This blog has little bit of everything...

Friday, July 29, 2016

39 Key Competencies Of Successful Business Leaders

In this post, we will go through 39 critical and key competencies of successful business leaders. These competencies are developed over a period of time and are extremely relevant for leaders in the middle management role. If the middle level managers are able to acquire, adopt and display these traits then they can become very successful in their career and climb the ladder of success with great pace.

Business Orientation

  • Constant lookout for avenues for further business generation
  • Identify and work towards converting prospective opportunities into big deals
  • Regularly monitor key financial metrics and takes step to improve the same
  • Analyze the commercial and business value of the proposed ideas
  • Implement various operating and pricing models as per the context and need
  • Support the branding efforts for organization with industry bodies and analyst organizations

Self Leadership

  • Gain sound technical and domain knowledge, do not depend on others
  • Adapt effectively to change, develop ability to take quick decisions
  • Ability to share a valid point of view in his/her area
  • Take charge of the situation, lead from the front
  • Self driven and do not need directions from others
  • Manage multiple and diverse responsibilities effectively

Partnering with the Customer

  • Deliver solutions which have direct and measurable business benefits to the customer
  • Act as an advisor to the customer and not just an order taker
  • Keep customer's best interest in mind at all times and be genuine
  • Propose a compelling business value proposition to the customer
  • Recommend and implement different business and operating models as per the needs of the customer
  • Deal with customer escalations effectively, focus on problem solving for long term
  • Make strategic tradeoffs in the interest of the customer and own organization


  • Build extensive networks within the organization
  • Understand the formal/ informal structures as well as dynamics in own as well as customer organization
  • Influence others to gain support for own agenda
  • Express own thoughts and ideas in a convincing way
  • Negotiate skillfully with internal and external stakeholders
  • Anticipate the effect of an action on others and modulates own behavior

Engaging and Developing Others

  • Instill confidence amongst team members and motivate them towards achievement of the goals
  • Mentor and coach the team members
  • Assess the skills levels of the team members and identify development needs
  • Ensure that team members get the right support and guidance from relevant sources within the organization
  • Be sensitive to the cultural differences amongst team members
  • Facilitates a common understanding within the team
  • Communicatee the vision and goals of team/organization in a powerful and convincing manner

Critical Thinking

  • Keeps revenue generation as the larger goal while making decisions
  • Ability to look beyond the obvious
  • Ask probing questions to identify the real problem
  • Shift effectively between micro and macro perspectives
  • Consider the strategic implications of decisions
  • Analyze the situation at hand and derives key insights
  • Identify innovative solutions for addressing the problem

Note that these skills or competencies cannot be acquired in a single day or in a single training program. These have to be learned and developed over a period of time and most important is that one needs to practice these skills at work on a day to day basis so that they become a part of one's business behaviour.

To conclude, here is a quote 'Leadership is never an avenue to be self-serving but,a platform to render great service to people'

If you read the above, you may also want to read the below mentioned other blog posts of interest:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break
5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Is Digital Revolution Going To Take Away Your Job?

There is a breaking news making rounds these days.

IT sector to lose 6.4 lakh jobs to automation by 2021: HfS Research You can read the full article here.

This obviously has caused a panic in the IT sector specially amongst the folks who perform the so called "low-skill" job.

After reading this lot of questions come to mind: What will be the consequences when this happens? Am I going to lose my job? What will all these jobless people do? etc. 

Before we analyze and attempt to answer these questions, let us first ask ourselves has a similar incident happened in the past? Let us look back in the history...

The Industrial Revolution

During the period of 18th to 19th century the Industrial revolution changed the world, starting from UK then subsequently spreading into rest of Europe and North America. Industrial revolution led to major changes in the sectors of manufacturing, agriculture, transport etc. Specialized machinery took over from the hand made, small basic machines, it resulted in mass production saving both time and engergy. The consequences of industrial revolution were many fold, it impacted social, economic, political and cultural life of people. 

So when this occured what happened to the people who were earning their daily bread by performing manual/ hand made jobs and using basic machines? Did they lose their jobs to the specialized machinery? Answer is Yes. Most of the regular manual jobs were taken over by the specialized machines, but at the same time industrial revolution resulted in variety of new job types. These new job types required the workers to be trained and skilled on the new machines. There was a learning curve but the new job types were exciting because they were backed by technology advancements and eventually the throughput, productivity and output improved a lot as compared to the pre industrial revolution period.

So similar to the industrial revolution we are now on the verge of the next big revolution and that is nothing but The Digital Revolution.

The Digital Revolution

Riding on the technology wave, we are right on the verge of a generation which will thrive on The Internet Of Things. An era where we will have...

  • Smart refrigerators that will be able to check inventory and order vegetables automatically
  • Smart devices monitoring our critical health parameters and sending alerts to us/ medical help
  • Intelligent cars, intelligent homes etc. 

the future is full of imagination turning into reality.

All these changes will come into being only because the technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. This in turn also means that certain very basic level of work done today by humans will  also be taken over by means of technology. For example, consider the IVR, Interactive Voice Response System, earlier when IVR was not developed, companies needed human beings to answer each and every phone call that was received by customer support. But with IVR, all of that is automated and the basic queries of customers are repsonded by IVR and not by humans. So did people lose their jobs because of IVR? Ofcourse they did. But then that was not the last job on the planet. Development of IVR, Support and Maintainence of IVR are the new job types created. These did not exist earlier. So eventually everything got balanced out.

But the real worry some people have is that "IT" is going to automate "IT", that is one day artificial intelligence will be go strong that we will not need humans to write the computer programs. Programs will self learn and improve on their own. Phew! That sounds a bit too long way away as of now!

Having said the above, coming back to the original question, what will happen in 2021 when the Indian IT sector is predicted to lose 6.4 lakh jobs due to automation? What will these people do? or rather what should these people do now so that they are prepared, trained and skilled to take over another job type when the storm hits. Here are some important steps:
  • Identify whether the job you do is candidate for automation. If yes, you are at risk.
  • Find out what kind of automation is going to take over your job? Is it a third party tool? Is it a IT script based automation or simply a redesign of the system. 
  • Now, because you have done some basic analysis in step 1 and step 2 you are better equiped to face the situation. Next logical step is to research and get reskilled. But be aware, reskilling involves lot of efforts and sometimes it requires investment too. However, it is better to be safe than to be sorry, so put that extra dollar and extra hour of effort to avoid a panic situation later.
  • Now find out the potential employers. Mere reskilling may not help if you dont know who is going to hire you. So it is wise to find out about the potential employers and understand their hiring process.
  • Also, keep yourself acquainted with the latest technological changes around the globe. For example, read this interesting article on Quora: What technological changes will create the most opportunities for new startups over the next 2-3 years? Making yourself aware of the these changes will give you the much required head start over others.

To conclude, whether it is The Industrial Revolution or The Digital Revolution, no one can stop it from changing the world. So all we need to do is to adapt and embrace the change. As mentioned by Charles Darwin in his famous quote: It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. So prepare for the change that is coming your way because change is inevitable.

Note: If you need change management lessons you may want to read the bestseller Who Moved My Cheese by DR SPENCER JOHNSON

If you read the above, you may also want to read the below mentioned other blog posts of interest:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break

5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations

Friday, July 15, 2016

11 Self Appraisal Ideas To Spur Your Career Growth

Purpose of this article is to provide some inputs on the self appraisal or self evaulation process that most people working for corporate organizations need to go through every year. One common issue that people face every year is that they struggle to collect evidences and articulate their achievements to support their performance over the year. Because they are not able to provide the right inputs, they fail to get good ratings and eventually fall on the losing side.

In this post we will share some great self appraisal ideas which will help you in the self appraisal process.
  • First things first, understand the KRAs in details. KRAs are the key result areas set for you at the begnning of the year or at the beginning of the project(in case you move to a new project or new deparment). Your performance over the year is measured against the KRAs. It is absolutely necessary to understand the key result areas(KRAs) along with explicit and implicit requirements at the beginning of the year.
  • Understand the measures within each KRA, that is, how exactly performance will be measured. For example, if your KRA is to improve customer satisfaction score then you should know the measure in terms of the exact CSAT score that you are suppose to gain, it may be 4 on a scale of 5 or 8 on a scale of 10 depending on your organization process and policy.
  • Also understand how will the data be collected for these measures, so in case of the KRA for csat score you need to know how the csat score is calculated and where is it stored and retrieved
  • Understand the rating system properly, know exactly what is required to gain a certain rating, for example, on a scale of 5, if 5 is the best, then you should know what exactly should be done to gain a rating of 4/5 or 5/5
  • Track your work on a regular basis, create a folder to store relevant emails and documents
  • Track the critical incidents, these are occassions when you have done something really extraordinary by going outside the call of your duty. For example, working on a weekend or working late in the night to take care of emergency situations
  • Be rational of your own work, don't rate yourself 5/5 just because you think that you have done a great job or because your friend always claims to do so. Always attach the right evidences to support your claim
  • Don't worry too much about what your colleagues are filling in their self appraisals. A casual discussion to gain some idea is fine but if you get worried about your peer or start copying him/ her then you lose your originality and fail to highlight the hardwork you have done througout the year
  • Quantification of achievements is also a very important aspect. When you provide highlights of your work done in the past don't forget to include the right numbers/ figures. These are facts that will help you build a strong business case for your growth/ promotion
  • During the discussion with your supervisor/ manager be sure to put forth your points positively, be ready and open to receive critical feedback and provide inputs/ feedback for the betterment of the project/ organization
  • Remember, self appraisal is not only an opportunity for you to showcase/ present the work you have done in the past year but it is also an opportunity for you to identify and grab opportunities for the future.

Having mentioned the above points, the last and most important point is that one should take the self evaulation/ self appraisal process as an opportunity to look within oneself and find out the strenghts and weakness. On some occassions some peers/ colleagues may attempt to discourage others by talking negatively about the process, we should be careful about such people and safely ignore their advice. Self appraisal/ self evaluation is a very importance process just not for work/ employment but also in general for your life. To conclude here is a quote: 'We are accountable for our career and life, so we have to be responsible for our righteous self appraisal - NOT our boss and NOT our company'.

If you read the above, you would definitely want to read 21 Real Reasons Why Some People Get Promoted While Others Don't

Other blog posts of interest:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break
5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

21 Real Reasons Why Some People Get Promoted And Others Don't

How many of you believe that employees working in various private companies/ corporations get promoted fairly? Well, thats a tricky question, isn't it? Everyone has their own experiences and their response to this question may vary based on what they have experienced at their job. But everyone would agree that it is a cut throat competition these days and in few scenarios employees have to literally fight for their promotions even when they are really deserving candidates.

There are few, very few people who believe that it is not required to ask or fight for a promotion, they believe that once they become eligible for promotion their boss/ manager/ organization will automatically consider them for promotion. If you think that the corporate world operates in this ideal fashion then you need a reality check, because for variety of reasons getting promoted is not that easy these days. In this article we will uncover the real reasons that work behind the scene and suggest some ideas that may help you get an edge over others.

So have you ever asked for a promotion? or a level increment in your professional career? If yes, what kind of responses have you got? Let us try to go through some of the standard responses that people receive when they approach their boss/ manager/ organization with a request for promotion.

Here are few responses:
  • You need to do a lot more than what you are doing today to reach next level, you are not there yet
  • You have to first perform that role and prove yourself
  • There is no vacancy at that level as of now, we will consider you once we have an opening
  • You dont have the required years of experience to perform that role
  • You need to get recommendation from Department Head 1, Department Head 2 or from HR or from your Onsite Manager who is in US/ Australia/ South Africa/ UK etc. or you need to get a recommendation from the client manager(this happens very rarely but may happen to few people)
  • You need to get industry recognized certification for being considered as a candidate for promotion
  • You need to pass that exam or set of exams as mentioned in the company policy
  • You need to appear for a panel interview, if you pass you will be considered
  • You cannot get promoted this year because it is our organization policy to promote people only when they spend atleast 2 or 3 years at a certain level(you cannot get promoted every year)
The list given above is not complete, there are many more reasons/ responses that employees receive from their management every year in the appraisal season.

Now, let us look at how people react to these reasons/ responses received from the management.

Some of the standard reactions are:

  • This company is not fair, they do not treat employees equally. It is not worth putting so much of hard work in this company.
  • There is a lot of politics in this company. I cannot play politics, I am a good person.
  • They did not tell me what was required to be done at the beginning of the year, now they are giving me some baseless reasons and stalling my promotion.
  • Look person XYZ working in ABC department got a promotion, he is worth nothing, he comes to office so late and doesnt add any value but still he got promoted. Then why not me?
  • My previous manager promised to recommend my promotion but he did not do it, now the new manager does not know anything about my previous performance. This sucks.
This list goes on and on, everyone has their own way to react when they get to know that they were not promoted.

Now if you read the above again, you will notice one very interesting trend, all the reasons give by the manager/ boss to the employee refer to some action which is required to be taken by the employee. While on the other hand, the reactions given by employees are such that all action/ ownership lies on the organization/ company/ manager/ boss. This is where the real catch is, because at the end of everything it becomes a blame game in which the employee always turns out to be on the losing side.

So what should an employee do in this case? How can the employee take certain actions which will help him/ her be better positioned and not feel cheated at the end of the appraisal cycle? Here are some suggestions:

  • Do some research about the next job role that you aspire to play in case you get promoted. Don't just blindly go and ask for promotion. Understand what role you will get to play and responsibilities will you carry in case you get promoted. Also understand what knowledge or tools or techniques do you need to learn. Just gaining years of experience in your current role does not mean that you will be able to play the role of next level.
  • Identify the influencers and decision makers. Not everyone in a decision maker so it is important to understand the difference between influencers and decision makers. Tag them differently and make sure that the influencers help you gain the right visibility in front of the decision makers.
  • Make connects with key stakeholders, it does not mean that you go and ask them to recommend your promotion but what it means is making sure that they know you in a good way so that one fine day when someone approaches them for feedback they speak positively about you. For example, you may be working in sales department but the head of finance department might be a part of the promotion panel, so you may not work with him directly but you should still make an attempt to get in touch with him by virtue of your job.
  • Understand the policies/ rules of your organization. For example, if your organization wants you pass an exam or pass a certification as an eligibility criteria for promotion then you need start preparing for it from day 1 of the year and not wait until the last day of the year.
  • Work hard but learn how to get visibility/ credit of the hard work. Sometimes just plain hard work is not enough, you need to be smart enough to get the required visibility. Participating in a roadshow/ hackathon/ debate/ public speaking forum etc. are some forums to showcase your talent.
  • Do atleast 3 to 5 things which others are not doing, this will help you stay ahead of the competiton. You do not need to do complex things, you can simply do a better job at self improvement by learning/ attending some trainings or passing some certifications. These are some simple differentiators.
  • Learn to identify and use opportunities within and outside your group or department. The level increment or promotion that you desire may not be available in your department but it may be available outside your department so networking skills may come in handy here.
  • Never compare yourself with other employees in terms of salary/ grade, always compare yourself with the industry standard and organization standard. This will give you a better idea of where you are placed in the industry/ company and not just in comparison with your peers.
  • Last but not the least, get mature in your current role before you aspire to move to the next role. Learning and gaining experience on the current job are extremely important. Don't be in a hurry to go to the next level, make sure you are prepared/ ready for it.
These are some key actions advised for those who aspire to grow in their professional career. To conclude, here is a quote: 'People don't get promoted for doing their job really well. They get promoted by demonstrating their potential to do more'.

If you liked this article then you may also want to read 7 Secrets Of Making Your Own Luck

Other blog posts of interest:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break
5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations

Saturday, July 2, 2016

How To Make Rs 65 Lakhs By Investing Rs 12,500 Per Month?

Recently came across a very interesting article:
In The Early Stages Of Your Career The Wisest Investment You Can Make Is In Yourself. This made me think did I invest correctly? or did I invest at all? what exactly I could have done better few years back when I started my career.

In the retrospective, I can look back and try to exactly pin point what were the moves or choices that worked for me versus what were the moves and choices which did not work. But one of the common issue that everyone, almost everyone(including me) faces is that we live in the present but fail to learn lessons from the past. If we start learning lessons from the past and apply the learnings to the present, then life will be relatively future proof.

Thinking about being future proof brings a question: What exactly is meant by being future proof? Does it mean that we have enough money so that we can be financially free? that is, we will be comfortable to support ourselves and our family even if we stop going to our day job. But why just money? Is money the only factor to be considered while thinking of being future proof? because ofcourse money is not everything, money is just one of the important things and most people believe that just having enough money will not make them happy. But there is a strong counter argument to it, that is, money does not buy or guarantee happiness but the lack of money brings in misery, struggle and challenges. Life becomes a uphill battle everyday when someone has to struggle non-stop in order to make ends meet. That is why lack of money is a dangerous thing and hence money is a very very critical factor in being future proof.

That led me to think what possibly may be some of the steps that a young individual in early twenties can take to make his life future proof. Here is a list that I could come up with:

1. Begin with the end in mind. Reverse plan your life. Picture yourself as a sixty year old, what kind of lifestyle would you like at that age? what kind of financial security would you like to have at that age? how much bank balance and what kind of money would you like to save for your children after your retirement? What would be your ideal state of health at that age? Visuvalize it. Write it down and create a plan for yourself. This plan should have milestones and short and long term targets. In short this is an organized and planned approach for your life. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.

You may also want to read Stephen Covey's book: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book gives powerful lessons in personal change.

2. Be Disciplined, Commited and Determined to the plan you created for yourself in step 1. Identify distractions and get rid of them. Watching TV or Youtube for hours and hours will not lead you anywhere. Value your time. Create a schedule and stick to it. Being disciplined is not easy and it takes a lot of effort from within your soul. Be ready from within to do what it takes.

3. Be Action Oriented and Decisive. Successful people have the ability and habit of making quick decisions and taking actions. They dont change their decisions very frequently. On the other hand people who struggle generally lack clarity of thought, they take a lot of time in making decisions and at times change their own decisions very frequently. For example, they change their job frequently or move from one domain to other or from one technology to another.

4. Use Power of compounding. They do teach you the concept of compound interest in school but dont teach you how to use it in real life. We can execute simple steps for wealth creation. There are high, medium and low risk options available for wealth creation, but some of the simple options are tried and tested by people all around the world, these are easy to adopt. For example, in India, you can opt to invest in Public Provident Fund(PPF) which is popular long term investment option. Here is an example of how your money grows with the power of compounding in PPF...

Rate of interest considered for the above calculation is 8.1%, which is subject to change. In short what is depicted here is that if one can invest Rs 150,000 per year, that is, Rs 12, 500 per month then after twenty years it is possible to create wealth equal to Rs 65 Lakhs. Ofcourse, this is subject to change based on the interest rate approved by government. There is also a lock in period.

Disclaimer: Author does not claim or provide guarantee of the above calculation/outcome. Individuals should contact the authorized government institute for valid/ approved numbers. The purpose of this post is to just provide a view of possibility.

You can invest as less as Rs 500 in this option. The calculations will change with the amount of investment done, you can google and find an online calculator or message me if you need one.

5. Always take ownership of your own success or failure. Taking ownership always ensures that you are in driving seat and in control. If you start blaming others or put ownership on others then you lose control of the situation. For example, if you dont get along with your boss then there is no point in cribbing about it for days, months and years, it is wise to change your boss. If that requires you to change your job then be it, but you cannot lose control by saying that I am not succeeding in life or career because I have a very bad boss.

6. Never stop investing in yourself. Always be ready to learn new skills, new methods, attend trainings, seminars and events where you can learn about changing business and technology trends. It doesnt matter whether you are self employed or have a retail store, it doesnt matter whether you are a government employee or a software engineer, upskilling and reskilling are need of the hour. Reinventing ourselves is a need in the ever changing era where technology dictates terms.

7. Mentorship is key to finding right direction and avoiding mistakes done by others. Find a right mentor and seek some quality advice for your career and personal growth. Lack of mentorship may lead to trial and error which results in unnecessary waste of time.

The points mentioned above are few key areas where one should focus during early years of their career. This may not be a complete list but still this is a very good list to start with. To conclude, here is a quote from Benjamin Franklin: 'An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.'

If you read the above, you may also want to read the below mentioned other blog posts of interest:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break
5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations