Thursday, June 26, 2014

MBTI, Social Media, Generalisation, Careers and Leadership

Larry Demarest was a curious left-hander, and yet ambi-dexterous. He died young. He taught me the basics of MBTI. He wore a clip around his shin to protect his trousers, dismounted from a hired cycle to the India International Center in Delhi from a nearby lodging. On each of the 5 days he taught us, he never failed to be on time. In his publications, he describes the first of the dialectics of personality Type thus : “Direction of Energy : The E – Extraversion  or I – Introversion scale. This scale tells you whether you prefer to deal with the outer world of people and things or the inner world of thoughts and ideas.” This scale is also supposed to distinguish between preference for active interaction with others and one’s personal need for reflective action.

Be that as it may, the neuro-science revolution has given us an understanding of the plasticity of the brain. Theorising on the lines of MBTI may appear in relative contrast to be centered in the hypothetical as concrete objective truth.

So, what does the title of this post have to do with the post itself? It is about synesthetic fugues of our sensing and feeling processes. E.g. One may want to deal with the inner world of thoughts and ideas, and yet be better off (comfortable) at writing through social media, where the outer world of people and things come to a head! Defect in MBTI theory? Go figure out! E.g. If a L&D professional has a compulsive need to determine a world-view of adulation via social media and force his team to interact on social media that are less enjoyable by deep reflective thinkers whose need is at play? The more undetected the ethics of professionals go, the less wellness in the workplace there is likely to be. E.g. Hidden beneath this nervous anxiety is the capitalist motive of reducing their own purpose to even narrower consumption opportunities forced down gullible customers. This is the sure making of the sustainability crisis as the world devours more tangible resources than it can regenerate for the economic value chain.

NLP also explains alternatively the benefits and errors of generalisation. Accepting others for who they are thus means surpassing the mould of Types! The whole brained profile conceived merely through information processing is no substitute to the conception of mind-body-emotion embedding in a person’s whole essence. So let us employees adopt a compassion for mindless capitalists. Can stewards of these employees also cater to their careers?

Careers spiral in trajectory not only because of thin slices of market opportunity but also due to the relevance accorded by the careerist. Careerists willing to see longer than the fleeting caprice of employer motives will want to see leaders nudge their capabilities beyond a series of economic opportunities.  Parallel then to the sustainable environment the world will require from us.  As co-created action, career management will not be seen as a ‘problem’ but a future to be created together.

Leadership then is an ever-improving art of the presenceful service of people whose needs and wants are honoured for the greater purpose of community through fellowship. Leaders may forget to tune into others when servicing their personal ambitions, often generalising for themselves that the community is with them. Leadership as a process resurrects the collective unconscious. Leaders as individuals often miss this point because of lack of presenceful others in their midst. That is why, if receptivity to feedback is a behaviour that may be observed; it is self-awareness that is at the root of leadership presence. Both receptivity to feedback and self-awareness are great predictors of leadership per se. Without the self, others are not acknowledged for the feedback they own. Without others; self-awareness remains muted for the social beings we essentially are.

Social media is a territory, where trails of modern day archaeology, often only hours old, are mapped based on one’s own compass of values and purpose. In skilful pursuit, mindful anthropology finds patterns of evidence that explain sharp distinctions between frivolity and profundity; immature release of stress and meaningful respite from deeper quests of purpose.

As we return to the fugue’s origins, Personality Type at best traces to the processing of cortical stimuli. Introverts hold a stimulus longer and deeper in reflection, in quiet empathetic energy of contained immersion. Extraverts rely on others’ ears as they can hardly sustain the same unit of stimuli and would rather have it processed with others’ help. The danger for traditional conception in careers in a technologically intensive world is the mindless mutation of durable and sustainable talents in service of a reckless anxiety socialized by agents of quick profiteering.

Larry Demarest had an industrial metaphor for the capability or competence underling of Psychological Type. He visualised Extraverts as those who rushed in short bursts of energy as if powered by containerized dry cells. Introverts on the other hand, drew on reserves of natural coal in their embers, and when hot and steady could gush past like the steam engine with greater energy and rhythm than may be normally evident of them. So if extraverts fantasized hegemony of social media, will they find that their lot would be trumped by lasting value of introverts in the long run?

Who am I to tell? 

For leaders who use social media and are connected by the thousands, what is the core conversation they have with the majority anyway? Are they listening to personal 'needs' or filtered non-reality; or to your words and icons only?

What am I to tell?

For a core conversation to happen, what medium can be richer than the one you are reading this on? 

How am I to tell?

For a conversation of meaning to take place, what kind of rapport will induce connection?

How am I to listen?

For a connection to strike a chord, and relate to higher value, how should we sense and make meaning of it together?

Why is this conversation important to us?

And when we make a meaningful conversation, how are we to recognize who we become because of the connection we make?

What Purpose is core to us that dialogue is possible?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Inspite of, and not because of Competence

At Changhi airport earlier this year, I arrived early to travel into India. I browsed through stores and chanced a premium luxury watch section. My wife Ann Joseph knows a great deal about wrist-wear, and a natural familiar curiosity took me there. When interacting with the salesman from Singapore, he was honest enough to admit that he had not heard of LG and Samsung as Google Watch contenders. For a man who sells Bulgari and Rado, I wondered if he ever struck ‘edge’ conversations even with willing clients. But to my surprise, and to Titan’s credit; he acknowledged one brand from India!

Google Wear has now admirably entered the User Interface (UI) by glance design! That puts Titan in the age of the dinosaur. I had earlier tweeted at the length of a possibility, that perhaps Cyrus Mistry could announce a Nano version for Titan, by marshalling TCS and Titan to come up with an earth shattering paradigm given its intellectual assets and manifest brand value.

Alas, even Wipro despite its closer to skin successes in ASEAN, could not orchestrate its human capital to build on its once renowned capabilities in telecom engineering. People in the industry claim that it could have easily changed the game in India with device to operator knowledge embedded in its people. Leadership of risk and innovation are not the routine affair in India, even in growth phases.

Hence, firms mature too early and die with its product or services portfolios.  The long-serving Ambassador car is one such. Perhaps it is the paradox, India truly needs to balance better. In its abundance, human resources are treated as commodity in a capitalist frame. Retail formats in sunrise mode make no real investment in low-cost, client-facing personnel to relate to its clients. Governments and political ideology in India treat human assets as dole-potential of entrapment, no matter how differentiated the reach and custodianship of the electorate.

Perhaps, a case can be made that Indian firms succeed in spite of their competencies, and not because of them!

What will it take for authentic leadership to lay claim on India’s latent potential?