March 23, 2015

What a coincidence

It just happens to be Pakistan day today and while I was writing my PMA I was listening to a documentary on the partition of the subcontinent and how it happened. The documentary highlighted three people of high significance. The first was M. A. Jinnah leading the Muslims, second was Gandhi leading the Hindus and the third was Viceroy Lord Mountbatten sent by the British to finalise the partition. Both Jinnah and Gandhi were part of the congress and partition committee. But their ability to lead the masses had nothing to with their positional powers. It would be very unusual if millions of people just started following someone for no reason. What Jinnah and Gandhi did was that they made these people realise that they had no vested interests in what they were doing. They did not want money or fame, they had a vision far bigger than materialistic things and people believed in that vision. So on one side we have these two leaders who had charisma and were driven by their vision. No one really questioned them.

On the other side we had the viceroy who had been commanding another part of the British Empire and was now here to deal with the matter. He was known to be a decisive leader who deliberated before making decisions to rationalise but at the same time was quick and rigid with his decisions. He did not really go down as a likeable person in the history books because he favored some people over others. From that his leadership style could be considered at paternalistic as he listened to everyone but did whatever he decided and no one could budge him from his decision. He also picked favorites and ignored what and who he deemed unimportant.

The popularity of these people in the history books can be argued by their capacity as leader and the role they played. Maybe if Gandhi was sent by the British to deal with the separation he would have been just as disliked. But then again, they were in different capacity and they were really different people as well. They might have handled the situation differently in a way that everyone stayed happy, mutual consent. Jinnah and Gandhi were phenomenal leaders and they had millions of followers because they had the authentic leadership style. Their leadership was based on their personal traits making them more likeable and inspirational.

So there is a leadership lesson from the history books. Hope it makes sense. Happy Pakistan Day!

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