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Episode 7 : Leaderships Challenging Roads 

Welcome to networking with Paritosh Pathak. In today's podcast we're talking about leadership, the balance, the trust and the courage that every leader needs. But even before we get started, let's address the big question why are we even talking about leadership in a networking podcast? Well, simply because that this is a very little known fact that leadership and networking have a huge overlap. Both are about people. The leaders have to lead people in networking, you network with people and the principles of working with people are the same. In fact, the deeper that you go in either of them, the more you realize that they have a lot in common. So let's jump in now. Today leadership is a lot more than just managing. There was a point in time that leadership was thought of as managing people. Today the role is much bigger. 


Today it's about truly understanding people, guiding them to become more, achieve more than what they have personally thought is possible. And it's also about finding a delicate balance between doing what's right for the people and for the organization. And that's often going to get very challenging and then finally having the courage to have difficult conversation. All of this gets put together mixed into a box today that we know as leadership. So there are three key things that I want to speak to you about today. One, leadership flaws and personal growth are all interconnected. Leaders are not perfect people. A huge part of leadership is going to require for a leader to do what's right for the people, even though they themselves might not be doing what they're asking others to do. I know this is going to sound controversial, hypocritical, but it's also practical. 


You as a leader are a human and you'll need to understand this, that you will not be perfect. That's one. And two, the mistakes that you are making, which you will every now and then it's going to happen, cannot be the reason that other people are not being led the way they should. I want to bring an example here. I run a program called Master Networker Program. It's a ten month networking training coaching program. And one of the things we do in that program is we divide groups. And in those groups we have leaders. And those leaders are participants of the program themselves. And these are often the people themselves have not done what they were supposed to do in their business and yet will have the responsibility of ensuring that their team is doing what they're doing. 


And a good leader needs to be able to separate these two things out. And this is the hardest thing that you'll need to do as a leader to be able to separate the mistakes that you are making from the role and responsibility that you have towards other people. A lot of leader, our leaders are in this internal conflict that how can I go ask my people to do something when I myself may not be doing that. And this is good. If you've got this conflict that means you're striving to be authentic, that's amazing. But then a situation where you're always just doing right is highly unlikely. To the world you're going to be the person of the highest standards, the unshakable will, the unbreakable power. 


But deep down inside you know that you're just human and you will always be and it'll always have to be the balance where you'll have to learn to be okay with being flawed and yet leading people. Like I said, this is going to sound controversial, hypocritical, but this is how it's going to happen. Leaders are flawed. I am, you are. And that's where we'll have to build things up. That's why what you really need to do here is in order to find the strength and the courage to lead people, even though you may be making the mistakes, is own your truth, don't hide it. That's a huge mistake you will make because people can always tell. Everybody has seen enough world. You can't hide anything from anyone. 


So if you're a leader who's not doing certain things that you're asking others to do, understand the importance of why others have to do it. But when you're not doing it, own it. Own it in front of the people. And that is what's going to give you the power and the ability to lead the people that you have and that's what's going to make people respect you too flaws. Let's go to the second part. Leadership is a balancing act and this is beautiful. Now let's get this. Sometimes you'll have to make sure that your people win and sometimes you'll have to make sure that your people understand that the organization has to. And as a leader, that balance will always have to come in. 


Right now this is a core part of your responsibility and this is something that you'll really have to own and put on your head as a crown that on Monday it's people first and on Tuesday it's organization first. That's how it's always going to be. Now get this. The balance is about ensuring that you're doing right by both. Doing right by one and wrong by another is a recipe of disaster. It's a ticking time bomb. It's just going to explode one day sooner or later. If you're constantly focusing on people and the organization's taking a hit, sometime later people will start leaving that organization because it's not the kind of organization that they want to work for. And if you are constantly focusing on the organization and not people, then people will start leaving because they're not valued there. 


That balance is a very critical balance to be established. And this is a very difficult balance because whenever you're trying to prioritize the organization, a lot of people will not understand. Your people will not understand until unless you make them, you help them, you empower them to understand. And the way you do this is by talking about this with them before a situation comes, before a chaos comes. Regular conversations need to happen between you and your people, where they understand the role of prioritizing the organization at the right moments. Well, it's possible that when you have this conversation with them, they may not agree, but they'll understand. Now, a lot of leaders end up assuming that when they go to the people and talk to them about prioritizing the organization, their people won't understand. 


People are good, they're well meaning, they're well intended, and when empowered, they understand. It takes time. But if you are a manager, not a leader, if you're just managing the projects, if you're just managing the people, if you're just managing things, then they're never going to understand. It's just not going to happen. But if you're the kind of person or leader here who takes time out to connect with people, to have conversations with them from time to time, and where you empower them, where you support them, they will understand. They will in the beginning slow less and as the time goes, more, and they will always value you for it. This is something that you'll have to keep building into people. And this is what trust is. 


When you are focusing on people, when you are talking to them on matters that are extremely important for their own success, even though they may not feel it's in their interest in the short term, and you become the kind of person who can help them see, that's where the trust starts to come in. So as a leader, learn to balance. Cool. Let's talk about the third thing, finding the courage to have difficult conversations. In fact, this whole podcast is inspired by a conversation I had with one of my colleagues. He's now supposed to have a difficult conversation with someone that we deal with and he was nervous about it. And the whole idea of this podcast came from that. Now, I'm always inspired by people who are running countries, the leaders, the presidents, the prime ministers, the other ministers, right? 


And I wonder time to time how much they have to manage. They have to manage economies, global perspectives, opposition, threats and so much more. And if they're capable of running entire economies while managing so many things at a point in time, can we not just manage a business? A couple of people, okay, they have departments. Yes, they have a lot of people. They have a huge workforce to work with them, but also understand that they work with people in those departments who are very difficult to lead. We see that in the news every single day. It's not easy. Just because you are in a position of power doesn't mean that people will blindly follow you. We see this in the organizations and we see this in the government every place. 


So yes, they have lot more resources, but they're also dealing with lot more difficult people, and they've learned to manage that. And that's a great source for us to go and draw inspiration from. If they can do this, we can do our part. Okay, now, how do we get prepared for difficult conversations? Number one, whenever you're about to have a difficult conversation, acknowledge. Be okay with the fact that this conversation is going to be difficult. Don't hide, don't run away, and definitely don't awide. And once you've acknowledged, the next part is you focusing on the value, the importance of having this conversation with whosoever you're supposed to be having that conversation. That value and importance is where the lot of strength, courage lies in. And next, then you got to prepare. This is something that a lot of leaders don't do. 


Anytime you are planning on having a difficult conversation, prepare. Whether it means making notes, then make notes. Figure out what you're going to say. Figure out how you're going to help people understand the logic behind what you're discussing. Prepare, and then have that conversation. In our training programs, I often talk about a concept called the shit sandwich. I learned this from a gentleman called Neeraj Shah. He was the national director of this organization called BNI. And that time I had franchise of this platform called BNI in Gurgam. And Neeraj used to talk about this concept called the shit sandwich. What's the shit sandwich? Sandwich has bread. Bread and coleslaw in between. So the shit sandwich typically represents delivering a bad news or having a tough conversation with someone, and you create a sandwich of it. 


So what you do is you start with something good, which is genuine and authentic. And from there, you bring in the tough conversation, and then you close it with something good again. I think I would have learned this nearly 15 years ago. Newer spoke about this once. I've still not forgotten. It is a very valuable tool. So as a leader, you will need to have difficult conversations again and again with your people. It's just not an option. It is, let's put it very simply, you cannot be a leader without developing the ability to have difficult conversations. So you do that. You acknowledge the difficulty. You focus on the value of the conversation you prepare. Use the shit sandwich if you have to. And most importantly, you end well. You end with a clarity, whether it is of the next steps or the next action. 


Whatever the clarity is, it is very important that you end with that. Now, this applies to small, day to day conversation. It applies to performance reviews. It applies to hiring people, firing people. It applies to holding people accountable, talking about the ROI of the projects that you're working on, the delays, whatever, applies everywhere. Let's summarize this conversation. Number one, leaders are imperfect, flawed, and yet they're responsible. Learn to be okay with that and lead. Learn to be okay with being flawed and lead. Second, talk to your people. Empower them, educate them. Help them understand your side of the world. And help them understand that before the time comes, if you are talking to them about your side of the world, when you are in middle of a difficult conversation, it is late. It is too late. 


So when things are okay, that is when you talk to them about it. And the third one difficult conversations are part of a game. But the most important thing here is that it's a skill that you can learn and master with practice become okay with that too. This I want to close today's podcast. I would love to hear your point of view on what we've discussed here today. What you agree upon, what you don't agree upon. What do you think more can be relevant in this conversation? So do share your views or the next conversation, next topic you'd like for me to take on. Until then, this is Paratosh Pradak signing off. See you in the next episode. 

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