High Performance Mindset

What do you feel?


Each of us have two distinct sides – a rational side and an emotional side. The rational sides deals with thoughts while the emotional side deals with feelings. Let me ask you a question – ‘What are you feeling right now?’ Simple question, right? But many, in fact I would say most of us, struggle to give a proper response.

As part of a check-out process in our workshops, we often ask this question. And the responses often are ‘It was a good session’ or ‘We should do these sessions more often’. When pointed out that we are seeking feelings, the responses change to very standard ones such as ‘good’ or ‘happy’.  Interestingly, thoughts are sometimes disguised as feelings – ‘I feel I have learnt a lot today!!’ or ‘I feel I will practice this regularly’!

If you are one of those workshop participants, known to you or otherwise, various emotions are going through your body during the wrap-up as you reflect back to answer that question . Maybe you feel engaged or excited with what you learnt. Maybe you feel more confident to apply the learnings. Maybe the training inspired you and you are more hopeful of the future. Or you could be grateful to your manager for sending you for this training. You could also be feeling calm or rejuvenated.

Equally natural would be for you to feel certain negative feelings. You may be confused after the training about next steps. Or apprehensive whether the learnings will work in real-life. Or tense about an escalation that happened while you were attending the workshop. Or just plain tired or exhausted. 

Human beings are emotional by nature. While all those above emotions are very much present in each one of us, we have conditioned ourselves to suppress the feelings. Hence, we are often not in touch with them. Recognizing our emotions is not something that we are taught growing up. Worse, emotions are given a low second place below the rational. It earns a bad name. At work, if a co-worker is upset over something, we try to calm him down by saying – ‘Don’t get emotional’ or ‘Get a grip on yourself’.

Thanks to all of those reasons, we struggle to name what we feel. It is only when we are mindful and reflective and take a moment to recognize what we are feeling; will those start surfacing again. But you might ask - why is it important to be in touch with our feelings? It is because only when we are more aware of our own emotions, are we able to empathize with the feelings of others and thereby build more meaningful relationships.

So, here’s a small exercise for you - just take a brief pause from what you are doing and think what you are feeling, right now. Feels good?

What else are you feeling?

#FC2E #EQ #EmotionalIntelligence #SumanInsights

Story of the 3 Masons


It’s an old story. It goes something like this – “Once there were 3 masons. Each one of them was asked what they were doing. The first man shot back - ‘I’m laying bricks.’ The second man said, ‘I am building a wall’. But the third man, brimming with energy, replied with pride ‘I’m building a cathedral’.

I just love this story. Hidden in its simplicity is a very powerful message of attitude, purpose and the ability to see the big picture.

Three men, three different attitudes. It was determining the level of enthusiasm and pride they took in their job. Being able to see the end result, rather than just the task as hand creates a strong sense of purpose and motivation to excel. Purpose has the power to transform not only the attitude about the work we do, but the quality of our work as well.

The other interesting thing I like about this story is that all the three men were doing the same job! They were, at the end of the day, laying bricks. We often hear people at work complain about their jobs saying they are looking for ‘interesting’ work. Maybe this story will help them see that everyone is aligned to the same end goal and essentially doing similar work – i.e. tirelessly building the organization brick-by-brick, one day at a time.


Emotional Contagion

It’s 9am on a Monday morning. You’ve had a nice relaxing weekend and are fully charged for the day and week ahead. You walk into the conference room for the weekly staff meeting and find everyone is smiling, joking and talking about how their weekend went. As others stroll in, they instantly feel the energy in the room.

Then, the inevitable happens. The boss walks into the meeting looking down and tense, and even before he says a word, his body language itself is enough to suck the life out of the room. The conversation that was in progress comes to an abrupt halt. Sounds familiar? Welcome to the world of emotional contagion.

Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of having one person's emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. Neurologically speaking, emotional contagion is explained by means of mirror neurons which are involved in empathy. It is as though this neuron adopts the other person’s point of view.

Emotional contagion has huge implications in the world of business. We often come across managers who complain that their teams have all the resources, tools and database, but appear to lack energy. What they fail to realize is that the team’s energy is a direct reflection of the manager’s energy, thanks to emotional contagion. And leaders, because of the position they hold, exert a disproportionate impact on the moods and feelings of their team members.

So, if you are a leader or in a leadership position, remember, your emotions and behaviours can lead to tangible ripple effects in your teams and organizations.

#FC2E #EQ #EmotionalIntelligence #SumanInsights

A leader in an autorickshaw!

Early in my career, working as a management trainee with Cadbury’s in Thane, life was good. Although I was in a factory with shifts, I did not mind the shop-floor mainly because it was chocolates that I was supervising! It did get a bit boring and routine at times, which is why any high-profile visitor to the factory was a big thing for us. One such day, we were all turned out nicely waiting to welcome our senior vice president to the factory. His visit was delayed and then we heard the story – the car which was sent to the station could not find him and our SVP took an autorickshaw to make his way to the factory! This story spread like wildfire and before long, everyone in the factory right up to the junior level workers were talking about it. 

What is fascinating is that story spread far and wide, to the Head office and offices globally, even beyond the company and I have heard people talk about it for years afterwards. What intrigues me to this day, is the amazing power of such simple storytelling. What is about such small incidents that go ‘viral’ and do wonders for organizations to convey their culture and unique identity, whereas huge sums of money spent on corporate branding and communicate seldom have that level of impact. 

While storytelling is powerful and there is science behind it, what makes these stories spread so far and wide and that too by word-of-mouth? A recent article on leadership by Harvard Business review namely, “Followers Don’t See Their Leaders as Real People” by Nathan Washburn and Benjamin Galvin, has some a very interesting insight into this. According to them, people in companies view their senior leaders as more of mental images and less as people. While these leaders may be real people to only those they interact with such as their peer group and their secretaries, but to the larger group of people outside their immediate circle, they are more imaginary than real. Employees form a mental picture of their leader based on emails, tweets, videos and town-hall speeches etc. The mental picture gets more solidified with other tidbits received mostly in the form of stories as was the case with this SVP taking an autorickshaw. 

While listening to these stories, people look for moments of honesty and sincerity in them. And because these stories come from informal channels such as friends and colleagues who are perceived to be unbiased, there is a high level of trustworthiness which could be lacking in formal channels. In other words, it is the word-of-mouth transmission itself that gives it credibility. As these stories spread “they take on a life of their own”. 

I would love to hear your views. Kindly post your comments and feel free to write to me at suman@inroads.co.in.

Need for Speed

Need for Speed.png

We had just gone live successfully with a very important project. It called for a celebration – a big one! Being a large globally distributed project, it was decided that the project managers of each country would take their teams out for drinks and dinner. To make it uniform, a certain amount was earmarked per team member and it was coming out of the project budget. We were happy. And we did go out and have a blast!

Then came the shocker. I had paid the bill for my team and submitted it for reimbursement. Accounts folks came back saying they would reimburse the food and not the drinks. When pointed out that office parties seldom go dry, I was told that it was allowed only for customers. I tried explaining to them that I had just followed what was decided by the global project team. My boss understood my situation and tried to help. The issue went back and forth within the organization but finally nothing happened.

I am sure many of you who have been part of large organizations know how difficult and lengthy it can be to navigate the system. And I am not talking attitude – it’s just that rules get the better of intent. Even when the outcome is positive, decisions often take very long due to several levels of approvals, cross-geographical coordination and signatories out on travel.

This incident happened to me years back. Cut to the present. I read an article this morning in the papers with the headlines “Hunter pockets a cool Rs. 10L”. It sounded interesting and proceeded to read more of it. Here is an excerpt – “Anand Prakash, a senior security engineer with Flipkart, earned his bounty by finding and notifying Facebook about a bug that jeopardized the privacy of its account holders. The company wasted no time in fixing the issue and then amply rewarding Prakash for it

What caught my attention more than the bounty amount was the speed at which Facebook moved on this. By the end of the day, they had resolved the issue and paid a big amount to somebody sitting on the other side of the globe! The turn-around-time is just mind-boggling.

The media today is filled with stories of new-age companies – Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and the like. While it is fashionable, the question we need to ask ourselves is this – “Are these companies doing something remarkably different than their old world counterparts”. As I read through these stories, I am more and more convinced that they really are.

Among other things, these new-age companies understand the need for agility in today’s fast moving world. What's more impressive is that they have successfully woven that value into their way of working. Hats off!

I would love to hear your views. Kindly post your comments and feel free to write to me at suman@inroads.co.in.

If you like this article, pl. check out my other posts at https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/8690991?trk=prof-sm