On life…and learning

Posts Tagged ‘Leaders Walk the Talk

Leadership Towers & Foundations

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People Observe Leaders All The Time…

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ObservationA chance encounter over my last blog introduced me to a young employee at my workplace today; she was following my blog and knew me, though we had never interacted earlier. During a very brief conversation that we had today, I realized a very powerful thing – people observe leaders all the time! She shared her observations and mentioned an incident where she noted one of my traits, which helped her form a view about me.

That conversation left me thinking; in large size organizations of modern times, people observe us all the time. And they do so even more specifically in case you’re holding a leadership position. I was forced to ponder – I manage human resources for over five thousand people and if in all these years I met each of them just once, that one happenstance would have defined their memory, their reflections. It doesn’t matter whether that encounter was good, bad or just plain simple indifference; their opinion is made, probably forever.

That made me wonder about many more who just observe us from a distance; people with whom we never even interacted, they too form an observation. They do so by simply following what you say to others, how you say it, and sometimes, by the way you treat your people. All of these pass a message to these observers, what you are, how you operate, what works with you & what doesn’t, et al. Moreover, each of these messages from a leader carries a distinct weight because of the authority of the position behind it. Now, that’s something, isn’t it? Think of it, if relationships are the key to build sustainable businesses and chart the growth of self and organization, these observations go a long way in establishing your credibility and acceptance as a leader. Your mood swings, your positivity and negativity, your smiles and frowns, your warm handshakes and shining eyes, your rude demeanor and a curt nod – people would remember those actions and conversations, which you may yourself forget. And basis these memories, some of these people will write your legacy one day…

Let me share an example. I travel to a lot of stores, located across over hundred cities of India. I walk the aisles, talk to customers, meet and greet some associates. I mostly speak with them individually and sometime address them as a group, albeit never for over 2-3 minutes and certainly couldn’t get to speak with each & every associate working in these stores, yet, I notice everyone working on the floor observes their HR leader so keenly. I am sure even those minutest, tiniest conversations, behaviours and actions get noted and remembered by most of these associates. And since I don’t get to visit the same location for more than twice a year and certainly never during the same shift-hours, there is a great possibility that the associates I meet won’t see me again for good six-to-twelve months and hence, those memories for the last encounter become their final ones! I am sure, this example would be true for many of you, of course in different settings.

Now, I am not advocating we take every step keeping in view what others would think or opine; that would be too difficult for a leader. Yet, it is indeed important for all leaders to consider themselves as a ‘message‘ – every time you say something, behave in a particular manner or even use a specific word, ask yourself, does that convey your values, your thought-process and what you wish others to note and follow? Or do you end up conveying something else? I am sure that’d help you send the right ‘message‘ every time.

My learning of the day is a big one – there are ‘no casual actions, no casual conversations’. Your words and actions carry a lot of weight, especially when you carry the baton of being a leader. The remarks you made while walking the hallway, jokes you shared in the cafeteria, words written in emails/text messages and social media, even which of the posters made you stop & read the noticeboard – all these actions and gestures are ‘messages’ and ‘vital forms of communication’ and while you are at it, people are making their notes.

Did I make you think? If yes, just think of it, what ‘messages’ did you give out today?


Photo-credit: wemovetogether.me

Leaders. Walk the Talk…

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They say, true leaders are ones who walk-the-talk.

Just happened to read the blog of LK Advani, senior BJP leader, titled ‘Present Political Set Up More Draconian Than Emergency’, dated September 12, 2012.

Advani, a learned, vastly-experienced and wise man, launched through this blog scathing attack on the present day UPA government, stating how this government is acting worse than the Indira regime during the Emergency period of 1975-’77, where the freedom of press was curtailed as brutally as it can get.

As one politician who faced the brunt of the black days of Emergency, Advani wrote rather eloquently:

India has been independent now for sixty-five years. I have always regarded the Emergency period 1975-77 as the worst in so far as suppression of civil liberties and freedom of expression were concerned…

But seeing what has happened to political cartoonist and anti-corruption crusader Aseem Trivedi, I have started wondering: Is today’s political set up worse even than the emergency? …

He ended the blog, saying…

I am sure the annual report of the Registrar of Newspapers for 1975-76 will have a sorry but significant story to tell. When Hitler assumed power, Germany’s tally of newspapers and periodicals was 4,700.  By the time the Nazi nightmare ended, the   number had dwindled to less than a thousand. The same might happen here if the trend persists.

Now, you’d ask, why am I reproducing Advani’s blog? Well, that’s not the intention, dear readers. The intention is to bring to your notice how Advani has changed his thoughts about the freedom of press and independence of expression over last 35 years.

35 years ago, post the electoral defeat of the infamous Indira Gandhi regime after the black years of the Emergency, Advani became the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the then newly elected Janata government. The bruises on breach of freedom and independence of press were raw and fresh in minds of the public. The new government was determined to bring about autonomy of broadcasting, much opposite to the censorship that ailed the freedom of expression during the Emergency.

Legendary journalist, BG Verghese, in his highly informative book, ‘First Draft: Witness to the Making of Modern India’, writes at length about this episode. He describes how an elite working-group of highly accomplished and respected individuals was formed for the said purpose. This group came up with a brilliant report on the subject, after due deliberation, and advocated the ‘establishment of a National Broadcast Trust named Akash Bharti, responsible for the conduct of public broadcasting. This was to be ‘a citizen of India’…”

Well received within the broadcasting circles, this report was presented to Advani, with a draft bill, in February 1978.

To share with you Advani’s response, I am quoting from Verghese’s book, paragraph two, page 260:

Advani, as information & broadcasting minister, wryly exclaimed, ‘We promised autonomy. But you have recommended independence.’

Surprised to note the original thoughts of Advani? Well, that is what I call not walking the talk!

Needless to say, the above bill never saw the daylight.

Dear Mr. Advani, I do agree that the memory of the otherwise stressed and harassed public is short, and 35 years is pretty long time as it is, so smarter politicians do take advantage of this factor, and become holier than thou, as per their convenience. I don’t know whether you thought this way while loathing the government for ‘suppression of civil liberties and freedom of expression’ in your blog, your arguments surely couldn’t con the informed commoners this one time.

Dear leaders, we commoners sincerely hope that you’d ‘walk-the-talk’ next time…


Photo-credit: sodahead.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are author’s own and not of the organisation he is associated with.

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