I did my last Townhall meeting of the year with my department. And I decided a long time ago that I will not organise boring meetings, so I make sure that I enjoy the ones I set up. And in a moment of creative stillness, an idea came to me about doing a Quiz which one of my associates called ‘Game Show Thingy’. I asked the leaders and the teams questions and asked the other party those questions during the quiz. It was a logistical nightmare to conduct the quiz virtually, and many hours were put into it. It was a lot of fun, and the entire team laughed about it. One of my questions to the leaders was what was their favourite vegetable and one of the teams decided to google the most popular vegetable increase their chance of winning. And another team was having a debate about whether a tomato was a vegetable or not. All in all, it was interactive, and we had fun.
When the meeting was over, my leaders and the teams exchanged thoughts, fun items, jokes etc. And then it hit me that I was on the outside – I came up with the idea, organised it and did all the hard work so that they all could enjoy it. And I get enjoyment from knowing that they had fun.
I had experienced something similar in a go-live release night last weekend. The entire team gets together and stays up the whole night to ensure we are a GO. Since one of my managers was already on the call with this team, I checked in intermittently. I stayed up until 11:00 and then woke up at 3:00 – did check-in and woke up at 6:30 am to realise that the team had successfully finished the work and the last call was over. I felt like I turned up to a party that just got over.
And since the team is a level removed from me, nobody came up and said congratulations! My boss and his boss sent me nice notes, but I missed the high-fives when I was actually with the team. It is beginning to dawn on me why the higher you go, the lonelier it gets.
This reminded me of a similar experience in my Bollywood Dance Class last year. A young man had approached me to teach him and his girlfriend a dance sequence, and he planned to propose to her at the end of it. I was involved in the preparation. And when he did pop the question to her, I felt like an outsider privy to an intimate moment in their lives.
In one of my books, I had a chapter titled – ‘What About Me?’ I think true leadership begins when we move beyond this question. At the same time, it is crucial to have a phase in your life when it is all about you – because if we never realise what it is like to be taken care of, we will never be able to provide others with the same. So, I am in the new phase where – all about me is all about others. Imagine if we could enjoy everybody’s else happiness like ours without being involved.
Where are you on the journey?