Tag Archives: Leadership

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

Discovering Your Authentic Leadership

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

Synopsis:

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.”

Leadership That Gets Results

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

 

Coercive

Authoritative

Affiliative

Democratic

Pacesetting

Coaching


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

Negative

Most strongly positive

Positive

Positive

Negative

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.