Leadership - An Unwavering spirit.9, May, 2014, by Seema Bhatnagar
The word "Leadership" has a special significance in the history of this world. Only because of great leaderships, this world has seen rapid development and revolutionary changes, be it any field, science, technology, politics, philosophy etc. Without great leadership history would have been without streaks of brilliance. It reminds us of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and many more who incredibly changed the path of history with their leadership spirit. A burning desire to do something for others or to create something new and meaningful drove them moment to moment and that desire only helped them to overcome the hurdles and troubles on the way.
Looking closely, a very predominant attribute of their personality is being selfless; their each and every act exuded this attribute in full vibrancy. They communicated their mission and vision with full eloquence and showed high degree of confidence in each and every act they performed. They were all excellent rhetoricians and could motivate masses for a single mission and vision of life.
Leadership and Society
The work done by leaders brings immeasurable goodness and prosperity to society. The discoveries, inventions, revolutions and struggles and innovations have brought a whole new face to society. Done by few but have made millions others capable in one or the other way. An interesting example would be of facebook and google. Internet or World Wide Web which we see today was designed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991, at that time it was a small network of computers for research project but today it has grown to a humongous size where millions of computers and cell phones are connected.
Your leadership starts at whatever level or capacity you are. You can be a leader for your children, spouse, and colleagues at work, amongst friends or even amongst strangers. You have ample opportunities to act as a leader; you simply need an eye to narrow it down and act.
Are you a leader?
Since childhood, each one of us craves to get a title of a leader, doesn't matter coming first in exams or winning a game in sports competition. This title gives a feeling of being in power and a deep satisfaction to be recognized as superior to others. Even when in jobs the desire to be a leader constantly breathes in us and implicitly we seek ways to get this title through promotions or appreciation from bosses etc.
Usually, the word "leader" gives a flavor of power over others and to satisfy our little ego we love to wear this title. This is not wrong because going by behavior of bosses in jobs or teachers in school or parents at home, we develop a strong belief that being a leader means having a power over others to control or to get things done with force and manipulation. Contrary to this popular belief a true leader never seeks any power rather seeks ways to empower others. A true leader always think good of other and is willing to go extra mile to bring good to weak and less capable. This definition of leadership hasn't changed over time. In corporate arena also successful leader is the one who put people first and go extra mile to get the best possible for their teams, with clear mission and vision.
History, politics and our day to day life have made us to experience different flavors of leadership styles. There could be autocratic (one who believes in ruling over others without including others), democratic (take decision but include others also), Transformational (includes others by encouragement and motivation for performance). Transformational is the most desirable style of leadership in corporate arena but different situations at work and in personal life demand different styles of leadership. One needs to wear different style adapting to situations.
Keeping this fact in mind, following are some distinguishing qualities of a true leader. Just check how many of these qualities you possess.
- Strong personal values.
- Capability to tread through difficult times.
- Creative enough to figure out the solutions to tough problems.
- Ability to take risk and think ahead of others.
- Helpful and cooperative.
- Have vision for self.
- Have a healthy and positive ego.
- Always ready to undertake challenge.
- Excellent time management skills.
- Dedicated and committed.
- Excellent due diligence.
- Excellent ability to manage and resolve conflicts.
- Focused on work rather than disturbed by the fact what others say.
- Ability to handle challenging and unexpected situations.
- Well in control of emotions.
- Respectful and encouraging towards others.
- Honest with a habit of accepting personal mistakes.
- Do not manipulate others.
There are thousands of books available in market preaching about how to become a leader or how to develop leadership skills, or how to be a successful leader blah blah but the truth is, it is not just a skill it is a very deep personal character involving mindsets, emotions, behavior and past experiences. Had it been a skill, probably the word "leader" would have lost its sanctity by now. You may enhance your skills and become a leader to get things done but the true leadership is something deeply seated in personal character.
I will not say that I possess all the qualities of a good leader but it is equally true that in several situations I have observed myself working for others without expecting any gains. Never liked others to be treated unfairly or inhumanly. Many a time I found myself questioning leaders in authority just with a pure cause that I want leader to be fair towards others. In many situations I faced frictions with my bosses, for the reason that I always expect my seniors to work for others and not just for self.
Throughout my career I have seen very few good leaders. Mostly people are scared of raising issues and have a deep insecurity and fear of losing their image. Even on holding powerful positions people are scared of making decisions and think of saving their jobs first than thinking about the good their decision can bring to others. It is true that in a corporate world emotions and humanity take back seat but at the end of the day a true leader must have a capability to understand emotions and humanity to lead others.
Corporates are desperately looking for people who possess excellent leadership skills. The top slots of CEO, COO etc. need individuals who possess extra ordinary leadership skills. In every interview, organizations seek individuals with excellent leadership skills, people do pass interviews but when it comes to real battle ground that attitude simply vanishes behind the fear of making failures or fear of losing job.
I have seen some silent leaders in my teams who were not so extrovert but were hard working and helped others to cross through tough terrains. Though they were not explicitly labeled but implicitly everybody regarded and respected them as a leader. In few of my projects under my leadership there were individuals whom I didn't title them as leaders but their attitude of helping others and solving problems of a team earned everybody's respect. Personally, I feel such individuals are the silent and real leaders.
Some of my colleagues who helped me in difficult times I still remember them and have special regards for them. I regarded them more because they were the true leaders than the person who was in authority. I am still in touch with those colleagues of mine and they are still the same with same set of qualities of being simple, helpful and thoughtful etc. With perfect qualities of leaderships, now they are excelling as leaders in their organizations with strong titles. Really, such gems are rare to find and organizations are fortunate to have such leaders.
Some of the historical personalities whom I adore as leaders are Mahatma Gandhi and Leonardo da Vinci. They are completely different in their leadership styles and have left an indelible mark in history. I am extremely influenced by their character and leadership styles. Mahatma Gandhi was a leader of masses while Leonardo da Vinci was a solo leader but had changed the history in many ways. Their works are simply unparalleled.
I believe each one of us has that inner leader; it needs only the right environment and nurturing to see the light. On several occasions I have seen people fighting for a cause or helping others for no personal gain, this proves that each one has that inner leader and it only needs a little nudge to come into action.
My personal liking is for a leader who has vision and mission in life and has a spirit to work selflessly and is always concerned about the good of others rather than seeking ways to fulfill personal interests. It is actually difficult to find such leaders but in my opinion such are leaders we truly need not just in organizations but for the betterment of society and country as a whole.
How to be a great leader?
You don't need to create a billion dollar company of several thousand employees to be called as a leader. As a matter of fact, each one of us is a leader in personal capacity and it is only a matter of recognizing this fact. People who are on path of personal growth striving to achieve the best of personal potential have already started learning the art of becoming great leader. Like any other art, this is also something which cannot be taught or learnt from books but must be learnt personally with experiences of life. Every challenging life situation presents an opportunity to exercise leadership skills, it is simply a matter of attitude how you utilize the opportunities. You don't need a set of people to lead to be called as true leader, if you are able to lead yourself through challenging times it is enough for you to be called as a true leader. That spirit will naturally come into action when you are with people.
As a leader, your vision, mission and persistence should be inspiring to people around you. Remember, these qualities must come from the bottom of your heart else you would be taken as a fake leader who lack authenticity and looking ways to seek popularity.
Develop an attitude to fight with situations with positivity and optimism. Instead of opposing problems and troubles just embrace them and see how many skills you possess to overcome it. Drop your petty ego and develop a healthy and positive ego. A healthy ego is necessary for a leader to keep self on a path of persistence. In every situation, learn to put others first and see how your actions can change somebody's life and how much good it can bring to others. It is not about social work, it is about spirit of empowering others for leadership.
Set a wheel in action
Your leadership starts at whatever level or capacity you are. You can be a leader for your children, spouse, and colleagues at work, amongst friends or even amongst strangers. You have ample opportunities to act as a leader; you simply need an eye to narrow it down and act. Leaders are role models for society and the quality of leadership is so contagious that people get inspired naturally the moment any leader comes in vicinity.
If you can create one leader under your leadership, your life is really fulfilled because you have already set the wheel of action by creating leader. Your age, country, gender, geography has no significance to lead others, the only requirement is that burning desire to bring the best to others and empower them to become leaders.
Do not wait others to give you title of a leader, you are already a leader, get start thinking, walking, talking and acting like a leader to change the history of this world.