All entries for Sunday 10 February 2013
February 10, 2013
To understand the characteristics that make a true leader, one must not forget to analyse a leader they look up to. One of the many leaders I look up to is Mahatma Gandhi. A step by step analysis of what makes him a true leader is what I will be discussing:
• Strength of commitment: He believed in certain ideologies throughout his existence; satyagrah (insistence on truth), boycotting British goods, non-Aligned movement, etc. The sense of commitment to his values that he brought in each and every commoner led to implicit trust in his methodology and brought him massive support. This is the foremost imperative feeling a leader should instil in his followers.
• A calm demeanour throughout: A leader should not flutter in the face of adversity. He should solve all problems in a calm, cool and collected fashion. When faced with severe opposition from the British government which was borderline aggressive, Gandhi retaliated by showing extreme calm. In fact this is where the phenomenon of ‘non-violence’ was born. He proved through his composed attitude that there is no weapon more potent than facing problems with calm.
• Lead by example: I feel that a thing that sets a leader apart is that they say less and do more - as the cliché of actions speaking louder than words goes. Good leaders prove their worth through actions. During the partition which led to the forming of two separate states of India and Pakistan, Gandhi went on a hunger strike to oppose this separation, and it is believed that his efforts did cease the partition for a certain period of time.
• Compassion and patience: A leader should be ready to hear out the problems of his team and address these issues with patience. Gandhi, after hearing the pleas of farmers of Champaran and Kheda in India, decided to act upon it. He used the simple tools of non-violence and non-cooperation to convince the authorities against growing cash crops in that region. Thus, like a true leader, he addressed even the smallest of issues with utmost compassion.
In my previous blog, I discussed whether leaders are born or made, which happens to be a fairly old topic. As far as charisma is concerned, there is a very strong notion that charisma is an innate quality that nature seems to bless some of us with. Charisma encompasses the emotional intelligence and grace that draws people towards us. Being an effective communicator is just one aspect of being charismatic. It is a power which is strongly embedded in our relationship and interpersonal skills, along with our ability to communicate both intellectually and emotionally with people, and, thereby, forming deep connections with them. Whether it is a divine gift or a skilled art which is honed over time as a result of education, training and social interactions is open to debate. However, whilst I do feel that acquiring charisma can be a transitional/transformational behavioural process, I also feel that some people are better at developing charisma than others irrespective of the education, training, etc. To conclude, charisma is both a gift of nature and nurture. Whilst there are naturally influential and charismatic individuals, leadership attributes like charisma can be developed and nurtured over time.