Saturday, July 6, 2019

My Talk to Emerging Leaders: Learn How to Enjoy Ambiguity

This blog is in continuation to the earlier blog I wrote about my experience in being a mentor to emerging leaders in my organization.

What did you find to be most challenging as you moved from middle management to senior management leadership ?
(I will answer this question in next few blogs, this is the first part)

In one of the sporting events organized by Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), I got an chance to meet
Geet Sethi (9 time world champion in Billiards/Snooker). Practicing for a sport like Billiards can be quite repetitive in nature where players practice for hours. One of the conversations I recall with him was a story about his formative years that I read in his book- Success vs Joy. He says that in his early years when he was still learning the nuts and bolts of the sport, one of the things that kept him going amidst hours and hours of practicing same short was a sound. Yes, a sound. He says that he loved the sound of a perfect shot when the cue hit at the right spot of the spherical ball from shot made at a perfect angle. He obsessed over hearing that sound and chased it with intensity in several practice sessions. This is something that kept him going.

The point that I extract from this conversation is that every profession (no matter what the stage) have some painful elements. We got to learn how to efficiently deal with those painful moments to be successful in our chosen endeavors. For Geet Sethi, it was to find a way to make his practice sessions meaningful. Similarly, for senior management roles, one thing that's constant is dealing with ambiguity. As we grow up in organizations, one aspect that gets added in abundance in our job description is changes, most of which are unexpected.

One of the interesting incidents that I am reminded of from my tenure at McAfee was interviewing our CEO, George Samenuk. I was a part of our newsletter team and we got this rare chance. In the interview, I asked George "What's your typical day like?'. Part of his response was- "In a day if I meet 100 people, 95 come to me with a bad news that lead me to act and possibly make decisions to change the direction."

Now, with senior management role stakes being so high, it is crucial to figure out a way to deal with changes. The preferred way that I learned after stumbling/getting bogged down with fierce pace of changes is how to enjoy the ambiguity. To be honest, I don't have a formula on how to develop the live for ambiguity but learning from Geet's story I tried a few things that somewhat worked for me:

1. Find out something about ambiguous situations that you chase and expect. If things are around me aren't changing that, for me, is a sign of things not being in order. In a way, I expect change, and when it comes, welcome it.
2. Second is merely an attitude adjustment. Most of the times we fear the change. But what I did learn is 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'
(not sure of author of this quote, please let me know if you are aware so that i can pass on the credits)

In summary, for any role change that you approach, just strive to grow your love for ambiguity.

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