Venkat Rajaraman

Leadership Skills You Need to Learn Fast to take the lead in 2022 | Venkat Rajaraman | Founder and CEO | Cygni

Venkat RajaramanThe leadership skills that we need to learn to take the lead in 2022 are a) Building Leadership Resilience b) Commitment to a cause c) Cultivate Relationship and d) Learn to delegate effectively.

Let me try to take you through each of these below:

Building Leadership Resilience.  There is a broad spectrum between Leading versus Managing. Some people default to empowerment side, some people default to the directive side.  Good manager has to traverse this spectrum.  Some people work well if given right directions.  Some people work best if you just show them the goal and empower them.  Typically, the more you grow in your career, the more you grow as a person, you can move from taking directions to taking empowerment.  For the younger folks in the team, who are inexperienced, just empowering them won’t do.  As they don’t have all the skills, experience, toolset, delivery understanding etc, empowering them won’t help.  As
a good manager, you need to decide if you need to empower or if you need to be more directive. Finally some people, by nature, default to one side or the other.  Too much on either side is not good.   Life is all about balance.

Commitment to a cause: Commitment at work translates to commitment to a cause, commitment to a goal. Commitment and accountability go hand-in-hand.  We spend lot of time focusing on how to make people more accountable whereas the actual missing ingredient is the commitment. Every company has commitment / accountability issue, even some of the best managed companies have this issue. Here are 3 quick steps to improve the commitment:

1. Commitment starts in the heart.  Commitment always precedes achievement. They say in a marathon run, the winner runs out of oxygen in the last 3-5 miles.  The last leg of run is purely happens in the heart. The winners are committed to their goals with their heart.

2. Commitment is tested in action.  Only real measure of commitment is action.  Nothing is easier than words and nothing is harder than living the commitment day-after-day. Following through on the commitment is generally tough.  So measure your commitment level.  Take out your calendar.  See how you spend your time.  How much you spend on your commitment – be it your passion.  health.  recreation etc.  True measure of your commitment is the time you are spending on the cause.

3. Third step is popularised by Dr Thomas Alva Edison and hence called Edison method.  Dr Edison, whenever he had a good idea, he would call for a press conference to announce it.  Then afterwards, he would go into the lab and actually invent it.  In the same way, tell everyone about your commitment and your friends and colleagues would hold you accountable.

Cultivate Relationships: Relationships at work is a two-way street.  If you have a relationship problem with your work colleague for any reason, first recognise this as your problem.  Second try to reframe the dislike – try to quantify what exactly is the reason for your dislike, is it their behaviour, is it the way they speak, is it how they deal with other people etc.  This will help to narrow down your judgement.  Third is to Identify why it is important to work with that colleague.  This could be a joint responsibility that the management might have given or this could be the reward of completing this joint project together which would help grow your career etc.  Fourth is to share the purpose statement and have a clear understanding on your responsibility with your colleague.  Fifth is anytime dislike starts to crop its ugly head up, refer to the purpose statement above, as to why this relationship is important in the first place.

Delegation: There are two types of delegations – one is Abdication and the other is Micro-management.  Both are not effective. The common fears about delegation are loss of control for the manager, perfectionism in the task, fear of failure, desire to be liked and hence don’t want to be delegated, excess Time to complete the job if delegated and bad experiences in the past.

Key to effective delegation are:
 Shift your mindset – deeply believe delegation is about empowerment and frame it to others as such. Take wnership to change your bad habits – over-functioning creates an unhealthy dynamic that allows your team and colleagues to under function. Don’t ask for feedback every few hours.  Set-up a mutually agreed timeline by when you will get an update  Start small – Team can build competency that they can master (and make you happy as a result)

 Train efficiently – train people in real-time while you work on the task.  create a standard operating procedure based on the steps you follow.

 Build in checkpoints. Don’t delegate in an aggressive manner.  But do this assertively. As a partnership and collaboration balanced with clear direction

 Figure out what needs to go – Delegates the tasks that are a) administrative b) Repeatable process c) Tasks that someone else has special skill set for. Don’t delegate everything.  As a manager you are responsible for certain delivery.  Don’t delegate that.

 Invite people into the process by first understanding what work they enjoy doing and how they’re motivated to grow. This helps you match tasks to a person’s strengths. Also, consider asking your team to propose ideas of what they can take off your plate.

In order to delegate effectively, your job is to define the “what” and “why” of the project. Both the outcome or deliverable (the what) and purpose, intent, or context as to why it matters (the why) are important.  Give the person full authority to define the “how.”  It is important that your team or colleague feel the ownership and autonomy.  They need to discover the best way to follow through for themselves. Then it becomes effective delegation.