About Deploy Yourself
“The first step toward change is to refuse to be deployed by others and to choose to deploy yourself.” – Warren Bennis
A new kind of leadership (Deploy Yourself) is required in the 21st century. Covid has turbo-charged what was already a VUCA environment – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. More importantly, people today want to be led differently and have different expectations from leaders – they seek not only productivity and salary but also joy, meaning, purpose, wellbeing, and constant growth from their leaders. Employees today want to make a difference – and not just to their bank accounts – but also to the wider community.
If you are a leader, you probably know that the old way of working is not working anymore. You probably already see that trying to control people and what they do, motivating them by rewards or punishment, and just doing ‘more’ and working ‘harder’ is no longer working. Even when it does, there is huge price to be paid for that – increased stress, poor wellbeing and heath, and strained relationships.
Leaders of today learn to choose to Deploy Themselves and allow their people to do the same. In any given moment, you are either Deploying Yourself or being deployed by something external – other people, emotions, circumstances, or old and unexamined habits from the past. The good news is that the choice is yours – to continue being deployed or choosing to Deploy Yourself.
Leadership in the 21st century is like surfing in the ocean. You are either riding a wave, or you are under it being thrown around. Either way, you can not control the wave. You can learn to ride it or be thrown around by it. You can make surfing an enjoyable sport if you know how to ride the waves, or a misery if you are just being thrown around by the waves all the time. This is what is happening in many organisations today. Are you ready for change?
The First Principles behind all things leadership and human behaviour
I have spent a lot of time researching, practising, and reflecting on human behaviour (from perspectives of psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, systems thinking, philosophy and leadership). “Deploy Yourself” is a continuously evolving set of first principles that are always present under the surface of our awareness. Just like gravity, it does not matter whether we agree with them or not, like them or not, and understand them or not. The only choice we have is to leverage them or not.
When we are unaware of these principles, we lead our teams like being thrown around by the waves in the ocean. That is no fun – I am sure you would agree. And workplaces today need to be fun and healthy as well as productive and results-focused. The good news is that productivity increases massively when we are able to Deploy Ourselves because having fun and stress-free workplaces allow for creative thinking, constructive conversations, better relationships, and a better mood and energy for not just our people but also their families.
The YOU in Deploy Yourself
We live in a culture where rational thinking and operating from our cognitive mind is dominating what we do all the time. However, there is more to being human than just thinking and analysing. The YOU which I talk about in Deploy Yourself consists of :-
- Our cognitive mind and use of logic and reasoning
- Our emotions which are behind trust, well-being and relationships
- Our body and physical presence which we bring to every conversation
- Our purpose – what we care about which gives meaning to what we do and makes it joyful
- When we lose ourselves in what we are doing – a state of peak performance or flow.
The above five elements also play a role at the team and organisational level – beyond just the individual level. Everybody I talk to agrees that we are over-dominated by our rational and thinking mind. That has brought us the scientific revolution and all technological progress. However, there is a huge potential for expanded results in the future when we integrate all parts of ourselves. Many leaders are already discovering this and implementing this in their companies in previously unheard of ways. Are you ready to join them?
The DEPLOY in Deploy Yourself
A totally new level of creativity, leadership and performance happens when we integrate the left brain with the right brain, the proactive with the reflective, the rational with the intuitive, the knower with the learner, the analytical with feeling and sensing, and the science of business with the art of leadership. That is how you Deploy Yourself. When you do so, you will find that instead of operating in a narrow bandwidth of thinking and analysing, you have a wider bandwidth to play with. This naturally shows up in your presence, leadership, relationships, and all results you produce.
Why would you operate in a narrow bandwidth if you have wider bandwidth at your disposal? Why would you throttle yourself with a limited set of tools when you have an expanded set of tools available? You might not know how to use them, but that is a matter of learning and practicing – just like any other skill. That is where I come in.
I am ready to support you. Are you ready to accept support to take your leadership and company to the next level?
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein
The premise of “Deploy Yourself” is that we can always choose to deploy ourselves instead of being deployed by the circumstances, people, or emotions we found ourselves in. And that is my definition of leadership as well – Leadership is responding to what happens in a way that moves you forward, not backwards – towards what you care about.
My long-term vision and commitment is to:-
- Elevate the level of leadership in our organizations, enabling work that nourishes and enriches people rather than making them sick.
- Use the heroic spirit of business as a force for good on our planet, and eliminate waste of effort and energy.
- Create a world where we can discuss any issue with each other as comrades, not as adversaries. (without hating or killing each other)
- Empower people to realize how powerful they are.
Deploy Yourself is for those who seek long term benefits and gain, even at the expense of short term pain. If you are serious about change, you have come to the right place. Deploy Yourself is not for those who are looking for short term fixes. Go further only if you are ready to look within, answer the tough questions, and confront facing what you might not want to face.
“Deploy Yourself” is about understanding ourselves, nurturing and developing our strengths in a way that allows our own unique light to shine upon the world, instead of following the path others have decided for us.
I believe the best investment we can make is in people. My most satisfying moments have been when I know I have impacted someone’s life. I believe leadership is helping people to be their own best selves, and Deploy Yourself is my attempt to do that.
About Sumit Gupta
Hi, I am Sumit.
I was born and grew up in New Delhi, India and am now based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Over the years, I have lived in multiple cities in India. In addition, I have traveled, worked along, and photographed people from all over the world.
One of my superpowers is to create safety and trust so that people do not have to wear a mask in front of me. I started as a techie in 2005 and fit the typical geek profile – good at computers but introverted when it came to working with people. In a way, I had learned to hide behind computers and not be visible.
I have worked in companies like InfoEdge (Naukri.com) (2005-2008), Yahoo (2010-2011), 91Mobiles (2013), and Booking (2014-2020). In addition, I also incorporated two startups – SaleRaja (from 2007-2010) and CricketRadius (in 2012) and co-founded a non-profit Pick A Fight (2011-12).
I started leading a time at 24 years of age. At that time, I had no idea what leadership was all about. To make it worse, I wasn’t even aware that people management and other so-called soft skills can be learned.
In 2013, I lost my mom to Cancer. This event shook my world in ways I am still realising. In a way, an old me died and a new Sumit was born that day – however it took me a long time to realise that. In 2021, I reprioritised my life in the pursuit of Deploying Myself.
Earlier, I thought the unpredictability of human beings was a bug and it used to piss me off badly. However, now I see it as a feature. I am left in awe and wonder as I support people in finding and shining their own unique light upon the world.
People come to me feeling frustrated, low on energy, and stuck in achieving something that matters to them. They come confused and with their lights DIM and leave with their lights shining many times brighter. They leave feeling empowered, confident, relaxed, and ready to produce expanded results and relationships – for themselves as well as their teams.
In the last two years of being a full-time coach,
- I have coached two senior executives in tech unicorns
- I have coached 8 CXOs or senior leaders across industries and continents
- I have coached one entrepreneur running his own software company for the last 25 years
- I have coached four founders of well established and reputed non-profit organisations
- I have coached one leader at the UN
- I have helped optimised the working practices and processes of teams, departments and organisations
- Coached and advised several (>20) individual contributors and experts
The above was all that I want you to know about me. But as with everyone, there is more. What I don’t want you to know about me is…
- I have been hiding for most of my life. It took me a very long time to be ok with being seen, and to share my story with others
- I’ve failed at a lot of different things. And I have felt insecure, full of doubt, and anxious along the way
- I am good at coaching because I have been hiding (myself as a leader) and operating as a coach for most of my life.
- I love what I do today, and yet I also experience many moments of doubt, insecurity, and fear – just like anybody else.
Today I am good at helping people see their light because I have spent so much of my life hiding my own.
Computers & Technology
I have been programming since 1999, and computers and software have fascinated me since then. I started programming in high school, where I ignored all other subjects to program day and night. Luckily, I made it to college where I spent 4 years learning the foundations of computation and software engineering.
Leading teams of highly skilled engineers building large distributed software systems have not come without its share of failures and learnings. Here is what I have learned about mentoring others, programming productivity, the importance of communication, code reviews, web security, and work-life balance.
I have photographed almost daily since 2013. Even as a child, I have always loved photography but my camera always used to sit idle at home. But after my mother lost her long struggle with cancer in 2012, I picked up my camera again.
Very soon it became a tool for me to hide behind and connect with the world around me. I find the experience of walking around and photographing a city almost therapeutic and meditative.
It is something very different, and that is why I find it very refreshing. You can view my best photographs from Amsterdam, Paris, Italy, and India. If you are into photo essays, you can see my photo essay from Kumbh Mela, or from Streets of Kolkata, or these two from Naples, or about Art In Our Cities.