in your hands.

The book also presents divergent perspectives on the subject of leadership from different subject experts, touching upon globalization and a bird’s eye view of different theories of leadership through the recent history of management thought. There is an attempt to understand leadership through the basic tenets of Buddhism. It also endeavours to connect the key teachings of Raman Maharishi to the realm of leadership.

The Soul of the Book and Some Crystal Gazing

The soul of the book, however, lies in its unique approach of SPANDAN, or human vibrations. Around the nucleus of this concept, it builds a mighty edifice of propositions which offer the potential of making you a more effective leader.

In the times to come, just how serious would be the threat to human supremacy from machines? In our age of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Machine Learning, Algorithm Analytics and Internet of Things, just how relevant would this new approach to leadership be?

The book proposes that in the impending man–machine conflict, human beings are not likely to suffer the same fate as that of the non-avian dinosaurs which went extinct some sixty-five million years ago. But the writing on the wall is clear. They need to roll up their sleeves and get down to the task of sharpening their soft skills. A humane approach to handling team members needs to be consciously developed.

Transforming Yourself and Others

To sum up, the book, through theoretical propositions and empirical evidence, presents a new way to look at the kind of a leader you could aspire to be, and the potential you have to grow further, making you a happier and contented person, exuding warmth and positivity to those whom you happen to lead.

It provides a fresh perspective which is not likely to lose its relevance in a future replete with technological advancements, environmental challenges and more potent uncertainties which leaders in any field of human endeavour would face in the decades to come.

Chapter-end Tasks on Introspection, Interaction and Initiation (3 Is)

To facilitate your learning process, the author has selected some themes and some quotes from mentors of repute. These are designed to enable you to Introspect at the individual level and also to Interact with others at a small group level. These could also motivate you to Initiate suitable steps at the collective/large group level, so members of your organisation could empower themselves and become more productive and responsible citizens over a period of time.

You will come across these suggestions at the end of some of the chapters. You can develop these themes further and convey the same to key individuals, small groups and large groups, in any form of communication – written, verbal, a group presentation and even a panel discussion. A final report based on collective feedback could assist you in measuring the effectiveness of this approach.

 

 

 

 

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The importance of human values in our lives – whether personal or professional – can never be overestimated. In a book about to hit the market, the author, Professor G P Rao, builds upon his considered belief that managements which choose to ignore this crucial aspect in their decision-making do so at their own risk and peril. Their market valuations take a hit. Their brand image gets dented. They fail to take a long-term view of things. Instead, they end up window dressing the key performance parameters till the time the proverbial bubble bursts. They simply live from one quarter to the next, focusing on immediate deliverables.

In the upcoming book, the author not only proposes a theoretical construct of Leader Mindsets but also takes you through the steps involved in practising the same. Whether by way of an empirical study or by the means of a practical roll-out of the Spandan approach in an organization, results have been gratifying, establishing the value of the ‘I Am Something’ mindset towards the goals of organizations.

As humanity cruises along and takes off on the path of an exponential growth in technology, the need for a Spandan kind of approach would come into a sharper focus. Human values alone have the potential of acting as a rudder, keeping the trajectory of our evolutionary path on the right track. Leaders of tomorrow would find better satisfaction and happiness by adopting the ‘I Am Something’ mindset. So would their team members, were the leader to decide to facilitate their developing along similar lines. A spread across organizations and then across societies would be a logical corollary.

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(The following is an abridged and modified excerpt from an upcoming book on Leader Mindsets, authored by Prof G P Rao, founder of SPANDAN, and others.)

Advances in technology inevitably lead to more efficiencies, better products and improved lifestyles for people. But each leap of faith into the domain of a newer technology brings with it a set of newer challenges for mankind. As machines increasingly take over the drudgery of repetitive tasks and become more intelligent, human beings invariably need to re-skill themselves. This applies to business leaders as well as their followers.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution in the offing now builds on the Digital Revolution, representing new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even the human body.

Skill-sets of the future

As per a World Economic Forum document titled ‘Future of Jobs Report’, employers are said to anticipate a significant shift in the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms for the tasks of today.

The aforesaid report states that of the total task hours across the industries covered, on an average, 71% are currently performed by humans, whereas 29% are performed by machines or algorithms. By 2022, this average is expected to have shifted to 58% task hours performed by humans, and 42% by machines or algorithms. It can be readily appreciated that this signifies a very rapid pace of change, something for which leaders need to be better prepared.

The report goes on to project that skills related to analytical thinking, active learning, technology design and technology competency would grow in prominence. It also proposes that such ‘human’ skills as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation will either retain or increase their value, as will attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving.

It follows that in the impending man-machine conflict, human beings are not likely to suffer the same fate as that of the non-avian dinosaurs which went extinct some sixty-five million years ago. But the writing on the wall is clear. They need to roll up their sleeves and get down to the task of sharpening their soft skills. A humane approach to handling team members needs to be consciously developed, especially when operating in a business environment characterized by a shortage of skilled workers. In turn, this would pre-suppose a higher Emotional Quotient and better service orientation. Even as the reliance on artificial intelligence grows for the analytical part of decision making, the role of intuition would become even more crucial.

A focus on the bottom line

Most employers would go in for innovating through technology if it makes business sense. It follows that technology would continue to remain a tool in the arsenal of the corporate world to squeeze more profits out of their operations, thereby making careers more fragile and impacting labour incomes adversely. With 24×7 connectivity, people are already working longer and enjoying lesser leisure time.

In a scenario of this kind, there is a grave risk that leaders would end up losing a connection with themselves even more than at present and hence end up de-humanizing the work place.

However, values remain indestructible. As an example, honesty and truthfulness in relationships is something which is bound to withstand the onslaught of newer technologies in the centuries to come. Same is the case with empathy, compassion, resilience and a flexible approach in problem solving.

Perhaps there is a need for governments the world over to anticipate newer moral and ethical dilemmas in a proactive manner and influence technological developments suitably, so human dignity and freedom is not compromised.

The perks and the perils

One may also surmise as to how the imminent advances in technology could throw up positive as well as negative factors which are likely to impact the man-machine equation in the times to come.

According to a 2014 report entitled ‘AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs’, published by Pew Research Centre, researchers Aaron Smith and Janna Anderson went to the extent of seeking feedback from as many as 1,896 experts. They found that when it came to the impact of advances in technology upon economic opportunity and employment, the opinion was deeply divided.

The optimists opined that technology would free us from day-to-day drudgery and end up redefining our relationship with ‘work’ in a more positive and socially beneficial manner. They felt that we shall adapt to these changes by inventing entirely new types of work and control our own destiny through the choices we make.

The pessimists amongst those who participated in the aforesaid study were of the opinion that the coming wave of innovation would mostly impact those involved in white-collar work. Whereas highly skilled workers will do better, many more might get pushed into lower paying jobs, and might even face permanent unemployment. They also felt that our educational, political and economic institutions are poorly equipped to handle the challenges which are likely to come up.

The aforesaid piece of research throws up instructive insights into how the future might shape up. Leaders and managers really need to think up some innovative ways in which they would handle a highly polarized workforce, comprising a disgruntled lot at one end and a highly skilled one at the other.

The challenge of creating happier workplaces

Unlike the earlier industrial revolutions, which first created and then changed the skill sets required by our blue collar workforce, the Fourth one promises to change the work profile of our white collar workers.

In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology. According to him, these technologies have great potential to continue to connect billions of more people to the web, drastically improve the efficiency of business and organizations and help regenerate the natural environment through better asset management.

As we grapple to understand the future direction of monumental changes in our socio-economic fabric owing to the next phase of technological evolution, few things stand clear.

One, that our educational institutions are nowhere near the task of training a workforce which would not learn analytical skills by rote but would grasp the importance of creativity, resilience and improve upon their Emotional Quotient.

Two, most of our governments are yet to devise ways and means of regulating issues of protecting individual privacy, executive burnouts arising out of a 24×7 connectivity and heightened civic strife due to growing inequalities. The next phase is bound to create a newer class of elite – those who are adept at newer technologies, leaving far behind those who are not.

Those in the first category could end up believing that they are all too powerful. Those who remain blissfully ignorant and continue to be disconnected to those who are reaping the benefits of newer technologies are likely to gravitate towards a belief that they have no place in the knowledge universe. With poor resources of material as well legal kind at their command, these new ‘have-nots’ of the society may be doomed to languish for a long time, till the governments of the day intervene, willfully or otherwise, and ensure implementation of economic policies which are more inclusive in nature.

The third kind, comprising those left in the middle of the normal distribution curve of technology dispersal, could end up having a balanced approach to issues. In fact, with advances in technology, this kind could well face a higher risk of extinction, paving the way for those who believe themselves to be all too powerful to rule the roost.

The same pattern may become apparent in the realm of management as well. Leaders and executives would need to increase their engagement not only with the society at large, but also with the governments of the day. A massive effort at re-skilling personnel would become a necessity.

A matter of trust and privacy

Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy happens to be of the view that technology is a great leveller. He thinks that technology has improved transparency, conquered distance and class barriers. Also, that it has the potential to create a fair society and enhance the accountability of the rich, the powerful and the elite to the poor and disenfranchised in all societies.

One cannot dispute this. However, concerns regarding an increasing trust deficit remain. Denizens of many countries are feeling increasingly jittery over instances of data privacy. Moral policing, electoral pitching, rumour mongering – all these are fuelling this trust deficit.

One case in point is that of Facebook which is already armed with tools to dig deep into our lives, with the singular aim of moulding our thoughts and opinions about diverse aspects of our lives.

Employees in most organizations already resent living in a virtual fish bowl, where all their communications are suspected to be getting monitored. No one likes to be micro-managed, especially those who are capable and self-confident. Business enterprises have already started deploying tools to monitor employee productivity by collecting and analyzing their activity and inactivity levels.

In the long run, a work environment of this nature would end up impacting productivity, commitment and motivation levels adversely.

The ever-increasing rate of change

One thing is certain. Change is not only a constant. With each passing year, the rate of change is also increasing. Much like Alice in Wonderland, Homo sapiens are discovering that they need to keep running faster and faster, with nary a respite in sight. Mankind is bound to evolve further much earlier than what was believed in the past. Alvin Toffler would perhaps heartily approve of this proposition.

Unlike thought so far, the man machine relationship shall become more integrated with each other in the near future. As a result, the combined force of processing of billions of data points for efficient decision making by machines, and contextual, emotional and intuitive aspects of decision making by human beings, would be, to that extent, higher and greater in their respective impacts – for good or bad.

What can be done to meet the challenge

– Employees, whether present or potential, can go beyond the formal education system and aggressivle look for avenues to hone their skills, so as to remain employable. As Stephen R Covey has said, we need to keep our saws sharpened.

– Same applies to our business leaders, who would do well to improve upon their Emotional Quotient.

– The agenda for educationists and politicians is clear: To keep taking steps to facilitate the change already upon us; to anticipate the challenges of privacy and rumour mongering and to intervene to have appropriate safeguards embedded in upcoming technologies.

(References:
https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2018
“Future of Jobs.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (December 11, 2014);
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/06/future-of-jobs)

(Illustrations courtesy www)

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