The Myth of Great Leadership

This is also highlihted in Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, where she says that modern boardrooms should leverage the strengths of introverts, including complex problem solving, deep thinking and strategizing. Interestingly, in the first few pages the author narrates an incident where the introvert had to do the hard-sell talk and negotiate. It is not that introverts cannot talk; it is not that they are shy; they are observant, they are unassuming, and they are great listeners.

I have worked in a couple of different industries, company sizes, and, of course, different roles in my career, spanning 2 decades and counting. My observation is that in maximum cases, the ones who can really talk and hog the space in a meeting or a forum and be charming enough to indulge peers and seniors alike, are the ones who reach the top management levels faster. Smooth talkers, smooth operators are definitely liked by all and are the light and life of any organization. People adore them. Fair enough!

The disparity arises when they are only talking and take less action, and have even lesser in-depth knowledge, primarily because they think they know it all. As avid speakers, who love the sound of their voice, they are also poor listeners. Winning through speech becomes their hallmark, even a considerable part of their professional ego, and rise thereof.

In contrast, the silent slogger does most of the work, spends time researching, learning, listening, ruminating, bringing out thoughts and ideas, but if not articulate, then the dias remains a distant object. Often, such people receive appraisals that show them as mild, invisible, non-communicative. Interestingly, they are also trusted with the workload and called upon to deliver.

This is also highlighted in Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, where she says that modern boardrooms should leverage the strengths of introverts, including complex problem solving, deep thinking and strategizing. Interestingly, in the first few pages, the author narrates an incident where the introvert had to do the hard-sell talk and negotiate. Not that introverts cannot talk; not that they are shy; rather they are observant and unassuming, and are listeners. The top positions may, however, remain elusive until introverts develop and exhibit art of the glib.

This, I believe, constitutes the biggest malady of any organization, bureaucracy, even nations. Until the doers are at the helm of affairs and credited for the work they produce, everything else is smoke, mirrors, mist, and a lot of public relations events. Even at the pinnacle of power and commanding all authority, if one does not govern with compassion, decide with the support of knowledge and advice, administer with competency, and lead by example, the leadership skill is a full-blown myth.

For those interested in understanding and also explaining introversion, especially to children, BBC One in its BBC Idea series, explains the Quiet Power of Introverts in a short animated video.

Nurturing a Young Blogger and Reader

My son and I have much in common – from our introvert temperament to love for reading and writing. Last summer during a long Covid19 lockdown in India, which was labelled by some media houses as one of the toughest, my son asked me about blogging. I explained it was an online journal, diary, or a place to share thoughts and stories and engage with like-minded followers.

I told him I used to blog and can set up a blog for him. That is how I restarted blogging in an all-new blog space, which is this, and he got a brand new blog – www.blackpenstrokes.wordpress.com. What I find endearing is that he still writes his “private journal” by hand. Though, I know it’s more to do with his love for stationery; again something he has acquired from me!

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Book Review: The Great Indian Novel

An Exercise in Self-Indulgence or a Supremely Intellectual Modern Satire

While going through a spate of reading mythological literature and fiction, I came across Amazon’s recommendation to read Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel. Curiosity made me purchase the novel and few pages into the book I was recommending it to all readers with similar book interests. The intricacies of word play and the liberal usage of intelligent pun made this a humorous and enthralling read. It stands high on the pedestal of a modern satire and is impressive.

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Writing for Pleasure or on Pressure?

Let me start the first day of a cold January by penning down questions that have been perturbing me since I restarted blogging. Let’s talk about the pressure of remaining high up on the WordPress Reader or search engines or being relevant every single hour on social media platforms. Do you feel pressurized to churn out content, incessantly? Do you fear reader engagement or readership on your blog will fall if you don’t publish regularly, daily, or even every 12 hours to reach audience across all timezones? Do you write for quality or quantity?

The dilemma is so real that a pleasurable hobby like writing or even reading has become a competitive exercise. We see reading challenges all over the Internet and people reading and reviewing books on tight schedules. The numbers are met, records made, challenges completed, several authors reviewed, more complimentary books received, a sense of satisfaction achieved, but how much did the reader actually absorb, remember, or imbibe for a deep and lasting impression.

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