LEADER 'A' or LEADER 'B'? - CHOOSE YOUR OPTION!



A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit. Arnold H. Glasow

We all have a choices to become either Leader 'A' or Leader 'B'.  Leader 'A' as shown in the above pic goes beyond acceptable limits (both upper and lower), however, Leader 'B'  remains with in acceptable limits regardless of pressure or situation.  Let me share a brief example for both Leader 'A' & Leader 'B' from my experiential learning's. 

EXAMPLE OF LEADER 'A'

I do not want to see you in this Organization from Monday, SHOUTED one of the Senior  Leader on Friday late night" during my founding years. I asked, "what happened? Why are you so angry"? He said,"keep your MOUTH shut. I do not want to hear any excuse. then he banged the door and went out".

Being a Junior resource, I was at a loss initially. Upon digging the details, I found that some operating leader complained to him about some data issues and after coming from his office, he just launched.  After an hour, I called him and said "I have found the issue and have sorted it out. The mistake was committed by a senior colleague by oversight and I personally have nothing to do with it. He heard me and said, OK.

Monday, I met him expecting that he will express regret for his behavior and asked him, "Do you TRUST me"? He said, "on the trust scale, sometime I found  you 7 and at times 3 or 4". I said, "TRUST is a TRUST, either you trust or you don't. Anyway, I have LOST my TRUST in you. I love this company. Will you find me another job or should I find myself"?  I did find another job....

EXAMPLE OF LEADER 'B'

I saw this BOSS of mine first time wearing a necktie with an impeccable suit. He was supposed to make a presentation to C suits Executives that included his Bosses Boss. The presentation was scheduled at 9.30 AM winter morning in late 1990's. 

I reached office at around 9.15 AM and then he asked me to quickly take the OHP print out. (An overhead projector [OHP] is a machine that has a light inside it and makes the writing or pictures on a sheet of plastic appear on a screen or wall. and rushed for a meeting). 

At 9.30 AM, he called me from reception and asked where are the slides. As it was winter and our computers were not that fast, it took ~ 10 minutes for it to warm up and after 3 slides, the plastic sheet  got stuck in the printer. I told him that I have taken print out only on 3 sheets and he said, bring the sheets.  I took 3 sheets and gave it to him and he said, "give the rest to MD's secretary" and I did so.

After the meeting, he came to me and congratulated, Thank you Raj, thank you so much. It went very well and credit goes to you! 

I said, "sir, it seems there is something wrong with you or you think I am  a politician son". He asked what do you mean". I said, "instead of SHOUTING at me, you are congratulating me?" He asked, "why should he be shouting at me?" I said, "I did not get you the print on time, what if, other prints would not have come out". 

He said, "then it is SHAME on me if I can not present about my function without  PPT's. I have no reason to SHOUT at you as I TRUST you! Do I not know that you come by bus and would have started 30 Minutes early. Were you not here till 9 PM despite being unwell yesterday and worked on creating the presentation". I said, yes "I did start 30 Min early but there was much of rush. I could not get into the bus". 

"Now you understand Raj, that I do not have any reason to get angry with you, rather you did the best that you could and hence credit goes to you for making it a success", he said. 

Through these and various others positive  or not so positive incidents that I came across during my formative years, I learned a lesson that when I am going to be in a position of authority, in all situations, I MUST  

1. Instead of reacting, reflect and then respond
2. Either you Trust or you don't.
3. As a Manager, always remain in control and  maintain your EQUANIMITY
4. If you make a MISTAKE, accept it and say SORRY -  it will only enhance your stature.
5. Act on your GUT FEEL fearlessly.
6. Know your function well and always be ready to present with or without PPT's.

Does workplace wellness strategy needs make over?


“The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel, and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.” Anthony Robbins


I participated in a round-able discussion titled as "Design thinking to create winning employee wellness strategy" Oganized by People Matters along with Sanofi Pasteur on 12th April in Gurgaon, India. The debate and discussion that ensued propelled me delve deeper and to think whether the employee wellbeing agenda is at the forefront of Leadership mindset and significance and positioning that is required to be attached with the workplace well-ness Strategies of the organization are currently being practiced in the corporate world?

As per Constitution of the World Health Organisation, one of the key Principles defines Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. While there is an extensive debate about efficacy and limitation of this definition in the larger Pharma world, the Corporate World has already started adopting strategies to redefine work-place wellness strategies where Wellness is not just limited to physical, emotional or social well-being, however, the scope is being expanded to include environment, intellectual, career and financial inclusion as well.

Workplace wellness programs have twin objectives - improve employees health resulting in enhanced morale and motivation and and lower their employers' health-care costs that impacts the bottom line.  While the direct linkages of organization workplace wellness strategies to employee productivity, customer satisfacation index and hence its leverage as a competitive business advantage is being worked upon and debated, however, time has come in for corporates to think eclectically and leverage its impact.  Few of the challenges that I see constraining organisations amidst changing workplace dynamics from leveraging its full potential are as follows : -
  • While there is a lot of talk, pomp and show about workplace wellness in organizations, however, expanded commitment of top has potential to further broaden and deepen it.
  • Are wellness leaders going to be responsible for employees careers and for ensuring that they have the right environment, if so, are we open to relook and shift existing organizational structures?
  • Enable & encourage employees to take vacation and come back rejuvenated. While working in USA, UK, I found taking time off work is part of workplace habit, however, in Indian context it is something that we need to work on shifting employee mind-set where accumulation over rejuvenation is given a priority.
  • A reactive approach to implementing wellbeing policies rather than focussing on prevention.
  • It is a common knowledge that when employees feel their work is meaningful and they are valued, supported and appreciated, they tend to have higher well-being levels, be more committed to the organisation’s goals and perform better and adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. We as HR Leaders need to ask question to ourselves - Are we leveraging the power of existing data and doing relevant diagnostic to design program and practices that suits the context of the organization or just picking up of the shelf program and practices here and there and doing it, as it is fashionable now to do so.
  • How are we going to deal with our obsession with direct cost vs indirect cost i.e. cost of presenteeism where employee is present in office, howoever, not working?. At times, such cost could be higher then absenteeism.
  • Our ability to understand significance of mental health and its impact in the workplace. Mental health problems can affect anyone in any industry and yet mental health is often still a taboo subject. I got exposure around it while working in UK and found it is still a taboo subject there to. While creating awareness is the first step, it is important that we work with Mangerial and leadership groups to bring a cultural shift to ensure that they are able to look at clues that help them identify creeping Mental Health problems, understand, empathize and see employee mental health as a priority against other operational demands.
While I see governments world over including India are taking steps to enhance overall public health well being of their citizens, It is imperative that employers make employee well being a core business priority as healthy workplace, enhanced productivity and increased employee engagement are interdependent. Promoting holistic wellbeing in the workplace is not only important for employees, their employers, however, also important fro the economy and society as well. It offers a win-win all round. Employees benefit from better support for their health. Companies benefit from less absence and improved productivity, higher customer satisfaction and society benefits from improved public health.

100 HR Super Achievers Award - I owe it to my career influencers!!!

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward

Having received Global HR Excellence “Exemplary Leader Award” for contribution in HR Arena at the Asia Pacific HRM Congress’ 2010, it feels amazing to be now counted amongst "100 HR Super Achievers of India" bestowed by World HRD Congress in association with The Times of India on 16th Feb-2018 at Hotel Taj Land End Bandra, Mumbai in a ceremony where more than 1000 delegates from 132 Countries participated.

Getting Industry recognition is not only a privilege, however, also an opportunity to express gratitude to various leaders, colleagues and friends who have contributed immensely in shaping your career. Here is the list of my Leaders without whom I won't be there where I am today! I can't thank them enough ever!


Vineet Sharma for instilling confidence in me, showing me through his deeds what Leadership is all about which helped me not only build a solid career foundation, however, also helped in my becoming a fine human being. 

Lex Hoekstra taught me what it means when we say "Respect for Individual" and how tough guys get going when it get tough.

Joan Amble taught me art of appreciation, coaching & guiding people to achieve their potential. 

Srikant Karra for giving me my first break in HR post ops stint and helped me excel in the art of HR transactional spectrum which was a pre-requisite to build a solid HR foundation.

Atul Chugh emphasis and push on developing team members "Lift them and they will lift you", was crucial in helping me develop career facilitation & coaching skills.

Saurabh Govil for  giving me a chance to work in HRBP role & showing confidence that a successful HR shared services Employee can be a fine Mainstream HR too!

Rohit Bhayana for kicking me hard to develop Business Acumen, Change Management and cultural transformation skills.

Biplab Adhya for Perceived Connotation - Always see it from other point of view. Best of intention can go wrong if you don't. 

Pratap G for Executive Suaveness, HR strategy, different strokes for different folks and Empowerment

Piyush Mehta for relationship building and how to navigate  through organizational interpersonal dynamics.

Vivek Gour for guiding me in his own inimitable style at crucial career juncture and telling me the skills that I need to build to rub shoulder with big daddies and also highlighting potential risks.

Ashish Khera : Operational Excellence & bias for action.

Sriharsha Achar for empowerment and creating engaging and happy workplaces.

Nipun Bhatia for pushing me to go beyond normal work approaches and build industry connect & credentials. 

Ranjan Bandyopadhyay for helping me evolve and add significantly to my experiential learning's and providing guidance and support at every critical juncture while exposing me to different facets of HR with scale and complexities including cultural sensitivity exposure through an international stint.

Nupur Mallick helped me learn how to adapt to shifting dynamics, significance of working on unconscious bias while giving me an opportunity to interface with Lynda Gratton who really made me sit up and think about future of HR & HR practices. 

Pramod Bhasin, Tiger" NV Tyagarajan, Afzal Modak, Abidali Neemuchwala, Dinanath Kholkar, VK Raman, N Sarma, Milind Dhuru, Bawa Grover, Anupam Singhal, Eleni Nicholas are some of Leaders that I have looked up to who has directly / indirectly helped in shaping my thought leadership.

There are people in our HR Industry who have implicit influence on me since my young age include Dr Aquil Busrai, Santrupt Misra, Prabir Jha and Marshall Goldsmith - a chance 1 on 1 meeting many years back due to flight delay helped build lot of perspective.  

Also thanks to Talees Rizvi, Sundeep Chandra, Dr Arun Sacher, Ester Martinez and RL Bhatia  for helping me add to my experiential learning's through multiple industry interface.  

Thank you everyone and I express my gratitude to all of you for directly / indirectly shaping me through my career journey so far!

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