Oct 15

How great leaders inspire action?

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Sep 10

What marathon training has taught me about life & leadership?

Entrepreneurship, Leadership Comments Off on What marathon training has taught me about life & leadership?

I started training for endurance events 7 years back with Team in Training. Over past 7 years I have done 4 marathons, 1 triathlon and more than 50 half marathons. I have learnt a lot about me, about life and about leadership over these years. Here are few key learnings

  1. Its a marathon not a sprint(think long term): Life is like a marathon so no need to stress out about something at mile 1 when you still have 25 more miles to go. When people stress about something going wrong or something being urgent, I always remind them it is a marathon not a sprint. If you have a long term perspective on things you tend to make better decisions. 

    Lot of times you see teams in perpetual state of emergency, everything needs to get done yesterday. Problem with this is you just burn out the teams. When you have long term view of things(like a marathon) you focus on achieving success in long term and building a healthy team and culture to be successful.

  2. One mile at a time: Running 26 miles is a daunting task but if you just focus on one mile at a time it seems much more achievable. Last year while running NYC marathon, my legs started cramping at mile 8, another 18 miles seemed impossible to run. I kept telling myself to just focus on next one mile and then the next one. It took me forever to finish the race but I finished. I knew, I can finish the race if I continue to move forward and just get the next mile done.
    Similarly in any effort you just have to focus on next mile or next task and make forward progress and you will get to the finish line.

  3. Great coaches and mentors enable you to achieve unthinkable success: When I started running in 2010, I could hardly walk a mile. I got introduced to Team in Training through a friend and since then I have worked with multiple coaches and mentors in the program. These folks give there most valuable resource to help others, their time. I would not have been able to complete my first half marathon or my latest full marathon without these coaches & mentors. They helped me through every aspect of running from how to pace myself to right shoes or nutrition. They are the reason of what I can do today. 
    This is no different in other part of life, finding and reaching out to right coaches and mentors is key to success. No one is good at everything, know what you need help with and reach out to people who are experts.
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  4. Have a mission/purpose bigger than just the task at hand: Team in training is endurance training arm of Leukemia and Lymphoma society. You train for endurance events but you are also raising money to fund cure for blood cancers. When things get tough over time, the inspiration that you are doing this not just for you but for a greater good keeps you going. When you are at mile 20 and ready to give up but you cannot because you just cannot give up on mission. That is what keeps you going…
    This is also the reason organizations built on higher purpose having passionate employees get lot more done.
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  5. Enjoy the journey with great team: Humans by nature are social animal; having a great team is key for us to be successful. We go for our long runs every Saturday morning and I never miss that practice. Just knowing there are other team members waiting for you to run is such a motivation to get up on every Saturday whether it is rainy, snowy or sunny to go out to run. You just don’t want to let your team down and you want to be there for others. Also remember you will run 26.2 miles on race day but you will be running 100s of miles before that to train and you want to be around people you would enjoy those miles because you will not get a medal for those miles. Smile
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  6. Compete against yourself not others: I am confident I will never win a marathon. I don’t try to compete with anyone else when I run marathons. I compete against myself, it is to prove to myself I can finish or I want to beat my last time but it is all about setting a goal that I will be proud off. Similarly in work life I don’t try to compete with others around me, it is all about setting goals and meeting them.
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  7. Getting to start line is the most difficult thing:  If you get to start line you will get to finish line. We all are capable of way more than what we think we are. Taking the first step and getting to the start line is the most important thing.

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Nowadays I focus a lot more on getting projects/initiatives to start line and I am confident a great team will get it to the finish line by focusing on one mile at a time. Smile

Jan 01

As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify

Leadership, Structure/HR Comments Off on As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify

Kicking off 2016 with good Ted talks. This is good one on organizational design and how to simplify it.

Jan 04

Read this article on geekwire on increase in wealth of Bill due to growth in MS stock. Smile 

billgatesFrom a financial standpoint, 2013 was a good year for Bill Gates.

The Microsoft co-founder saw his fortune grow by $15.8 billion last year to $78.5 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Gates finished 2013 as the world’s richest person, a title he reclaimed back in May for the first time since 2007. His fortune increased by $7 billion in 2012.

Microsoft's stock grew by 35 percent in 2013.

Microsoft’s stock grew by 35 percent in 2013.

Part of that growth is due to Microsoft’s stock, which increased by more than 35 percent in 2013 alone. Gates is still Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder, with more than 4.5 percent of the company, according to Microsoft’s latest proxy statement.

Bill Gates’ fortune grew by $15.8 billion in 2013 as Microsoft stock surged 35% – GeekWire

Jan 23

Discovering Your Authentic Leadership is a great read for people who want to improve their Leadership skills. I have read many articles on leadership and everyone of them focuses on different aspects of leadership.

Best part about this article is it tells you to focus internally to look at your own history and learn from that. Authors focus on following key aspects of your life to learn from

  • Learn from your own life story
  • Know your authentic self
  • Practice your values and principles
  • Balance your extrinsic and intrinsic motivations
  • Build a support team to learn and get guidance from
  • Integrate your life by staying grounded

Original Article: http://hbr.org/2007/02/discovering-your-authentic-leadership/ar/1

Authors: Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean and Diana Mayer


During the past 50 years, leadership scholars have conducted more than 1,000 studies in an attempt to determine the definitive styles, characteristics, or personality traits of great leaders. None of these studies has produced a clear profile of the ideal leader. Thank goodness. If scholars had produced a cookie-cutter leadership style, individuals would be forever trying to imitate it. They would make themselves into personae, not people, and others would see through them immediately.

No one can be authentic by trying to imitate someone else. You can learn from others’ experiences, but there is no way you can be successful when you are trying to be like them. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not a replica of someone else. Amgen CEO and president Kevin Sharer, who gained priceless experience working as Jack Welch’s assistant in the 1980s, saw the downside of GE’s cult of personality in those days. “Everyone wanted to be like Jack,” he explains. “Leadership has many voices. You need to be who you are, not try to emulate somebody else.”

Jan 17

This Article by Daniel Goleman is a great read on different leadership styles and how leaders can use them in different scenarios to get results. In this article Goleman explores which precise leadership behaviors yield positive results. He outlines six distinct leadership styles, each one springing from different components of emotional intelligence. Each style has a distinct effect on the working atmosphere of a company, division, or team, and, in turn, on its financial performance.

You have to read the article to get the full picture. You can access it at http://hbr.org/product/leadership-that-gets-results/an/R00204-PDF-ENG . Below is a preview…

  1. Coercive leaders demand immediate compliance.
  2. Authoritative leaders mobilize people toward a vision.
  3. Affiliative leaders create emotional bonds and harmony.
  4. Democratic leaders build consensus through participation.
  5. Pacesetting leaders expect excellence and self-direction.
  6. Coaching leaders develop people for the future.

Leadership Styles at a glance








The leader’s modus operandi

Demands immediate compliance

Mobilizes people toward a vision

Creates harmony and builds emotional bonds

Forges consensus through participation

Sets high standards for performance

Develops people for the future

The style in a phrase

"Do what I tell you."

"Come with me."

"People come first."

"What do you think?"

"Do as I do, now."

"Try this."

Underlying emotional intelligence competencies

Drive to achieve, initiative, self-control

Self-confidence, empathy, change catalyst

Empathy, building relationships, communication

Collaboration, team leadership, communication

Conscientiousness, drive to achieve, initiative

Developing others, empathy, self-awareness

When the style works best

In a crisis, to kick start a turnaround, or with problem employees

When changes require a new vision, or when a clear direction is needed

To heal rifts in a team or to motivate people during stressful circumstances

To build buy-in or consensus, or to get input from valuable employees

To get quick results from a highly motivated and competent team

To help an employee improve performance or develop long-term strengths

Overall impact on climate


Most strongly positive





The research indicates that leaders who get the best results don’t rely on just one leadership style; they use most of the styles in any given week.

Nov 10

Yesterday got a chance to listen to Marshall Goldsmith, he is amazing. Also received a signed copy of his book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful”. Have heard it is an amazing book. Will write a review once I finish…

His best advice, think you are 95 years old and on death bed. You have few more moments to go… What advice will you give someone young? Personal and Professional? Now take that advice and live by it because you should have fun and enjoy the life now. Smile 

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is a world authority in helping successful leaders get even better – by achieving positive, lasting change in behavior: for themselves, their people and their teams.

MOJO was released in February 2010.  It is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal top ten best-seller – and the Shanghai Daily #1 business book in China.  It is already scheduled to be translated into 14 languages.

Marshall Goldsmith Library

Aug 28

Early last week Steve Jobs stepped down from position of CEO at Apple. Steve is one of the most influential CEO’s of our times. I was reading through the news and articles around this topic and came across this commencement address he gave. It is really an amazing speech…

Steve talks about life…
Jan 31

Awesome article questioning if Google is new Microsoft. Google has not been able to build new businesses outside of search. It has tried but failed again and again… Actually on that front Microsoft has many Billion+ dollar businesses other than Windows and Office, there is SQL Server, SharePoint, XBox… Good article.

Investors are starting to ask such questions as how the search engine will cope with the social-networking onslaught

ByMathew Ingram

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One of the justifications that Google (GOOG) provided for former Chief Executive Eric Schmidt’s move into the chairman role and the reemergence of co-founder Larry Page as CEO was the need to become more flexible by speeding up decision-making at the search giant.

Bloomberg Businessweek magazine looks at that issue in a new cover story on the company, which describes how Google is trying to save itself from "the ossification that can paralyze large corporations." But what if Google’s biggest problem isn’t a lack of flexibility or the speed of its decision-making, but a fundamental cultural inability to create new lines of business that can keep the company growing? What if it’s just a gargantuan one-trick pony?

What If Google Is Just a One-Trick Pony? – BusinessWeek

Dec 29

Just read the article "The Quick Wins Paradox" by Van Buren and Safferstone Todd in Harvard Business Review – Jan 2009. It is a good article focusing on things that can make newly appointed leaders successful.

We all agree that new leaders need to show quick wins to gain confidence of their direct reports and the higher level management. Authors suggest 5 main reasons new leaders fail are Focusing too much on details, reacting negatively to criticism, Intimidating others, Jumping to conclusion and Micromanaging.

According to the author new leaders can be successful if they focus on collective quick wins instead of individual wins. They way to achieve collective quick wins are by making people believers not bystanders, understanding uncertainty, showing humility and learning about the team.

The article is very good and you should surely read if you like the brief intro here. Order Here