Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan


20. LEADERSHIP

 

I would rather have an Army of sheep LED BY A LION, rather than an Army of Lions led by a Sheep…Napoleon.

 

Human species of the Planet earth, has distinct advantages over other species, because of two factors which are absent in other species. Only Humans have TEACHERS AND LEADERS. Be it a small group or a big nation, Humans always perform through Leaders. Someone has to take over and lead people. In fact, Leadership is all about showing people a sense of direction, guiding them and motivating them. A leader has to think ahead and must have faith in his wise thinking and strong convictions, which impels others to have faith in their leader and his ability to lead them.

 

A leader must be able to visualize the future and should be able to instill the feeling of security and confidence amongst his followers. When being led by such a person, the people must feel that they would be better off, if he leads them. Leaving few exceptions, leaders mostly emerge from modest backgrounds, but are very resilient, having overcome adversities earlier in life, which infuses lots of confidence building in them and their followers. A true leader is in the habit of learning from adversities and does not give excuses for failures. They also do not give up easily.

 

Taking initiative and leadership always go hand in hand. Initiative lies in taking calculated risk, which a leader should be able to visualize and act himself and motivate others accordingly. Taking initiative also means, to do what needs to be done without being told to do. Since a leader normally takes full responsibility for not only his actions, but also those of everyone under him, he is always thinking and visualizing. He has to be a good judge of persons and distributes responsibility accordingly.

 

There is normally no one to guide him. Though in matters, wherein his own knowledge is not adequate about a particular matter, he does take advise from those who are specialists. Still, entire responsibility lies with him only. Before one is elevated as a true leader, he should prove himself to be a good team player, working with the team members and leading them whenever necessary. So, when he becomes a leader, it is very much essential that he chooses his team very carefully. In the team, persons of integrity, knowledge and having commitment to the common cause and goals and who are result oriented, should be there. Non-abiding types, arrogant or dominant quarrelsome types, with whom other team members may not gel or feel comfortable, should always be avoided in forming the Team, which must be cohesive and appear well knit. All team members should work towards a common goal.

 

A leader should be able to take quick decisions and should never appear to be indecisive, dithering, hesitating or who does not know, what is to be done in the prevailing circumstances. Whatever the circumstances, a leader must not only act decisively but also appear to be acting that way. He has to ensure that none of his team members take undue advantage of their position, indulge in corruption or nepotism.

 

Like in our country, prime minister has unlimited powers for governing the entire country. If any one of his ministers, who are directly or indirectly under him, indulge in corruption or other illegal actions to the detriment of country’s interest, it is his responsibility because it is he who has chosen them. While making a selection, he has to choose men of integrity, commitment and those who can get things done. He should never appear to be taking sides or biased and must move swiftly and decisively for or against any one, whenever the need arises.

 

A leader never blames those under him for failures but gives full credit to his team and share their accolades, when they perform well and succeed in their ventures. He should appear to be giving type to those he leads. He must be appreciative of difficulties faced by those under him and must try his best to make those he leads, as comfortable as possible, to get the best  results. In case of any crisis, those under him, should have the explicit feeling that he shall support them and in a calamity, would not ditch them.    

 

CONSISTENCY is another hallmark of leadership. A true leader has to perform always and every time, not once in a while, to be a true leader. He is a quick learner and not only learns from his mistakes, but also from others’ mistakes. They are open to reason, do not make excuses and are careful thinkers. They think fast, can think about alternatives and possibilities, create new ideas, which they themselves follow and make others follow. They must always appear to be calm, composed and unruffled even in trying circumstances which they would be facing often, as leaders.

 

Physical inadequacies are not a deterrent for a real leader. Franklin Rooswelt (1882- 1945) was one of the most successful Presidents of United States, in spite of the fact that he was physically challenged and moved on a wheelchair. For people to have explicit faith in the leadership, leader must always be above board, leads by personal example and says ‘Come on, men’ NOT ‘Go on men’. A true leader must inspire his followers, stand by them in turmoil and shares their joys, triumphs and hopes. True leaders often, do not go where the path may lead, in stead go where there is no path and leave a trail.  

 

Radiant energy and invincible determination, are the prerequisites of a leader. Good leaders create a vision, articulate their vision and drive everyone towards its attainment. Normally, a leader is alone at the top. He can be a trailblazer, a rebel and normally does what others don’t. A leader should never himself indulge in self praise. He should under promise and over deliver. He walks with the crowd but is always above the crowd.

 

Life is full of non-optional circumstances such as our birth, parentage, country, body size, colour of the skin etc. which we cannot change, but our destiny depends on optional things and circumstances such as meeting adversities, learning from failures, determination, carrying people along, competence, help we rendered, positive attitude, patience, from which true leaders emerge. A study of three hundred world leaders through the past centuries, has proved that 25% of those leaders had serious physical disabilities and 50% of them were raised in poverty and extreme adverse social conditions. But they made things happen. Any normal person would have accepted defeat and left. But it was their tenacity, dogged determination and perseverance, which ultimately won and helped them rise to dizzy heights. It was not that while going up, they were not laughed at or ridiculed, but ultimately they won and made destiny to happen. All success stories of the world leaders are the biographies of persons for whom it did not matter from where they started, what mattered was where they finished. 

While going up on the ladder, all leaders, achievers or winners had a price to pay. And they were prepared to pay that price or ready to sacrifice, whatever success demanded. Talent, of course, is born but it needs commitment, determination, capacity to bear pain and tenacity from which true leadership emerges. A leader never wilts under pressure, rather flourishes and blossoms in trying circumstances and hard conditions. When he succeeds, people only see his success. He only knows what he has gone through to achieve that goal. Many ‘leaders’ turn into failures, when they give up, never realizing how close they were to success. Little more tenacity, effort, determination and perseverance might have catapulted them to success. Path of both failure and success is the same but destinies are different, made by them and them alone.

 

There is difference between civilian leaders and military commanders. Military officers have to be both commanders as well as leaders of men. In civil, people’s destiny is linked to the leaders’ and their actions, while in military, it is the question of life and death of a soldier in the battle, where an officer has to be an embodiment of personal courage and valor. A soldier’s individual capability to fight and give off his best, will be exhibited by the force of officer’s personality. In civil, the followers accept him as a leader but in military, they are bound by the leader under the law but their performance, often, depends upon the quality and force of the military commander’s personality and leadership potential.

 

A true leader must know when to step down or retire and make way for younger and deserving people to take over, whom he should have trained well, to take over from him, as and when the need arises. He should create a clear line of succession, so that when he retires or dies, there is no fight or confusion for taking over. He should never create a situation, where either he has to be wheeled out or has to leave in a box. Unfortunately, in our country, it happens so. Leaders continue to remain at the helm even at the ripe old age of eighty or ninety years or till they fall ill or die. In the name of experience, seniority or past successes, they do not vacate the chair they have been occupying. This creates frustration in the minds of those who should take over.

 

Such senior people, do not trust anyone, neither do they delegate the responsibility. You see many organizations dying premature death, because of their reluctance to give up the chair. The organization, for which they have worked so hard and given their life, dies with them. Or in many cases, leader is only at the helm for name’s sake, and juniors take full advantage of his incapacity and physical disability to move about, indulging in all sort of malpractices, corruption and nepotism on his behalf.

 

Unfortunately, in our country, Leadership has become synonym with corruption. Shamelessness has become the hallmark of most of the leaders, be it politicians or bureaucrats or anyone in power. Leaders must be answerable and accountable for their deeds and misdeeds and must come true on the ‘Nolan Principals of Public Life’-SELFLESSNESS, INTEGRITY, OBJECTIVITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, OPENNESS, HONESTY & LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE’.

 

Leaders never think ‘I’. They think ‘WE’, the TEAM. True leaders understand that their job is to make the team function. They accept the responsibility, but ensure that Team gets the credit. Leadership does not mean that you give up your individuality, but it is sharing your individuality with the team, for the benefit of the team. This teamwork is nothing but co-operation of collective capability, that empowers the team and generates synergy. Co-operation is working together for collective good, for mutual gains. Sharing responsibility for Success or Failure, is what the Leadership is all about.

 

To become an effective Leader, inculcate the following Qualities and Attitudes in yourself and your Team ;

1.    Develop a Service Attitude: Service Attitude is the Essence of any organization. Everything flows from it and nourished by it.

2.    Put your heart in whatever you do: Many things catch your Eyes but concentrate on things which catch your heart.

3.    Focus on Priorities: Concentrate on the Critical few, avoiding the insignificant many.

4.    Leaders should be appreciative: Nothing drives your Team for better and improved performance, like Appreciation and Recognition.

5.    Take Initiative which lies in taking calculated risk.

6.    Humour, Optimism & Enthusiasm are the hallmark of every effective Leader.

7.    Reinforce Core Values: Things that matter most, must not be at the mercy of the things that matter least.

8.    Have courage to lose sight of the shore, if you want to discover new oceans.

9.    Take care of your team: Accolade are for the team. Responsibilities and Blames must be accepted by the Leader. Always Aim for the heart. They don’t care, how much you know until they know how much you care.

 

Since leadership begins from within, a successful leader has to be the best of so many things. He has to be a prolific thinker with high self esteem and must bring everyone he leads, to his way of thinking. He must be distinct with explicit faith and belief in himself but should never hesitate to learn from anyone. During the course of his leadership, he shall come across both successes and failures. He should never let people be complacent after success and when he fails, he should be able to keep the morale of the people high, instill hope and motivate them to rebound. He must always be on the lookout for better ways. By habit, while facing any situation, he should always respond quickly thinking of all pros and cons, but he should never react on impulse and should never let his emotions go out of control. Of course, he should be of compromising nature but never compromise on values, ethics or morals even temporarily. He should not only win but appear to be a winner and best bet to his followers. If he fails, he should accept full blame and responsibility for failure while credit for the success must be shared with those he leads.

  

Even God, when He was contemplating this universe, seems to have given a serious thought to the Leadership aspect of the planet and made ‘Human’ species as the sole leaders of the universe with power to think. Through their thinking power, it is only human beings, who can change the world and none else. With the Privilege of Leadership, comes enormous responsibilities and duties, which we should not forget. Only after a leader has done all his duties and responsibilities, he is entitled to the privileges, not like the horde of our present day political leaders, who want all the perks and privileges but are not as keen on duties and responsibilities. For a leader, interest and welfare of the country comes first, always and every time, while those of the people, then. Their own welfare and interest should come last, always and every time

 

Be it animals or humans, it is easier and better to lead, rather than push. Positive leadership leads by example, wherein a leader shows up before everyone else, very patiently he guides them, coaches them, from his experience and dynamism shows them of better ways of doing things, creates conditions so that workers do not find the work boring or monotonous. When more production results from this kind of teamwork, all sorts of benefits trickle down to everyone, improving their lot. While doing the same work, workers smile and consider their work place their own, their home, their temple. Simple fact of productivity or healthy industrial relationship is, Happy and satisfied workers produce much more than unhappy ones. They take better care of company’s books, building, machinery and customers because they see their own destiny linked with company’s. Positive leadership is all about performance, work culture, results and employees feeling one with the company, not a separate entity.

 

It is a myth that leaders are born. No. They are not. They are made. All the qualities described above, which a leader must possess, can be developed with little practice. It’s true that some leaders find leadership come naturally to them, while for some others, it might be little more difficult. But leadership is nothing but overcoming difficulties and adversities. In life, nothing comes cheap or easy. You have to sacrifice something to get something else. But being a true and faithful leader, is a big reward in itself and from which, you can draw ample peace and satisfaction in life.

 

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A  LEADER Attracts followers & knows how to hold them Together.

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History of the world is but the Biography of Great Leaders.

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Role of a Leader is to create more Leaders.

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We often do things to impress others.

Instead always try to express yourself honestly.

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Mind is everything. We become what we Think.


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