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Tag: leadership

Are you a leader? – part 2 of 2

As a leader, what is expected of us? In verse 21 of chapter 3 of the Gita, Lord Krishna says the following.

"Whatever a great man does, other men also do. Whichever standard he sets, the world follows it."

This is a very interesting shloka, and it seems like a motivational quote for one’s goal setting, doesn’t it? We should all have great goals, be great leaders, so that people follow in our footsteps. But that’s not all.

Krishna in this verse is also talking about Himself. Is he subjected to the same rules? He says he is! Isn’t He also constantly working to keep the universe running? Brahma creating, Vishnu sustaining, Shiva destroying, in a sense?

My Guru would be another example – an already-realized soul, but why is he working so hard? Why would he need to do aarti thrice a day? Why would he choose to live his life in a rural setting to help educate the poor? Why would he need to wake up at 5 am daily to do yoga? Why does he work 7 days a week 365 days a year?

Because as Krishna says, “whatever a great man does, other men also do. Whichever standard he sets, the world follows it.” What are each one of us doing? What are we striving to achieve? It is a question we need to answers for ourselves, and honestly.

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Are you a leader? – part 1 of 2

Yes you are. One way or another. How, you ask?

Because you are a son/daughter/mother/father/brother/sister/colleague/friend, and that too a one of a kind.

As a parent, your kids look up to you as their leader.

As the one running the household, your spouse looks up to you.

As the one running the family, your family members look up to you.

As a guide for life, your siblings look up to you.

As a mentor, your employees look up to you.

As a shoulder to rest upon, your friends rely on you.

Aren’t you thus a born leader? Aren’t we all?

Now that we understand this, how should we conduct ourselves? Lord Krishna has a clear directive for each one of us. Coming tomorrow… stay tuned!

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5 levels up

The ‘level 5 leader’ is an awesome outcome of Jim Collins’ research. He covers this in great detail in his book Good to Great as well. What is this level 5, and how did he get there? Rather surprisingly, Jim wasn’t even looking for leadership to be one of the defining qualities of an amazing company. It makes sense right? Leaders exist everywhere – bad companies, good companies and great companies. Yet why do only some succeed and not others? Thinking thus, he proceeded to almost remove the ‘leadership’ component of his research.

Until he discovered that not all leaders are created equal. And voila, 5 levels of leadership! This is somewhat like Maslow pyramid of needs, except this is for leaders. Level 1 is about individual skills. Level 2 is team player skills. Level 3 is management skills. Level 4 is leadership skills, which is not just figuring out what to do, but also motivating your team to want to achieve it themselves.

So what was level 5, that led to the companies where these leaders worked outperform to such an extent? It was a combination of two things: humility and willpower. The indomitable human spirit, will, where it’s there, there’s a way – is well known. But humility? It’s not just the self-effacing type. Rather, it is a specific type of humility, defined as the ability to recognize the flaws and faults that you have that you have to grow past with honesty.

And where would one build such humility from? Only from failure. We are all afraid of failure. But it is actually failure which builds success. Imagine combining this humility, with the will to not just do something selfishly (not a leader), but to work for a greater purpose. Incredible.

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Degree to lead

What is the difference between a leader and a follower? Is it about brilliance, IQ, strength, awards etc.?

A leader has followers while the follower doesn’t! It’s about as simple as that. Leaders are able to demonstrate a vision and inspire his/her followers.

Contrary to popular perception, leaders aren’t born. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, talks of level 5 leaders, and mentions the following characteristics – A level 5 leader:

  1. Is unafraid to acknowledge that s/he doesn’t know the answer/solution.
  2. Is unafraid to display their vulnerabilities
  3. Never says no to any new opportunities
  4. Is always keen on learning
  5. Is always humble
  6. Is always looking out for their followers
  7. Is often quiet, reserved, shy
  8. has their ambition is first and foremost for the cause, for the organization and its purpose, not themselves

Notice that not even one point is about academics, education or credentials. Isn’t this a great equalizer then?

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To rule or not

Not everyone can lead. But those who can, must. Why? Because if leaders don’t lead, then followers will lead. And not everyone is suited to leadership. Leadership is about helping others achieve what they want, while orchestrating collective good outcomes.

This thought can be expanded to other domains as well. If one has a charitable bent of mind, it is most important that s/he strives to earn more wealth. If s/he wants to donate large sums of money, having money to donate is an obvious pre-requisite! If someone is outstanding in soccer or music, then what use is it if their talents are suppressed in the wake of becoming doctors, engineers or lawyers?

There is major dearth of talent in a number of fields, with most people taking the path well trodden. At the same time, several unexpected leaders have emerged, both companies and people, in a wide variety of technology led disruptions. Indeed technology has helped age really stay just a number, while rendering gender and background inconsequential.

The world would be a better place if each one of us did our part with full gusto, in the larger interest of society, unworried by the consequences. Plato had the final say on this, “The heaviest penalty of declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior.

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