28 Nov 2019 19:17 IST

Some inspiration to get you through difficult times

This second set of snippets from LeaderSpeak celebrates the column’s century mark

In the last post, which was our hundredth, we said we’d celebrate the milestone by capturing some of the snippets from the last 99 posts; 50 were featured in the last column and here are the other 49:

51. UFC Champion George St Pierre said: “I always train with better wrestlers than me, better boxers than me .. When you train with people who are better than you, it keeps challenging you...”

52. “Stop defining ourselves by what we do and define ourselves by what we have.”

53. “Khosrowshahi was all that Kalanick wasn’t or couldn’t be: humble, a good listener, and a diplomat. In a pointed reversal of Kalanick’s mantra, he would say: “We don’t have a PR problem; we have an ‘us’ problem — we have behaved poorly.” — Bloomberg article

54. Leaders need to ask themselves — what or who is truly important. Is it right to gain short-term benefits at the expense of clients? Is it right to take unfair advantage of a supplier because you simply are in a position to? Is it right to access confidential and proprietary information and use it unfairly?

55. tasmād asaktaḥ satataḿ;kāryaḿ karma samācara

asakto hy ācaran karma;param āpnoti pūruṣaḥ

Therefore, only those who act without being attached to the fruits of his action, but as a matter of performing his duty, can attain the Supreme. (Gita 3.19)

56. Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO: “Dr V brought in his own set of constraints when he insisted on a particular mode of delivering care. He said it had to be high-quality, compassionate care and that it also had to be affordable and sustainable.” But Dr V created possibilities with his ‘and’ thinking.

57. “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Mahatma Gandhi

58. “If you love me, then don’t indulge in any violence and let peace prevail. I don’t want any more lives to be lost.” — Imam of Asansol, Mohammed Imdadullah, whose 16-year-old son was lynched by a mob.

59. A record of keeping commitments, builds trust.

60. “If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.” — Elon Musk

61. Harvard Professor Emeritus Abraham Zaleznik: “Leaders are ‘twice born’ individuals, who endure major events that lead to a sense of separateness, or perhaps estrangement from their environments. As a result, they turn inward in order to emerge with a created rather than an inherited sense of identity.”

62. Neither Dhoni nor Williamson would fall under the category of the visibly aggressive captain..they both exude a calm and zen-like state that even the most stressful events in the game are unable to penetrate.

63. “I don’t think it will stop racism, them closing their stores for four hours. But I think it was an honest try. They got a conversation going and maybe that’s the best they can do. It won’t change the world but if it got anybody thinking ‘Wow, there are these different lives that we each are leading,’ then that’s something.” — Stanley Nelson, on Starbucks

64. We shouldn’t become like the kamikaze pilot on his 30th mission. When the leadership moment calls, we should be ready.

65. Vikram Mehra, MD, RP-SG group: “We start thinking that we can run marketing sitting out here in our glass offices. I firmly believe if you want to understand what customers want, you have to go out of your offices and go to the customers’ homes.”

66. The leader cannot afford to be a ‘helicopter leader’, giving advice or directions from afar. This is no time for remote control leadership.

67. “I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.”- Indra Nooyi

68. “The effectiveness of a meeting is inversely proportional to the number of participants attending it.”

69. Peter Drucker: “It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”

70. Martina Navratilova: “I don’t believe it’s a good idea to apply a standard of “if men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.” Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honour our sport and to respect our opponents?”

71. A constant urge to learn, to be curious about things is what leaders must possess to give their learning fruitfulness.

72. Without this combination of listening, learning and leading, the new leader risks hearing what actress Elizabeth Taylor may have said to one of her many husbands, “I won’t keep you long.”

73. Swami Vivekananda’s warning for leaders: “Plants always remain small under a big tree.”

74. A R Rahman: “If there is no criticism, you become lazy. But it should be constructive, and it should be the truth. If it’s biased and there's no truth in it, then I don't care about it. If it's true, it helps me grow.”

75. The bazaar leader does not display the command-and-control style of the cathedral leader. She is much more about connect-and-collaborate. It is not just a nice-to-have in the bazaar spaces of today, it is a must-have.

76. The nomad leader is moving forward but often finds places that take him off the path. He is easily distracted. The pilgrim leader on the other hand is focused on the destination and on getting there.

77. More than anything else, our values influence our leadership and creates its impact.

78. That’s the kind of approach the leader-MBA student takes. She focuses on the employer: “What’s your biggest problem and how can I solve it?” It isn’t about me.

79. Laurence J Peter: “Bureaucracy defends the status quo, long past the time the quo has lost its status.”

80. Agile teams ‘place more value on adapting to change than on sticking to a plan and they hold themselves accountable for outcomes (such as growth, profitability and customer loyalty) not outputs (such as lines of code or number of new products).’ HBR article

81. Customers detest being surprised. They can handle bad news, if it’s broken early and along with a plan to handle the issues. Silence is the bane of customer engagement.

82. Women are better able to appreciate the emotional context and layers in a situation and avoid taking just the logical view. This enables them to go beyond plain facts to see emotions at play, sensitivities that have to be taken into account and loyalties that have to be preserved.

83. The leader’s role is not to follow the majority but to lead it.

84. Employers prize marathoners. They want to know that you’re in it for the long haul. We need to have not just speed, but stamina.

85. Leaders strongly believe in the phrase “no excuses”.

86. Conditional optimism demands action. A leader is willing to demonstrate a ‘get-my-sleeves-rolled-up’ attitude. Complacent optimists often mistake wishes for plans.

87. If we stick with the core principles that we are first human before we are Indian or Chinese or American, if we display the human values that go beyond boundaries, we will find that even when geography is history, the global leader can make a difference.

88. And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong!

- John Godfrey Saxe

89. “Only by changing education can our children compete with machines. Teachers must stop teaching knowledge. We have to teach something unique, so a machine can never catch up with us” — Alibaba Founder Jack Ma

90. In many ways, these three qualities overlap. With humility, comes grace and equanimity as well. This is a more low-profile trio — small and unassuming like David, but leaders who imbibe them can play like Goliath.

91. Delayed gratification is a skill that has to be learnt early. Studies before play. Tough subject before easy subject. Hard earned money rather than easy money. Dessert may be my favourite part of the meal. But it’s best to have it where it belongs — last!

92. Insanity has often been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

93. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

94. One way to counter the confirmation bias is to deliberately look for evidence to the contrary.

95. Going four-fifths of the way down the wrong path is no justification to continue the balance one-fifth.

96. This is a trait and a habit that ‘smell of the sheep’ leaders instinctively possess. They wander around — amongst employees, amongst customers, amongst dealers — they walk, they listen, they talk, they engage, and all this helps them lead better.

97. Walking the talk gives the leader credibility to lead, gives power to her words and makes her decisions trustworthy. This is not something we pick up at business school. This is something we pick up at home, from family members, from role models, from teachers.

98. Kyle Jensen, associate dean at Yale School of Management about WeWork ex-CEO Adam Neumann: “Neumann wanted, and his investors gave him, both his cake and the right to eat it. When public investors pulled up to the table, they realized there was no cake for them.”

99. Rachel Simmons: “What we’re trying to teach is that failure is not a bug of learning, it’s the feature.”

Thank you for walking down the leadership learning path with me through these last 100 posts.