Great Leaders, Know all their people well.

Once in a talent review discussion, one of my bosses requested a young Business Leader to consider a CV of a candidate (top talent), the candidates name was blanked out in the CV. The business leader read the CV, said, “this is a fantastic profile, this person has such rich experience and has established a track record of success”. He asked my boss, “why the name is blanked out? Who is this person”? Then, my Boss told him, that, “he is one of your direct reports, who was hired before you were hired in the company”. He added, “I am sensing from this talent review discussion that you don’t seem to appreciate the potential in him” – Boss was direct but, very calm and constructive. The business leader reflected on the discussion and apologised, for not knowing his people he hadn’t hired directly. He was genuinely sorry about it.

What I learned from that interaction was as follows:

1) As leaders you shouldn’t value people, who are only hired by you. It’s a trait of a great leader to know all his people and all about them. No assessment report can ever replace the first hand knowledge about a person his experiences and background. Just coz a person wasn’t hired by you doesn’t mean he/she is less talented.

2) How senior leaders effectiveny coach and give feedback to other leaders in certain situations. They use the moment or the event to coach and give feedback.

3) I admired the courage of the young business leader, who took it on his chin, reflected upon it, didnt allow his ego to rule over him, accepted his mistake and apologised. He role modelled the art of accepting feedback and learning. This young leader later became one of the best business leaders in the company and achieved tremendous success for his people, his company and as such for himself. Today is he heading one of the biggest regions/continents of his large MNC company.

4) Why profiles or CVs of other unknown or lesser known people look more attractive? Coz, you don’t really know or appreciate the profiles of people who have worked with you or your company for long. Also the brief talent profile created for the talent review process may not be always an adequate representation of the talent – HR should facilitate the talent management process by projecting talent appropriately. Good HR leaders ask probing and insightful questions about talent to their leaders.

5) Talent reviews and discussions is a such a critical rhythm or mechanism for a talent focused organisation. It goes beyond putting people in the boxes. The senior most leader has to lead the talent management process, not the HR head. HR is a custodian and designer of the process – at best a co-owner.

Have you ever felt that you aren’t valued in the organisation coz your leaders don’t know you well? Pls share your views.

leaders #business #experience #people #learning #art #success #event #talent #talentmanagement #cv #leader #hr #designer

The Economic Gloom and Doom and the Confused Employee.

Let’s accept it, that, not every intelligent or educated person understands how the world and national economy works. Result: It leaves a lot of people confused when economist and experts, start waring us about a immenient recession.

However most wise people understand how the economics works for them – you have to earn more than your spend and save a little for the rainy day. If you don’t do that then you will soon be wet in the rain. Some simple and hardworking people just know that, they have to work hard every day, earn enough to put the bread on the table and rest their government will take care.

One of my concerned colleagues recently asked me a series of questions, why is the inflation high? why are experts warning us about a recession? why are the stock markets down? why is the real estate market up? is it being caused by the Russia-Ukraine war? Is it the after effect of the Pandemic? Is it due to high rates of attrition across the globe? And what does this mean for us? – Well these are all very serious questions and though they were at the back of my mind, his asking them all together, made me think about it very seriously.

I answered him saying, yes they are all connected to each other. However, inflation (rising consumer prices) and recession (if it was to hit us) is a result a lag factor. The lead factors are the Pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, increasing prices of core input materials like oil, gas, steel, etc. as they increase the cost of goods and services being produced. Since the consumer goods and services prices are going up the governments are trying to tighten the fiscal measures such as lending rates and flow of money to bring the inflation under control.

Then in simple terms, I said to him that we as people have to do as follows:

1) Make sure that we all work hard and improve productivity and efficiency at work. Control costs of our business operations and try and mitigate as much of the rising input material and services costs by enhancing our productivity and efficiency. That will help us not increase prices for our customers.

2) Remember, inflation is a hidden tax that we all pay when ever we consume goods and services. Hence, make sure that the wise Asian principle of earning more than you spend and saving a bit for the future is followed more strictly. Asians by nature and habit do not believe much in living off credit to land up in big debts.

3) If you are in a job and you depend on a salary for supporting yourself and your family – this may not be the time to take un-calculated risks. Of course, unless it’s calculated or necessary, just sit tight.

4) Do not give up or reduce consumption of necessary goods and services that you can afford. Spend wisely.

5) Stay away from investing in a declining stock market or a inflated real estate market. Invest if you have to, when it’s corrected and then ride the gains when it starts to bounce back.

6) Try and enhance your knowledge on how macro and micro economic factors work in your country, industry and globally. Loads of easy and free learning material available digitally. Make sure they are from a credible source.

7) Trust your organisation and leaders to do the right thing as they respond to these economic challenges. All good companies and leaders have skills and capabilities of dealing with it. Your positive attitude, extra effort and support will go a long way in dealing with any crisis that your organisation faces. Communicate openly with your family and team members and solicit their understanding and support.

Myths and Facts about the Eagel re-birth story.

Photo: @yashwantmahadik

I see many well intentioned posts and articles giving an Eagle’s analogy. Propogating that, an Eagle does this and that and let’s learn from it. Of course there is so much to learn from an eagle or any other bird and nature and it’s truly magical and beautiful.

One of the myths that people share about an Eagle (without checking the facts and the truth) is that to extend and renew its life. An Eagel does the following:

When it’s Beak, Talons and Feathers get weak, the eagle takes refuge and isolates itself somewhere in the cliffs and knocks off its beak, talons, feathers and waits for it to grow back and that’s how an eagle renews its life to live up to 70 years. Well this is untrue and a myth. The fact is as follows:

The average life span of an eagle is approximately 30 years. The eagle, like many other living organisms, does not have the luxury of making the decision to extend their life cycle far beyond what is normal for its species. Eagles would not typically “lose” their beak or talons, unless it was the result of a traumatic injury. The talons and beak are two of the three best defining features of what makes these birds of prey “raptors”. Without the sharp talons for catching prey and the strong, sharp beak for tearing food, the raptor would certainly die of starvation. An eagle hatches with both a beak and talons and these will continue to grow throughout the bird’s life. The beak and talons are composed of hard keratin and are somewhat similar to human fingernails. The talons of the eagle are not flexible as the story claims. New layers of keratin growth build onto the old layers ensuring a strong structure for the raptor. The raptor keeps the beak in good condition naturally in the wild by eating tough prey and rubbing the beak clean on stones or other hard surfaces (feaking) after eating. Like all birds, Eagles also sheds feathers and grows new ones but that happens slowly and naturally without going bald. In captivity, an eagle may live beyond what the average life expectancy is, because it receives both regular and nutritious meals, has access to veterinary care and can be sheltered from the harsh elements by housing provided by the facility caring for the bird. Even then, the life span is in no way extended as far as this myth is suggesting.

There is speculation as to the origin of this myth, but be assured that none of it is true. Even Times of India, printed this myth in a story a few years ago. People keep picking up the myths from media, and consider them as facts. Just coz it’s printed and shared on the internet and paper doesn’t mean it’s a fact or the truth. Do your own due-diligence before you propogate anything as knowledge for others. 😊

#eagel #birdofprey #myths #facts #duedeligence #fakenews #learning #nature #authenticity source:

Getting a Good Job is Easier than Making a Great Career

Me cooking in a team build session in Amsterdam

A bright, early-in-career professional sought some career advise from me about 2.5 years ago. I much appreciated the brilliant academic background, clarity of expression and the well mannered demeanour of this person.

At the time of our conversation, In 5.5 years of beginning her career, she had changed 3 companies already. That’s an average of 1.8 years per company, one of them was a tenure of just 8 months. When I asked for reasons behind these change decisions – quick came a witty reply, “Rolling Stones don’t gather moss”. To which I responded by asking a question – well do you want to be a rolling stone or a rising star? After a bit of thinking, came the reply, a rising star.

The gist of our discussion was as follows:

1) The main reason/strategy of this person to change jobs at this frequency was to enhance her earnings and with every change she got an average 20% increase. So she thinks that, her strategy is working. I asked her if – with every change she also gained/earned: new learning’s, better role and or a company with better branding and culture? Well this question took the smirk off her face. She very honestly replied by saying, “No” and also added that she has been doing the same role in three different companies with no new learning’s and she wants to leave this company coz the culture in this company isn’t good. I think she started to think and realise that her strategy wasn’t working, was infact derailing her career.

2) When she went into a deep listening mode. I shared these perespectives with her:

a) Average time span of a career is 35 years. So don’t approach it like running a set of 350 – 100 meter sprints or like a 35 km long marathon. May be 3 to 7 mini marathons and some sprints within those marathon’s. Even on an agile basis, It take 2-3 years to learn and establish a track record of success in a job and a role.
b) Golden rule of making a career, don’t chase money. Chase and seek a great company with a solid brand, culture and leaders. Seek new and challenging assignments and roles within the same company or elsewhere that will test and develop you. Money and wealth will follow.
c) After circa 5 years of completing your career – recruiters and companies, while considering you and your CV will focus more on your experience, track record of success, value’s and capabilities. So make sure you focus on it from day-1 of your career.

I advised her to quit her existing job as she wasn’t happy with the company and it’s culture was inferior, compared to where she was going. I told her that, no amount of money is worth staying in a company with bad culture, reputation or leaders.

This morning she called to tell me that, after two and half years of joining the company where she works, she has been promoted to another challenging role with more money. As a tribute to her, I thought of sharing this story with you 😊

#career #jobs #experience #success #learning #branding #culture #strategy #change #leaders

वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

Pic Courtesy:

While reading and learning today, I came across this amazing set of research and empirical data. This amazing study by the Union of Concerned Scientists proves that since 1750 and until 2019 (projection until 2022). #India & #Africa GDP growth since 1750 is not only impressive but most environment friendly. Hope we stay the course.

As per the worlds only and most ancient Indian texts known as the Upanishads which, is one of the four sections of each Veda had concluded and suggested the concept of वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam means the entire earth is one family. Still not too late to pay attention and follow the ancient wisdom.

SanatanaDharma #Upanishad #Veda #vasudhaivakutumbakam

Data Source: Union of Concerned Scientists.

Happy International Women’s Day 2022

I aspire for a inclusive and gender equal world. A world free of discrimination, stereotypes and biases. A world where we all strive for inclusiveness, equality and diversity in all walks of life, especially in and at work places. I am committed to playing my part in making it happen, are you?

Our women and LGBT colleagues don’t need any help or charity, especially from us the men folks. All they expect is a culture and environment of fairness, respect, equality & inclusiveness without any biases. Let’s take pride in seeing people of all genders thrive and realise their full potential and live and work happily. I take immense pride in working for a company that believes in this and lives it everyday.

Together we can all #breakthebias and let’s do it. Wishing everyone a happy International Women’s Day 2022

#diversity #work #culture #people #gender #respect #environment #genderequality #inclusion #iwd2022 #internationalwomensday

Life has to be balanced, not controlled.

One of my inspiring Bosses, Carole Wamuyu Wainaina (she was my manager during my stint with Philips in Amsterdam) once said to me, that, “her endeavour in life is to buy and collect experiences and not material things”. Amongst many other things that I learnt from her, I learnt that, It’s the rich experiences and memories that one collects – defines the wealth of a human being. It’s the key difference between being wealthy and monied.

She also used to tell me that, the ability to balance one’s competing priorities in life is what makes one successful – professionally and personally. It’s not about working more or spending more time with the family – it’s about finding and striking the right balance. Also we used to discuss how important it is for a person to have quality “me time”, time for yourself, where you are absorbed in some hobby, sport or a creative interest outside of work. That’s when I again took up photography and pursued the genre of Wildlife and Nature, with total passion and enthusiasm. I must say since then I have become a richer person, with wealth of experiences 😊.

The greatest privilege of my life and career has been to work with exceptionally talented and bright people world over and live in geographies such as Asia, Europe, UK, USA. Carole was then the Global CHRO of Philips and then went on to become The Under-Sectetary General of UN working for Ban Ki-moon at the UN. I was the Global Chief Learning Officer of Philips and was tasked by her to build the first Digital Philips University, aimed at transforming talent management at Philips.

Keep finding people that inspire you and engage with them in rich conversations, learn from them and chart an exciting course for your life. What do you say?

#worklifehobby #work #career #digital #quality #europe #people #learning #creative #photography #university #talentmanagement #worklifebalance #metime

Why do sometimes chosen careers, start to feel like a rat race?

Being in the space of corporate careers, talent and people – many friends, family members and colleagues often request me to guide their children on their career and higher education choices. I willingly make time, as I enjoy doing it.

The first question, I ask them as aspirants is, “In your own assessment what are you good at? and what do you love doing?” Most start by answering what academic subjects they are good at and they straight jump into explaining their potential career choices, such as – wanna become a software engineer, medical and healthcare professional, sports manager, chartered accountant, sales and marketing professional, human resource professional, etc. What I find interesting is that most of them are clear and already opinionated about what they want to do, which is a good thing. But what worries me is that most of them haven’t tested themselves in the extra curricular space as a student and have given very little importance to finding out what their aptitude is, what they love doing or what makes them happy. Please note most of these people are from middle class and it’s higher strata of the economic segment of our country. They have access to good education at reasonably decent schools and colleges.

This makes me wonder about the educational framework of our country and the early counselling they receive in school, college and at home. Making children focus more on choosing career tracks that are more linked to achieving monetary prosperity versus matching their career choices to their aptitude and happiness, begs a question, or rather say many questions. Coz then later in life, somewhere down the road they end up realising they are in a rat race and not a career.

I keep thinking about it and wish to come up with a solution for this. What do you think?

What’s is Strategic Vs Tactical Work.

Image Credit: TopOnSeek.Com

In my observation one big confusion that prevails in many organisations and amongst it people, is to be able to clearly understand and distinguish between “Strategic Work” Vs “Tactical Work” in their roles.

It’s my view organisations and their leadership teams, if are strategically capable and execution focused, they tend to succeed more than their peers. This can be achieved by building a clear understanding of strategic work Vs tactical work in employees roles.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

In the last one and half years, I interviewed more than 150 bright and talented people across mid to senior levels, I found that more than 90% of those people demanded and aspired for more strategic work in their roles. When I asked them to describe what does strategic work Vs tactical work means to them – I realised how the understanding varies with every individual. About a year ago, I started to maintain notes and began researching and analysing my qualitative data points of each and every interview. Will share some of my insights and thoughts in this blog post.

In her article featured in Forbes Magazine in 2018, Bhavana Dalal, very nicely explains, “What does it mean to be tactical? Tactics refer to the skill of dealing with or handling difficult situations, to achieve a specific goal. On the other hand, a strategy is defined as a comprehensive high-level, long-term plan. Being tactical focuses on tasks, concrete smaller steps, best practices, specific procedures, and resources. Meanwhile, a strategy is tied to purpose, goals, and vision.”

As per my learning and understanding, strategic work involves creating a long term plan for a organisation and working on high level strategic things such as Vision, Mission, Purpose of the organisation. Defining key focus areas, objectives and goals for the organisation and its key people. Being able to design and successfully build brands, processes, culture, technology platforms and talent pipeline and a operating model for the firm also falls in the area of strategic work. On the other hand performing tasks to deliver and execute your strategy is tactical work. In addition, tasks such as responding to a crisis, managing a difficult situation involving customers, employees, suppliers, unions are examples of tactical work. In simple terms, building strategies, plans, objectives for higher value creation for the organisation and it’s stakeholders is strategic work, most other things is tactical work.

Source: Nesslabs

All roles of an organisation, cutting across levels will always have a mix of strategic and tactical work. What’s important to note is that as a rule of thumb, senior level employees should have 90% of strategic work and 10% of tactical work as a mix in their roles, responsibilities, objectives and deliverables. Middle level should be 50/50 and lower level of employees in the Org chart should have 90% of tactical and 10% of strategic work built into theirs.

In conclusion, I say, “The CHROs should take it upon themselves to socialise this thinking and approach in their organisation and design and build processes and a culture which will become a value creator.”

In case you are interested to learn more about this. Related articles that, I suggest you read are as follows:

1) 2) 3) 4)

How to get employees back to office: Challenges for the CEO and CHRO

Image Source: Unknown, please reach out for credit.

Post the COVID pandemic, the biggest challenge globally for the CEO, CHRO and other CXOs is how to get employees back to office. Most CEOs and CHROs consider it necessary to get employees back to office, for the in-person social interactions which, many feel is the bedrock of team work, collaboration, innovation, etc. But getting them back safely, creating a safer than before workplace and ensuring employee motivation and morale remains high, is going to be a likely challenge.

A “hybrid” model will be the new normal in future, India’s largest software exporter Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will ask employees to come to work once the pandemic is over as social interactions are a social necessity

~ N Chandrasekaran, Tata Sons

Most companies are designing a hybrid model which will involve some employees permanently working from home and some working in office three days a week and two days from home. Of course it’s important to note that not all jobs, even office based, can be performed from home effectively. Therefore, clearly define what is the hybrid? Will it apply to all employees/roles? There are no clear answers at this stage and it remains a challenge from equity and fairness point of view.

“At Google, We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”

~ Sundar Pichai, Google

For the past one year plus most office based employees have gotten used to working from home and if you look into it deeply, you will learn what has changed. Let me share what I have learnt and observed from an employees perspective:

What people have started valuing the most:

  1. Office commute time, be it 30 mins or 2 hrs, it’s been eliminated and people have found more time available in the day.
  2. Flexibility to plan and juggle work and life demands, has gone up significantly as the factor/variable of going to office isn’t there.
  3. Constant supervision by superiors in a contained office environment has disappeared and that has given many people, who were heavily supervised a sense of ease, independence and freedom.
  4. Reduced expenses of commute, travel, formal clothing and accessories, etc has facilitated a minimalistic high quality living and increased savings.
  5. Freedom to move from large cities and cramped apartments to smaller cities/towns into bigger homes with family, parents, pets and loved ones has enhanced the quality of lives of many people significantly.
  6. The devastation and deaths due to COVID in the world has touched and rattled everyone in some way or the other. This has made people re-evaluate their priorities and many are choosing to give a higher priority to their mental and physical health vs wealth creation alone. People have started to evaluate and recognise what’s more important to them and are choosing for a more healthy and better quality of life over a career driven by purely aggressive ambition.
  7. People have built significant skills for using remote working digital platforms and technologies and have learnt to be more efficient and productive whilst working working from home.

A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. The generational difference is clear: Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure was 49%, according to the poll by Morning Consult on behalf of Bloomberg News.

Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Working From Home

Now you see the challenge for the CEO and CHRO. So how should they go about doing what’s right for the organisation’s business and people in a balanced manner. Its only wise to recognise and address this challenge very carefully and thoughtfully. In my opinion the “Do’s” and “Don’t” are as follows:


  1. Don’t force any authoritarian decisions on your people and expect them to accept and comply. If you do it, you are bound to loose a lot of talent, in the short term but even more in the medium and long term. Talent will find opportunities and move to organisation that are more sensitive to their needs.
  2. Don’t be insensitive and dismiss people’s fears. Sensitive and caring leadership is the need of the hour.

KPMG’s UK chair, Bill Michael, had to resign after telling staff to “stop moaning” during a virtual meeting about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, where he also called unconscious bias “crap”.


  1. Request your CHRO and the HR team to independently gather insights about how your employees are feeling and what are their hopes and fears. Articulate and summarise them and present them unfiltered to the CEO and CXOs.
  2. Evolve a plan using clear lenses for objectively deciding, as far as work flexibility is concerned and what your hybrid model will look like. Lenses such as; a) List jobs that cannot be performed from home. For example jobs in manufacturing, sales, R&D labs, customer service, retail outlets, office reception, etc. are jobs that cannot be performed from home in most industries. b) Senior leaders at N-1 and N-2 are roles and jobs that are less effective when performed from home permanently. A few days in a week or month is okay. 3) Jobs that are usually outsourced and have little need for collaboration and socialisation in a workplace can be performed permanently from home, with some hot-desks for them in office. d) Since we are coming out of the pandemic, I suggest we use the lens of COVID-19 vaccination and safe behaviour protocol. Open up offices and invite people back when you have crossed some sort of threshold of 75% or 80% of your employees should be vaccinated with both dosages. That will help you create a safer workplace and ensure employees safety while they commute.
  3. Educate and train people leaders to rebuild the thinning personal touch and connection with their people. They have to learn to engage with people effectively in the new normal of hybrid working models.
  4. Transform the hiring and on-boarding process of the organisation to best suit your woking model. While hiring make sure the contracts are crystal clear to all stakeholders. Onboarding and engaging people who are going to working from home is a new challenge that needs to be addressed. Re-hire or re-contract the working model terms with the existing employees if necessary.
  5. Remember, many employees are eagerly waiting to come back to office. People are missing the workplace, it’s social network and experience. They are missing the travel, off-site meetings and all the fun elements that go with work in a great workplace. Welcome them back nicely and continue to build a superior workplace in all respects.

In conclusion, I suggest, what ever model you evolve and adopt, it should be positioned as a pilot, on a trial basis. Keep modifying and refining it based on learning’s and insights. The best model will be the one that enables an organisation to get work done effectively, retain its talent that will deliver superior business results.

Please do share your thoughts and views on this blog post. Me and my team are in the midsts of doing this in our company.

An organisation should not aim at filling its offices with people. Instead it should aim at creating a workforce that is highly productive and committed to delivering superior results (from office or home). The CEO and CHRO are predominantly responsible for this.

~Yash Mahadik