The world is moving faster than ever and work has to be completed on the go! As an individual navigating through trillions of data and series of micro moments, one surely needs to know how to manage anxiety, keep calm and above all stay happy!
Recently I was invited to talk to a group of colleagues on work-life integration and balance. I was asked to explain how I manage stress and keep myself calm in an intense transforming industry. I wondered whether I would really like to go for such a session that would cover my personal life experiences as opposed to the management philosophies that I usually talk about.
The session went well indeed and the audience seemed to have extracted some good from my everyday life. After the session I was curious, I asked my colleagues to share their reflections; some of them did. One person in the audience, Farhana Islam, one of our leaders in Digital Division has become an integral part of this document as she mentioned some very interesting angles that later helped to finalise this article.
My 10 minutes of early morning
Over the last 10 years, the first thing that happens every morning has made my day. If this does not happen I feel as if something was missing the entire day. This is the time I spend to wake up my daughter and two sons from bed. Their responses are so different from one another but the exact same every morning. Still it is so joyful and fulfilling at the start of a day.
As I start by waking up my daughter Ahona, she screams “if you call me one more time I will not go to school, baba please don't do this, I will throw you out of my room.” She pleads, “baba please don't turn the lights on! I am not going to school!” Some days, while she is in deep deep sleep, she will say in a low voice, “just two minutes.” But it makes me smile.
Then I go to my boy's room, where my younger son, Edaad, is already awake, but when I see him, he puts on a heavenly smile and a quick reassurance that I am done with my sleep. He is always an early riser.
Then my eldest son, Zadeed, looks still tired, “yes its morning but why?” He starts to make excuses, like—“Edaad is in the washroom, so can I have some more time?”
Every morning these precious moments give me all the energy and truly makes my day, although it is only 10 minutes of time. This moment of closeness with my children brings me peace and balance with the diverse workload and intense business decisions that I have to make throughout the day.
Building a circle of trust
To drive the multidimensional areas of business in the most promising direction and to manage this magnificent horizon of work rightly, the importance of having the right people is undeniable. You need the right leaders around you who you can trust and then eventually build a circle of trust that grows bigger over time. By having a network of trustworthy leaders, you get to share your work.
It starts first amongst your direct reports and eventually it expands further down the line. It builds a shared responsibility among team members along with confidence and accountability. Hence it lessens your anxiety and creates more breathing space. A good circle of trust will allow you to go offline and spend some quality time out of work.
It does not happen with all the “YES MEN” together! Rather it is a diversified group of competent people at the right place with good leadership and a mix of crazy experts in the team!
Ability to quickly make a decision
A wide circle of trust creates higher ownership, engagement and more and new initiatives. In an agile and demanding work environment there is frequent need for decisions to scale things up. The inability to make a decision as a leader creates a circle of failure for the leader and the company. The leader faces increased pressure which leads to less sleep, improper planning, wrong execution and zero outcomes. Whereas the moment a leader learns to make decisions s/he sets an opportunity to move the business ahead. The stakeholders are happy and set to work. It creates an environment of agility and speed.
The leader needs to go the extra mile. I call it decisions on the go! Small decisions may not be well thought through, but to progress, one must do it multiples times a day! If there is a mistake there may be a point of no return. But the opportunity to leave office with a sense of accomplishment is always the best. Moreover, it leads to a happier evening where my wife is the head of department making the decisions! That is a part of my happiness.
Be transparent no matter how hard it is
Being transparent and honest is essential, even if it is harsh. It helps to release pressure in your inner system and also strengthens the circle of trust. Leaders often make mistakes by not being upfront with the real truth, we try to manage situations by not being transparent about the difficult reality. We explain to save moments, but once you fall in that cycle it's a trap. You then have to remember every time what you said the last time on the topic, resulting in an apprehensive environment for the leader to put up for long.
Being open and transparent helps to get your trusted people at your side, to face the challenges ahead. Solving problems together helps to create a better and happier work environment! Practice it!
(Don't) Choose (all as) your battle
As human beings we are tempted to jump into a fight when something goes wrong! Take a pause; think, could it just be a difference in thought, idea or experiment? Does someone's promotion hurt you? Someone's new product disappoints you? Truth is, psychologically we take a lot of pressure and anxiety out of our surrounding environment and events.
So, practice positive involvement. Celebrate other's successes from the heart. Find the real battle for a greater cause and be amongst those who fight together with others for the right reasons. That brings fulfilment and peace. It puts your mind in peace and helps you sleep better for a brighter morning!
Every day, we meet hundreds and thousands of people in the office and outside. We are all different, our way of thinking, our upbringing, our society, and our beliefs. Our strengths may differ from a minimum to a great degree. Can you think of what will happen if we cannot accept all these differences? An unbreakable deadlock!
Something in those 10 minutes of my morning that cheers me up is the dissimilarities I see among my kids; their behaviour is so different from one another. The beauty of this diversity brings me happiness! Everyone can find that sweet spot of happiness in their personal life and I believe the rest we can all achieve through practice!
Yasir Azman is Deputy CEO and CMO, Grameenphone Ltd.