Build a team of Avengers to win at work

Build a team of Avengers to win at work


In the smash hit Avengers: Infinity War, a team of superheroes comes together to defend the world from a threat they cannot tackle alone. If we had to draw a real-life parallel, it is kind of like building a successful team consisting of a group of people with the right mix of professional skills.

While we all have our unique abilities, personalities, and motivation, at work, some visions are bigger than one individual and some challenges are too major to face alone. By pooling in our talents, we can go on to achieve great things.

Here’s the team of superheroes you need to assemble to succeed at work:

Iron Man                         

Superpower: Confidence

Confronted with Thanos’ crew wreaking havoc as they search for the Infinity Stone, Tony Stark aka Iron Man delivers his signature cocky line. “You can’t park here, buddy. Earth is closed today. Take your tractor beam and skedaddle.”

Every organisation needs an Iron Man, a genius whose self-confidence stops short of arrogance. He treads that thin line between being self-assured and believing that you are above everybody else. His style of confidence – a recognition and assertion of his own abilities and qualities — can inspire others and help get the job done.

Captain America

Superpower: Control

What makes Steve Rogers the best choice for captain of your team? His calm demeanour, coupled with strategic prowess. The Marvel universe, where there seems to be a short supply of adults who act like, well, adults, is not unlike the real world of work, where ego clashes and bad behaviour commonly occur between team members. Captain America’s ability to suppress his impulses and master his emotional reactions is his greatest strengths. Take this situation in the film, when Thanos’ army surrounds Wakanda. “Thanos will have that stone,” says the evil Proxima Midnight. “That’s not gonna happen,” is Steve’s measured response. A solid, grounded leadership style like his can bring any group with a common goal together.

Black Widow

Superpower: Diverse perspective

Natasha Romanoff is strong, resourceful, skilled, good with computers and conversation…all in all, a people’s person. But most importantly, as one of the few women on the team, she brings a unique perspective to the group. When Bruce Banner points out Thanos is after Vision’s stone, the latter’s immediate response is, “We have to destroy it.” But she says, “We have to protect it,” and that’s the route the team eventually takes.

The fact is, non-homogenous teams are just smarter. Working with people who are different from you helps you see things from a fresh perspective, and forces you to sharpen your performance. Black Widow may have the same abilities as the men on her team, yet the unique perspective she offers is her most important contribution.


Superpower: Strength

Remember how Thor responds when Rocket Raccoon tells him that Thanos is “the toughest there is”? “Well, he has never fought me,” says the mighty hammer-wielding god.

Having a dominant personality like Thor on the team is always a plus. People like him make strong leaders, especially if there is a crisis. They’re always willing to take on new challenges and are great at handling stressful situations and heavy workloads. The energy a personality like this exudes can encourage fellow team members to stay focused on their tasks and targets. They aren’t afraid to take risks and often come up with bold, creative solutions.


Superpower: Team player

To become a successful leader, you first have to become a successful team player. And there’s no better role model than Peter Parker, who swings into action the moment he sees a giant alien spaceship. Being quick on the uptake is just one of the teamwork skills Spiderman excels at in this movie – he’s also open to the other superheroes’ ideas and perspectives, appreciative of other people’s work styles, adapts quickly to every threat they face, remains personable even under the most trying circumstances and is completely focused on the team’s goals. “I got you. I got you. Sorry, I can’t remember anyone’s names,” he says while rescuing the other Avengers from Thanos’ attack. After all, a team player never lets you down.

Doctor Strange

Superpower: Learning agility

Fourteen million six hundred and five — that’s the number of alternate futures Dr. Stephen Strange views when he goes forward in time to see all the possible outcomes of the conflict with Thanos. Every team needs the learning agility, or ability to incorporate new material quickly, that is Dr. Strange’s greatest strength. His strong problem-solving skills, ability to read people and learn on the fly, demonstration of perspectives, pursuit of personal learning, command skills and leadership qualities are all traits necessary for a team’s success.

Black Panther

Superpower: Courage

T’Challa’s fearless confrontation of challenging odds to fight for what he believes in are traits you want to see in a team member. Among his most admirable qualities is his willingness to charge headlong into dangerous situations — like lowering Wakanda’s shields to let the enemy in. He is willing to sacrifice his life for the ideals he believes in and the people he cares about. It’s his courage backed up by action that makes him such a powerful hero worth emulating. “You are in Wakanda now,” he tells the other Avengers to prepare for an epic battle. “Thanos will have nothing but dust, and blood.”

This article was first published on


Are you suited for a startup or a corporate job?

Are you suited for a startup or a corporate job?

There was a time when scoring a first job in a big corporation was considered an early career triumph. Today, times have changed, and so have perceptions of success. “I want to promote those who have the courage to fail,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the launch of the Start-Up Action Plan in January 2016.

India is transitioning from a 9-to-5 work culture to a start-up environment, where employees are consciously forgoing stability in exchange for the promise of accelerated growth. According to Nasscom, start-ups accounted for 80,000 jobs in 2015 while the number of active investors in start-ups more than doubled from 220 in 2014 to 490 in 2015. The media is awash with stories of how bright young IIT and IIM graduates are leaving well-paying jobs to turn entrepreneurs.

As a new graduate looking for work, you need to ask yourself – are you ready to take risks or are you more comfortable with safe rewards?

Here’s how to know whether you are suited for a corporate job or start-up:

Are you set on a career path or are you still looking?
Unlike in established companies where responsibilities are clearly defined, employees in a start-up are expected perform several roles at once. With fewer people on the team, everyone is expected to pitch in wherever needed. This can be great when you have no idea what you want in a long-term career. Learning first-hand what you enjoy doing by performing multiple tasks will help you arrive at a more focused job description later on.

However, if you already know the role you aspire to or career path you wish to take, a corporate job may be more suitable. With its structured workflow and specific deliverables, you’ll be able to hone your skills without being sidetracked with additional responsibilities.

What do you need to succeed?
In a start-up, chances are your boss won’t have much more experience than you do. You’ll be thrust into a leadership position before you’ve had a chance to be mentored yourself and may need to rely on your instincts and self-learning to master the tricks of your trade.

In a corporate job, on the other hand, you’ll have a great deal of handholding in the early years.

So ask yourself – how do you learn best? If you’re comfortable with trial-and-error, you may not need a corporate job to succeed. On the other hand, if mentoring and systems will help you advance into the position you want, a big company may be your best bet.

Do you want to make an impact…now?
Do you find it frustrating when you’re not involved in decision-making processes? That’s what happens when you start at the bottom in a strictly hierarchical corporate structure. In a start-up, owing to its size and newness, you’ll be given more authority and visibility.

Are you a risk-taker?
Start-ups are risky because you’re building something from nothing. If the company receives funding, salaries will be raised and you may inch towards your market rate. However if the start-up doesn’t do well, you’ll be out of a job when the company runs out of money. It’s disheartening, but remember – you are in the early stages of your career, so it will be easier for you to move on.

A corporate job, on the other hand, involves little risk. So if you don’t have the stomach for uncertainty, this may be the right choice for you.

Are you flexible about pay?
Compensation is a key differentiator in the start-up versus corporate job debate. Many start-ups offer intangible perks, such as flexibility and a unique culture, in place of a steady income and benefits. And while the likelihood of you being offered equity or ownership of the company is higher with a start-up, to make a financial killing, you need to be among the first few employees. Who could forget Infosys, who is well known for making its early employees millionaires, so much so its drivers, electricians were among the few who made it big.

This article was first published on

Overlooked for that promotion you were waiting for a year? Now what

Overlooked for that promotion you were waiting for a year? Now what

Being passed up for a promotion is extremely painful. You think you’ve been working hard to move up the professional ladder only to feel invalidated at the workplace.

But – like all other bitter experiences in life – it’s important not to let an episode like this overwhelm you. Use it as a trigger to take a long hard look at yourself. Objectively analyze why it happened and what you can do to change the situation. Anger, frustration and disappointment are natural but don’t let these emotions get the better of you.

Here’s what you can do to ensure that you deal with the situation in a mature manner.

Cool down
Acting in haste is a recipe for disaster. Resist the temptation to walk into your boss’s cabin. Demanding answers, talking ill about a colleague who’s been promoted or snapping at colleagues isn’t a professional’s reaction. You will damage relations and be branded immature and unable to handle anxiety. Think calmly and go over all facets of the episode over the next couple of weeks. Only then will you be able to formulate a sensible plan of action.

Get feedback
It is hard to conduct an honest assessment of yourself so ask others why they think you were passed over. Speaking to the boss is a good idea. Express disappointment but never be rude or offensive. Be open to criticism; don’t get on the defensive. Ask what you can do to achieve the promotion next year and enlist your boss’ help to reach your goal. Use this opportunity to learn about your organization’s policy on promotions so that you can do better next time.

Speak to the senior manager
Office politics is a reality and there may be the odd chance that you’ve been glossed over because your immediate superior sees you as a threat. If you suspect this, speaking to that person won’t help. Seek an appointment with your manager’s superior and have a frank discussion about why you were overlooked. But keep things civil.

Factor in other reasons
A missed promotion is not always a judgment of your professional abilities. You may have lost it because of a host of reasons beyond your control such as a specific company policy or the nature of your job. For example, a sales executive will have greater direct impact on the company’s P&L than an HR executive, thus increasing the former’s shot at a promotion. Get to the reason and don’t be unreasonably hard on yourself.

Be graceful in defeat
Don’t vent your anger on colleagues or subordinates and always be courteous to your boss. If a colleague has landed the position you were vying for, congratulate that person and offer your cooperation. Life is full of victories and defeats; graceful acceptance of defeat is a sign of maturity and refinement.

Explore your options
It is a good idea to start exploring other options. Update your CV and start sending it out. This will give you a much-needed confidence boost and provide you with a back-up plan in case you’re really unhappy. However, never quit without an appointment letter in hand.

Being overlooked for a promotion isn’t the end of the world. Don’t react in anger; choose to look inwards and contemplate. Once you’ve thought things over, speak to your boss and find out the reasons for being overlooked. Enlist his or her help to address your shortcomings. Through it all, remain polite and courteous. This is a good time to update your skills and ready a Plan B. If you do decide to quit, never do it without an appointment letter from another company.

This article was first published on



Networking: Be Spiderman!

Networking: Be Spiderman!

Once again, I found myself at a day-long conference where corporate HR leaders, consultants, learning and development professionals and executive coaches mingled and shared ideas and opinions. Before the event commenced, I was in a conversation with the HR Head of a large global bank. Another consultant, whom I personally knew, approached us through the crowd. Realizing they didn’t know each other, I introduced the HR Head to the consultant and vice versa.

Oddly, after initial courtesies, the consultant started talking about her profession, her abilities, her vision of future leaders and of her opinion on mindsets. The HR Head glanced towards me as if to say, “Did you really have to introduce this patronizing lady to me and interrupt our conversation?!” To make matters worse, the consultant chose to remain with us for many more minutes before finally breaking away to meet someone else in the room.

Later, when I found myself alone with the consultant, and knowing her relatively well, I decided to pass on my observations-

–  Did you realise who I had introduced you to? She is the HR Head of one of the largest global banks.

–  Why did you not present your business card and make a connection beyond what you spoke of yourself? It was an       opportunity for you to know her.

–  Should you have learnt more about her bank’s challenges? It may have presented an opening to position yourself and   your services.

Thankfully, the consultant took this feedback well. She even exclaimed, “Oh my, this was a networking chance I totally missed!’ She later even approached the HR Head to exchange cards and made a better impression. Well done!

In over two decades of networking and developing my businesses, I have seen this self-centered style of introduction occur often. In the process, one can easily lose the advantage of knowing more about the others’ world, challenges and views.

Networking is all about zigzagging smartly across a room full of clustered groups in conversation. Its about making a pleasant entry to break into one such group, connecting the dots, showing high gravitas, leaving a lasting impression and, knowing when to zip across the room to cast a wider web.

Put simply, it’s all about being the friendly neighborhood Spiderman!!

Retirement: 50 is the new 60!

Retirement: 50 is the new 60!


“Why is no one offering me a job? What do I do next as I don’t want to continue doing the same thing? Can I do something entirely different from what my career has been focused on so far? Why can I not be hired for my strengths and not based only on my past roles?”

These are some intriguing questions posed by senior executives that I have career-coached on. After coaching over 150 such eager professionals, my realisations are –

– a majority of those looking at role/job alternatives are already burned out

– they are in their early to late 40s…so, with around 15-25 years of experience

– their current/recent roles are threatened by automation or just monotony

– they are unable to even imagine doing anything different from their past roles

– growth in roles or responsibilities is slowing or absent, in most cases

– more and more executives are reporting to younger managers.

From a demand perspective, there is a lot of young talent available in the market today. Frequency of hierarchical promotions reduces at higher levels. Executives continue to focus on execution than strategizing, envisioning or leading organisations, thus limiting their ability to punch above their weight.

Empirical evidence is now strongly indicating that, many professionals in their 40s will have to prepare for further slowdown in their growth prospects. They are likely to be faced with severe stagnancy, frustration, under performance and, in worst cases, redundancy!

To prepare for this uncertainty, ambitious executives will have to equip themselves by –

– showing agility by taking on new roles and responsibilities as early as possible

– Network well within and outside their organization

– significantly enhance their emotional intelligence in dealing with people and situations

– explore future career moves based on personal/leadership strengths than work experiences alone

The writing is clear on the wall – the 50s will be the new 60s undoubtedly and, unfortunately!

Thinking: Don’t Divide (and rule)…Multiply!

Thinking: Don’t Divide (and rule)…Multiply!


“Boss, we have an issue…what do we do?” A familiar conversation played out daily in a Manager’s work day. Empirical evidence shows that, 9 out of 10 Managers go pat with “I suggest you do this…” or even more directly, “Just call X and ask them to….”

These are some routine ways how Managers deal with team issues and problems daily. By solving the team’s problems, the Managers have over time made the Team –

– to ‘run to Papa/Mumma’ always!

– become more dependable on the Manager’s skills and decisions

– not apply their own creative minds to resolve problems

– burden the Manager with their own challenges

– to wilt or fail in stressed situations

– not take ownership and responsibility seriously as the Manager ‘air covers’.

From the Manager’s perspective, they are –

– unable to focus and think strategically as they are busy with the tactical

– being paid higher remuneration to handle lower level tasks

– of the belief that they are there to solve problems than lead or innovate

– not perceived as being ready for bigger challenges or higher roles

– managing a team which is un-empowered and not agile.

To progress their careers, Managers should be future ready and not live in their old world. A thinking and nimble team allows for better collaboration and swift decisions. Managers become talent magnets when they challenge/experiment with team ideas, listen more than advise, delegate confidently, thus resulting in a highly motivated team.

So, instead of Dividing ‘thinking’ to themselves and ‘doing’ to their teams, Managers should transform into strong Leaders by creating a Multiplier effect. Except during crisis, Managers should empower the team to think and offer solutions. Over time, strong teams allow their Leaders to progress and team members to succeed as new Managers or Leaders.