Competencies for tomorrow ?

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I was recently in a business school attending a business conference. The theme was – “Metamorphisis – Reshape, recreate and transform. While I was speaking of the speed and rate of change in the environment around us, I did highlight the impact of Digitalization and its impact on human resources. This then led me to speak of three key competencies, which students need to evolve to be successful in the business of tomorrow.

The first competency is “Mindset”. Today organisations recruit for mindset and not for skills. The belief is that skills can be developed but mindset is very difficult to change in any adult. Hence, it is critical to have the right attitude and mindset for change. We need to believe that the world is full of possibilities and we are there to make things happen. If we are able to evolve this mindset in ourselves, we are likely to be a winner in any environment.

A positive attitude to work and life not only make you a winner, it enables you to inspire your team as well. I have been privileged to work with leaders and teams, who have always believed in possibilities. This is indeed infectious. This has led me to be an optimist in life always. I have never believed anything is impossible. It is only a factor of time and the efforts we put in to achieve our goal.

The second competency in my view is “Adaptability & flexibility”. A simple example could be our concept of job mobility. We should be willing to pack up our bags and work in any part of the world for any type of industry. Many of us are mobile but conditionally. We would say we are willing to be posted in metros in India or in the USA or Europe. When asked if we are open to be posted in the north east of India for example or for that matter in the African continent we may have excuses like ageing parents or kids in school etc. Unconditional mobility will take you places in your career and that would be flexibility and adaptability in our career.

Many of us disappointed when we do not get a posting in a place of our choice. We start complaining from day one. I would recommend that we consider it an opportunity to work in a new place rather than crib about not getting one’s preference. I was recently reading an article, where the author was saying that she renamed her daily “To-do list” to “Possibilities for the day”. This name change itself makes it flexible and possible. As otherwise, many of us would make to do lists every day and it will remain the same for days with us.

The third competency would be a “Learning” attitude. We need to be learning for life. There is no subject or field in the world which has a first and a last chapter. We can never imagine ourselves to be master of any field. Hence, it is critical for us to update ourselves everyday and keep in tune with the real world. For example if we take social media, the youth of today are not in Facebook anymore. They have moved to Twitter or Instagram. Class room training is not the only or the best way to learn anymore. We have hundreds of ways to keep learning every day.

I have met people who are constantly learning languages, new skills and concepts all the time. Age, vocation or location is never a constraint. It is our mindset and adaptability which would evolve us as a life long learner. We can learn from everyone around us. We can even learn from every object around us. Nature has its unique ways of teaching us every day. It is up to us to inculcate the learning attitude in life.

So for me it is clear – Mindset, Adaptability/flexibility & Learning attitude is the key to future leaders.

Why not reset and start today ?

S Ramesh Shankar

31st August 2017

When you feel something is good, everything is good…


I am a born optimist and have always considered life as full of possibilities and opportunities. Interestingly I have noticed that if you think positive, then everything around you looks positive for you. On the other hand, if you crib for everything in life, nothing seems to work for you. I do not know if this has any scientific basis or not but I believe that life evolves for us the way we believe in it.

I can share many incidents in my life where I have been caught up in difficult situations but have always found a way out because I believed there is a way out. Life revolves around what you believe in. If you think it is good, everything around you looks good. On the other hand, if you believe life is a curse, nothing seems positive around you. One may call this your attitude to life and I believe it is true and it works for me.

My daughter finished her graduation in journalism and wanted to pursue her post graduation in mass communication. I was hoping that she will get admission to the best school of mass communication for the same. She not only got admission but did pursue her studies in the same school and came out with flying colours and further got a dream job from her campus placements.

I moved to Bangalore from Delhi after I changed my job. My son had passed out his tenth class and was to admitted to a new school for his further education. I tried many schools but I believed he will make it and get admission near my house. He not only got admission on merit in one of the best schools near my house but also passed out from that school and further pursued his graduation in business management as he had dreamt.

There have been days in my life at work, where I have felt bored and almost wanted to quit. But I did believe that something good is likely to happen to me and I have been nominated for a new project, which has been a turning point in my career. Every change in the trajectory of my career has happened because I believed in myself and also pursued my dreams through hard work and determination.

My wife has always been around to help someone in need. She will be the first person to offer her services to anyone in need. I have seen her rushing to my daughter for help or to my parents or my in laws. This helping attitude of hers ensures that we are never in trouble. In my entire career and life, I have never faced a situation, where I have felt lonely or not cared for. I believe this is because of the positive service attitude of my wife.

I have seen my eldest sister stay in multiple cities. She has always been blessed with good neighbourhood and good servants at home to help her. Of course, she is a noble human being and hence may be blessed with such benefits because of her goodness. But I also believe that she always thinks good about others and hence all people around her appear to be good.

It is this belief, which makes all the difference in our lives. If we believe something good will happen, it will happen. If we think people around us are good, they turn out to be good. If we are courteous and generous with others, everyone is helpful to you and so on. Life always gives you what you deserve. It also gives you back the way you look at life.

If you are willing to admire nature, then you get immersed in the lap of nature as in the photo above.

If we think positive, life is positive. Let us believe everything which happens around us is good, and it will turn out to be good.

Let us try it.

S Ramesh Shankar

Accepting defeat with grace…

We witnessed elections in the world’s largest democracy over the last two months. It was characterised by political debates, accusations, allegations and counter allegations as one can expect from such an event.

I admire the Election Commission of India for meticulously planning and organising a fair and largely peaceful election in a seamless manner. We were possibly the first country in the world to adopt electronic voting machines. We can be proud of this accomplishment, which many developed nations have not been able to adopt so far.

However, what we see as an aftermath of such a massive exercise is blame game. Political parities find faults with the election commission. They also blame the electronic voting machines for their losses. Today a political leader even went to the extent of blaming foreign forces for their defeat.

I am amazed at such reactions. One life lesson is to accept a “win” with humility and a “loss” with grace. After all the public at large comprises of citizens like you and me. We are well educated and make our judgement based on ground realities. We elect parties or leaders for their credence and not for any other reason.

We need to educate our political class to adapt to the technological changes impacting them. Today is it is electronic voting machines. Tomorrow it could be artificial intelligence or the blockchain, which may play a role in elections. What surprises me is that the so called educated politicians, who are professionally qualified like lawyers, management graduates, engineers, doctors etc are the first to criticise this way when they lose or their party faces defeat in the hustings.

My learning in life is to accept defeat with “grace” as much as treat victory with “humility”. This is what we can learn from all the best sportspersons in the world. A sportsperson glowing with arrogance after a victory fades into history. On the other hand, the humble sportsperson, who bows out with grace even in defeat is always the winner in our minds.

Politicians need to learn this lesson in life. We should not end up blaming our constitutional bodies and institutions for narrow political gains. After all, the citizens in modern India want better roads, clean drinking water, good health facilities and world class infrastructure. We want jobs for all who need it and health and happiness for the common man. We envision India as the best and the happiest country in the world.

It is time for political parities and politicians to rise above narrow archaic beliefs and work for the larger good of the nation. Let parliament work for 100% of the days, pass all needed legislations. Let the honest citizens be rewarded and the crooks in society be booked.

It is time for us to make India the best democracy in the world apart from being the largest. The government and the opposition needs to work hand in hand like the twin lilies in the photo above.

Let us learn to accept defeat with grace and victory with humility.

S Ramesh Shankar

26th May 2019

Life is full of “Choices”

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We all face ups and downs in life. We are happy about our decisions when things go well but feel disappointed when they things don’t go our way. This is natural. However, on reflection I feel that we always have choices in life and it is up to us to make a choice. Sometimes we may end up making a wrong choice and it ok to accept it as a reality. It is not fair to believe that there were no alternatives before us.

Let us recall any incident in life. I am reminded of the first car I bought in my career. It was a second hand car. In 1987, the company gave me a loan and I could not afford to buy a new car with that money and hence opted to buy a second hand car. This car I had bought after due consideration and review amongst the choices I had in front of me. Fortunately it turned out to be a good choice. I used the car for five years and sold it at a profit after that. Assuming it had been a bad choice, can I blame my employer to give me a limited loan or blame the seller for selling his car to me. I always had the option of buying a car or not buying a car. I could have bought a second hand or a new car. I could have bought some other brand too.

So, my learning in life is that in everything we do, we have choices. We always make our decision based on the best available information in front of us. Sometimes our choice may work out and at other times it may not. This does not mean we do not choices in life. We end up blaming the environment or at least try to externalise or blame the environment for the wrong choices we make. I think this is not fair. We have to own up the choices we make and take full responsibility for the choices we make.

I chose a junior in college and opted to marry her. After due consideration and with her unconditional consent, we decided to marry. Today it is 35 years since we are happily married. Today I can say it was the right choice since it has worked for me. Assuming it had not worked out for either of us, can we blame each other. Nobody forced us to marry. Neither our parents coerced us nor anyone else. We had a choice to marry or not to marry. How can we blame anyone for our decision to marry ?

I feel life is no different. We always have multiple choices in front of us. It is up to us to take our own time, evaluate all the options and then make the best choice in our best judgement at that point of time. We have take full responsibility for our choice and be willing face the consequences if it does not work for us. When it works, we are happy to own our decision and when it does not we want to blame someone else or the environment around us.

I recently met a college teacher who very nicely explained the concept of internal locus of control. He said in life we have to believe that everything is under our control and we are responsible for all our actions. In every situation, we have a choice to say yes or no. We also have a choice to say may be. We could decide then and there or take our time to decide. In every situation, we have to believe that our decision is ours. Everything is under our control and we can make things happen around us. This way life becomes a journey of possibilities. Otherwise, life appears as a road full of obstacles.

I also recently read a very nice suggestion. We all make a “To Do” list every day for our daily chores. Most of us end up either not beginning those tasks or finishing only half of them. It was suggested that instead of calling it the “To Do” list, if we call it “Possibilities” it changes the way we look at it. It infuses a positive energy and makes everything look possible. The chances of our accomplishing the majority of them looks brighter.

Even a diabetic has a choice to eat a tempting sapota/chiku or not. If he eats, he only needs to exercise a little more that day. Nothing more than that.

Let us believe that life is full of choices and we are in full control of it.

Let us begin today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Learning management from kids

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I have always been a great fan of kids. I have felt energised in their company and learn from them in every interaction. Of course, they do test our patience at times but so do we. I was wondering if it is a good idea to translate today’s management concepts to what we could learn from the behaviour of kids. We may not have realised it during the incident but if we look back, it is interesting and provides great insights.

Mission : I remember an incident from my childhood when I ran for miles behind a gas balloon which had flown away from my hand. While looking back and logically it may look foolish. But the kids have high levels of perseverance and never give up to achieve their mission in life.

Strategy : I am reminded of many incidents where my son has strategised and accomplished what he wanted to get in his life. Once my son wanted to go with his classmates in college for an educational tour. He had made up his mind and had evolved a foolproof strategy to achieve his goal. He first tried with me and then with his mother. He then pursued the same with his teacher and made his teacher convince us of how useful it would be to send him. Thus, although initially we had not approved his tour, he did make it finally.

Conflict resolution : While kids may end up fighting at the drop of a hat, I have seen them resolving conflicts much easier than adults. What I have noticed in them is that they are ready to move on in life. They are willing to forgive and forget. As adults, we tend to carry the grudge for our lifetime. Our egos prevent us from forgiving others and we are worried as to who has to first ring the bell for peace.

Listening : Do we remember how our kids listened to stories at night ? Even today when I see my grandson who is 7 years old listen to my wife I am stunned at his level of concentration. When he is listening to a story, he is in rapt attention. He does not fiddle around a mobile phone or watch TV and also listen. This is what most of us do. Hence, kids can take a class for us on attentive listening, which is critical for success as a leader.

Communication : While behavioural scientists have established that more than seventy percent of behaviour is non verbal, we do not use it effectively in our day to day communication. We need to learn from kids. A child may communicate effectively even without uttering a word. The expressions on their face , the laughter, the cry and et all can speak more than a thousand words.

Interpersonal skills : I have seen kids mingle even with strangers without any bias. Why do adults find it difficult to work in a team even with people known to them ? One of the factors I have noticed in kids is that they do not have any conscious or unconscious bias towards others. They are willing to let go. They take the initiative to interact and are willing to accommodate others in the group. As adults, we seem to have erased these qualities as we grow up.

Perseverance : I have seen kids go up and down the slide multiple times till they succeed. I have never seen them give up in life on anything. Why do we as adults tend to give up even before we give things a try ? Kids have the patience and the perseverance, which we need to learn. As we grow up our patience fades and so does our perseverance. We end up making simple things complicated and thus give up even without a try.

It may be worthwhile to observe the kids around us and learn management from them. The lessons are practical and real life. We can refresh our knowledge, skills and attitude to life. What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Learning “Motherhood” on Mothers’ day

I am not a great fan of “Mothers day”, “Father’s Day” etc, which are celebrated off late around the world. In my view, it is more a marketing gimmick for selling more products and promoting brands. Having said that, the second Sunday of every year is celebrated as “International Mothers’ day”. I would rather learn motherhood from the wonderful mothers around me rather than promote a marketing gimmick.

What can we learn from our mothers ? I would list five qualities, which I have learnt and admired from the mothers I have interacted in my life. There could be many more and these are my significant five. You could share your valuable five and this way we could learn from each other.

The first quality which a mother exudes is “Patience”. I have hardly seen a mother who does not put in extra efforts to display her patience. Right from feeding an infant or dealing with the antics of a child or bracing with the rebellion of an adolescent, a mother teaches us precious lessons on patience.

Perseverance is the second quality I have learnt from mothers. A mother never gives up. They don’t give up on anything. They are willing to convince anyone for getting their things done. They will follow up with anyone and everyone for the sake of their kids at school or otherwise.

The third quality one can adore in mothers is their “Selflessness”. In today’s world, most of us are so self centred that we forget many a time that there is a world around us. A mother on the other hand is serving others all the time and in this process,most of the time, forgets that she has her own world to live in. She lives for others all the time.

Loyalty is best learnt from mothers. They are loyal to their parents, their in laws, their children , sisters, brothers and their friends. While men may also be loyal, the unconditional loyalty of mothers’ is to experienced to be believed. It is to be believed to be learnt from our mothers.

The fifth quality I admire in mothers is their “unconditional love”. We all express our love and expect the same from others as human beings. However, mothers tend to love unconditionally. I cannot visualise a mother loving someone conditionally. This gives them the power of letting go when the love is not reciprocated in equal measure. This is when most of us find it difficult and feel hurt in our lives.

As I said earlier, a mother is an epitome of humanness. She is endowed with limitless qualities but I thought let me share my best five and request you to comment and share yours so that together we learn from one another.

As in the photo above, a mother appreciates her kid as much as she would do to other kids around her.

Our best tribute to mothers would be to imbibe at least one of these attributes from our mothers and live it every day of our life.

S Ramesh Shankar

12th May 2019

I don’t get what I am searching for…

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Yesterday I was searching for sugar in the kitchen and I could not find it. Isn’t many things in life similar. We are in search of something and we never get it. Let us start from our childhood. Most of us may agree that we did not get the toys to play that we desired for. We may not have got selected to the course we wanted to study or the schools/college which we dreamt of.

This trend continues as we grow up in life. We, in our adolescence want the world in our pockets but end up disappointed. We then move to start our career. Many of us start our career in areas which we did not want to. If we are lucky to get the role of our dreams, we end up in a location which we hate. This factor may look like a never ending journey.

Then once in the job, we do not get nominated for projects we want to be part of. On the contrary, we may end up in doing projects which we never wanted to. I sometimes wondered why this happens to us in our lives. We get transferred to roles much against our wishes. We wonder if it happens only to us. We are disappointed to say the least and also get a feeling if we stop learning at such times.

This phenomenon happens in real life too. We search for peace and we end up in chaos. We want to work in a metro and end up with a posting in a remote village or town. We feel frustrated to say the least. We wonder why such a thing happens. In most cases, we end up cursing our luck. We tend to believe that it is our destiny and we cannot do much about it. We accept it and hope that it passes away sooner than later.

I could not sleep yesterday night since I could never find the sugar in the kitchen. I continued the search in the morning and found it in the fridge in a plastic container(photo above). Then I realised that may be I was assuming it to be at a particular place in a particular type of container and it wasn’t to be. Life is no different. This is what happens in our life too. We believe life is like that and we to have to accept it that way.

We have assumptions and mindsets. In our childhood, we take things for granted. We think we deserve everything we desire irrespective of whether we need it or our parents can afford it. ‘Then in adolescence, the psychology of our rebellious behaviour makes us unhappy at everything which does not happen for us the way we want it to happen. In work life, we believe that everyone around us is dutiful to make us happy. We are expected to get what we want to do and not what the organization wants us to do.

So, this is the real learning of my life. We have to believe that we can make the best of everything which happens to us in life, if we want to. If we don’t get the sugar in the kitchen, we can reduce the intake of calories for the day. If we did not get the toys to play in childhood, we could have spent more time in studies or other hobbies. We could learnt a new skill if we had all the time during our adolescence.

At work, every role gives us a opportunity to learn and grow. If we try to be the best in everything we are expected to do, we will excel and grow at all times. Life has its own way of teaching us lessons every day. I realised that my inability to find sugar in the kitchen while I was making coffee for a friend was one of the ways for me to realise that life is all about our mindset and our attitude.

If we are willing to challenge our mindset, then life has a lot to teach us. It is up to us to make the best of what happens to us. It is the way we look at life, which makes all the difference. If we solidify our mindset and are not adaptive to change, then we have nobody else to blame than ourselves. Let us give life a chance and learn every day through whatever happens to us.

S Ramesh Shankar