Ganesha is one of the best-known Hindu deities. He is the patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom. However, he is most commonly recognized as a remover of obstacles and is honored at the start of rituals and ceremonies.
I didn’t know any of this until a couple of weeks ago. My newfound, albeit basic, knowledge of Hindu culture started when Anil Somaney, our new VP of business development, presented me with a wonderful figurine of this deity as a thank-you gesture for my help with his promotion.
The significance of his gift revealed itself as I researched the god Ganesha. Anil’s gesture was symbolic. He presented me with the figurine because in helping him, I had assumed one of Ganesha’s characteristics. I had become a “remover of obstacles” by leading, coaching and mentoring Anil toward his career goals.
Eight months ago, we intercepted Anil on his way to accept a position with a large commercial retailer. We knew immediately he had tremendous potential. We make a point of hiring the best talent at XANT, and Anil was a great fit.
Anil joined our team as a senior director of operations. We committed to him that if he worked hard and performed well, we would help him move his career forward. Anil did not disappoint in any way.
Leaders often assume career growth and job success are the sole responsibility of the employee, and they are dead wrong. While it is Anil’s responsibly to work hard and fulfill his duties, it is my duty as a leader to create an environment rich with opportunity where he can grow and excel.
By analyzing, evaluating, and then executing on Anil’s strengths, I was able to work with him to remove obstacles that were impeding his professional progress. It was during this process that I took on the attribute of “overcoming obstacles” embodied in the god Ganesha.
For me, the process of overcoming obstacles is grounded in these four leadership traits:
1) Listen to learn
When we get to know our employees and understand their desires, we can align their interests with the company’s interests. In Anil’s case, he was incredibly driven with lots of ideas. I was sure to let him know he could always bounce ideas off me, and that I would be honest in helping him determine the best course of action.
2) Build integrity-based trust
Be transparent and direct so that your employees understand where they stand. Get to know them personally. Knowledge lends itself to positive success.
3) Be completely supportive
Sometimes you can’t give an employee what they want, but if you are supportive and patient, often the employee will have that “aha” moment where they learn and can self-correct. If the employee can’t solve the problem on his or her own, it’s the manager’s responsibility to get involved and clear the path or redirect the employee.
4) Provide clear direction
Great employees want to understand and align to what’s best for the company. If an employee understands the “why,” often the “what” and “how” happen automatically. As a leader, you can provide process, systems and solutions that overcome any concern.
Successful leaders want to help their employees succeed and progress. Anil’s new leadership role now allows him to assume the role of removing obstacles for those who report to him, creating a continuous cycle of success.
And further, Anil will assume a characteristic of Ganesha, “removing obstacles” for me, and his success will improve my life, and Anil’s success will drive the success of XANT.
Successful leaders create vision and we motivate. But our most important duty is to remove obstacles for our prospects, our customers and our employees.
We all succeed when we adopt the spirit of Ganesha.
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