Sunday, August 29, 2010


Last week was an exciting week in Hyderabad, India. It included the typical day old meetings, team building dinners, equipment and hardware reviews and lesson after lesson of culture.

But this visit had very special meaning. For the last year, the drive from the hotel to the facility has been an exciting 75 minutes of twists, turns, pumps, jumps, transitions, traffic, construction, obstructions and general discomfort. No more. A number of new roads opened and a smooth ride resulted.

So what does this have to do with old habits you might ask? A few of these newly opened roads also have new sidewalks that are level, clean, unobstructed and unused. Everyone was still walking in the streets. I asked why and generally the answer revolved around the idea that sidewalks are generally not the cleanest and level of places to walk. But this case was different. The sidewalks were clear and ready to be used. It made me think of what old leadership habits we all have that are no longer relevant. Things we do from habit whose basis is gone.

What do you do from habit that you should stop? Have you caught yourself lately doing some no longer relevant?


Doug Hatch said...

It would be interesting if the opposite was true of the sidewalks, in that because they were so new and clean those that walked in the street did not think of themselves as worthy or of a high enough cast to be allowed to walk on the sidewalks. Maybe the fact that they were so new and clean, and not like the typical dirty and uneven sidewalk made them seem exclusive in comparison. Were they walking in the street because a sidewalk never existed before?
Have I caught myself doing something completely irrelevant to what I just went online to do? Yup. However it is an interesting cultural question to ponder. Back to work, thanks for the distraction.

Ray Van Es said...

Interesting observation John.Other than getting caught is a string of answers that are not of any interest to others, I would like to generalize my answer.

There are countries and there are work places, where people are conditioned not to think and not to question. Not to know and not to develop. If you do, social control and hierarchical powers, will immediately correct you. (this applies to most religions too).

In countries this environment leads to unsatisfied inhabitants. They unwillingly accept the situation and make the best of it, become asylum seekers to break out, or become terrorists to fight it.
In companies, you will get a non productive - non engaged workforce, they stay and follow the required processes (bad habits). They have their own reasons for doing that. Most of the time basic needs are a priority. The best employees will join the competition and a few will join a union to fight against management. The company dies or is transferred to another country. Everyone looses in the end.

The desire to change (bad habits), is not in the nature of people. There needs to be an inner or outside trigger to make that happen. Good leadership and management can contribute to that.

Amit Chaturvedi said...

When I read most of the Leadership articles, I get the feeling that we are talking about tactics. How to get our work done and leave and call that leadership.

Basic Leadership and management mantras have never been changed, starting from Mahabharata till today. There might be situation based acts but we can not name those as leadership practices.

As per my understanding, leadership is based on:

-Have own source of energy
-Set examples.
-Have a father-like behavior/personality, so that you can represent people and shield them whenever needed
-Show the way to people to grow, resolve issues (here we can talk about tactics to find out solution to specific problem)

With these 3 things people will come behind you.

If we read Mahatma Gandhi , Nelson Mandela and other such renowned leaders, we will find these commonalities in them.

Although present days politicians like to be called Leaders but I do not feel the work is suitable for them in general. Obviously, there are few exceptions.

So Leadership is an immortal thought which takes shape in different packaging.

Rolando said...

Doesn't everyone walk in the street? I was just commenting on this same observation to a friend here in Bangalore over the weekend. It's funny, I noticed in one area of the city where they've put new sidewalks that the cows actually do prefer the sidewalks for laying around.

Debora King said...

The story made me laugh because I know that if I went there and saw everyone walking on the road instead of the sidewalk I would probably think "what do they know that I don't" and follow them. However, at some point I would step onto the sidewalk to get away from the crowd. This is the same thought process that new hires will have upon entering an organization, follow the crowd. It is our responsibility as leaders and managers to show them it is safe to step onto the sidewalk and do something different. Most of the irrelevant things I have caught myself doing over the years were easily removed/corrected through technology or asking the "crowd" for their input.

Saurav said...

john, i hope your stay was good, and looks like you did have some good time to reflect... the hyderabadi biryani is famous throughout the country... :)

reading through the post, i could say, this is resistance to change. simply, we did it like this, and we still can. it can be about walking on a sidewalk, or using a new software, or a new gadget...

the other aspect is that, the change needs to be marketed... within organizations, you notice several mails, fliers about new schemes, programs, changes about to come, create interest, and get people ready to accept and eventually change...

Kanwaljit Singh said...

Lot of people are still printing as supposed to read from one's monitor, thus wasting paper and damaging enviorment.

nisha said...

i am much delighted to read the post

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