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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting entangled in the mire created by self - not the fault of yes men !!!

Dear (s)

Life has moved a longway away from villages, joint families, small industrial houses to a more complex Corporate Business houses and Multinationals spreading their tentacles into every nook and corner and trying to enter every sphere of activity whichever could generate some revenue.

Modern Companies have a documented set of broad guidelines formulated after an analysis of all internal and external factors that could impact their objectives – commonly known as Corporate Policy. This determines the strategy and directs its response to situations. This stems out of the fundamental drive to orient the actions to the Company’s goals.

In any Organisation, the talent and skillsets of individuals are different; there would always be different people (sometimes indifferent people), different learning styles; teaching styles; management styles; attitudes; communication levels. The Company is inanimate and functions through MEN at higher echelons who direct the Company and those under them. The growth as against the potential is directly dependent on the Organisation leaders. Modern leaders are quite ambitious and are open to ideas. Corporates spend huge amounts in researching and finding out the market trends, market opinion and some amount of it comes from within the Organisation as well. Men at top are good risk takers and keep looking for opportunities to excel.

Good bosses constantly keep all channels of communication open, receive loads of inputs and succeed by assimilating whatever is good for themselves and for the Organisation. All these sound good, but to make them happen, quality inputs from various knowledgeable sources are required; that would not happen when you have only ‘yes-men’ around. It is not their fault, but your fault for it reflects that you are not prepared to listen to anything bitter.

Great poet Valluvar says the world would abide by secure under the umbrella of a King who can endure words bitter to his ear.

With regards – S Sampathkumar.
Here is an interesting article of Devdutt Pattnaik read in Economic Times (23042010)/ Corporate Dossier - titled “Curse of Kingship” which stated that while leaders often dislike yes men, they forget that its their own behavious that prompts people to act in the manner they do.

Chandragupta Maurya once complained that he was always surrounded by liars and sycophants. How he wished to have honest people around him .His teacher ,Chanakya, laughed and said, Its the curse of kingship. A king has a sword in his hand and everyone who stands around him is acutely aware of the sword. No one knows how it will swing So to save themselves they end up lying and flattering the king. It is the fear of a kings moods and opinions that shapes the behaviour in court. Yes, you hate the liars and the sycophants ,but who created them You, only you, by simply being the king.

Thomas, an investment banker was preparing for his presentation late into the night .His wife asked, Why are you worried Are things looking up or down Thomas replied, The market is looking up and the company has nothing to worry about. I am worried about how to present it to my boss so that he does not think less of me. He is constantly judging me. If you present a growth rate more than what he feels, he will mark you as a dreamer. If you present a growth rate that is less than what he feels, he will mark you as unimaginative. Either way one is doomed. One is always defensive in front of him and has to always strategise what one has to say.

That very night, Thomas boss, Cyril, was telling his wife, People in front of me tell me what I want to hear. I want to hear the truth, what they actually feel about the market, their jobs, our work. But it never happens. Cyril does not even realise that he is influencing the scene before him. He is, inadvertently, the puppet master .He is the observer creating the observation.

In an apparently logical and rational world, we forget how the behaviour of people in power influence the behaviour of people reporting to them. We can make grand statements that we allow juniors to dissent but the juniors know that dissent rarely makes them popular. It takes a rare breed of people to be able to separate the issue from the person. Often the critic is a marked man. The marks appear in the appraisal.It is the king who created the yes man in court; it is the boss who created the yes man in the corporate world. We look down upon the yes man but his actions stem from fear. He is afraid that if he actually says the truth, his head will be chopped off. So he tailors his dialogue such that it pleases the boss.

A good leader has to be sensitive to the power he holds over his followers. How do they reflect his behaviour How he is, in a way, responsible for the way they behave If they agree with him all the time, it is more often than not an indicator that he does not like dissent. If they disagree with him all the time, it does not mean that they actually disagree with him; it can be that they have found he appreciates disagreement and so by disagreeing with him, they are simply trying to win his approval. He has to be able to create an atmosphere where the issue is being addressed and it is not the boss who is being managed.Perhaps that is the reason one often hears legends of Akbar and Birbal venturing out secretly in the city dressed as commoners to find out what was really happening; the Mughal Emperor clearly did not trust official reports. He knew they were influenced by fear of the kings sword. Even the gods often approach devotees in disguise. In the Maa Santoshi Vrat Katha, the goddess takes the form of an ugly ,old, diseased woman to check if the piety shown by her devotees is genuine or not. Even the gods know that the expressions and declarations made in the temple are not to be trusted.

The author is the Chief Belief Officer of the Future Group who decodes the wisdom of mythology for modern times.

1 comment:

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