KV Venugopalan

If you want to know how good your company’s products are, attend your competitor’s sales meeting. And if you want to know how bad is their product attend their Support Executives meeting. And this behaviour is universal. Why?

Those at the senior management level might say that we are our worst critic and such unique behaviour is essential for development. If objective self-assessment is the purpose, I am in full agreement; however, the real fact is entirely different. In real life self-deprecate something is to belittle it or downgrade it. That is, to reduce its perceived status, importance, and value.

Every Marketing or Sales person must know that their job is to sell whatever products that are available in their sales desk. Efforts should be made to find ways and means, positioning strategies and market opportunities to maximise their business. Instead, a major part of the sales meeting time is wasted in praising the competitors’ products and criticising our own products. Since this behaviour is universal, we must go deeper into the causes and suggest alternate solutions to optimise the meeting time to make it productive.

What are the possible causes of such behaviour?

  1. A genuine self-assessment to understand our strengths, weaknesses, and that of our competitors so that marketing and sales strategy could be fine-tuned accordingly.
  2. An insurance policy for the sales team, in case they fail to meet their sales budget. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self.
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. Standard cry of those who blame everything else other than themselves when things go wrong in their life.
  5. Refusing to admit that they are responsible: Some people cannot admit failures and mistakes so they blame others for them in order to escape from the responsibility.

Such behaviour is seen at individual level also. While it is acceptable to be humble, stretching it too far becomes self-deprecating and is considered a negative attribute. People with self-deprecating behaviour often compares themselves with others and feel inadequate and ashamed of themselves. Depression is a possible outcome.

How to overcome such thoughts and behaviour so that every one of us becomes confident and proud of ourselves. There is a very important stanza in Bhagavad Gita that explains this behaviour

uddhared atmanatmanam, natmanam avasadayet

atmaiva hy atmano bandhur, atmaiva ripur atmanah

bandhur atmatmanas tasya, yenatmaivatmana jitah

anatmanas tu satrutve, vartetatmaiva satru-vat

A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy.

What happens in organizations? If you do not get the expected promotion or salary increment, you blame others, your boss, your colleagues or the organization itself for its policies and everything else. But never yourselves! There is a proverb, which says that, “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its wings. Always believe in yourself….”. Generally, people feel inadequate, doubtful and afraid and look outside for support to achieve things or positions in their life. That is a wishful thinking. There is only one person responsible for your growth or downfall. That is yourself.

So how do we elevate ourselves and be our best friend as the Gita says. Here are some of my tips.

  1. Have confidence in yourself. We are all unique in our own ways and have our destiny to achieve. Do not compare with others or try to do what others do. Find your own path and reach your destined destination.
  2. Success is first achieved in our minds. Plan, prepare and work hard towards achieving your success. If you do not know where to go and what to do, start with reading books. There are plenty of very useful books such as Success through Positive Mental Attitude, Think and Grow Rich, 7 Habits of Highly effective people, The Power of Positive Thinking, Who moved my cheese, Eat that Frog, etc.
  3. Work hard to achieve Technical knowledge and expertise, Professional skills and positive attitude, attributes essential for success.  
  4. Practice self-discipline. Waking up early, regular exercise, proper meals and rest, meditation, etc. helps you keep both physically and mentally fit.
  5. Keep on improving every day. Find your weak points and work hard to eliminate those. Seek regular feedback from people who matter or a mentor, coach.
  6. Set big goals and stay focused.
  7. Energy, enthusiasm, inspiration and perspiration. These are essential for success.
  8. Develop good habits, eliminate bad habits and practice time management.
  9. Celebrate success.

You are unique and be proud of yourself!

Indian analytical industry is passing through another difficult phase currently and most companies are struggling to meet their budget and expectations of the stakeholders. How do you ensure that the impact of business slowdown is minimum for your company?

In their book ‘The Discipline of Market Leaders‘ M. Treacy and F. Wiersema argue that no company can succeed today by trying to be all things to all people. It must instead find the unique value that it alone can deliver to a chosen market. These three value disciplines are Operational Excellence, Product Leadership and Customer Intimacy. Different customers buy different kinds of value. Some customer segments appreciate low prices, while others want the most superior and innovative products. Some customers expect the best of the best customer service, while others want to be able to get quickly a reliable product and support without much hassle. It is therefore important to clearly choose your customer and narrow the value you want to focus on. Market leaders choose to excel in delivering extraordinary levels of one particular value while maintaining a threshold standard on other dimensions of value.

While companies pursuing operational excellence concentrate on making their operations lean and efficient, those pursuing a strategy of customer intimacy continuously tailor their products and services to meet every possible expectations of the customer. Companies that pursue product leadership strive to produce a continuous stream of state-of-the-art products and services. Expected outcome of these individual strategies is lower price, superior service and technological leadership respectively. While every company should strive to excel in any one discipline keeping the other two at or above industry standard, no company can or try to excel in all the three discipline, as they are not always complimentary. What should the analytical companies in India should focus on?

Ninety percent of the top end analytical instruments are imported into India, as we have not developed the technological expertise or infrastructure to achieve self-sufficiency in one of the critical element of our scientific backbone and economy. Nine out of the top ten suppliers are subsidiaries of multinational companies who must follow their global corporate guidelines for sales and support. What must these and other companies must focus on to be successful?

Among the three disciplines we discussed earlier, Indian subsidiaries of the multinational companies have no direct role in product design and development. They may give suggestions but must always focus on selling what is available at the company’s platform. Neither they have much influence over achieving operational excellence except for fine-tuning the local field operations and improve efficiency. However, the one discipline they have control and must excel is Customer intimacy, even if that may not be the global corporate focus. Why is it critical?

What are the expectations of an Indian customer? Essentially, she is looking for superior Product with adequate Performance, excellent Reliability, reliable Quality and good Productivity. Support should be Excellent, Effortless, less expensive and hassle free. Systems should be priced as low as possible so that they can compete in the world markets with their products. Customer Expectations keeps rising with demands on their jobs and based on services they receive from competitors or other vendors with whom they are interacting at a professional or personal level. Another important reason why Indian companies should focus on providing superior support is that there is lack of reliable, experienced and trustworthy third party service providers unlike in many other industries such as consumer durables, home appliances or computers. No engineering college teaches high-end analytical instruments such as Chromatography, Mass spectrometry, NMR, etc. Therefore, supplier companies usually hire fresh engineers and train them for a long time on their products and technologies to make them competent and productive. Only those companies who can meet these expectations can sustain their operations and grow their business year after year. While it may not be always possible to meet the expectations in terms of price that would be more than overcome but even compelling for your customers to always come back to you for the quality and reliability of the support. Price is critical only at the time of purchase but quality and reliable of your support remains visible and important to the users throughout the lifetime of the equipment. If you can provide that kind of total support and get your customers’ total trust, you ensure your success today and tomorrow.

Another important factor that companies must focus on is the long-term value of retaining customers. A loyal customer is the biggest asset of any company and only a delighted customer is loyal customer. While most companies focus on achieving customer satisfaction by meeting their expectations, to make a customer delighted you must exceed their expectations and set new benchmark for support every day. Therefore let customer success be your mantra for success.

 

In our society or in organizations you will find two categories of people, thinkers and doers. Thinkers realize what is right and wrong and have a sense of rationality. They also tend to be excellent planners. Whereas doers are action oriented and excellent in execution. Generally it is difficult to find a thinker who is doer or vice versa. Only when both these qualities reside in one person, progress happens with equality and justice.

A Professor of Management could be a thinker who can teach great theories but not necessarily execute those theories into practice and make a team and company successful. Even in organizations a thinker could at times paralyze day to day operation due to continuous analysis. At the same time creative ideas can only be generated by thinkers, which absolutely crucial for continued success in a highly competitive environment. Thinkers are open to new ideas, new concepts and are constantly trying to improve or change the way things are done. They are willing to experiment and change and try new things, new processes, invent new products or services. Doers are the people who get things done. They prefer an efficient, optimized process and don’t appreciate tinkering with the process or with people who introduce a lot of change. Doers don’t like change as change is disruptive to the existing norms and processes. Clearly every society and organization needs both “Thinkers” and “Doers” and people who can be the bridge between the two camps. A firm composed completely of Thinkers is basically a research lab or a think tank, while a firm composed completely of “Doers” is ideal for military at the junior ranks and not evolving business. We need both of these skill sets to be effective in any operation.

At the national level, we had the planning commission, who are great ‘thinkers’, but if the commission consists mainly of academics and scientists, their plans may not be suitable at the ground level for implementation. In fact ministries responsible for implementation, hates planning commission because many plans are un-implementable. That is the difference between ‘birds eye view’ and ‘worms eye view’. At 30,000 feet above the ground, the bird can see complete picture and give directions to the ground team in which way they must proceed to reach the destination successfully. However they may not see the real obstacles that are on the ground that inhibits implementation. Hence one need both bird’s eye view and worm’s eye view to make a great plan that would be successful.

 

 

Sama, Dana, Bheda, Danda, Maya, Upeksha and Indrajala are the seven techniques used by Kings to rule their Kingdoms. This is a political methodology to approach a given situation. Start with conciliation or gentle persuasion (Sama). If that does not help, offer money/material wealth (Dana). If that still does not change the status quo, use threat or cause dissension (Bheda). Use punishment or violence (Danda) to resolve the situation where the previous three fail. Use of illusions or deceit (Maya), deliberately ignoring people (Upeksha), use of jugglery (Indrajala) are also suggested to resolve any situation.

1) Sama – It is the best means to attract and convert others to one’s side. It consists in winning people with sweet words and looks. People who are friendly by temperament and straightforward may be brought round by Sama. ‘Sama’ can be deployed in four ways.

1. Praising the merits: This can be done by flattering a person on the basis of his personal qualities, occupation, good nature, learning or wealth.

2. Linkage: Emphasizing relationship with the concerned person.

3. Mutual benefits: Explaining how solving the conflict can benefit the two parties.

4. Awards and honors: To award an internal enemy and give him honors to tame his warring tendency.

2) Dana – There are five kinds or varieties of dana (gift) viz. pritidana, dravyadana, svayarhgraha, deya and pratimoksa. If a person gets help from another and acknowledges help by reward that reward is called pritidana. The miser and the poor should be brought round by pritidana. Military captains, heroes and citizens should be won over by this dana. Those who fall at feet should be honoured by dana. The gifts can be of many kinds: giving up demand on what is owed, return something received, donate something, allowing to keep something from the enemy, etc. are some of them.

3) Bheda – Bhedopaya is of three kinds: to destroy or end the friendship between people, to create dissension and to make the parties quarrel with each other. First step is to identify the persons who can be influenced by this technique. He who is falsely criticized, he who has been invited to come and then insulted, the angry one, the unreasonably forsaken one, he who harbors hatred in his mind, he who has not been respected though deserving of respect, etc. are some of the kind of people one can influence to create dissention in the enemy camp. 

4) Danda – Dandopaya is of three kinds, viz, killing, denuding of wealth, and inflicting pain on the body or torture. Danda has two other forms, prakasa (open) and aprakasa (secret). Those who have become objects of hatred to all people should be subjected to ‘prakasa’ danda. People, whose killing the world will detest, should not be killed openly, but only secretly. The King, who possesses the three powers (of wealth, army and people’s support) and is fully conscious of the time and environmental factors should annihilate enemies by the instrument of danda. Evil people should be defeated by danda itself.

5) Maya – Maya means practicing deception by magic or other yogic powers. The powers can be acquired by practice. People who employ this go about at night in various disguises. They disguise themselves as beautiful women or even as animals. They also deceive people by creating illusions of clouds, fire or lightning. For instance, Bhima killed Kicaka by going to him in the guise of a woman.

6) Upeksa – Not to dissuade people who indulge in unjustifiable grief, war etc. is the principal aim of the upaya called upeksa

7) Indrajalopaya (magic) – To scare the enemy is the aim of lndrajala.  By magic one can create illusions of clouds, darkness, rain, fire, etc. in order to instil fear among troops of the enemy etc.

Successful Managers and Sales persons employ these techniques every day in their life. Personal and organizational success hinges on how well you persuade people to willingly follow your directions. Your boss may give you specific powers, but execution and results come from successfully influencing others. Most of us try to persuade by using our best arguments, best data, logical flow charts and rationality to generate the thinking, decisions and actions we seek. But science says that most decisions are emotional.

Every leader or manager depends on getting things done through others. Let us evaluate how we can apply the principle of ‘Saptopaya’ (7 techniques) in our day to day life.

Sama – Winning people with motivational and sweet words, showing the benefit of doing things in a particular way, skill development training, counselling, etc. are all part of Sama technique.

Dana – Incentive schemes are a great motivator for superior performance. Higher increments, promotion, awards and rewards are all techniques employed by organizations to persuade employees achieve higher performance in their organizations.

Bheda – differentiating people based on performance and behavior is very common in organizations. High performers are given more financial rewards, faster promotions, better performance ratings and rankings in during annual performance reviews and included in select clubs etc. to differentiate them from average or below performers.

Danda – warning letters, salary cuts, demotions and finally terminations are some of the method employed by Managers.

These four methods are the most popular ones. Maya is employing deception. Making calls to your offices to check how people are responding, visiting incognito to stores or offices to gauge employee performance and response, etc. are part of Maya. Ignoring people by not wishing them, not inviting them for company meetings, not copying them on important internal communications, etc. are some kind of Upeksa.

An outstanding sales person also employs these techniques every day. Can you think of few instances and respond to this article?

 

We make hundreds decisions every day. Decision making is a process of making choices with the available options and information. Whether they are routine in nature or those impact ours and others life, making good decisions takes time, practice and conscious thought. Your knowledge and ability to make sound judgment pays a vital role in good decisions.  It is critically important that we evaluate all options before taking actions on important matters in life. I usually follow the 4Dprinciple, Do, Delay, Delegate or Dump, but the crux is in deciding which one to do, delay or delegate. Certain decisions in life or business are good to delay particularly in a fast changing environment. Here is a story from Mahabharata.

Chirakari is the son of Gautama Maharishi. He used to think deeply before doing any deed and so he earned the name Chirakari. Once when Gautama was away from the ashram Indra came there as a guest. Considering it as her duty to treat a guest of her husband properly during his absence Ahalya received him well and gave him fruit to ease his tiredness. Indra went back. Gautama on knowing this on his return suspected the chastity of his wife and calling his son Chirakari to his side asked him to cut off her head. After giving the order Gautama went to the forests.

Chirakari had a peculiar nature. He will ponder over things deeply before taking any action. He knew he must obey the orders of his father but killing one’s own mother was a greater sin than disobeying a father. In obedience to his father’s order Chirakari came before his mother, weapon in hand. He did not kill her immediately but pondered over the consequences of the deed. How shall I obey the command of my Father and Guru and yet how avoid slaying my mother? How shall I avoid sinking, like a wicked person, into sin in this situation in which contradictory obligations are dragging me into opposite directions? Matricide is a great sin, he mused, and then again, who would be there to look after father if mother died.  Weighing the merits and demerits of the act Chirakari sat thinking without doing anything.

Gautama when he reached the forest thought again about Ahalya and her crime. After all what has she done? A guest came to the ashram and as duty-bound she welcomed him. It was indeed a great sin to have killed her by her own son. Immersed in thoughts of this kind, sad and repentant, Gautama returned to the ashram to find Chirakari sitting silently deeply engrossed in thoughts. On seeing his father Chirakari was perplexed and he explained to his father about the good and bad effects of his order. Gautama was pleased to see his wife alive and blessed Chirakari with long life. He also made these comments “One that reflects long before he acts is certainly possessed of great intelligence. Such a man never offends in respect of any act.  Though the clamor of being an idle man may stick to him or may be regarded as a foolish person, it is only by those who lack better understanding and foresight of situations and life.

Decision Making Process

Generally in a business environment all our decisions are guided and governed by objectives and goals set to be achieved in a given time frame. There are many different methods of decision making, but planning and preparations are essential to ensure that you make the right decisions most of the time.

  • Define the problem – correct diagnosis of the problem is essential to identify and administer the perfect solution. If diagnosis is wrong, treatment goes awry and the patient can die. Identifying the cause of the problem can also help us choose the right solution easily.
  • Develop the alternatives – decision making is choosing between alternatives and therefore we should develop as many alternatives as possible. Brain storming is a technique usually employed by organizations to get variety of options to choose from. Not doing anything is also a decision, provided you have developed and evaluated many alternatives and found this is the best option.
  • Evaluate the alternatives – There are many scientific methods employed to evaluate alternate decisions such as T-chart, PMI (plus, minus, interesting propagated by Edward De Bano), Buridan’s Ass, decision matrix, etc. Use the best and most suitable method for your particular situation. At the same time it is critically important that one should not fall in the trap of “paralysis by analysis”. As a leader your knowledge about the situation and potential impact of the decision should help to take decision in a time bound manner to avoid the pitfalls of delayed decisions when the real requirement was quick decision. 
  • Make and implement the decision. Once any decision is implemented it is also important that you constantly check the progress and make corrections on the way as required.

Where we are today is based on all those decisions that we have taken throughout our lives. Which school to study, what subject to specialize, which career to choose and whom to marry, etc., are all our decisions taken after careful considerations.  It is possible that all our decisions are not perfect, but what matters in this world where law of averages prevail, is that we make more good choices than bad. Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favours the prepared mind.” Indeed, the prepared mind of an effective leader thinks carefully and searches constantly for the opportunity to learn from past successes and failures, and then improves the way he goes about making crucial choices in the future.

 

 

1. He is the best of kings who has wisdom, who is possessed of liberality, who is ready to take advantage of the slackness of foes, who has agreeable features, who is prompt in action, who has his anger under control, who is not vindictive, who is high-minded, who is not hot tempered by disposition, who is not given to boasting, and who vigorously completes all works commenced by him.

Good managers are essential to any successful organization. Good managers attract exceptional staff; they make the organization a preferred employer; they help to increase market share; add to profits and surpluses, and reduce costs. Their staff are engaged, committed and ‘go the extra mile’. What are the attributes of a good manager? Trustworthy -Trust is the basis of all relationships. People want a leader they can trust to keep their word, to back them up in times of crisis and take the lead under good or bad circumstances. Decisive – There are no certainties in life but a good leader must have the foresight and wisdom to make educated and informed decisions. A good manager is good at managing people, they considerate, thoughtful, caring, decisive, kind, mature, modest and coach their staff and counsel those who need it.

2. If the king happens to be always forgiving, the lowest of persons prevails over him, even as the driver who sits on the head of the elephant he guides. The king, therefore, should not always be mild. Nor should he always be fierce. He should be like the vernal Sun, neither cold nor so hot as to produce perspiration.

A manager must be tolerant with people and processes and must listen and check before making judgments and acting. However extreme tolerance and forgiving could be seen as a weakness that could result in employees disrespecting the manager and thereby lowering the performance of the organization.

3. If the king becomes mild and mingles too freely with his subjects they begin to disregard him. They forget their own position and most truly transcend that of the master. Ordered to do a thing, they hesitate, and divulge the master’s secrets. They ask for things that should not be asked for, and take the food that is intended for the master. They even seek to predominate over the king, and accepting bribes and practicing deceit, obstruct the business of the state. They become so shameless as to indulge in belching and the like, and expectorate in the very presence of their master, and they do not fear to even speak of him with levity before others.

There is a saying in the scriptures “A Brahmin should be respected for his “Kshama” (patience), a Kshatriya for his power, a Vaisya for his wealth and a Shudra for his age”.  A Manager is essentially a combination of Kshatriya and Vaisya and should have the power and money to be respected by others in the organization. And power must be exercised when required while ensuring that excess use of power could also lead to exodus of good staff from the team. Not exercising the power when required is worse than over exercising.

4. The selection of honest men (for the discharge of administrative functions), heroism, skill, and cleverness (in the transaction of business), truth, seeking the good of the people, producing discord and disunion among the enemy by fair or unfair means, never abandoning the honest, granting employment and protection to persons of respectable birth,  companionship with persons of intelligence, always gratifying the soldiery, supervision over the subjects, steadiness in the transaction of business, filling the treasury, absence of blind confidence on the guards of the city, producing disloyalty among the citizens of a hostile town, carefully looking after the friends and allies living in the midst of the enemy’s country, strictly watching the servants and officers of the state, personal observation of the city, readiness for action, never disregarding an enemy, and casting off those that are wicked. The king, even if possessed of strength, should not disregard a foe, however weak.

To lead an organization successfully a Manager must achieve the following

  • Attract and retain the best talent in the team. A Manager is as good as his team.
  • Key members of the team must be action oriented, with excellent business acumen and other skills necessary for them to excel in their respective functions.
  • Keen understanding about the market and competitors strategy is essential to drive your company’s strategic plans and ensure success.
  • Industrial espionage is rampant these days and therefore always keep an eye on your employees while creating discord and disillusionment in the competitors camp.

Raj Dharma vs. Adhikari Dharma – Part 1

Duties and Responsibilities of a King and how it compares that with a modern day Senior Manager (reference from Mahabharata – advices from Bhisma to Yudhishthira).

In the “Mahabharata” Santiparva, Bhishma Pitamaha gave advice to the newly crowned King Yudhishthira about the responsibilities of a good king. Given below are some of the extracts of that talk and how it is relevant even today and can be applied in Managers day to day affairs. 

1. The happiness of their subjects, observance of truth, and sincerity of behavior are the eternal duty of kings. If the king becomes possessed of prowess, truthful in speech, and forgiving in temper, he would never fall away from prosperity. With soul cleansed of vices, the king should be able to govern his anger, and all his conclusions should be conformable to the scriptures. He should also always pursue morality and profit and pleasure and salvation (judiciously).

Manager – Employees are the most important resources for any organization. Motivated, committed, loyal and hardworking employees keep the organization always successful and ahead of competitors. It is indeed the Managers responsibility to take good care of the employees and keep them motivated by leading from front.

2. Readiness for exertion in kings is the root of kingly duties. The hero of exertion is superior to the heroes of speech. The heroes of speech gratify and worship the heroes of exertion. The king that is destitute of exertion, even if possessed of intelligence, is always overcome by foes like a snake that is bereft of poison. That king is not worth of praise who, is destitute of exertion.

Manager – Action orientation is an essential trait of any Manager.  Those who are members of the NATO club (No Action Talk Only) never achieve anything irrespective of their qualification and experience. 

3. It is the eternal duty of kings to prevent a confusion of duties in respect of the different orders. The king should not repose confidence (on others than his own servants), nor should he repose full confidence (on even his servants). These six persons should be avoided like a leaky boat on the sea, viz., a preceptor that does not speak, a priest that has not studied the scriptures, a king that does not grant protection, a wife that utters what is disagreeable, a cow-herd that likes to rove within the village, and a barber that is desirous of going to the woods.

Manager – It is essential that a Manager appoints the right person for the job and ensure they are performing their assigned duties and responsibilities to its fullest potential. He must identify those who are non-performers or whaling away their time in their desks and eliminate them without delay to ensure that motivation levels of those who are high performers are not affected.

4. The king should administer justice like Yama and amass wealth like Kubera. He should firmly follow the behavior of the righteous and, therefore, observe that behavior carefully. If the king is not wrathful, if he is not addicted to evil practices and not severe in his punishments, if he succeeds in keeping his passions under control, he then becomes an object of confidence unto all like the Himalaya mountains (unto all creatures).

Manager – Nepotism and favoritism must be avoided at all costs in an organization by the Manager. Such behavior only creates divide and increased politicking that severely impacts performance. Performance review must be conducted professionally and rewards, awards and compensation decided purely on merits and achievements. Anger is the biggest enemy and therefore a Manager must remain cool and composed displaying highest levels of maturity and compassion.

5. The king desirous of obtaining prosperity should always bind to his service men that are brave, devoted, incapable of being deceived by foes, well-born, healthy, well-behaved, and connected with families that are well-behaved, respectable, never inclined to insult others, conversant with all the sciences, possessing a knowledge of the world and its affairs, unmindful of the future state of existence, always observant of their duties, honest, and steadfast like mountains.  That king, however, who is of righteous behavior and who is ever engaged in attracting the hearts of his people, never sinks when attacked by foes.

Manager – The greatest potentials for the growth of any company are generated by a commitment to high corporate values.  Values raise the quality of corporate energies and elevate work to a higher level. Whatever be your job, when you add values to it, you will see Prosperity in abundance. Honesty, integrity, truthfulness, fairness, and justice are higher values. Punctuality, politeness, pleasantness, proper record keeping, orderliness, soft speech, cleanliness, accuracy, precision, workmanship, and thoroughness are physical values. Irrespective of your job, position and place, add values to your work. Go on adding them in quantity and quality. You will reach the heaven of Prosperity.

Manager and Driver – A comparison.

Can you judge a person’s managerial potential, competence and capability by observing his driving style?

First let us analyze who is a good driver before comparing a driver with a manager.

What is expected of a good driver?

  1. Drive you and others safely from place to place.
  2. The passengers should feel comfortable and stress free while travelling.
  3. Reach the destination as fast as possible without making accidents.
  4. Take good care of the car.

What is expected of a good Manager?

  1. To lead a team successfully and achieve the organizational objectives.
  2. All employees should feel motivated and excited to work under the leader in spite of challenging external market or economic conditions.
  3. Meet all legal and statutory obligations, achieve business objectives and provide growth and learning opportunities to all employees.
  4. Keep the organization ready for any challenges today and for tomorrow.

Good Driver vs. Good Manager

  1. Driving is an intelligent activity and only an intelligent person can become a good driver. Needless to say, a good Manager must be bright and intelligent and is able to deal with concepts and complexity comfortably.
  2. Know the road and traffic rules and sign. A good Manager must have a clear understanding about the market, technology and rules and regulations governing the proper management of an enterprise.
  3. Develop excellent skills in maneuvering the vehicle through bad roads and heavy traffic. A good manager must have the ability to see ahead clearly, anticipate consequences and implement decisions to ensure success under any adverse circumstances.
  4. Basic knowledge about the vehicle and essential maintenance is a must. A Manager must have good knowledge about his company, its products, markets and customer expectations to lead the team successfully.
  5. Self-discipline is very important to be a good driver. Ignoring speed limits, one way traffic rules, parking regulations, road signs etc. indicate lack of integrity and ethics. A manager must be a trustworthy person who adheres to certain values and principles to manage the organization in good as well as bad times.
  6. A driver must know his way around. If not, enquire and learn about the best and shortest route to the destination in advance. It is never good to stop vehicle multiple times on the way to enquire about the route or get delayed to reach the destination because a wrong route was taken. Keen understanding about the markets, customer expectations and company products are essential to drive business and ensure success of the team.
  7. Check weather and traffic conditions before leaving home for a long distance travel. A Manager must validate every plan with ground realities and arrive at realistic estimates before setting the objectives. Too optimistic or overly pessimistic plans can lead to failure.
  8. Understand and anticipate other driver’s behavior. Accidents can happen not only because you did not drive properly but also due to the mistake of others. Driver behavior also differs from place to place and city to city. A Manager must be able to understand individual as well as group behavior, why they do what they do, their intentions and needs to lead the team successfully without major dissentions and disillusionment.
  9. Be careful about large vehicles, particularly trucks and transport buses. It doesn’t matter that you are driving on the right lane or following the rules, in an accident you won’t be there to explain the truth. Learning to respect authority is critical in any job.
  10. Be calm and composed while driving, even when the situation is disturbing and difficult. A good Manager must be calm and composed under pressure and should not become defensive or tense when situations are tough.
  11. Check and ensure clear vision before starting the vehicle. Clean the front glass if required.
  12. Check your co-passengers. They should not be distracting you while driving. Building effective teams who supports and compliments each other is mandatory for any organization to succeed and this is one of the critical success factors for any Manager.
  13. Be smooth. Let the passengers be not unduly discomforted while travelling. Best drivers are smooth drivers. Managers must plan all their activities and inform the team members in advance so that they can also plan their professional and personal lives accordingly. Do not bring rapid organizational or process changes unless it is mandated by sharply declining performance or adverse external circumstances.
  14. Be confident, particularly when you are planning to overtake another vehicle. Make your judgment whether it is safe to overtake and go ahead once the decision is taken. Do not change your decision half way through the process. Making decisions in a timely manner with incomplete information under tight deadlines are everyday affair for many managers. Not taking decision is as good as bad decisions.  
  15. In case you are going for a long distance drive that lasts more than 5 hours, ensure that the driver has had enough rest before to ensure he is fit and alert for the highway travel.
  16. Never take alcoholic drinks, drugs or other mood elevating substances before a long drive which increases your risk taking attitude without proper judgment.
  17. Safety is always a priority. Ensure the driver and all the passengers are wearing their seat belts, particularly in the highways. Risk taking ability is important for progress but not so much that it destroys the very fiber of the organization.
  18. Attitude – if you do not have the right attitude it won’t matter how much knowledge or skill you have, you won’t be a good driver. Neither a good Manager. Attitude determines your altitude!

I have gone around with Drivers who are extremely careful and drive slowly to avoid any potential accidents. So also with drivers who drives extremely fast to an extend that you are sitting very uncomfortably in the car. But I always prefer those drivers who drive fast very carefully and reach the destination earlier.

Manager and Driver – A comparison.

Can you judge a person’s managerial potential, competence and capability by observing his driving style?

First let us analyze who is a good driver before comparing a driver with a manager.

What is expected of a good driver?

  1. Drive you and others safely from place to place.
  2. The passengers should feel comfortable and stress free while travelling.
  3. Reach the destination as fast as possible without making accidents.
  4. Take good care of the car.

How to be a good driver

  1. Driving is an intelligent activity and only an intelligent person can become a good driver.
  2. Know the road and traffic rules and sign.
  3. Develop excellent skills in maneuvering the vehicle through bad roads and heavy traffic.
  4. Basic knowledge about the vehicle and essential maintenance is a must.
  5. Self-discipline is very important to be a good driver. Ignoring speed limits, one way traffic rules, parking regulations, road signs etc. indicate lack of integrity and ethics.
  6. A driver must know his way around. If not, enquire and learn about the best and shortest route to the destination in advance. It is never good to stop vehicle multiple times on the way to enquire about the route or get delayed to reach the destination because a wrong route was taken.
  7. Check weather and traffic conditions before leaving home for a long distance travel.
  8. Understand and anticipate other driver’s behavior. Accidents can happen not only because you did not drive properly but also due to the mistake of others. Driver behavior also differs from place to place and city to city.
  9. Be careful about large vehicles, particularly trucks and transport buses. It doesn’t matter that you are driving on the right lane or following the rules, in an accident you won’t be there to explain the truth.
  10. Be calm and composed while driving, even when the situation is disturbing and difficult.
  11. Check and ensure clear vision before starting the vehicle. Clean the front glass if required.
  12. Check your co-passengers. They should not be distracting you while driving.
  13. Be smooth. Let the passengers be not unduly discomforted while travelling. Best drivers are smooth drivers.
  14. Be confident, particularly when you are planning to overtake another vehicle. Make your judgment whether it is safe to overtake and go ahead once the decision is taken. Do not change your decision half way through the process.
  15. In case you are going for a long distance drive that lasts more than 5 hours, ensure that the driver has had enough rest before to ensure he is fit and alert for the highway travel.
  16. Never take alcoholic drinks, drugs or other mood elevating substances before a long drive which increases your risk taking attitude without proper judgment.
  17. Safety is always a priority. Ensure the driver and all the passengers are wearing their seat belts, particularly in the highways.
  18. Attitude – if you do not have the right attitude it won’t matter how much knowledge or skill you have, you won’t be a good driver.

Let me also say a few words about drivers. Generally we treat them as one of the lowest category of workers in the society. Whether it is a taxi or auto driver or the much hated truck and bus drivers, we usually don’t say good things about them, except may be on very few occasions. If you are hiring one for the office or home, the only selection criteria is his cleanliness and reasonable driving skills and you try to pay him the lowest salary possible! It doesn’t matter that he is driving your expensive car and carrying yours and other family members precious lives a driver is not considered as a critical member of your team or organization.

 

Have you ever experienced the following behavior?

You finally reach the toll booth after being in the queue for more than 15 minutes. Your colleague who is driving the car rolls down the window and ask the operator as to how much is the toll…. Then slowly searches for the money purse which is finally traced to his back-pocket and hands over Rs. 500 for a toll of 31! The toll booth operator is trying to be patient but not the drivers in the vehicles behind who started honking due to the unusual delay! You too are exasperated by the casual and thoughtless behavior of your colleague but keep a smiling and indifferent face. The worst part is that you again stand in the queue to pay the same thirty one rupees on return which could have been avoided if a return ticket was taken.

Or have you seen business executives, who looks like frequent traveler, stumbling at the security check point searching for his boarding pass or taking out coins and key chains one by one when you are fuming behind him in the queue when your flight is already announced! There are also persons who search for their passport after reaching the immigration counter!

What is your opinion about such persons?  How do you define their behavior? If you are his boss, would you give him additional responsibilities or promote such people?

 I see a lot deficiency in these type of individuals. Clearly they are not action oriented and does not show any sense of urgency and may miss many opportunities in their lives. They also seriously lack in certain managerial skill sets such as planning, organizing, timely decision making and priority setting. Lack of maturity, responsibility and thoughtfulness stand outs in these people and they can also be called undisciplined.

One might think that I am too critical, harsh and paranoiac in judging people and that too very soon. But my experience shows that these are not one time behavior but habits formed over a period of time and difficult to change unless conscious about it and make serious efforts to change.