On life…and learning

Your Leadership. What is in it for me?

with 12 comments

Just heard the magnetic speech of Narendra Modi, who was speaking from the dais of the renowned Shri Ram College of College, University of Delhi. As the chief guest of the Business Enclave 2013 hosted by the college, he was delivering the Shri Ram Memorial Lecture of the year.

He spoke at length about several initiatives that have led to the all-pervasive growth of the Indian state of Gujarat for over a decade or so. However, I am not writing to praise Modi or the work his government has accomplished in Gujarat. That’s not what made me tune in to his speech in the first place. Rather what made me listen to his speech with attention was my keen desire to observe and note his leadership & influencing skills, a key area of my focus and learning.

And I am so impressed! Not because he spoke so well, Indian polity is replete with many eloquent orators across party lines. Not because he spoke of facts and figures of development, I know speechwriters are good at that. Not because his model of development is catching the eyes of the world, and certainly not because of the running debate of whether or not he should be or would be the next Prime Minister of the nation.

I am impressed because he reaffirmed my belief in the dire need of leaders connecting with their followers in a meaningful and persuasive manner. He spoke with charisma; and more than that, he spoke with real influence. And why I felt so? Because he spoke with enthusiasm. He spoke like a man possessed with raw energy and pleasurably sounded like a leader who wanted me to belong to him. Laying down his thoughts and vision, he indeed provided the thousands of young minds gathered there and millions more on the Television the answer to the quintessential question – What is in it for me?

Often I have pondered as to why the leaders of the present times don’t sound authentic and appear compelling to me and not only to me, they don’t appear compelling to the entire youth. I ask, why is this missing in the present Prime Minister, who has the distinction of being the most celebrated economist? Certainly not the competence or the character, the twin bedrock of leadership; those we know he has, aplenty. Then what’s missing in his words, and in most of most of leaders we meet and see around us?

What is missing in most of the leaders of the political class, and otherwise, is what I call the soul of a leader. They don’t answer as to why should I feel connected, why should I feel belonged and what is in for me in all they are saying and envisioning.

Narendra Modi was inspiring – he appeared bold and forthcoming in his speech and demeanor. He was also relevant – made me as a listener quickly calculate the leader’s capability, basis the proven track record of his competence. I won’t say I got sold, but he did get my serious attention over his offer of providing me with a win-win proposition, a victory for him a leader and for me as a follower.

In my earlier blog on a leader’s authenticity and trustworthiness, I wrote at length about the importance of connect of a follower with his leader. Modi proves my point today. I am not sure how many of you would agree with me, but if the reaction of the youth brigade present at the event was to be kept in mind, they proved with their attention and applause that even they felt belonged.

India; the youngest nation of the world. A nation, which is in dire need of and search for visionary leadership, not only in governance, but also across industry, education and other sectors. A nation of all brilliance and capability that one can put on offer. A nation with growing knowledge-workers and rising aspirations. Quite like a corporate organization brimming with talent across levels, waiting to deliver superior results, only when guided and led by a true leader. This talent would look for leaders not only worthy & competent to lead them, but also who appear keen and enthusiastic to do so. And don’t mistake this talent as one merely looking for and getting sold to the word-weavers and eloquent seller of dreams. This talent is smart and calculative enough to measure the reality and then invest their faith in the leadership.

This talent will carefully watch out for their leader’s passion and commitment; they will be unrelenting in pursuit of leader’s sincerity of purpose and would demand to know whether the leader would take them towards an environment where they can deliver their best. And they would keenly watch for the growth and success that gets offered on the cards, should they commit their faith and hard work to the vision of such a leader. Thus, mere oratory won’t work.

I am no fan of Modi, and this isn’t a political critique I am writing. I also do not have any good view of the hardliner politics he has been accused of practicing and rather have a dislike for it. I haven’t even started thinking to become a follower of his. The jury may be still out on his capabilities as an administrator and I am sure the opposition leaders will be vying for his blood after today’s speech. Yet, what he did convincingly today was to sound honest and meaningful as a leader to me – a commoner. Something that most leaders, across domains, fail miserably at.

Somewhere amidst his enthusiasm and vision, I could see – ‘what’s in it for me’…

I am sure more leaders are tuning in…


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are author’s own and not of the organization he is associated with.

12 Responses

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  1. Sir, It is true if the leader is full of energy, it flows in the followers. If the leader is enthusiastic, it flows in the followers, but if the leader lacks all this, like we have many in our country, the youth will not feel the connect with them. I just heard Narender Modi’s speech and I cannot resist myself to listen to his complete speech.


    February 6, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    • Pansy, well put. I am glad I have more people who think like me on this subject.


      February 6, 2013 at 8:53 PM

  2. Thank you for sharing this RRG – it inspired me to hear the full speech and I am glad I did. An effective leader doesn’t have to sell her agenda/vision or competence. Her report card and passion for the higher cause do the job.
    Modi didn’t for once made this an opportunity to sell his agenda, mock the failures of others or gloat too much about his numbers. Wherever he did speak about successes in Gujarat, it was well balanced by challenges ahead and the work that needs to be done. I hope these behaviours modeled on the dias would have inspired few people to replicate them in life.
    And then the message is, if Modi can create a progressive Gujarat in a complex India, why can we not replicate his model and conviction in our own lives in the complex society we are a part of? What’s stopping us but our own excuses?


    February 6, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    • Hey Neha, you have put it even better and have taken the discussion to a new level altogether. Thanks.


      February 6, 2013 at 10:00 PM

  3. This is very ture for a commoner like me as well.. I remember the recent elections where AkhileshYadav took everyone by surprise with his connect as a leader of youth vs what Rahul Gandhi had to come up with, and same happened in Punjab where Sukhbir Badal changed the 20yr old history..

    The youth of today is very calculative when it comes to investing trust which Modi like leaders create with thier work..and that is what we need to think. Are our results and passion to serve is authentic that a commoner should look at us as leaders to tomorrow or rather even leaders of today..

    Tanvinder Singh Bindra

    February 7, 2013 at 8:29 PM

  4. I am following Modi since 2001 and at SRCC he was only a third to his capacity. He has delivered more powerful speeches mesmerizing the audience. He hits the chord with every single word he says. At the end of every statement he takes a pause & you’ll invariably notice audience nodding in affirmation. The reason I think he is able to connect with this authority is the fact that he has risen in the ranks working hard at the grass root levels.


    February 10, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    • Shardul, thank you for bringing this perspective to the blog. Appreciate it.


      February 10, 2013 at 10:18 PM

  5. I have not listened to speech. I am not follower him. but yes his speech has the magnetic effect which hold the audiance. And his word selection is such that it goes with your thought either you oppose it or support.


    February 14, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    • Well said, that’s the power of meaningful communication.


      February 16, 2013 at 6:03 PM

  6. you are right rrg . But i Have to ask one thing that if no Modi then what else ?बीजेपी और कांग्रेस की बात छोडिये सिर्फ एक बार को इतना सोचिये कि क्या आपके और हमारे बच्चे इस तरह के खुले माहौल में सांस ले पायेंगें आज से 20 साल बाद ।
    मेरा इशारा समझिये , तुष्टि करण की राजनीति के पीछे और वोटो के लालची नेताओ को देखिये जिनके आज के कर्मो की वजह से यहां सांस लेना भी दूभर हो जाने वाला है और तब बताईये कि मोदी क्यों नही


    February 16, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    • Well, you do have a point, Manu. Let’s see what the public mandates…


      February 16, 2013 at 6:04 PM

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