Leadership Today – From Command & Control to Being Inclusive


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Leaders are built, not born…..

Lead from the front…..

Yawn! This is old school.

Let’s look at leadership for what it is in the new age. Gone are the days of command and control. Today, there is an altogether different leadership that is expected.

Leadership, as we have understood it through the ages, stands for someone, being the champion of a cause and then, enlisting the help of others and influencing them in the realization of the same. It has also been seen as the act of leading others, directing them toward specific achievements through a means that is most effective.

However, leadership is not always about being at the forefront of a team and giving directions as to what they need to do next and how.

The entrepreneurial and corporate engines of today run with a different fuel, an altogether different steam. Nobody is directing anyone, people have the intellect and drive to choose and follow the paths they want to adventure onto 

Leadership is effectively sharing a compelling vision

What they need is a purposeful and meaningful vision, an articulation of how to get from point A to point B and finally, if you are someone who has been there and done that, there’s acknowledgement of what you’ve done and people want to listen to you. Mind you, I said listen. Today’s generation would love to listen to glean lessons from someone else’s experience. They do not care for direction. They will chart their path as long as they buy into the vision, the strategy laid to adopt and the results to be realized. They will chart their own path, a path that works for them to get there under the larger realm of the organizational vision and mission.

Leadership is being respectful of other’s intellect, skills and time

Everyone develops expertise over time at different things and then, can lead within that field, thanks to the skills they have accrued. Leaders are respectful of that. It’s often said that good leaders are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and surround themselves with people better than themselves in areas they lack expertise in. It’s important that to effectuate strong leadership, leaders are respectful of those that work for them and with them. These helps nurture a mutually healthy relationship between leaders and followers and only then, do those that follow, do it willingly. Followers have the freedom, not to just follow blindly, but to question and opine before they follow. A leader’s recognition of every associate’s skills, role and contributions are critical to maximize productivity in any organization. 

Leadership is being transparent, showing strength of character and conviction

A leader is respected for who they are more than what they represent. People need to believe in a person before they decide to follow. A leader needs to ensure that more than having a charismatic personality; they are transparent, just in their dealings and have a high level of integrity and moral values. Trust is a key aspect of any relationship and nothing can establish it more than your true self, reflected in your words and actions. Another important aspect of reflecting true leadership is to show conviction in what you believe and stand for. Decisions that you take need to be solid and no matter what, you should be able to stand behind them. You should not take a decision without much forethought and facts to back it up. And when you do, stand behind it, no matter what. These qualities are vital in ensuring true followership that will stand behind you all the way.

Leadership is putting your shareholders, but first, your employees before you

Leaders focus on the big picture. Yet, they need to have a handle on the tactical stuff. Leaders focus on providing shareholder value, and will put their employees, those that are working on the realization of the articulated vision before everything else. Happy employees lead to satisfied clients and they, in turn lead to a thriving business, eventually ensuring shareholder approval. As long as you’ve got your people’s back, they will have yours.

Leadership is not about directing, but about listening and co-sharing direction

Leaders of this age are no longer the ones that can sit in their ivory towers, draw the shades down and call the shots from yonder. In this day and age of Internet, social media and fast paced actions and outcomes, its important for a leader to stay in absolute touch with their organization, the competition and the market. With rapidly shifting dynamics, it’s about effectively listening to what your people have to say to you. What are they seeing out there? What are they experiencing? What do they advise? All of this needs to be appraised constantly and decisions need to be made based on every input you can possibly get. Its shared leadership as to which direction the organization should take. This is the only way to remain relevant is a fast paced ever changing market.

Leadership is personal

Leadership is personal to every leader. Every leader is unique and to be effective, needs to be comfortable with their own style. You can be at your best as a leader when your leadership reflects your values, skills and life experiences. People seek to know you for who you are. They will look to you to be ethical, moral, righteous etc. before they follow you but eventually, your unique self will be a key aspect of why they would follow you.

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Would you rather lead from the front or follow through?

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Leaders and Followers are both vital to the fabric of any organization. As much as you need leaders to set the path and motivate others to follow through, you also need productive followers who are willing to listen, learn and execute on the plan set before them. No organization can do without one or the other.

The world is mostly made up of followers and a subset of leaders. Of course, leadership is a learned trait and most of us play both roles within certain limits.

Leadership is about:

  • Developing a vision, sharing it and building support around it.
  • Strategizing and planning execution to realize the vision.
  • Leading execution of the strategy while overseeing the completion of planned goals.

These tenets are universal to any organization and are mostly measured through fiscal success, I mean EBIDTA, profits, market share, stock value etc.

But, true leadership has other dimensions as well; corporate social responsibility and emotionally intelligent people management being two of these.

An organization that aspires for success ensures that every associate in the organization knows and lives the true reason of its existence. In order for this to happen, every leader in the organization, from the CEO to line management needs to imbibe and practice the principles of valuing the people assets of the organization. Customers and those that serve them are equally important to the organization. Motivating associates to perform to their potential by managing their individual hot buttons and then, channeling this work to meet the needs of the clients is the salient execution principle of any successful organization. This ultimately leads to the realization of organizational goals, the yardstick it measures its success by.

At all levels of management, a prime factor of success is optimal people management. The amount of effort put into strategizing and planning an organization’s path also has to be put into managing and growing the people assets who are instrumental in realizing the plan. With leaders that share in the vision and willing followers, any organization is destined to meet its set goals!

Finally, an organization has to think and act beyond itself.  Making an impact in the community it thrives in and standing up to be a pillar of the community’s progress enhance the perpetuity of the organization and take it beyond the plans it was conceived with. That, in sum is the true culmination of its existence and success.

Now, ask yourself some key questions to understand where you are and how you need to fine-tune your work style to get where you want to be;

  • What do you do for work? Do you believe in the vision set forth by your organization?
  • Are you a leader or follower?
  • As a leader,
    • How much do you value your team? Do you take time to listen to them or are you just giving instructions most of the time expecting follow through?
    • Do you treat your team with the same respect that you expect of them?
    • Is your team totally sold on your idea of execution so that it will be a success?
    • Do you know your team members’ hot buttons so you can work on keeping them motivated and provide direction and help in the realization of their goals?
    • Do you exhibit enough appreciation for what your team does?
  • As a follower,
    • Do you truly believe in the vision and plan set forth by your leadership? If not, do you question and make suggestions?
    • Do you listen and follow through per expectations? Do you go beyond?
    • Do you feel a valued member of your team? If not, do you express concern and work with your leader to ensure mutual transparency and work to build a plan to help get there?
    • Do you offer suggestions and new ways of doing things?
    • Can you be the best lieutenant your leader can ever find?

Find your answers, make your course corrections and let me assure you, the journey towards your goals will be as fulfilling as attaining them!

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Tell a story…each time….every time!


A universal truism the world over is that every one loves a story. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a good one. It’s another thing that if the story is good, you have more eyes peeled on you and more ears perked up than when it is not. In fact, story telling has been an age-old pastime that has enamored generations of humans. This is reiterated today in the success of Hollywood to Bollywood and all the woods in between. Also, there are channels galore cropping up each day the world over; everyone has a story to tell.

The story telling talent is one you need to develop, to inspire others’ interest in you and what you have to convey. In today’s age of social media and online networking, sharing tidbits of your life makes you more approachable and interesting for others. In fact, it gives a sense of familiarity to even those you have never met. Cultivating this talent accelerates success in both, your professional and personal lives.

On the professional front, it helps to build and leverage your brand. Privacy is definitely something that should be fiercely guarded and cherished. But, there are aspects that compliment you as a person and professional that should be shared with the world. That is how you enhance your professional stature and add value to your contributions. It’s important that these aspects are showcased to help build and share your unique personal brand. What you can expect as a part of this personal branding is more and better work, respect in your professional community and recognition for what you do and represent.

As a person and a professional, embrace story telling as a part of your communication techniques. It is bound to draw more attentive listeners and will ensure you leave a mark with your listeners. Whether interviewing for a job, leading a conference call, addressing a meeting or talking to your team, use the story telling approach. Mind you, it should be short, crisp and to the point.

Now, let’s discuss this technique further;

First, set the stage. Discuss the situation and characterize those involved. Develop the scenario.

Next, relate the conflict. Talk about the abrasion. It’s human nature that a conflict perks up our interest and then, the human mind starts to think in terms of solutions.

Third, describe the struggles, trials and tribulations in facing up to the conflict. Give listeners the unexpected. Tide over their expectations to peak their interest and encourage involvement. This keeps the listeners engaged in the dialogue around the conflict and will even encourage interaction in terms of the listeners’ ideas about solutions to mitigate the struggle.

Fourth, drive the listeners through the interesting discussion that began with the statement of conflict. Drive toward the end, towards a resolution of the conflict.

Finally, state the change in the situation. Ensure the listeners have assimilated the finality of the solution.

Your attendees will leave with appreciation of the exercise and will look forward to future interesting interactions with you. And, when in one, you can be rest assured that they are at their attentive best!

Are you a true leader?


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A leader is one who leads, both in strategy and in execution. However, in the corporate world, somehow strategy is over-rated. A good strategist might not be a good executioner and vice versa. But, to be a good leader, you need to ace in both. Alright, if not ace, at least strive to ace in both.

Strategy is important to ensure game changing tactics that will turn things in your favor or in the direction you desire. But, a well laid out strategy just doesn’t win the game. The application of that strategy and its perfect execution becomes all the more important. Because, there are no results without execution. An idea or dream is not true until realized. It’s just that, an idea or a dream.

Execution, by itself can be a futile attempt, if the plan is not well thought and laid out. A good leader is one who understands the interdependency of strategy and execution, applies intellect to strategize and discipline to execute. A true leader is one who leads from the front in either area. Not someone, who plans but leaves the execution to others.

One clarification, I do want to make is that, a leader also has to trust and delegate. But, this is a learned trait and one that sharpens with experience. An aide, who the leader can depend on to perform to set expectations, is a great candidate to delegate to. This does not necessarily mean that the aide has to be a replica of the leader. Every person is unique. Different traits can be applied in different scenarios and that is where a leader’s acumen comes into play, to choose the right delegates for the right part of the job. There are those that may see this as a part of strategy itself. But, in order to make these decisions, a leader needs to have spent time leading execution as well, from the front. That is when, at a later time, the leader can afford to lead through delegation, yet have complete control over the execution.

Some may argue that in today’s world, a few things can be learnt from others’ experiences. Absolutely! But, execution and delegation, I do not think they come that easy. If you want to ensure that every time you lead, you come out a winner; the best experience is your very own.