All entries for February 2013
February 17, 2013
The ability to lead is vital to leadership success. Some people may seem born leaders, whilst some may have the potential to develop and polish the skills of planning, organizing, time management, setting goals and objectives, making decisions, solving problems, communicating effectively, along with being an all encompassing supervisor and a good negotiator. Amongst other vital qualities, it is not debatable that there is a need for good negotiating skills - that is, for a negotiator to influence others in positive and constructive ways, especially when you are a leading a team of different individuals. Leaders must work with their team by using the team's collective strength as well as exercising their own personal vision's strength, along with continuously reflecting. All of the above attributes, along with the self explanatory characteristics, such as honesty, integrity, and enthusiasm must be substantiated and demonstrated consistently so that followers believe in them and respect them.
Came across an interesting article on the dangerous traits of cult leaders, so thought I'd share.
Here's the link:
We all know from history that Hitler was a very effective leader. He had a vision and purpose, and he accomplished it masterfully. However, does that imply that he was a good leader? In my opinion, whilst being effective is important for a leader, it does not necessarily suggest that effective leaders are good leaders.
While most people define leadership as directing a group of a people towards a common goal, simply attaining the objectives makes one an effective leader, and not necessarily a good leader.
In my belief, the following are some of the qualities that distinguish good leaders from simply being effective leaders:
Good leaders think about the purpose and the creation of sustainable value, and not just emphasise the accomplishment of goals.
They are also responsible and ethical leaders. They believe in dignity, morals, values, principles, integrity, and in being just and fair.
Furthermore, good leaders believe in limiting collateral damage by creating a positive spirit and morale amongst followers. They do not leave followers demoralized and exhausted once outcomes have been achieved.
Moreover, good leaders place emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility. They use resources wisely and do not waste them, and they ensure that they are not causing environmental damage.
Good leaders do not just lead; they create a learning environment in which they share their learning experiences with their followers, and promote the same good values and practices in their followers. They are free from hypocrisy and practice what they preach first and foremost. They build the talents and skills of their followers and transfer good leadership attributes to their followers.
Therefore, being effective is not enough. Good leaders believe in sustainability and ensure their words and actions would result in their positive trajectory to uphold even after they leave.
February 11, 2013
The topic of Corporate Social Responsibility, in particular our perceived definition of ‘responsibility’ seems to generate quite a lot of controversy. With respect to child labour, in reference to CSR, it is not arguable that it is morally reprehensible and often formidable. It not only keeps the youth away from education and schools, it also decreases their lifetime opportunities. By reducing the perceived worth of education, especially for young girls, it has corroding impacts on social cohesion. In my belief, there is no justification for child labour. Does a diamond ring not lose its beauty and charm if it is made at the cost of stopping a young child from going to school? While I would not disagree that some initiatives have been taken by governments and authorities as far as this issue is concerned, mainly in the form of speeches, it would be interesting to see some actual measures taken to eliminate (reduce to be on the realistic side) child labour prevalent in countries where much of the population exists at a subsistence level, and the economic and intellectual value of an educated population needs to be realised in order to hope for any positive growth.
Some would argue that many countries fail to offer much hope to an educated youth in terms of employment. This could be one reason behind individuals taking such route to employment at an early age, albeit I firmly believe that education, at least to a basic level, is always an investment; the costs are minor in comparison to the long term benefits. However, the existence of corrupt governments who prevent LEDCs from ever becoming a competitive threat by ensuring their children never receive a formal education sustain the market for child labour. It is similar to economic battery farming; keeping another nation alive with a standard of living only as high enough to be able to produce. Unfortunately, this will not change as long as there are customers for child labour produce and there is a dependence on being able to import cheap goods, although this seems to be a very short term solution, which potentially leads to longer term issue of secondary sector unemployment. These short term goals at the expense of deteriorating innocence and youth exploit more than they could ever provide.
The irony of this world baffles me because we are dismayed when catastrophes befall us, and gaze in awe when once prosperous nations become perished due to corrupt governments and citizens. Such is the tragedy of the world we live in, and we wonder why education is doomed to failure when the real world does not allow dreams to come to fruition. Only when we can afford to, or perhaps are willing to, eschew the economic contributions of these children, both at the importing and exporting fronts of child labour, we will be able to foster the investment in educating this population. Whether such a proposition is likely to be implemented, or "allowed" to be made possible in this case, is questionable.
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.
February 09, 2013
Are leaders born or made? In my opinion, the answer is both. However, I do believe that they are more made rather than having leadership as an innate characteristic. Albeit some attributes do predispose people to be charismatic and good leaders, I personally think that is imperative to acuminate leadership skills through training, experience, education, conscious self-development and reflection in order to become effective leaders.
According to Peter Drucker, 'management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things'. I believe that great leaders possess the charismatic social intelligence, a zest for making a real and sustainable difference, and, most importantly, being skilled in leading the way forward and inspiring others. When I was around 9years old, I read somewhere that 'you must live in a world where griefs and joys surround you, and live to such effect that men may not forget you'. Although I don't remember who said it, this quote has had such a positive impact on my life, and it wouldn't be wrong to say that it has become the essence of how I would like to live my life. It is important that in life we experience ups and downs, and it is envitable that we will irrespective of the measures we take to avoid pitfalls. Our ability to manage change in the midst of constant pressures and crisis, and deal with different situations and facets of life, even if they are perceived as positive, in an exemplary manner, would definitely suggest that we have the personal attributes that would make others look up to and follow us. A great leader, in my belief, is one who is positively remembered and continues to be a source of inspiration even after many years of death - hence '...and live to such effect that men may not forget you'.