Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Talk at Infosys - The Connection Between Ownership, Quality, Leadership and Cricket

I was invited to speak on Ownership and Quality - and I added Leadership because that's my current favorite. In many ways I think they all mean the same thing in the end or can be connected pretty quickly because they are all about doing things well.

The talk went a bit like this. And some.
After the session - (Pic courtesy: Rajneesh Malviya, right) 

Talk at Infosys, Hyderabad on May 13, 2015
Ownership, Quality, Leadership (and Cricket)
      The need for quality
As captains and selectors of cricket teams desirous of becoming champion teams (or to remain as champion teams) the search for quality players is constant. We want to win. We want the best talent that will help us win. But who are these quality players? Where do we find them?

There are many definitions of quality. In selection committees we normally have big arguments over these two aspects – is quality about statistics or is it about "talent" with inconsistent performances. I think the truth lies somewhere in between, or rather a mix of both.

How to identify quality players?
  • Separate the real from the fake - Much of our time goes in trying to separate the real from the fake. Some pointers we follow to identify the quality players vs fakes are:               
  • Impact players vs Those with useless stats (look for matches won or saved)
  • -          Love challenges vs Withdraw from challenges (big match players)
  • -          Take higher responsibility for team vs Running away in key moments
  • -          Results vs excuses (contribute positively)

If you were to play selectors, what attributes would you pick as quality?
  • ·     Consistently high performance, raise bar each time, work hardest, make less mistakes
  • ·         Deliver in all conditions, mentally tough, know process, adapt, recover and self-correct faster
  • ·         Create impact, match winning performances, nail every chance, ownership to be change agents
Now we know what defines quality let us see where we stand. Can we also become like them? What makes these quality players? What is it that they have? What do we need to be like them

Us vs them. Talent vs application. A story to put things in perspective.
158 runs were scored by me on a snap decision I made to get back the runs I gave away while bowling (I gave away 128 runs). It was a quality innings because of its zero defects (ok, one error but dropped catch), Did It Right The First Time etc). I realised that I had to power to decide. I had to POWER to CREATE.

What do we learn from this story?
We can decide to take ownership and create impact – NOW.
It was application of what was there, nothing new was added, all resources became precious and useful

10X Impact
I made an impact of 10x, It was an unexpected win, (Also think of the number of players who score when they have a point to prove i.e. comebacks etc. Proves my point. You can if you make up your mind. I also have two other incidents of selling bonds and corporate finance and returning 10X performances when I owned those processes - mentioned in 50 no)

The Big Key
Decision to take ownership for my clearly defined part – that's the big Key. All else falls into place, process, preparation, work, details, application.

Clearly Quality players are about how much RESPONSIBILITY they take. 100% responsibility means no one is to blame - not rain, not bad luck, not umpires, not fate, not bad management etc. Its just you. It's the champion’s mindset, the 10x in us. 

It's just a decision to take greater responsibility.

Ask yourself - What’s the best I can do for myself? For my team? NOW. All you need to do is RECALIBRATE your mindset and DECIDE now. Take responsibility. Commit.

Why be a quality player?
It's hard work. Its more responsibility. What do I get for it? Satisfaction? Growth? Respect? You figure out. If you can't, take it easy.
Leadership - what's the connect between ownership and good leadership. 
Until we feel the pain of the leader, we cannot become good leaders. We cannot create, make a difference. My model for leadership.
-          Insecure leaders – All power, no responsibility. Result - they lose, fail consistently
-          Personal leadership – No power,  full responsibility, take ownership. Result -  win, first flexion point to magic
-          Secure leadership – power, responsibility, know and don’t know, transfer ownership, grow others, vulnerability

How to transfer ownership?
Get out of the way. Grow they. Be patient. Treat your wards as you would yourself if you needed to give your best.  Its all about energy management
Quality then is about 
  • -          Deciding
  • -          Set clear goals
  • -          Reset higher goals once you achieve them

Imagine a world full of 10x people. A team full of 10x people.      

      The starting point is the Mindset. (this, we did not have time to cover so I skipped but its important and part of the story.) 
      Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset (from Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck)
(FM – Non learners, Desire to look smart, avoid challenges, give up easily, get defensive, see effort as fruitless, non learners, ignore negative feedback, feels threatened by others success)
GM – Learner, embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as path to mastery, learn from criticism, find lessons and inspiration from others success)
To go from FM to GM – Ask for help, do small things to affect change, work on mindsets and beliefs, get process orientation, get over world owes me and denial, push gently to find something harder, learn and help learn)

With a learning mindset we tend towards expertise – the 10000 hours for expertise rule
3 factors to identify expertise - Performance superior to peers, Produce concrete results, Process can be replicated in lab

Our entire effort is to create champion mindsets, teams, leaders
Quality players
-          Do it right the first time – preparation, deliberate practice
-          Process orientation – know / not know, less mistakes, do not repeat mistakes, recover fast
-          Constant Improvement – Aim higher at each new limit

-          Big impact

Q & A
This talk was not as important as the questions that were raised and answered very well by Narry who gave a vote of thanks and more importantly put things in perspective far better than I could during my talk. The answers here however are mine though.

Q. There's a big difference between playing a game of cricket and the corporate arena. How can we equate the same?
A. Not really. Both are about results. Both are about performance. Both are about resource utilisation. Both are about pain and pleasure, loss or exultation. The one big difference could be that the game is all about now - I know the result at the end of the day - and feel the pain or pleasure of victory instantly. In the corporate arena results may not be so immediate - and also most can hide behind the team. In the game there's no place to hide.

Which is why the game is a good one to understand certain principles that guide teams, energies, leaders, dynamics, performances, facilitation etc. It becomes a simulated environment to know people ("I can know more about a person in an hours play than twenty years of discussion" - Plato)

Q. What about accountability? How can you seize accountability from the skipper who is finally accountable?
A. Perhaps the skipper is finally accountable. But then each member of the team is equally accountable. Otherwise what are you doing there? The dream of every leader and skipper is to grow a team full of people who will feel his pain and who will take as much accountability as he himself does. Make no mistake - it does become the responsibility of  every player to behave with as much accountability as the captain. So to have a team full of captains (responsibility wise) is the best thing to happen. It is what we are all aspiring for.

Q. Isn't it all too much about 'I' and less about the team? "I" scored 158*?
A. Unless and until we take personal leadership and expand our given role horizontally to achieve its fullest potential we will never know what ownership is, what the team is and how we can make a difference to the bigger picture. Whatever our role is - a sweeper, a receptionist, a tea boy, a CEO - until we understand the power of personal leadership, we have not even started participating in the creative process. Its the first serious point where the person realises he has personal power to influence outcomes. He will truly understand what his role is about really and how much he can influence it.

Q. What if everyone starts behaving like he is the captain? Won't there be chaos?
A. People who take ownership do so with the team interest in mind. If everyone in the team took up the responsibility of the team as if he were the leader that is the ideal situation really because we have fully committed players. The intensity they bring to their work is more to do with their own role and they facilitate others perform better  too. In their role they grow horizontally - taking care of more and more details, adding more and more value to their work which shines through for the rest of the team. There will be no chaos really (unless the captain is an insecure person and is acting against the interest of the team in which case the person who is dissenting is still in the right).

Q. How can we show vulnerability? In corporate sector we are all expected to be in charge and in control and know everything?
A. In showing vulnerability you are only making space for the others to open up too. To be more secure. It is not that one claims one knows nothing or that one is totally dependent on the others. Just that one is open enough to say one knows what one knows and one does not know what one does not know (but is willing to learn). In fact many times its just a matter of listening attentively to a new perspective and allowing them freedom to grow that initiative.
But to act like we know everything is an indication of a space that is not secure. Its a space that is not transparent. That may not be ideal and will have to be addressed. How much ever we claim to know everything, everyone around us knows exactly how much we know really.

Some appreciation from Rajneesh Malviya on his tweet.
Opportunity to listen Harimohan Paruvu, author of "50 not out". Great aspirational talk. Everyone can do 10x.

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