Redefined Leadership Role in Corporate Sector


Dr. Vikas Agarwal
Finance Faculty & Academic Coordinator
ICFAI National College

As changes sweep across generations, as technology overthrows existing parameters, what distinguishes an organization from others is its ability to lead and set the pace. Once this is understood, the real challenge is in actually driving this change by harnessing individual strength and using technology as an enabler of this change. We function in a world today where Management, Leadership and Motivation are being redefined. In today's ultra-competitive business environment leadership is about building winning characteristics in to the organization so that achievement levels exceed normal expectations. Leadership is about doing things that Management does not define.

"Either you lead me or you follow me, or else get out of the way."
Lee Iacocca (former Chairman of Chrysler Corporation)

The words above may seem full of attitude and arrogance, but this man single-handedly transformed the fortunes of Chrysler Corporation and his autobiography is now a religion in itself. Transforming fortunes, be it of people or of corporations is what the leader is supposed to do. He is the one who has to swim against the tide, bring about revolution and change the course of history.

Over the countries the history of the world has been shaped up by charismatic, effective leaders whose confidence, belief in their causes and head-on attitude made them change the fortune of commoners, countries and corporations. Be it politics or business the success of an idea depends upon the leadership attributes, qualities of its propogator. In the arena of politics Churchill, Hitler, Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi have such hold over the people, that people were ready to give their lives or take other's lives for the causes espoused by them.

If we turn to the arena of business, leaders such as J.R.D. Tata, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Dhiru Bhai Ambani & others built up great business empires from scratch. The empires stood on the strength of their personal conviction, charisma and amazing leadership attributes. It was not that these giants did not face failures but the failures did not shake their belief in themselves and instead enthused them with new fervour and zeal. It is not that leaders never fall, but if they fall they rise like Phoenix once again. The true test of leadership comes only in times of adversity.

A leader is not a single unit, it is not as if he single-handedly performs miracles but he convinces people of his ideas and thoughts. He breaks away from established norms, gears up to challenge mediocrity and brings and binds together people him diverse backgrounds. The energy and the persona of the leader charges up his followers.

In any organization people first and foremost look at their personal gains. It is the leader who inspires them to work towards the common goal of betterment and advancement of the organization. It is the role of the leader to make each and every member of the organization feel important. He should work democratically, giving them ownership of processes, however small it may be. To create a winning team leader has to promote independent thinking, encourage new ideas, show willingness to take risk and inspire excellence and loyalty among his subordinates. He also has to help employees focus on their strength and help them realize their full potential.

Our well-loved President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam so succinctly puts it when he says-"As a leader always step forward to take the blame when things go wrong, always let the team take the credit when things go rights."

The quintessential secret of a leader lies in appreciating and reconciling individual differences amongst the team member. Unravelling talent is in itself an extremely enjoyable and gratifying experience and a good leader must diligently seek to interact with and manage diverse behavioural patterns. Good leadership therefore is about being truly discerning. Another question that arises in any discussion about leadership is that "Are leaders born or are leader made? And also how much part does education play in the making of a leader?"

Well history is replete with examples of leaders, who rose from anonymity to great heights of fame and fortune on the strengths of their personal conviction and innane capabilities. According to G.R. Terry"In a leader the lukewarm desire for achievement is transformed into a burning passion for accomplishment."

Leader in general and great leaders in particular have some exceptional inborn leadership qualities, which are bestowed upon them by the divine power. The simple argument in favour of "Born Leader" is that if we could train and educate people to be leaders, than there would have been thousands of Dhiru Bhais JRDs, Nehrus and Gandhi's and as the opposite of this is true, we can safely say that the leader is born not made. Leadership is not simply the ability to manage people or about visionary skill. It goes further than all that. At the core of the concept of leadership is a sharp understanding of all the business factors. A leader also needs to be patient, logical and weigh all the pros and cons before arriving at a decision.

Another question that we need to answer about leadership is how much and to what extent does the education of a person has a role to play in making him a leader. If we turn the pages of history in the arena of business we have examples of a Dhiru Bhai Ambani who built the behemoth "Reliance" and he was just a matriculate, Ghanshyam Das Birla also did not had distinguished education, but on the other hand Rahul Bajaj is a Harvard graduate and Aditya Birla had studied in the eponymous MIT Internationally the biggest entrepreneurial success story of our times. "Bill Gates" is a Harvard dropout, education therefore enhances the charisma and refines a person, but not necessarily make a great leader out of him.

In to day's times leaders are adopting open-door policy to connect with their subordinates where by the junior most employee of the organization can walk into his office with a complain or an idea. Such leaders are popular and well loved. However a recent research came out with a startling revelation that the more autocratic and arrogant the leader, the more productive is his work force, implying that fear as much as love and appreciation brings out the best in the people. The art of leadership varies from leader to leader. Some leaders take a cold and analytical approach to things, while others are aggressively emotional. Different situations call for different kinds of leadership. Most effective and successful leader however, have one thing in common; they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence. More than that they are capable of getting their people to trust them and harness their energies towards the attainment of that vision.

Finally a leader has to manage the overall environment of his organization-both internal and external to facilitate the progress and growth of the organization. In conclusion we can say that a leader has to be a people-manager. He has to be Charismatic, awe-inspiring and an iron hand. He has to kill the competition, zoom ahead at the speed of light, so that the competition is left far behind and finally a leader should become a brand itself.

Dr. Vikas Agarwal
Finance Faculty & Academic Coordinator
ICFAI National College

Source: E-mail November 30, 2007


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