New Year during the Pandemic – A Reflection

NewYear 2020
Image Credits: Tripadvisor.com

Wish you all a happy new year, Subho nababarsho [Bengali], Sawatdii pimaï [Thai], Hnit thit ku mingalar pa [Burmese], Naya Barsa Ko Hardik Shuvakamana [Nepali], Nav varsh ki subhkamna [Hindi], Iniya puthandu nal Vazhthukkal [Tamil], Suba nava vasarak wewa [Sinhalese]

This is an amazing time every year for many countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia when most of us celebrate the traditional New Year. The New Year is celebrated between 13 to the 15 of April in India, Nepal, Myanmar [Burma], Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

However, this New Year is perhaps the most significant in our life time as we celebrate it during the pandemic which most of us are experiencing for the first time. Let’s explore the significance of the New Year this year from that context.

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The Right Answer

Image credits: www.princetontutoring.com
Image credits:www.princetontutoring.com

It is fascinating how we continue to look for the right answer. Perhaps it is because of schooling systems which expects us to know the ‘right answer’ in order to pass examinations. Perhaps it is because of interviews panels that expect us to know the right answers in order to qualify for a job. Perhaps it is because of management who expects us to make the right decisions to business problems.

But what is a ‘Right Answer’? Who decides its right? By what standards do we decide it is right? Who sets these standards? People come from different backgrounds, education, experiences, cultures, mind-sets etc. The variables are almost infinite. Therefore we are all unique and we see, hear, feel, smell and taste things differently. Furthermore each situation is different. Each situation is a collection of places, time of the year, people, infrastructure, concepts, brands, climate, culture etc. Again the variables are infinite.

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Leading a Team is like Conducting an Orchestra!

image credits: nsight2success.com
image credits: nsight2success.com

Leading a team is like conducting an orchestra!

The quest for better leadership is still on and will continue to go on forever. One of the reasons for this is the ever-changing mindsets, expectations, challenges and demands presented by the ever-changing world around us.

There are many tools being used to create better Team Leadership and the next few blogs from me will analyse different tools and methodologies available to create better team leadership.

Let’s first see what is ‘Team Leadership’. Is it the same as or different to ‘Leadership’? Leadership can be used in many situations and ‘Team Leadership’ is an art of leading a team as against leading an individual or a set of individuals.

Team leadership has the following challenges that require the responses indicated.

1. Objectives of the team – The larger, more complex and the more challenging the objectives of the team, the type of ‘Team leadership’ differs. It will require skills such as making the team see the big possibilities, making the team believe in their collective ability to achieve the objectives, and it requires aligning the team under a common plan to achieve the objectives.

2. Size of the team – The larger the team is, the less time the team leader has to provide for each team member, the larger the team is, the more complex will be the relationship issues, the larger the team is, the more effort it will take to keep the team motivated. Appointing a few deputy leaders who take over responsibilities for smaller teams within the team and having more team interactions than individual interactions can overcome this.

3. Diversity of the team: The more diverse the team is, more the differences of opinions will be, more the potential conflicts will be and this will require more involvement of the team leader. Proactively helping team members understand each other through team building exercises and radical conversations, selecting the right mix of team members for various projects and investing more time on participative planning and briefing will help overcome this challenge.

4. Resources available (or not available): The resources available or not available for the team in relation to the tasks at hand can pose a challenge to the leader. The leader should use Continuous Improvement techniques such as Kaizen to get the team working together to make the most of existing resources.

5. Conflicts in the team – A team leader will lead different levels of conflicts in the team. Therefore it is important for the leader to be a good listener, mediator and counsellor using techniques from mainstream psychology, transactional analysis and Neuro Linguistic Programming to prevent, defuse or resolve such conflicts.

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Jack of all trades… Master of none …true or false?

Image Credits: en.wiktionary.org

I first heard the saying; ‘Jack of all trades, is a master of none’ from my dad. While I took this as face value and later felt it is valuable mindset to have, I now wonder if this is true or false. On one hand it is humanly possible to be the best in all trades as there are millions of them. We would not have the time to master everything in a lifetime or just even explore them. Anyway I don’t think this statement suggests that anyone attempts to be a master of all trades.

We also don’t have the time in our lifetime to be a Jack-of-all-trades as well. But what do you think the original writer meant by the use of the word Jack. If it is the Jack from the pack of cards, then we are referring to the person who does all the work for the King and Queen. Therefore, by doing all the tasks required he learns many things, but will he ever be the master of any of those subjects.

Recounting my experience, I was in the collage rugby, athletic and chess teams. I was also a Boy Scout and I studied the subjects required to be an engineer. I believe  I excelled in the engineering class when I lead a team of my classmates to make a electronic scale in the late 70’s. While it was very primitive and shabby we believe it was one of the first such attempts in Sri Lanka. It was viewed by the then President of the country J R Jayawardena and a later Prime Minister  Ranil Wickremasinghe.

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Celebrate the Diversity and Re-Discover the Unity – This New Year

Image Credits: http://dogstarfoundation.wordpress.com/

Wish you all a happy new year, Subho nababarsho [Bengali], Sawatdii pimaï [Thai], Hnit thit ku mingalar pa [Burmese], Naya Barsa Ko Hardik Shuvakamana [Nepali], Nav varsh ki subhkamna [Hindi], Iniya puthandu nal Vazhthukkal [Tamil], Suba nava vasarak wewa [Sinhalese]

This is an amazing time for many countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia when most of us celebrate the traditional New Year. The New Year is celebrated between 13th to the 15th of April in India, Nepal, Myanmar [Burma], Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

In addition to being united by the dates of the celebration that runs across all these countries, all of these cultures have common rituals such as cleaning their houses, cooking fresh new food, dressing in new clothes of designated colours, visiting relations & friends, enjoying traditional music and taking part in religious rituals.

There is beautiful diversity in the variety of traditions being used in different countries and states. From lighting small oil lamps and dressing in flowers in India,  taking a ritual wash or bath in the Hunumantay River in Nepal, Mehendi body painting and face painting in Bangladesh, the water festivals in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia and following of the auspicious times to light the fire, boil milk, take a bath, exchange gifts and go to work etc. in Sri Lanka.

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