Responsibility Is A Choice

I was at a lobby of a hotel last week waiting for a business meeting and I happened to hear a rather interesting conversation between a young lady and the guest relations manager of the hotel. As the lady was getting up to see something that the guest relations manager was showing, she collected her belongings at which point the manager mentioned to her, “Ma’am don’t worry about your belongings. They are safe.” The lady smiled, thanked him and said “I understand sir, but I rather be responsible for my belongings and what happens to it instead of entrusting them to someone else.”

Responsibility, I thought, was well-defined by this lady.

Responsibility

→Is accountability,

→Is taking care of your thoughts, actions and duties and

→Is answering for your words and actions.

    No matter whether you are at work, walking on the road, at the gym, on holiday or interacting on social media.

Responsibility is a word that equals Respons(e) + (A)bility. Each of us have the ability to make a choice. “A choice” for the response we give to each situation or events that take place in the journey called life.

Choose to take the actions that create the results that you will desire if they were applied on you.

How can we be responsible?

1. Not to shine your own light by dimming someone else’s. This applies to every aspect of your life.

2. For every stimulus, you respond to, you have the power to choose how you want to live your life and behave in every moment in the space that you occupy.

3. You are the only person who is responsible for your thoughts and decisions. Integrity, compassion, empathy, attitude control are important elements of responsibility and it doesn’t matter what role you play in your life. Attitude control is part of your responsibility.

4. When you hire people hold them accountable for their actions or inactions.

5. Do not assume and do not make generalizations and resort to stereotyping.

Life goes on…. And you must take personal responsibility because that is within your control.

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of- Jim Rohn.

The Missing Link In “The Customer Is the Boss”

Photo credits : Lalita Raman

Photo credits : Lalita Raman

Have you ever thought like a customer when you are talking to a potential client?
Do you really care to understand what the customer wants ?

I was in Mumbai last week visiting my family for 4 days. My dad and mom are not keeping too well and I thought I must take some time out to be with them.

While I was there, I decided to complete some formalities that was pending with a bank account that I had opened. The relationship manager stated that he wanted copies of my passport, other identification documents and photographs. I was taken aback because I had submitted all of this in as many copies as was required by this bank, four months back. The relationship manager started giving me several reasons why he wanted those again, none of which sounded convincing to me. One of the reasons he gave me was that this was a compliance requirement. This is one of the top favorite reasons given by many a customer contact of most banks. The relationship manager did not take time to understand my requirements, figure out how much time I had and how to reduce the inefficiency for me.

Many customer contacts ever so often don’t represent their company well because they engage in the blame game. They stop caring about the relationship evident from their actions that it is all about a sale, a transaction or an account to be opened.

Not for a moment people like this relationship manager, that I met at this bank, stop to reflect and ask
-> Would I as a customer like to receive the same treatment?
-> How can I make it seamless and efficient for a client who deals with my organization?
-> How can I as a contact point for the client stop the client from getting hassled through the procedural hoops within my organization ?
-> What can I do or not do to make this relationship valuable for each client?

THE CUSTOMER IS THE REAL BOSS – “All Associates work for the customers who buy our merchandise. In fact, the customer can fire everybody in our Company. And they can do it by simply spending their money somewhere else. The greatest measure of our success is how well we please the customer, ‘Our Boss’. Let’s all support Aggressive Hospitality and have our customers leave 100% satisfied every day.”—Sam Walton, The Founder of Wal-Mart

Do you as CEO, sales contact, sales head, Chairman or Business owner, leader ask What are the central issues, changes or challenges that your client is currently dealing with ?

How can I help resolve some of those issues with respect to the services that are provided by my organization?

Do you start with the client in mind or a sale approach in mind ?

A sale is not just about an account being opened or a transaction being made but it is about establishing a relationship of trust, rapport and caring for the customer’s needs. A sale can take place only if the customer feels that the relationship is worth it. No deal can be struck overnight and this is something that is over looked in today’s culture of immediacy,

What are the keys to turning transaction sales attitude to a long-standing relationship?

I think the key ingredient is Empathy. Because when you are empathetic

1. You think and act from the customer’s perspective. This creates Trust and Builds Rapport.

2. You listen to understand the customer and not serve, just to make a sale or a transaction. You are able to explain what services you can offer to meet those needs. It also allows you to be candid in instances where you think your products or services will not match what the customer is looking for. And in understanding the customer and in describing what you can offer, you indicate not only your empathy but competence

3. You show that you care for the customer and the relationship. Why do we often hear stories or have had experiences where the visual image you have of a sales person is someone who will be pushy? Because they only care for their sale rather than understanding what the customers need?

4. You are engaged.

Let me share a personal story of mine which I experienced whilst in Mumbai.

I had got myself a Samsung S4 earlier this year. I have always been an iPhone fan but have been disappointed with their products ever since Steve Jobs passed away. Though I had got myself an S4, I was using it only for clicking pictures because the picture quality is outstanding and beats iPhone 5 hands down. I decided I’ll use my S4 whilst in Mumbai. My sister uses Samsung and has been a fan of the same. The S4 I have is 16GB memory which is against my normal practice of getting 64GB. So I decided to go to the Samsung shop with my sister and get myself a Micro SD card of 64GB capacity. The person who was servicing me was someone whom my sister has been dealing with. I was pleased with my experience of dealing with him. But the WOW experience was when I, by mistake, deleted the photos on my Micro SD card when I was fiddling with moving and copying things from my phone to the SD Card. I was upset that I had lost all my good pictures. So I did a search on Google and found a method to retrieve deleted photos from the Micro SD card. I called up this person at the shop and told him about the mishap and the possible route of recovery. He said he had never done this before but he can help me because he has a card reader. He told me he will test out this method and call me back within an hour or two. This person went out of his way to help me. He deleted some photos from his own device and checked if this route that I had suggested would work. I recovered my photos and but for the empathy that this salesperson at that shop showed, I would never have been able to do so without any additional expenditure and in such a short time. His act of empathy has now made me a Samsung fan and I am curious to explore the phone and check it out. I also bought two other accessories from that shop. His empathetic behavior has turned me into a satisfied customer. He was a classic example of a super engaged employee and I observed that there were many other return customers, just like my sister, to that shop.

5. You build your brand without concerted efforts in making that happen. The above example fits this point well.

6. You enrich the experience for the customer and get their buy in which holds stead to a long-term relationship.

7. You communicate with clarity and help your and your Company’s growth.

Have you ever considered that if we don’t like something forced down on us why would someone else want that ?
Do you as leaders build an organization that cares and your representatives are empathetic?
Do you treat your customers as the boss in your words, action and behavior?

For Coaching, Facilitating and Speaking Connect. About Lalita Raman

Never Give Up

The dog’s action in this video speaks volumes

To me it spoke about

→Compassion

→Be A Friend First To Have One

→Empathy

→Love

→Never Give Up

→Believe In Yourself

→Trust

→Congruence of body language and facial expression, an important element of communication.

What does it tell you ? I would love to hear your thoughts.
What does this teach us about life?
What does this teach us about relationships

Five Leadership Lessons From Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil shows have been my favorite ever since I saw their first show in Asia, about 15 years back.  Their shows always have something magical and theatrical about them and invokes your senses.

Quick Facts on Cirque Du Soleil 

A clip of Zarkana

I recently watched their Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour Show and on my way home, as I was thinking about their various shows that I have watched and enjoyed, I realized that each of us have a lot to learn from the artists, as individuals and collectively.

Key Lessons

1. Synergy – each of their performers are in sync be it in team acrobatics or on the trapeze or performing on the ropes or balancing on each other. The synchronization of their movements and acts makes the entire show captivating.

This synergy is not possible if they weren’t sure about themselves and if they didn’t practice for hours to perform the way they perform.

2. Trust – When the performers jump from one pole to another or on the ropes, they place their trust in their co-performer.  Watching them jump and perform the acrobatics hanging onto a rope or their co-performers hands is an exhilarating and palpable moment. Trust is well articulated in each of their acrobatic acts. The cast and the performers have respect for each other. Without trust and respect, the literally death-defying acts is not possible.

3. Talents – each of the performers are multi-talented, creative and skilled and able to display the same. Each of their talents is unique and they give an impeccable performance individually and as a team. However, at no stage do they allow their ego to take over.

4. Focus – the crowd is cheering, applauding yet the mindfulness and focus they display is spectacular. How do they manage to excel? Passion, practice, taking guidance from a mentor or coach and an unending desire to excel.

5. Bond - Their artists display a wonderful bond amongst them despite their different backgrounds and cultures and make the several seemingly impossible feats possible. They have created a special bond through their work, with their clientele, who watch their shows year after year in the countries they perform.

I’ve not been fond of circuses, not because of the performance but because of the way the animals and people are treated in many of these Circus Companies.

I’m not sure how Cirque Du Soleil is run but it seems that they have taken care of their people and their people have grown their business.

A leader is no different from the performers at Cirque Du Soleil. As a leader, you need to combine your skills into a single repertoire from which you trust, lead and inspire your team and people around you.  As a leader, you need to push beyond your comfort level, believe in yourself and your team and pave the way forward.

Reflective Questions

Are you ready to lead the way?

What are you doing to create an environment of trust, synergy, mindfulness and grace? 

How do you bring your creativity out?

What do you do when you feel stuck and in a rut? 

What do you do to excel in what you are talented in?

For Coaching, Facilitating, Speaking and Workshops Connect.  About Lalita Raman

 image source

How Are You Connecting With People?

Lalita Raman

Businesses and organizations run because of the people, the relationships and the connections between people. When we network with people we look for common interests or topics to break the ice, strike a conversation and thereafter get into a discussion. In a business scenario, during interviews, a set of questions is asked by different people in an organization of a potential candidate. In each of these situations, be it at work (or in daily life), there is  judgment being made based on skills, qualifications, the ability to make an elevator speech, the way a person talks or present themselves, all of which are external factors.  Also, in today’s age of social media, there is an eagerness to strike a conversation with people who have large number of followers, or if they are famous. Again these are extrinsic factors. However, part of the judgment rests with our own gut feel or our intuition.

In today’s world there seems to be a lot of communication and modes of communication but is real connection happening? Leaders connect because they are human and understand that trust and rapport can’t be built without real connection. Meaningful communication is possible only with real connection.

How do you connect? Do you judge based on peripheral factors or do you take a look at the person intrinsically?

Ten Key Questions that enable you to make a connection with a person.

1. Do you take time to understand the person, their values?

2. Does their behavior and actions reflect their values?

3. How do they treat people who have no titles, or may be a waiter at a restaurant or a receptionist or a security guard?

4. How do they behave in situations of vulnerability ? Do they stand up for a good cause and speak up or tend to adopt a herd mentality?

5. Do they seem eager to prove their authenticity? Are they being too ostentatious in a large social gathering?

6. Do they carry a narcissistic attitude? One that can be observed from their talk to listen ratio.

7. In social media, there are several people who talk about engaging and sharing content. There are also many people in real life who have the gift of gab? Key here is, do they really walk their talk? Is their audio and video congruent?

8. Do they demonstrate empathy or are they too self-centered? Do they carry a positive energy in the way they behave?

9. Do they tend to be solution focused or just a naysayer?

10. How self-aware is this person? How do they react to feedback?

Listening and Observing, both in real life and in the virtual world, is important in connecting, building and maintaining relationships with people.  Skills, qualifications can be stated whereas character & attitude can only be observed and helps you to determine who a person is?

If you aspire to connect and grow as a leader, you need to understand yourself and others better. When you know people care about you and understand you, it makes a lasting connection.

How well are you connecting with people?

What are the Choices you make while connecting with people?

The Human Touch to Leadership

IMG_2823

In today’s day and age we are bombarded by more stimuli than ever before. This stimuli can be from various sources like social media, emails, chats, demands from the real world and from every possible source. Amidst this stimuli, we are expected to be thoughtful and yet give responses in nano seconds or a fraction thereof. In this environment of keeping up to demands, not feeling left out or as if we missed the boat, we create feelings of vacuum and stress within ourselves and amongst others.

Now let’s take the situation of Emily who is either looking to diversify her business or seeking to change her job or starting up a new business venture. She is excited, enthusiastic, is eager to make connections and engages with different people from various walks of life. She meets various types of personalities in this journey.

Who are you among these personalities?

  1. You are candid and give a straight answer “my apologies, but I don’t see any common synergies here for the moment. I am unable to help you with your venture.”
  2. You enquire about what the person does, what made them change careers, what was the key motivation to start the new business venture?. You meet this person at regular intervals and keep the conversation going. This person keeps giving you more and more information on what they have done, what are their plans for future growth. You keep the hope alive in this person but at no point in time have you honored your word in giving this person an opportunity.
  3. You meet Emily once and show interest in what she has to offer or in her business venture and agree with her that you and she should keep the conversation going. You have seen her email, her phone messages but have not responded to her. You are overwhelmed with many commitments in the form of emails, meetings, chats, new business ventures. You keep making new promises and yet have not had the courtesy to acknowledge the emails or the messages.
  4. You see a synergy but don’t have an immediate offer to make. You meet this person and have several conversations over a period of time. You then communicate either in the affirmative or negative.

Do any of these personalities sound familiar to you ?

What do you think Emily is going through when she meets you either in 2 or 3, above. Possibly a feeling of rejection, break of trust, impatience, failing to see how you can be a good leader. Why? Research on Brain Science reveals that, The fear circuit is the most developed and fastest neuronal circuit we can activate both consciously and unconsciously in another person by our actions, words, behavior, body language and other forms of communication or non communication. Once these neurons in the brain are activated, we have lost the goodwill for the other person. As a leader, is this the impression you want to leave with everyone who approaches or meets you ?

What is a key leadership skill : The Human Touch Makes A Difference

1. People are an essential part of your life – no matter who the person is, how you treat people makes a difference. Do you choose to vary your attitude depending on the title and position of the person?  Do you realize that there is a person behind that email or chat? Why not make a simple acknowledgement of “Thank you, seen it, will respond in three days”. Give a time frame that you are able to live up to. If you are unclear about something, why not ask questions? Or if you think you over committed, recognize that mistake and acknowledge it. Silence is not the response expected of a leader.

2. Walking your talk - do you act on your words or just spin the wheel ? Connections can be made only if you engage and treat people with respect and courtesy.  People are the lifeblood of your business. Your word is your personal brand. In what particular ways are you results-oriented in your day-to-day actions?

3. Creating trust and rapport - relationships are built on trust and honesty. By giving false hope to someone you discredit yourself. Would you like to be treated the same way?  How do you go about your relationships?  You can grow and develop your relationships and business only if you create trust and collaborate and communicate. Creating and maintaining long-lasting relationships is not a one way street.

You may have the best of intentions but if your actions are not consistent with your word or intention, you create an environment of dissatisfaction and misunderstanding. As a leader you need to create and live transparency and collaborate with people within and outside your own organization.

Summary:

Do you know what you want ? 

How do you strike the right balance among your various commitments to which you have given your word to? 

How do you deal with people who you perceive to be more successful than you are?

How do you deal with people who are in need?

What does success mean to you ?

What are your main sources of creative input or ideas from others?

How do you add the human touch?

Related References : Brain Blog

On This Father’s Day, a small note of “Thank you”

Lalita Raman

Lalita Raman

I’ve had the great fortune of growing up with a friend, a mentor who is none else than my Dad. My dad is special to me and my appreciation of him has grown over the years. There is not a moment, I hesitate to share what I have to say with my dad and I think this has been possible only because of the space he has always given in our relationship.

He has always lived his values of integrity, discipline, hard work, empathy and love. He has always encouraged my sister and I to be independent, follow our dreams and to believe in ourself.

Life lessons I have learnt from my dad

1.You are your word and always honor your word.
2.If in doubt, ask questions. Communicate and clarify even in situations of conflict.
3.No matter how bad the situation may be, there is a learning from each of those.
4.Treat people with respect and love.
5.Learn, unlearn, relearn and share.
6.Your inner conscience is your guide and to take the journey within is something I have learnt from my parents.
7.Emotions is an essential part of my life and I need to be emotionally aware and express myself.
8. I have grown up in an environment of healthy discussions, debates and analysis be it of books, movies, TV shows or an incident in our daily lives.
9. Family is very important and always make time for your family.
10. Never be in debt and never borrow.
11. I have the power of choice and I have to face the music of my choices.
12. To live within my means and that my behavior and actions needs to reflect my values.
13. To be ambitious but in chasing my dreams and passion, I should not forget to be gratuitous.
14. To be confident of myself, proud of my achievements but never to un-friend humility.
15. To derive strength in every challenge that I face in life and to be an optimist.

My dad has always loved, cared and looked out for me. He has always understood me, listened, empathized and no amount of words will ever be able to articulate the wonderful Dad that I have.

Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables..Do Your Habits Determine You?

Lalita Raman

Lalita Raman

A friend of mine, Jane, a senior manager with a FMCG company, manages six direct reports who in turn manage four to five people each. Jane to us, is one of the most enthusiastic, authentic and a gregarious person. When she started leading a team, about 4 years back, she faced issues of underperformance from her team. She did not realize that this underperformance was mainly from her leadership skills or rather from one of her age-old habits.

She initially attributed the reasons for underperformance to pressures of time and lack of resources. She decided to hire a coach after reflecting on the consistent underperformance of her team. It was only then that she realized that it was her habit of assuming that her team understood and bought into every change that was introduced, was the key reason for the disconnect.

We are all creatures of habit, good or bad. Some of these habits we are unaware of just like Jane, till we start reflecting, and making ourselves aware and then looking at the consequences.

We become what we repeatedly do. Did you know that our subconscious mind is much more powerful than our conscious mind?

It is our subconscious mind – the habitual mind that dictates most of our thoughts and actions. What does this mean?

Most of us spend our time on an autopilot mode in the way we behave and act. This could be unconsciously competent or unconsciously incompetent part of us. Take the example of someone who has been driving a car for years. This person is almost on an auto pilot mode whilst driving. Most people whilst driving are engaged in a conversation. When you think about this, it is scary.

Our subconscious mind is like a fertile soul that accepts any seed planted. Thus our habitual thoughts, feelings, and actions are a result of what we sow in our subconscious mind. So be it eating dessert after every meal, or acting like a bully in every situation of life, or making yourself loud and known no matter where you are, are habits and they result from our subconscious mind and what we have sown there.

Do we need to get rid of all our habits ? Absolutely not

We manifest good and bad habits and it is some of these bad habits that affects our health, our relationships, our behavior as a leader in day-to-day life or within organizations.

How do we get over bad habits? FOR THE FULL POST PLEASE CLICK ON LINK

 

Values Are Like Fingerprints… Are You Leading With Your Values?

Lalita Raman

Lalita Raman

It is Friday evening and you are looking forward to your long overdue vacation. You are working on the final touches of your proposal to get a new line of business approved. The proposal is almost ready barring some details on some legal challenges that you are awaiting from your legal department. You receive the legal opinion and when you read it, you realize that a key element is missing. Not considering this aspect might hurt the franchise of the business in the future. The only person aware about this is you and none else.
What would you do?
Would you rather let it go because you’ll never be found out or blamed or would you listen to your inner voice which tells you how important it is to highlight this specific legal risk.

What is this inner voice that whispers to you at various moments in your day and life. A whisper to the effect “There is no way you can do that. it’s not right”.

Each of us have core values whether we realize it or not. Core values is what is imbibed in us from the day we are born. Some values we instill in us as we are growing. Values sit within our memory and are deep-rooted. They are not written anywhere but are those which we live through our behavior and actions.

Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do. ~Elvis Presley

You are your personal brand. Personal brand is not just about you being a CEO or CFO or Fashion designer but it is what you are in what you do and how you choose to show your values in your career and the various roles you perform.

Key questions on Values – For the full post refer LINK

Top Five Questions On Work-Life Balance

Lalita Raman

Lalita Raman

Jack has had several busy work weeks. His morning starts off early and his day doesn’t end till after midnight. He spends most of his weekends working. He realizes that he doesn’t have time for his family, friends or “me” time.
He was constantly in catch-up mode and feels he is in a manic rat-race. He wondered where and when he had lost his work-life balance.

Work-life balance is a catch-all phrase that is considered to be a big problem in many people’s life.
Do you think that work-life balance is an issue for you ?
What does the phrase work-life balance mean to you ?

1. Do you know who you are?
Have you discovered your a) personal goals, b) business and career goals and c) personal growth and development goals?
Personal goals - this is what drives you from moment to moment in your quest for knowledge, your relationships, your family, your desire to earn money, how you see yourself and in the society you live.
Business and career goals – This is the means (how) by which you achieve your personal (why) goals, both tangible and intangible. What skills do you need to develop your talents so that you can progress in your career.
Personal Development Goals – what is your purpose? What are your values? Who are you? An identity that is not associated with what you do but a reflection of your values and your behavior and action. This is the goal that assists you in growth and self-development.

2. What are you passionate about?
Think of all those things that you absolutely love to do. These are activities, which even if you do only for a short time in a day refreshes you. There are many times in our life where we cut down on our sleep, “me `time” and many other activities because we have to complete a project. I’ve found that even during these moments in my life, listening to music or working out may be for a short span of fifteen minutes helps me rejuvenate and I don’t feel overwhelmed. Taking time out for things you absolutely love helps you focus better.

3. What would you do if you had no limits or you knew you would not be judged for what you do?
Even if you are a person who is confident and not that concerned about what people think, you succumb to the pressure to excel in what you do. The pressure from your own inner standards and also one from the outer world where you want to be appreciated rather than judged. When you feel you are on a hamster wheel, asking yourself about the possibilities helps you break your mental frame of mind. Your priorities become clear when you let yourself lose from the shackles of your mind.

4. Do you take a flexible approach?
A routine and structure is good but every day need not look the same. Taking a break from the routine helps you re-energize. Sometimes your work may need more of your time and at other times your personal life. Be flexible.

5. Do you embrace perfection? Whilst there is nothing wrong in maintaining high standards of quality in whatever you deliver, you cannot be at all places at all times. Learn to let go be it at home or work. You are not indispensable and life at work or home will go on without you being present all the time at both these places.

If you set your priorities right and have made a choice to spend more time on one aspect of your life for a period of time, don’t allow your mind to play games. Go with the flow, be present in whatever you are doing and reenergize with power naps or breaks.

Whenever you feel imbalance in your work and personal life, reexamine your life, your time usage and determine if you need to re-prioritize.

What is your vision?
What do you seek to achieve?
What are you doing to get closer to your vision?