Forgiveness and Leadership

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I hear it is a good thing. I understand the world expects it of me. I also trust it heals and sets me free. Yet, I have been holding off talking about this for a decade now. I was under the impression that forgiveness was the stuff that preachers and pastors talk of. Yet, every time I helped nudge a leader back into form, back into productivity, the work that, mostly, needed to be done was for them to let go of something that was weighing them down so that they could go on to something that would heave them up. They needed to let go. They needed to forgive.

Then I must also confess that every time I, personally, wanted to reach upwards I had to let go of something that was holding me down and grounding me downwards. That something was usually a disappointment, a trauma, a grudge, a failure or even just an unqualified, irrational, hallucinated fear. And, all of these causes and ‘uncauses’ had to be managed and let go of before any and every leader could climb upwards. And, by the way, everyone has leadership potential in them and thus everyone is a leader or a leader in the making. Yes, you too.

I bear grudge to a former boss who thought that I was way too green behind my ears and treated me likewise. I bear a grudge against a business partner who sabotaged contracts because of our differences in ethnicity and backgrounds. I resent customers who take their business to others because they are blood-related and not because they serve and deliver better.

From an authentic leadership perspective, all these reasons are shallow. They are ‘uncauses’ to be holding grudges, resentment and even anger towards others. An executive within an organization and a leader in social and business circles grows, blooms and inspires others when she can overcome malice, move on to a better place and better productivity for all.

How?

Not just conceptually but in practice, in reality. Literally.

How?

First, on a piece of paper briefly describe a grudge you hold against another. Practice precision and brevity in the description. Yes, okay to be emphatically expressive but be succinct about it. Let the written paper rest. Walk away from it for a while, maybe for days. There is a good chance that when you get back to it, you will have or will begin to separate fact from mental fiction. You will become objective about the incident, the behavior and the people involved.

You see there is a fine line that divides the objective truth and the conjured up, victim perspective, truth in our minds. It is similar to the fact that rational thinking nodes and the romanticizing nodes in our brains are not very far apart. Giving our thoughts and emotions a little space and time allows them to segregate.

Second, when you recognize the difference between self-generated illusions of hurt and deliberate damage done by another then make a cognitive effort to place yourself into the shoes of that another. Think of answers to questions like:

Forgiveness and Leadership

Forgiveness and Leadership

  • What background do they hail from?
  • What kind of experiences and exposures have they lived through?
  • What are they trying to shield, protect or prevent from happening?
  • What might be their real agenda behind their behaviors and their machinations?
  • What might they be afraid of?
  • From their point of view, what might you represent for them?
  • What might you, consciously or unconsciously, have done to annoy, hurt or scare them?

Third, visualize what your issue might look, sound and feel like to an absolutely open-minded and neutral witness to your relationship. The way to go about it is to think of critical incident or an issue occurring between two of your friends and what might the opinion of a teacher, a coach or an elder be about that incident.

  • What would a teacher, coach or an elder have to say about the grudge you hold against another.
  • What would she say or do?
  • How can you emulate the words and actions of a person you consider kind, compassionate, and a clear thinker?

 

As you will yourself and as you stretch your mental and emotional muscles to go through these three steps the person and his actions that caused you ire become less and less important to you.  The clarity and heightened resolution of that anger begin to fade away. Eventually, the target of your ire begins to fade and begins to reform, rebirth in your mind as another individual, another ordinary, simple human being just like you.  You might also want to share your thoughts with a friend. You might try rehearse a conversation and a dialogue with the one you want to forgive. You need not take this up in reality. You are only taking this up to cleanse your neurological system of toxicity. Just the process lived out vicariously helps a lot.

It is a slow, steady process. It requires persistence, faith in your abilities to succeed, and a certain mental discipline. It cannot be achieved in a day. It can be achieved the same way you acquire and build a new habit, or a new muscle.  The more such forgiveness muscles you build the stronger a human being and a leader you become. Just like a good fitness regime that needs to be supported by a good diet the ability to forgive requires that you choose your thoughts, words and actions again and again. When you find yourself sinking into anger, resentful and depressive thoughts about a person or incident go for a walk, a run or a trek. Mind the choice of your words and conversations with others. The more recklessly you talk ill of others or of negative incidents the more they flourish and solidify in your own mind. We are all auto-telic. We have malleable brains and we shape them by will, thought and behavior. We become what we constantly think about. Think about being angry and upset over a past grudge and you become a depressed and angry person all across.

  • Leadership is about being aware, being agile, and grasping moments that will innovate, change things.
  • Leadership is about journeying over a distance, over to a better place-a vision of a brighter future.
  • Leadership is about including others, millions of others, and enrolling them to move forward by moving yourself.

All this can be achieved with grace and with gumption. Grace to accept and gumption to let go. A leader, all leaders need to stay light and unburdened and they need to move on ahead with deliberation and purpose.

At the end of it all. At the end of all your striving and struggling if you are unable to let go of nasty, toxic memories; if you are unable to forgive others then forgive yourself for not being able to forgive others.

Alternatively, better still, start the whole forgiving process by forgiving yourself first. Yes!

What to believe in times like these

It is true that our beliefs drive our behaviors and our behaviors drive our growth and progress in life and in our businesses.

It is hitting month EIGHT since COVID-19 turned the earth inside out. There is very little to tell you about why and how it happened or, even, what the consequences of this massive, tsunami of a disruption are because are experiencing them.

The question is what should we do get ahead of this. What should we do to progress? How do we behave and what should we believe in?

At Inner Sun, we have a belief about beliefs. We believe that beliefs are put together by three dynamisms.

The first is the dynamism that is innate, congenital, and embedded. In an individual, it is sometimes referred to as nature or personality; in a business organization, it may be referred to as “work culture”.

The second dynamism is the one that exists outside of this system and is of many forms; the way that it is often referred as the environment, the economy, or the ecology.

The third, the most vibrant, with a high potential to influence the inner and the outer dynamisms, is the dynamics of the process between the internal and external systems.  It is the process of combustion between what is and what is possible. This is where innovation and change is carved out. This is where a new life and a new world is born. The drivers of this intermediate dynamism are the first is the dynamism that is innate, congenital, and embedded. In an individual, it is sometimes referred to as nature or personality; in a business organization, it may be referred to as “work culture”.

In these blazingly vibrant and challenging times, individual and organizations need to huddle up and closely watch what is happening with our own awareness, intelligences, emotions, memories that we are accumulating, and the actions we are taking.

Organizations and individuals, in recent times, that have trusted these two beliefs have a robust potential not just to survive but also to thrive in the coming days:

Believe that there are better days ahead. Yes, those that recognize that this is one of the seasons of change in a larger sense and that spring is just ahead staying optimistic and enthused about what they do. “The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy,’ said Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Believe that we are all in this together. However, in a commercial sense, competition is good but in these challenging times, it is collaboration and compassion that are key to progress. “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful,” claimed Mother Teresa.

The higher the intensity and the quality control of these elements the better the results and the outcomes for tomorrow.

Think about this deep and hard. These things will boost your beliefs onto a better place and thus influence your behaviors towards progress and growth in these challenging times.

Dumb to Dumbstruck to Dumber

My apologies if highlighting this thing annoys you. It might if you are the perpetrator these things. By these things, I mean the excessive use of plastic products.

Way before COVID 19 had hit us, our forests and oceans had already been hurt by the plastic waste that abused their beauty and their purity. That was dumb.

For a few crazy weeks during the global lockdown, nature had begun to bloom again. The air had cleaned up, the oceans had become pristine and the flora and fauna had begun to bloom. That was because we were dumbstruck by this change.

Then as our fears reduced and the desires to become productive again, rose we made some moves that surely were dumber. Our consumption of plastic and synthetic products just shot through the roof: masks, shields, curtains, acrylic dividers, and on the streets of Metro Manila motorcycle riders’ doinked up a large sheet of acrylic between the driver and passenger. That was actually the dumbest thing to do.

Check what UNCTAD has to say about this:

It is a societal flaw that when faced with a crisis we respond with short-term solutions than long-term. If we just pause to reflect twice rather than just once, we can and will come up with better solutions to all kinds of problems. No point in, habitually, going from dumb to dumbstruck to dumber.

How to Receive Love Letters from Customers

 

No matter how much digging and deep diving we do, we end up recognizing that leaders excel when they align thought, words and action. Across the world and overtime, wars have been waged because leaders and nation said one thing and then did another. Organizations stumble and collapse because those in power think of one thing, say another and, eventually, end up doing something that was miles apart from the original thought.

When you, your organization think, say and do things in alignment with each other then people, your customers and the world begins to appreciate you and follow you. Being authentic automatically influences you world.

Recently Wegmans Food Markets, a New York based supermarket chain was chosen as one of the top 10 companies to work for by HRD, USA because for nearly 100 years now the company has been living up to its word. The word being Every Day You Get Our Best. They have a 94% approval rating and dedicated followers who promote the organic-style approach to healthier living. – so much so that they beg to Wegmans to open a franchise in their neighborhood.

The core reason for this love from their customers is that Wegmans Food Markets think of providing quality products and services to their customers. They publish and promote their desires and their plans plainly and then they follow through with the right execution over time. No punches pulled and no hidden agendas. It is a tough and noble thing to do. Yet, when as a leader, you commit and strive to think, say and do things in alignment with each other then the world around takes notice, pays you the respect you deserve, and follows you to the end of the world and to the end of time.

So every single day show up like the sun, roll up your sleeves and cultivate your world such that you leave it shining and green.

 

 

Other Side of the Mountain 

It has been the biggest crisis of our lives. It is visible out on the streets whenever I dare to venture out.

People are walking around as if they were in frenzy. In shops, groceries etc., we look at each other suspiciously. Making as if each one of us was out to harm another.  Even though the traffic congestion is half as bad as before, cars whizz past you discourteously and even aggressively. And, mind you, we are all still nice people, essentially kind human beings.

We have been traumatized by the fear, the facts, and the fierceness of this virus. Consultant friends of mine, over an online meeting, claimed that those in power and the world at large is ignoring the trauma. My response was that the average Joe and Juanita are unaware of how that trauma manifests and how it plays out in the end.

It manifests in the form of excessive boredom, doubt, depression, forgetfulness, and even uncalled for anger over petty things. What constructive things can we do to lessen the impact of this mishap?

Acknowledge the fear and accept the facts: Over an online meeting with fellow coaches and consultants it came up that we as a people are ignoring the trauma caused by the current circumstances. My offer was that way before ignore we need to learn to become aware of it and acknowledge its existence. That, by itself, is half the cure already. Take time out to sit down, mediate reflect or have a gentle, non-melodramatic, chat with family and friends. Discuss your feelings, the facts and the existence of fear. Leave out the news and the toxic gossip that is flooding your phones.

Work your body more than your mind: I do not have to have to tell you how intricately mind and body; body and mind are connected. You know it. Working your body will stretch you healthily. A well-stretched body rests better and sleeps better. It takes you away from dark, fearful and pointless imaginings. It snatches you away from gadgets and indulging in trashy news and information. In the last seven months done I have done more walking, biking, gardening, cooking, meditating, yoga and carpentry than I have done in any other seven months of my life. This does not I read, write, study, facilitate, train, speak or coach less for my profession. Surely, business has dropped but I have kept my shop and services open and sensibly active.

Perk up your faith: Yes, the religious kind and, even the faith in self and the universe. Make a deliberate mental effort to keep your self-talk positive, affirmative and optimistic. Focus on the possibilities rationally and hard just as you would use your neo-cortex, analytical brain to solve a math problem, focus upon thinking positively and affirmatively repeatedly.

There are a hundred other things we can do to traverse through these times but I assure you that these three practices will be at the core of all other suggestions. Take them to your heart and work at them using your head and your hands. We will soon be seeing other at the other side of this mountain.

R E S P E C T, Earn it by Giving it!

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Respect is an essential currency of exchange with family, at work and with society.

The ABC’s of earning and accumulating respect are quite similar to earning and accumulating financial wealth. You can be born, or get married, or sneak into a position of power and demand respect.

On the other hand, you can honestly work your way up and become a self-made man of respect.

You can also go flat broke at it.

Several years ago, a c-level department head came to me claiming he had lost a lot of respect among his workers. He was the head of logistics, had seven managers and another 200 people working under him.

My people do not like me, engagement has dropped and work is suffering, he said.

He was new to the company, to the culture and the country. After an hour or so of probing, we uncovered the root cause. One time, he confessed, he had spoken harshly to an elderly colleague in the presence of all others. She was hurt and insulted; he had robbed her of respect. Her teammates and eventually the whole department empathized with her. In return, they too turned cold and indifferent towards him.

It has been six months, Coach Raju, what do I do? He cried in pain.

R E S P E C T

Can I go and apologize to the person? Nope, it will not help. It is a shy, relationship-oriented culture.

Can I call them all over for dinner and do some bonding? Nope, it will seem like a bribe and cause more harm.

Go the front end of your logistics department. Work with the drivers, the maintenance and the messenger boys. Treat them with courtesy, care and respect first. Be humble, remember their names and get to know them better, I offered.

He agreed and worked at it diligently. Six months later things began to look up. Slowly, he began to get into the good books of everyone. His respect balance sheet began to glow in his favor. He was getting it back because he was giving it away authentically, truly and humbly. His changed behavior began to influence the company culture. He was a happy man.

With tiny errors such as his our respect, our reputation can come crashing down like a sheet of glass. When it has to be put together, it has to be put together piece by piece, shard by shard. Sometimes, it can never be put back together.

So I use what I call the ABC’s of Respect.

What are the ABC’s of earning respect?

The A is Awareness. Become highly aware of the ambiance, the atmosphere and the accoutrements of respect around you. Watch people, appreciate diversity and understand rituals. Find your place and niche in the world. Your heightened awareness will improve your appearance in the eyes of others. And, they will return that favor to you.

The B is for your Beliefs. Do you believe the world is a lousy, unhappy and a sad place? If yes, then your behavior will follow your belief. Do you believe that it is a dog eat dog world then your behavior will bark at others. Generate an abundant mentality and your behavior will become affirmative.

The C is for Conscientious Communications. Select each letter and word as if you were picking flowers. Morph them positively. Bead them like a garland towards energizing others. My father, a tailor in India, used to say “Son, measure twice and cut once.” The same applies to communicating, think twice and speak once.

Do all this consistently, compassionately and with authenticity. Overtime you will notice that respecting others is a fruitful investment that brings you exponential returns.

Sometimes, money is called the root of all evils. Respect surely is the fruit of all that is good. Yes!

That is true and authentic power. That is how to grow and thrive

Trust by Raju Mandhyan

How to Trust and Acquire Trust

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Tony Meloto is to the Philippines what Mohammed Yunus is to Bangladesh and what Jimmy Carter is to the United States of America. They are all founders of these NGOs that support the underprivileged. Tony Meloto gave up a lucrative career to build and grow Gawad Kalinga, which means to bestow care and support. In the last 25-30 years

Trust by Raju Mandhyan

Trust and Acquire Trust

they have built millions of humble homes across the Philippines, Asia, and the world. The initiative is creative, colorful and has succeeded with flying colors. Money, support, and volunteers flood in from all walks and all parts of the world.

One day at a conference that I was hosting, I cornered Tony Meloto and asked him how he manages this incoming wealth and support. How does he screen, filter, sort, and keep the whole thing transparent and running ethically? Are you not worried about corruption, politics, or fraud?

He paused, looked at me gently, and said, “We begin with trust.” We begin by first giving it abundantly at the get-go level, at the face value of the donor and the volunteer. In return, he said, we get it back trust back in spades and shiploads. That is how the system is structured, and that is how it works and it has not failed us so far. When we grant trust to people, they rise up to our positive expectations and often surpass them.

Such is the essential nature of trust and humankind. We wish to be trusted, we wish to trust others and the exchange occurs when we lead by offering it first. The offering of trust journeys through three phases. Call them the ABCs of trust. That is it needs to journey through appearances, behaviors, and communications with others.

When we regard another human being our deepest brain, the Amygdala, and the Hippocampus sections, within seconds makes an assessment of whether we like them or not; whether we should fear them or not; whether we should trust them or not. Thus, at this appearance level take in this assessment as data to be used for an integrated analysis of whether they can be trusted or not. Refrain from passing judgment just yet. Refrain from taking any action just yet. This information is only a third of the information needed to come to a conclusion.

The second phase is that of us watching and sensing their behavior. From years of watching and dealing with people each, one of us has a storehouse of behavior matching cards and metrics by which we assess likable or dislikeable behavior. Take note of these feelings, nudges of thoughts triggered by past memories. This is valuable data. Perhaps enough to come to a conclusion and then act but exercise pragmatism and hold back from judging the book by its cover.

The third phase is that of us listening to their words, their thoughts, their ideas about work and life. Hear them out totally. Maybe their appearance and behavior might be the total opposite of what they say, claim and commit.

Now you have data gathered from three different sources, three different modalities of communications. You have data gathered from sight, sense, and sound. Each of these sources has provided fodder that is data to crunched by our three brains; the deepest brain known as the Reactive brain which processes in the most primal way. We have behavioral data to be processed by our mid, limbic brain known as the Romantic brain and then we have data, cognitive-spoken kind, to be processed by our neo-cortex known as the Reasoning brain.

When all this data is done processing by these three brains and the final analysis compliments each other then you have found congruence. Then you have found trustworthiness. Now you can move ahead, take action.

That is the neural pathway, the journey of the thing called trust. That is how we trust and that is how we begin the process of trusting. Tony Meloto and Kalinga warriors, of course, do this in an accelerated way. They do it in a way that works for them fine and fruitfully.

What does it take from us, from leaders to trust others, and let our minds journey through these three neural phases?

It takes observing people through lenses that have the least possible bias. I am not saying without any bias, I am saying with the least possible and by staying conscious of our biases. If we observed people without any bias then we would have no opinions whatsoever. Thus, watch people closely, wholly, and gently.

It takes becoming sensitive to people’s behavior. It takes noticing and understanding of why people do what they do. It takes recognizing what kind of emotions are triggered with us when we watch and sense other people and their actions. It is about awareness, sensitivity, and being intelligent about emotions.

Finally, it takes active and acute listening to take in all that is being said and also exploring and understanding parts that are, sometimes, left unsaid.

These three phases of trusting others are tied in to three things we need to do, and all of them are in alignment with the structure and processing system of our triune brains. When we gather optimum data gently and process it quietly and thoroughly our abilities to assess and trust others improve.

 

Acquiring trust, on the other hand, is the reversal of this three-phase journey. When we want others to trust us then we must offer them the correct and honest appearances and presentations of ourselves. We need to let them see us plainly and openly. Masking our appearances is going to give others the heebie-jeebies over us. We need to become conscious of our behaviors and actions in the presence of others. Raising your voice, moving frantically or even positioning yourself where there is a lack of light will make others wonder about us. Lastly, thinking well before speaking gently and succinctly about things helps others get a clearer picture of us. It helps them go through the process of integrating the data and the analysis through the three phases and with the triune brain efficiently. This when practiced with consistency builds relationship trust. We can do the same with acquiring trust in our competencies; be good at something consistently.

Building a culture of trust in other organizations is an enhanced and a multi-layered approach of this interpersonal process of giving and acquiring trust. When the process becomes clear to the leaders of any organization, they begin to live out the process. Living out the process makes it habitual and, eventually, becomes second nature to leaders. When leaders are good at giving and getting trust then the philosophy and the practice cascade across to become the culture of that organization. Trust me.

Resilience and Rapid Business Recovery

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We are in the midst of a crisis, the kind people have not seen in a hundred years. Neither has all the workforce of the world been kept away from being industrious for such a long time. This lack of activity, lack of being able to produce will have a huge impact on the global economy; on production, trade, services and the flow of money across nations.

What it means to large corporations is that they will have to drain their liquid and non-liquid assets. Smaller business will have to get back to work as if they were starting up all over again. Both, the big and small, will also have to scrape the bottom of their resources. We will have to renew structures, rehash systems and respond to a brand new world, a brand new normal. We will all have to bounce back faster and stronger as if we were an amalgam of steel and rubber.

There are five things that every business may find wisdom in:

1.Assess all impact:

When the earth heaves and hoes, all plant and animal life gets displaced. When the global economy will turn a side, every industry will be impacted. Travel and tourism will come crashing down while food production and delivery will take an upward swing. Education may not win or gain but will have to scramble to stay steady.

Conduct an honest SWOT analysis of how hard you will be hit. Do remember that being hit positively also will require adjustments and adapting. Grabbing new opportunities require renewed strengths.

An extremely popular ramen restaurant in Makati, Philippines has an obsessively loyal clientele. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, people would line up and wait for hours to dine there.  They were an eat-in restaurant only.  Now they’ve had to shift to delivery only and their loyal clients still wait for several weeks for their dinner to arrive. Imagine pre-ordering a dinner three weeks in advance.

It is a happy challenge. It is still something that needs focused attention.

2.Reinforce partnerships:

Most everything atrophies. Most everything atrophies a lot more rapidly when its environment is unsupportive. With the slowdown, the focus of people in all industries will have shifted inwards. As and when they get back to work, they may have difficulty remembering where the power switch to their machines might be. This will not be true just for your own teams but also for the teams of your partners on the supply as well as the demand side.

As and when things begin to look like normal, one of your first priorities ought to be catchup with and energize relationships both with your suppliers and buyers. Get an idea on how they were impacted, what their new needs might be and how you can support them back to their feet too.

No man, no business is an island. Even islands, in reality, are connected to each other inside the core of the earth. When we help our associates, our partners and even those that we consider our competition, providence opens up new connections and new doors for us, for our businesses.

3.Tighten the organization:

Weeks before any bout, professional boxers turn away from indulging, eating or drinking anything that is non-essential to their preparation. They spend a large part of their time training, studying the opposition and visualizing success. The discipline is fiercely rigorous, and it usually brings success.

Likewise businesses will have to cut down fat, inefficient processes and costs. Make your machine a lot leaner than it already might be. Let the fire in your belly rage ethically and consistently. This may also mean letting go of assets, investments and projects that are weighing your ship down. Dump them. Cut losses fast and early. There will come a season to recover.

Seek alignment from your people, work on increasing employee engagement and become obsessive about indulging in value-creating, measurable activities only.

4. Upskill abilities, agilities:

Chances are your empathetic culture makes you carry people-assets that may be slow moving and low on performance. Practicality says let go of low-performers, wisdom claims that this may not be the time because it will dampen the emotional resolve of the whole organization. Instead spend on upskilling them all.  Learning and development is a discipline that aligns itself with the doddering educational industry. It stands on unsteady ground in a crisis such as this, but when tightening your organization and changing the course of your vessel, it is people we will need.

It thus, makes a lot of sense to sharpen the abilities and the agilities of your human resource. Train them fast, train them hard. Enroll them to stretch their limits and master new systems and machinery. Encourage a mindset of maximum frugality when it comes to investing time, money and effort.

Alliance Global Group Inc., which owns Emperador, rapidly swung their ship around, mid-storm, from producing alcohol for consumption to alcohol for disinfecting in less than three weeks in this current crisis. Not only did they swing around their output but they also donated 1 million liters of their produce worth $5 million to the community at large. More than just resetting their machines, they also had to sustain employee engagement and upskill their abilities and agilities.

5. Go beyond borders:

Up from the time when we sent our first email, the world has been going digital but with a certain lethargy towards it. Gartner, Inc., a research and consulting company claimed that only 12% of the world’s businesses were ready for the current crisis and only 32% of the world’s business leaders update their business model.

Yet in the last six weeks almost 35% of the world’s learning and development community have moved up their services to online versions. They have agrresively reacahed out beyond their usual geographical and familiar limits.

It is not just about getting digital but it is also about harnessing big data, increasing accessibility, improving communications and insuring security and safety on the digital space.

Tata Consultancy Services, the Indian IT services firm, plans to adapt remote working conditions introduced as a response to coronavirus into a permanent working model for 75% of their employees globally by 2025.

Not that these five ideas are the most brilliant in the world. Like all plans and strategies they involve a lot of guesswork and gutwork. Take what works for you. In any and all cases stay eco-conscious and be kind to the earth. A decade ago we were talking about surviving disruptions brought about by technological advances in a VUCA world. This disruption is brought about biological mishaps. Use these five simple ideas to build a brand new, better world ahead. Remember that when the night seems too long, the days ahead will be brighter and beautiful. Check video on Traits of the RESILIENT.

Raju Mandhyan

the ABC’s of Higher Impact on ZOOM

Assess and improve impact on ZOOM

COVID 19 and Community Quarantine across the world has had a major impact on how we run meetings. Up until seven weeks less than 10% of us worked from home. Last week MIT ran a survey on 25,000 executives and found that nearly 35% of them have hopped on the virtual workspace and are working from home.

After these tough times are over and I do believe that this too shall pass but working virtually and business meeting on Zoom and other platforms will become the new normal. Most all the skills and competencies that we’d learned in the past for connecting, engaging and influencing small and large audiences will have to be flipped around to fit onto laptop screen or a handheld phone.

Here are a few ABC’s of higher impact and influence on Zoom which you may find handy in these fast-changing times.

 

First, the A about you appearance:

  1. Dress and groom yourself appropriately for the kind of meeting you are going to participate in. Had the real-life, physical meeting called for business formal then, from home, wear at least business casual clothing. My preferred colors are plain with no prints and usually on the dark side.
  2. Make sure that your workspace and background looks presentable and is not too distracting. On Zoom there are features which will allow you to create virtual backgrounds like on a green screen but this sometimes chips away at the outlines of your face. So be careful and test it first.
  3. When you face the camera, make an effort to sit upright and look straight into the tiny camera most off the time. Make it also a point to fill up at least 50% of the screen real estate. Do also make sure to sit facing the light rather than having a light drop in from behind, above or below you.

 

Second, the B, about behavior:

  1. Do remember that you are on camera and the camera watches you 100% of the time mercilessly and without blinking. There’s also a good chance that the host of the meeting, if not you, maybe recording the meeting.
  2. Thus, stay focused, fresh and attentive. That means manage your movements and keep your gestures close enough to stay in the frame. Refrain from twitching, scratching, grimacing, making a face, raising your eyebrows etc. Do remember that action speaks louder than words. In this case of virtual meeting even your micro-gestures will get magnified and caught on tape and remembered forever.
  3. If it helps keep a notepad by your side to help you with your talking points and point to remember from the meeting. This will help you stay focused, structured and will subdue unnecessary non-verbal communication.

Third, the C, for communications:

  1. Our words create our worlds. Words once uttered out cannot be withdrawn, erased or deleted. My father, a tailor by profession, used to always say “measure twice, cut once.” Same is true for speaking out. Before speaking out listen thrice as much, think twice and then speak once.
  2. When you speak a few decibels louder than your usual and speak a wee bit slower than you normally do. Pause often and take longer pauses after expressing a thought or an idea.
  3. In the physical world good pausing adds drama and increases impact. In the virtual world it does all that plus it allows you to check the smiles, the nods and the responses of scores of faces on your laptop screen.

Lastly, the most important  ABC’s of higher impact and influence in virtual meeting is that for heaven’s sake sit down or stand upright calmly during a virtual meeting. One time, I was in this online meeting of speakers and trainers from across the world when one of the ladies was jogging on the streets of her hometown while talking to all of us. Though I was properly seated at home all that bouncing and jiggling of one of the little images on my screen was giving me motion sickness. It was terrible.

Anyway, I hope these ABC’s of higher impact and influence in virtual meeting help you. I also hope that we, all the people of this beautiful earth come out on top of this current crisis quickly and safely. I am sure it will be a brand new and a better world that we will be living in from here on.

 

Raju Mandhyan

Tenacity through Tough Times

These are tough times.

Tenacity through Tough Times!

 
These are scary and very unusual times.
 
Neither I nor every elderly person I know or knew have experienced anything like this.
 
Yes, there was scurvy, leprosy, polio, WW1, WW2, Holocaust, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, SARS, HIV and even 9/11. They were all scary, lethal and very damaging.
 
Yet none of them was as invisible, as undetectable and with a potential to shroud and sicken in such large numbers over such vast distances, and at such a rapid speed.
 
It has brought the whole world to its knees, it has even slowed down time.
 
Yet, a part of me is telling me that even though our knees may have buckled, even though our hearts have been grabbed by a chilly, macabre hand our spirits still burn.
 
On the streets of Philippines where I live, where people love being close to each other, support and and care for each were for some days taken by surprise and shock.
 
It was against their very nature to keep away, to not support and not care. In the last two days small gestures and conversations of care, compassion and courage have begun to emerge.
 
Yesterday, I heard a young leader claim that she’d stand behind and support her small team of four, who still had to physically report for work.
 
Half the consultants and coaches I personally know have moved half their value creating work online for their clients at no cost.
 
Many doctors and health workers have swore to stay on and work in the hospitals until this battle is over.
 
This morning, a Sunday, a few homes across my place I heard church services being conducted. To me that is a sign. A big one. A sign that says we will all, across the world, break through and climb over to a shinier and a brighter day, to shinier and a brighter world.
Yes, it will be a totally brand new world from here on and it is bound to be a lot more creative, courageous and compassionate.
 
Raju Mandhyan
On April, I am inviting you to an online chat on “Tenacity through Tough Times,” please click to learn more and sign up. The first 25 seats are complimentary.