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March – April, 2014
Mentors and Role Models: Effective Ways to Motivate Women
By Our Correspondent
Many successful organisations have recognised the effect of investing in women’s leadership development; however there are some who have not yet realised the need for such an investment. Some recent findings by Mercer will definitely get them to wonder why they did not. As per Mercer, over 140 studies have shown linkages between women in leadership positions and increased financial performance of these companies. Catalyst studied the financial performance of 353 Fortune 500 companies and the results showed that there is a connection between gender diversity and financial performance. Return on Equity (ROE) was 35 percent higher and Total Shareholder Return (TSR) was 34 percent higher for companies with higher representation of women on their top management teams. Another study tracked the performance of Fortune 500 companies with a strong record of promoting women to the executive suite versus other firms in the same industries. Twenty five firms rated as the “best firms for women” outperformed industry medians. Overall profits were 34 percent higher, 18 percent higher in terms of assets, and 69 percent higher in terms of equity.
The above statistics only talk about the success stories of organisations that embrace women’s leadership development, however let’s take a moment to look at bigger picture to understand situation at a macro level. Since almost a decade, women have been entering various corporate positions all over the world at roughly the same pace as men, yet they constitute a very small segment at a higher stratum. In India, just about 11 percent of large company chief executives are women (EMA Partners International, 2010). Advancement of women in management positions has not kept pace with respect to the increase in number of working women. Their existence in senior management ranks is insignificant. Women are graduating and entering management positions, yet there is a bottleneck at middle management levels. While entry is easier, succession slows down post middle level and in most circumstances, despite their technical and professional credentials or accomplishments; women are seldom able to climb up in the management ladder to reach the top.In confronting the challenges of managing their occupational pursuits of harnessing professional and individual goals, women occasionally struggle with developing their own leadership styles and successfully enhancing their influence and distinction within an organisation. To attain the top management ranks, it is necessary for women to identify, comprehend, and transform frequent corporate obstacles into career-enhancing prospects.
Keeping all these challenges in mind, STEP Consulting, an NCR based Learning and Development organisation that specialises in experiential learning has specifically designed a programme called Women’s Integrated Leadership Development (WILD). “WILD is a women’s mentoring programme that provides focussed development and broad exposure for high-potential talent”, says Michael Mitra, Managing Director of STEP Consulting. “The programme has been constituted to enhance the innate leadership qualities in women and aims at further enhancing the influencing abilities of women by managing their own and others’ perceptions. This programme is designed so as to enable the participants to connect with themselves, to be able to successfully perform their multiple roles with a high focus on their internal locus of control rather than the ‘system’ or the ‘glass ceiling’ being perceived as limitations and hence creating a level playing field. The programme encourages the participants to explore their work life balance while being exposed to some real life role models.” Through a combination of interactive exercises, this unique programme allows women executives to discover frameworks and practices to achieve their goals in dynamic work environments.
The impact of such programmes has been studied by ORC Worldwide and has been expressed in “Talent Management Processes for a Diverse Leadership Team” published in 2009. According to the study, organisations offering focussed leadership development/experiences have the highest female representation among senior leaders – 28 percent, versus the organisations that do not find mentors/sponsors for women have the lowest female representation – 12 percent, among senior leaders. This tells us that mentors and role models are an amazingly effective way to motivate women to strive to achieve finer heights. Role models can be found everywhere – be it at home or at work, as well the ones that are visible only through the media.
One such role model, Marissa Mayer, current President and CEO of Yahoo!, was Google’s employee number 20 and was the company’s first female engineer. During her interview, Larry Page and Sergey Brin said, “You know, we have seven engineers, and they’re all guys. But we’ve thought a lot about how we want to start our company, and we’ve read a lot of books, and we know that organisations work better when there is gender balance. So it’s important to us that we have a strong group of women, especially technical women, in the company.” Amongst other things, her openness to learning new things was perhaps her biggest growth catalyst. She thought Google had a two percent chance of succeeding, but decided to take a job there anyway because she realised that she would learn more at Google than any other company that she had offers from, regardless of whether they failed or succeeded. Post joining Yahoo! as a CEO, she took many calculated risks. Among other things, in May 2013, she led Yahoo to acquire Tumblr in a $1.1 billion acquisition. In July 2013, Yahoo reported a fall in revenues, but a rise in profits compared with the same period in the previous year. In September 2013, it was reported that the stock price of Yahoo had doubled over the 14 months since Mayer’s appointment. Her success teaches many aspiring women leaders that there are no short cuts to success, since according to sources, she pulled 250 all-nighters in her first five years at Google.
Invest in developing your women workforce, who knows, you may have a Marissa Mayer hidden somewhere, with your support and encouragement, she may take your organisation to many new heights. Develop her, she will ensure she develops many new who join. Helping them reach their full potential is the most fruitful investment you can make as an organisation.
Never stop exploring!
Team building gets more innovative
By Our Correspondent
There was a time when corporate team building games were limited to the traditional treasure hunts, quizzes, and puzzles. Then came bowling, and the hyper active paint ball, and obstacle courses.Now, however, corporations want people development companies to start customising ‘signature’ games for their clients. These new crops of games require wit, patience, creativity and communication, and all involve physical activity.In the game Bull Ring at the Prayag Discovery Village, an outdoor activity learning centre, teams work with an ingenious apparatus involving metal rings, poles, a ball, and guidance ties for each member. Carefully maneuvering the guide ties, team members must remove the metal ring from a pole without dropping the ball. The team leader monitors the tension of each tie, and directs his team’s effort to move the ring and ball onto a second pole.“The activity relates well to the role each member of an organisation plays in a team situation in enabling organizational growth. It is also a good indicator of the patience level of each member,” says C. Asher, the activity manager at Prayag Discovery Village.
STEP Consulting, a Delhi-based behavioral consulting firm, also offers proprietary games. “We specialize in behavioral development, and have rich and varied experience providing team and group development solutions. There are a number of groups with whom we work with on a regular basis. Our originality and our capacity to deliver unique team solutions has ensured we maintain strong client relationships,” says Komal Gandhi from STEP Consulting.
Wheels of Fortune (WOF) is one of their high-energy activities, involving small teams competing to build working bicycles from scratch, which they will finally have to race against each other. Participants must locate hubs where they can access the parts they need. There are puzzles to be solved, hurdles to be crossed, and entire bicycles to be assembled. In addition, there is the matter of virtual money to be earned. “WOF is a great activity for rejuvenating a team. It creates challenging team situations. It demands relentless strategy and planning, and the ability to work under stress,” says Komal.
For those who feel that short duration activities do not reflect the reality of extended duration in the work place, there’s Sequence Chase! “We conduct the Sequence Chase over several days. It has multiple challenges, several unexpected twists, and requires mental and physical stamina as well as high energy levels. Teams really have to pull together, communicate well, and rely on each other’s strengths, to emerge victorious,” says Rohit Seth, business development manager at Flying Bananas, a company that exclusively designs activities for corporates.
In Sequence Chase, team challenges are set within a race, as teams navigate a series of ‘hurdles’ to complete the circuit. This involves solving clues, collecting bonus items and completing humorous team tasks along the way. Highly customisable, this game uses multiple modes of transport, including public transport, chauffeured vehicles, and getting about on foot. Routes are typically designed to include historic sites, major landmarks, and other places of interest.
August 13, 2009
By Our Correspondent
When was the last time you honed and updated your skills? If you can’t remember, then you might be putting not just your much-awaited promotion, but your job, at risk. Most big corporations today forge full steam ahead on the principle that keeping abreast of the latest developments is a ticket to the top.
For proof, look at companies like Infosys, which conducts skill tests to ensure that their employees are ‘in touch’ and on their toes. Here are a few pointers on how seniors can stay savvy at work:
* Beware of complacency:
Listen to this warning from the director of Creative Infosys, S.P. Sharma. “The top priority of senior employees these days, should be to update their technological skills, since there are new developments and advances taking place almost every month.” Then comes the warning note: “Those, who despite all their training, are found to be complacent and not up to the mark, are shown the door, despite the fact that the persons concerned may be experienced workers.” So watch it, and don’t get smug. You don’t know it all, you can’t. Learn, learn, learn.
* Time management:
A grouse senior employees frequently have is ‘lack of time’. The head honchos don’t like this. As Shankar Babu, a senior executive with Pamtel Solutions, points out acerbically, “Lack of time cited due to work commitments is a key reason for major lapses.” Which is why, organising and prioritising your time is of the essence. So get cracking on your lists and agendas
* Take decisions boldly:
As you climb up the ladder, decision-making is inevitable. The tendency is to shy away from this because of the consequences, and yet there’s no getting away from the fact that if you want to zoom upwards, decision-making is an important part of the process which will take you where you want to go. Here’s what Komal Gandhi, a consultant with STEP Consulting, says. “I feel that updating managerial skills is necessary since a senior will be better equipped to make sensible decisions if he or she is in touch with the latest happenings.” So remember to keep honing those skills by keeping yourself informed about whatever’s happening on the cutting edge.
Training is becoming more customized and specific than it used to be in the past. Adult learning principle have proven that learning from academic courses do not get internalized as effectively as those derived from interactive or fun activities.
To ensure that OBT programs create the environment for learning beyond fun and bonding, Komal Gandhi from STEP Consulting says, “We design specific activities that look at specific deliverables and learnings that force the participant to think and reflect on the same. These activities are designed to be similar to real work experiences and often involve a business angle to them.” The gravity of the program is determined by the design and development of the activities and experiences with an effort to make them relevant and specific for the participants or the organization along with the content of the debriefing and facilitation at the program . “Based on the objectives,” says Gandhi “the ideal program flow would be Experience à Reflection à Assimilation à Integration (into real time work situations).”
Michael from STEP Consulting stresses that “Objectives of OBT must be clearly communicated and understood by participants to ensure desired results filter back to the workplace as very often OBT is confused with adventure travel. If that part is missed by trainees, OBT can be perceived only as an outing and can lack the seriousness, which can affect the overall outcome.”
According to Gandhi, “outbound learning is mostly used in the context of behavioral development and awareness of individuals and groups. The most popular is team building interventions in which there is a vast range of development initiatives possible right from team formation to strengthening teamwork in existing teams to cross-functional team integration to alignment of virtual teams to a common objective to senior management team building.” “Leadership,” she says, “is integrated through outbound leadership development programs involving leadership identification, leadership development, managerial and leadership skills for managers and team leaders.” Some other areas where STEP Consulting has used outbound learning effectively are personal growth and self awareness, as an integral part of an organization’s induction plan for new joinees, organizational value integration initiatives, executing a culture development initiatives among others.
Measuring OBT’s Success
Success of outbound training is measured at multiple levels at Microsoft India GTSC. At the program level, the relevance and effectiveness, inter alia, is measured through participant feedback. At the individual level, completion of action planning and confirmation of the stakeholders with respect to fulfillment of the objectives of the program are reliable measures. At organizational level, the overall capability-enhancement is measured.
Trainers and facilitators also measure the results of outbound training. Gandhi says, “In most interventions, a detailed pre-assessment is conducted through questionnaires, health checkups, interviews and psychometrics that assess the gap between existing and desired.” Post- assessment is conducted in a phased manner, after a certain time lapse, the individuals and their managers help evaluate reaction, action, behavior and results. Gandhi believes that stand-alone behavioral intervention, if not a part of an overall developmental plan, rarely achieves the desired result. Also, Gandhi says, “The participants can decide upon concrete group action plans to be followed over next 1-3-6 months depending on the intensity of the program and objectives. These group or individual action plans are then shared with immediate supervisors who will then monitor growth at individual and group level as desired by the organization. A follow-up session after 3 months of the program is conducted to analyze behavior change resulting out of action plans and overall progress.”
To conclude, outbound training has achieved a tremendous response as organizations use it to revitalize and train their workforce, gain knowledge and cultivate better relations at workplace, (within and across teams) and achieve better organizational goals together. But as Kher asserts, “India Inc is far from realizing OBT’s potential as a culture changing phenomenon. There is still a long way to go.
Ashok Nath all charged up for Boston Marathon
March 17, 2010
Veteran athlete Ashok Nath has confirmed his participation in the upcoming Boston Marathan next month. Despite being an ‘amateur’ runner, he hopes to bring some name for his country.
Being a COO, balancing his hectic schedule with his passion for distance running is an arduous but satisfying job. He is the best distance runner in the veteran class in India
, and according to him “the best is yet to come”. Recently he won his category at the StanChart Mumbai Marathon and his friends in his running club RunnersForLife don’t call him “God of Running” for nothing. Across the past 2 years, he has won nearly every distance race in his class and has his eyes set on higher things.
Next challenge is the world’s top distance running event, the Boston Marathon. To quote Ashok, “I hope to break 3 hours in my initial attempt at Boston, and use this attempt to understand the conditions. In three years– if injury doesn’t stop my running career – I see myself on the dias, for India”.
For this Ashok is grateful to his sponsor STEP Consulting Pvt Ltd, a leading Behavioral Training organization based in New Delhi
Boston Marathon has a history stretching more then 100 years. The best runners compete here, with a desire to win burning inside.
Run, Ashok run
March 17, 2010
There are several amateur long distance runners who defy their age and keep going, driven by the sheer passion for running. One such person is Ashok Nath from Bangalore.
At 47, he has an enviable track record in the Veterans category. He manages to take time out for running from his hectic schedule as Chief Operating Officer of Vin Max, a business consulting firm. The job takes up nearly half of his day, but he is able to squeeze in three hours for practice runs and manages to keep himself fitwith workouts. He quips, “As an youngster, I used to play cricket and football. However, over a period of time, I decided to give up contact sports, which is more injury-prone and took up running.”
Talking about his fascination with long distance running, he says, “It is the ultimate test of endurance and mental strength. I am fascinated about challenging myself, and pushing myself to the limits to see how far and how long I can go.” He used to run the Rath or Lipton Marathon in late 90’s and took a break. He came back strongly and began to participate in distance running exercises. He had run across the country and emerged a back-to-back winner in his category in Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon in 2008 and 2009. Ashok Nath is also a member of the Bangalore-based Runners Club, which organises Ultra Marathon, and Bangalore Runners, and participates in long distance meets in the country.
Aiming for the big one
Ashok now plans to take his act to a higher plane, by participating in the Boston Marathon, scheduled to be held on April 19. He is hopeful about success in his maiden international run. He plans to leave on April 16, and hopes to acclimatise himself to conditions in Boston. He contends, “I hope to complete the event in under three hours, pick up the momentum in subsequent meets and finally end on the podium, bringing glory to the country.”
His trip to Boston is being sponsored by STEP Consulting. “They back people with pioneering spirit who try new things. They provided me sponsorship. I am very grateful to them for making this dream possible.” Michael Mitra, the MD of STEP Consulting says, “We wish to encourage building strong minds and salute the spirit of determination in people like Ashok.”The key to success in marathons is keeping one’s focus and never giving up. Ashok says, “There have been occasions when I have asked myself whether it is worth driving myself this hard and should I not stop, when all bones in my body ache. In such moments, I recall ace cyclist Lance Armstrong’s words ‘Pain is temporary and quitting is permanent’. I have never been a quitter and never will be one…”
After the Boston Marathon, Ashok plans to try his hand in triathlon events. “It involves a great deal of multitasking — running, swimming and cycling. It is quite challenging.” he says. There is growing interest in long distance running in the country, says Ashok.
For aspiring long distance runners, Ashok has a piece of advice: “Run with your legs and finish with your heart.”
New Delhi, Delhi, April 13, 2010 /India PRwire/ — STEP Consulting, a Behavioral Consulting firm, which partners with organizations in people development endeavors, is sponsoring veteran athlete Ashok Nath for the upcoming Boston Marathon to be held on 19th April, ’10.
Positively affecting people by inspiring them to maximize their potential in their personal, social and professional environments is the principle on which STEP works. Ashok Nath represents the same hallmark on which STEP Consulting is based.
Standing by its philosophy of ‘Never Stop Exploring’, STEP encourages Ashok to explore his potential in his aspiration as a marathon runner, competing with the best in the world.
Ashok Nath, a COO by profession explored his self potential and chose to carry forward his passion of running marathons wherein he has found tremendous success in India. The Great Tibetan Marathon, Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon, Ultra Marathon and Rath or Lipton Marathon are some of the marathons that Ashok has been a part of.
To quote Michael Mitra, MD, STEP Consulting, “Our Organization works to encourage the building of strong minds, strong spirits and maximizing individual potential and we salute the spirit of determination in people like Ashok”. A senior HR resource himself, Michael, with over 20 years of experience, has led HR divisions in organizations like Star TV, before he branched out to start his dream project. An XLRI alumnus, Michael always wanted to explore the realm of consulting and the positive impact this could have in building employee morale, spirit, and performance.
To be able to grow individually and thereby promote the growth of one’s organization, it is imperative to challenge one’s existing beliefs and attitudes, open up to new experiences, and be willing to take risks by moving out of one’s comfort zone. These are the methodologies used by STEP. At the age of 47, running the Boston Marathon with a vision to win clearly shows Ashok’s willingness to move beyond what is comfortable, to challenge the popular attitude about age and professional commitments limiting one’s avenues of growth in fields that are physical and distinct from the professional life.
The Boston Marathon is the oldest and the most revered running event and only 25000 runners are permitted entry through strict qualification. By sponsoring the ever smiling marathon veteran, who personifies the values and principles that it based itself on, STEP aims to reiterate the effectiveness of these principles and to reinforce its commitment to pursuing a passion for people and organizational development with a renewed energy.