The Leadership Journey – 13.

I swore to myself that my posts on The Leadership Journey would be chronological, but what the hell? I may as well break that oath. I will replace it with a new one – that I will try to be chronological.

This post is inspired by a post that I read on The Better Man Project, in which he asks us to eschew convention, not to be boring and, to some extent, embrace the insanity and joy in all of us.

I always tried to inject some degree of humor into my work, and I have always believed that, to be more creative in work, you need a wee bit of insanity, a wee bit of humor to break out of the cobwebs that clog your brain, and  wee bit of courage to think differently. Most organizations talk a lot about unleashing the spirit of the entrepreneurs into the organization, and encourage most managers to think like entrepreneurs.

Most organizations fail miserably in this.

About ten years ago, when I sent a quirky email to a colleague, a colleague of mine took umbrage at the mail – even though I had explained that this was a mail that was a joke. Looking back, I realize that I did make a mistake, in not understanding that different people around the world use the English language differently, and words can be misunderstood. When I got my well-deserved dressing down, I was also told to be boring in expression. I was told to be boring.

So, I tried hard to be boring. I tried to be boring for many years, and I must say that I did succeed to some extent. However, in doing so, I felt that I I lost something of myself. I tried to fit into a jacket that did not fit me, and it did not feel good.

Now, when an organization’s bosses often tell you that you need to be a little insane, that they want you to think out of the box, that they want you to take risks, what do they really mean?

Read the lips yeah, but read the body language. The body language is much better at telling you the real message.

An organization is made up of bureaucracy, processes, and systems designed to ensure that the top management looks good. Radical thinking is not generally appreciated. It can upset the applecart, and can jeopardize the career path of those in power. Vested interests, is what some people call this,

I once had a boss – a year back in fact – who told me to take a risk, to do something without asking for permission. When I did so, I was blown away by his rage. What was I thinking, I was told, in not asking for his permission?

This builds cynicism.

My advice for leaders who want to encourage radical thinking, do so if you mean it. Don’t forget that people down the line are more perceptive than you realize.

For those of you who want to be in an organization that allows you to be radical, do some homework. Take a risk. Get out, do your own stuff, or join an organization that encourages different thinking.

And then, have a blast! Be true to yourself!

Happy New Year!


  1. This struck a chord Rajiv – I have seen this happen a few times before when people are encouraged to think out of the box, and then ignored or nothing happens until the next time they are asked to think out of the box…and nothing happens etc.

    It also happens with organisations and their customers, or audience. They do lots of surveys with a big push for promotion but then forget to post-promote about how they are implementing change or even worse, do nothing and waste everyone’s time!

    Often these exercises are to tick boxes then pursue serious outcomes.

    Happy blogging in 2014!

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