Welcome to the Deploy Yourself Newsletter, where I share what impactful leadership looks like to show your own power. I also share the most insightful lessons and stories I encountered in the last two weeks. You can also read this issue online.
Why do we love sports (and sportspeople)?
We all have our favourite sport that we enjoy watching. Even otherwise, the thrill of an exciting moment in a game is hard to avoid – even if we are unaware of the sport or the sportsperson involved…
I was wondering today why is that so. Why do we love sports and sportspeople? It is because they are out on the court (or stadium) chasing their dreams. They put their heart and sweat into practising for weeks, months, and years so that they can perform and win during a game. They give it their all – in front of everybody else.
This is why we do not just cheer for those who win. We cheer for those who give a good fight and go beyond themselves – irrespective of whether they win or not.
This is why we cheer for the underdog. For it is not about the dog in the fight. It is about the fight in the dog, as Mark Twain said.
Perhaps it is time to ask yourself – In your life, are you on the court playing the game of life? Or, are you in the stands watching others play?
Your dreams might be buried deep inside, but they are still alive in there. This is why you cheer for your favourite team, enjoy a sports movie, or laugh or cry while watching a good performance.
Shake off the dirt if you are not playing the game already. Shake off the heaviness of circumstances, past delays and frustration, and try again.
Leadership is the choice to shake off the dirt and start again. And again. And again.
Yes. Leadership is a choice. Your choice. And yes, you have the choice to be a leader – in each moment.
Believing in yourself is a choice. Making a commitment is a choice.
Are you giving yourself permission to make that choice every day? Or not? What are you waiting for?
Make a choice to reply back and your answers to the above question. I read and respond to every reply.
Articles and Stories Which Have Fascinated Me
The future of work is written
Writing can transcend our distances in all their forms and lengths. Constitutional governments are great examples of how written artifacts can survive—and influence work—across centuries.
Some decisions require presence and discussion, certainly, but not all. Many can be made both responsibly and asynchronously. Collaborative documents, for instance, can become self-documenting meetings, and writing the foundations and reasoning for critical decisions might produce a better result, even when brainstorming.
Writing, though, offers us possibilities far beyond meeting documentation. When we write, we get to freeze ideas: They stop evolving and become accessible to others to establish a consensus or working frame, which later can be collaboratively reshaped.
Knowing and then deciding what to write is often more valuable than writing everything, but knowing what matters is more of an art than a science. Writing is hard. Doing it well takes time. Comfortably sharing work in progress requires psychological safety, so ideas can see the light and be nurtured when they’re the most fragile.
If we embark on a journey of communicating better at a distance, we’ll have to consider that we’re all still human. We interpret differently. We require safety. We react well to stories. Our sarcastic humor doesn’t always travel well in written form. Leaders who move us closer to a written and remote future, who truly understand the value of communication, will invest holistically in tools, staff, ideas, and infrastructure.
Find an article on Increment exploring the future of asynchronous communication and the written word.
10 Prerequisites for Being a Good Manager – Lessons I learned the hard way
The more I learn about leadership and what motivates people to do their best work, the more I realise how little I know.
Although few managers would admit they lack the skills required to do their job, the reality is that most don’t have a clue. According to Gallup, organisations fail to choose the right person for the job 82% of the time.
In a culture where confidence is praised and mistakes ridiculed, admitting your ignorance may seem unnatural. But as one study found out, intellectually humble people are more motivated to learn. To become a better manager, you must be ready to admit you know little about leading and motivating people.
Accepting you don’t know something opens the door to learning and growth. Admitting you have shortcomings sets you on a path of knowledge seeking. As Nobel Prize winner Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar remarked, “Believing that you must be right, in other words, lacking intellectual humility-can actually stymie discovery, learning, and progress.”
From an article from my desk – 10 Prerequisites to Have Before Managing and Leading People
How to Ask Useful Questions
Asking useful questions is a skill, and it requires practice. If you want useful answers, learn to ask better questions.
Keys to information-seeking questions:
- Be specific about the information you’re looking to obtain.
- Give context by referencing why you’re contacting them and how you found their contact information.
- Make it easy for the recipient to refer you to the best resource as quickly as possible, which will save you both time.
Keys to clarification questions:
- Include a short summary of the topic for context.
- “It sounds like…” leaves room for clarification without being confrontational.
- “Is that correct?” (or a close variant) is clear, concise, direct, and polite.
Keys for asking for assistance:
- Be clear and precise about what you’re trying to do.
- Give context by including what you’ve tried so far, which makes it clear that you’re doing your own work and not asking the recipient to solve your problems for you.
Keys for asking for advice:
- Be clear and precise about what you’re trying to achieve.
- Be clear about your priorities, and include any known tradeoffs. The recipient can’t read your mind or set your priorities for you.
- Make it clear you’re asking for advice or perspective, not for the recipient to decide for you.
- Give the recipient an easy out – you’re asking for a favor, so be polite.
From an article by Josh Kaufman
A Humble Inquiry on Hiring and Retaining People
- Leslie – “Everyone wants to be valued and to have a purpose in their work”
- Sumit – “Communication is not only about what is being said. Communication is also about what is not being said, which needs to be said, and what is being said, but which you are not hearing.”
- Leslie – “It really is about creating space. Before you created that space physically, you created a lunchroom, you created a little lounge, and you created some space built within your culture that fostered that. Now that space needs to be created virtually or in a hybrid format to be able to continue to cultivate those relationships and conversations.”
- Leslie – “The leader doesn’t have to have those solutions. The leader needs to create the environment, to have the conversations, to be able to come up with those solutions.”
- Sumit – “If we can help leaders get better at the conversations they are having that will also solve not just the productivity problem, but also the hiring problem. Coaching is just a way to have conversations more effectively.”
- Sumit – “Vacation should not be taken to distress or to avoid burnout. Everybody should be free to use their vacation days for travelling, practising their hobbies, any other passions, spending time with family. But if you use vacation for de-stressing. Then it means that something is wrong in the workplace itself. And that’s where we can focus our attention.”
- Leslie – “When your talented employees and the driven ones become silent, that’s the really scary moment because something is wrong.”
The above are the show notes from the second episode of the Humble Inquiries series on the Choosing Leadership podcast, which I am co-hosting with Leslie Wireback. Listen to the first episode on Change, Pressure and Uncertainty, and watch out for more episodes in the coming weeks. If you want to know what humble inquiry is all about, listen to the intro episode here.
That’s it for now. If you have any questions or feedback, or just want to introduce yourself, hit reply. I read and respond to every reply. All the best,