About Deploy Yourself School of Leadership

“The first step toward change is to refuse to be deployed by others and to choose to deploy yourself.” – Warren Bennis

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. We all want to make a difference – not just to our bank accounts – but also to every life we touch and the wider community. Deploy Yourself School of Leadership exists to create the kind of leaders that we need in the 21st century.

Covid has turbo-charged what was already a VUCA environment – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. More importantly, the old way of leading people is not working anymore. Trying to control people and what they do, motivating them by rewards or punishment, and just doing ‘more’ and working ‘harder’ can only take you so far. And, 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.

The First Principles behind all things leadership and human behaviour

We have spent a lot of time researching, practising, and reflecting on human behaviour (from perspectives of psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, systems thinking, philosophy, eastern wisdom, 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, strong relationships, and a better mood and energy.

The YOU in Deploy Yourself

There is more to being human than just thinking and analysing. If life is an iceberg, then it has 3 layers, and we need to Deploy Ourselves at all levels.

1. Your Actions – The Visible Layer
This is what we usually focus on – doing more, being busy, working hard, etc – to create better results.

2. Presence – The Hidden Layer
Presence is the quality of our being. It includes our moods, emotions, energy, and body. Unless we are present, we are operating only from limited bandwidth.

3. Care & Purpose – The Hidden Layer
 Identifying what we (and others) most deeply care about allows us to create better teams, well-being, and results.

The DEPLOY in Deploy Yourself

A totally new level of creativity, leadership and performance happens when we take action which integrates the 3 layers below. That is how you Deploy Yourself 

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.

Deploy Yourself School of Leadership’s mission and commitment is to:-

  1. Elevate the level of leadership in our organizations, enabling work that nourishes and enriches people rather than making them sick.
  2. Use the heroic spirit of business as a force for good on our planet, and eliminate waste of effort and energy.
  3. Create a world where we can discuss any issue with each other as comrades, not as adversaries. (without hating or killing each other)
  4. 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 ourselves and other 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 team 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 2012, 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. 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 othersprogramming productivity, the importance of communicationcode reviewsweb security, and work-life balance.

Photography

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.