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Leadership: Deception / Candour

Recently, I read an article online about how leaders can effectively use deception to get employees to succeed, on how sometimes telling a lie that they are very good can be an effective strategy to elicit good performance from them. A friend and me got to discussing this and he happened to say, “Even armies are coached to deceive their enemies so what is wrong to use it if I can get things done?”

This got me thinking… and here are a few thoughts on that theme…
Staying in the context of  leaders in an organization being deceptive to employees or managers being deceptive to their team members for better performance, and not venturing into aspects of getting one’s way or having a subterfuge personal agenda or war etc. ..  purely keeping this application in mind:

I believe that the word deception can be replaced with either motivation or perception. Instead of really intending to mean deception, one can look at it as choosing to positively motivate by looking at what can be rather than feel pulled down by what cannot be n in helping people see the plus side.

Deception therefore, can be construed as misleading, as overall the point seems to be as an essence – if you can make people believe they can do well, then they will! – and that what we believe is what we achieve – now this, we have been agreeing from eons..

Deception as a strategy, does not help long term in forming allies… or bonding relationships. It helps when you are on opposite sides or it helps when it is a one timer. Otherwise integrity always is the more successful long term option especially when it is leadership.

For example, for a while, going in line with the article, a fantastic example (I do not know of the truth of this example, just that it is quoted in many a places so using it here) of using deception positively: there is this very popular story of how Napoleon got his very disheartened n defeated soldiers to fight back by tossing a coin and saying that if it falls heads then they are destined to win n if tails then to lose – saying which he tossed the coin, it came up heads and the soldiers, motivated beyond themselves, fight and win! Later when his commander calls it luck that the coin flipped heads, Napoleon is said to have smiled and showed him that it was a double headed coin, there was no chance for a tails at all.

Now correlate this powerful example to today’s organizations. Four major differences

1. today’ organizations are flat in hierarchy and nowhere like an army; today’ leaders cannot get away with making such an independent decision

2. the possibility of information staying outside of a grapevine is less likely, thus the probability of more pepole getting to know about the double headed coin is high

3. anyone can walk up and demand information (unless it is strictly confidential) or ask questions to even the leader, thus having the leader to sometimes even answer for and validate his/her strategies sometimes

All the above 3 ways where today’s organizations work differently from the situatuon that Napoleon faced.

Now this deception still would work one time and maybe a second time but what would happen if by chance someone realized that it really wasn’t the truth, that it was deception? That may break the bonds of trust and demotivate even further, leading to disastrous results.  Better way is to go the Kung fu Panda way – that the secret ingredient is yourself – and create and nurture that belief in people that they can achieve a lot more if only they believed to be able to do so.

I mentioned 4 differences in Napoleon’ and current organization’ situation. The 4th is that there it was a crisis and he said what need to be said. One may argue, today also that, maybe in crisis, leaders  can choose to create that deception. Maybe true that sometimes in crisis, leaders have to withhold information and make that choice. But one thing that leaders today can do that Napoleon couldn’t/wouldn’t is that post facto crisis they can sit the team down, tell the facts, and explain to them why it was essential to do what they did and how the strategy to make them believe worked for the best thus causing them to increase their belief in themselves…

All in all, it is the bonds of trust, the transperancy on communication and the positive integrity of the leader that ultimately works long term, both in organizations as well as in relationships.


June 4, 2016 Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, Training and Learning, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Trust and Trustworthiness

Trust and Trustworthiness

Trust! A word we hear so often in various scenarios in life. From couples in love to friends at any time, between family members to a husband and wife, there is always a need for people to be able to trust the other person or people that they constantly associate. Trust is said to be immensely difficult to build and takes time while it can be shattered ever so easily. In fact, trust is known to be one of the finest attribute that can make or break any relationship or any friendship.


What then is the place of such a personal and emotional concept in an organization? Where does an attribute that builds bonding and affection between individuals on a very personal level – where does that come into perspective in a professional scenario? Trust as a concept is highly sought after and talked about and intended to be implemented in any place where teams exist in an organization or one needs to work with other teams or individuals.


In fact trust is imperative in almost any working scenario where there is an interaction between two people. Do we know that the other person is telling the truth? Do we know whether we have all information or any is left pending? Are we sure that the other person is competent and skilled in what they are doing? Whilst we are following, can we believe that the leader has our best interests in mind? When we are leading, can we rely on the team to rally forth behind us wherever we go? These are the kind of questions, the kind of scenarios, where trust, single handed can make the difference between a yes and a no.


But wait a minute, you would ask! Aren’t the answers to all the above questions supposed to be yes anyway? Don’t we just need to trust each other no matter what, because we are a team? What choice do we have anyway but to have to work together and learn to grow that level of trust? It may take a little time but I know that I need to trust the other team members or the others in the organization. It is because of these thoughts that many of us miss out on one of the simple and fundamental aspects of trust building. Yes, agreed that we have to trust the other person, it is a given – but having said that, we fail to ask the other question – what is the other person doing to make us want to trust him / her???  


Let us now turn this situation and question around and ask ourselves from the other perspective. Yes, agreed that our team members, peers, superiors ad subordinates have to trust us, it is a given – but having said that, we fail to ask the other question – what is it that I am doing from my side to ensure that I am trustworthy???


As one thinks of the above question, there arises another very relevant question – what is trust composed of? How does one build trust? Yes, one needs to be reliable, consistent, and dependable and honest, but what really are the major components or ingredients of a trustworthy individual? One way to look at this is the following equation:


Trust = Reputation X Behavior


Let us understand these 2 words independently first and then look at how the correlation tends to enhance or reduce trust.


Reputation: Reputation is many a time combined with other words such as image or character, etc ad most often than not, is used to talk about the beliefs or opinions that we generally lay out about anything or any person. For the same of our understanding for being trustworthy, one’s reputation comes from not only just people’s beliefs about that person but also based on a certain track record of the person. For example someone with a qualification or experience in an area is reputed to be a subject matter expert in that area. Reputation is the image that an individual holds at work – from knowledge and competency levels, to their experience, to how they look at situations to how others have seen them perform one’s competency or reputation helps one to be more trustworthy. So, we need to constantly work on enhancing our knowledge and skills and keep learning as a continuous process so as to continue to build an environment of trustworthiness in the organization.


Behavior: Behavior is almost always simply defined as anything that one says and does. Any words or actions from the individual tend to reflect and define that person’s behavior. Many a time people tend to form judgments on one’s attitude by looking at one’s behavior when in fact it is not important for us to know the attitude or the reason behind the behavior than to concentrate on the impact of the behavior. A one’s behavior stays consistent over a period of time, an individual is considered more and more trustworthy.


Reputation and behavior work dynamically together as a combination for trustworthiness. A one’s reputation grows, people expect consistency in behavior and as the consistency increases, people respect the reputation more, thus generating a positive atmosphere for trust!


Today, in organizations across the world where individuals work in virtual teams and sometimes do not even meet each other for a long time, trust and trustworthiness plays a very critical and important role to keep the teams emotional bonded and consistently productive with least interpersonal conflicts and problems. One needs to know the image one is projecting to others whilst also ensuring that their behavior is consistent with that reputation.


Maintain your reputation! Project consistent behavior! Be trustworthy…

You have the power!



Revathi Turaga is an International Trainer and Inspirational Speaker. She can be reached at

July 21, 2013 Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Conflict Resolution Styles

It is said that conflicts can be either destructive or they can be constructive. The difference lies in how they are resolved! Every individual has their own preferred style of resolving conflicts. Also, different situations and scenarios have their own apt conflict resolution styles. We shall understand a few over here now.

To understand the conflict resolution styles, let us first know what conflicts are and how they are formed. A conflict is a deliberate and conscious intent to oppose another. Conflicts get created when two or more individuals oppose one another in a personal or professional or social situation. This happens when the individuals need to work together but may have different goals. This also happens when the both individuals want the same thing that is scarcely available. Every individual always aspires to maximize his/her gain in any situation, sometimes even without due consideration at the expense of another person involved in the same situation. This invariably leads to a struggle to wanting self to win and keeping others from achieving their win, thus resulting in a conflict.

When a conflict is resolved properly using the appropriate style required at that time, it provides a clarification and problem solving quality that increases involvement and enhances growth and strengthens relationships! Research establishes five popular conflict resolution techniques:

1. Withdrawal – when one retreats from a conflicting situation or a problem
This happens when an individual shows less value and importance for both their goal as well as their relationship with the other individual. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a turtle that withdraws into its shell to avoid any conflict. Sometimes when the conflict is not relevant to self or when the other individual is purposefully instigating an individual, it is better to behave like a turtle and avoid the conflict altogether.

2. Smoothing – when one tries to focus more on common areas of agreement or no conflict and attempts to avoid getting into areas of disagreement or conflict
This happens when an individual gives a lot more value to the relationship at hand than to one’s own goals at that time. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a teddy bear which would want to be accepted and liked by other people and do not like to damage relationships. This is the route to take up to avoid conflicts with close ones and live a life of harmony

3. Compromising –when one searches for a solution that appears to give a certain level of satisfaction to both parties, while ignoring certain other criteria of the conflict
This happens when an individual gives moderate importance to both goals and relationships. The individual is then said to behave as a fox which usually tend to give up part of their own goals in order to persuade others in a conflict to give up part of theirs. In these situations, both sides gain a middle ground between two extreme positions. Situations when a balance needs to be worked out for the common good a compromise is a good solution.

4. Forcing – when one attempts to push or force one’s view or stand of the situation onto the other thus creating a sense of winning while the other loses in the process
This happens when an individual gives a lot of importance to their goals and very little importance to their relationships. The individual is then said to be behaving as a shark that would try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solutions to the conflict. When the goal is very important and critical for oneself, it is at times, vital to fight for one’s rights.

5. Confrontation – when one directly addresses the issue at hand by talking with the other party and discussing amicably to create a mutually agreeable and acceptable solution
This happens when one highly values both their goals as well as their relationships. The individual is then said to behave as an owl that views conflicts as problems to be resolved and seeks out a solution that helps both people involved in the conflict. When it is important to seek out solutions that satisfy everyone, it is important to work out a conflict by confrontation.

The above categorization is based on how much one values one’s goals and priorities vs. how much one values one’s relationships and associations. Just as each individual has their own preferred style, also each style is effective in certain situations.

Be aware of one’s and other’s conflict resolution styles! Resolve your conflicts…
You have the power!

Published in The Hans India on 18th Aug 2011

August 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Marketing of President Obama

Barack Obama`s run for the White House was a model of marketing excellence. Here`s why it worked so well.

When the book is written on this election, it should not be titled The Making of a President but The Marketing of a President. Barack Obama`s campaign is a case study in marketing excellence.

True, it was always going to be a Democratic year. An unpopular war, an incumbent Republican president with rock bottom approval ratings, and many Republican incumbents retiring from Congress as a result all meant that change was in the air. Add to that the economic meltdown that decimated millions of 401(k) retirement plans and undercut any Republican claim to be the better steward of the economy.
But, even so, for an inexperienced, single-term, African-American senator tagged with the most liberal voting record to defeat the heir apparent in his own party and then go on to hold off the much-vaunted Republican machine is a truly remarkable achievement. Much of it has to do with Obama`s instinct for marketing.

First, Obama`s personal charisma, his listening and public speaking skills, his consistently positive and unruffled demeanor, and his compelling biography attracted the attention and empathy of voters.

Second, Obama converted this empathy into tangible support. More citizens volunteered time and money to help the Obama campaign than any previous presidential candidate. Indeed, he attracted more donors than the entire Democratic or Republican party nationwide. Almost half of Obama`s unprecedented $639 million in funds raised from individuals came from small donors giving $300 or less.

Third, his fundraising prowess was aided by his appreciation and use of all communications media, notably the Internet, to engage voters. Obama picked up where Howard Dean left off. He leveraged his website, the blogosphere, and even user-generated content (remember Obama Girl) and video games to engage not just donors and volunteers but all citizens. From the imaginative campaign logo to the thirty-minute infomercial, Obama`s communications were professional without being slick, attention-getting without being in-your-face.

Fourth, Obama reached out to all citizens. He targeted his message beyond previous or likely voters. He built a coalition that energized young, first-time voters and registered thousands of previous non-voters. His organization encouraged early voting by Democrats to build well-publicized poll leads and to reduce the chances of supporters being discouraged from voting by long lines at polling places on election day. This policy of inclusion meant that voting records were set in the general election and the primaries.

Fifth, his advertising messages and his tone and demeanor throughout the campaign consistently communicated his upbeat themes of hope and “change you can believe in.” The emotional appeal was buttressed with solid and specific policy details. The ability to combine emotional with functional benefits and the discipline to be consistent in positioning and message delivery are core to all successful branding campaigns. Ads that dealt with specific policy issues, even ads criticizing McCain, all continued to communicate the core themes.

Sixth, he anticipated and outsmarted the competition. Throughout, he showed respect for Clinton and then McCain, even as he successfully tagged a McCain administration as Bush`s third term. But he and his advisers managed the political chess board brilliantly. Early on, he anticipated and defused negative criticisms by admitting to past indiscretions in his autobiography. His campaign rebutted the criticisms in a hostile biography point by point before they gained traction. Negative advertising by his opponents was countered quickly, not only in ads but on the Internet as well.

Seventh, he fought the ground war as brilliantly as the air war. Building on Howard Dean`s 50 state strategy, he built his primary delegate count by investing time in Democratic caucuses in red states; the organizations he built for the primaries in these states set him up to win several of them in the general. In the closing weeks, he put McCain on defense in multiple red states, making it tough for the Republican to focus his efforts. Having relied on public funding, McCain ended up having to make some tough trade-offs regarding where to go and where to spend his money. Obama did not.

Finally, Obama chose an excellent marketing and campaign team, and managed them well. From start to finish, there was no public dissension. He chose a non-controversial, experienced Senator as his running mate who complemented his lack of foreign policy skills. McCain only assembled a smooth-running campaign team late in the day. And the maverick made a surprise choice of an unknown running mate that, in the final analysis, undercut his ability to tag Obama as inexperienced, and called McCain`s judgment into question.

Like any great brand, Obama has built up a bond of trust with the American people. His election has also given the United States the opportunity to reestablish its moral leadership around the world. But like any brand, he has to deliver now on his promises, both actual and perceived. In the current economy, that will not be easy.

About the Author
Professor John Quelch is the senior associate dean and Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
Source: harvard working knowledge

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment