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From Managing to Leading – Five Attitudinal Shifts To Become An Inspiring Leader!

From Managing to Leading – Five Attitudinal Shifts To Become An Inspiring Leader!

Why is it so difficult to find great leaders in the world of work? What is the missing element that makes most super achievers fall short of being super leaders or mentors? What does it take for a skilled manager to become an inspiring leader as well and why do so many managers fail to make this leap? In this disruptive world, there is a burning need for leaders. Much has been written on this topic but there is always space for a new perspective. For today’s post, I invited Nilisha Mohapatra to share her insights on this topic. She has studied and worked in the Human Potential Development field and is a keen observer of people in work environments.

A few thoughts on management and leadership from John P. Kotter before we move on to the insights – he has said that “leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action” and that “leadership complements management – it doesn’t replace it….strong managers produce predictability, stability and order, but leaders create, communicate and implement visions of the future, which enables companies to change themselves in a changing competitive marketplace.”

Organizations are all about its people – which is why, a lot of research has gone into understanding what motivates people! This breadth of on-going research and innovation underlines one fact for me – that people management is the most crucial and most dynamic aspect of an organization. It is difficult too, because there are people involved. So many of them!

So how does one make the shift from managing people to leading people?

There are no cookie-cutter fixes for people management. The more I mull over this, I realize that for me it is all about attitude shifts that we need to bring about, rather than finding tricks for success. It all starts with the mind-set. As Gautam Buddha says, ‘The mind is everything. What You think, You become.’
Let this saying be our Pole Star for this blog post.

Here are my five cents to answer this big question:

1. People are capable and able of owning their careers and their lives. They do not need to be ‘managed’. I believe, all people need, is active mentoring and inspiring leadership. Each individual has a Pandora’s Box of talent within them. I mean it. All it takes is a nudge here, a push there, humaneness and occasional guidance, to unlock this. I have known a lady who continued in a data entry job for 10 years because her seniors believed her capability rested there. The moment she received mentoring to try out something new, she soared. Today she is a successful artist, creating social change using various arts media! This happened when she was at the receiving end of trust, acknowledgement of strengths, encouragement for risks, and effective role modelling. This approach is a belief system shift. It can create magic.

2. Respect people for the choice they make to work with You. The part about the choice here is to believe that many people take up their jobs because they want to do that work. They are drawn to it, have a passion or vision for it. They do not just take up a job for the sake of it.  It is for us to really respect this very choice and nurture it. They choose to join You in the journey/trajectory of your organization and career, to work with you. Not for you. With You. If we can accept and value this, it will go a long way in the team members really having a sense of purpose in their careers, feel more valued and encouraged to contribute more. Engagement will sky-rocket.

3. Invest in people’s learning, and let them grow. At every point of our careers, we all need to learn. We grow because we learn. The higher up we go in our careers and seniority, the more privileged we are to work with increasing number of people. At that point it is then our responsibility as Mentors to facilitate the same kind, or even better opportunities than ours, for our team. Believe it or not, the learning is going to reach you eventually. The beauty of your experience comes into play when you mentor such growth. Investment can be in the form of allowing them to experiment, implement multiple ideas, unleash their creative thinking etc. When you can, create opportunities to invest in your team’s growth. You will foster high performance!

Be instrumental in polishing uncut diamonds.

4. Appreciation: Criticism = 4: 1. It is a scientifically proven fact by psychologist John Gottman that we need to have a 4:1 ratio of positive comments to negative (four acknowledgments for every one correction) in all relationships to have a healthy one. As mentors, we need to LIVE this. This practice really allows you to validate and acknowledge each of your team members for their work. They will feel seen and heard. What is wonderful about this practice is how it opens up the space for each person to receive constructive feedback and accept the room for improvement. If we want them to do more and be more, this would be a great place for us to start with. Genuine validation is all it takes. Start with 3:1 and then get to 4:1.

5. Be Authentic. Be real and allow the person that you are, to come through in your interactions. This is a great way to build a trustful and synergetic environment in your team. This for me is also purely about walking the talk, and leading from within. If you want to motivate someone to be more accountable, you yourself have to take on the next level of accountability. Want your team to take more risks? Demonstrate risk taking. Set the tone with this authenticity. That way everyone knows that You as a mentor will always have their back!

Over time as I have discussed these ideas with people I meet, I have been told that such mentors are a rare breed indeed. And I understand why it is so. Because this is a conscious and persistent choice we are talking about, which will undo years of conditioning, which might have its roots in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution! But I firmly believe that with these five attitudinal shifts, we can really transform the landscape of ‘people management’ into ‘people mentoring’. And that is the need of the hour.

“We all need to be leaders, regardless of our formal title or role. This starts with inner self-leadership and moves outward to influence, guide, support, and lead others. The process of becoming a leader is the same as the process of becoming a highly effective human being. Leadership development is personal development. Leadership ultimately shows itself in what we do “out there.” But it starts “in here.” “~Jim Clemmer – Growing the Distance

Be your indulging mentor. Let it start with you, because You Matter! I believe that the choice to start a phenomenal trend, lies with You. So let it roll!

What have we missed ? What are your observations on making the shift to inspiring leadership ? Nilisha and I would love to hear back and learn from you.

Nilisha is trained as a Mentor Trainer, delivering complex training to Indian volunteers learning to become mentors to disadvantaged children. She has a Masters in Applied Psychology and has transformed herself into a creative and inspiring trainer who both taught acceptance and behaviour change as well as living the principles in her training. This is Nilisha (@NilishaM)’s fifth guest post for Happy In The Now and you can read all her blogs at fantasycluster.wordpress.com


Pic Courtesy :


Five Strategies to shift from a Cost Cutting to a Business Growth mindset through Operational Excellence – Business Operations

Five Strategies to shift from a Cost Cutting to a Business Growth mindset through Operational Excellence – Business Operations


Do more with less is a common refrain in any margin focused organization. But this management guidance should come with a big “Handle with Care” sticker. In the enthusiasm to meet cost cutting targets, sometimes organizations forget the “doing more” part and only focus on the “with less” part. By the time, the realization sets in that the growth engine has stalled, it is too late. And most likely, you are left with an organizational culture where “fear” rules supreme and “fun” is a word that belongs outside the work-place. Result – Bottom line improves in the short-term but starts declining after reaching a threshold. With stagnant or diminishing top-line, no amount of cost cutting can help improve profits dramatically after a certain point.

High performance is multi-dimensional – putting the entire organization’s focus on just costs is counter-productive. While margin improvement is crucial, good solid revenue growth is even more important to build a sustainable, profitable business. And these two goals should not be in conflict with each other. With some discipline and mindset changes enforced in day-to-day business operations, one can successfully do the balancing act so that the organization does not lose its focus on growing revenues while keeping a tight control on costs.

The entire business framework that you work in can be used to influence changes in the right direction. Here are five strategies that I have seen business leaders use successfully to shift the organization to a revenue growth mindset in no particular order:

Strategy 1: Budgeting – Put your money where growth is The key to building a high-performance and growth focused culture is to make sure you consider “‘what“ and “how“ you will get to your destination – the clear guidelines of what you need to do now to reach where you want to be in a specific timeline. And, what better place to define this than in your annual business budget. For example what are the core competencies that you need to develop in the current year so that the growth for the next two-three years are secured? What investments of the previous year have not achieved desired results and needs a change in strategy? What partners and channels needed to be cultivated in current year to be able to stay competitive in the market? While a lot of attention is given on the cost items to achieve the top line for the current year, not much attention is given to the few investments that are needed to accelerate the growth for the longer term. Budgeting is a great tool to ensure that the organization is well prepared and aligned for growth.

Strategy 2: Granularity of Growth – Identify the Growth Drivers –  Research shows that having multiple avenues to growth pays off during good times and bad.  In the book – Granularity of Growth (Wiley, April 2008), the authors identified that increased market-share is seldom a driver of growth. They contend, instead, that growth is driven by where a company chooses to compete: which market segments it participates in and how much merger-and-acquisition activity it pursues in these markets. The key is to focus on granularity, to breakdown big-picture strategy into its smallest relevant components. To uncover pockets of opportunity, executives need to dig down to deeper levels of their businesses and organizations. And of course, get the execution plan in place for the opportunities identified.

Strategy 3: Clarion Call – Aligning the Organization to the Vision – It is critical that every employee knows and understands the vision of the organization and the strategy for growth. Re-orienting people is not an easy job but it can be done if the leadership can clearly articulate the problem statement behind the vision and the urgent changes that are needed to get everyone on the board. The idea here is to get people really involved and committed to growth – logic and reason have their place, but in initiatives like this the emotions of people have to be tapped. Hence the need for a clarion call (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/clarion_call – Appeal, urgent call to action).  And also the need for a re-organization too – to move your best people (sales, operations, delivery) from low growth or stagnant business areas to high growth areas to leverage your talent and shake off the inertia.

Strategy 4: Platform for Ideas – Make Innovation more than a buzz word Innovation is the Petri dish for exponential growth. But without a specific team accountable for innovation (which could be new product ideas, new business models, new markets, new acquisitions or new competencies) the focus on exponential growth is lost in the day-to-day block and tackle for meeting the short-term business targets. One person in the senior leadership should have the mandate to lead this team and the authority to champion and approve initiatives that are separate from the company’s core business and to execute on these initiatives. This provides an ecosystem of a structure, time and resources for a “start-up” within the larger organization to help move beyond the comfort zone and also future-proof the business against risks to existing business.

Strategy 5: Metrics and Rewards –Targets breed Performance – Coming to my favorite topic, setting metrics and commensurate rewards is an important lever to quickly drive and arrive at the behavior needed to go beyond just incremental growth.  For example – setting a target of 5% revenue growth year on year with a slightly higher target for profits is quite acceptable but this can be achieved by a little more push on existing services or products. There is no compelling need to look for completely new sources of revenue or new business models. What is needed here is BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), metrics that can be used to track and measure not only the results but the investments, resources and behaviors that are needed to achieve the goals and of course, equally Big rewards to excite and enthuse the teams to think differently, get out of their comfort zone and act like entrepreneurs.

Profitable double-digit growth can become a possibility and not just a fluke. By thinking proactively and building growth into day-to-day business operations, the cost cutting trap can be avoided. A growth oriented mindset can indeed become part of the organization culture when the management plans and puts in place the systems to ensure that growth opportunities are identified and pursued as diligently as costs are controlled.

What have I missed? What growth strategies have you seen work? How and what have you factored in your plans for next year to enable double-digit growth? I would love to hear back and learn from you.

Picture courtesy : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ytueresburroyyomemonto/2687124044/