Prof R K Gupta
BE (Hons), MBA, FIE
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
E-mail : /

Today, perhaps more than ever, people are looking for leadership, both in our organizations and in our government, for guidance in navigating the challenges of an uncertain world. But what does it take to be a leader? How can we work to cultivate the admirable qualities of leadership within ourselves? Here are some guidelines:

Leadership isn't...

Leadership is...



Being right


Being consistent


Knowing the goal in advance



* Have a passion for excellence and hate bureaucracy
* Are open to ideas from everywhere
* Live quality...and drive cost and speed for competitive advantage
* Have the self-confidence to involve everyone and behave in a "boundary-less" fashion (open door policy)
* Create a clear, simple, reality-based vision
* Have enormous energy and the ability to energize others (Like engine of a Railway train.
A Big-C approach)

* Stretch...set aggressive goals...reward progress.
* See change as opportunity...not threat
* Have global brains...and build diverse and global teams
* Have excellent two-way communication and dissemination of information

One school of thought says leadership is situational. People choose a leader when they need one. Gandhi would not have become Father of nation, if there were no need for freedom struggle. Do you agree? Well, that may be partly true. But I am damn sure, he would have emerged great achiever somewhere else. So Leaders are born? Well, perhaps some leadership traits are by birth.

To Improve Leadership Skills:

* Take risks
* Be innovative. Create excitement. Experiment and update processes.
* Take charge
* Have expectations. Keep people on toes, a bit.
* Maintain a positive attitude
* Get out in front
* Commit to a better way
* Have the courage to challenge existing power bases and norms
* Go beyond defined boundaries. Look beyond beaten tracks.
* Motivate self and others
* Treat  people well and enable them to perform
* Keep a sense of humor about oneself and situations.

Leadership Lessons from Our Feathered Friends

1. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates up-lift for the following goose. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if the goose flew alone.

2. Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone; it quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the "lifting power" of the goose immediately in front.

3. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the point position.

4. The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.


Leadership is a behavior, not a title

You are not a leader simply because your title says you are. A good leader consistently displays a set of behaviors that people can look up to and depend on. Following are some examples of those behaviors.

Your main objective as a leader is to remove obstacles and barriers that prevent associates from doing their jobs; You manage the men. They will manage the work. You communicate the expectations and then to get out of the way and let your teams make it happen.

Check your ego at the door. Great leaders do not have big egos. If your employees sense that you want them to excel in order to advance your own agenda, you will lose their respect and their commitment to excellence. You must take the approach that you are interested in their success because you are truly interested in them…..and you must mean it!

Do not lead by intimidation and fear. Results from this type of management style are usually short-lived. The minute you step away, it inevitably begins to crumble. And you negatively impact creativity and internal communication via this method. The real key to leadership is to get people to do something not because you want them to or they have to, but because they want to, for the greater good of the organization.

There must be no retribution toward anyone who brings issues to management's attention by voicing an opinion or recommending a different way of doing things. You are there to foster an environment of cooperation and open communication. Intimidation, retribution and micromanagement have no place in any organization. This is non-negotiable.

Remember, you manage things and you lead people.

Leave the emotion out of disciplinary feedback. If you give feedback in a negative or confrontational way, it allows the individual the opportunity to avoid the real underlying issue at hand and focus on the emotion. Communicate the facts; set the expectation for future behavior and then have them develop a plan to address the issues. Involve them in the solution so they take ownership of the process. Remember, it's their problem, not yours. Don't take the monkey off their back.

Thank people…..and mean it. Genuinely thank people for their contributions. It's simple, it doesn't cost anything and the payback is enormous. People too often only hear about what they've done wrong. Tell them what they've done right as well and that you appreciate them for doing it.

Get into the habit of transferring knowledge. Just doing something for someone doesn't help them understand or prepare them for how to do it in the future. Ask questions like: What do you think you should do? Get them to think on their own and to be comfortable doing it. Many times people know the answer but are afraid to make a decision. Put the ball back in their court. You don't want to create a dependency where they always have to depend on you for the answers.

Remember that knowledge is only power if it is shared with others. If you think that you will become more valuable or even indispensable because you know something that no one else does, you're sadly mistaken. In fact, many times people with this attitude actually become an obstacle or an information blockage that needs to be handled or overcome.

Remember, "Catch a man a fish and you feed him for a day…Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Learn how to manage perception.
Find out how others perceive you and/or your department. If you or your department is being viewed negatively, then you need to deal with that perception, right or wrong. The question you need to ask yourself is "What am I going to do differently to change that perception and trigger a new one?"

Be solution-oriented. Think about how to solve the problem rather than just complain about it or give it to someone else to fix. Remember, you were hired by this company to be a problem solver. If you are not part of the solution, there is a possibility that you are a part of the problem. The same goes for your direct reports. Don't allow employees to complain for the sake of complaining. Teach them to be solution-oriented also. Don't take on their problem-solving obligations.

"Inspect what you expect" Your goal is to set expectations and then achieve them. If your employees know that you will be asking about or checking on the task or project you gave them, they will be much more apt to complete it. It also gives them a sense of priority. If you follow up on something, they get a better sense of its importance. Changing behaviors takes time and constant follow-up is a good way to change their current work habits.

Project a unified front as a leadership team. Present yourselves as a true team at all times. If people see cracks in the foundation, it begins to erode the entire organization. If you have any issues with any other leader in the organization, it should not be obvious to your employees at all.

When meeting with an employee or peer, make sure you focus your entire attention on them. Don't take phone calls, answer e-mails, etc. By doing so, you are sending out a message as to how important you view them. Your direct reports are deserving of your full attention. They are the reason you have a leadership role in the first place and should be of an extremely high value for you. Demonstrate it.

Challenge your employees. Good leaders constantly challenge their employees to greater heights. Your employees might not even know what they are capable of accomplishing. They might never have had anyone who cared enough about them to encourage, acknowledge and push them to new heights. They mighR evOn consider the process painful but they don't call it "growing pains" for nothing.

Put passion into what you do! Passion is contagious. Be energetic. Be excited. Love what you do. If you don't like what you do, you shouldn't be in the role. Your department's energy, happiness, dedication and the way they relate and communicate with each other will, over time, become a direct reflection of your leadership style. If you don't like what you see in your department, take a look inside yourself first.

Create a sense of urgency, but not a sense of panic. People need to know that what they do is important to the company and that the company needs to constantly strive for excellence. Things need to get done and every piece of the puzzle is equally important. Remember Parkinson's Law: "Work expands to fill the time allotted." Keep your employees busy. Constantly raise the bar. Work hard and play hard.

Develop leadership within your department. A great leader is not the one with the most employees but the one who creates the most leaders. Create a breeding ground for future company leadership by empowering them and allowing them to make decisions. Then support their decisions.

Always take the high road. There is a natural tendency to go down to the level of the problem or disagreement. Leaders need to stay above the fray. Don't allow yourself to be dragged down into a shouting match or unnecessary argument, where your emotions can get the best of you. Bring them up to your level, don't go down to theirs.

Walk your talk! Whatever you say, back it up with your actions. For example, if you say yours is a "learning organization," make sure you allow employees sufficient time for training and development. If you "empower" employees to make decisions, make sure you don't jump down their throats when they make the wrong one.

Remember this saying: My walk talks…and my talk talks. But my walk talks louder than my talk talks.

Lead by Example!

Acknowledgments :

This article does not specifically focus on Leadership for Managing Change in Organizations.
The article is based on author's own experiments in industry over last 25 years and the extracts from study material of AMA, NY, USA.

Prof R K Gupta
BE (Hons), MBA, FIE
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
E-mail : /

Source : E-mail

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