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.


How to listen (and lead) people on video calls?

Most of us are working remotely or hybrid these days. Whether we like it or not, we can not deny that we are living in a video-based world.

If you want to lead people over video calls, you need to be able truly to capture people’s attention and listen deeply.

It is not like listening and other soft skills were not important before, but now they are even more important given you are competing with all other open windows on a person’s computer.

Here are 3 practices if you want to capture attention and lead people over video calls

  1. Get the technicals right – get a good quality camera and microphone, a properly lit room, and a non-distracting and good quality background. It makes a massive difference if people can not see or hear you well, or if they are always distracted by the mess in your background. And if your face is not well lit, what you have to say might be misinterpreted, and I am sure you don’t want that.
  2. Positioning in the camera frame – If you are a leader, the way you position yourself in front of the camera has a massive impact on the “body-language” part of communication (which is close to 70%). Ensure you keep the camera at eye level and avoid either looking down (by placing yourself above the camera) or looking up (by placing yourself below) at the other person. Subtle positioning shifts can create or destroy psychological safety (often subconsciously).
  3. Focus and listen to the full body of the person in front of you. This is even more important in a remote world as only the upper part of the other person’s body is visible to you. My coach once said that deep listening is when you can notice a shift in the breathing of the person in front of you. You do not have to do that, but can you notice a subtle shift in someone’s voice? Can you notice a sudden tightening of someone’s jaw and face muscles? Can you notice a smile or a tear – and then humbly inquire into what they might be communicating?

All of the above is meaningful communication and important signals for you as a leader.

The only question is – are you paying attention and listening?

I know the above can lead to more questions than answers, so feel free to reach out if you would like a conversation to talk more on any of the above points. I respond to every reply.

Articles and Stories Which Have Fascinated Me


Digital Body Language: how to prevent producing anxiety in others?

In this podcast episode, Erica Dhawan talks about some mistakes leaders can make to produce unnecessary anxiety for others. Among other things, she talks about:-

  • How all of us are now immigrants, processing more interactions in a digital world
  • Excessive brevity may save a few keystrokes or seconds but can generate lots of extra work for the team and organization.
  • The power of being explicit about our expectations on response time and teaching others what to expect from us.
  • Seemingly unimportant choices like who we list first on emails can generate assumptions from those we’re communicating to.

Find a podcast on the Coaching for Leaders podcast


The Distinction Between Meaningless Activity and Meaningful Actions

I have realized that I often fall into the trap of being busy rather than being productive. What I mean by meaningless activity is anything we do to only keep ourselves busy.

In contrast with the above, any activity which adds meaning to your life, or takes you in the direction of a conscious intention (or a goal), is what I would term meaningful.

What is meaningless and meaningful is different for everyone. Only you can define that. No-one else can make that distinction for you.

Doing things that we find meaningful is essential to our well being. But how many of us spend time wondering about what gives our life meaning, and what is really important to us?

I believe the intersection of answers to the below three questions will be the most meaningful work for you.

  • What are you good at?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What need can you serve?

Once you have these answers, it will give you the clarity to prioritize tasks and the courage to say “No” to anything that doesn’t align with what you discover.

From an article from my desk – Meaningless activity vs Meaningful Actions


Do you take things personally? Here’s how to stop

Most of us take situations personally — we feel hurt, neglected, offended or betrayed by others.

Our ego thinks others should take us into consideration. Our ego doesn’t want to be criticized. Our ego wants to be acknowledged and told we’re always right.

When our egos take over, it’s exhausting.

Some strategies to stop taking everything personally :

  1. Realise it is not about you
  2. Give yourself some empathy. See if you are at fault?
  3. Open up, be vulnerable, and speak up without blaming the other person.

From a TED talk and article by Frederik Imbo


A Humble Inquiry on Mental Health and Burnout

  • Sumit – “Everybody is different. Every family is different. Every society and every group is different. So there is also that something very localized, very personal. , To this challenge, we cannot really predict. We cannot really guess what is happening to somebody. ” 
  • Sumit – “what makes it, I think even worse or what compounds the problem is, we don’t talk about all of this stuff. This is very human stuff. This is not alien stuff, This is very human stuff. And yet we don’t talk about it.”
  • Leslie – “And because we don’t talk about it. We don’t even know how to talk about it. And the sensitivity around that creates even more hesitation.”
  • Sumit – ” It takes a moment to shift ourselves to do, to bring up a smile on our faces.”
  • Leslie – “just as we learn and grow all throughout our lives and career, this is another step in the journey and another opportunity to change how we work moving forward, how our world is moving forward.”
  • Sumit – “there are a lot of things which we are on top of it, but at the same time to make it an assumption that I can be on top of everything can become a very heavy place to operate from. It can almost become self-defeating.”
  • Sumit – “letting go of control is actually not anxiety is actually curiosity.”
  • Leslie – “The individual may have depression or anxiety, but that doesn’t shape everything. That’s not who they are. They are not a depressed and anxious person. They are someone who has depression and anxiety.”
  • Sumit – ” The external does not control the internal in a deterministic way. So we still do have a choice, to choose how to react to situations. And our well-being is not a function of what is happening outside. Nobody can take that away from us.”
  • Leslie – “Creating the space to talk about mental health and wellbeing. And allowing that to be accepted is a powerful piece of what each and every one of us brings to every day and every conversation.”
  • Sumit – “the neutral state of any human being is wellbeing is peace. That’s a neutral state. It’s not like jumping with joy, but it’s also not being depressed or sad, the neutral state. We don’t really have to do anything if we just let things go that we are trying to control. That’s where (the neutral state) we will land automatically.”

The above are the show notes from the third episode of the Humble Inquiries series on the Choosing Leadership podcast, which I am co-hosting with Leslie Wireback. 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,


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