Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Mother of all Blogs

Its Mother's Day and I've been wracking my brain on how to make it special for the most important female figure in my life. In addition to flowers, lunch and movie tickets, I thought a blogpost dedication would be an apropros gift to my mom.

Mom has never had a corporate job and sometimes downplays her ability to give sound professional advice. But some of the most important things I have learned about being an effective leader and CMO, I have learned from her and I am grateful for it!

5 things I learned from my DesiMom about being a DesiCMO:

1. Building Advocacy: Parents often face the challenge of getting their kids to speak their mother tongue, which in our case is Punjabi.  Mom had a simple strategy. No matter what language we would speak to her in while growing up, she responded Punjabi and overtime we learned the language too. And now we are able to pass it on.

DesiMom's Lesson: Organizations often struggle getting their employees on the same page, embracing the corporate character and brand values. Leaders have to consistently and repeatedly communicate the company's strategic beliefs until it sticks.

2. Flexible Leadership:  I have 2 sisters - all 3 of us are vastly different. Mom has the ability to change your mom-ing style and approach to support each of us differently. As a result we all have very different, but very strong relationships with her.

DesiMom's Lesson: Managing a diverse team means changing your style and playing different roles for each of them to bring the best out of them.

3. Active Listening: Mom extracts the most cues and insights about what is really happening with us over a cup a tea after work. There is not much you won't spurt out when you are unwinding over a warm drink and open ears.

DesiMom's Lesson: Companies run extensive, formal surveys with employees and customers to get insights on what is happening. More frequent, less formal listening exercises can be more valuable.

4. Garnering Loyalty: Like most households in India, my mom has a bunch of people to support her - driver, maid etc. But she does a great job of keeping everyone on track and on the same page. Her attrition is low, which is unusual for India. She has highly loyal and motivated staff without exorbitant salary hikes.

DesiMom's Lesson: Retaining employees requires them to feel like you have a sincere, vested interest in them and they will learn something from you. Building a loyal, motivated team is critical to a successful business.

5. Feeding the Brain: Mom has always been a big fan of regular meals, especially when we were studying or working hard. Just taking a break from the routine to eat gives us the necessary break to think about things differently.

DesiMom's Lesson: Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day grind of reviews and meetings, we don't take the time to nourish our brains with new information to help generate new ideas.

Happy Mothers Day! Do share any of the leadership lessons you learned from your mom too!

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