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MEANINGFUL & IMPACTFUL RESULTS

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Talent Magnets – Who Are They & Why Are They Important

“Talent magnets” are those people in organizations with whom most stakeholders, internally and externally want to engage, connect and work for. They tend to be in all functions, irrespective of roles or seniority, and attract other talented and competent individuals to their organizations. It is not surprising to notice that many successful organizations (profit, non-profit or government) have talent magnets in many leadership or management roles. Employees, consultants, contractors, partners, communities and customers prefer to work with such talent magnets and, they play a key role in retaining other talented individuals. Talent magnets in leadership roles often deliver tremendous unrecognized value to their organization’s brand and culture. In today’s fast changing and increasingly digital world, they play a critical role in their organization’s success.

So, what are some key characteristics and behaviors of talent magnets?

These are some of my observations from three continents.

  • Talent magnets encourage diversity and culture of inclusion. They do not expect or encourage others to be similar to them. They encourage authenticity.
  • They treat everyone with respect, and are caring. When someone needs a helping hand, they offer genuine support.
  • They are willing to share responsibility and recognition.
  • They have humility, acknowledge their mistakes, and seem accessible and vulnerable. When a correction has to happen with a team member, they are willing to have respectful, engaging, sometimes difficult developmental conversations.
  • They are emotionally intelligent, do not jump to quick conclusions and are open to listening to different perspectives. They do not blindly push their own agenda.
  • They try to constantly understand and work toward the larger picture, while executing their deliverables. While reflecting on the context and what is best for the organization, their actions sometimes may hurt their own individual short term standing or official objectives (KRAs) but they may still consciously choose to benefit the larger cause.
  • They don’t play politics but acknowledge, recognize and navigate related elements maturely themselves while helping others. They encourage collaboration internally and externally, and do not pit one team against the other. They manage through negative or toxic environments effectively and neutralize or positively energize team members and environments.
  • They establish and encourage fairness, and take a strong stand against unfair practices and behaviors. They are willing to initiate and engage in respectful conversations with other stakeholders.
  • They are reliable and stick to their word. If for some reason something promised or committed changes, they openly try to explain, discuss and clarify directly with the related individual(s).
  • They are open to continuous learning and encourage others to improve. They recognize the unique strengths and differentiating competencies that team members bring to work. In short, they build confidence. Other talented people feel more secure and seem to flourish under and after them.
  • They sometimes go beyond the organization’s stated policies and guidelines to bring in and nurture talent, when very convinced about the potential.
  • They build long term relationships, which goes beyond a single organization.

As a result, talent magnets also hold higher influence within and outside their organizations. Most stakeholders become willing to listen to their perspectives and suggestions seriously.

On the other side of the scale, there are “talent repellers”, who most stakeholders seem to try to avoid, even though they may sometimes be highly competent individuals. The challenge here is that any seeming result happens for short term, with possible toxic environments and unsustainable ways of working.

Would you want to work with a talent magnet? Would you aspire to become one? Are there any other characteristics or behaviors that you notice?

Leadership In The Digital Age

 

There is a lot of discussion about “digital” currently and how it influences or impacts leadership.

Both the terms “leadership” and “digital” can be interpreted in different ways. Before we get to the details, it first helps to get to a shared understanding about what digital means.

A July 2015 McKinsey article stressed the importance of business leaders having a clear and common understanding of exactly what digital means to them and, as a result, what it means to their business. The authors believed that digital should be seen less as a thing and more a way of doing things. The three attributes of digital are: creating value at the new frontiers of the businesscreating value in the processes that execute a vision of customer experiences, and building foundational capabilities (digital mindset and technology) that support the entire structure.

The authors of the book, “Leading Digital” share the definition of digital transformation as the use of digital technology to radically improve the performance and/or the reach of a company. Digital technology is radically changing and challenging businesses in various sectors, many times at high speed. According to them, the time to start digital mastery is now. The longer you wait as a firm, the tougher it will become and you will fall behind.

So, what do leading experts like Manfred de Vries, Josh Bersin, Zenger Folkman, Charlene Li think about leadership in the digital world?

  • Digital is not technology but a different way of thinking.
  • The traditional hierarchical model of leadership is disintegrating.
  • Leadership no longer defined by what a single leader does – it is more about the ability to collaborate, motivate and manage networks.
  • It is also about decentralizing leadership and connected networks of teams. Leadership behavior needs to be distributed throughout an organization.
  • Employees want more ownership rather than to follow instruction.
  • Leaders have to be good at the coaching part of their job.
  • Key Behaviors in the digital environment – Speed, Collaboration, External Sensing, Being Inclusive, Creating Open Environment.
  • There will be gaps in the leadership pipeline in this environment and due to the radical changes. It is very important to identify the gaps and work on them.
  • Being organized correctly with the right organization structure, right jobs, right people in those jobs are critical factors for success.
  • Leadership development professionals should have a strong context about what is going on in their external and internal environments. Developing leaders is about looking at the whole system, not just L&D or HR.
  • Organizations which take leadership development seriously outperform their competition. Strong leadership requires continuous development.

Charlene Li’s (Altimeter Group) simple yet powerful (digital) engaged leader framework highlights three core elements worth trying out for any aspiring leader.

1. Listening at scale – Leaders can listen and respond, not to just one person, but many at a time. It is about listening to support your goals.

2. Sharing to shape people’s mindsets and actions – Sharing forges connections with followers that improves relationships, achieve goals, and amplifies a leader’s influence.  The big shift that leaders have to make is to be more comfortable with openness.  Sharing has to help spread authenticity, emotion and point of view.

3. Engaging to transform – Leaders have to use two-way dialogue that motivates and mobilizes followers to take collective action.

What actions will you take for yourself and your organization to become a competent leader in the digital age?

“When you’re a disruptor, you move into your fear, not away…” – Whitney Johnson, Disrupt Yourself

 

References:

http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/what-digital-really-means

http://www.slideshare.net/capgemini/didier-bonnet-oow-leading-digital-presentation

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-right-leadership-style-for-the-digital-age/

http://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/evolving-leadership-in-the-digital-age-4611

http://zengerfolkman.com/podcast-ep-63-developing-leaders-in-the-digital-age-feat-josh-bersin/

http://www.slideshare.net/INBOUND/ie15-c-charlene-li-final

The Engaged Leader: A Strategy for Digital Transformation

Leadership Development For Smaller Organizations In The New Year – 4 Topics To Consider

Happy New Year to all readers!

Many smaller organizations find it difficult to figure out relevant activities in the area of leadership/management development. Related questions come up frequently and at times, a mistaken perception exists that leadership/management development is only applicable to larger organizations.

If left ignored, this is one area that will hurt any organization in many ways. Worrying symptoms start showing up in different areas for the organization including stakeholder engagement, execution and it becomes difficult to diagnose the real problem as time passes.

Here are four topics under leadership/management development for leaders and HR teams to consider.

  1. Any development effort starts with developing self awareness. Leadership self awareness development can start with understanding oneself deeper through facilitated 360 degree/other feedbacks, personality assessments (like MBTI, Hogan etc.) and follow-up reflections/coaching sessions. These sessions can be facilitated at the individual or team level, or a combination of both for quality reflection and action. Periodic follow-up interventions are invaluable for any development effort. Self aware leaders also recognize coaching opportunities for themselves and their team members toward meaningful results.
  2. A related impactful area to consider focusing on is leadership team development. Many leaders miss the opportunity or don’t take the time to consciously reflect on establishing the building blocks of developing an effective team and co-creating a focused agenda with the team. When teams are not developed consciously and carefully especially at senior levels, it leaves room for potential confusion, conflict and frustration. Even for well established teams, this is an important topic to revisit consistently and not to be taken for granted. Supporting leadership transitions in this context also become highly relevant.
  3. Building a shared understanding of what “leadership“or being a leader in the organization means (leadership constructs) will help clarify expectations. Support can be provided through training programs for first time managers, middle managers and leaders. The more leaders understand what it means to be and is expected from a leader in the organization, the more impactful results organizations can consistently achieve through them.
  4. Building a shared understanding on the organization’s strategy, values and culture is often an important item that loses focus. Many times, the clarity on values and culture stays strong with only the founding or early members. As a result, many people tend to apply their own interpretations which leads the organization’s value system in different directions and dilution over time. Sometimes, there is a need for a discussion on how the culture has evolved or needs to change in the context of business direction. Reinforcing and aligning the organization’s understanding and shared beliefs will ensure stronger cohesion, commitment and execution across the board. This can be facilitated through various well designed OD/HR, engagement and communication initiatives.

If you are a leader or HR professional in a smaller organization considering impactful activities to implement in leadership/management development, these may be some practical and actionable ideas to think about for the new year. It is important to constantly be aware of the paradox of busyness & development.

Best wishes for a Meaningful, Impactful and Successful 2017.

Tojo
Lead-Wise

What Do I See Or Hear? My Point Of View?

We have arrived at the start of the last month of an eventful year.

During December last year, I wrote Another Year…Questions To Reflect On…. Those questions are still worth revisiting.

While thinking about my December post for this year, I wanted to touch something that is very relevant and would connect my personal observations to things happening around the world.

Many intense social media discussions involving individuals around the world with diverse, many times contradictory and conflicting perspectives came to the forefront this year. Social media and the increasingly digital world have given everyone a voice. It was not the differing perspectives that stood out for me but rather the quality of (or lack of) open debate or conversation and the increasing reliance on flimsy information.

While mobile devices, access to the internet, information and social media have become prevalent, one thing that is noticeable is the ease and quickness with which many of us (irrespective of whether we are from the developing or developed world) can be misguided. Is the reading habit overall on the decline? What or who influences our perspectives and points of view?

Recognition of quality sources of information seems to be a challenge. Many jump to quick conclusions and fail to do a secondary search or verification, think deeper of what they have seen or heard before developing a point of view. There seems to be a danger of a substantial number of us being misguided, ignorant or unaware. Companies like Google and Facebook seem to be getting serious about finding and taking out false news in their networks. There seems to be too much ‘noise’ that seems to win attention many times, even in the networks of LinkedIn.

The ability to discern quality among the big waves of information that we come across will become a distinguishing and important skill. 

To help ourselves from falling into these traps and developing a healthy point of view, consider three simple points while navigating through what we see or hear in today’s world.

  1. Seek quality information always and try to see if there are inherent conflicts of interest for whoever is sharing it. 
  2. Always review the relevance, experience, expertise of the author or content provider with regards to the topic and the source of your information. Look at the history, background, consistency, credibility and trust factor for your source.
  3. Use more than one source of information before concluding on your point of view. Even a minor difference in perspective could enrich the quality of your thinking and point of view.

This approach requires exercising more patience, a curious mindset and openness before finalizing your point of view on any topic and it is well worth the effort. Perhaps, it is high time that this awareness starts from the education system itself.

As a professional in any area, do remember that your perspectives and thoughts show up in your actions, work and life and personal brand. Are they worth your consideration?

“But I think that no matter how smart, people usually see what they’re already looking for…” – Veronica Roth, Allegiant (Goodreads)

Building A Satisfying & Successful Career in HR

 

During recent years, I’ve received the following question many times – “I would like to build a successful career in HR. Where and how should I start? What should I do next?”

There is no one sure answer to these questions but I do have few suggestions based on experiences, observations and learning from others. This list has grown over time and hopefully useful for many in early career who enquire about this topic.

  • It is great to get an early starting opportunity with a solid, large HR organization but don’t worry about starting small if required, by taking on wider responsibilities in smaller organizations. Smaller organizations give you the opportunity to be involved with a lot more functionally while larger organizations tend to be more structured and specific in requirements with the complexity of scale. There are advantages on both sides and you have to make the most of your early learning opportunities, wherever you are. Stay eager to take on additional responsibilities, learn and get exposure to different areas as much as possible. Set yourself a goal of mastering the fundamentals in your key area of work within a certain timeframe and then target higher degree of expertise.
  • If you don’t have formal education in HR, it is helpful to go for additional industry recognized related certifications or programs. Focus on getting the fundamentals right initially. That helps your knowledge base, confidence and also builds credibility with business stakeholders.
  • Try to talk to/discuss experiences and learning with other competent HR professionals you meet through programs, work, networks etc. Find opportunities or common avenues to connect with other professionals and continue the discussions. Find your own mentors or coaches as well.
  • Follow, watch and read articles from the thought leaders constantly. This will help you to get a strong understanding of the concepts/language used and this will become a distinguishing strength as you grow further. Not many HR professionals seem to take continuos learning seriously and those who do stand out.
  • You’ll need to build your HR experience profile patiently in specific functional areas considering your organization’s needs and your own interest. Over time, you may decide whether you want to become a generalist or specialist (eg. talent acquisition, learning & development, rewards). Even generalists tend to acquire couple of strong areas of expertise over time.
  • Develop self awareness and understand what you really enjoy doing. Knowing one’s own personality characteristics is important. Don’t just go by the pressures of how external sources define functional areas of importance or growth. Your lack of passion or interest in a certain area and related questions will show up one way or the other and become a road block to excellence.
  • When you apply for roles, try to understand clearly the elements specific to that role. The more you have and can add experiences related to what the hiring organization/manager could be looking for, the better your chances. Review profiles of successful HR professionals, their experiences and career paths for pointers – it’s easier to find them on LinkedIn or other professional networks nowadays.
  • Build your awareness and understanding of your organization’s dynamics. Being successful in HR would involve the ability to work/align with multiple stakeholders with varying opinions on the same topic and managing complexity. Successful HR professionals seem to be those who find an effective way of working/gelling with core business leaders and constituents.
  • Continuous development and application are even more relevant for HR. There’s quite a lot of evolving research from different areas that can be applied to people management. It also involves lots of continuous practice and adaptation to different environments. HR is a “craft” that needs to be continuously worked on ( Why Great HR Professionals Are Like Master Carpenters – Josh Bersin, http://joshbersin.com/2015/04/why-great-hr-professionals-are-like-master-carpenters/).

For more experienced professionals, in their book ‘Talent Masters’, authors Bill Conaty (former GE Global HR Head) and Ram Charan included 6 points for HR Leaders to become effective business partners.

  1. Understand your business and industry dynamics – financials and key operating levers that affect your business.
  2. Build your HR vision and strategies around the business model.
  3. Become problem solvers versus problem identifiers.
  4. Take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously – stay cool, provide a sense of balance/calm in the storm.
  5. Have the personal independence, self confidence and courage to push back or challenge the system when necessary.
  6. Never forget why you’re at the table – obligation to balance strong business partnership role with employee advocacy role, people implications of decisions and never forgetting the “human” in human resources.

Building a successful and satisfying career in HR takes a lot of persistence, determination and resilience. It’s unfortunate that many organizations don’t invest sufficiently in developing HR professionals and therefore, the responsibility falls even more on the individual HR professional. You can start early but it’s never too late to get started. One last thought – consider building your career similar to a marathon, not a sprint. Best wishes to you and enjoy the journey.

If you have any suggestions, please do add.

An Approach To Differentiate And Stand Out At Work Anywhere

 

This situation plays out constantly in multiple local and multinational environments. A customer walks to a service counter (banks, hotels, airlines etc.), government/corporate office or store with a need for support from the staff.

If the staff member’s response focuses on why your request cannot be processed, won’t work or only through a difficult and inconvenient set of steps, you feel dissatisfied with the service and think it was a waste of time. If you notice a similar continuing trend with the same individual, you will try to avoid interaction with that staff member in future.

If the professional’s response and action focuses on the solutions or alternatives for you as the customer, you feel happy and more satisfied.

It is important to be aware that we ourselves could be in that situation.

The key differentiator for any professional here is your focus and approach to a solution. When your focus and actions are aligned to working out solutions and not getting stuck in problems, your customers prefer to return to you and recognize you as a professional who can get things done efficiently for them. 

While it is important to understand, acknowledge and think through the problem at hand, what matters more for your customer is where your focus, energy and communication are directed. We see many professionals who get stuck in the process or problem side.

On the other side, as customers ourselves as well, it is worthwhile to think how willing and flexible we are.

Even though this is not a new concept or idea, we encounter such scenarios very regularly in our daily lives. It therefore becomes really important to remind ourselves and others about this simple yet powerful message.

Our Journeys In Career And Life – Thoughts From One

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I just got back from a journey that involved crossing some of the highest motorable passes and terrains in the world. It was a tough yet breathtaking trip and some time in the wilderness led to reflections and analogies in career and life.

  • To reach a beautiful destination, we pass through tough terrains and hardships.
  • The breathtaking destination is worth the difficult journey.
  • Sometimes, our focus on the destination results in us missing the great beauty during the journey.
  • The journey is most enjoyed when we find a traveling pace that suits us the most. Others’ recommendations and experiences only serve as guideposts.
  • In order to truly enjoy our journey, we need to take appropriate breaks.
  • The journey seems long and slow when we are in the middle of one but in hindsight, it seems to have gone by fast. Be aware to enjoy, experience and cherish the beauty in those moments. In the end of our journey, we remember clearly few emotional moments.
  • When the journey seems challenging and tiring, we inevitably go through moments of difficulties and frustrations. Those moments serve as opportunities to observe, learn about, manage ourselves better and seek our inner peace.
  • In our journey, we cross paths with fellow travelers, sometimes coincidentally and sometimes planned. Some of these meetings are momentary, some involve few more moments of interactions, some may cross paths again in future journeys and some become deeper and our companions. We may never see many again. Sometimes, small crossings leave lasting impressions. Every crossing helps each other’s evolution and leaves us with experiences and learning.
  • The quality of relationship with our fellow traveler(s) is not decided by whether we go through challenging scenarios or differing view points during the journey but in the strength of the overall belief in supporting each other and the ability to bounce back from difficult moments without holding any unnecessary thoughts or feelings.
  • It is important to find our own meaning in our journey. The experience from the same journey and destination can be very different for different people.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere…”
– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Goodreads)

 (First posted in LinkedIn on October 1, 2016)

How Should Leaders Earn Their Premium?

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After years of observing leaders in business and non-profit environments around the world, one point is absolutely clear to me.  Leaders play fundamental roles that determine the success of any organization and impact many lives, directly and indirectly.

If you have any doubt, please check out the business news sections or conduct a quick, direct opinion survey among your experienced connections.  We see this power of leadership manifesting everyday through the news about flourishing or struggling organizations and the resulting massive impact on individual lives and communities, both positively and negatively.

How should leaders earn their premium?

1. By making key decisions/judgments and executing successfully.
This is probably the most important element.  By the nature of key strategic choices, decisions and judgments being made, tremendous value can be created or destroyed quickly.  Think about organizations that announce hundreds or thousands of job cuts and those that create opportunities.  It is easier to destroy than create value.

Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis defined judgment as an informed decision making process that encompasses three domains – judgments about people, about strategy and in time of crisis.

Every key business decision, strategic choice or judgment made by a leader can hugely impact the future of an organization and the lives of many people and their families.  Decisions should be followed by effective execution and both need equal attention.

Leaders have to be focused on building sustainable businesses and organizations.  This may sometimes result in difficult choices in the short run but if they miss to balance financials with employees or other key stakeholders aspects, morale drops quickly and trust gets impacted.

A recent Fast Company article noted that leadership in the future depends less on knowing things others don’t know, and more on seeing new relationships among facts available to all of us – pattern recognition.  The time honored relationship – correlation of knowledge with greater influence in business – is now dissolving, as technology dissolves knowledge monopolies.  It is not uncommon even nowadays, to see many individuals holding on to knowledge without sharing, to feel important and secure.

2. By building highly engaging organizational environments and capabilities.
Ensuring the first element alone will not work.  Leaders can influence sustainable success for the long run by engaging, empowering, motivating individuals and teams to deliver successful outcomes; creating an environment of openness, inclusion, trust, with high performance practices and systems.

For most employees, the “company” means “leaders”.  It’s not uncommon to hear employees across the world say, “The company did something.”  It is worthwhile to think, “Who or what is this company?”.

Leaders also influence heavily how employees feel about themselves and their relationship to the organization.  Studies in one of the best books on leadership (The Leadership Challenge) note that leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful.

At the heart of it, leaders create the feeling of “We” and “Us” in organizations with shared responsibility, not “You” and “Me”.

Boards, executives, shareholders and organizations at any level or sector who understand these fundamental elements and expectations from leaders will be able to build and enable sustainable and impactful organizations.

(Posted on LinkedIn)

References
1. Judgment, How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis, Summary;  http://sitemaker.umich.edu/umhs-talentmanagement/files/judgement.pdf
2. How Expertise is changing the way we work and lead; http://www.fastcompany.com/3047911/lessons-learned/how-expertise-is-changing-the-way-we-work-and-lead
3. The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model http://www.leadershipchallenge.com/about-section-our-approach.aspx
4. Image Credit – https://stocksnap.io; Tomasz Bazylinski

Make Yourself Irrelevant For Higher Growth & Impact

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We tend to believe that if we stay important, at least in perception and hold on to the things we do that normally make us feel important, we become invaluable to our business and organization.  This leads to many interesting and unhealthy behaviors – including holding on to information without sharing openly, reluctance to collaborate, unwillingness to share resources, making others feel insecure, and controlling or micromanaging.  We continue to move on superficially without self reflection, personal growth and reach a stage where our egos and fears prevent us from stepping out of our comfort zones – until a major change inevitably hits us and forces us to rethink.

It may be surprising to hear and sometimes hard to accept but making yourself irrelevant will make you more valuable to the business and yourself as a leader and human being.

What does ‘making yourself irrelevant’ mean?
This means empowering and enabling team members to take up some of your important responsibilities and more.  This does not mean stepping away from your leadership responsibilities or not managing.  This also does not mean dropping your troubles and issues on others.  Rather, this is about transitioning your role to leading, developing, transitioning from being a possessive individual contributor to focusing on high impact areas for organizational success today and in the future.

Why is this important?
You create more opportunities for team members to continuously stretch, learn and grow.  You create more space for yourself and the organization for reflection, insight and action.

How can you as a leader start in this journey?
Let go of few elements that you’re currently doing for your team members.  Take a step back, let them own those elements and drive them.  Coach, support them and provide constant feedback and recognition.  Be patient through the process and reflect on the learning together.  Encourage your members to take on more challenges afterward.  Constantly build confidence.  Invite members to join key conversations and discussions.  Let them feel included.  In most cases, your team members  will step up, be happy and grateful for the opportunities to do more impactful work.

As a result, you’ll create more space for yourself as a leader to reflect, do more impactful work, innovate and explore untapped areas in personal and organizational effectiveness.  You’ll create opportunities for others to grow and do more meaningful work.  The extra space created will help stretch your thinking.  During the initial phase, it is normal to feel uncomfortable and insecure as you let go of perceived important elements or activities.  Self-compassion is important.  You’ll become more agile and adaptable to change from both the individual and organizational perspectives.  The business and organization will gain tremendously.  You will be respected as someone who can build more leaders and leadership in your organization.

Doing this successfully and developing this capability as a manager or leader will bring you more (many times bigger) opportunities within your organization. More talented individuals will want to join your team.  If not, there will be other great opportunities waiting outside.

Suffering In The Workplace

Woman Looking At Metro_Image

Similar to life in general, it is not uncommon to see constant suffering in our workplaces.  This is influenced and brought many times from our personal, social lives and also  influenced by the work environment.

The word ‘suffer’ means to experience pain.

Workplaces tend to see a lot of pain for many reasons, with a feeling of constant unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

In my observations, the following topics are some of the major causes of personal suffering in the workplace.

1. Unhealthy Ego
When the “I” and “me” feeling becomes very strong, it results in inevitable pain for oneself and others.  The need to prove oneself all the time blocks the action of encouraging and enabling others.  This also results in skewed views and inability to listen to and understand other perspectives.  The focus moves away from the key topic that needs attention from an organizational perspective.  Everything becomes personal.  There is also a need to control as much as possible directly.

2. Envy
This is probably one of the most common reasons for unhappiness and suffering.  In organizations, some people grow disproportionately  faster than others due to better capability, fit for the job/organization, specific circumstances, environment etc.  Sometimes, it may seem unfair.  Irrespective of the specific background, constant comparison with others leads to dissatisfaction with everything, personal pain and intense unhappiness that may seep into other areas in life.

3. Never satisfied
Many individuals are never satisfied.  The focus is always on gaining more, what I don’t have and what is missing for me.  There is a need for good balance in one aspect of striving for perfection and continuous improvement.  The suffering that results from dissatisfaction leads to unhappiness with self and others and constant urge for more and more, without enjoying the present.  There are umpteen number of examples of brilliant corporate leaders who have lost all credibility due to greed or need to be perceived as high achievers always.

As A Result…
The resulting themes noticed in organizations are anger, jealousy, frustration, stress, conflict, intense lack of trust and unhappiness.  All these lead to a feeling of disconnectedness and  disengagement  with self, work and colleagues.

Many people also go through a feeling of helplessness or no hope, especially during changes.  There is a feeling of having very limited or no alternative choices during difficulties.  Hence, they decide to suffer through the situation making life worse for themselves and others around them.  The negativity and helplessness seem to just grow bigger.

Extreme scenarios even lead to individual depression or mental health issues.  Unfortunately, normal work environments are not very kind or supportive in such instances due to various reasons including the high pace and demands of business.

Negative emotions in the workplace are also transferred quickly among individuals and groups.  ‘Emotional contagions’ spread much quicker than one may think or imagine.

Excessive unhealthy competition and lack of collaboration are other signs of a ‘sick’ work environment.  The organization overall suffers and falls behind in achieving its full potential and success.

What can be done…
Approaches for improvement can be reviewed from an individual and organizational perspective.  Each one of us can start by looking after our own mental and physical wellbeing, without waiting for someone else to come with a magical answer.  Organizations can support with appropriate practices and environmental approaches.

Self-Awareness and Self-Management, two core pillars of emotional intelligence are fundamental for anyone to manage individually.  We all can learn from our own experiences, reflection and actions.

Coming to terms with something that we may not agree with (acceptance) or finding our own ways to accept the difficult change helps tremendously.  If that is not possible personally and if there is a persisting strong feeling of unfairness which cannot be addressed, finding a new stream or possibility becomes a healthy choice for everyone.

During difficult times, we need constant energy and encouragement from ourselves, our closest support groups, friends and cheerleaders.  It is really important to believe that the tough times shall pass and it is up to us to start making the small steps and changes that will start a new path.

Having an individual practice to find state of peace, harmony and balance like meditation, time with nature, time out from constant interruptions, hobbies etc. can help tremendously.  Constantly reflecting on the good things in our lives and focusing on gratitude (many studies indicate that maintaining a Gratitude Journal helps tremendously) can help focus on ‘what we have’, not ‘what we don’t have’.  Self compassion and forgiveness are very important when we are not able to meet our own expectations.  Studies seem to indicate that we are tougher and more critical of ourselves than others.

From an organizational perspective, building a community feeling and social support in the workplace can also go a long way.  Social support is at the core of successfully helping individuals to rebound from difficulties and challenges.  Work practices, supporting tools and environment have to be developed.  Every leader and manager can also play a key role in the wellbeing of the their teams and organizations through mindful interactions and actions.  If consciously and carefully managed, they could play a major role in building healthy environments and mental well-being in the workplace.

Even a minor reduction of suffering in our lives and workplaces can bring a major difference to the individuals in our lives and the world around us.

(Posted on LinkedIn)

Image Credit:
www.unsplash.com, Eutah Mizushima

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