Conducting Conscious Meetings: Nithya Shanti

In this interconnected and collaborative age, an increasing amount of time in the average workday is spent in meetings – both actual and virtual. Since meetings are such a large part of the typical workday, it follows that any attempt at creating a conscious culture in an organization or community will need to involve having more conscious meetings. Conscious meetings can make people feel more awake, involved, energized and committed to the agenda and outcomes.

How can we create more conscious meetings? The following are three guidelines that can help us:

  • Start with a clear intention
  • Allow short breaks for silence and reflection
  • End with appreciation

Let us explore each of these guidelines more deeply…

Start with a clear intention (5 to 10 minutes)

One reason people are not fully involved in meetings is because they are ‘required’ to be there. Someone else has usually set the agenda and often, there is not complete clarity about the real purpose of the meeting.
For this reason it is worthwhile to begin conscious meetings with two to five minutes for “setting an intention”. Every person is invited to write down the “best possible outcome” for the meeting. A question asked to all present can be, “What would make this a truly meaningful, high quality meeting for you? Please write it like it has happened already!”

Participants then go on to write any process or outcome intentions for the meetings as though they have already happened. This is an important point. Writing the intentions like they have already happened releases some of the doubt or skepticism that it may not happen and creates a joyful inner shift towards taking responsibility for the outcome.

Over the next three to eight minutes, all participants share a quick summary of their most important intentions for the meeting. If the group is very large, this can also be done in sub-groups. Listening to everyone in this way creates a sense that this is our meeting, and everyone feels more involved.

Allow Short Breaks for Silence and Reflection (1 to 5 minutes)

Successful meetings require authentic speaking, deep listening, disagreeing respectfully and suspending strong assumptions. Whenever there has been a lot shared and there is a need for a short break of silence and reflection, anyone present at the meeting can request for a minute of silence.

It helps if there is a small bell kept in the meeting room. The facilitator or the participant can ring this “mindfulness bell” to indicate the beginning and end of the minute of silence. This can be repeated several times during the meeting to facilitate reflection and deeper creative thinking.

Though simple, this practice can greatly enhance the quality of exchange in meetings and bring a measure of mindfulness and clarity by honoring the value of silence and presence in the midst of all the interesting ideas and discussion.

End with Appreciation (5 to 10 minutes)

It is a powerful practice to end all meetings with appreciation. Each participant is invited to briefly share as to what aspects of their intention for the meeting were fulfilled and what they appreciated about the meeting in terms of content shared, decisions reached or the specific admirable qualities of any of the individuals present at the meeting.

Ending with appreciation also dissolves any tension from earnest and well-meaning debates, which may have occurred during the meeting. Hurt egos are soothed and people leave with a sense of lightness and goodwill, ready for the next activity of the day.

For shorter meetings of 30 to 60 minutes we can have a shorter period of time for all three guidelines. For example step (A) intention setting can be done in one minute followed by two minutes of sharing only those intention points that are in addition to what others have shared. For step (B) there can be a maximum of two or three silent breaks.  And for step (C) the appreciation round can also be summarized in two or three minutes if everyone limits themselves to one clear sentence.

In this way, in less than ten minutes, these processes can be included in the meeting. Much like a bow that needs to be pulled back before it can shoot the arrow, it is important to see these not as time lost but as important investments in a group process that support the flow of the whole meeting.

Applying these three guidelines for conscious meetings can make our work together more focused, mindful and joyous. It can help create a culture where people take responsibility for creating high quality outcomes everyday and in every way.

In a broader sense, these guidelines apply not just to meetings but also to our whole life. One of the ways to be more conscious in our everyday life is to start each day with a clear intention (e.g. ‘May I be a channel of blessings for someone today!’); to have several pauses to return to the simple feeling of being present during the day; and ending the day with gratitude and appreciation (either silently felt in our hearts or expressed to our loved ones).

May you apply this simple yet powerful process to create more conscious meetings and a more conscious culture wherever you are!  All good wishes!

Nithya Shanti is a spiritual teacher, educator and writer committed to supporting those who wish to awaken their natural wisdom. He shares timeless teachings and practical wisdom for making every day the happiest of our lives. For more information visit http://www.nithyashanti.com/

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October 2012: From the Founder’s desk

Dear Readers,

When we reflect back on our life, we normally remember the incidents that brought us great joy or sorrow. The ones that brought us great joy were normally those that were small acts of kindness or those moments when we acted with complete freedom. The ones that brought us great sorrow were those when we lost something that meant a lot to us emotionally or those moments when we had given away our power.
Our life purpose is all about living joyfully and being authentic. In reality, however, we are always trying to be someone the world around us wants us to be. In the process, we give away our power and bring suffering into our lives. This inevitably reflects by way of relationship issues at work or at home or with friends and even when we are with ourselves. We are, therefore, constantly struggling to find the way out of this quagmire to discover “the key to success” and “move out of suffering”—and this is a life long journey.
To be successful may mean different things to different people in today’s world. History teaches us that people who are remembered fondly are leaders that contributed to the well-being/welfare of society during their lifetimes. We, as individuals, play a leadership role in some form or the other, in our families, community or in our work environment and thus have an opportunity to realize our potential through these relationships.
In this issue of the Prerna Newsletter, we have focused on the authors who have shared practices that could help bring about a desirable shift in the work place. Nithya has shared some interesting practices which could enable meetings to be more productive and bonding. The Wharton article stresses on how emotional intelligence can be developed to meet attitudinal issues in the work place. Margret Wheatley’s book on “Leadership and the New Sciences” emphasizes the need to build a strong sense of identity to address new challenges that business and today’s leaders face.
In essence, all the articles and incidents point to the fact that SUCCESS is in our hands and we have been given all the tools. We must, however, learn and understand how to use them in the respective situations that we encounter in our day to day life.
We also discovered a very interesting website MakesMeThink.com or MMT. MMT is an online community where people share daily life stories that provoke deep thought and inspire positive change. We recommend that you have a look at it. One of the MMTs that I liked was the definition of SUCCESS by a wise grandmother. She said “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile”
KEEP SMILING

Much Love

Anil Nayar

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The Leader’s Leader (July 2012)

What traits define an ideal leader? Is it someone who leads ably; someone who succeeds always; someone who handles failure with dignity; or someone who nurtures leaders under his wings? Is it any one of these, or all of them put together?

Here are eight traits, distilled from the lived experience of three acclaimed leaders. We studied interviews of Mr. OP Bhatt , Mr. NR Narayana Murthy and Mr. S Ramadorai and captured the leadership traits that they believe to be important.

OP Bhatt

Chairman, State Bank of India

When Om Prakash Bhatt took office as chairman of the nation’s largest bank — State Bank of India (SBI) — in 2006, he found an institution that had been losing market share for decades, that was not customer centric, with little focus on the technology platforms essential to run a modern banking business, and dissatisfied corporate clients who wanted products and services that SBI was incapable of providing.

Trait # 1: A leader embraces change

As he prepared for a meeting with his senior management team in early September 2006 at the resort of Aamby Valley outside Mumbai —two months after he had taken the job — Bhatt was clear that SBI had to transform itself from a 200-year-old institution that knew no other way of doing things but its own into a nimble, modern bank.
“My goals were two-fold: first, we had to become the best customer-oriented bank in the country, and the most tech-savvy bank,” says Bhatt. “Then, we had to regain our leadership over the competition, including the new private sector banks and the innovative foreign ones.”

Trait # 2: A leader builds for the future
While all of this was going on, training and technology budgets were enhanced as well. The business side has received as much thought and attention. “We have become a bigger housing lender than HDFC (Housing Development Finance Corporation),” says Bhatt. “In four years, the balance sheet of the bank has doubled.”
SBI has gone big on retail lending, and built verticals inside and outside. Given the sheer size, adopting technology to improve business efficiency and service delivery is crucial. “We spent lots of money on technology, but our ability to adapt hasn’t been great,” Bhatt agrees.
He has taken his vendors to task as well. “When I came aboard, I told them either to tell us what to do with what they had given us, or pack up and ship out,” Bhatt recalls. “They responded, and now we are integrating people and platforms much better.” But he admits that much more needs to be done.

NR Narayana Murthy
Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus, Infosys

Trait # 3: A leader sustains hope in a crisis

Mr. Narayana Murthy, as most of us know, is the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Infosys. In his article on ‘The Essence of Leadership’ for The Smart Manager, he says that an ideal leader is someone who can sustain hope, energy and interest in his followers, not just during normal times but especially during tough tides.
As the great Greek philosopher, Seneca, once said, ‘Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.’
“A leader has to raise the confidence of followers. He should make them understand that tough times are part of life and that they will come out better at the end of it. He has to sustain their hope, and their energy levels to handle the difficult days”, says Murthy.

Trait # 4: A leader creates trust
Trust is vital to an organization. For employees to buy into the long term vision and current goals of the company, they need to trust their leader.
“To create trust”, says Murthy, “the leader has to subscribe to a value system: a protocol for behaviour that enhances the confidence, commitment and enthusiasm of the people” and adds, “Leaders have to walk the talk and demonstrate their commitment to a value system.”

Trait # 5: A leader values openness and transparency
Emphasizing on the importance of creating an open and transparent culture, he says, “Trust and confidence can only exist where there is a premium on transparency. The leader has to create an environment where each person feels secure enough to be able to disclose his or her mistakes, and resolves to improve. Transparency about the organization’s operations should be accompanied by an open environment inside the organization. You have to create an environment where any employee can disagree with you without fear of reprisal.”

S Ramadorai

Erstwhile Chief Executive, Tata Consulting Services

Trait # 6: A leader creates a nurturing environment for other leaders

For two full years, 1997 to 1999, N Chandrasekharan, the current chief executive of TCS worked as Ramadorai’s executive assistant. It was here, many insiders say, that he was silently groomed under the watchful eyes of Ramadorai.
Ramadorai says, “When employees are groomed for a leadership position, they become a part of the process knowingly or unknowingly, it gives the senior management and the board, time to take a good look at the likely leaders. Besides, it helps other team members to get used to the organizational changes. At the appropriate time, we then communicate the decisions to the team leaders concerned. We add responsibilities to lend more weight to a particular role or censor them in case we feel a leader is not up to the mark.”

Trait # 7: A leader offers motivation, not solutions
“Leaders should be able to guide, teach and nurture leaders by being tremendous motivators, subtly making you do things. They need to be relentlessly persuasive, making you work on a problem rather than solving it for you. To help nurture and let new leaders grow, one would need to start accepting mistakes too.

Trait # 8: A leader knows when to step aside
Ramadorai, on his part, believes that the right timing of leadership transition improves the efficiencies of business. “As you grow older”, he explains, “you become more tolerant, you start accepting inefficiencies.”

Deep Red Ink is a company that provides consulting and business solutions for using the power of relationships to create win-win business results.

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July 2012: Note from the CEO’s Desk

Dear Readers,

Welcome to this issue of our newsletter. We decided to shift its print by a month to July to avoid getting into inboxes of many who are usually vacationing during this period.

I had the opportunity to attend the 4th Annual Conference of the Conscious Capitalism Institute in Boston in May 2012 where the theme was ‘Conscious Cultures: Building a Flourishing Business on Love and Care’. In this day and age of economic pressures and downsizing, it seems counter intuitive but perhaps love and care are needed more today than at any other time in our evolutionary journey.

I picked up this interesting ‘emotional equation’ from Chip Conley (author of PEAK and Emotional Equations) at the CCI conference which said,

“Happiness = Practice Gratitude / Pursue Gratification”

In our life, we need to find reasons to be in eternal gratitude if we wish to be happy. ‘Paying it forward’ is a great way to do so. We carry a nuance of this through an interesting story. My first connect with this concept was through a movie of the same name where a young boy decides to experiment with this concept as part of an essay writing competition. This deed ends up in a viral movement of helping ‘forward’ rather than ‘back’ across the town.

Creating the right culture in an organization is a direct function of the state of being and character of leadership. In support of the theme of ‘Conscious Cultures’ focused on by CCI, we chose to explore dimensions of leadership through different lenses in this issue.

The first is an extract of 8 leadership traits from a set of interviews with 3 well known Indian CEOs, namely Messrs OP Bhatt, Narayan Murthy and Ramadorai. Relating to one of the traits of knowing when to step aside, I remember Sunil Mittal of Airtel mentioning in 2005 that he was more a man of instincts and intuition and this world of processes was better handled by ‘professional’ CEOs who ought to lead Airtel into the next phase of its journey.

The Leading Blog further explores these traits. The key point raised by Manfred Kets de Vries in  this blog titled ‘The inner world of the leader’ is need for balance in every respect – between reflection and action, between IQ and EQ, short term and long term and between the boundaries in the organization and those in one’s head. The practice of building equanimity of self would be ideal to help bring about this balance in manifestation.

Robert Murray in his hard hitting book, ‘It’s Already Inside’ embodies, “All I need is within me now” – words that I have often heard our young ex-monk Nithya Shanti, use in his retreats to help leaders develop self awareness and personal mastery. Murray makes a point about celebrating losing as much as winning. Strong as this point is, I find that organizations continue to celebrate victories but do not create space to discuss failures as a ritual. Doing so would create truly entrepreneurial firms.

I hope you enjoy this issue. If you are keen to receive any of the presentation PDFs from the CCI conference (whose access is restricted to the participants), do write to me and I will seek permission from the organizers to share it with you.

Best wishes,

Vinit

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Paying it Forward

The expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good deed be repaid by having it done to others instead. The story below is a fine example of how the concept works.

Barb Bunnell lies sedated in an operating room at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. The Arizona woman bears the same genetic burden as her mother and grandmother, who both died in their early 50s of an incurable disorder called polycystic kidney disease. Cysts have begun to grow and multiply on Bunnell’s kidneys, too, taking their deadly stranglehold on another generation. Eventually, the fluid-filled sacs will smother her kidneys entirely, plunging her into end-stage renal failure so that her body can no longer filter waste and toxins from her blood.

The 53-year-old grandmother already has lost more than 80 percent of her kidney function and suffers from back pain, hypertension and anemia. Doctors are not far from recommending that she undergo regular blood-cleansing treatments known as dialysis, which involves spending several hours a day, a few times a week, hooked up to a life-sustaining machine that would perform the work of her malfunctioning kidneys until a deceased-donor organ comes along. Last year, almost 12 Americans died each day waiting for a kidney.

All too aware of the grim statistics, Bunnell had feared the worst. Until last summer, that is, when an algorithm—developed by Carnegie Mellon computer science professors Tuomas Sandholm and Avrim Blum and graduate student David Abraham—matched her with Matt Jones. Jones is a 28-year-old college student and father of four who works full-time at a rental car company to support his family. He wanted to donate one of his kidneys to a stranger, with no strings attached, simply because he could.

Many called him crazy; kidney removal is major surgery that kills three of every 10,000 donors. And what if his second kidney fails later in life? Or what if one of his children needs a kidney transplant one day, and he would have been an eligible donor? His fiancée and brother tried to talk him out of the operation. But Jones, who first learned about live kidney donation through a cable news program, was undeterred. “Around the holidays, do you ever put a couple of bucks in the red kettle for the Salvation Army?” he asks. “What I did is really no different. We only need one kidney to live. So if you’ve got something a little extra that you don’t need and someone else could use it to live a decent life, I believe you should share it.”

Doctors refer to Jones as an altruistic donor. Sandholm calls him an angel.

One week later, Bunnell’s husband opts to pay it forward by donating one of his own kidneys to another stranger, 32-year-old Angie Heckman of Toledo, Ohio. Ron Bunnell had intended to give a kidney to his wife, but differences in body chemistry prevented a good match. The algorithm pairs him with Heckman instead. “There were never any second thoughts on my part,” he says. “I was a little bit scared, but most people go through their whole life never receiving a gift as big as the one Barb did. So I really did want to donate a kidney in return no matter what the circumstances.”

The healthy kidney from Bunnell enables Heckman to begin her life anew, freed from the burden and risks of dialysis and effectively cured of an autoimmune disorder that caused her kidneys to break down. Now in turn, Heckman’s mother is slated to donate one of her kidneys in the coming weeks to keep another stranger healthy and alive.

Read the rest of the story here

Have you ever been a beneficiary of an act of kindness from a stranger? Or have you done something out of the goodness of your heart without expecting anything in return? Do write to us to tell us your story. We would love to hear from you.

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Book Review: It’s Already Inside

Leaders who have developed their leadership DNA are rare and…leaders have no shelf-life. Managers are replaceable. Robert Murray, author, believes that everything you need to be a great leader is already inside you, and this innate leadership talent needs nurturing and practice to flourish.

Robert Murray grew up in a Canadian family with very little money, became an electrician after high school, and practised this trade through his twenties. At the turn of thirty he pursued a business education at night school and by the time he was thirty-nine, he was leading a $200 million business.

Robert Murray, during his career, has marshalled more than 15 businesses around the world, leading from the front. He has truly been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. Despite his stellar career as a leader, in his book, he stays true to his blue-collar beginnings. He speaks straight and from the heart about the most powerful leadership experiences of his life. He shares hard-learned lessons in the form of anecdotes and stories that are interesting and engaging to read.

In this book

Each chapter in the book captures one vital leadership lesson. The chapters are short but insightful, and end with a series of questions that help you to develop your inner leadership potential.

Three powerful lessons from the book

1. On an expedition to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, the author found himself in a diverse group of adventure enthusiasts who sat around a campfire and co-created a plan to help each other climb the mighty mountain. Without planning to, they created vision, mission and values that unified and energized them to take on the formidable challenge that lay ahead. Describing this moment, Robert writes, “It dawned on me that business and leadership is really simple stuff complicated by idiots. Ten people from different backgrounds had just completed in one hour of conversation what some businesses struggle with even after going away for a Management Team Building meeting.” He goes on to say, “I had learned a lifetime of leadership lessons on the way to the “Roof of Africa,” and they were leadership lessons from the most unlikely sources. What I discovered mostly though is that vision, values, and purpose are in all of us.”

2. Speaking of building and leading high performance organizations, the author strongly believes that there is no “trying”, only doing, or not doing. He bluntly states his preference for action, “In these (high performance) cultures, winning is celebrated and losing is equally celebrated. Winning puts revenue in the bank, high levels of productivity into action, builds higher levels of customer satisfaction, and reduces unnecessary costs. Celebrating losing means you are acknowledging that the business is learning, growing, adapting, and nurturing risk-taking.”

3. Writing about a realization that saved his marriage and restored the joy of family life, the author says, “Home is NOT the place to go and vent about everything that frustrates you in your job. Home is NOT the place you go to continue working like a dog doing email and reports. Home, or your personal life, is the reason you go to work, because it is work that finances your personal life.”

These three lessons were particularly powerful for me, because they are closely related to the challenges that I am facing today as a leader of my company. I also particularly enjoyed a chapter on running effective meetings, and one on being an influential public speaker.

As you read the book, you may be struck by the blunt, sometimes abrasive style of Robert’s writing. My first impulse was to shut the book, thinking it was shouting to make a point, but I am glad I kept reading. With each chapter, I became more attracted to the simplicity of Robert’s words, the directness of his message, and the wholesomeness of his view of leadership. I recommend this book if you are looking for a practical, no-nonsense guide to developing your inner leadership potential.

Santhan Reddy is a doctor turned entrepreneur, and is a founder and partner at Deep Red Ink.

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Are Leaders Born or Made?

In the dictionary, and in our minds, a leader is one who commands a group or a team. He or she is seen as a person who motivates others to follow them. Many people also believe that great leaders are born with leadership qualities or that they come naturally to them.

Those of us who have been in leadership positions of any kind, however, know that leading oneself or others is not as simple as it sounds. It is also questionable whether we have “born” leaders. Experienced leaders know that leadership is a much bigger picture than what we see and is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.

What makes a good leader?

In recent times, most organizations are devoting considerable resources to develop their leaders. But does it really make a difference? The general debate on whether leaders are born or made, is always on the top of every company’s mind. Does this mean that any investment of time and money spent on leadership development is wasted?

Reflecting on these thoughts, and delving much deeper into it, is LeadingBlog’s article on ‘The Inner World of the Leader’ which quite literally reviews Manfred Kets de Vries’s books on leadership development. Answering these thoughts and beyond, the article goes on to question not just ‘what is a good leader?’ but also ‘what is bad?’ and ‘what happens when the leader falters?’ and most importantly, ‘what happens to the followers?’ If the leader fails, do the followers fail too? It states that ‘every leader needs someone who is willing to speak out and tell the leader how it is, in order to create checks and balances,’ more so like a ballast of the person in power. For, without such counterbalances, it is very easy for leaders to derail and organizations to get severely affected.

Narcissism and Leadership?

Egotism is an inexorable quality of human nature and definitely leadership too, states the article. It says that the difference, from one egoistic to another, lies in the degree of narcissism in the personality of the leader and how he/she handles it.
It discusses how truly effective leaders can make a difference by maintaining a fine balance between action and reflection; interactions, both positive and dysfunctional, between leaders and followers.

Today’s leaders are in charge of increasingly diverse workforces operating in even more increasingly complex environments. Nobody’s born prepared for challenges like these. As hierarchies disappear and we move towards an environment of fewer external boundaries, leaders face the challenge of dealing with boundaries that exist in people’s minds. It talks about the need to wean away such leaders from authority and, in the long run, without worrying about authority, they will be more effective and work better.

Nature or Nurture?

‘Leaders are not born’ is what the author believes in and says that there is a very delicate balance between nature and nurture!

Just because a hands-off approach worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the future. Leadership has to be cultivated to be successful in the face of new challenges. Becoming a leader is a choice that one takes and leadership development is hastening that choice for some people.

It talks about how a leader needs to have a little bit of both IQ and EQ, someone who can be a mix of both an extrovert and an introvert to understand and lead effectively. Leadership differs in that it makes the followers want to achieve high goals, rather than simply bossing people around.

10 Qualities of a Leader

Being successful as a leader is much more than just acquiring knowledge, skills and experience. While all these matter, what really makes a difference are the personal attributes.

Here are 10 attributes to keep in mind when developing leadership competencies:

  1. Have vision.
  2. Make decisions.
  3. Take risks.
  4. Motivate others.
  5. Build teams.
  6. Possess self-knowledge.
  7. Display integrity.
  8. Pursue life-long learning.
  9. Communicate effectively.
  1. Help others succeed.

Leaders empower others and go out of their way to help them achieve their full potential, thereby benefiting the organization. While certain character traits for leadership seem to be with many from birth, it is absolutely true that developing a great leader comes through mentoring, the necessary education, opportunity and challenge.

This article is an excerpt from the LeadingBlog. Click here to read the complete article on ‘The Inner World of the Leader.’

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July 2012: Prerna’s Events

March to June was a relatively sedate period for us in terms of events.

We had mentioned in our last issue about the retreat of Nithya Shanti, ‘Living Joyfully in the Now’, that was organized from March 2 to 4, 2012 in Delhi. This attracted around 20 participants including CEOs and Senior Leaders of a few organizations.

We followed this up in March and April with a set of team alignment and personal joy enhancement workshop and retreat with an NGO and a leading e-commerce company respectively.

June saw us partnering with Vyaktitva, a leading OD consulting organization, to help build the vision and mission for an NGO affiliated to the Dutch Government.

We also commenced an Executive Coaching assignment for a leading telecom company during this period.

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March 2012: Prerna Events

OD Collective

In January, Vyaktitva and Prerna got together to organize a session of Prof. Raj Sisodia with around 60 CEOs, CHROs and other management professionals under the aegis of OD Collective, a gathering routinely facilitated by Vyaktitva, a leading organization development firm of India.
Held in Delhi, the focus of the session was on building conscious businesses. Prof. Sisodia is the co-founder and Chairperson of the Conscious Capitalism Institute that is pioneering this movement of ‘the business of business is not just business’ in the West. According to Prof. Sisodia, Firms of Endearment are created only when the organization has a conscious leadership that rallies the firm around a higher purpose; builds a culture of trust, authenticity, caring, transparency, learning and empowerment and aligns the systems and policies to create a win-win for all its SPICEE (Society, Partners, Investors, Customers, Employees and Environment) stakeholders. His research on 29 Firms of Endearment, living their lives around these tenets, clearly indicate that these have outperformed the S&P 500 and the ‘Good to Great’ companies (Jim Collins) on market capitalization almost 10 times over 15 years. This gap has significantly widened during the recession of 2008-09, indicating the resilience of these firms.

Living Joyfully in the Now

As we go into print, we are organizing a residential 2-day retreat, ‘Living Joyfully in the Now’ by Nithya Shanti from March 2 – 4, 2012 at Delhi. Besides this, there is a plan to conduct corporate workshops and retreats for two organizations in the March – April period. During 2011, around 70 participants have benefited from these individual focused retreats whilst we have supported the journey of building a joyful culture for three organizations through corporate level workshops and retreats.
Working along with Conscious Capitalism Institute, Nithya Shanti and other like spirited associates, our aim is to help build firms of endearment in India through a concerted focus on developing consciousness-centred leadership and culture.
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March 2012: From the Founder’s Desk

Dear Readers,

In many ways, we are at the cusp of life’s unfolding. Whether it is crises or planned, change is unfolding rapidly. And leaders and leadership is a subject right in the centre of this happening. This issue of the PRERNA Newsletter accordingly focuses primarily on the qualities of Leaders, the importance of Personal Mastery and how Emotional Intelligence is a key factor in the developmental journey of leadership.

We often discuss about the lack of good quality leaders, both in the area of business and politics. We also debate on what distinguishes a “good” from a “not so good” leader. In the case of political leaders, we normally tend to judge them by their media image rather than by results, as we are far removed from being able to assess their true qualities. In the area of business, however, we tend to judge them in terms of relationships, team building and business outcomes.

A truly effective leader is a very complex person whose success is determined by his ability to Lead Change, Lead Business, Lead Teams and Lead Self.

Out of all these, perhaps the most important is the area of Leading Self because this is the basis on which the other elements are built. Richard Barrett’s (Founder of Barrett Values Centre) quote in Ashley’s article touches the core of the issue,“Learning to lead yourself is a lifetime journey. It is not an event. It is a process that requires your continuing commitment. There are always layers and layers of subconscious fears that have to be managed, mastered or released if you are to become an authentic individual; there are always new depths of understanding to be discovered around your purpose in life; and there is much learning to be done about how to bring that purpose to fruition to achieve the personal fulfillment you are looking for.” In other words, it is all about discovering your true self and, in the process, understanding others and bringing about change. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see”.

When we think of “change”, most organizations believe that if we re-structure or announce a new “policy” we have demonstrated that we are effective leaders. However, we know from our experience that this is not true in most cases because the leader in question sets the rules for others while their own behaviour does not demonstrate their personal commitment to the purpose for which the change was initiated. Subjecting ourselves to the same norms of behaviour as other ordinary mortals becomes an important prerequisite of authentic and compassionate leadership.

In Richard Barrett’s book, The New Leadership Paradigm, he lucidly states,

“The leaders of our organizations need to recognize that business is a wholly owned subsidiary of society, and society is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. ….Building a sustainable future for everyone is not just societal imperative it is also a business imperative.”

The story about Alexander, considered by many to be a great warrior, states this in another way by pointing out that what we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others, lives on.

Do write to us with your views on some of your personal practices as an Effective Leader and we will be delighted to share some of the more interesting learning with others.

With best wishes

Anil Nayar

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