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How do I fasttrack myself as a leader?
Dec 23, 2014
As an invited speaker, I was addressing a group of young engineers and budding leaders in Chennai recently. This team was in an offsite meeting with their CEO. My session started just after they completed a group meditation session with the help of a professional. All those brains were so refreshed and I got an incessant rain of interesting questions as soon as I finished my introduction. Some of those questions that inspired me (because people were sharply thinking in the right direction) and my answers are as below.
Q: What steps should I take to learn to effectively lead others?
A: The first step in becoming a leader is to learn to lead the self in a positive direction. The problem is simplified because you have only yourself to influence. If you are able to place yourself strongly in your circle of influence, people will get to notice with time and you will even get some automatic followership. The takeaways from this exercise will give you wonderful insights on how to lead others.
Q: It seems as I grow up in my responsibilities I need to multitask, How do I effectively multitask?
A: Humans are not built for multitasking. Some simple routine multitasking could be possible for humans. Modern computers are good at multitasking, because they do not feel emotions in their control center. A multitasking human sometimes is a threat to himself/herself and others. Imagine somebody driving and speaking on the cellphone at the same time. The best alternative is to use as many brains available to get multiple tasks done. Learn to trust others and delegate/enable.
Q: How do I jump into an unknown area/domain without feeling fear?
A: You don’t feel discomfort when you are asked to do something which you have done several times before. You feel discomfort/fear when you are required to do something that is completely new for you. It is the uncertainty in the task and the consequent fear of the unknown, potential failure and the consequent social rejection that cause discomfort. Humans are built with strong internal safety and warning mechanisms. These mechanisms do their job pretty well. Should you succumb to them or use them as guidance? The fun of bungee jumping is realized when you take that first step and jump. You worry about the next step after getting to that first step. You deal with the next successive steps as you get there. Your risk mitigation is your trust on the proven umbilical cord. Use your excellent brain to install proper risk mitigations and jump right in to that first step. Gradually make unknowns into knowns. Celebrate each small win.
Q: Have you ever felt emotionally down because you were unable to handle tough situations or people? What did you do in those situations?
A: Yes. I have. In many such instances, I have a great friend in my wife and I talk to her. She has been a great support. She knows it is important to keep silent and listen. Many a times that is all that is needed for me to recover. Develop such a partner in your best friend, spouse, colleague or parent. You will be fine.
Q: How do I sharpen myself? Give me a tool.
A: I spend 10 minutes everyday and write a diary. I don’t capture history of daily events. I see no meaning doing that. I write three things I did well and three things I could have done differently during the day. This 10 minutes of investment is part of the core strategy of leading myself. The learning and sharpening I get from doing this is immense.