Delivering Tough Messages

Delivering Tough Messages

This was just when I had left College and started my civil services career. As part of our training, I spent almost 4-5 months at the National Police Academy in Hyderabad. Every Wednesday evening used to be the Officers’ Mess Night and we were expected to turn out smart, and of course, on time.


One of those evenings, three of us, all coincidentally from the same College, reached two minutes late. It was a long walk and we just got late. Standing right at the entrance was Mr Ahmad Javed, then our Assistant Director, who later became the Police Commissioner of Mumbai and India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He too was an alumnus of the same College.


Not coming in time did not seem to us till then as sacrilege. But it was. And he could have ripped us apart as many bosses would. But I still remember his firm but soft words, “… if I have to tell you guys from College that 1900 hours is 1900 hours at 1902 hours, it is such a shame to our College….” We sheepishly apologised and trooped in. Never ever were we late by even a minute from thereon.


Three decades later, I still remember that some of the toughest messages must be delivered upfront. And yet, they do not need to be high pitched rip-offs. The best messages are simple, soft but straight. And as I practised my own leadership moments, I have tried to remember that evening when I learnt a hard message, delivered softly.


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