A Leader’s Call to Action

The leader’s challenge

How do you translate your ideas and thoughts into action on the ground?

Many of our “leadership actions” are based on the “stories” we have read of “mythical, heroic, larger than life” people

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A leader’s Sisyphean task

We hope that the books, movies and YouTube videos about successful CEOs and what they do – starting with Jack Welch, winding our way past Sam Walton, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Zuckerberg, Indra Nooyi and most recently Satya Nadella – will help us decode the secrets of leadership success.

A moment of reflection quickly brings the realisation that no leader has achieved greatness by just reading inspirational stories. 

On the other hand, it is the actions that leaders take to change their own behaviours and the behaviour and environment in their teams and organisations that creates success.

How do we move to action? Obviously this requires more commitment. It is easier to read inspirational books and listen to motivational speeches and feel good about our efforts to become better leaders. It also makes us complacent as we feel we have done our bit. This approach of course stops us short from taking real actions on the ground.

Let us briefly touch upon three distinctly different approaches to move to successful action.

1. Curiosity

“Curiosity” is a valuable leadership trait – making you more social, human and…..effective. It leads to more informed decisions.

How can the “stories” of the “ordinary” people around you – your customers and employees inform better leadership decisions? Can we do this systematically? It goes beyond talking to the handful of people we are comfortable with and who just cross our path during the course of work.  This is important to eliminate “conformation bias” and helps us come to terms with reality.

2. Priming

The art of priming – presenting the right information, including physical cues at the point of behaviour/ action has a huge impact in creating the desired actions. Extensive social science research, most famously by Dan Ariely, Marc Meredith, Chen-Bo Zhong, Francesca Gino, Max Bazerman, Nicholas Christakis and a host of others clearly points out that this is an important part of moving to sustained action.

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The actions you choose could be

  • something personal like exercising (priming would lead you to place your walking or gym shoes next to your bed and wear it the moment you wake up in the morning),
  • to actions that lead to team success (prime to acknowledge the contributions of team members the moment you see it, leading to high levels of engagement)
  • or organisational values like acting more ethically (get everybody to sign an honour code).

Deciding the specific actions, having a way to observe and measure the actions helps us change our behaviour patterns.

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3. Changing the social environment

Who we interact with regularly, profoundly influences our actions. It is important to understand that we are the company we keep. 

Successful change at the individual, team and organisation level highlights the importance of

  • peer support and pressure, 
  • providing sponsors or mentors to help maintain accountability, encourage progress, and acknowledge small improvements.

Is there an action you want to take? Do you want to call your team to action?

When you want the help of a coach to use these behavioural strategies Call or Whatsapp me on 8197291755 or write to me at usharaghunath@gmail.com




Sonder – the realisation that everyone has a story

I intensely understand and believe in how unique and rich every human being is. This has generated a tremendous curiosity in me to understand every person I meet a little more deeply. I have therefore chosen to do work where I regularly meet a lot of new people in large groups when I run #business #leadership development programs, as also in deep personal conversations, through my #consulting and #coaching practice. I love understanding and working with the emotions which create human behaviour and action.

And then last week, I was introduced to the word “Sonder” by a dear friend and reader Anil Reddy. He said that the picture in my previous post reminded him of the word. So this post is dedicated to all of you, who have out of curiosity and interest come to read it.

In the process of exploring this new word, I hit a really rich vein, I had not been aware of before. The work of #Koenig, who has spent a couple of decades giving new names to emotions that currently lack words.

The word Sonder was created by John Koenig, to describe the realization that “each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness.”

“An epic story that continues invisibly around us like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that we’ll never know existed, in which we might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”

As we return from work every evening, we go through the peak hour traffic – and in every bike, car and bus are other human beings experiencing life deeply. Do we notice? Do we realise that? Do we spend a moment wondering about their story?


To understand Sonder. To feel it. It could be part of our #EI journey

Emotional intelligence begins with being aware of our emotions and feelings and being able to name them.

At a personal level – naming the emotion is important because it helps us manage our emotions, navigate our relationships at work and home and achieve positive results.

At the organizational level, it is one of the fundamental skills of being an effective leader. It is the most critical component of building a positive company culture and leading a global, diverse workforce. Being aware of our own emotions. Being equally aware of other people’s experiences and emotions. Knowing that they are the central character in their own story, as much as we believe we are the central character in our world.

This kind of awareness and understanding helps us generate and tap into the enthusiasm, confidence, optimism, cooperation and trust of people we work with. It encourages us to be agile in our decision making.

In these times of disruptive change, we need to be intentional about upping our emotional intelligence. Identify and name those emotions swirling inside and around us. Sonder – understanding that every human being around us leads a rich and vivid life.

Feel free to call, message or whatsapp me on 91-8197291755 if you want to work on your #EI