Asking for help can be traumatic experience!

As humans we are wired to think and believe that we are born equal. It’s the journey which puts us in different contexts or life experiences. It’s therefore not easy for us to come to an acceptance that some of us have less of somethings in life when compared to others. It could be power, authority, money, health, family, relationships, food and many more.

So when someone comes asking for your help, it can be very humiliating or traumatic for the person asking. Remember, the default position for us is that we are all equal. The person seeking help has to deal with his ego and self-esteem. The act in the persons mind is considered as conceding the ground that you have more power or influence or even ability than the seeker.

You find that most misuse this power without even understanding the context of the help seeker. We judge people based on their current state or appearance and start to behave in a way that compounds the sense of trauma or humiliation that person is already suffering.

I have had leaders asking me to teach people in their organizations to seek help when needed. I tell them it is pointless to teach people to seek help as the person giving help or having the power to give help is not going to change. The fact that they are asking me in itself demonstrates that people working in their organization have been humiliated when they sought help. No one likes to be in that state for long and before time people stop asking. Statements like ‘why don’t you figure out for yourselves’; ‘don’t you have brains’; ‘why don’t you grow up’ and so on can be from the many unintentional one’s which would have accentuated the problem.

There is a need for you to be empathetic to people who come seeking help. You have the power not to abuse but to use and help. You are equally a seeker as much as a giver. Do not push people away when they come seeking cause you have a great responsibility.

How many come to you seeking help? It’s a good measure of how you have dealt with seekers in the past.

‘Credibility’ – 10 actions that go to enhance the quality of your leadership!


If there is one thing that matters most for Leaders; its ‘Credibility’. Leaders who have credibility also have the voice of authority. How much authority they wield is dependent on what they have to offer to their people.

Building your leadership credibility is a long process but actioned in small doses.   It’s a reflection of your ‘character’ – the values and behaviors you exhibit and the ‘competence’ – the knowledge, skills and experience or past track record you bring to the table. The strength of these two aspects is what builds the trust in the people you lead. Both need to be together, having one without the other may not help build credibility. For example, you may come across as humble, honest, consistent and with high morals however, when you want your people to achieve something or lead them towards goals, your credibility suffers if you do not back it with past track record. The same applies vice-versa as well. You may have great track record but if it is not built on the strength of values, it may lead to lack of trust in the teams you lead.

How do you then enhance your leadership credibility? The following steps may kick-start the process.

  1. Be consistent in your behavior
  2. Be comfortable in your vulnerability. Demonstrate that you are comfortable with what you cannot do. Talk about it openly.
  3. Be transparent
  4. Keep your promises and commitment
  5. Be honest
  6. Show active interest in understanding people – listen
  7. Spend time talking to people
  8. Say ‘I don’t know’ when you truly don’t
  9. Constantly upgrade your skills and knowledge
  10. Pursue goals relentlessly

As you can see, the 10 points are not very difficult to action, it requires your intent to enhance your leadership credibility. Remember, that is what matters most!


6 hacks you can learn from ‘Game Designers’ to increase employee engagement

It’s always fascinated me to see how gamers get hooked to long hours of gameplay without fatigue. I started to look at the characteristics of gaming which get such high level of engagement from the gamers. Are there any lessons organizational leadership can learn? Is there an environment you can provide which makgaming lessons for leadershipes employees feel happy and totally committed to the job? Can you create a workspace where people feel that its closer to their dream job?

If you think that the key elements which contribute to a highly engaged employee is a ‘high paid’ and ‘easy’ job you are mistaken. Our two decades of research into the causes which account for a highly motivated and engaged employee provided evidence on the contrary.

Here are the 6 characteristics which game designers use to build games that suck you in for hours on end.

  1. Compelling story line – With all the popular games you will find a compelling story which stimulates some of the base emotional needs of any individual. Something like the ‘victory of good over bad’, war, mystery, fight, race against time, competition etc. Anything which will provide an adrenaline rush. It also provides visibility of a higher goal which will be achieved by being part of the story. As leaders you must ask – ‘Do I have a compelling story to tell to my people?’; ‘Will it excite them enough to be part of the journey?’ ‘Will the story satisfy all their basic human needs?’
  2. Clearly defined goals – as with any game there is are clear goals to be achieved and they are made visible as part of the initial storyboard. The gamer is not just shown a clear path moving from one level to the other but also provided with a visual of how it looks like at the next level. It also gives them a clear vision of their performance goals and the benefits of achieving them. Mind you, this is not one time – each time the gamer reboots the system, it starts with the screen showing the levels he has already unlocked and the one’s yet to accomplish. This keeps him focused and raring to go. The human mind is designed to unlock the mysteries of life and that is the very emotion it triggers when the gamer finds locked levels in front of him. As he knows what awaits him in the next level, he strives hard to reach there. Similarly, leaders must provide a complete storyboard of the career path for each employee and a visual of what he will accomplish at each level. This story shouldn’t be one time or just during performance reviews; it should be a daily visual. That’s the only way you can keep your employees engaged. Remember, employee engagement is not a fancy which you indulge in from time to time but a sustained effort which will surely pay dividends in the long run.
  3. Training and skilling – every game provides initially a training level of the complete gameplay. The gamer is provided with complete information of the steps and necessary skills to play the game with ease. Simulation is provided where immediate feedback is given and alternative methods shown to achieve game tasks. This ensures that the gamer is comfortable before he takes on a particular level. Training levels greatly improves the confidence of the gamer before jumping into the actual scenario as it is non-threatening and fun. He is allowed to fail as many times as he wants just for him to learn the nuances of the gameplay. As leaders you must look at employee training and upskilling as an essential part of engagement. I find that training always takes a back seat in the face of daily urgencies and also takes the first hit when there are cost cutting measures. This doesn’t really help.
  4. Freedom in how you perform tasks – while most of the gameplay scenarios are pre-defined and the path is set out very clearly for the gamer; the games provide enough flexibility to perform tasks. In games you find that at each level, the gamer is provided with the flexibility to choose his weapon and ammunition of choice, the vehicles, the money he wishes to carry etc. This gives him the feeling of involvement and the power of choice. When the gamer feels that he is making the choices at each level, he feels in control and is totally engaged. As leaders you must see if your work provides your employees the freedom required to do their tasks their way. While guidelines will be there in your company, it should not be perceived as constraining with limited choice. Innovation, initiative and creativity should not be mere lip service.
  5. Feedback to let you know how you are doing? – in all games there is continual feedback on the progress the gamer is making. For example, he is clearly shown when his health is deteriorating and when his health has improved or reached high levels. You must as leaders ensure that the feedback process is not one time or only during performance reviews but continual. It gives your employees complete awareness of the progress they are making on a daily basis. If there is one tool that you can use to manage and develop performance – it is the use of feedback.
  6. Visible rewards and recognition dashboards – leaderboards and rewards are the ways in which games provide the gamer with a sense of accomplishment. It also helps him compare his performance with the rest of the gamers in the world. It keeps him motivated to do better and better every day and turn out with strategies to win. You will see that these leaderboards are visible and constantly available on screen for the gamer to see where he stands in terms of gaming points and rank against the rest. Likewise leadership should not be afraid of publishing leader boards and make it visible at all times for employees to feel competitive at the same time remain motivated towards higher levels of achievement.  Who doesn’t like to be on the podium at least once in their life after all?

Do you have more lessons to share?

7 Toxic People You Must Avoid At Work

In an already stressful workplace where you grapple daily with deadlines, deliverables, reports, plans, reviews and meetings, it is important that you keep your sanity. This would mean that you should keep yourselves in a positive frame of mind. Easier said than done, what with so many toxic people to add to your woes. Here is a list of toxic people you must avoid at your workplace to keep things bright around you.

toxic people

Gossip monger – who is a carrier of half-truths, lies and quiet literally the news castor in your company.   The gossip monger has the uncanny knack of sucking you into their world of illusions and before you realize you are caught in their web of falsehood and lies. Just listening to their gossip may make you unwittingly a part of their story and at times become a casualty.

Narcissist – who is completely about ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Myself’ and is always concerned about projecting himself as self-righteous and who has monopoly on the truth. He is also the one who will do anything to achieve personal success, even if it means trampling a few people on the way. They are not open to any input or feedback and believe in the adage ‘my way or the highway’ in all their transactions.

Manipulator – who would likely use information about you or the work you do for personal gains. The manipulator is one who can distort facts to get things moving in his favor. They also indulge in political behavior and are the one’s who would use your innocent sharing of information against you or for their benefit.

Cynic – is the one who can drain you of your energy and enthusiasm while doing any task. They transmit negativity wherever they go. They tell you how things won’t work out or can’t be done all the time. Such people can with their cynicism make you doubt your own abilities and can be a big drain on self-confidence.

Judgmental – are the people who are constantly judging you and the environment of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’. They are the people who have a stereotypical view of the world around them and try to impose their judgment on others.   They also judge before having complete information leading to lot of conflicts. The judgmental people are also fixated in their approach and are found to be inflexible. They see the world with the colored glasses they carry.

Arrogant – are the people who are condescending in their behavior with others. They consider others to be not as capable as they are, often ridiculing and passing snide remarks. They are the ‘know all’ of any subject and are not open to others. They move around carrying a sense of privilege .or entitlement.

Victim – is the person who is constantly projecting to you as to how the world is against him. Narrating story after story about the wrongs which are happening to him because of the office environment. They are constantly on the lookout for people who are willing to listen to their sob stories and offer their shoulder. They can at times take away a lot of your time and also manipulate your sensitive nature to derive personal benefits.

6 Fears Leaders Need To Be Concerned About

Isolation – office cliques pose the threat of isolation for any employee. When cliques and groupism exists, people live in constant fear of their exclusion from such groups. In some workplaces the groups are very well guarded and being part of it is not easy. The more the number of such groups, more the chances of office politics.Fears

Failure – very rarely do you find employees in today’s highly competitive world not fearing failure. While its almost a cliché to state that ‘failures are stepping stones to success’ how many of us are comfortable with failing? When stakes are high, this fear increases many notches and leads to high amount of stress in people. When failure is not acceptable in workplaces it constrains creativity and innovation. You would end up creating processes which convert humans into machines.

Rejection – is another fear which people are constantly trying to deal with. It leads them to be guarded in their communication and expression of ideas. Most often this fear is what leads to a total communication lock-down in teams and organizations.

Humiliation – especially in front of others is one of the most common ones which you see from your early schooling. People are constantly worried about the mistakes they would end up committing and the resultant humiliation they have to face in front of others, by way of reprimands or ridicule. This makes them resistant to compelling action.

Livelihood – in today’s corporate world where ‘money’ is the sole reason for businesses to be existent, people end up purely as a commodity which can be dispensed with easily to reduce costs in case of difficult times. The sword of being laid-off always is hanging over the head of employees and they are in constant fear of losing their livelihood and the support it provides to their families and self. This can lead them to be fiercely competitive and follow the principles of ‘dog eat dog’. It’s a matter of survival after all.

Feeling useless – when employees are not given enough opportunities or responsibilities to exhibit their talent and contribute, they tend to feel useless. This in turn leads to the fear of they being dispensed with easily.

The goal therefore for leadership is to address these fears and create a strong culture based on a clear set of human values and beliefs. By giving them the power to make decisions and offering trust and empathy, leader can create a Circle of Safety. When you create such an environment, employees are freed from the constant threats from within the organization and can start investing their energy to seize big opportunities which exist outside the organization.