Biryani with Blogger : Dr Uttara Pattanaik, Executive Coach

"Biryani with Blogger" is a series on blogger interviews where Chief Blogger, Enlarge Excel Evolve Dr Amit Nagpal chats with prominent bloggers of the world over a plate of Biryani. 

The first interview in the series is with Dr Uttara Pattanaik, Executive Coach / Leadership Coach. 

Dr Amit - You have a different take on Strategy and Leadership.  Can you please explain that?
Dr Uttara- Strategy and Leadership are most over used words in most organization.  It is hyped, over-rated and positioned as hierarchical.   I look at it differently.  According to me, strategy & leadership is central to professional and personal growth.  Each one of us, irrespective of where we are and what we do, need to be strategic in our approach and discover our leadership style to maximize our full potential and discharge our responsibilities to the best of our abilities.

Each individual needs to discover their leadership potential in order to be effective.  Actually leadership is an attitude and can be acquired.  Also, everyone’s leadership style is different and they must adopt a leadership style that fits well with their value system and personality.

Strategy is the path that takes us from where we are now to where we want to be. I do not wish to oversimplify strategy, but would like to emphasize that being strategic is not rocket science.  This is a skill that can be learnt and is beneficial for all. The terms tactic and strategy are often confused: tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective, while strategy is the overall campaign plan, which may involve complex operational patterns, activity, and decision-making that govern tactical execution.  Strategic planning is a “must have” skill for each individual who wish to grow and evolve.  For achieving all important milestones of our life, we do adopt some kind of strategy.  Understanding the basics of strategy makes a person effective to achieve more.   Also, the strategist has to be responsible for the execution also.  Any strategy that is not realistically executable is only a good thought. 

Dr Amit- What makes the leaders effective?                                    
Dr Uttara- According to me an effective leader has to have 3 things: Content, Character and Consistency.  Content can be acquired, but character is inherent to the person.  And consistency can be only practiced if the intent is genuine.  In order to demonstrate or deliver the above, a leader must be honest, authentic, high on integrity, must have respect for people while striving for excellence.  Only a secured leader can demonstrate these values and virtues, because they are comfortable with their own self, their strengths, vulnerability and state of being.  That’s why they can learn, collaborate, share, respect, spread positivity and demonstrate equanimity in the state of chaos. 

Dr Amit- In context of collaboration on social media, I say, “it’s all about moving from I, me, mine to you, we, us” What are your thoughts on collaborative leadership style?
Dr Uttara- While “I, me and mine” is important in the context of accepting yourself, self-love, self-care, the collaborative leadership style is all about US, WE, Inclusion, diversity, teamwork, shared learning etc.  A collaborative leader also has to respect own self, be comfortable with oneself, but once he / she steps into a leadership role, his job is different.  Now it is not about the individual, it is about the people and bringing the best out of them.   His job is to create a healthy, transparent, collaborative environment where his people can communicate freely, learn, experiment, take risk, share and excel as a team. Collaborative leaders recognize the importance of interpersonal relationships within a team, as well as the power of collaboration across various functions in an organization to enhance success.  Following are key attributes of collaborative leadership style:
  • Teamwork:  A collaborative leader does not control, but rather inspires others and works together as a team.
  • Flexibility:  Collaborative leadership means that the process of decision-making is truly collaborative – it does not have a pre-determined outcome when it begins.  One needs high level of flexibility to accept the team decision as long as it is in the best interest of company.
  • Collaboration:  Collaborative leadership is also about breaking down walls and hierarchies, and building close, cross-functional relationships which are based on communication and trust.  It requires strong relationship skills, and a great deal of influence to be able to lead a horizontal team – one where the leader does not restrict their focus only to their team, but instead embraces their peers in the wider team.
  • Transparency:  Unless information is shared regularly and openly across an organization, it is not possible to create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration. A collaborative leader ensures that a steady stream of information, updates and business intelligence passes across collaborative teams to facilitate better decision-making, and to improve agility.
  • Conflict Management: When people are encouraged to openly voice their opinions it is natural that conflicts emerge. A collaborative leader understands that such constructive conflict is necessary for the growth of the organization and for refining rough ideas and improving the end result.   In constructive conflicts, the process becomes as important as the end result where individuals come together to redefine or strengthen their relationship for the greater good of all parties involved.

Dr Amit- How does a leader promote success of other people/ team members?
Dr Uttara- A leader’s job is to understand the strengths of each team members and how the combined resources of the team can achieve excellence by complementing each other.  The leader must create a transparent, healthy working environment that encourages and empowers team members to discuss their strengths and weaknesses in the context of organizational goal and brainstorm how they can maximize on each other’s strengths to achieve quality result.  Open and timely recognition and celebration of individual strengths in the team will encourage each team members to work on their strengths as a pool of combined resources to excel.  It also encourages the team to be in a “US” mode, feel strong as a team, understand each other’s leadership styles, respect processes, facilitate shared learning, depend on each other and understand that they are the strongest when they function as a team, not as individuals.  This allows the leader to celebrate each team member’s contribution to the end goal, celebrate success, set examples, inspire people to set higher goals, energize people and spread positivity.

Dr Amit- Please share your thoughts on openness in context of leadership.
Dr Uttara- Fairness, openness and consistent behavior of a leader are fundamental to create trust in an organization.  Only a secured leader with high integrity and respect for people can demonstrate these behaviors.   An organization whose leaders promote openness or transparency, where employees trust each other, have freedom in communication and sense of belongingness, is a happy organization.  When people are happy, relaxed and positive, they are more engaged, energized and empowered.  Such organizations are bound to create magic!

Brief Profile

Dr. Uttara Pattanaik is an ICF Certified Leadership & Life Coach, Mentor, Personal Mastery Expert and a Strategic Leadership Advisor. She is the founder of Uttara Pattanaik Consulting Services (UPCS), a organization that enables organizations/teams/Individuals to be their best version. 

Prior to her entrepreneurial journey, Uttara worked for 18 years in healthcare industry in senior leadership positions at national & international levels. She leverages her business, leadership, diversity experiences coupled with coaching and NLP skills to enable people to maximize their full potential.


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