Puja Disha Bharwani | ABBOTT

India’s leading motivational speaker and workplace expert, Shiv Khera talks to India @Work about how our own attitudes and leadership qualities affect our team

When [email protected] spoke to Shiv Khera, he was waiting to board a flight to Chennai. Most of us might be stressed and tired at this point — airports tend to have that effect — but not Khera.

Upbeat and engaging, he opened up about leadership skills for successful teams with crystal clarity. Not surprising: the dapper 65-year-old has penned 16 books in his 30-year career as a mover and shaker in the coaching world.

Khera has a packed schedule as he travels around India and the world to deliver sought-after workshops to companies like Tata, Microsoft and HSBC. So let’s get stuck in, and get motivated. As Khera famously said: “Motivation is like fire. Unless you keep adding fuel to it, it dies. Your fuel is your belief in your inner values.”

1. What can we do as leaders to cultivate a positive team attitude?

Every leader must choose and develop their own team. We get advisors based on the type of people we are. It’s where the level of comfort lies, pretty much like the way you choose your friends.

There is no such thing as a ready-made team. The whole purpose of a team is so they have a collective uniform objective and clear mission.

If they don’t have a common vision and goal to navigate towards, they might as well be a herd.

Attitudes are learnt through habits and thought patterns. Why is it that people who are brought up or trained in the same environment have different results? Some people break records, and others break themselves.

2. What should the leaders of tomorrow focus on today, in terms of training and behaviour?

Going into the future, the three skills that remain timeless and everyone needs to embrace are people skills, persuasion skills and prioritisation skills.

The higher you go, the more important people skills — and the ability to persuade, negotiate, sell and convince others, become.

Learning to prioritise based on your value system is very important. We have a number of time saving devices, but ironically, never seem to have time these days. For example, exercise is important but not urgent… until you are sick, and then it’s too late. You can’t ignore what is important because it is not urgent at that moment.

3. How important is empathy for a leader?

Let me first clarify the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy: I understand how you feel and it stops in words.

Empathy: I feel how you feel and that triggers action.

The difference that action carries in empathy is crucial for any successful leader. The definition of a leader is someone who can influence thinking, resulting in action. If the person can’t influence action, they are just a loudspeaker.

4. What is the one piece of advice you would give young leaders about communicating effectively?

There are many traits to communicating effectively but if you asked me to choose one, I would say listen. There is a big difference between hearing and listening.

Hearing is passive and physical while listening is active and emotional. Most people just want to talk and be heard, without listening to their team or audience to connect with them.

5. What role do values and ethics play in being an effective leader?

They are crucial, as they shape the attitude of the leader. Good leaders inspire more leaders within their team. Bad leaders misguide people; hence they are more preoccupied with creating followers.

There are effective leaders and good leaders. Hitler was an effective leader but far from a good one. Good leaders lead with morality, good values and strong ethics.