Perhaps the only ultimate truth of the human kind is, barring the Apostles of the Creator, no man is complete. Each one of us has significant deficiencies. Our inadequacies are multiple. We are not good at everything. We cannot achieve excellence in every facet of life. We cannot be masters of every trade; a jack of it, yes, may be. We are only a piece of the puzzle of our existence or on a limited canvas basis, of our respective environment. Our individual importance gets to be known to us, when as that unique piece of the puzzle, we are picked up for insertion, into the right grove, to complete the puzzle, relating to an event or a time slot.
Once picked and placed, we all arrive at a new jig-saw of life, where we still remain, that single piece in quest for insertion into the newest puzzle and thus the journey of success of placement and quest of newer puzzles continues, in perpetuity…
At workplace, the soonest we realise that we are but a single unit, that cannot produce anything in isolation by ourselves, the better person we become. This recognition is also a humbling process. Most of us arrive into our new jobs and assignments, with desire, to uproot the system and bring positive change, but alas! We quickly reckon that, it cannot be done, without the active participation and support, of the many other individuals, who surround our respective offices; all of whom are also pieces waiting to be picked and placed to arrive at atleast some semblance of a complete picture.
The unique individual capabilities have to be glued together to bring out the necessary quality of output. A good leader knows where and how to place the pegs - never the round into square pegs, for itis a recipe of future disaster. Our prime minister is also learning the value of this need, the only regret is that he is doing so on the job. To be a learner is also an admittance of personal incompetencies.
The soonest an individual accepts that he is made of clay and consequently has innate and inherent ability to mould himself/herself, in any manner of respective desires and ambitions. The malleability of human psyche allows each one of us to fill up our gaps of inadequacies. To do so requires, a humble spirit that must readily first accept the existence of gaps and then one has to unleash the indomitable enthusism to invest time, effort and hard work, for filling the landscape of inadequacies. One of the first things a manager must do, is evaluate their working habits. The generally accepted principle is that all of us are driven by habits, to the extent to almost 90 percent of our daily activities. These get developed over a period of time and we enslave ourselves to our habits- old habits die hard. It is only through breaking of unwanted habits that will usher formation of newer and better habits, that are more in sync with fresh trends of attending to either forming new or enhancing existing businesses.
The breaking of habits by a manager/leader means that the existing vision, mission, systems and procedure, policies etc are to be put up onto the dissecting table for reevaluation of their relevance and efficiency. The supersonic growth in technology, in all its many facets and manifestation is an aspect that cannot be ignored by any business manager. The use of digitisation and artificial intelligence in the development of business philosophy and strategies is inevitable. Managers who will heed not to these present day essentials will get way laid from the path of progress and development.
Those mangers who are control freaks, either ignore or deliberately undertake not to delegate any of their activities to other colleagues. Such behavior stems from internalised fear of being declared redundant or it could arise from feelings that nothing better can be done, except from what they (manager) is currently doing. A general lack of faith in personal ability to jettison the present package of skills for acquiring of new ones, is the single major impediment to closing out the inadequacies.
Ray Douglas Bradbury, an author of scientific fiction and fantasy put it so eloquently the need to partwith outdated habits, opinions, strategies, etc in the following words, “First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down…” The prerequisite here is the presence of courage and faith. Managers have to demonstrate grit and determination to amend and alter the course and direction of their units/organisation, when there are compelling market realities undergoing constant change. Fear of death is worse than death itself.
Every manager/leader has their faults and weak side. A Malayan proverb explains this dilemma, of “even Homer needs a nod” to recognise and plug the holes; when the curry is good, the rice is half cooked, when the rice is good, the curry is half cooked. The quest for better, allows us to notice our ownshortcomings. To rephrase lines of William Wordsworth, it is our own imperfection that prevents us from our dreams. Intelligence lies not in not making mistakes but in taking immediate action to correct them. No intelligent manger would refuse to accept shortcomings, if they were committed to do better for the organisation.
Not properly filling up inadequacies is a major fault. What is better, the markets finding and pointing fault or the manager and his co-workers themselves continually engaging to look at their own imperfections, with a view to improve,obviously the later is desirable. ‘Misfortune one can endure - they come from outside, they are accidents. But to suffer for one’s own faults-ah! There is the sting of life’.
A shorter bridge on the stream of life is a bad situation. It is foolish not to learn to dance, to the music the market plays - and that music and melody, is under constant change.
“When a man (manager) says that he/she is prefect already, there is only one of the two places for him, and that is heaven or the lunatic asylum “(Henry Ward)
As leaders and managers, it is a matter of grave importance to not merely recognise personal imperfections, but also help colleagues find theirs, with no mischievous intent. A complete refusal to acknowledge gaps in skills, knowledge and talent is suicidal, both for the individual as well as the organisation.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist