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Authentic Leadership

  • Software testing
  • Abhay Das
  • December 18, 2015
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In today’s fast paced world, technology has a significant impact on our lives, day in day out. Starting from the ease of sitting at home and shopping to consulting a doctor online, the way we conduct our day to day activities has changed.

The technology era is a great boon and we are all gifted to be in a knowledge age and in a country, that adopts technology to the maximum.

Somewhere down this path, most of us I am sure, would agree that the personal touch is lost and everything has become business like.

Irrespective of the industry segments that we are associated with, this is but the hard truth. Let’s take online doctor consultation as an example at hand.

As a patient, I have the liberty to pick up a doctor specialized in a particular domain, share my symptoms via pull down menus and text on a globally hosted software application.

I am even assured of a revert from the doctor in a hours’ time. I pay the fee online and in fact even buy the medicines online.

The same application even takes me to an online shopping portal that provides me the capability to shop more than just medicines.

Oh yes, the software assumes that I am sick and also decides I cannot step out to shop groceries! Creativity and innovation have gone Gen Next.

What a wonderful experience. Have I not saved so much of time and energy sitting in the convenience of my home, hassle free?

In the entire process of this particular transaction, I have gained so much and feel extremely elated and feel a sense of accomplishment, a proud user of a particular application and even rate the application experience at a high five for the entire world to know and benefit from.

But most importantly, more than the sense of satisfaction of completing a hassle free transaction, I am sure most of us agree, we have lost much more than, what we gained in the entire process.

At the cost of technology we have lost one most important aspect of life, the “human touch”.

Where is the Midas touch of the family magician whom we used to call the “Family Doctor”, who is capable of cure just with his touch, his soothing words of comfort and the bonding that we had created as fellow human beings?

Can the invisible doc replace my family doctor, who knew my entire family from my grandparents and could, at the tip of his finger, diagnose an incurable disease without clinical intervention?

Did we all not believe in his home remedy for a so called stubborn cold and yet get cured in a matter of hours?

A truth slowly surfaces and we all realize it and a lot of us consciously ignore it. A subtle but strong factor that goes beyond the visible human relationship stands out. Yes it Authenticity!

Would I ever believe that a cure to a stubborn cold is a small home remedy if it was suggested at a fee in an online portal? On the contrary I would take the small dose of some medicinal juice made by my mother or my erstwhile family doctor, without question or doubt on its capabilities to cure.

Why? It’s not about the confidence I have on the medicine is it not? It’s not either about the proximity I have to my mother or my doctor is it not? It’s all about how authentic the entire process naturally played out.

My family doctor had only one thing in mind, that I get cured immediately. My mother had only thing in her mind, that I not be pained and get cured the next minute! It was all authentic, right from the heart for me and everyone else.

I trust, because I believe that a person is authentic and that there is nothing superficial about it.

A key factor to professional and personal success in today’s context is how effectively we engage with our fellow human beings and this is the reason why I felt appropriate to discuss this in this forum.

Our industry is so strongly built of one beautiful and mighty asset, far far superior than any invention on this world.

The Human Asset! So it is only apt that we celebrate this asset and one way is through Authentic Leadership.

I have always believed that Leadership is not a management terminology and everyone knowingly or unknowingly practices it day in and day out. So why not make it authentic for the betterment?

I, for example took up “People engagement” as a professional focus subject some time back as I believe that people are not commodities. I realized the success comes from retaining good passionate talent.

I went a step ahead by engaging myself with a mentor and coach who could help me with effective ways to engage with people.

For, I did believe from the bottom of my heart that this was indeed one of the most important key result areas that I should focus on. A small step towards being authentic to myself!

My work profile took me beyond our established physical premises to meet with people at far off destinations quite frequently.

Hence the time that I get to spend with my immediate one and two downs, got reduced purely based on face time availability.

In long sessions, spanning over a year, me and my coach had several engaging discussions of the several techniques that I employ to effectively interact with people, including how I maximize the use of technology during my travel.

In spite of my best efforts and his suggestions, I felt several times that I was not engaging enough and the results of my effort were not translating into desired outputs. Something was seriously missing.

The answer came in the 14th sitting I had with my coach. My coach who was as keen as me, in helping me crack the problem, went on to enquire a little more in detail, as to what I do when I am away from my work place.

With whom do I speak, what do I do, how do I spend my time etc. The data that I presented to him revealed a simple but strong message.

I had spent a lot of time engaging my customers – people I had come to meet for business reasons and of course my family back home.

Nothing unusual that I could see in the pattern, for I had a purpose for which I travelled and felt that I was doing justice to it.

My coach went on and asked, ‘What did I do first each time I travel?’
Well, I call my family not matter what and keep informed about my well-being and kept calling them as often as possible.

I also speak and meet with people I had to meet with almost the same intensity and regularity.

‘What about your reportee’s and two downs, back home?’ asked my coach. Yes but not as often.

When I had to engage with family I somehow managed to squeeze in some time, means and methods to make it happen as was the case with my customers. The need and the genuineness were always unquestioned.

‘ Did you miss your family each time?’ my coach asked. Of course was my spontaneous answer. ‘When it came to your reportee’s, did you miss them?’ continued my coach.

A shy defensive “not too much”, was all that I could answer.
‘When it came to my one and two down’s’, I was not seeing it with the same importance as compared to others.

The need was always there, but was I genuine for example to provide them with timely updates? By the way, I had people engagement as a top key result area for myself! What a farce!,’ I replied to my coach. ‘Aha! There is your answer, ‘my coach beamed with satisfaction, in resolving a long standing problem for me.

My coach rightly pointed out to me that the means and methods I adopt to engage people are good but lacks genuineness. ‘You are looking at “People engagement” as a tactical activity and not from the heart.

It is not authentic and that is where lies your problem, ‘concluded my coach.
I felt like I was slapped and it hurt, for it was ‘I’ who framed my goals.

But a hard retrospection at the end of the day, made me understand that I was indeed not genuine.

I was trying to engage my people in a superficial way using all the techniques that technology could offer.

But what was missing was the real drive at the bottom of my heart to engage my people as authentically as possible.

I was looking at this as a Key Result Area and nothing beyond it. For if I was authentic, I would have missed them as much as my family and customers is it not?

I try not to have any hidden agenda in any of my interactions be it personal or professional. I tried to be honest about my intentions.

If I call for a meeting, I make sure that the “True” agenda is disclosed. I have realized that I have become “Vulnerable”.

But I would still be honest, frank and authentic. The trust that I have been able to generate over a period of time has made me a better person and I am now able to engage with people much more effectively.

I seemed to have developed a sense of commitment and I feel that people around me have started seeing it and believing it. My work life has started to mirrors my private life. It’s real, not fake.

My KRA seems to have been partially achieved. Authenticity Leadership is a virtue that cannot be compromised. It takes tremendous courage to be, to tell someone that I am indeed, ”Authentically Yours”!

Abhay Das