Kolb’s Learning Styles

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Investing In Soft Skills

If you thought your A+ degree in management or engineering is enough to guarantee a place in some of the top organizations of the world, it’s time for some serious re-evaluation.  Business today is all about manipulation and team work, and it is important to learn and practice these skill set in order to fulfill the diverse job responsibilities, which every employee is expected to undertake.

  1. Soft skill training have become an important part of the employee training and development programs in many companies.  A good training in relationship management can help a employee to understand and communicate, the requirement of a particular department in a better way, than his non trained counterpart.
  2. Soft skill training helps in the smooth functioning of the organization. It ensures client satisfaction and better time management.
  3. Ego clashes and departmental conflicts are very common in almost all organization. It not only results in high attrition rate, but also hampers productivity and dampens employee morale.  A small investment in soft skill training can serve the twin purpose of increasing productive output and minimizing any kind of personal conflicts within the organization.
  4. Soft skill coaching is regarded as one of the fundamental pillars of leadership training. It is important for a person to learn the qualities of motivating his subordinates and inspiring them to work as a team if he wishes to become a good leader in future.
  5. Soft skills coaching increase the self esteem in employees and help them to understand business ethics, which is very crucial in maintaining harmonious interpersonal relation between various organizations.
  6. A proper course in soft skills, ensures that an employee is competent in written as well as in verbal communication skills
  7. Soft skills’ coaching teaches a person to be more flexible and adjust with changing circumstances, which is very important for a company who wishes to survive in a dynamic environment.

The world has today acknowledged the importance of soft skill training. Soft skill training is gradually gaining more acknowledgement as more and more companies are venturing into global projects which not only require both technical expertise, as well as adequate training in soft skills.

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Team Building Activities

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Healthy Brain For Life

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See With Your Tongue

If you were told that you can see with your tongue, how will it sound?  Crazy or even impossible, isn’t it? But it is not so. A study by Bach-Y- Rita, a neuroscientist proved that the eye has nothing to do with sight1. It is the brain that sees whereas the eyes are just an input device1. The experiment proved that an individual can see even when blindfolded by catching an impulse with the tongue.  The subject in the experiment was blindfolded and his ears closed. His right hand, arm and head were strapped with wires which were connected to a computer while his tongue was filled with electrodes. A ball was rolled on the table on which he placed his hands. Even though the subject could not see or hear, he could catch the ball due to the impulse felt at the tongue with the rolling of the ball.

Similarly is the case of ears, tongue, nose and skin. They are all input devices for vision, sound, taste, smell and touch to be passed on to the brain. When the data is passed on to the brain, the brain processes the information that enables us to experience the five senses. There are different areas in the brain for each of these senses such as “visual cortex for visual input and somatosensory cortex for touch input”2.  The information to the brain can be passed from any input device i.e. from any sensory organ and the brain will still processes the data. For example another study showed how the brain uses the visual cortex and the somatosensory cortex for people who were blind from birth2. The study showed that blind people can still visualize the patterns of the bumps when using the Braille though they cannot see anything2.

These kinds of experiments only proved that the brain is the most plastic and fantastic organ. Research states that if one part of the brain is damaged, other part of the brain can be enabled to perform the same function that has been hampered. Not only that Bach-Y- Rita’s experiment helped navy divers to see in the dark, black waters of the ocean through the sonar signals that passed through their tongue interface3. Similarly, battlefield soldiers are enabled to have a 360 degree vision in the night through the infrared sensors in their helmets that pass data signals to their tongues3.

Authored by Akash Chander. Akash is currently the Principal Coach at The Orange Academy. He is the lead facilitator for Leadership training programs conducted by Strengthscape Private Limited

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Role Of A Mentor

The role of a mentor is different from that of an executive coach. While the coach sets you in the path of discovery, the mentor acts more like a guide, a sounding board, a role model, a skill developer and an advocate. The role of mentor in an organization can be that of a group mentor or individual mentor. In group mentoring, a group of employees benefit from the expertise and the experience of the mentor whereas in a one-one mentoring such as a leadership mentoring, the leader gains from the mentor’s expertise.

Whatever Be The Kind Of Mentoring The Role Of Mentor Is More Or Less The Same

1. Guide

In mentoring relationships, the mentor acts like a guide to the organization by identifying areas that need to be set as objectives for achievement. He/she sets targets, time frames and lists people responsible for task accomplishment. This may also mean rearranging of tasks or their methodologies and guidance for effective time management.

2. Role Model

In mentoring programs the mentor is more of role model than just a teacher. The mentor possesses skills, knowledge, experience and insight which the organization as a whole desires to adapt and follow. He/she is a person who influences people by their organizational knowledge and experience, communication skills and style, people management skills and techniques and values will make him/her an effective role model for the organization.

3. Sounding Board

The mentor acts a sounding board especially in a one-to-one mentoring where he/she gives ideas, plans and problem-solving. They also help the mentees understand the organizational culture and politics so that they can grow and achieve their highest potentials.

4. Skill Developer

As experts mentors are basically skill developers. In a mentoring relationship the mentors teach mentees or facilitate learning process in mentees.  Mentors also provide specific skill development that an organization may require for their employees, for instance, managerial skills.

5. Advocate

Apart from being a guide, a mentor sometimes advocates and supports top talent mentees which benefit both the organization and the mentees according to the scope of mentoring for that particular industry.

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Art Of Scheduling

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Paper Tearing Game

Learning/Application: Better Communication

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Communicating With Empathy

Empathy is one of the most complex emotions that you can feel. In fact, in a lot of cases, empathy exists just in the manner of speaking. Although it is a highly talked about feeling, how many can actually put themselves in another person’s shoe and imagine what the other person is going through? Often, in an attempt to be empathetic, people end up being sympathetic. However, if you genuinely want to make a difference to a person’s life, especially when he undergoes emotional trauma, you need to show empathy.

Soft skill training can be very helpful in giving you that extra push towards understanding others more deeply.

What exactly is empathy?

Empathy is defined differently by different people. The most concise definition is to go through, albeit virtually, the same pain, trauma or emotion that the other person is going through. So, in essence, it means sharing a person’s sorrow and letting them let out steam about a tragedy instead of offering lame condolences or meaningless pep talks. Sometimes, all that a person requires is an ear to share things that weigh heavily on his mind. Be supportive. Give him an ear and that is empathy. However, you need to put yourself through soft skill training in order to learn how to communicate with empathy because it usually does not come naturally.

How to communicate with empathy?

Here are some aspects of communicating with empathy that a soft skill training program will teach you.

  • Encourage the person to speak out his mind and listen to him without being judgmental.
  • Do not draw conclusions, offer false consolations or interrupt the person while he opens up to speak.
  • Do not let your mind or attention wander. Be genuinely concerned about what the person is saying.
  • Assure your friend that you can comprehend what he is going through. Assert, clarify and repeat certain things to strengthen his conviction that you are in tune with what he is trying to say
  • Understand the fact that your friend wants to be understood. So, as he speaks, imagine the scenario from his perspective to understand what he is exactly undergoing.
  • Hold your friend’s hand or give him a hug. It communicates your empathy without the need of words and shows that you understand his state of mind.
  • Avoid clichéd phrases such as “I know what you are going through,” “You do not have to feel bad about it” and “Things are going to get better.”

With soft skill training, you can learn to empathize with people and this helps you communicate better not just at the workplace, but in all your interactions.

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Ernest Shackelton

Leadership is one attribute that has always been admired and revered in men as and when they have displayed it. As a subject this has been researched a lot and as a quality and character people have tried to instill it in themselves and others by different ways and means. But in every case the thing that has been most widely used to understand this topic are examples of people who have great leadership qualities and have used it to great effect. Any list of such persons would be incomplete without the mention of Sir Ernest Shackelton, arguably the greatest of them all.

Although bestowing such a high accolade to Sir Ernest might raise some eyebrows but a deep study of the life and times of this gentleman would be sufficient to erase any shadow of a doubt that anyone would have in this regard. In fact one particular voyage of 1914-16 called the Imperial Trans-Atlantic voyage is a prime example and source of study for most of the leadership gurus of the modern era. It was his impeccable leadership and decision making on this particular voyage that left a great mark of this gentleman on history.

The voyage was of course a failure as regards its original goal but how the 27 members survived the ordeal and the extremely adverse conditions for over two years under the able leadership of Sir Shackelton is the real reason why he is held in such high regards. Just a look at the advertisement that he published to hire manpower for this tedious journey provides ample evidence of the righteousness that the gentleman possessed and with which he conducted his affairs. The advertisement clearly mentioned the hazards of the journey and the meager monetary returns.

After setting out on the ship called ‘Endurance’ from the South Georgia Island but a month later in January 1915 they found themselves trapped in pack ice and drifted along with it for nine months. Later, they lost their ship and which was crushed by the ice and wind and this forced the crew on the floes where they spent another 6 months. When the ice floes began to crack that is when they shifted on to the life boats they had and were out in the sea and after battling the winds and tough weather of the southern ocean they landed at the uninhabited Elephant Island. All along Sir Shackelton displayed admirable leadership in maintaining the optimism of the men and their decorum. From the Elephant Island 6 members of the unit left for South Georgia Island which is at a distance of about 650 miles. It took them more than 16 days to reach there. And it was still four more months before the rest of the crew was rescued from the Elephant Island on the third attempt.

From this entire journey and its records various lessons in leadership and managements have been drawn by the experts. Some of them are as follows.

  • Careful selection- one of the most interesting process of Sir Ernest that can be put forth as an example to any and all budding leaders and managers of the modern era is his selection process. While selecting his team he did not only go by the knowledge and competence of the person but also the character and passion that he possessed. Shackelton’sleadership further brought out the best in the candidates who were selected.
  • Generating the trust of the crew by putting their safety first- This was perhaps the most endearing aspect of his greatleadership that when there was a grave crisis that they faced his decisions were based on the well being of his men even if this meant sacrificing a major goal of the entire expedition.
  • He lead by example which is the most admired and desired characteristic of any leader. He knew the importance of the old saying that actions persuaded more than words. So for e.g. when he had to order the men to travel lightly, he was the first to lighten down so much so that he even tossed his bad of gold coins to send the message across clearly to his men. He treated his men equally, all had to do all kinds of work including him.
  • All this was possible because of his flexibility in making decisions according to situations and circumstances. This helped in sustaining great optimism while facing various adversities on trips of danger and hardships. His life and ways are a lesson for any aspiring leader and manager in the contemporary world.

Considering all this and studying about it in detail one is very much convinced of the status that is bestowed upon Sir Ernest Shackelton. He was far ahead of his time as far as managing people and crisis is concerned. No wonder that today most people benefit a lot from his experiences and leadership.

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