Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ZEN@WORK Through Mentorship!

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give - Winston Churchill

Above can be applied to Mentorship even in today’s Corporate millennial world ! I was one among the 8 mentees in 2011 Group Mentoring Program(GMP) by Sukumar Rajagopal(SVP, CIO & Head of Innovation at Cognizant).We were asked to come up with impossible goals for the year as the first step. (What it means!: Achieving 65% of the impossible is better than 100% of the ordinary - I have tried to cover the entire GMP program 2011 and my learnings in a single blog of readable size - Yet another impossible goal ) Here we go

To brief the year long mentorship program in short

  • We had to come up with Top 3 goals for the year and had to beat it by 2X!
  • Clear Implementation Plan to be drafted and reviewed with buddies and tracked year long
  • Head fake Learning’s evolved in this journey of reaching our goals.
  • We eight of us (Hari and Senthil, Sanjay and Saransh, Karthee and Aditya and Veena and myself - divided into 4 buddy pairs) met every fortnight for 90 mins at Sukumar’s cabin from Jan to Nov ’11.
  • The sessions were so designed that changes occurred in us unconsciously and intrinsically
Below we shall cover on my top 5 head fake learnings from my mentorship journey.
Vision: Beginning of the GMP we were asked to come up with goals(to achieve 2X) for the year. This helped me draft a common vision for the whole team. Take aways around this were

  • Aim for 2X – This thought process helps us think on newer lines and most likely we achieve atleast 1.5X than conventional 1X
  • Draft a common Vision for the entire team – Ex. TCOE Implementation in a Testing Team
  • Divide and conquer – Goals were subdivided among team leads/members to accomplish overall goal
Focus: Once you have a vision next is to Focus, focus and focus !! Key takeaways

  • To think and dream of our goals in 2011. Aligning one's own yearly Performance appraisal goals, Department goals and own personal goals help focus more.
  • Tailor on initiatives that do not fall under your goals and attend meetings only in which you can contribute or see if it can be delegated
Influence without Power: With a vision and focus next is to influence the teams we work with without using power Key take aways here were

  • Power of expectations: Works wonders. Believe that your team would perform and trust them and they would. Its like the power of reflection!
  • Collaboration: Reusing tools, techniques from other, reaching out to communities for help and giving them the visibility for their efforts
  • Adopt a growth mindset: Give the team enough of time and they will indeed surprise you. Believing that the team will definitely grow past previous mistakes with the intention to learn does help

iLeadership: The next step of maturity in this path was to attain an iLeadership environment in the team. Head fake here were

  • Engagement by enquiry: To adopt an approach of questioning and encourage a community feel than a hierarchical feel. Thanks to Sanjay’s workshops.
  • Providing visibility to our subordinates with the Leadership team
  • Get into Details: Apart from delegating also to ensure that the team is well equipped to complete by getting into the details.
  • Upward Delegation: An interesting learning from Hari. When we are stuck to approach our boss for help
  • Virtual Teams: Diversified teams across locations and striving to measure by outcomes
  • Connect: Networking through KM community meets, eWIT summits brings in new ways of learning and new friends.

Towards finding Life’s meaning: Last but most important lesson was on finding life’s meaning ! Below are key takeaways on this line

  • Passion: Apply passion as a skill. Thanks to Sukumar, the thinking itself gives new strength and hope. Have applied it and found successful !!
  • Pay it forward: To look at ways in which we can help others be it through any kind of CSR activity/professional help.

All the above learnings are based on my piloted experiences or what I am striving to adopt for in the days to come !

Overall the mentorship program has given me a self transformation, self awareness and a sense of direction and sometimes I get a Zen feeling inside me in mostly anything I do be it at work or driving my car !

The journey would continue with me graduating to a mentor in 2012 to few mentees and creating impact in my own small way !

Thanks to Sukumar for creating this wave. Its extremely heartening to see that he has been doing mentorship programs for 14 years now. In fact this is also an Outreach program within the organization – to produce human impact by changing lives around us who seek for help/guidance.


  1. Nice post Kavitha. Truly zen @ work.

  2. @Joe - Thanks for your kind comments.

  3. Great Kavitha... It is really interesting and very useful information on Vision,Foucs, ILeadership (I liked much).

  4. I really like the "driving car" part :))

  5. Excellent post Kavitha. You have managed to summarize the entire year into a single post. Well done. Thanks for the kind words about me. It is my good fortune that i get mentees like you. I am blessed.

  6. @Divakar - Thanks for your kind comments. Will look forward to your learnings in 2012.

  7. @Saranya - Got your head fake message...Sure I will publish the car driving blog over the weekend.

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  9. @Sukumar - Thanks much for your kind comments and time - Your comment showcases your humility as always... It was a blesssing for me indeed to be part of the GMP program in 2011. Once again Thanks for all the guidance and time and showing us all a new way to do human impact through mentoring.