On life…and learning

Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?

with 9 comments

I have often been amused by the fact that everyone calls himself or herself a leader these days. Fancy designations and titles have crowned nearly all middle and above management roles as that of a ‘leader’. Everyone is being projected a leader, without knowing what is leadership all about in the first place!

Does the fact one has become a senior manager and manages a team make him or her a leader? Does one become a leader just like that? Or there is more to it…?

To my mind, leadership is more about knowing and managing self and not only managing others. It starts with asking some hard-hitting questions to self, before embarking on the journey of leading women and men…

Twelve such questions all leaders and leadership aspirants must ask themselves and find answers for, are:

  1. Why do I want to be a leader?
  2. Am I an authentic person and appear one too?
  3. Do I prefer hiring people stronger than myself under me?
  4. Am I a teacher, a coach; genuinely like working towards making everyone successful?
  5. Do I possess and demonstrate strong learning agility or do I behave as if a ‘know-it-all’? What will my team say about me in this regard?
  6. Do I genuinely take and manage well-meaning criticism without my ego overtaking? What will my team say about me in this regard?
  7. Do I allow myself to fail at times, and document each failure, thereby creating a method around it for others to learn?
  8. Do I allow my team their fair share of mistakes?
  9. Do I like being popular, and thus avoid giving feedback?
  10. Do I genuinely give credit to my team for all good they do? What will my team say about me in this regard?
  11. Does my team know that even if all goes wrong, I will stand ahead of them in facing the music?
  12. Have I ever told my people, “As your leader, I am with you and not above you”?

If you do not have clear answers to each one of these yet, just ask another question to yourself…

Why should anyone be led by me…?


Photo-Credit: photographyblogger.net

9 Responses

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  1. There is one tiny problem. Even if all the questions are answered honestly and positively, you may still not be the person who can lead A team. Moreover, every team will have specific qualities designed for its leader which are sure to be different from another team’s leader.
    Even apart from an appointed leader, during any course of action or task different team members will emerge as leaders for a limited time depending on the need of the hour. Yet the team collectively will look for the nod or approval of the chosen one.
    Leadership and followers are roles played by each one of us during the various stages of our daily lives, yet there is one who brings order to the chaos, which would be the situations if all of us were one of the two all the time.

    Nishant Sinha

    December 6, 2011 at 6:41 AM

    • Nishant, very well said and I agree with you. There is no such tip, trick or any one thing that someone completes and becomes a leader. Often, people mistake leadership as an activity, while it is in reality a continuous process. Hence, merely answering these questions won’t convert one into a leader automatically. However, it is a start of self-awareness process, which is the crux of leadership.
      Also, I believe leadership is all pervasive. We all assume the role of a leader one or the other point in time, even while in a team of equals. During childhood, you’d have observed that while playing at park, one of us assumed the role of a leader, often inadvertently.
      That’s why, all these well-intentioned people can be our leadership-aspirants. And then the journey starts – of acquiring and honing skills, which make you a leader in true senses.


      December 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM

  2. Nice article – makes one introspect the defination of a leader and also the why’s of ‘if I want to be one’

    Taking the article further, another important and an interesting facet is how some ‘leaders’ succeed while others don’t. Largely success as a leader is dependent on two critical aspects:

    1. Your contributions or results produced for the good of the organization
    2. The perceptions of others about your performance which includes your relationship with them

    While the first is more of a pre-requisite and a hygiene factor, the second is more critical in terms of leadership derailment because a leader may have produced outstanding results, but if he/she has damaged relationships along the way, or has operated with a lack of integrity, derailment may be inevitable.

    As a leader one is supposed to be the perfect role model and is constantly under scrutiny. That is a small price one pays for being the ‘chosen one’. And this is where a lot of leaders fail – in their inability to inspire confidence and trust. The reason could be many:
    – Failure to deliver and be accountable
    – Failure to adapt
    – Lack of courage and decisiveness
    – Lack of forward-looking and inspirational approach, etc.

    Thinking back on all successful leaders – I realize that while each one of them have had a different style of operating and delivering results – some have been absolute perfectionist and have planned things to the T, others have been more ‘in the flow’ and dynamic, one common trait has been their ability to be the perfect role models – inspiring that confidence in others either through personal relationships or by creating a strong relationship with the organizational brand. So think about how are you doing that on a daily continuous basis or if you were to be a’leader’, how would you ensure that you remain one – in the eyes of others and the person in the mirror..!


    December 6, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    • Gaurav, you have given a very interesting dimension to the blog and taken it to the next level. Thank you for adding value to the concept. It is the young leaders like you who give me hope and confidence that there exists a section of serious leadership aspirants, who wear both ‘thinking’ and ‘execution’ hats and are game to work on their skills of leadership.


      December 6, 2011 at 12:54 PM

  3. I found all your 12 questions really interesting and especially the final one-‘why would people follow me’.

    I think it is vital that as leaders we really listen to what our followers want from us as leaders.There was a recent study on Strengths Based Leadership (Rath & Conchie) as part of the Gallup Organisations research and they found that what followers most wanted from their leaders were 4 things:
    Perhaps as leaders we all need to reflect on how we are doing on these four if we want people to follow us willingly and energetically?

    Judith Hirst

    January 18, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    • Thanks, Judith. You made an extremely apt comment – leaders need to periodically keep asking what our followers want from us, as their leaders. Moreover, they also need to keep reiterating their own commitment to the cause/goal at hand, and help the team feel engaged to the same.
      I have read about the Strengths Finder; appears a great tool for personal and people leadership. I agree with you that the above 4 parameters need regular, concerted reflection by leaders/leadership aspirants.


      January 18, 2012 at 11:09 PM

  4. Rishi Sir, kindly request your permission to Reblog above article.
    Recently, I used this blog of your’s for a counselling discussion with a manager who was struggling on Leadership front. It proved to be very helpfull.

    Sahil Chopra

    October 1, 2014 at 11:32 PM

  5. Reblogged this on Sahil Chopra blogs on Human Resource Management and commented:
    Recently I faced a situation where a Team Lead (TL) was struggling on the leadership front. As a trusted advisor, the TL opened up about the issues with me and explained in details the problems he is facing.
    In the discussion, I took a reference from a brilliant blog which I am re-blogging and the result was that the meeting was very constructive and it certainly gave the TL something new to think and work upon.
    This blog is a must read for all managers, inspiring to be leaders!

    Sahil Chopra

    October 2, 2014 at 10:41 PM

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