14 posts categorized "Leadership"

Quarantine From Reality (QFR)-Thank you Subhasree Thanikachalam

-Karthik Gurumurthy

As we are going through the lockdown, one of the things that is keeping the sanity during this crazy time is listening to QFR series done by the great Subhasree Thanikachalam and her wonderful team.  While we as listeners have had the privilege of enjoying the fruits of the  finished product , I  found it overwhelming to wrap my brain around the inordinate amount of time Subhasree must have devoted and continue to do so in presenting the un-heard or forgotten songs from the bygone era which have been washed away by the tides of time. I have been intrigued by the process by which Subhasree go about it, right from song selection, trivia, appropriate singers for the song selected , coordinating the accompanying instrumental music by various musicians , editing etc & that too all done remotely. Subhasree has given a new lease and life to some of the un-heard songs by unearthing them from the deep past & elevating them to a status that even the original people composers, lyricists & singers would not have envisioned . To a large extent she has single handedly helped all the music lovers cope with the lockdown through your phenomenal unimaginable work. May God bestow  Subhasree and her amazing team  lot of energy to continue to produce outstanding work.


Learning agility

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis shared yesterday in HBR about how to be an agile learner. 

What is learning agility?

Learning agility is the skill of learning from experiences so you can succeed in new situations. For example, a leader with learning agility can successfully transfer their talents across different parts of an organization. And individuals with high learning agility become the trusted “go-tos” for high-profile projects and high-impact positions. An agile learner can successfully navigate two different types of newness: complex work with no blueprint and situations where they have no previous experience. Where some people struggle with the high levels of ambiguity that newness creates, agile learners take advantage of the opportunity and succeed in situations where other people might stall.

Agile learners are adept at empathizing with and even anticipating different perspectives. By putting themselves in other people’s shoes, they can connect dots, spot and resolve potential conflicts, and zoom out to see the bigger picture. Rather than waiting to be told a different point of view or that something won’t work, agile learners seek out dissenting opinions and are open-minded in their approach. 

Agile learners have high levels of self-awareness. They understand their impact and seek insight on how they can improve. They are specific about the support they need and confident enough to ask for help from others so they can be at their best. They see learning as a constant and are proactively curious about the world around them, borrowing brilliance from different people and places.

Questions to ask ourselves about our learning agility:

  • How often do I work on something for the first time?
  • When have I spent time in my courage zone (i.e., doing something I find “scary”) over the past three months?
  • How do I respond when priorities and plans change without warning?
  • Who do I have conversations with to learn about people and teams I have limited knowledge of?
  • How confident am I in high-challenge conversations, where people have different points of view?
  • How much cognitive diversity (i.e., people who bring a variety of different experiences, perspectives) do I have in my career community?
  • How do I feel about asking for the help I need to succeed?
  • Where do my strengths have the most impact in the work that I do?
  • How frequently do I ask for feedback on what I do well, and how I could improve my impact?



Small actions make great leaders

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I just read an amazing HBR article by Dr. Hitendra Wadhwa.

Great leadership requires mastering key skills like communication, feedback, and motivation. But it's not just about the big gestures; small, consistent actions fueled by authenticity and positive energy are what truly propel you forward.

  • 3 key themes for "Energy/Action" leadership:
    • Intention: Bring out the best in yourself and others for a common good.
    • Energies: Activate purpose, wisdom, growth, love, and self-realization.
    • Actions: Simple steps to express these energies (e.g., disarm, appreciate, fuse opposites).
  • Benefits of "Energy/Action" training:
    • Attainable: Easier to learn and practice than complex behaviors.
    • Authentic: Aligned with your true feelings and thoughts.
    • Agile: Adaptable to different situations and people.
  • Conclusion: Focus on small, genuine actions guided by positive intentions and energies to develop your leadership potential.

Remember, it's the small, authentic, and consistent actions that make great leaders, not just grand gestures.

Sowing and Reaping

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I was in the bay area last weekend sharing the opportunity, spinning the dream; met copious amount of people. Both dreamers and pretend-dreamers.

Lot of them were upset about what is happening in the economy, frustrated about the uncertainties in the job. But how many of them dare to do something different? You might think that the uncertainties in the economy would have given some truth lessons to try an alternative route, have a backup plan. I love the quote "Dig the well before you are thirsty". So true, isn't it? We sometimes live in a microwave society where we need stuff instantly. 2-minute noodles.


If somebody has enough noodles up there, they would know hard work precedes success.

Success is always a process. My mom made a south Indian dish and it tasted so good. She has mastered the art of making it. I was asking her "How do you do this? When I put all the ingredients together, I do not see the same result and it doesn't taste the same. How come? She replied calmly with lot of conviction, "It is a process. I had messed up enough and have tried it enough to know how to make this. I am still striving to make this better." I have noticed lot of people look at the end product and look for the miracle pill combination. I have noticed the same trend after you reach some success milestone when the business owners surround the speaker and ask, "how many presentations did you do to get the success you have attained"? People love to hear the magic numbers so that they can incorporate that in their plan of action. What I learned listening to my mentors  is you do enough to make it happen.

Sowing always comes before reaping. There is a lagtime between sowing and reaping. You always sow more than you reap. How can I apply this principle everyday?

The very thing you most want to see more of in your life is the very thing you need to give away.

Want more credit for all you do and who you are? Be the one who gives credit to others. Spread it like California wildfire.  Give away what you most want. This will create a space in the minds and hearts of all those around you to give more credit.

Want more understanding from other people? Be more understanding and give that out to other people.

Want more loyalty from other people? Be the most loyal person you know. Watch what happens.

Want more love? Give more love.

I strongly believe life wants you to win. Most people just get in their own way and sabotage their success. They let their fears keep them from greatness. They let their limitations become their chains. They become their own worst enemies. To get all that life wants for you,give out what you most want to see come back. It's great life that is in store for you. Just go out and get it.

Gifts we are endowed with

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There are  no extra special people on the planet. We all have gifts, resources and capacities that make us special. And with gifts come responsibilities. To use them. To refine them. To make them brighter so we create more value. To forget the burden on you to be great is to neglect the call on your life. And no failure could be bigger than that.

Everybody is worried about the bankruptcies that are happening all over the place in corporate America. But the biggest bankruptcy of all is to lose your dream."

 When you are exposed to a new idea in a book that you read, whether you really get that idea consciously or not, you are not the same person you were before you picked up that book. At some level, you have changed. You see the world a little differently. You have grown. He emphasized all aspiring enterpreneurs to read for a change. Stay hungry for learning and putting what you learn in action. 


-Karthik Gurumurthy

Empathy is the secret sauce of great leaders. It's not about having all the answers, it's about truly understanding the people you lead. When you listen, connect, and support, you build a team that's unstoppable! One example of being a leader is that people can feel that they can come to you for advice without that conversation going any further, or costing them anything professionally with the company. Leadership is helping those little flowers grow and smiling seeing what they do with that advice and letting them find their own way with that little nudge from you.

Developing Self awareness and improving oneself through feedback

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Leaders don't become leaders by doing some thing they learn to do. Leaders become leaders deliberately developing into better versions of themselves. This means not only increasing our self-awareness, but our overall emotional intelligence. Being an effective leader starts from within.

Developing leadership traits within ourselves

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Developing our capacity to lead is part of our lives as human beings, our physical, cognitive, emotional, spiritual selves that change over time, and we each take a different developmental trajectory. That's why there's no such thing as one secret formula or a one-size-fits-all recipe for achieving leadership. Instead, the focus is on you. You are encouraged to tune in to your particular developmental trajectory, search your own life stories, and apply what you learn about human behavior to your capacity to effectively influence others. The leadership development journey is rooted in your belief about who you are. The way you think about leadership influences the way you show up as a leader.

Distinction between a coach and a mentor

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The distinction between a coach and a mentor is that a coach does not offer advice but instead acts as a support as the individual makes choices that align with their goals. As a mentor, a leader has specific advice and guidance based on his or her own expertise. A leader as a sponsor is someone who tells others of the individuals achievements. Maybe this looks like recommending your employee for a promotion or sharing an innovation of theirs with senior leaders. As a sponsor you are helping others to see the potential in this individual, especially those that may not work with them regularly. Sponsorship is important to employee development because that's how others learn of an employee's capabilities.

So, here's an analogy that may help solidify these different roles. Think about the sport of bowling. In bowling, a person stands at the end of a long lane where 10 pins are set up in a triangle at the other end and the person then throws a heavy ball toward the pins to knock them down. The trick is that the lane is long, so it takes some strategy and skill to throw the ball correctly and along each side of the lane are gutters, and if the ball rolls into the gutter, of course no pins will be knocked down at all. When little kids bowl, there are often rails along the sides of the gutters, it prevents the ball from rolling into the gutters as the kids learn how to throw with strength and precision. These gutter rails are like a coach, they simply keep you in your lane. There's no expertise required to be a rail, it simply exists, but it's there to prevent the ball from falling off the lane and therefore keeps it on its journey toward the pins. Because the ball is heavy and it must be thrown in a particular way the throw needs strength and precision, there's an art to this. A mentor might be another bowler who is bold for a long time, that mentor could show the new bowler how to stand, how to throw it in the straight line or throw it with the right curve and even how to increase the speed of the throw. In this case the mentor is giving specific advice on the skill of the game based on experience.

When you're bowling, your usually only paying attention to your lane and maybe the immediate group of people you're playing with, a sponsor might go to another lane and tell one of the pros to come, take a look at how much you've learned over the course of one lesson. A sponsor might go to someone in charge and recommend you as a member of a league. As you can see, coach, mentor and sponsor roles are all important to the development of the bowler and that's the same as developing future leaders.

So, imagine you're going to run a marathon, right? So if you're running a marathon, you need all three, right? First of all, your mentor is going to be the person that says, I've done this before, hey, here's my advice. So they me give you some advice about how to run this race, what to eat, how to prepare. Your coach is going to be with you every step of the way, right? They're not going to tell you what to do, but they're going to be with you, they're going to facilitate the questions. They're going to provoke thoughts around what you should do, they're going to motivate you, they're going to hold you accountable, so that's the coach. The sponsor what they do is they're finding the best races for you. You don't even know, they're like, hey, I got you in the boston marathon, your sponsor might do that or, hey, I talked to my friend, they're going to get you in the Boston marathon or whatever or the Chicago marathon and so those are like the three distinct roles.  Any given leader is going to play all of these roles to differing degrees with their employees. And the question to ask yourself is when does this person need you to be a coach? When do they need you to be a mentor? The leader-follower or leader-employee relationship is in and of itself complex, and at any given point the role of the leader should consider what employees need the most to effectively solve the problems they were hired to solve.


-Karthik Gurumurthy

When we put on our coaching hat as leaders, we are simply there to support the other person on their journey. In the field of leadership coaching in particular, we say that people are creative, resourceful and whole. Coaches are there to help give structure to an individual who is trying to become the best version of themselves. As a coach, a leader doesn't have to have any particular expertise. A coach does not tell someone what to do, but ask questions to allow that person to reflect on their choices and offer support for the choices that the other person makes. A leader as a mentor is sharing advice learned through experience. The concept of a mentor assumes that a leader has some specific experience in an area that they can pass on to another person. Maybe the mentor has gone through the exact same career path with the company as the person they are mentoring. Maybe the leader mentor has technical expertise that they can share to help another person grow into a particular role.

Who is a leader?

-Karthik Gurumurthy



-Karthik Gurumurthy

What does the concept of leadership mean to you? What stands out to you? What's important to you about leadership? 

Personally to me, i


Happy Birthday, Kapil Dev

-Karthik Gurumurthy

From Haryana's fields, a legend did rise,
With fiery spirit and glint in his eyes.
Kapil Dev, the name that rings true,
India's hero, with deeds bold and new.

His bat, a wand, conjuring runs untold,
Hooks and pulls, stories bravely unfold.
At Tunbridge wells  he stood, defiant and tall,
175 runs, a champion's call.

The World Cup gleamed, a distant desire,
Underdogs they were, fueled by inner fire.
With ball in hand, he unleashed his might,
Swing and seam, taking wickets in flight.

Zimbabwe's despair, a final stand made,
But Kapil soared, victory displayed.
The cup held high, a nation took flight,
Cricket's new dawn, bathed in golden light.

More than runs and wickets, a spirit he gave,
Never say die, a belief brave.
His captaincy, fierce and fair,
A team united, a challenge to dare.

From Ranji grounds to international fame,
Kapil Dev's legend, forever the same.
An inspiration, a story to tell,
The Haryana Hurricane, etching his spell.

Happy Birthday, the Greatest allrounder India has ever produced!


-Karthik Gurumurthy

If you look at what you have in life, you will always have more.  If you look at what you don't have in life, you will never have enough. When we choose to appreciate the blessings and treasures already present in our lives, a positive cycle of abundance is set in motion. Gratitude becomes a powerful force, attracting more reasons for thankfulness. Conversely, a focus on what is lacking perpetuates a perception of scarcity, hindering our ability to recognise the abundance that may exist. It's a profound shift in perspective, illustrating that our outlook shapes the richness of our experiences. Gratitude, as suggested by this statement, becomes not just a virtue but a catalyst for a more fulfilling and abundant life.