Play these 3 “mind games” to be a better leader

by Wally Bock

Spoiler alert: these games aren’t about manipulation but they will help you sharpen your thinking and work better with others.

Merriam Webster defines “mind games” as, “A psychological tactic used to manipulate or intimidate—usually used in plural.”

That’s only one definition.

Some companies sell “mind games” to describe programs and instructional material that are supposed to train your brain. The purveyors of these mind games promise miraculous results. Depending on who’s selling the mind game, you might fend off mental decline. You might get much smarter.

There’s also a much more mundane definition. The term “mind games” is used for puzzles and other things that challenge your mind. Several table games are in this group.

I’ve got another. My definition is: “ways to think that will help you be a better boss.” Here are three of them.

This is the simplest form of a mind game. When you play “What If?” you think about unusual things that could happen. Then, you give some thought to what you should do about it. For instance, if you live in earthquake country, you might figure out what to do if there was an earthquake. (more…)

The office is not dead. Here’s why

By Eric Mosley

Lately we’ve seen lots of obituaries for the office. The pandemic caused a massive shift to work from home (WFH) among knowledge and service workers. Teams are using communication apps like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams to stay productive. Even though employees are working more hours, people like having more control over their work schedules. They benefit from less commuting, even as the boundaries are blurring between work and home.

I believe reports of the office’s demise are premature for several reasons, but they all reflect the critical human need for connection. Last spring, a large number of Silicon Valley executives made very public statements indicating their changed minds on the need for an in-person workplace: “We’re working so well from home that we might never go back to the office.”

Didn’t they realize that the reason they could transition to 100% virtual teams overnight was that they had spent years building a shared experience among employees? It was the power of proximity that enabled employees to make the switch. Those companies had invested in their cultures, which carried them through.

After almost a year of remote working, we’re seeing a slow decay of connection. According to Gallup, remote employees are 7% less likely to see their connection to the mission of a company. Staring at a laptop screen with six other faces is inherently transactional, less spontaneous, and less human than working in an actual room with actual people.



As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty-seventh in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.


Becky Schmitt leads all aspects of people management and company culture at Cognizant, one of the world’s leading professional services companies that is transforming clients’ business, operating, and technology models for the digital era. She has more than 20 years of HR leadership experience, including previous roles as Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Sam’s Club, and various HR leadership roles at Accenture. Becky received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and serves as a Board Member at Large for the Girls Scouts of America.


Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.


  1. Empathy: Leaders are conditioned to power through challenges. We build up a Teflon exterior that we believe protects us and helps us do our jobs better. But in today’s environment – especially amidst a pandemic, social unrest, and an increasingly digital and disconnected world – it is more important than ever for us to break down those walls and connect on a human level. Leaders are at their best when they are comfortable revealing their true selves, and encourage and support others in doing the same. It creates an environment where individuals feel more welcomed and valued, leading the whole team to operate more effectively.
  2. Courageous communicator: We are all better when we say what we mean and deliver on our promises. Being transparent and real are foundational traits of successful leadership. It’s not easy – in fact, it can feel counterintuitive to the controlled communications environment that reigned supreme before social media – but honesty builds trust. Strive to explain the “why” behind decisions, eliminate corporate speak and tackle tough topics head-on.
  3. Lifelong learner (curious): Especially within the HR space, we all recognize the value of continuous learning and development. However, some of the most impressive people I’ve ever met have curiosity built into their very nature. They are hungry for new experiences, seek to know other perspectives and ensure they never become stagnant. Strong leaders always look for paths to grow in both their personal and professional lives.
  4. Collaborative: Look at corporate values across industries of all types and you’ll see collaboration in just about every one. There’s good reason for that – collaborative individuals make for stronger teams. Add inclusivity into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for business success. Leaders who can check their egos at the door and work together for the betterment of the team reap the benefits time and time again.
  5. Strategic thinker: In today’s on-demand world, it’s tempting to get sucked into meeting the next deadline, and casting out strategy in order to execute fast. Take a pause. Ground decisions in the bigger picture. Make connections. It might take longer, but the outcome will be better for all.


How do you communicate these characteristics to your HR and senior management team?

These five qualities are not only things we expect from one another as an HR team, they’re also characteristics we want our employees to demonstrate. At Cognizant, I talk a lot about keeping our say:do ratio equal. That means if we ask our people to be empathetic or collaborative, we have to be role models of and reward those behaviors publicly. If we want lifelong learners, we have to invest in the tools and give people the time that will allow them to be relentlessly curious.

These behaviors don’t always come naturally (very few of us were born courageous communicators.) So we have to create environments that foster and support them at every turn.   


How do you handle challenges to the existing culture by talent you have brought in?

Firstly, I think you should never be too arrogant about the culture you have. Of course there are certain qualities that work for your unique organization, but we also know from diversity & inclusion that differing thoughts, working styles and backgrounds bring stronger results.

I always start from a position of seeking to understand. What about the previous culture worked? How can I respect their history and the ways of working they’re most comfortable with? Talent should feel like they have a home in your organization, even if the culture is different from what they’re used to. So I listen, learn and determine how collectively we can pivot to the future.



Key Trends Shaping The Workforce Of The Future

by Kevin Parikh

The workforce of the future has been debated for years but has never been such a hot topic as today, with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no longer news that the face of the world and the way we do business has irrevocably changed. Instead of the slow and steady climb toward a borderless, digital society, global economies suddenly found themselves launched onto a new trajectory, forced to adapt to survive. We are watching the workplace and workforce of the future take shape, with changing roles, relationships and demands. There has been a rapid shift toward remote work, innovation and automation, enabled by the ubiquity of technology and the digital economy.

What will the future look like, and what does it mean for the workforce and youth of today?

The workforce of the future will be distributed and transboundary.

Advancements in digital and unified communications, allowing for real-time audio and visual connection, have made it easier than ever to work remotely and efficiently from anywhere in the world without compromising the quality of interactions. In fact, at the advent of the pandemic, many white-collar companies around the world were able to make the work-from-home shift almost instantaneously.

According to a survey of roughly 1,200 chief information officers across different industries around the world conducted by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR), 72% of the workforce is remote, and it is expected that the share of the workforce permanently working from home will double to 34.4% in 2021, from 16.4% before the pandemic.


VP – Account Management, P&C Insurance


Work collaboratively with delivery teams and client to enhance customer satisfaction while scouting for expansion opportunities within the existing account resulting in increased revenues and maintaining client relationship at appropriate level. Manage teams to deliver revenue and profitability for the firm while ensuring high levels customer satisfaction and contributing to effective employee engagement programs.



Create and execute strategic account plans to maximize revenue and profitability by driving cross-sell, pace of volume ramps, time to proficiency and client satisfaction

Develop C-level and cross-functional contacts and touch-points in the client organization through regular objective based interaction forums and review governance cadence

Continuously keep track of client needs, gauge client satisfaction and expand client contacts through high frequency 1:1 meetings and follow through action logs

Scout and scope new opportunities within the account by participating in client’s review meetings – identify problem statements and map services and products to develop customized solutions

Mentor offshore cross-functional teams to optimize employee, infrastructure, IT,T&E other support costs through bi-monthly MIS and P&L reviews, drive the creation of action plans, review and modify action plans as required.

Mentor offshore teams for seamless project and service delivery


·      Makes client the compelling focus of the business

·      Ability to establish and nurture C suite relationship

·      Possess and continuously display strategic focus and business acumen

·      Relentlessly pursue excellence

·      Foster a spirit of collaboration and teamwork

·      Attract and retain talent through effective people management

·      Have a bias for action, superior implementation

·      Be a Brand Ambassador for the organization

·      Negotiation skills

·      Intellectually agile and analytical.

·      Consistent ability to mine relationships

·      Capability to prepare budgets, review MIS.

·      Self-starter with the ability to work with minimal supervision

·      Ability to understand technology changes and identify opportunities

·      Ability to elicit cooperation from a wide variety of sources including team members and other departments

·      Possess the ability to be flexible to a changing environment, acknowledging urgency when necessary

·      Ability to effectively prioritize and execute tasks in a high-pressure environment

·      React to project adjustments and alterations promptly and efficiently

·      Flexible during times of change

·      Should be able to understand and document business Requirements wherever necessary.

·      Ability to lead, motivate and direct a work group

·      Conformance with policies at all times

·      Understanding of Insurance domain and market place to effectively manage strategic programs.

·      Knowledge of Lean principles and six sigma to manage group Black Belts.

·      Strong background in the management of insurance client relationships and large teams (people and clients)

·      Minimum 10 – 12 years of working experience, including at least last 6 years in managing teams and client relationships

If you are interested or know someone who might be:

Please let me know! Thanks in advance

Larry Janis, Managing Partner,