Ask…Do not just assume….

I remember, quite a few years back, I was on a trek with a group comprising of few colleagues and a senior of ours. I and the senior colleague were the only two, in that group who had a general idea of the area we were in (at least I thought so). It was early evening and we had to hit our destination before sunset. At a particular junction the senior who was leading the group took a wrong track leading top a ridge line which was actually leading away from our destination. I had an idea that he was going wrong but did not ask thinking since he was senior and had been in that area earlier, knew better.

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Appreciate the Goodness around….

It’s the negative, a wrong, which generally immediately catches the attention and stays in the mind for long. All of us are so good at finding faults with people and things. At times one fault upsets us so much that it completely overshadows the 99 good things on display. 

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Good Communication: Essential ingredient for leadership…..

After a long time, India has a Prime minister who appears convincing and apparently has a large following across all strata of the society. The main reason for his large following is his oratory skill, his ability to communicate, to connect with the people, the target audience. Communication skills are one of the major factors which can make or mar a leader. I had in an earlier blog, (Effective communication…..Key to success….) partly covered the importance of Communication in life in general. Good communication is one of the most important quality a leader must have irrespective of the field he / she is in (military, politics, business etc ).

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Got to have a Goal to score a Goal…..

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Just dreaming and imagining is not enough to be a  winner, you will only win if you decide to win, if winning is your ultimate goal. Most go wrong in selection of the aim, the goal. I have come across many young players for whom representing their state or the country is the ultimate aim. But is that enough? You got to play to win, the ultimate aim being to win for the country/ team.  Continue reading “Got to have a Goal to score a Goal…..”

Effective communication…..Key to success….

 

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Communication is the key to success. Communication may be verbal or non-verbal, just expressions convey it all. Good communication skills are a must to convey a view point, to convince people. You may have the facts and logic right but if you are not able to put across it to the target audience in a convincing manner then you may fail to get their approval. 

At home, the art of communication matters in keeping the happiness index high. Dialogues are any day better than monologues. Allow the kids to express their but most of them may be poor in face to face and written communication. Most of them get nervous with the thought of getting on to the stage. It’s the responsibility of parents and teachers to develop the communication skills of the children. This will help the kids in facing the world, head on, in future. They will not develop cold feet facing interviews or giving presentations. 

In offices, a word of appreciation or even a ‘smily’ through the email from the senior will go a long way in keeping the junior motivated. Hugs still matter and can-do magic. An arm round the shoulder, a pat on the back or a casual inquiry about the well-being helps in keeping the atmosphere stress free in the work places. Hear everyone, take feedback, it positively helps in improving and making the right decisions. Empathy matters more than sympathy in work places. 

Communication helps social interaction. Many professionals have lost out on growth prospects because of bad word of mouth reputation. This doesn’t mean a senior should mollycoddle the juniors. Be firm in your professional dealings and have total control on the language you use and be humane in behaviour. 

“Communication skills matter the most in a professional career and personal life….You can honestly convey whatever you wanted to…..without actually saying much” 

“ Boys …You are likely to lose out on a potential girlfriend for want of good communication skills …..learn to communicate effectively…”

Being Decisive….. The Acme of leadership….…..

 

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The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Amelia Earhart

 

Decision making can be defined in simple terms, as a process of selecting / identifying the best course of action, out of all the options available, to complete a given task. Decision making is one of the most common activities we indulge in, since our childhood, but still find it difficult to accomplish. Decision making is one process which you cannot avoid, try as much as you may. A decision, at most can be delayed but cannot be avoided, even not taking a decision is also a conscious decision someone has taken. 

 Numerous books / articles have been written on decision making process / techniques, a very simple process, which we indulge in, as a routine in our daily life but, may be, do not realise. One doesn’t have to read all those book or articles to understand decision making. Whether you are educated or illiterate the process of decision making remains same. There are set five, six steps which everyone follows to arrive at the decision, whether you are a Managing Director of a big business house or a housewife buying vegetables in the market . 

To start the decision-making process, one has to be clear about the aim or the end state which is required to be achieved. If the aim is not clear your plans to achieve it are bound to go awry. The first step in decision making process is to set a clear, logical aim. There can’t be any ifs and buts in the laid down aim. It should be clearly spelt out and well understood by all concerned. 

The next step is to ascertain if any restrictions have been imposed.   Directions to finish a task by a fixed date is an example of a restriction imposed and has to be analysed in details before coming to a final decision as it may lead to cost, having a direct bearing on the requirement of finances. Likewise, a housewife buying vegetables, may not be able to buy a particular vegetable, though cheapest , because of somebody in the family  being allergic to it . Finances alone cannot dictate a decision. 

Having selected clear aim and analysed the terms / restrictions imposed, the next logical step is to ascertain the resources required to complete the task in the given time frame. Resources will include the work force , machines , finances , the fuel , vehicles etc. A detailed analysis of resources required, based on market survey, has to be carried out to ensure the availability of best quality at the cheapest cost. Vegetable may be cheapest in a particular market but the travel cost being prohibitive may force the housewife to procure it from a nearer market to save the overall cost and maintain quality and quantity. 

Another factor which has to be critically analysed before selecting the best course of action is the time. Time is always constant , number of hours in a day cannot be increased or reduced. Availability of time will dictate the requirement of resources for completion of the task. 

Having seen the time and the resource availability the next step is to analyse the optimal utilisation of the available resources for completion of the given task. This analysis will throw up various options from which the best available course of action, which ensures quality and quantity in the given time frame, has to be selected. After having carried out a detailed analysis of the requirement of resources for completion of the task, you may ask for additional resources or extra time if you strongly feel the requirement. 

Contingencies, which may arise / affect the completion of tasks, have to be catered for at each stage. Enough time and resource cushion have to be maintained to cater for unforeseen eventualities which may affect the completion of task. 

This is what process of decision making is all about. The following factors should be kept in mind for effective decision making :-

(a)      Do not delay taking a decision , too much ,for want of more and more  information. Timely decision making is a must to ensure completion of task in time. At the same time a decision should not be taken in too much of a hurry , unless there is a question of life and death. 

(b)    Do not delay taking a decision for fear of failure. If you have done the analysis well, chances of failure are remote. Certain shortcomings my emerge, which can be corrected on occurrence or later. 

(c)       Do not ever indulge in taking decisions based on votes. Decision has to be based on analysis of the available resources, time, contingencies and restrictions. 

(d)      Arriving at a decision involves the effort of the team. However, the responsibility of taking the final decision is of the team leader.   The leader should be ready to take the responsibility for any failure . 

(e)      Always maintain a record of the decisions taken . Refer to decisions taken in projects /task accomplishments of similar nature , in the past. Gain from the goodness of the previous plan and avoid the shortcomings. 

(f)       Critical analysis of the plans made be carried out on completion of the task to understand the strengths and shortcomings of the plan and improve upon it in future.

 

“ Boys learn from your mother the art of decision making and management . Remember, how efficiently she always met all your requirements , without you ever realising it. Always on time, without ever compromising on quality or quantity”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Own your Presentation…..Be Unique

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Stage fright is something which most of us suffer from . Not many of us are comfortable being on a stage performing or delivering a talk to a large audience. could never overcome throughout my growing years. It was no different in my case. I was never under pressure for studies (Did reasonably well ) and was reasonably good in sports but getting on the stage was just a Big No for me. The fear of failure , of being laughed at, always got better of me and I avoided stepping on the stage throughout my school life. 

But destiny always has something different in store. The profession I chose for myself demanded public speaking , making presentations or stage performance in some form or the other. With no alternative available I was left with no choice but to question my fear. It was not easy going at all. Those days there were no computers and presentations were done with the help of Over Head Projectors ( OHPs) with slides made on foils. Preparing the slides was a specialised task in itself.

In the initial years I used to try and memorise the script to the best of my ability and squeezed in as much details on the slides as possible, to help out, just in case the memory failed. There was nothing natural about it; very little connect with the audience with the mind more focused on the next line then on the people. Body language was generally very defensive rather non-existent most of the times. But then one learnt from the mistakes and the computers also came in. 

The first lesson learnt was that presentations are not about memorising the script but more about owning the script. The script has to be well researched keeping in mind the mandate of the talk and the intellect level of the target audience. You cannot afford to be wrong with facts and names. Once you own the script you don’t have to worry about the audience and there may not be a need to carry a script on stage. 

Prepare well and develop your own unique style of delivery. Use the rostrum if you must , I do not like being bound behind a lecture stand. I feel more at ease , hands free for making gestures ( should be natural) . I personally do not like carrying any script for reference. One should be as natural as possible. This comes with practice and experience. 

Presentation has to be lively to keep the audience interested / engaged for the desired length of time and driving home the point. The best way is to keep the talk short and simple. Reading from a script is likely to cut off the audience. It’s the novelty and the uniqueness which will hold the attention of the people. 

Use slides if you wish but keep the text to the minimum. Ensure the fonts are readable by the audience. If you have used some quotes or data, give time to the audience to read. Use some good, relevant pictures / movie clips if you can. 

Humour, wherever used should be natural and relevant to the subject being covered. Examples should be contemporary, to make the presentation realistic. The younger generation cannot generally relate to the examples from history or mythology. 

Confidence flows from preparation. Good research of the topic and the audience will go a long way in preparation of an effective presentation. 

“Be unique , Prepare well…..You will never fail in catching the imagination of the audience”