Follow by Email

Monday, May 22, 2017

FOODIE SPECIAL.... Hot Crisps and the Calicut Crunchhh...

Hot Crisps and the Calicut Crunchhh...
In the city of spices, Pooja Bhula discovers the secret behind Kerala's irresistably crunchy ‘hot chips’

For most of us, Calicut would bring to mind Vasco da Gama's successful voyage to the Malabar Coast in search of spices, which then held great mystique in the West. All kinds of tales were spun around it. But when I touched its shores last April, the humidity—which is worse than Mumbai's—put all my romanticism of history to rest. I didn't even visit Kappad Beach, where the mighty sailor had anchored his sails and set the ball rolling for what resutled in the East India Company. Instead, post the wedding I had gone for, I headed straight to Wayanad to cool down. But, not before parcelling some of Calicut's (or Kerala's for that matter) local delicacy to take back in as many packets as I could, without feeling too guilty.
No, not the spices, which Calicut is still known for, but banana and tapioca chips. Why bother, you may think—Mumbai has so many hot-chips shops. But often, if not always, regional delicacies still taste best where they come from. And Sastha Chips and Halwai in Puthiyapalam has built quite a reputation for itself among locals in the 20 years since its inception, despite older shops around.
If not for the red signage on their thatch-roofed, family-run shop in the lane leading to Tali Mandir, you'd probably miss it as customers often cover the entrance, hiding from passersby what's cooking inside.
Watching the traditional process in itself is a delight. With the big, long, special unripe plantain—nethrakai, Sastha makes five types of chips: sweet, salted, masala, pepper and jaggery-dipped. For the sweet ones, bananas have to be slightly ripe. They themselves extract oil from the coconut for frying and use the dry shells to fuel the flames that flare up like a bonfire below the huge kadhai that's 'fit into' the platform. The best part? Sampling them before buying. Batches after batches of golden banana chips are fried as we wait for our packets to be filled and sealed. A Mani, one of the four owners, says, "You have to let the oil sizzle before you start frying." But to ensure the chips taste great and are perfectly crispy, "slices should be cut even and fine (in case of tapioca, all must be the same size) and more importantly, washed very well to remove gummy excretions of both."
The initial plan was to just pick a few packets of the simple salted banana and tapioca chips. But after a bite we hoarded packets for the further journey, some for home, more for friends and even more for colleagues! No wonder during season time (October - May), business starts as early as 8.30 am. Nom

Pooja Bhula

HABITS SPECIAL.... 7 Powerful Habits That Make You More Assertive

Powerful Habits That Make You More Assertive

Being assertive and knowing what you want is not the same as being hostile or belligerent. You just have to know what to say with confidence.

Everyone wants to be more confident, but not everyone knows how to be assertive. Assertive falls right between passive and aggressive. If you're passive about voicing your opinion, you may come across as submissive. And if you are aggressive with your viewpoint, you may come across as a hostile or, even worse, a bully.
But if you learn to be assertive, you can express yourself without being passive or aggressive, and you will have a better chance of getting what you want.
Here are seven simple ways to help yourself become more assertive.
1. Understand assertiveness.
Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill in which you demonstrate the healthy confidence to stand up for yourself while still respecting the rights of others. When you are assertive, you are neither passive nor aggressive, but direct and honest. You don't expect other people to know what you want, so you speak up to ask for what you need calmly and with confidence.
2. Keep your communication style in line.
When it comes to being assertive, communication style is critical, and the key is to be respectful of those with whom you are trying to communicate. Pay attention to your body language as well as the words you say, and make sure you're congruent in your words, body language, and tone. Never expect people to read your mind; if you want something, say so, and if something bothers you, speak up. Look confident when making a request or stating a preference. Stand up straight, lean in a bit, smile or keep a neutral facial expression, and look the person in the eye.
3. Understand and accept differences.
Assertiveness doesn't mean being dismissive of other people's points of view. Just as you state your own opinion, you work to understand other points of view. Don't allow differences to upset you or make you angry; remember that differences don't necessarily mean you are right and the other person is wrong. Try to understand their point of view. Listen respectfully and don't interrupt when they are speaking.
4. Speak simply and directly.
When you're practicing assertiveness, it's important to speak in a way that doesn't imply accusations or make the other person feel guilty. Speaking your truth with candor shouldn't mean making others feel wrong. Be simple, direct, and concise, and state what you know to be true for you. When asserting yourself, remember, less is more. Keep your requests free of meandering or long-winded explanations.
5. Exercise the power of "I."
To be assertive without coming across as hostile, use "I" statements. Make it a habit to say things like "I think ... " or "I feel .... " Never use aggressive language or phrases like "You never... " or "You always.... " These statements trigger other people, leaving them frustrated, and they shut down conversation. "I" statements allow you to be confident and assertive without alienating and eliminating other people.
6. Stay calm.
Being assertive might make you feel excited, but excitement can sometimes come across as aggression. Learn to stay cool and calm when expressing yourself; it will make you more confident and allow the other person to relax. Remember to breathe normally and be mindful of body language and eye contact. Be present with each other. Calm mind, calm speech, calm action--it not only gives you confidence, but allows the other person to remain composed as well.
7. Set boundaries.
Boundaries are the rules and limits you create for yourself that help you decide what you will and won't allow. You don't want people to walk all over you, but you don't want people to think you are a bully, either. Setting boundaries will empower you to know when you need to say yes and when you want to say no.
Assertiveness is like any other skill--it takes practice and time to get it right. Keep working through each of these techniques and soon you will feel more confident.

STARTUP SPECIAL ....The Beautiful Minds

The Beautiful Minds

J Vignesh

Getting science out of laboratories and into daily lives is a big challenge for researchers in India. The rise in startup activity has helped ease this and a number of scientists are building new ventures. J Vignesh explores the field
When Rudra Pratap returned to India in 1996 after a Ph.D from Cornell University to join the Indian Institute of Science as a professor, he was astonished to find no one working on micro-electro-mechanical systems. The technology, which deals with making miniaturized mechanical and electromechanical devices, was emerging as a hot area of research in the developed world.Pratap eventually, and painstakingly, built the country's first MEMS laboratory within the IISc with grants from Bengaluru-based Cranes Software.
Before long, Pratap and a core group of professors decided to build another lab for deeper research in related fields. The Centre for Nano Science and Engineering lab, established within the IISc in 2011 at a cost of Rs 120 crore, has more than 140 Ph.D students, published hundreds of papers, and filed 40-50 patents. Importantly, CeNSE has incubated three startups, including Pratap's nanotechnology startup, i2n Technologies.

If Pratap was the academician who took the entrepreneurial route from within the IISc, Anand Chandrasekaran, cofounder of artificial intelligence startup Mad Street Den, chose to leave the environs of an academic setup--Ph.D at Stanford University followed by stints a scientific research think-tanks--and use his skills as a brain researcher to solve “real world problems.“

“We moved to India because we wanted to experiment (with real world problems). We used Ashwini's (wife and cofounder) savings on this,“ said Chandrasekaran. “She was the one with the savings. I was an academic, the underpaid slave labour of the world.“

Jokes apart, these men are answers to what has been plaguing Indian research for long--an inability to translate lab research into useful, marketable products. “This country has been doing very well in research (but) unfortunately, it is driven by individuals with the mindset of publishing papers. But that's not the end goal of research. The end goal of research is to create something useful for society,“ said Pratap. “What has prevented this from happening is that whatever results they get, there's a much harder path of translating that into technology that can be made useful. The chasm is too big.“

Academics-turned-entrepreneurs have always been around but they have been a small set of highly motivated individuals brave enough to venture into the complex world of business-building. Now, the global buzz around startups, a supportive government and an ecosystem that thrives on new ideas are providing that extra thrust to encourage supposedly reclusive academics to come out and build technologies that can better society.

“Institutes now have much better policies to enable students and faculties to start companies,“ said Navakanta Bhat, professor at the IISc's electrical communication engineering department and cofounder of Pathshodh, a maker of portable diagnostics devices. Bhat is on a year's leave from the institution. “IISc has enabled it so that I can focus on the company. Even after that, if I continue to be with the IISc, I can put away a certain fraction of my time to continue doing startup-related activities. That's a big administrative interventional policy. It is very common in the US.“ In addition to premier institutions and governments, a number of independent establishments have emerged that nurture entrepreneurship focused on scientific research.

IKP Knowledge Park is one such. It runs a business incubator focused on medical and life sciences startups. “We provide lab spaces. We offer funding. In some cases, we also fund them through grants, which comes even before seed investment. We enable the startups by giving them a peer community to interact with and act as a sounding board.We help with intellectual property searches. We review it, look at competitors and also work with government to advice on policy.We also help in hiring,“ said Vikraman Venu Saranyan, chief operating officer at IKP-EDEN, the incubator.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms is another one. C-CAMP incubates life-sciences startups and helps the best ones secure government grants. “There has to be a problem, like say, affordability, accessibility (that a startup is looking to solve); there has to be a broad need,“ said Taslimarif Saiyed, COO at C-CAMP. “The team has to take it to the next level in terms of business and has to have a mechanism to test the solution. We have roughly 15-20 researcher-led companies.“

An academician hell-bent on converting ideas into products is akin to a magician with many a trick up his sleeve, thanks to tons of research done over the years. Take G Jagadeesh, associate professor at IISc's department of aerospace engineering. He is simultaneously working on various seemingly unrelated ideas--injecting DNA into cells to aid in genetic material manipulations; needleless drug delivery; artificial insemination in cows; and inducing antioxidants into tea leaves. All these ideas stem from his area of expertise: Shockwaves.These waves are associated with bodies that fly faster than the speed of sound, thereby dissipating kinetic energy. His startup Superwave Technologies is in advanced talks with oil companies to take their research to the market.

“One model of entrepreneurship we want to try out is to give intellectual capital, which is our patents and our ideas, (to partner companies). The relevant industries are not only willing to fund this but also come on board because this ecosystem does not exist in India to a large extent,“ said Jagadeesh.

Pandorum Technologies has developed a 3D-printed bio-tissue that mimics the functioning of a human liver. From starting as a two-member team five years ago, it has now assembled a multi-functionary team. “All of us are academic-entrepreneurs. This helps because this is a very fast-moving field and you need to be abreast with the happenings,“ said chief executive Arun Chandru, a Ph.D in aerospace engineering.

But all is not magic. A lot of time and effort goes into coming up with useful technologies. It usually takes years and years of hardcore research. “In high-tech research, for (an idea) to reach to fruition, it takes at least two generations of Ph.D students,“ said Bhat of Pathshodh. “So, the first generation, we had headway. I recruited one more to broaden the horizon, to really look beyond and improvise the technology and also include more tests.“

Similarly, Chandrasekaran of Mad Street Den experimented in diverse areas including gaming and robotics before deciding on what to focus on for this startup. For now, it is fashion. “For a year-and-half we were building infrastructure and experimenting. We went around and spoke to everybody. This propelled a lot of conversations. We spoke to investors, potential customers and all. It was not something that happened overnight,“ he said. If ideas take time, getting used to being an entrepreneur is another big ask for academicians. “The amount of time you would spend on administrative job is always a distraction, but it is something that you will have to do,“ said Dhananjay Dendukuri, an academic turned founder of Achira Labs, a maker of microfluidics diagnostic tools.“Being responsible to an investor, shareholder is different from being responsible to a boss... That change is a big shift.“

Vinay Viswanathan, co-creator of the indigenous handheld computer, Simputer, in the early 2000s, said academics can now be more surefooted when they want to start a business, unlike earlier, and so they should. “We had to get permission from IISc (where he was a professor) to do it, to make provisions for these things to happen. The current set of people do not have that problem because the mechanism is in place. It's wonderful it has happened.“

MANAGEMENT LEADERSHIP SPECIAL .....10 Principles of Strategic Leadership

10 Principles of Strategic Leadership

How to develop and retain leaders who can guide your organization through times of fundamental change. 

Most companies have leaders with the strong operational skills needed to maintain the status quo. But they are facing a critical deficit: They lack people in positions of power with the know-how, experience, and confidence required to tackle what management scientists call “wicked problems.” Such problems can’t be solved by a single command, they have causes that seem incomprehensible and solutions that seem uncertain, and they often require companies to transform the way they do business. Every enterprise faces these kinds of challenges today.
2015 PwC study of 6,000 senior executives, conducted using a research methodology developed by David Rooke of Harthill Consulting and William Torbert of Boston University, revealed just how pervasive this shortfall is. Respondents were asked a series of open-ended questions; their answers revealed their leadership preferences, which were then analyzed to determine which types of leaders were most prominent. Only 8 percent of the respondents turned out to be strategic leaders, or those effective at leading transformations (Rooke and Torbert refer to them as “strategist” leaders).

The study suggests that strategic leaders are more likely to be women (10 percent of the female respondents were categorized this way, versus 7 percent of the men), and the number of strategic leaders increases with age (the highest proportion of strategic leaders was among respondents age 45 and above). These leaders tend to have several common personality traits: They can challenge the prevailing view without provoking outrage or cynicism; they can act on the big and small picture at the same time, and change course if their chosen path turns out to be incorrect; and they lead with inquiry as well as advocacy, and with engagement as well as command, operating all the while from a deeply held humility and respect for others.
It may seem disheartening that such a small percentage of senior leaders can operate this way. The trend over time is almost as bad. When the same survey was conducted in 2005, only 7 percent of respondents were identified as strategic leaders. In other words, in the course of a transformative decade marked by the collision of technological breakthroughs, financial crises, demographic shifts, and other major global forces, the leadership needle barely moved.
Given this small percentage of senior leadership equipped to manage large-scale transformation, companies are often forced to bring in leaders from outside. But as we’ve observed in countless organizations over the years, significant change in a company is more likely to succeed if it is led from within. Perhaps most alarming, the leadership gap is typically hidden from view. No one recognizes that the company’s top executives aren’t acting strategically, or people do realize it, but no one is willing to call attention to the problem. The gap thus comes to light only when a company faces a major challenge to its traditional way of doing business. It’s in the do-or-die moments, when companies need a strategic leader most, that they discover the current leadership isn’t up to the task.
Fortunately, companies can build the capacity for strategic leadership. It starts with recognizing that your organization undoubtedly already has emerging strategic leaders within it whose skills are being overlooked or even stifled. The problem can be traced back to how organizations traditionally promote and develop their leaders. In many companies, the individuals who make their way to the top of the hierarchy do so by demonstrating superlative performance, persistent ambition, and the ability to solve the problems of the moment. These are valuable traits, but they are not the skills of a strategic leader.
The following 10 principles can help unlock the potential strategic leadership in your enterprise. These principles represent a combination of organizational systems and individual capabilities — the hardware and software of transformation. You may have already adopted some of these tenets, and think that’s enough. But only when you implement all of them together, as a single system, will they enable you to attract, develop, and retain the strategic leaders who’ve eluded you thus far.
Systems and Structures
The first three principles of strategic leadership involve nontraditional but highly effective approaches to decision making, transparency, and innovation.
1. Distribute responsibility. Strategic leaders gain their skill through practice, and practice requires a fair amount of autonomy. Top leaders should push power downward, across the organization, empowering people at all levels to make decisions. Distribution of responsibility gives potential strategic leaders the opportunity to see what happens when they take risks. It also increases the collective intelligence, adaptability, and resilience of the organization over time, by harnessing the wisdom of those outside the traditional decision-making hierarchy.

In an oil refinery on the U.S. West Coast, a machine malfunction in a treatment plant was going to cause a three-week shutdown. Ordinarily, no one would have questioned the decision to close, but the company had recently instituted a policy of distributed responsibility. One plant operator spoke up with a possible solution. She had known for years that there was a better way to manage the refinery’s technology, but she hadn’t said anything because she had felt no ownership. The engineers disputed her idea at first, but the operator stood her ground. The foreman was convinced, and in the end, they didn’t have to lose a single barrel of oil.
When individuals like the plant operator are given this sort of responsibility and authority, they gain more confidence and skill. When opportunities to make a difference are common throughout an organization, a “can-do” proficiency becomes part of its identity. At Buurtzorg, a Dutch neighborhood nursing organization, most decisions are made by autonomous, leaderless teams of up to a dozen nurses. A small central management team supports and coaches the front-line nurses; there is no other middle management. The company achieves the highest client satisfaction levels of all community nursing delivery in the Netherlands, at only 70 percent of the usual cost. Patients stay in care half as long, heal faster, and themselves become more autonomous. And the nurses gain skills not just for leading their part of the enterprise, but in community leadership as well.

2. Be honest and open about information. The management structure traditionally adopted by large organizations evolved from the military, and was specifically designed to limit the flow of information. In this model, information truly equals power. The trouble is, when information is released to specific individuals only on a need-to-know basis, people have to make decisions in the dark. They do not know what factors are significant to the strategy of the enterprise; they have to guess. And it can be hard to guess right when you are not encouraged to understand the bigger picture or to question information that comes your way. Moreover, when people lack information, it undermines their confidence in challenging a leader or proposing an idea that differs from that of their leader.
Some competitive secrets (for example, about products under development) may need to remain hidden, but employees need a broad base of information if they are to become strategic leaders. That is one of the principles behind “open-book management,” the systematic sharing of information about the nature of the enterprise. Among the companies that use this practice are Southwest Airlines, Harley-Davidson, and Whole Foods Market, which have all enjoyed sustained growth after adopting explicit practices of transparency.

Transparency fosters conversation about the meaning of information and the improvement of everyday practices. If productivity figures suddenly go down, for example, that could be an opportunity to implement change. Coming to a better understanding of the problem might be a team effort; it requires people to talk openly and honestly about the data. If information is concealed, temptation grows to manipulate the data to make it look better. The opportunity for strategic leadership is lost. Worse still, people are implicitly told that there is more value in expedience than in leading the enterprise to a higher level of performance. Strategic leaders know that the real power in information comes not from hoarding it, but from using it to find and create new opportunities for growth.
3. Create multiple paths for raising and testing ideas. Developing and presenting ideas is a key skill for strategic leaders. Even more important is the ability to connect their ideas to the way the enterprise creates value. By setting up ways for people to bring their innovative thinking to the surface, you can help them learn to make the most of their own creativity.
This approach clearly differs from that of traditional cultures, in which the common channel for new ideas is limited to an individual’s direct manager. The manager may not appreciate the value in the idea, blocking it from going forward and stifling the innovator’s enthusiasm. Of course, it can also be counterproductive to allow people to raise ideas indiscriminately without paying much attention to their development. So many ideas, in so many repetitive forms, might then come to the surface that it would be nearly impossible to sort through them. The best opportunities could be lost in the clutter.
Instead, create a variety of channels for innovative thinking. Some might be cross-functional forums, in which people can present ideas to a group of like-minded peers and test them against one another’s reasoning. There could also be apprenticeships, in which promising thinkers, early in their careers, sign on for mentorship with leaders who are well equipped to help them build their skills. Some organizations might set up in-house courses or sponsor attendance at university programs. Reverse mentoring — in which younger staff members share their knowledge of new technology as part of a collaboration with a more established staff member — can also be effective.
Google has made use of a number of channels to promote innovation. A few examples: Employees can email any of the leaders across the organization; the company established “Google cafes” to spark conversation by encouraging interaction among employees and across teams; and executives hold weekly all-hands meetings (known as TGIFs) to give employees at every level in-person access to senior leaders. People at Google learn to make the most of these opportunities — they know the conversations will be tough, but that genuinely worthwhile innovative thinking will be recognized and rewarded.
People, Policies, and Practices
The next four principles involve unconventional ways of thinking about assessment, hiring, and training.
4. Make it safe to fail. A company’s espoused statement of values may encourage employees to “fail fast” and learn from their errors. That works well until there is an actual failure, leading to a genuine loss. The most dreaded phone call in the corporate world soon follows; it’s the one that begins: “Who authorized this decision?” Big failures are simply unacceptable within most organizations. Those who fail often suffer in terms of promotion and reward, if not worse.
You must enshrine acceptance of failure — and willingness to admit failure early — in the practices and processes of the company, including the appraisal and promotion processes. For example, return-on-investment calculations need to assess results in a way that reflects the agreed-upon objectives, which may have been deliberately designed to include risk. Strategic leaders cannot learn only from efforts that succeed; they need to recognize the types of failures that turn into successes. They also need to learn how to manage the tensions associated with uncertainty, and how to recover from failure to try new ventures again.
One enterprise that has taken this approach to heart is Honda. Like several other industrial companies, the automaker has had a dramatic, visible failure in recent years. The installation of faulty equipment from its favored airbag supplier, Takata, has led Honda to recall about 8.5 million vehicles to date. Although the accountable executives were fired, the company’s leaders also explicitly stated that the airbag failure, in itself, was not the problem that led to dismissal. The problem was the lack of attention to the failure at an early stage, when it could have been much more easily corrected. As one Honda executive told Jeffrey Rothfeder, author of Driving Honda: Inside the World’s Most Innovative Car Company (Portfolio, 2014) (and an s+b contributing editor), “We forgot that failure is never an acceptable outcome; instead, it is the means to acceptable outcomes.”
Some organizations have begun to embrace failure as an important part of their employees’ development. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K.-based innovation charity Nesta have held “failure fests,” at which employees discuss decisions that went wrong and derive lessons from them. In addition to establishing such forums, you can provide managers with opportunities to oversee smaller change initiatives, some of which may not work out, to develop the skills they’ll need to lead larger-scale transformations.
5. Provide access to other strategists. Give potential strategic leaders the opportunity to meet and work with their peers across the organization. Otherwise, they remain hidden from one another, and may feel isolated or alone. Once they know that there are others in the company with a similar predisposition, they can be more open — and adept — in raising the strategic value of what they do.
The first step is to find them. Strategic leaders may not be fully aware themselves that they are distinctive. But others on their team, and their bosses, tend to recognize their unique talents. They may use phrases like “she just gets it,” “he always knows the right question to ask,” or “she never lets us get away with thinking and operating in silos” to describe them. A good way to learn about candidates is to ask, “Who are the people who really seem to understand what the organization needs — and how to help it get there?” These may be people who aren’t traditionally popular; their predisposition to question, challenge, and disrupt the status quo can unsettle people, particularly people at the same level.
Of course, you don’t want to create the impression that some people deserve special treatment. Instead, cultivate the idea that many managers, perhaps even most, have the potential to become strategic leaders. Then bring the first group together. Invite them to learn from one another, and to explore ways of fostering a more strategic environment in the rest of the enterprise.
6. Develop opportunities for experience-based learning. The vast majority of professional leadership development is informative as opposed to experiential. Classroom-based training is, after all, typically easier and less expensive to implement; it’s evidence of short-term thinking, rather than long-term investment in the leadership pipeline. Although traditional leadership training can develop good managerial skills, strategists need experience to live up to their potential.
One vehicle for creating leadership experiences is the cross-functional “practice field,” as organizational learning theorist Peter Senge calls it. Bring together a team of potential strategic leaders with a collective assignment: to create a fully developed solution to a problem or to design a new critical capability and the way to generate it. Give them a small budget and a preliminary deadline. Have them draw plans and financial estimates of their solutions. Then run the estimates through an in-depth analysis. This project might include a simulation exercise, constructed with the kind of systems simulation software that has been used to model and participate in wargames since the 1980s. You can also let reality be their practice field. Have them create the new capability or initiative on a small scale, and put it into effect. Then track the results assiduously. Assign mentors with experience to help them make the most of their effort — without sidetracking it.
Whether you set up the project in reality or as a simulation, the next step should be the same. Schedule a series of intensive discussions about the results. Explore why these results appeared, what the team might have done differently, and how things could be different in the future if the group changed some of the variables. The goal is to cultivate a better understanding than would be possible without this type of reflection, and to use that understanding as the basis for future efforts.
7. Hire for transformation. Hiring decisions should be based on careful considerations of capabilities and experiences, and should aim for diversity to overcome the natural tendency of managers to select people much like themselves.
Test how applicants react to specific, real-life situations; do substantive research into how they performed in previous organizations; and conduct interviews that delve deeper than usual into their psyche and abilities, to test their empathy, their ability to reframe problems, and their agility in considering big-picture questions as well as analytical data. In all these cases, you’re looking for their ability to see the forest and the trees: their ability to manage the minutiae of specific skills and practices, while also being visionary about strategic goals. The better they are at keeping near and far points of view simultaneously available, the better their potential to be strategic leaders.
For those hired, the on-boarding processes should send explicit signals that they can experiment, take on more responsibility, and do more to help transform the organization than they could in their previous career. They need to feel that the culture is open to change and to diverse views.
Focus on the Self
The final three principles are aimed at the potential strategic leaders themselves — these tactics can help them prepare for their personal evolution.
8. Bring your whole self to work. Strategic leaders understand that to tackle the most demanding situations and problems, they need to draw on everything they have learned in their lives. They want to tap into their full set of capabilities, interests, experiences, and passions to come up with innovative solutions. And they don’t want to waste their time in situations (or with organizations) that don’t align with their values.
Significantly, they encourage the people who report to them to do the same. In so doing, strategic leaders create a lower-stress environment, because no one is pretending to be someone else; people take responsibility for who they truly are. This creates an honest and authentic environment in which people can share their motivations and capabilities, as well as the enablers and constraints in their life.
9. Find time to reflect. Strategic leaders are skilled in what organizational theorists Chris Argyris and Donald Schön called “double-loop learning.” Single-loop learning involves thinking in depth about a situation and the problems inherent in it. Double-loop learning involves studying your own thinking about the situation — the biases and assumptions you have, and the “undiscussables” that are too difficult to raise.
Your goal in reflection is to raise your game in double-loop learning. Question the way in which you question things. Solve the problems inherent in the way you problem-solve. Start with single-loop learning, and then move to double-loop learning by taking the time to think: Why did I make that decision? What are the implications? What would I do differently next time? How am I going to apply this learning going forward?
Reflection helps you learn from your mistakes, but it also gives you time to figure out the value of your aspirations, and whether you can raise them higher. It allows you the chance to spot great ideas using what you are already doing or things that are going on in your life. Managers are often caught up in the pressures of the moment. A mistake or a high-pressure project can feel overwhelming. But if you take a minute to step back and reflect on these problems, it can provide the space to see what you did right.
Some reflection is more productive than others. Psychologists warn about “rumination,” or dwelling on deceptive messages about your own inadequacies or the intractability of problems in a way that reinforces your feeling of being stuck. To avoid this pattern, deliberately give yourself a constructive question to reflect on. For example, what are the capabilities we need to build next? How can I best contribute? Human capital teams can help by training individuals in these practices and ensuring that all managers support their team members who take the time to reflect.
10. Recognize leadership development as an ongoing practice. Strategists have the humility and intelligence to realize that their learning and development is never done, however experienced they may be. They admit that they are vulnerable and don’t have all the answers. This characteristic has the added benefit of allowing other people to be the expert in some circumstances. In that way, strategic leaders make it easy for others to share ideas by encouraging new ways of thinking and explicitly asking for advice.

Their thirst for learning also gives potential strategists the space to be open to less obvious career opportunities — new industries, different types of roles, lateral moves, stretch assignments, secondments, or project roles — that may help them fulfill their potential.
At some point, you may advance to the point where you are not concerned solely with your own role as a strategic leader, but with cultivating opportunities for others. This will require a clear-eyed, reflective view of the talent pool around you. It isn’t easy for any leader to accept that others in the company may not have what it takes. Or, worse, to learn that the people with the potential to demonstrate leadership feel constrained by current organizational practices, and they are taking their talents elsewhere.
But if you can come to terms with reality, as uncomfortable as it may be, then you’re in a position to help change it. By following the 10 principles we’ve outlined here, you will give yourself the skill and influence to pave the way for others who follow. That’s fortunate, because the ability to transform amid societal and business challenges and disruptions is essential to your company’s success — and perhaps even to its survival.
by Jessica LeitchDavid Lancefield, and Mark Dawson