How to foster a learning environment at work

Opportunities to learn are everywhere. If only one opens their mind to it. Just how open are our minds to learn Most of us live a lifetime on pre conceived notions, unreviewed and unrevised thought processes and we fall back on canned approaches to all aspects of life. This is because our brain after all is a muscle. And a lazy one. Unless you push it to do things differently it is happy to perform along the set path.

According to a survey done by Gallup, 87% of millenials think learning and self development is important in a job. According to the report ‘How Millenials Want to Work and Live, “59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.” Therefore motivating employees to learn new skills in the workplace should be an important goal for many organizations.

Managers and leaders must create work places that nudge people out of their comfort zones and exercise their minds to learn continuously. In order to foster continuous learning at the work place, one must make learning a part of the everyday and make learning fun.

1. Be accepting of failure and reward learning

A fun evening at the bowling arena with kids threw up some interesting observations on the correlation between learning and failure. When we are in the process of learning something new we are bound to fail at it at first and maybe many times over until we reach some level of mastery over it. Like in the bowling alley, unless you have thrown the ball a few times it is likely that the ball finds itself mostly in the gutter. But I am yet to see someone who does not finish his 20 turns even if every ball traverses only the gutter. This is because, we think its just a fun evening of bowling. While we try our best to get the pins, it is okay to fail.

When there is acceptance and room to fail, people don’t mind taking the chances. The pressure of being ridiculed for failure is a very strong deterrent for many people and this stops them from trying new things and hence learning new skills becomes few a far apart.

It is thus imperative that workplaces foster a positive learning culture where it is okay to try something new and fail at it.

Managers can do this by valuing and rewarding efforts; rewarding learning rather than just rewarding accomplishments.

2. Make learning fun and interesting

As with the bowling arena, one is willing to try their hand at learning something new as long as it is fun. Build fun learning into your everyday processes.

In the past, IBM has used Credly, a digital credentialing platform which acquired Pearson’s Acclaim badging business, to engage employees with its educational offerings. Through this program, employees can earn digital badges based on completion of their courses and demonstrate acquired skills. This kind of digital badging approach not only employs gamification principles but also encourages social currency since employees can post their badges on LinkedIn profiles.

By building learning into the process and making it engaging, managers can motivate employees to embrace learning with out it becoming a chore.

The Haven Communication Model – Intention, action and Words

The Holy trinity of Intention action andcommunication is one that can distinguish a good leader from a bad one. When leaders are able to effectively action their intentions and communicate the same they are able to achieve desired results and outcomes.

Individuals within an organization will look to a leader as a model to develop their own behaviours and decisions. As we said in our last case study on the topic, while people tend to judge themselves based on intentions, they judge others based on actions. As a leader, it is imperative that your behaviours reflect your values and your vision.

Lets say you need to get a buy in from your team on a new initiative, it becomes crucial that you demonstrate its importance through your words and deeds. The leader’s behaviour, actions and words must all  work in tangent to arouse within the team the feelings of trust, motivation and acceptance in order for them to lend their support and devote their time to the goal. Dissonance of any sort between action,  intention and words will lead to feelings of mistrust and delay  or jeopardise the intended buy-in.

Lets see some examples of when our actions don’t align with our words/intentions

When a manager gives a pep talk to his whole team on how important it is for them to put in the hours to meet deadlines but leaves early each day  and especially so on Fridays

When managers  encourage teams to come up with creative solutions but when the solution does not work is unsupportive and criticizes time them for wasting time and  money and belittles them.

When we tell our children that there are consequences for their actions so that they will learn how to behave, but when it comes down to it and the work involved in keeping up the punishment/consequence is too much and we let is go and let them have their way.

In all these cases we see the intention was perhaps right (tomotivate, to encourage and the teach good behaviour) yet when actions don’t match up, the purpose it lost.

In the first case the manager is viewed as a fraud and loses credibility with his team for not walking the talk. In the second he is viewed as a hypocrite (someone who says something but believes another) and in the third case the parent is viewed as someone who can be easily manipulated and taken advantage of.

In my pursuit of understanding the intention – action gap further, I stumbled upon the Haven communication model. This model was developed as a tool to help people understand the various  facets of communication.

Keeping in mind the bigger picture or context of the interaction we can see in this model the interconnectedness between Intention, action perception, interpretation and  feeling .

One of the circles in the diagram above contains the word perceptions.  This word attributes to the inputs we receive from our 5 senses  – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste –In themselves, these have inputs don’t mean much but our brain processes these both consciously and subconsciously to arrive at meaning and conclusions.. It is through this  interpretation that we make sense of all the inputs received by our senses.  Based on our interpretations we experience feelings. Feeling that could be positive or negative Positive feelings reinforce intentions and actions whereas negative feelings make us want to retract and rethink. They invoke mistrust and contempt.

This model can be applied to ourselves to double check if our actions are in sync with our intentions understand the inputs someone may receive from these actions and consider the interpretations and feelings it may evoke in them.

It may also be applied to someone else’s actions and behaviours,   to assess their true intentions or to have a better grasp over a given interaction, situation or a person. Like the  old adage goes, it is one viscous circle of thoughts words and actions,

Watch your thoughts, they become your words;watch your words, they become your actions;watch your actions, they become your habits;watch your habits, they become your character;watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

                                                                             Lao Tzu

The Holy trinity – Action Intention and Communication

It’s the start of New Year and we are all victims of the “resolutions” and “Fresh Start” bug. A viral that is in the air and somehow everyone seems to catch it. And yes, like most viral infections it runs its course and eventual we are cured of it! I am yet to meet an individual who has been able to keep a New Year resolution beyond the 30 day mark.

It is the one time of the year we resolutely attach actions to our intentions. Intentions that may have been around a long time. Intentions that we have had trouble auctioning. Towards the end of Jan or early February, we find it difficult again to keep up and they end up in the graveyard of resolutions.

In the field of psychology this is called the action intention gap. This weakness of will is caused when the conscious aspect of our intentions get disrupted by unconscious, automatic ones, leaving us to respond to the environment around us.

Like when we hear dieters say “I never intended to eat it, it’s almost like my hand moved by itself and reached for it and before I knew it I had eaten it” This is not far from the truth. Research has shown that we do things that are the opposite of our intentions almost unconsciously and we are unable to stop ourselves. This is because our unconscious mind seems to take over unless we are able to program it to not respond and allow the conscious mind to act.

Whatever be the reasons for not being able to keep our resolves, we are, at the end of the day defined by our actions. A lovely quote I came across read “we judge ourselves by our intentions and other by their actions” this could not be truer.

It brings to mind several instances – A manager who thought about a particular team member who he knew could do with a little extra support. He often internally debated on what he could do to support his team member but in the rigour of everyday work pressures and deadline never did action it. While he judged himself on his intention to help, the only thing the employee experienced was a manager who never reached out.

To overcome such pitfalls, It is important to view ourselves from an external stand point. See what others see of us to understand what perceptions we are feeding to.

The third prong I found in this action intention trinity is that of communication. Many times the gap between action and intention can be bridged by communication and greatly widened by non-communication. If we communicate intention to do something we also tend to be more committed to doing it. Similar to how so many people take to social media to keep their resolutions – 100 day run challenge – where someone swears to run a mile or 2 every day and post it – it is hard to get lazy and not do it when you have a thousand virtual eyes watching you!

Communicating our intentions and our subsequent actions also helps us create a value for what we bring to the table and why we bring it at all. It helps our co-workers family and friends understand us better and clearly assign intentions to our actions and actions to our intentions.

It is this Holy trinity of action, intention and communication that will help us manage our selves and manage perceptions effectively.

Hence, as we grow older and more self-aware, this holy trinity of action intention and communication could act us a beacon, leading us to better manage ourselves and how people perceive us.

Triumph and Disaster the two imposters…

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…” is a line inscribed above the entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court, for players see before they battle of the most coveted and prestigious tennis cup.

Indian Born Author and poet Rudyard Kipling, best known for his Novel “ The Jungle Book” is a part of every literature enthusiasts book self. I first came across his poem “ IF” in my first year of college. Like every young person who is on his first sojourns of philosophy and path of understanding the world and the people in it, I was much inspirited. I walked around with in my wallet and wrote a few lines from it on every gift gifted at the time.
It was only much later that I learnt the Interesting story and Inspiration behind the poem.

Kipling had been friends with Dr Leander Starr Jameson who led five-hundred of his countrymen in an unsuccessful raid against the Boers, in southern Africa. The failed ‘Jameson Raid’ was later considered a major factor in starting the Boer War (1899-1902).

Dr Jameson was a brave leader who had to withstand several challenges including betrayal from his peers and biting failure. He had been commissioned by Cecil Rhodes, then Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, to run the raid. This plan to start an uprising as a consequence of the raid, had been encouraged by British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, father of future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

However when Chamberlain heard the raid was to be launched, he was unsure of its merits, panicked and changed his mind. He rallied up the high powers in London against the Raid. Chamberlain ordered the Governor General of the Cape Colony to condemn the ‘Jameson Raid’ and Rhodes for planning it. As a direct consequence of this, Jameson and his troops were attacked and captured even before they could enter Johannesburg. He lost several men of his men in this brutal attack and surrendered.

Jameson, although he had the blessings of the British Government to begin the raid, became the fall guy in the power play between Cape Town and British Government. He faced a brutal trial, yet kept his integrity and silence and never squealed on the extent of support he had from the British Government for the Raid. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Typical of his spirit, Jameson was not broken by his imprisonment. He decided to return to South Africa after his release and rose to become Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in 1904.

He was an inspirational leader with many qualities of integrity, fortitude and focus and determination Rudyard Kipling wrote the Poem as a tribute to the leader and from its 8 verses we can learn several qualities of a good leader.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…” is inscribed above the entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court, which players see before the battle of the most prestigious tennis accolade. There is no such thing as “too many times” to read this poem. I suggest you read it and see how many of these attributes you possess and how many we can work on developing. For then one day you’ll be a man – my son!

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Boardroom Superheroes

Some of the biggest block busters churned from the film industries across the world are centered on superheroes with fantastic powers. Is it possible that there are some leadership lessons we can derive from these popular superhero movies? Since in our work spaces, strive as much as we want, we cannot always be the smartest, wisest or the best.

Watching the movie ‘Doctor Strange’ from the Marvel house of superheroes was a recent addition to my list of ‘things to do’. This list was started to draw up 10 things that I normally don’t do and see if I could push myself to do it. I am not a superhero movie fan to say the least and have often wondered what draws people to them with such fervour. I was soon to find out with this one.

Dr. Stephen Stranger’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a practising Neurosurgeon. His life changes after a car accident leaving his surgery performing hands useless. He is grappling with ways to heal himself. With western medicine offering him no cure to his condition, he reluctantly threads down the path of mysterious enclave and finds himself in Kathmandu seeking his Karma-Taj. He soon learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence. As someone who is not obsessed with superheroes and Marvel Comics (unlike so many people I know) it is easy to brush it off as violent, unrealistic and clichéd. Over the years I have learnt that a movie holds only as much meaning as we make out of it. What we can imbibe from it can make all the difference between good and bad.

In my view that there are there are some great leadership lessons we can learn from it.

1. Our pride limits our possibilities.
Dr Strange is an accomplished doctor and is “full of himself”. With no means to a living, he is forced to give up his pride and look for new ways to find a cure, a new identity and to really find himself again. He must give up his pride and ego and surrender to the ways of his new mystic world to learn about it and become a sorcerer. Although confidence is a necessary thing for most of us to succeed, an excess of it makes us believe that we are invincible. As we see with the outcome of this car accident, Life has its ways of forcing us to step down from the mantels we place our selves upon. The swift and tactful blows it offers, force us to reinvent ourselves. This is inevitable and clearly out of our control. Yet, keeping our pride at bay and etching clearly the line between confidence and vanity will define how quickly you can realign and adapt to new circumstances.

2. Learn from others who threaded the path before.
The good doctor needed to learn at every step of the way. He was not born gifted with his skills to save the multiverse from the dark forces. He had to ask and receive. He had to admit that he did not know it all. And he had to understand that there were others who have faced the strife that he has. We often tend to believe that the whole world revolves around us, our experiences and our feelings and thoughts about it. We forget that this universe if a few million years old. There is more than a good chance that some one has had to go through the same thing before. Others have suffered before what we suffer now. Others may strive to overcome and surely a few would have.

This awareness will also help us realize that we may not always have to create solutions; we merely have to discover them or learn them from someone else. Seeking guidance from those with similar experiences saves us precious time and will offer insights which may elude us while we are in the midst of our journey. As they say “Seek not just the answer but its keeper as well”.

3. Determination Determines your destination:
As is quintessential to most superheroes, Doctor Strange is set apart from his peers by his resilience and unvarying determination. I believe that the factors that determine our failures are the ones that can define your success as well. Like how entrepreneurs fail because their passion blinds them to reason. They also succeed because of their unfazed passion and “Never Say Die” attitude . Our failures and our success are two sides of the same coin.

Doctor Strange is determined and never loses sight of his goals. While he may not be the most knowledgeable sorcerer or the wisest of them he clearly hits a home run with determination.

What we can be is the most determined and the one that puts in the most effort with the goal in mind. We must keep pushing to overcome barriers and find solutions and tackle the challenges on hand to take us a step or two closer to the goal. Solutions tend to present themselves by the very virtue of having relentlessly tried.

Embrace Diversity: Leadership Lessons from the beach

I sit on the shores of the beautiful Arabian Sea, in a remote south end of Goa. Coconut palms, a humble shack with f & b choices and a sprawling expanse of nothingness, dotted here and there with some humans, animals and some picturesque boats and nets. A quintessential escape for the overworked and stressed urbanite.

Paradoxical that the relentless noise and energy calms us. It is a time to pause and reflect. A time to leave the city and its perils behind and look inwards.

However, given that your work persona closely trails you no matter how far behind you may want to leave it, I look for leadership lessons and learning possibilities from the sea.

I watch the waves ebb and tide, some big, some small. Some come in it with some much gusto (only to break like all others ) and some quietly flow by. Some strong and determined, some weak. One came in right out of nowhere, broke long after the others and took back with a large chunk of shore-lined assignee’s.

So much like the sea of employees within each organization. Some shake things up with their presence, some quietly come in and slink into work, some last longer, some crash before their time. They come in all shapes and sizes, flowing in tandem yet each one uniquely different.

As someone who has been in the learning and training industry for over a decade, I can’t help but think, how, if at all, could we tame such a diverse sea?

Is there a typical wave that can be used as a bench mark? Must we benchmark at all and strive for semblance? Does the greatness of the sea not come from its diversity? Is it the ease of administration that makes most leaders treat all employees the same, apply the same tools and techniques and administer the same processes to all? A one size fits all approach to managing, training and talent development?

Perhaps we must take time to notice the differences. Respect the uniqueness in each individual. In quite the same way as the very exercise of mapping a typical wave seems like an unreasonable one, striving to mould each employee into an ideal one, will be a waste of time.

Organizations will benefit from leveraging the differences and uniqueness that each employee brings to the table. Individual coaching and mentoring can help identify individual strengths and enhance performance.

Like being by the sea side, coaching and mentoring can bring about self- awareness and deep listening. For each individual, the way forward is inevitably the one that can be achieved by looking inwards. To reach for purpose and align our individual goals with that of the organization and find the inner reason for competence. The drive from within to reach our full potential and to create impact.

Much like the old adage, “ You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf” leaders must learn to surf and understand each wave to be able to ride them with ease.

Engaging men in women’s leadership issues

What are the responsibilities that lie on the shoulders of men? How should they show their support (apart from words)? How and where can they start advocating for women? How can they bridge the gaps that lie between the sexes at the work place?

With the #MeToo# campaign coming to a head in the last few months, over Sunday lunch, I recently heard a female friend (and a mother of 2 boys) say how times have become tough for the good and decent boys and men nowadays. It was not surprising that most people in the group pounced upon her misplaced sympathy for men and felt a strong urge to be supportive of Women. Yes, there is no doubt women must be supported especially the brave ones who have had the gumption to name and shame their offenders.

But that cannot take away from the fact that there most definitely are the few good and decent men out there who are respectful and supportive of women. We all know a few of these creatures, in our homes and work places. The #MeToo# movement has created some unforeseen gender dynamics in the workplace, including some anxiety on men’s parts to mentor or work alone with women. Also many men who may actually want to show their support are unaware as to how to do so.

These are perhaps conversations that are yet to take centre stage at most organizations. There is a pressing need for organizations to put together information and open dialogues on how men can, on a daily basis, advocate for women and work towards a gender neutral work environment that provide safe, equal and unbiased opportunities for both the sexes.

Here is a pre-emptive list of things men can do.

• Create a culture of respect. Demonstrate respect towards all employees especially women. Culture begins at the top and often trickles downwards. Be mindful of personal spaces, use politically correct language and choose your words carefully when speaking and working with female colleagues

• Men cannot aspire to make a positive contribution without first fully understanding the issue. Find a female colleague with whom you can have a conversation, and seek to understand her experiences as a women working in your organization and on your team

• Communicate to your teams that all concerns and issues will be received equally. This will allow everyone on the team (including the Women) to find their voices and be okay to discuss problems and issues without being judged

• Conversation and getting a women’s perspective will allow one to understand the many under lying biases that prevail at the workspace. Seek to understand mindsets that may be consciously or subconsciously marginalizing women and robbing hem of growth opportunities

• Encourage women to push the envelope and take more risks and ensure they receive the needed support to succeed.

•  Advocate and support equal opportunities and pay

•  Encourage other men to understand the need for elimination of biases and the need to create a culture and environment of growth and respect for both the sexes.

By engaging both genders in women’s leadership development initiatives, we can create more inclusive cultures, yielding better results for individual leaders and for the organizations they lead.

Changing the Ratio: Women Leadership

Why Second guessing themselves becomes second nature to women executives – and what can be done about it. Research has found that women executives spend over 25% of their time trying to “stay on track” and use a checking mechanism to ensure that they stay in the safe zone and leave no room of wrong assumptions and interpretations. This is valuable time lost that could have been used more productively.

Ever worn a great new outfit to work and had someone ask “so who is the guy you are trying to impress” or had to deal with snide remarks/ stares for friendly banter exchanged with a male colleague? Ever wondered and worried if something you said or did would be misconstrued too quickly as being “ flirty” or “too forward” ? Or worried about gossip that can be fuelled from working long hours on a new project with a male colleague?

While office gossip is inevitable, do women spend more time than warranted on second guessing themselves and managing perceptions? Short Answer : Yes.

Should women executives really have to think twice before shutting the door when they need to have a conversation with a male colleague on a sensitive issue? Should they dress down to seem less “in your face”? Should they carefully choose their words, outfits and demeanour so that basic interactions are not misconstructed? Short answer: No

Research has found that women executives spend over 25% of their time trying to “stay on track” and use a checking mechanism to ensure that they stay in the safe zone and leave no room of wrong assumptions and interpretations. This is valuable time lost that could have been used more productively.

More importantly, this checking mechanism grows into a habit for most women and impedes self expression and consequently individual growth. This also creeps into other realms of the work life and lowers productivity and work quality. In short: second guessing equals short changing ourselves!

While we may have no control over the mindsets of most individuals (male and female ) and their perceptions, women executives can control their own reactions and how they approach such unstated and underlying sexualisation of women. The best reaction would be to not react: to remain unaffected and focus on results and work quality. Not reacting saves you time, teaches you resilience. Most of all, not reacting and being unaffected also takes the fun away of targeting you. Given that humans are wired to not do the things that are no fun, this could be an effective strategy.

We must also ensure that we do not fall prey to judging other women and propagating mindsets that we would not like to be at the receiving end of. Given that the ratio of women in the work force is surging and trends northwards, women executives would do well utilize this 25% of their time to hone their leadership skills and advance their careers.

Series on Examining Biases and Mindsets – Group think & Confirmation Bias

Why is that perfectly rational and logical men and women, when part of a group, question their own thoughts and believe that if everyone thinks in a certain way that MUST be the way to do it. Read on to understand the unconscious bias that Group Think creates in minds of many…

Great sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, Grand Slam and the Olympics, capture the World’s attention and offer us many insights into the human spirit and mindset. The recent US Open that concluded with 20 year of Naomi Osaka beating Serena Williams, who holds 23 Grand Slam titles, in an unprecedented win, has opened doors to much speculation and controversy. While Serena’s behaviour on court and the repercussions it led to, is a whole new plane of discussion, what was disturbing, was the crowd’s behaviour. The pro-Serena crowd seemed to have grown a new-found fondness for booing. While booing every time she was given a penalty can be understood, they continued their booing well into the award ceremony. The booing was so persistent, that the young Osaka who deserved every bit of her win, actually apologised to the crowd for winning. She said she knew they expected a different outcome and was sorry for how it turned out!!! Unbelievable and just plain Sad!!

But this really can’t be the first time sport fans have behaved in less than desirable ways. Every country has its share of embarrassments for fans going berserk: torching items, destroying public property, becoming unruly and violent and much worse behaviour! The interesting part being that many individuals who are part of these mobs are likely to be very reasonable, law abiding and sensible individuals who use logic and reasoning as a precedent to most of their actions. Yet, we will find them booing when a part of them knows it is wrong, going berserk and violent, when they actually do know that it is not something they normally do and most likely don’t subscribe to such behaviour in general.

What then are the triggers?
Psychologists have studied this behaviour termed such phenomenon as mob mentality
Mob mentality is the mentality by which people adopt the behaviours and opinions of their peers. They are unable to take a stand that contests that of their peers and go with the flow
We see a more refined version of this mentality at the work place as well, commonly known as “group think” & “Confirmation Bias”.

Take for example, the American Auto Industry in general. American Auto Manufacturing Industries as a whole, for decades viewed their enormous growth, productivity and profit, as an unbeatable economic force. Over a few decades they cultivated a culture and leadership that believed that they were the undisputed leaders and that they knew exactly what car loving Americans wanted.

Despite the rising influence, innovation and appeal of the energy-saving small cars being marketed by foreign automakers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, American manufacturers continued producing the vehicles they thought would perform best-huge fuel-inefficient SUV’s and Minivans.

As the markets shifted, the auto industry slumped. Same with Swiss Air. The money spinning airline made a series of wrong organizations changes only to wreck it’s future and empty it coffers, with the full support of all its top leaders and key stake holders.

Then one stops to wonder why no one saw it coming? Why were brightest minds in the Auto Industry and a leading airline, blind to the perils of their decisions?

Psychology Professor Irving Janis studied many such fiascos. He concluded that members of a close knit group cultivate team spirit that often supersedes the niggling voice in their head that could be telling them that they should inspect and analyse before agreement. Instead they question their own thoughts and believe that if everyone thinks in a certain way that MUST be the way to do it.

Janis documents some symptoms of group think, as quoted by Psychologists for Social Responsibility:

1. Illusion of invulnerability – Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.

2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.

3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical / moral consequences of their decisions.

4. Stereotyped view – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.

5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.

6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.

7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous. Continue reading

Changing the ratio – Women Leadership

Is there something about sports that sets Women up for Leadership roles? An Ernst & Young survey of 821 high-level executives and found that 90% of women sampled played sports. Among women currently holding a C-level position, this number rose to 96%. Leaders who stand up and hold their heads high every time they fall, leaders who push, cheer and string their teams to success, unbroken spirits that have clear goals and victories in sight. Girls who knew they could win. Girls who would not give up.

I recently was at my son’s state level basket ball tournaments and had the pleasure of seeing some determined young boys and girls playing ball like their life depended on it. The tournament comprised of teams from various towns and districts of Karnataka, spanning the length and breadth of the state.

The most intriguing of the lot was a girl’s team, from an interior town of Karnataka. Every single girl on the team had short cropped hair and an iron will to make every move count and every ball through the hoop. Their resilience and grit showed on their faces and passions ran high. One girl suddenly had an Asthma attack and had to be carried off the field. Despite her condition, she tried her best to stay on the field insisting that she will be okay very soon. And rightly so, within 7 precious minutes of the ticking field clock, she was back to her ball handling position and ran the court like she had the wind beneath her feet, adding more fuel to the passions of her team mate. I could see in their young 13 year old faces, capable and strong leaders of tomorrow.

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was the captain of the swim team and also played university lacrosse, tennis and basketball. She is quoted as saying that she often uses her on field game strategies to run her company.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi played cricket in college. Sunoco CEO Lynn Elsenhans played on Rice University’s first women’s basketball team.

Many women leaders who have played competitive sport agree that sports has been fundamental to their success as business leaders. Research has found many reasons why playing sports can boost the odds of success in either business or in the corporate world.

Sports builds character and fitness:
Playing competitive sports keeps one mentally and physically fit. Players get used to strenuous and regimental schedules, exercise and play sessions which create positive associations with hard work and results. Sports promotes integrity and teaches one early on that hard work , sincerity and steadfastness form the basic tenets of a winner.

Sports promotes resilience:
Everyday day on the sports ground is a lesson in failures. Children in sports learn from a young age that when you fall the ONLY thing to do is get up, brush yourself off and play again. Failure and success is part of an everyday routine. This lesson takes them a long way in life. They learn resilience and that no failure is big enough to give up.

Its okay to want to win:
This by far is the biggest reason why girls need to be exposed to competitive sports early in life – because playing sports makes it okay to Want to win, okay to be competitive, okay to not compromise, okay to beat the odds, okay to defy the naysayers and plough on to success. Women leaders of today acknowledge that without this basic mindset, women succumb to societal expectations of compromising and feel uncomfortable being competitive.

Leaders of tomorrow are born on today’s play grounds and sports must be encouraged and boosted at the school level to empower our women to be significant and prominent contributors to tomorrows workforce.