Practitioners Perspectives // October 22,2021

The Art of Leveraging Technology to Build Leadership Effectiveness

Featuring: Ashokkumar Jothimani , CEO, Agilisium Consulting

Featuring:

Ashokkumar Jothimani CEO, Agilisium Consulting

Ashokkumar has around over 25 years of experience working in some of the top IT companies. He however, felt that something was missing and found his passion in mentoring and coaching. He provides growth and strategy advice to organizations and also helps professionals solve their career related challenges so they can lead a successful career.

What is the maturity model for leadership that you have observed during your career?

Let me begin with what I feel Leadership is – it is doing your work passionately and deriving excellence out of it.

Simply put, the leadership maturity model is an evolving circle that begins with you and starts impacting your team, department, organization, industry, business world and finally the universe. This process is gradual, natural and revolves around one’s self-actualization.

So, with every circle the percentage of you and your self-centeredness reduces and more of others and the world outside enters the frame. An interesting dimension to this is that – great scientists who are keen to innovate are obsessed with their invention and keep it to themselves, but the eventual product is for the world at large. This is an interesting dichotomy!

With so much of change how can leaders cope better?

Leaders are pressurized by all the changes that they are surrounded with and their need to respond to it in their line of work. Earlier with one technology or business model or strategy we were able to pull along for years. But as we move forward into this century the shelf life has drastically reduced to months. So, there are no shortcuts here, the simple fact is that we must learn, and learn continuously. Learn everything, not just technology, but the way you build relationships, network, build teams, everything needs to be upgraded constantly.

How can coaches create better leaders?

My view here is that, as we move up the ladder, leaders are loaded with notions, beliefs, myths, ideas, concepts, in short, a wealth of information resides within them. And there is no point in shaking some of their fundamental truths as these are etched in their minds. So, coaching must happen as they evolve as leaders and at an inflection point where change is possible, and their minds are still fresh to absorb newer ways of thinking and functioning.

And coaching is a two-way process where the coachee must understand the need for change and co-operate with the coach and respond. Also, I have realized coaching is a successful process only when the desire to change comes from individual rather than as a management mandate.

What is the technology blind spots that plague leaders?

The biggest blind spot is thinking that old ways will work and dealing with problems in the same way you dealt with it in the past. That’s a big drawback. Each time there is a customer issue, think afresh and see how you can solve it in a better way. There are so many new technologies, models, methods, frameworks constantly being introduced which will make lives easier for you and your customers. So, hunt, that is only way to avoid technology blind spots.

How do leaders create leadership practitioners?

This is something that I have been thinking about. I have begun to feel that IT workforce is more like the factory set up, employees come in droves, deliver and depart. Partly it is the mistake of organizations to give them a tiny portion of a large pie (large pie being the customer problem) and instruct them to work on it day in day out without understanding what they are trying to solve. Which is why layoffs are happening in large numbers.

Whereas a doctor or a lawyer is looking at a client completely and striving to solve their pain or legal tangle. But IT professionals do not have a clue what they are trying to solve but confidently claim that they have ‘delivered’. We must groom our IT geeks to think holistically, converse with clients and understand what they are trying to solve and make them accountable for solving the customer problem and not just for their part of the technical delivery.

If this shift happens, no one needs to tell them to learn, naturally their thirst for knowledge will go up and they will hunger for new ways of trying to solve customer business problems.

What is the one leadership lesson that you cannot afford to forget?

Listening is an essential skill to be a good leader. I learnt this very early on. In the first few years of my career, I was fortunate to work with an experienced and mature Manager who taught me the importance of listening.  Here is a story from that stint:

We were working as a team and reporting to a manager, and one of our team members had the habit of always talking a lot and talking completely irrelevant things. He was the butt of all jokes and none of us paid any attention to him. But our manager never once stopped listening to him, even if there were customers, he took the time to listen to him and share those views with them as the clients’ found it difficult to understand him. That is the maturity of a leader, I would say. It is difficult to practice, but I try to emulate this trait.

What would be your advice for technology leaders to make the world a better place?

Very interesting dimension this is. We as technology leaders sometime get too attached to the technology and lose sight of the business problem we are trying to solve.

Always we should remember, technology is just a tool to make the world a better place, not something that we should obsess over so much and losing sight of the why of it.

How can personal innovation leverage technology innovation?

Innovation for the common man/woman is about doing things in a better way. There is an age-old adage – Necessity is the mother of invention, and this holds good even today. When you have a need, you will automatically look for newer solutions.

Personal innovation begins with basic things like taking a newer route to office if the one that you are taking now has more traffic. If your present diet is causing health issues, then looking for alternate ways to counter that is also innovation. So personal innovation is a mindset, and the more you practice it daily the more you develop a healthy and learning mind that thrives on challenges and constantly innovates. It is not an overnight happening but starts with tiny habits that transforms into a way of work life.

QUOTE IN FOCUS

The simple fact is that we must learn, and learn continuously. Learn everything, not just technology, but the way you build relationships, network, build teams, everything needs to be upgraded constantly.

QUESTION IN FOCUS

How can personal leadership leverage technology change?

Technology is part of our lives today and the sooner you embrace it, the better your quality of life is going to be.

From physical, financial, psychological, and spiritual, technology has entered and made our lives more efficient and helped us be more agile. Now you can check how many kilometres you have walked through a simple app, achieve financial freedom through online banking and in fact you can get your dose of spirituality by subscribing to a Gurus’ podcast. Of course, the flip side is addiction, which if you can steer away from, then technology can be a big boon.

AshokkumarJothimani Ashokkumar Jothimani

CEO, Agilisium Consulting

Ashokkumar has around over 25 years of experience working in some of the top IT companies. He however, felt that something was missing and found his passion in mentoring and coaching. He provides growth and strategy advice to organizations and also helps professionals solve their career related challenges so they can lead a successful career.

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In my career leading and building high-performing teams, I enjoy inspiring & coaching employees to unlock their potential for maximum performance. The team's success is my deepest delight. Global Coaching Lab provides the platform to put this into practice every day and fulfill my passion of making others great.




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