Capt. Raghu Raman motivational speaker - Profile
Capt Raghu Raman has possibly one of the most unique career profiles of over 25 plus years. Spanning over from the army to the corporate sector. He has spent eleven years as an officer in the Indian Armed Forces, followed by another eleven years in the corporate sector before joining the Government as CEO of the National Intelligence Grid. Raghu is a frequent guest faculty in business schools, keynote speaker and author of a column on National Security Strategy and Leadership in the MINT. He is a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation and also the author of “Everyman’s War” - a book published by Random House.
Raghu’s ability to combine experiences ranging from live combat to high pressures of the corporate world and the consensus driven environment of the government, places him as one of the most effective teachers of Leadership , Compelling Communication & Strategy to Execution . His sessions have been consistently voted as “Outstanding” by hundreds of participants.
Capt. Raghuraman, has a unique blend of career experiences beginning with his 12 years’ stint in the Indian Army, during which he saw operations in Punjab, then in the highest battlefield of the world - Siachen Glacier, followed by a tour of duty in war-torn Angola as a UN Peace Keeper. Raman's last stint with the army was as an instructor in prestigious School of Armoured Warfare teaching young officers leadership and combat tactics.
In 1998, Raghu Raman joined the Mahindra Group where he led different companies starting as the CEO of FirstChoice, CEO of MahindraSSG and finally as the CEO of the joint venture between BAE and Mahindra.
In 2009, Raghu was handpicked by the government to create and lead the National Intelligence Grid, an ambitious project set up after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, India by the Home Ministry.
Raghuraman teaches Leadership, Change management, Strategy and Persuasion in leading Business Schools and Companies. In addition, Raghu is a columnist for the leading Business Newspaper - MINT and the author of the bestselling book “Everyman’s War”, published by Random House.
To book Capt. Raghu Raman as the Motivational speaker for your event simply complete the online form. For more information regarding any of the Indian Army Motivational Speakers on our roster contact Simply Life India Speakers Bureau directly on: +91 8652835000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Capt. Raghu Raman - Speech Topics
Capt. Raghuraman is India's most popular motivational Speaker with millions of views of his YouTube Videos.Raghu’s ability to combine experiences ranging from live combat to high pressures of the corporate world and the consensus driven environment of the government, places him as one of the most effective teachers of Leadership , Compelling Communication & Strategy to Execution . His sessions have been consistently voted as “Outstanding” by hundreds of participants.
Capt. Raghu Raman crafts and delivers bespoke Webinar and In-person sessions on the following subjects:
LEADERSHIP AT 26,000 FEET
Duration – 2.5 hours.
This inspiring and flagship session is designed to share a perspective on Leadership that is different from how it is seen from corporate board rooms and offices. The session is based on the combat leadership skills demonstrated by the leaders of the Indian Armed Forces as they lead troops into some of the most difficult military operations, under daunting circumstances. During the session, the participants are taken on a journey through the eyes of a combat leader. The experience is interactive and motivating, leaving participants with key answers to questions including:
How do combat leaders take men into battle, without pay hikes, ESOPs or other material incentives?
At one point during the session, each attendee is immersed into the shoes of a combat leader when s/he has to take a decision which would most certainly cause casualties creating widows and orphans. The audience learns about the 'Burden of command' and other principles of leadership which have been forged under the fire of live combat.
FROM STRATEGY TO EXECUTION
Emphasis on individual leadership skills often overshadows the value of building positive team dynamics, which is imperative for achieving success. Designed for today’s business leaders who realize that concepts only work when implemented well, this workshop equips participants with immediate next steps for generating constructive team engagement from the top down.
Leveraging his background and experience from combat situations, corporate and the government, Raghu guides participants through a series of exercises that explore team elements like trust, shared purpose, environment and even a leader’s likability. Each element is examined singularly and in the larger context of its impact on a team or organization’s ability to work effectively towards an aligned mission. Audience members work on reviewing and analyzing actual events that serve as examples of how successful strategies are developed and more importantly, how success ultimately hinges on effectively and convincingly communicating that strategy down to the last person of the organisation or team.
Uniquely tailored for CEOs and leadership teams, this interactive and dynamic workshop provides step-by-step instruction for identifying organizational challenges and learning to employ the necessary tools for achieving extraordinary goals.
LEADERSHIP DURING CHANGE
Today’s leaders face a common challenge regardless of their industry, size or scale. They need to constantly adapt in an environment of change. These could be because of external variables, internal dynamics or a combination – but each situation necessitates an ability to change styles, methods and the processes of leadership.
Organisations fall into four broad categories - Startups, Turnarounds, Realignment and Steady State growth. Even the same organisation can have more than one nuance within it. This workshop explains the four different states of organisations and shows why styles of leadership need to be altered for each one. It equips leaders with the tools necessary to diagnose the category of their organisation or sub-unit, arraign the tools necessary to manage that environment effectively and most importantly, teaches the steps they need to take when taking over a new situation or dealing with a changing environment.
Having had a decade of experience in a highly autocratic organisation like the army, then heading three different companies in the corporate sector and finally working in a consensus driven organisation like the government, Raghu has experienced the nuances and challenges of each kind of organisational leadership style. He uses real life examples to show how leadership styles need to and can be adapted for successful outcomes. This session is a must for leaders who are moving into new positions, portfolios, challenges or organisations facing the challenge of changing environments.
The ability to communicate well has been considered to be one of the top two skills for any leader. Yet many leaders across different levels are hamstrung by a fear of speaking in front of audiences, or struggle to get their points of view across.
This life-altering workshop converts even the most reticent person into a compelling & charismatic speaker. Raghu begins by explaining why people are afraid to speak, showing attendees the deep rooted reasons why every human is hardwired to be nervous and anxious in front of audiences. He guides attendees through a process at the end of which even the most nervous person will be well on his way to becoming a confident speaker and communicator. This session also helps attendees understand their own psyche, develop a convincing communication plan and convert it into a compelling speaking session. Raghu teaches the basic fundamentals of constructing a compelling story which positions them as an expert whom people would want to listen to and learn from. He shows them how to engage with every member of the audience, handle questions and leave the audience with a persuasive call to action.
This workshop covers
FIVE PATHS TO PERSUASION
An exhaustive study of senior decision makers reveals that they fall into five distinct categories, each with their own peculiar style and process of decision making. Some like making grand and bold moves; others want facts and figures before they make a commitment. Some are deeply skeptical of any new suggestion while others need to think through several different options and controls.
Each one of these five types has a unique methodology of arriving at decisions. Unfortunately, most people responsible for those important persuasive ‘pitches’ make two cardinal mistakes. One, they have a standard ‘templated’ sequence that is used across audiences, regardless of the latter’s decision making style and the second is that they often present in a style which is their own decision making method instead of the listener’s, resulting in sub-optimal success.
In this session, Raghu dissects the five decision making styles, how to recognise them and tailor the persuasion accordingly. The interactive session enables the attendees to recognise their own presentation styles and equips them with the ability to customise the same to cater to different styles. The attendees are also taught how each type structures their thinking and develops their thought and decision making process. This leads them to develop a framework that allows the presenters to arrange their persuasion pitch most optimally, resulting in markedly improved success rates.
UNDERSTANDING INDIA - AN UNORTHODOX INTRODUCTION TO INDIA
While many sessions and books address the economic, historical and statistical aspects of India, Raghu deals with the subject in an unconventional manner. He draws upon his experience of India through the prism of the Indian Army, the largest mosaic of heterogeneous India, explaining the traits and the character of various regions and people. Raghu’s session is customized to suit the client's needs and gets to the heart of few important questions that will shape anyone’s experience in India including:
Capt. Raghu Raman - Videos
Capt. Raghu Raman - Webinars/ Virtual Programs.
We are all navigating an unprecedented challenge and have to find ways, collectively, to come out stronger at the other end.
Leadership during a crisis is never easy, but it is an opportunity like no other. In the wake of Covid-19, how leaders leverage the situation to demonstrate values that inspire people, make their people feel safe, and yet facilitate a return to normalcy and onwards to high performance, will differentiate the winners from the laggards. You might know that the Chinese symbol for crisis is commonly interpreted as a juxtaposition of two words — danger and opportunity. Crises are an unavoidable part of the VUCA world and avoiding danger is not in our hands. How we respond to it - is.
Equally, We would be happy to tailor-make a session for you, if you see merit in using this phase effectively.
1) Leading Remotely — Lessons from the Army‘Leadership is a contact sport’ observed Marshall goldsmith, one of the world’s leading coaches. But how does one lead under circumstances when physical contact is not possible. Remote leadership is an occupational reality for military leaders. Especially during border deployments when a battalion of 800 troops is stretched over tens of kilometers, and commanding officers are unable to meet their forces for months on end.
While none of the leadership behaviors mentioned below are applicable only for a lock down scenario; they are a good framework in the current context.
Firstly, get to know your troops intimately. In the armed forces this happens by default. Soldiers don’t have working and non-working hours. Officers live with the soldiers in a goldfish bowl where it is impossible to maintain a façade without being called out. And their reputation carries. The troops know each idiosyncrasy, fad, preference and habit of their leaders. As they say in the army, your buddy (a soldier assigned to help with your daily duties) knows the colour of your undergarments, and if you were hungover from a binge the previous night, your entire command knows it by the next morning. This intimate knowledge builds the foundation of leadership — trust.
Most corporate leaders think that they know their team members well, but even if they have worked together for long, they probably know each other’s ‘CV stories’ not the real ones. CV stories are what we write on our resumes, about our education, previous roles, achievements etc. They are our official description. But this embellished version is not who we are. If teammates have to trust each other, they must know each other’s real backstories. Fears, unfulfilled dreams, failures, flaws and vulnerabilities. The version that only our close friends and family know. Leaders must leverage this opportunity to know each team member intimately.
To do that, use their resume as a rough guide but go deep into it with intimate one on one conversations. The objective is not to ‘interview’ the colleague. Instead, it is to discern how they ‘felt’ during each stage of their life, what experiences shaped them, how they were let down, betrayed, and what drives their behavior and fears.
But if this process has to be meaningful, then the leader must begin by sharing her vulnerabilities, flaws and failures first. She has to let her guard down honestly, and that requires courage. The good news is that your troops already know who you are. You are the one they discuss most of the time anyway. Being vulnerable endears you to the troops, because ironically they prefer a flawed but genuine leader rather than a hypocrite. Use this opportunity to forge a team of friends.
Second, understand the nuances of a ‘contactless sitrep’. Sitreps or situation reports are scheduled reports that have to be sent by leaders at every level, up the chain of command for review. This is equivalent of the concall or video call in corporates. However, certain nuances must be kept in mind when remote calls are the only method of communication. Leaders must appreciate that concalls or even video calls convey only a fraction of communication. Body language, the ability to have side conversations, glances and expressions that participants exchange during physical meetings, the ability of multiple people interjecting etc. are stripped away entirely during remote communication. Additionally, there are more chances of misunderstanding, inability to clarify, and if the lines are bad, there could be downright irritation bordering on rage.
Developing a ‘common operational vocabulary’ is essential. Phrases like ‘as soon as possible’ mean different timelines to different people, which is why calls should be followed up immediately with detailed written minutes. Also, negative feelings like anger, rebuke, chastisement are amplified in virtual communications. Unlike physical meetings, there is no opportunity to console or ‘make up’ for harsh criticism in a virtual call. Though in any case, it is a good idea to praise in public and chastise in private, when communication is remote, this is extremely important.
Thirdly, communicate more even if it seems redundant. When a routine patrol returns from a mission, the Adjutant receives four calls. First, the sentry at the garrison gate informs him that the patrol has returned. Next, the motor pool NCO tells him that the vehicles have come back to the garage. The third call is from the armoury to confirm that weapons and ammunition have been deposited and finally, the patrol leader debriefs the Adjutant. Officers are trained to receive every call with the same degree of sanctity. They cannot sound irritated or reply ‘I know’ to the subsequent calls because each call has a purpose.
The sentry is reporting what time the patrol returned to the garrison. The motor pool is informing that the vehicles have not been damaged. The armourer is reporting that all weapons and ammunition are accounted for and these three calls ensure an audit of the patrol leader’s final report. Experienced adjutants can sense something is wrong if any one of the calls does not come in within an expected timeframe. For instance, if the armourer does not call within a few minutes of the motor pool NCO, he discerns that the troops may have gone to the mess hall without depositing their weapons — which is a violation of the SOP.
Leaders must treat every incoming call with gravitas regardless of whether the information is already known to them or not. If they start responding with ‘I already know this’ then subordinates will stop relaying information assuming that the leader is already aware. It is always better to have overlap than to have information falling through the gaps.
Fourthly, follow an ‘open radio’ policy. Relying only on scheduled concalls is fine during normal times because concalls augment physical meetings. But when the command is being exercised remotely, juniors must be able to call seniors unhesitatingly. This is exactly like the ‘open door’ policy and not merely mouthing the words. Instead, the junior has to feel upbeat when he makes that unscheduled call. Any expression of irritation at being disturbed will shut off this conduit.
Similarly missed calls have to be followed up at the soonest instance but certainly within the same day. This is not just about operational efficiency but also subliminal messaging. If seniors don’t return calls promptly, then juniors feel undervalued and stop providing inputs beyond the minimum requirement. Leaders must replicate the ease with which they can be approached physically, on the phone as well.
Fifthly, share the strategic intent. During remote leadership, it is crucial to explain the underlying strategic purpose of the activity in addition to spelling out detailed instructions. The troops must know the why — not just the how. Let’s say a bank decides that their relationship managers must stay in touch with clients during the lockdown to sustain mindshare. Unless the strategic intent is explained, the managers will start broadcasting mass messages which will be counterproductive. Each situation has a different context and templated instructions are suboptimal if they miss the intent of those instructions. That is why many well-intended orders end up becoming mindless checklists. If troops know the strategic purpose of their superiors, they will be able to assume orders, in the absence of orders.
Sixthly, appreciate the subordinate’s circumstances. All military commanders have maps and models of their area of responsibility to ‘see’ the situation through their junior’s eyes and ensure they don’t pass unimplementable orders. Here is an example. Let us say a senior leader tasks her manager to complete a report within a specific time frame during the lockdown. The leader may have a room to herself at home to work undisturbed. Her manager, on the other hand, could be living in a small apartment with no privacy and small children who need attention. While in office, the manager may be able to complete the work in a certain time frame, she can’t do that at home. Unless the leader visualizes the circumstances of the subordinate, she will set unrealistic expectations. The leader could argue that her subordinate should inform her about the limitations, but the manager may not wish to do so because her constraints are none of her leader’s business. Leaders need to recalibrate expectations based on the reality of those they lead.
Seventh, maintain morale. Some years ago, when the internet was limited to offices, there was a belief that once connectivity improves, everyone will stop commuting and work from home. But as we can see, that did not happen. People don’t merely come to the office because they have to. They also come because they enjoy meeting with their colleagues and cherish the experience of being in the work environment. A lockdown takes a heavy toll on morale and working from home reduces efficiency.
There are several ways in which leaders can boost the morale of their teams. They could conduct informal skip-level conversations, sponsor life skill and motivational webinars, approve resources for online training or mentor their team members on specific competencies. The critical element is to care about them sincerely. Forwarding a bunch of online training links to subordinates is pointless. Instead, curating a particular training program for each individual, enabling that person to go through the course and hand-holding them through it shows that the leader genuinely cares. Sincerity is the essence of sustaining high morale.
As mentioned before, these leadership traits are not specific to leading remotely. Leaders cannot have an offline and online version of themselves. However, these aspects are more critical when leaders need to project their leadership quotient remotely.
And finally, to paraphrase Goldsmith once again — the challenge of most leaders; is not the understanding the practice of leadership; it is practising their understanding of leadership. So, if you are tempted to skim through this article and forward it to your team — well then you may have succeeded in the understanding, but failed in the practice. Show, don’t tell.
This article was published in Bussiness Standard on 2nd April 2020
2) Seven Rules of Communication during a Crisis.“The most valuable commodity during times of uncertainty is — clarity.”
Three primal emotions — hunger, procreation and fear are the bedrock of all living beings. Of these, fear is accentuated in humankind because of our ability to imagine. Fear heightens during uncertain times leading to paralysis, kneejerk responses, psychological trauma and in some cases, much worse. Communication, therefore, becomes crucial during crises.
1. Wrest control of the narrative at the earliest stage.
Humans abhor a vacuum, and in the absence of credible information, they consume anything that takes its place, even if they are irrational narratives. People who would never take investment advice from WhatsApp messages will consume untested drugs or quack remedies advocated by the same source. That is the nature of fear and uncertainty. Leaders must not allow this vacuum to occur. Even if they don’t have all the answers — sharing what they know and what they don’t, is better than an ominous silence. In the absence of information, people will assume the worst.
2. Establish credibility
Establishing credibility is crucial in an environment of misleading and untruthful information. And the only way to do that is by telling the truth, especially if it is bad news. People rally around leaders who promise ‘blood, sweat and tears’ if they believe them and dismiss those promising the moon — if they don’t. For instance, it is inevitable that many jobs will be lost because of the pandemic. Rather than avoiding the elephant in the room leaders must communicate the reality so that employees can prepare for it. They can assuage fears by assuring employees of a humane handholding, but if they sugar-coat bad news, no further communication from them will be trusted.
3. Keep a single source of information and update frequently
Companies must establish a crisis management team which has the authority and expertise to communicate a singular version to all the stakeholders. Multiple channels of information confuse people, and they resort to the grapevine. Fluid situations during crises require frequent updating. It is better to have a live platform like a simple website than sending longwinded memos. All channels of communication, including social media, must be leveraged. If the company use its intranet, it must cater to the lowest common denominator. Many employees may not have laptops, smartphones or even stable internet connections. SMSs that reach are far better than elaborate webpages that don’t.
4. Leaders must be ‘seen’ frequently at the frontlines.
Leaders will be understandably preoccupied during crisis situations. But they cannot outsource organisational morale to the corporate communication department.
Senior leaders must dedicate time for personal communication. Morale plummets beyond recovery if employees don’t ‘see’ their leaders during a crisis. Strategic leaders must make their presence felt, even if it is virtual. Also, this is a time for praising effort, not critiquing shortfalls.
5. Balance reality and alarmism
Cognitive biases are amplified during a crisis. For example, there is a disproportionate focus on COVID -19 fatalities which are only a fraction of other communicable diseases. “Availability heuristic”– or the same bad news bombarded through multiple channels — accentuates alarm. The demeanour of leaders, the wording of communique and contextualising statistics are critical subliminal aspects to prevent panic. All communications must be tested for cognitive biases before release.
6. Craft messaging to cater to every stakeholder
Employees are anxious about jobs; customers are concerned about supply; vendors are worried about payments and shareholders are nervous about the loss in value. And everyone is apprehensive about cashflow. The messaging should provide clarity to each stakeholder about their primary concern and steps taken to address them. Leaders should communicate their sources of information and reasoning behind their decisions. There should also be a channel for stakeholders to respond with suggestions or queries. And the replies should be as quick as possible — even if the leaders don’t know all the answers yet.
7. Keep the communication Empathetic and Optimistic
Corporate communication is usually brusque and ‘business-like’. That is where the term comes from. But crisis communication needs genuine empathy and concern. Companies must be emotive and understanding of the challenges faced by their stakeholders. Many employees may not have the wherewithal to work from home; some may not have privacy. There could be family illnesses among vendors; outsourced staff could be cash strapped.
Crises are the crucible for demonstrating core values that companies espouse. Action on ground inscribes those values far more than public relations or internal communication efforts. For instance, the steps Tata group took for their stakeholders in the aftermath of 26/11 attacks became global case studies in corporate social responsibility.
The human spirit has survived plagues, pandemics, world wars and even the ice age. A crisis may seem overwhelming while in the midst of it, but they eventually pass, and most emerge from it stronger. Crises also bond society closer. For instance, during the 2005 Mumbai floods, slum dwellers helped travellers stuck in the highways, and countless people gave shelter to strangers. Similarly, there are many stories of neighbours assisting each other during the lockdown. Companies must reach back into their history and narrate stories of past crises and how they overcame them.
The address by Queen Elizabeth on 6th of April is a textbook example of communication during crises. She thanked all stakeholders in the battle against the pandemic on behalf of the nation, reminded the British people of their national resoluteness, lauded the human spirit of compassion, recollected a similar address she had given during the Second World War when children were separated from their parents, gave the assurance of victory if Britain remained united and ended with an optimistic promise — ‘We will meet again”. All in four minutes!
3) Optimising the return to normalcy. This Webinar/Virtual workshop will address three critical areas, which strategic and operational leaders must work on during the crisis/ lock down so that their companies and teams can hit the ground running when as the situation starts limping towards normalcy. These include;
In this power-packed session, drawing on his own experiences, Raghu explains the first principles and the key skills needed to thrive in a VUCA World. He explains the four key traits that teams need to be able to operate successfully in a VUCA environment. The session highlights how great leaders not only embrace chaos but actually leverage it.6) Accelerated Learning“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well” – Jack London
This pandemic has unexpectedly dealt us all a rough hand, but as Jack London reminds us, what matters is how we play those cards. The lockdown has thrown professional and personal plans off course, but also given us an opportunity to learn skills that will stand us in good stead when the crisis ends. One of them is learning how to learn fast.
This webinar, teaches one of the most valuable skills a leader could acquire – the ability to read fast. An average reader, reads at the speed of about 200-250 words a minute. That’s about a minute and half to read a page of a novel sized book. Or about five to six hours for 300-page book. But we all know that is not the way it works. If reading were a straight forward formula like that, everyone would be able to read a book in 3 days or about a hundred books a year. While there are some people who do exactly that (including some of the best leaders in the world), most would consider themselves lucky if they just read one book every fortnight – or about 25 books in a year.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are some simple techniques, which if implemented with discipline, that can get you finishing a book in between six to ten hours. Imagine what that could do for you. If you learnt this skill, you would have the knowledge from literally hundreds of books every year. Each year for the rest of your life.
I have been reading books ever since I can remember. And usually several of them at the same time. In this webinar, I want to share those techniques with you. And I promise, with an hour or so of disciplined practice every day, you could become a ‘voracious’ reader in a matter of weeks. And that will be a skill which will serve you very well for the rest of your life.
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Raghu's ability to take each one of us participants through the experience of life and situations in isolated and unfriendly conditions has left an undeniable impression of key lessons on leadership in our hearts and minds.