There are as many books on leadership as there are recognized leaders in this world, each calling upon the emerging leaders to follow a particular path. From the age old wisdom of saints, great philosophers and thinkers to the modern management gurus, we have a variety of leadership recipe to cook, serve and create a “followership”. As a life time student of leadership studies, I have been always fascinated by the rich and varied menu available to any practicing leader to understand, appreciate, assimilate and emulate such great success stories in their own walks of work and life. How does a budding leader go about doing this?
A “Leader in Being” looks around first to his immediate environment for support. Some of them are blessed with a family lineage and legacy. We have many such good examples from old stories of successful kingdoms, family run businesses, political dynasties and generations of entrepreneurs. Right from the days of the great epics, there is also evidence of such environmental sensitization supplemented by professional coaching. Experts in the form of a “Rajguru” or counselors in a king’s court or in more recent times, mentors or coaches discharge such responsibilities with great finesse and they get noticed world over for bringing up their progeny. We have such examples in the field of sports, entertainment and adventure pursuits as well.
A third step in the learning process is when a leader learns from his team. In this context, every human interaction of a leader and by a leader is a unique learning experience for the leader as well as those being led. How one benefits out of such distinguishes the successful leader from the “also ran types”. A leader who is open to learn from his environment, his peers, his mentors and coaches and above all from his team stands a good chance to succeed in his mission and life and is likely to leave a legacy worth emulating by others.
A “Learning Leader” can travel only up to a certain extent in his leadership journey. In order to leave a legacy, he or she needs to leave a “footprint” behind when they leave the scene.
The quality of such a foot print will depend on the contribution made by the leader and the difference he or she has been able to make in the lives of those with whom they have interacted with in their pursuit of leadership. Furthermore, has the leader created a unique identity for oneself will make the transference of legacy very interesting. In modern day workplace with its rich tapestry of processes, protocols, systems and technology, there is a great challenge for leaders to create an “identity” for oneself which distinguishes them from the crowd. This may not necessarily involve heroic deeds or acts of valor, but small acts done with empathy, compassion, understanding and an application of one’s own belief systems. A successful leader assimilates and synthesizes all his experiences and learning and carves out a niche for himself when practicing the art of leadership. This and this step alone will help a leader create a distinct identity for himself or herself in their work life.
In order to achieve and excel in this pursuit, a leader needs to first clear all his inhibitions, prejudices and mindsets, be open to learn from anyone and subordinate his or her personal interests in favor of the larger interest of the community he or she is privileged to lead. A passionate determination combined with demonstrated humility will go a long way in achieving a unique leader identity in the modern day corporate arena. When the leaders are at their personal best, they challenge the process, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way and encourage the heart.
This is true leadership.