Influence of human speech

its only words
and words are all I have …
to take your heart away”

So goes the lyrics from the very famous Bee Gees or Boyzone song (as you may choose). These lyrics are known to convey the feelings of a lover to his beloved. This is so true, so pristine, so pure and wonderful. However, this also applies to a lot of other things in life. Human speech is one of the boons of Homo Sapiens as compared to other billions of species on this planet earth. We are expected to speak after deliberations and thought (power of humans) and are expected to convey much more than simple sounds like other animals, for example: the grunting of monkeys (our closest cousin).

In life, we encounter many people in life and have a very complex and twisted relationships with a lot of other fellow human beings. Each one of us has a myriad of complexes, presumptions, models about everyone else that is so complex that it can give a HMM or NN or even the movie matrix run for the money. We build these complexes due to circumstances or situations and we never tend to think beyond them. Call it human shortcoming or limitation, but this is one of the few areas where we don’t focus as much as we would like to.

Words have a huge impact in every step of our life. We make casual remarks that can leave an ever-lasting impression in our lives. We need to be sensitive about what we speak as the words can be used out of context and can create a lot of mayhem as compared to what one expects. It’s a pity that we don’t realize this until we are the receiving end of it. Words have a lot of power and we should be *aware* of the same.

Words.. Words are all I have.. to take your spirit away……

Tamasoma Jyothir Gamaya

Tamasoma Jyothir Gamaya

literally translates to “Lead from Darkness to Light”.

This is a very famous hymn that is often recited in religious schools, GITA classes and other centers of learning. This is one of the triplets that form a combination and is used to refer the paths leading to the enrichment of the human soul.

In hindu culture, Teacher is often referred to as Guru. Further to my earlier post, after Mother and Father (the creators) comes Guru (the developer) as God. Different possible meanings have been attributed to the word Guru, but the one which I specifically believe is Gu = Darkness or Ignorance and Ru = Remove. Hence, the statement at the starting of the post can be referred to Guru also.

Guru is the one who shows the path to enlightenment through a process of self-realization, knowledge and showing the path towards the ultimate goal. In the Gurukul culture, a Shishya’s (Student/Ward) ultimate Guru-Dakshina (Payment of fees) to the Guru would be carry forward the legacy of his Guru. This the basic building block of Hindu/Indian Educational System.

In Corporates, we do observe the titles as Manager, Leaders, Mentors, Seniors etc.. but I haven’t seen anything close to be a Guru. The closest I have observed is Mr. Subroto Bagchi who calls himself a Gardner. I was amazed by the title and tried to think about the reasoning behind the same. My interpretation would be that Mr. Bagchi considers himself responsible for the saplings (younger generation) and is personally involved in the growth of these saplings into sturdy trees (Industry Leaders). Hats off to you sir, for you are a true inspiration.

Guru’s definition is not limited for knowledge only. Anyone who can show us our blind spot and help us realize the same for correction is Guru. It can be a co-worker, spouse, the lift janitor or even our children. At times, kids turn out to be excellent observers and provide a very unbiased data-based feedback.

I have had the luxury of crossing paths of many people whom I would definitely classify as Guru. It may not physically be possible to enlist all of them, but I do quote a few examples and the reasons why I consider them to be true Gurus.

– An individual X with whom I used to share my bus-ride with. He left a well-paying corporate job to take up a cause which is very dear to his heart, social empowerment. He actually is currently working in some remote corner without any pretensions about life or fears of future. He truly believes in following what the heart wanted and hence, has embarked on a path that most of us only wish, but don’t have the courage to walk on.

– An individual Y, with whom I had the pleasure of working in the same team. The actual personality of this person is reflected once he decided to part ways with the organization. In short, he had resigned. However, the true story started after this event. This person stayed up late into the night, worked on weekends and pushed every bit to reach an organizational goal that was key for the team and organization, all of which was in his notice period.

I have come across numerous individuals who turn/shut themselves off once they decide to leave, let alone a resignation. However, this individual kept pushing till his last day to achieve an important goal. As Cosmic Law/Justice would have it, the milestone was reached on his last day in office.

There are only a few examples and I will definitely quote many more in future. I wish I have the luck to keep crossing my paths with these enlightened individuals.

The curious case of 2 letters

Clearly, this seems to be the seasons of the letters. We have bits and bytes of emails from Corporate heads flooding into individual employees’ mailboxes with messages. One might encounter quite a few of them during their tenure in the corporate sector, but the recent history has provided an unique case-study in terms of 2 leadership styles.

The letters under consideration are Nokia CEO Stephen Elopps’ now famous Burning Platform email and Cisco CEO John Chamber’s recent post on April 4. Both these letters talked about a mammoth of an organization, it’s coming-to-terms with current coupled with a tempered dwelling on the past and more importantly, looking at the future. These incidents indicate the seriousness of the economic times we are living in and various unseen forces influencing every one’s lives to such an extent that even Mammoth’s had to move.

The Burning Platform email is an excellent example of straight-from-the-gut honest opinion of an organization from it’s foremost employee i.e. CEO. Various expert theories have been formulated and different people have varying opinions about the same. Time will answer a lot of questions and there is no substitute to accelerate the same. Having said that, when the email is read and more importantly re-read multiple times, various themes come up. The foremost message is acceptance of an issue which has potential to turn into a snowball of a problem as metaphorically explained by the burning platform edge. Nokia had been the foremost leader or rather champion of an entire industry and was always known for it’s quality. The author’s personal encounters with Nokia in the past only accentuates this assumption. However, something changed.

I am not a business expert to dwell into the impact of Android on Nokia or Google vs Nokia. I love Android as much as I love Symbian being a core technocrat at heart and mind. However, on a ground level i.e. to borrow Geoffery Boycott’s phrase, at my Grandma’s level, things weren’t the same. Nokia phones once prided being the more stable ones of the lot, but yet once could see lot many crashes and issues being reported like never before. For the old-school, it was a shock!!

The communication provided an interesting introspection of an organization and tried to identify the pressing problems while looking at the solution. The bottomline was that a drastic change was order of the day and as an organization, it had to brace itself for the same. From my understanding, I feel the leadership pattern is aligned towards jump-start on a new path.

Contrastingly, Cisco CEO’s letter is another interesting read. To summarize the letter, it reads like an annual performance appraisal of an entity carried out by it’s mentors. Amazingly, the letter outlines the business needs, the need for focus and realignment of a culture. However, in a subtle manner, the letter clearly identifies the strengths and spots of improvement. In a nutshell, John Chambers’ communication focuses on improving the existing strengths while removing the hurdles, with a clear message on the need for focus.  This leadership style is very synonymous to objective performance measurement and improvement and amazingly has achieved a wonderful feat of extending this performance appraisal to entire organization.

Two leadership styles with the same goal of making their organizations to be market leaders, with a clear business interest of maximizing the share holder’s returns and growing the brand equity of the organization. Two Leaders, Two Paths, One goal.