5 Top Leadership Lessons

We are human beings, not human doings.

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Any organisation, team, community or family comes together as a result of human beings feeling drawn towards common ideals, motivation, cause, values… a common anchor that holds them together. Managing human emotions is one of the biggest challenges of leadership. Additionally, a leader has the responsibility of consistently being mindful while taking decisions for a larger good. This requires heightened self awareness so that the leader can act fearlessly. 

1. Passion to achieve a vision

Author Simon Sinek, in his book Start with Why, popularised the concept of the golden circle. If there is clarity on the core—the ‘why’ of an action—then the ‘how’ and ‘what’ fall into place. Indian freedom fighters were so inspired by the vision of a free India that they fearlessly walked into jails, faced bullets and took part in various movements to fulfill the dream of a free country. When a leader or entrepreneur holds the passion to fulfill a vision and excel, the inconvenience of trial and error completely fades away. It is this passion and commitment to a vision that drives performance and shapes a business. 

2. Building a sense of ownership among team members 

Building ownership in the team and delegating while keeping an eye on the ball requires a leader to ask a fundamental question: Is the desired outcome to build a sustainable institution of successful leaders or achieve personal success? 

Some years ago, I was coaching the business head of a growing organisation in a dynamic sector. Being part of the business since its inception, he had worn different hats simultaneously. With the organisation’s growth into multiple businesses, his role had changed from being a jack of all businesses to be a master of an enterprise. A great team comes together when the leader respects complementing strengths of team members and acknowledges them for their contribution.

3. Clarity of communication 

Communication is the key to building relationships, motivation, delegation, influencing and developing teams. Learning when to speak and when to stay quiet, or what words to use and not, allows a leader to positively influence and impact the team. Engaging actively with domain experts and aligning them with organisational goals and vision can allow the leader to let go of the operational responsibilities and focus on conceiving new ideas. Successful leaders need to be logical and creative while making decisions, and compassionate and intuitive while listening. 

4. Agility 

The volatility of the economic environment exerts pressure on businesses to reinvent their strategy and services at a rapid pace to stay competitive. Leadership is about observing and identifying opportunity and continuously cultivating them through innovation and initiative. 

Subconsciously and unknowingly, we are constantly adapting. Every role we play in life requires us to innovate ourselves. We all play many roles in a day. I am a mother, a colleague, a coach, a wife, a leader, a friend, a daughter and much more. The context changes each time—as do the players. When we learn to adapt ourselves seamlessly between our different roles, we play them effortlessly and remain true to ourselves. The reflection of our values in our roles becomes evident and we convey this harmony externally. 

Tata Motors shifted its entire Tata Nano car plant from West Bengal to Gujarat. They cut their losses rather than remain stuck in the why. They stayed focused on how to achieve their vision in the existing circumstances. It takes clarity of thought, courage and agility to take decisions for a larger good and move forward.

5. Letting go of significance 

Watching Zubin Mehta’s philharmonic orchestra perform, I noticed how each musician accept their roles as part of a team to perform seamlessly, and no one attempts to compete or stand out against another. This is true team spirit where excellence and winning collaborate with no fight for glory. The conductor is respected for his role as well. Sports and theatre are arenas where each player plays their best part in the interest of the team. To be a captain, our thought process has to be expansive and inclusive to envision the business strategy, bold to let go and take risks and nurturing to motivate and collaborate with different teams.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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