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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?

To inspire, excite and arouse the followers is a central leadership attribute in all the situations.

A must read on leadership by Harvard Business Review. What it takes to be an authentic leader, an inspirational leader, a true leader? This book takes through various qualities required for an individual to demonstrate true leadership. Some of the noteworthy points in brief are:

An inspirational leadership consist of the following
i)                    Leadership is about tensions between revealing strength but at the same time about showing weakness.
ii)                   It is about being an individual as well as conforming.
iii)                 It is about establishing intimacy with the followers but also keeping enough distance.

Excellence in any one of the above is insufficient for a truly inspirational leadership. Through interplay amongst above areas guided by situation sensing that great leaders find the right style for the right moment.

While there is no concrete test or result that can conclude or prove the leadership qualities, it is about the individual sense that prevails on many occasions. Had great financial results been the measure of leadership, the example of collapse of Enron and Satyam Tech couldn’t have proven it wrong, but as a matter of fact, both cases have been great examples of poor leadership. An organization can have competent management with poor leadership which can deliver exemplary results or an inspirational leadership only which can deliver the same. Competent Management is not equal to Inspirational leadership.

Be Authentic :  Being self and not enacting someone else is a crucial aspect of leadership. Sir Richard Branson is an example who displays his casual and adventurous self and still leads others without losing his identity. The important part of being authentic is that the leader needs to maintain consistency between words and deeds.
Knowing Yourself, Being Yourself and Disclosing yourself are vital ingredients of effective leadership.
An organization often inhibits the individuals from being their actual self (authentic). So the tough task for a leadership lies in creating environment that individuals are able to exhibit their authenticity and prepare themselves for the leadership positions.

Taking Personal Risk:  One who attempts at displaying leadership or is given a leadership position, is exposed and has many things to lose even at the personal level. This opportunity is of disclosure of personal strength and if not delivered, could be a massacre of personal confidence. Nevertheless, true leaders learn from the mistakes and move ahead. Earning respect from the followers is a never ending process for a leader.

Purpose : Unless you are clear about your purpose and your values and are doing something that you really care about, it is difficult to be a leader. With clarity in the purpose, the passion comes into play which takes the individual towards consistent effort and persistence.

Leaders recognize that group goes through four stages viz.
1)  FORMING – Team is put together.
2)  STORMING – There is conflict about what to do and how to do.
3)  NORMING – Some agreement is reached about how to work together.
4)  PERFORMING – The team now focuses wholeheartedly on the task.

There is an inevitable progression between these four stages. Some teams disintegrate at FORMING stage itself. A major problem is common in a leadership style which makes an unrealistic attempts to demonstrate or demand quick results which involves leaping straight from FORMING to the PERFORMING stage.

3 Fundamental Axioms of Leadership :
i)                    Situational: What is required of the leader will always be influenced by the situation. History is full of examples of leaders who found their time and place but whose qualities lost their appeal as things moved on. Eg Winston Churchill was an inspirational wartime leader but his style was ill suited to the reconstruction agenda of postwar Britain.

ii)                   Non – Hierarchical: The common understanding that only those who occupy the top positions in an organization has probably damaged our capacity to understand leadership more than anything else. Hierarchy alone is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the exercise of leadership. The best example of non hierarchical leadership exhibition is in the army where each individuals are coached and developed towards leadership role and given the opportunity to exercise it.

iii)                 Relational: Always between the leader and the led. Edgy or harmonious, the leader knows how to keep the relation and inspire, arouse and excite the team to perform.

Leadership is never an end in itself, that it is always characterized by the pursuit of an overarching purpose. It is neither simply a technique nor can it be achieved through the careful following of a recipe or formula. It is rather made real only when it is exercised in pursuit of a goal. But which goal? Increasing economic profit? Healing sick children? Or destroying the competition? The leader must choose. And that choice is fundamentally an ethical one. Examples of charismatic leaders exciting their followers in pursuit of a goal, an unethical one, does often bring an unfathomable harm in the society.
It is precisely because leadership can be so powerful in releasing human energy that leaders must ask and answer tough ethical questions.

Leadership is hard, but worth it. So don’t let us end on a pessimistic note. There is always  a constant and pleasant surprises by the ways in which leaders in a myriad of settings bring meaning and high performance to organizations or group being led.. They provide purpose and excitement; they live on the edge between uniqueness and a necessary degree of conformity. They make a difference.