IS LEADERSHIP B*LLSHIT ?

Some one had mentioned something on the lines of the following message many years back. It has stuck on to me – and has helped me model, or rather, aspire to model the assignments that I have either lead, or taken on myself.

“An organization is the extension of the leaders’ personality”.

We could look around our eco system – not only business, but cultural, political and social. Leadership plays an immesely important role. Of the many people I have met, and continue to do so, I have observed that only about 5-7% actually have the innate desire to take the leadership role.

I define that leadership as the “ability to assume responsibility, without the crutches of hierarchy, escape doors on (lack of) committment, and the fear of failure”. Am I off the mark?

In such a scenario, what is the best course for any organization? Do we seek leaders from outside our sphere to carry forward the vision? Can we invest into creating leaders within? Are there thumb number time-lines and investments that can be defined. I foresee this as a huge challenge in the times to come, as many things are coming so very easily to our youngsters today, EXCEPT LEADERSHIP.

Let us try and debate how is the “Organization an extension of the individuals personality”… Look around us… we always see families practising ‘true values’ passed on to generations by the head of the family. We see degenerated mindsets being passed on from debillitated political minds into the younger ones they mentor. We see ethical systems & processes being created by business houses following ethical governance. I love to say this as a fact that “rotten eggs have to smell, irrespective of their state of rot”. Havent we seen success of leadership within government sectors? Isnt the Delhi Metro rail corporation an example in itself of infrastructure creation? Have we observed the dignified positive action of Dr. Abdul Kalam? Baba Amte, S L Bahuguna, Gandhiji, Ratan Tata, Jack Welch and Narayan Murthy… (many names dont appear here, but they are greats in their own right.)

Let me clarify my thought here on leadership… many a people confuse leadership to the top position. I am CERTAIN that the top bracket is not to be referred as LEADERSHIP… Leadership is the ability of a person to take absolute responsibility of the responsibililty vested, with no fear of failure and display of committment to take forward to a successful completion. On these parameters, dont you think some people at the bottom of the hierarchial pyramid display more leadership skills that the ones in the middle. Take for example Bal Kumar in my company. He reaches the office at 8.30, cleans up the place, switches on the Air-conditioner about 15 minutes before everyone else turns in, serves the right beverage to each employee as per their preference, and ensures that lunch is served at the right time. Going forward, he once mentioned to me that he would like to learn how to operate a computer !!! He punched in some numbers I had asked him to be tabulated on a excel sheet.

Cut to another employee, at the middle level, exuding a lot of promise, but, who had nothing but her travails of her relationship with her ma-in-law to be discussed during work hours.

WHICH ONE OF THE ABOVE TWO DO YOU THING DISPLAYED LEADERSHIP?

That is what I meant ! I am a firm believer that those organizations would succeed where more & more people take ownership, create propreitary interest in their direct assignment, and align it with their peers. All good leaders communicate…. everyday… and appraise their peers (more than seniors) on what they have set out to do, and have achieved. It creates a healthy environment and builds teams.

Someone wisely says – “A leader is not known by the number of followers he has, but, by the number of leaders he creates.” This adage is applicable in our daily lives if we can positively influence (read motivate through our committment & action) our immediate sphere, and EVOLVE OURSELVES AS LEADERS.

5 comments

  • Hi. Nice post. But, I have a query.
    WHat is your take on how would one display leadership quality in a one man organization? Does leadership specifically evolve around managing people, ecologu, business etc? What if there is no one to manage? how does one go about?
    It would be interesting to know your opinion.

  • Let me respond to what Ruchika has asked here. This is a misplaced notion that lleadership is about managing people or money or businesses. It is about managing circumstances & situations. What if it is a one man organization… in fact, leadership is most displayed in non business situations… at home, in moments of crisis, need etc.
    Take for instance Gandhiji. Did he take into account that he needs to be walking ahead of 10,000 followers for the Dandi march? Does the poor taxi driver need to have 10 people watching him when he was trying to help an accident vicctim on the road? The recent Times of India initiative of “Teach India”, did they account for how many would sign up?
    In my opinion, leadership is in being proactive, being humble & the ability to take positive initiatives without the fear of consequences.

  • WoW!! Man….Well spoken….
    I didnt know my kid brother has grown up to become a philosopher!!
    All the same, keep it up.

    Love
    Umesh

  • Hi Ramesh. I very much like the caption of your blog “Who can win”. Though I agree with you on some of the fundamentals of leadership, it is extremely important for leaders to foster and develop new leaders. In my role as a trainer and mentor, this is one area I tend to always focus on. On your particular post, I agree that some people have a higher degree of initiative, but dont we have to focus on the ones who dont have? I would like to wish you success on your real estate entrepreneurial venture.

  • Hi. I think I must respond to what Mr. Subroto has posted here. I appreciate the fact that fostering an environment to groom leaders is paramount, but then, you need a certain type of clay to mould. Can someone try & mould sand into a pot? Can we use clay to construct high rise buildings? Can we use cement to make wares?
    Pardon my misplaced analogy, but, for every functional leader to grow, to be mentored, he/she needs to have a certain bit inside them. If people come in without the basic intrinsic atitude, no atmosphere can be conducive enough to create leaders. Also, time being of constraint, and also recognized as money, one needs to be sure on how much resource can one deploy to create leaders. In my opinion, leadership comes from within. In my daily life, within my own organization, I see some of my colleagues aptly gunning for leadership….please read INITIATIVE… others just waiting for some shadow to hide behind.. these are not leaders.. they may not grow… might.. they might hinder the growth path of the organization which the organization might resist in the times to come….
    How can you justify someone not picking up the phone and calling the clients – How do you justify someone blaming the economic scenario for not being able to make even one sales – How do you justify personal life being messed because sales ddnt happen?
    In all matters, be it professional or personal, it is the Leadership ability of the individual which matters. Either sprout, or be willing to be supressed by the rock. eventually crushed.
    Like I once said – “EITHER GROW, OR MAKE WAY”.

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