What will you do with the answer?

What will you do with the answer?

Once, I was in a behavioral science workshop and we were amid intense emotional discovery of self and understanding how we engage with others.

One of participant asked a sharp personal question to another, kind of, why/ what / how type….. quite common in an intense discussion.

And before the answer came out, out facilitator Zeb said, let me tell you all a story,

“There were 2 neighbors who used to sit outside their houses and watch the cars go by, one of them had a dog and he used to bark and chase every passing car which used to irritate the other to no end.

Once the other neighbor asked, why does your dog bark and chase cars?

And the first one said, does it matter? What you will do with this answer is what the dog will do with the car it catches…..


The dog will not know what to do with the car it catches,


You do not know, what you will do with my answer, it actually doesn’t matter to you what the dog will do, Isn’t it?”

Zeb finished the story and there was a long pause, and said to the participant…

Look inside, and answer to yourself, “What will you do with the answer?”

Do you often ask a question not to hear the answer but because some other feeling is building inside you? Think of interactions with spouse, children, co-workers, friends.


So, next time, when you are looking to ask a question, ask yourself

“What will I do with the answer?” and looking inside you will get your answer.

Think again, before you ask

“What will you do with the answer, think of the dog chasing cars”


PS – Even after this insightful warning, I asked a sharp question to a now dear friend and was made to realize that, I was just angry with a behavior but didn’t say it directly, the answer was immaterial!!!

Do not tell the boss!

Do not tell the boss!




Don’t tell the boss….. 3 things to help your teams overcome this

Everyone has a boss, however high up you are, a CEO or a board member and we are all humans leading a team of humans, or you can be child or a grown-up adult with a parent to answer,and we all make mistakes.
And, in situations when we should be telling our boss of the blunder which has happened or as a son or daughter, should be telling our parents, we develop a very uncomfortable feeling and we can react in various ways ………
• Partial truth – just enough details, so that officially you have been “transparent” but “unknowingly” left some “minor” details
• Procrastination – hide it till I can, will see later if it does come up,maybe it doesn’t
• Tell it later – buy some time, delay it, whatever be the reason
Or any of the various ingenuous ways to somehow, not communicate the full picture quickly
Sounds familiar?
Now let us turn the tables…..
Won’t you as a leader, like to hear about the big things rather quickly, pretty much on a real-time basis? But on the other hand, you constantly have to pry open this kind of information, you hear about these from other sources before your own team member tells you….
What could be happening………
1. History repeats itself: Yes, that is what your team remembers. Last time, when you heard of the blunder, you blew the lid, nearly killed the messenger, it became very personal, so now no one wants to convey it to you
2. Gotcha : Bloody hell, I got you this time. You relish catching the mistake, it is your chance to show the other person, that however smart he/ she thinks of him/her self, you are superior (with a big S) and this one proves it.Now you put salt on the wounds to prove it.
3. Keep Me Out of it : Oh you did this, not me, your problem, so………You fix it, manage the situation which you should be doing, aren’t you are smart (& highly paid..) but more importantly, KEEP my name in clear. You remember this behavior, not at all uncommon, isn’t it?


So, introspect and if you see some shades of these 3 in you, time to consciously not do them the next time.
A word of caution: Have Patience – If you have been doing the above for some time, the change in other’s behavior will be real slow unless of course you work with a different set of people. But if it is important to you that people are honest and frank with you, better start now.
Have you observed this type of behavior in others or yourself, what can be done if the other person aka the boss doesn’t change? I am looking forward to hear this.




One of the most important tasks you will have as a business leader is hiring. It is a time consuming process with monetary and reputational consequences. Therefore, one needs to make the right choice. In my previous blog, I have spoken about the importance of right hiring and how to go about it. So here they are, the remaining 3 of the 4 vital steps to make hiring a success-
2. Know the person
It is an informal interaction, a discussion between two mature professionals and both have skin in the game. Lighten up the mood, that is how you will get a sneak peek into the actual person. Instead of making them feel conscious and fearful, make the talk easy, allow the person to relax and open up. This allows them to talk freely with a degree of ease and comfort. Get to know the person and not the candidate…..the man/woman behind the formality of corporate facade. Ask them about their lives, their values, beliefs, how do they see themselves in future …..10 years down the line. This can also reveal their communication and interpersonal skills.
You would like to observe the candidate’s personality, the way they sit, maintain eye contact, carry themselves (including attire), their body language, all speaks volumes about them. Whether they are polite and well-mannered or too full of themselves. For me, this helps me to understand the candidate’s soft skills, nature, their cultural beliefs and how they would fit into my organization’s environment andwould potentially behave with fellow colleagues.
One important factor, what is the motivation of the candidate? It is an importantfactor for to know, isit ambition, money, boredom or just the itch to jump to a different job? Why does the person want this job?
If the person doesn’t show passion for the job, doesn’t demonstrate top notch skillsor shows a general lack of energy…. all are a big turn-off in the moment as well as potential future performance issues.

3. Stress testing/ looking beyond the role/ how will the person handle different situations / what is the thinking …..
Leaders revel in difficult situations. It brings out the best in them. Hence to see this side of them, it is a good idea to put them in different situations and study their responses. It gives an insight into their capacity to think on the feet, to withstand stress, the patience level they possess and how they perform in pressure cooker situations. Do they maintain a level head and reason with the problem, find solutions to overcome them or do they panic and lose their cool due to overly emotional attitude or indecisiveness?Do they think out of box thinking or it is always an expected response? Picture this…….
• How would you deal with a convoluted sexual harassment case within your team?
• How would you react to negative criticism from a fellow colleague?
• How would you deal with an angry client?
• How would you handle extremely tight deadlines?
• A greenfield project like developing a business from ground-up
• How would you treat crime that takes place within your organization? (Fraud, theft, etc.)
• What is your initial solution hypothesis to this business situation?
Such situations demand that the interviewee utilizeshis analytical and problem-solving skills. This also gives the interviewer insight, whether the candidate can dig deeper, rise to the occasions or is missing the strong which you are looking for.
A tip
• Mix your questions well, from technical problems to personnel issues – you are also checking if the person can keep multiple plates in the air, a must if the role has a broad range of responsibilities
• Take your time, it is ok to throw many questions to get fully convinced

4. FINAL Decision- Post the interview, it is good to take some time to think it through, to make the final decision i.e. whether to hire the candidate as an employee or not. A final call must encompass a question………..Will he make a difference…..What does he bring to the table ? In case it is still a yes, go ahead.
Although I say, take your time but in other sense, time is precious. If at any stage you feel the person concerned is unfit to be a part of your organization, do not lead him on. Close the process and do not waste any further time.
And if you are accountable, make sure that you are FULLY convinced, no “because he told, you should hire him”.
As they say, diamonds are the hardest to find, so make sure you find the diamond in the ruff!

What is one trait you look for in a candidate? Looking forward to hear from you.



Is hiring just an activity to fill a slot for you or do you want to have a person who brings significant capabilities to the table, not just fills the current JD demands but cantraverse the future unknown paths? If the answer is latter, you need to get involved, emotionally and personally.

A wrong hire or even an average one, just fitting the JD person can make you regret quickly, especially when organizations are struggling to cope up with the rapidly changing eco-system. Will this girl or guy can work with future upcoming firms who one day will become Tesla, Airbnb, Uber, Instagram of today?

You may want to consider this….

Are you hiring for yourself or is it just an activity for you? Big difference, if latter, just find a person who fits the current JD, easy game. But for former, you want this person to ideate, innovate, think and drive stuff which even you cannot image now, so consider aiming higher and beyond the JD.

You would need to develop your style and here is a broad way to manage it in 4 distinct phases (order is not important, rather you should do in the way you feel comfortable):

  1. Professional exchange and level setting –

This is much more relevant for senior level positions where both the parties are making a heavy investment in the process and should be respectful of each other’s time.

It would be quite professional and respectful to give a lay of the land of the organizational, the function, business context, the vision and how this role is expected to impact the business. This is your chance to make sure the person understands the complexities of the role, the richness, the difficulties, the challenges, the potential as well as some of the not so glamorous dimensions of the role. It is so crucial to be as transparent as possible to make sure that the other person knows what he/ she is getting into and you don’t have an unpleasant situation 3 months down the line, you hear “I didn’t sign-up for this”.

In the same breadth, be very clinical and go through the professional life including academics, so that you can get a rich picture and you can start relating to your organization, stakeholders and the role itself. Keep asking questions like..” what would you like to say in addition to what you mentioned in the cv?”

“which of these projects you are most proud of and would like to talk about?”

And if you hear bits which are similar to what happens in the role, time to dive in deep.

  • A quick caution…. Your biases!

You may be prone to form an opinion, building it up from your inherent biases, which could be very common and most people will struggle to acknowledge them. Age, gender, ethnicity are still too common (surprise, surprise…)  but also, more subtle and personal like a person with manufacturing background cannot do sales or consulting or a strategy person cannot be your talent partner. Please keep your mind open and do not let biases draw a conclusion early in the process.

  • And a tip…..a scoring sheet

It can be very productive and great for tracking and measuring different candidates, so list all your criteria and score each candidate, you may not always pick the one with the top score but it narrows the decision to usually a couple of strong candidates

Post this, comes up the actual challenge, assessing beyond academia and technicalities of work! This is when you test the candidate on how she/he will handle various real scenarios, the real traits that help you understand the person not just as a candidate but as a mature professional, leader and a human being. So, stay tuned, for my next blog and discover the remaining 3 steps to hire the right one!



First, a disclaimer, this is not about leadership or work at all, it is just about how we interact with other human beings in our life.
Now with the necessary disclaimer done, I would repeat, “Never agree” and in the same breath , add “Never disagree”, but then what is left? A whole lot, actually pretty much everything……
How does it feel, when someone “agrees” with you or may be in the not so happy scenario, someone “disagrees” with you? For many a times, when someone disagrees with them, it feels very personal, it comes out as an expression of “I don’t like you”.
So now, conveying the similar meaning as “agree” or “disagree” but giving a different impression, I will quote a real-life example. It was the time when I used to be on road and used to consult in U.S to firms who were looking to improve their processes and dramatically alter their businesses. It was in one such project, we were brainstorming animatedly details of a solution which we were planning to propose to the client. It was a heated discussion with several SMEs putting divergent views and arguing, and things were going out of control and chaotic. Then in the same heated flow, someone reacted to a colleague’s point saying “I disagree with your approach” and in the same breath added “I agree with solution”, and to me it felt like she had just made an enemy and a friend, it looked very extreme. It is then, that our project director Marc Salvatini (hope you are well Marc) jumped in said, there is another way to convey this, please say….” I share the same opinion as yours “ or “ I have a different opinion”. Initially, I couldn’t appreciate this fine nuance but as I heard that more and more, I began to appreciate the difference. We started to see our differing points of view as another idea, another view, a different lens rather than a competition. It felt that “differing opinions” were like multiple colors of a rainbow but “disagree” was like a black and white binary world.
In most cases, we don’t dislike (or even like) a person,but only have similar or different opinions but the person is absorbing ours agree or disagree very differently.
Think about it, try it and see how you feel it saying and then see if you would like to hear the same way………. sdfs



So you are a team leader now. Congratulations on the elevation! But wait……there are no free lunches here. Leadership comes with its burden. And there is the added responsibility of making each team member of yours grow under your tutelage. It would be so easy to neglect the team and let everyone grow and not worry about it but before that here are some more common (& some uncommon) ways of helping your team grow, most are filled in management books.
We all get recruited at different levels and usually do not have the option to choose our team, we normally inherit them. Typically a team consists of people at different levels of potential and performance. Some are outstanding, some need to be encouraged and finally a lot of them may need to be pushed into delivering what you want. The most crucial thing for a leader is for her to carry her team along and if this is achieved, it is inevitable that the leader will grow along with her team.
To let her team grow, a leader must-
• Encourage team to develop and outgrow their roles
• See this from a holistic perspective(bird’s eye view)
• Help employees build networks
• Assign them tasks according to their key responsibility area and assign them mentors accordingly
• When a member fails, even though, we will encourage and help but it would be important that the person is asked some tough questions, that he/ she fully understands the causes, impact and really learn the lesson otherwise all the dollars invested in this failure are lost
• Each team member is different and needs to be treated accordingly. There is no one template which can guide you to treat them all similarly. That would be sacrilege. The leader must be sensitive to the characteristics of each team member.

But there is another side that helps your team grow……….neglect…yes you read it right but with a pinch of salt
1. It is often said in parental guidance, the best you can do is slightly neglect & deprive your child and do not help them all the time. It instills independence in them
2. A botanist will tell you that an extra care of your plants, like lot of water, fertilizers etc., will grow them tall but any day the storm hits, your lovely plant is most likely to say good bye and go with the storm

How is this relevant in leadership?
If you provide additional guidance and help get your guy or girl that coveted project, take-over difficult people situations on your shoulders, get into those tricky parts of project and help navigate the way …………………..you have just done the same thing. It is ultimately leading them to the solution instead of giving them the opportunity to discern on their respective merit.
In the good interestof the people and to be a true leader, you would have to let people learn the hard way (….sometimes), they would have to learn to manage the tough, tricky, undefined part of the corporate world….

It is a fine balance to maintain and you may be better-off, giving some post the event kerb-side coaching but not take the path of spoon feeding.

All in all, a leader must lead and in the process, not make the centriole helping her team members in all the tasks and channeling her entire energy into that. She must maintain the appropriate balance between delegation and micromanaging. Rings a bell? This will not only reward them individually, it will make the team excel, the leader grow and eventually lead the organization to victory. Like one happy family!



A Daily Chore for all leaders is-When you hit your workplace every morning and have a mountain tall “To Do “ List staring you in the face……..Can you delegate the important stuff to your Team or do you become the Howtodoit Coach instantly ? Difficult one this is……

Delegating – It is considered the ultimate panacea for a busy leader, “delegate and “you will have more time to focus on more strategic stuff and will aid in nurturing the next line of leaders.

And on the other hand, there is micro- managing, labeled as the sin, this leader is abhorred by all subordinates, his leader berates him for focusing on small details and not allowing the team to cultivate their skills and grow.

This is a huge dilemma any leader is most likely to have, whether to delegate the jobs to your dream team or to micromanage. And the answer is not so simple.

What does the management require? First of all, they want the task completed to perfection. Period. Secondly, from their value system, they would prefer you to delegate the tasks given to your team members. But they would desire you to be the face and remain involved in the process. Paradox?? And is that so simple? No it is not. And the other side of the fence …….What does your team want? They would certainly expect a degree of trust in them from you as a leader to feel the same conviction towards their personal abilities to complete the task. And they would appreciate if you leave them alone to complete the tasks given.

Micromanagement inadvertently means not leaving it to your dream team?  Translated into…..questioning and constantly badgering them on an update like every 30 minutes. This will in turn increase immense pressure and stress on them. It is possible that if you micromanage,  your team may not respond to your intrusion in the most positive way that you will be expecting and it may not lead to the best output from them under the scrutiny.


But look at the other side which is the more practical model, better known to maximize results.



Can you delegate all the tasks to all your team members? Think about it. Or maybe you can to a few that have the skills and a proven track record which gives you certain confidence. You need to assess the aptitude of your team members individually for you to understand who needs micromanaging or better still involved delegation. And I kid you not, there cannot be many you can find whom you can trust to do so.  So the leader needs to gain a deeper understanding of an individual person as to who is capable and will he/she be ready to get up the learning curve and who will not step up despite how much ever guidance is given.

You may find some of your budding leaders fail miserably when you totally delegate and thrive with involved delegation. So, how do you know who are the people who need a hands off approach aka “delegation” and who will perform better with a little bit of involvement. You may need an involved delegation approach when the person-

  • doesn’t ask questions, neither to seek guidance nor to clarify
  • is more of a thinker where she would like to mull over the problem and then talk it over multiple times to validate various of her theories, takes time
  • is not aggressive or someone who would think twice before sharing his/her opinion, more of a silent person who may have an opinion or solution to a problem but is reluctant to share with the rest. A trait of most introverts.
  • more of a SME in her area and either doesn’t have time to understand the big picture or is just not interested so will totally rely on you to set it up, you disappear and either nothing happens or you have a series of faux pas
  • has an inherent need to remain constantly in touch even though is fully competent

And there are those exceptional situations which warrant micro-managing

  • Moving from entrepreneurship/ start-up to process driven / large organization or a new hire
  • Performance challenge
  • High performers being set-up for next level
  • Crisis Management, meeting critical deadlines or during the project start-up phase
  • Conflict Management (sometimes delegated by leadership)
  • It is very much your pet project.
  • And this one may sound funny but is not uncommon. It is when the leader is throwing the monkey around and telling “somehow figure it out, do not ask me any question, take it from me” so that I don’t have to deal with it.


“Delegating can very much be your own assessment of the person and inherently will depend on the chemistry between you and your team. Many times it may swing from hands off to micromanaging till it settles on involved delegation.


At the end of the day, it is the results that matter

What is your experience on involved delegation?