Case Studies in Diversity and Inclusion – Part 2

In our first part in this series of case studies, we took a sneak peak into Accenture’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy and how it is becoming an integral part of Accenture’s business as well as its organizational culture. Another significant game changer in the D & I space is Cisco, with its unique and hard hitting approach.

Unlike most companies that are diverse at the lower ranks, CISCO stands out in its D and I efforts because it is diverse at the top. Cisco believes that change must begin from the top and has worked towards creating strong yet diverse leadership at the top. However it also recognizes the need to create similar role models at all levels in order to percolate the right efforts and mind-set downward across all functions and ranks of the organization.

All this began with a breakthrough understanding that when diversity and inclusion is made everyone’s responsibility, no one is entirely responsible and no one is assuring results or changes. Hence, Cisco appointed the first ever Chief inclusion officer and instating the office of inclusion and collaboration, and office with the authority and focus to bring change in a tangible and meaningful fashion.

Pay Parity: Shari Slate, VP, Chief inclusion officer at Cisco believes pay parity is nothing but a simple issue of fairness. Cisco knows that its edge in the industry comes from its people and not merely its technology. So it focuses on ensuring that everyone who works for Cisco is paid fairly for the work they do, regardless of gender or ethnicity. When it comes to pay parity Cisco has lead the way by singing the White House Equal Pay Pledge.

To further their cause of pay parity, Cisco no longer asks US job candidates for their last pay slip and how much they made on their last job. Cisco is now basing their salaries on market data, candidate experience and expectations, and the level and location of the role.

Cisco Life Changer Program for inclusion of the differently-abled: Cisco LifeChanger is a ground breaking, award-winning program that was developed by Cisco employees with a passion for inclusion and innovation, and a strong desire to address a critical challenge. To break down barriers to employment and limited access to employers, the passionate volunteers behind Cisco LifeChanger developed novel applications for Cisco’s voice, video, and collaboration technology, and combined them with process improvements, to transcend location, accommodation, and mobility issues.

The result: people with disabilities can seamlessly join teams and contribute value. By overcoming barriers to employment, Cisco is creating new possibilities for how we can change the way the world works, tap into the tremendous untapped potential of people with disabilities, and change lives.

Multiplier Effect: With the boldest idea to date in Diversity and Inclusion yet, Cisco initiated the Multiplier effect pledge, to leverage the power of sponsorship to accelerate the pipeline of diverse talent. The pledge brings in thought leaders and executives within the tech industry to pledge their support and sponsor one diverse candidate and thus multiply the growth. The belief that a candidate can grow immensely and contribute their full potential if they receive dedicated support, sponsorship and guidance form a leader, makes this pledge one that creates a ripple effect and helps the entire industry and landscape reaps the benefits from a diversity and inclusion strategy.

Equally accepting and including everyone with a sense of fairness and respect is simply what should have been a part of everyone’s every day life. Yet, we have come to live in a world where we need to remind ourselves of our uniqueness and that of others and acceptance has sadly become a gift and not a right. However, with concrete efforts such as these from tech behemoths, there is hope that equal opportunity is slowly but steadily becoming a reality.

Case Studies – Companies that are changing the equation with Diversity and Inclusion

Corporates are beginning to understand the societal and business benefits of creating organizations that have diversity and inclusion at the very heart of their business. While being a proponent of diversity and inclusion in the workplace can be a great talking point and be pivotal in creating a aspirational image of an organization, making D & I an actionable and a working reality is not a simple task. It requires mindsets, policies, awareness and expectations to align not just across leadership but one that also percolates across all levels of the organization.

Let us look at a few organizations that are making diversity and inclusion part of their DNA and creating some best practises along the way –

Accenture: Being ranked number 1 in the Thomson Reuter’s Diversity and inclusion index, Accenture takes it diversity and inclusion seriously. As a business imperative, every person at Accenture has the responsibility to create and sustain an inclusive environment. Their website quotes that Accenture believes “no one should be discriminated against because of their differences, such as age, ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, religion or sexual orientation. Our rich diversity makes us more innovative and more creative, which helps us better serve our clients and our communities.”

Accenture also believes that by making every one of their 4,00,000 plus workforce feel valuable and included they are able empower employees to bring in their “Best Self” to the workplace.

Some concrete steps embraced by Accenture include striving towards having a gender neutral workforce by 2025, hiring and working extensively with people with disabilities and supporting the LGBTQ community.

Gender Neutrality: With their “50 by 25” goal which announces their effort to be gender neutral by 2025 and employ 50% women in their workforce, Accenture has taken a number of steps to attract, retain, advance and sponsor women on its path to achieving a gender balanced workforce, including:

  • Launching initiatives that provide women employees with skills and puts       high performing women on fast track programs
  • Collaborating across business and government to promote gender equality in the workplace, with commitments and pledge programs that include the White House Equal Pay Pledge, Paradigm for Parity, and Catalyst CEO Champions for Change – each of these promoting collaborative efforts towards a gender balanced workforce.

Enabling persons with Disability: Accenture actively hires and works towards retention and inclusion of people with disabilities across their several offices around the world. They are working towards enabling every employee to fully interact with technology regardless of functional disabilities. They also are empowering persons with disabilities every day through their Global Persons with Disabilities Champions Network which organizes local networking, collaboration, mentoring and awareness-building activities for persons with disabilities—as well as caregivers and colleagues—throughout the year.

Supporting the LGBTQ Community: With the innate belief that diversity makes them more innovative, Accenture provides an inclusive environment for all employees without discriminating on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Some concrete steps taken in this direction include clear cut guidelines for recruitment, and retention and promotion, professional development programs, Equal pay and benefits, including insurance for gender affirmation surgery in certain countries. Accenture also fosters several resource groups across 45 countries and has over 100,000 members in their global ally programs.

Accenture in its efforts and ambitions of being a front-runner in the diversity and inclusion space, is proving that although diversity can add complexity to the workplace, it needs to be nurtured through cultural competence to create an environment of inclusion. Doing this will give an organization a competitive advantage and diversity will become a bottom line contributor.

Look out for our next post for anther D & I Case study.

Inclusion in India Inc

India is a sum total of several diverse cultures, languages, ethnicity and castes. Differences and similarities coexist and are complexly intertwined into the very grain of India. This makes India a highly complex yet compelling landscape to better understand the role of Diversity and Inclusion in Corporate India.

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of government and well as private corporation led policies and initiatives to bring diversity and inclusion into the main stream lexicon. Some of the noteworthy developments are India’s market regulator mandating listed companies to have at least one woman director on their boards, amendment of the Section 377 extending rights to the LGBTQ communities and Extension of maternity leave to six months. Studies and research has shown that such initiatives that help companies develop a more broader and global mindset, and more importantly help them reap immense benefits including better market positions, greater customer satisfaction and more robust bottom lines.

Yet there lies a vast difference between diversity and inclusion, terms that are used interchangeably quite often. As diversity advocate Verna Mayers quoted, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance” while focus on diversity will ensure your organization has a ‘Mix’, policies and focus on inclusion will ensure that this ‘mix’ works in a way that is meaningful to both the employees as well as the company.

While various hiring and retention manifestoes can help companies achieve diversity, focused policy and mindset changes are required for the purpose of inclusion.

Let us look at the Godrej India Culture Lab who has been working on a project that specifically makes the case for corporate India to embrace the 4.9 lakh documented transgender people in India, 92% of whom are still unable to participate in the formal economy, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

At the culmination of the project, a paper titled, ‘A Manifesto for Trans Inclusion in the Indian Workplace’ was presented by Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab, with support from the Keshav Suri Foundation, Humsafar Trust, Periferry, TWEET Foundation, and Community Business.

This manifesto, apart from highlighting the history of transgender people in India and various other data, also make a case on why hiring and inclusion of LGTBA community into mainstream corporate world can have many financial and other benefits for an organization. While supporting data and research finds can make a compelling case for the hiring of the LGBTQ community, The process of including and integrating them into the workforce is one that can pose many challenges and obstacles. The transgender community of India has been one that has been historically highly marginalized and have borne many social stigmas and discrimination for several hundred years. The latter half of the Manifesto also acted as a ‘How to’ guide for companies to adopt inclusive hiring practices sensitizing current employees, widening the scope of health insurance and medical benefits, rethinking restroom infrastructures, and implementing policies like gender neutral adoption leave and equal opportunity benefits.

It cannot be overlooked that there are some real cost implications in the short term, however in the long term companies which demonstrated a whole-hearted and deep reaching focus on inclusion have reaped many benefits such as coveted employer credibility, more wide spread revenue streams and greater employee engagement and retention.

Follow your yellow brick road – The Wizard of Oz

“You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas”, says Glinda in the last few scenes of the “Wizard of Oz”. The Wizard of Oz, is a 1939, Technicolor movie based on the 1900 novel by Frank L Baum. A beautiful but lengthy tale of a young girl and her dog, Toto who have a gruelling yet enlightening journey in a strange land full of witches, flying monkeys and magical shoes.

Dorothy, the protagonist, had been whisked far away from her home. Her home had been blown away in a prairie storm, and landed in a strange land. While landing her house, had killed the wicked witch of the East. The Munchkins who had thus been freed from the reign of the witch were grateful to Dorothy and gifted her the witch’s magical ruby shoes. Dorothy wanted to find her way back home to Kansas and was told to follow the yellow brick road to find the Great Wizard of Oz who would help her go back home.

As Dorothy and her dog Toto followed the yellow brick road, she meets and became friends with the couple of very interesting and loyal characters. First, a scarecrow who she helped free from the field. The scarecrow said he had no brains and wanted to meet with the great Wizard to ask for some and hence walked with Dorothy. Then Dororthy met the Tin Woodman who was rusting in the forest and desperately wanted to meet the wizard to ask him to grant him a heart since he did not have one. Finally they met with a lion, who although roared at them loudly, confessed that he had no courage and wanted to meet the wizard to ask her to grant him courage.

The unlikely companions had to face the wrath of witches, obstacles and many hurdles on their way. Finally when they reach the Wizard they learn that he was just a Ventriloquist who had lost his way in this hot air balloon but had gained powers over the people of the land and become the great “Wizard of Oz’ by hearsay. After realizing that The great Wizard would not really be able o help them, they seek out Glinda, the good witch of the south, who tells Dorothy that all she needs to do is click her hells in her magical silver shoes and she would be able to go home. As for the Tim Woodman, the lion and the scarecrow, in their arduous journey, they had successfully used and proven that they actually possessed a heart, a brain and plenty of courage.

Such beautiful lessons for the young and old, to be learnt from this magical tale!

Follow your Yellow brick road: No matter what the obstacle were, Dorothy never gave up. Never resigned to “not trying” .The yellow brick road led Dorothy to the Wizard who couldn’t really get her home. Yet she persisted. We must follow our yellow brick road that we believe will lead us to your goals. While the outcome of the journey is unclear and out of our sphere of control, the journey will enrich us. It will bring us if not directly to our goals, definitely closer to achieving our goals.

The qualities you seek to succeed are within you: If you look within yourself you may be able to pull out the strength, courage and intelligence you never knew you had. The Scarecrow wishes for a brain, the Tin Man wants a heart and the Cowardly Lion wants to be brave, but these characters possess these very qualities from the start.

Friends and people you meet on your journey can go a long way: Unexpected connections can enrich your life in ways you don’t anticipate. Although Dorothy is at first taken aback by the scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly lion, she learns in time that they are loyal, loving and caring. Be accepting of new people, even those who seem different from you.

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.