RRGwrites

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Posts Tagged ‘Real Leaders

Leadership and Character…

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In times when there is no dearth of prescriptive literature on leadership’s skills and rules and what not, I read this thought-provoking piece…

“Why was Lincoln so great that he over-shadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skillful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but the supremacy expresses itself altogther in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character.

Leo Tolstoy, quoted in The World, New York, February 7, 1908

 What do you think?

Written by RRGwrites

September 2, 2015 at 5:01 PM

Story Of A Boss Who Cares…

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Caring LeadershipIn the leadership series of my blog, there is a strange trend that I have noted over the period of years. Every time I have written about poor bosses/managers/leaders, the readership of my blog swells. A clear signal that there indeed is a leadership deficit all of us face across levels, industries and geographies!

However, the world also has some brilliant managers; who give us hope that we shall continue to come across good leaders in our careers. Hence, it becomes imperative for me to write and share about good leaders, as and when I come across them. So, this one is to share a simple, yet superb story of one such great manager…

Here is how it was experienced by someone I know…

So, this person worked with a renowned management consulting firm. Got a good offer and wanted to move out after serving an appropriate notice-period. However, it wasn’t as easy. He was an integral part of the senior team involved in a crucial client project, which had just begun. The project was ambitious and relationship with client delicate; and required all attention, commitment and experience that this team could bring to table. So, an early exit was simply out of question – and the conversation with senior leadership wasn’t encouraging at all. “No early release”, he was told clearly…

To make an early exit an even more complicated issue, there was a pressing personal reason too. This person and his wife were expecting a baby, and the doctor had allowed only a small window for safe-travel for a vacation. And those of you who have gone through parenthood would appreciate that if this couple weren’t able to avail this vacation, they would not have found time or energy for at least next couple of years to break away, with a baby and allied changes coming in their lives.

Well – three intertwined issues needed resolution – timely and smooth handover and exit, in time to encash that miniscule window of travel, and be back in time to joining the new role!

It was here when the Boss took over. She heard the issue empathetically, took pains to understand the issues at hand and showed genuine appreciation of the same. Fully aware that the outgoing person was a key member of the crucial project they were in and that replacement wasn’t easy, she assured the best possible cooperation to her subordinate. Well, don’t all bosses promise the same, you’d ask, and yet end up delivering only lip-service? No, not this one. She meant it for real. In order to help, she mobilized her network, organized support, looked for possible replacements, spoke with the client & made them understand, and above all, also convinced her own boss! She took a bold risk, indeed. All so that her subordinate and his wife do not end up missing out on that crucial break!

When I came across this story, I was overwhelmed! And I was also pleased to note that while we all keep cribbing about bosses from hell and what not, with such managers existing, there is hope for leadership, indeed there is. In my view, she could do it because she cared, authentically. Authenticity and Genuine Care for One’s Team – twin bedrocks of true leadership. And it did remind me of what Henry Gruland said,

“Being the leader is more than just wanting to lead. Leaders have empathy for others and a keen ability to find the best in the people… not the worse… by truly caring for others.”

I am sure this story would inspire some of us, and will help us be better leaders… I know for sure that this subordinate was truly inspired!

Now it is your turn. Do you have a story, an experience of a great boss? Do share…

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Image-credit: alameleadership.com

How Will You Fare As A Boss, As Compared to Your Own Boss?

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Time for LeadershipHow often you’d observe someone cribbing about his or her boss? Quite ubiquitously, you’d say. And how often YOU would do so yourself – crib and find follies in your own boss?

Every day, I meet a LOT of people complaining and finding errors in their bosses. However, in my experience, only a rare few also try and look inside inwards, check their own leadership styles and introspect, asking self, “What kind of a supervisor am I?” and “How do I better myself so that at least my juniors do not crib and complain against me, especially for the same very things that I find objectionable in my boss…”

Now, isn’t that’s one hell of a difficult question to ask self?

This one is to all the supervisors, bosses, managers and leadership aspirants – let’s spend some time introspecting on this moot question, at the very outset of this brilliant, promising new year 2014, and become better people leaders.

To help you begin this journey of introspection, I am leaving you with what F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the finest American authors of the 20th century, wrote in his novel, ‘The Love Of The Last Tycoon’:

“Credit is something that should be given to others. If you are in a position to give credit to yourself, then you do not need it.”

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Image-credit: practiceprinciples.net

5 Things You Should Say Today As A Team Leader

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LeadershipWhen I wrote my recent blog on ’10 Mean Things You Shouldn’t Say To Your Star Performers’, many of my readers, friends and colleagues, who were team-leaders themselves, asked my views on the things they should be saying to their teams. That made me think… for there isn’t any dearth of to-dos on this subject. Try googling, and you will get a laundry list of things leaders should be saying to their team-mates.

However, after much deliberation and digging into my own experience of observing leaders and managers and managing large, diverse teams, I am of the view that as a Team Leader, you should be saying these 5 things to your team, given the opportunity, daily:

  1. I am observing the efforts being put in by you. Thank you and keep up the good work. I am sure many subordinates don’t get to hear this sentence from their Team Leader. And worse, at time when they do hear it, it is mostly a lip-service done. Authentic and timely recognition is what a team looks for from their manager.

  2. Hey, all conflict is not necessarily negative. Let’s use it constructively to get better as a team. At times, two or more teammates, either in their pursuit of excellence or otherwise, enter into conflicts of all sorts. Affirmation from the leader that all conflict is not necessarily negative, will not only bring positive energy, but will also help teammates connect better, resolve the issue and not confuse conflict with personal vendetta or mala fide intentions.

  3. It is great that you disagree with me on this subject. I am sure It will bring a different view, let’s understand what you have in mind. This one’s a real big gap today. Leaders often have and/or demonstrate, sometimes inadvertently, big egos. Allowing your teammate to disagree with you is not only helpful in building an open culture, it also saves you from falling prey to the ‘The Boss knows it all syndrome.’

  4. Let me know if you need any help; I am there. All of us look for help from our leaders, and the need is all the more crucial when we fail or make mistakes. When the team hears its leader say that it is OK to fail, and that she will help if they do, it does wonders to the team’s morale and output.

  5. Hey, I told you that I will call you back when you reached out to me. Sorry, mate, I was not able to. Let’s connect quickly now. We all know boss is always busy; but if he is so busy that he forgets to call back most of the times, disconnects start. Even if you say this sentence once a day to one of your team-mate, albeit authentically, not only he, but others will also appreciate your leadership.

Are you a team-leader? Then do you agree with above? Please tap into your experience feel free to add to the above list.

Do you work with Team Leaders? Do you hear above sentences from your leaders? Do share your experiences.

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Post-script: You would have observed the extra stress I have laid on the word ‘Authentic’. Well, that is the real key in leadership & communication. You may read about it in detail here (‘Are You An Authentic Leader’).

Leadership is NOT only about the Leader

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leadersquotesLeadership is not ‘only about self’; you know that feeling of ‘I am the most important and senior of all’. Most of the leaders fail to understand this, and thus, fail at leadership altogether. If a leader does not appreciate the concept of moving over ‘self’ and strive to be with others and serve them rather than being self-indulgent, her followers or subordinates will not entrust her with their trust and confidence. I have said in my earlier blogs – a leader is of no use if her followers do not ‘genuinely‘ wish to be led by her.  Arrogant behaviour, intimidating demeanour and ego are not leadership characteristics. And absence of authenticity will take away the shine off the choicest of pleasant words and flowery language.

Real leaders are ‘real’ people. Fake behaviours will only earn them fake followers…

What do you think?

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Photo-credit: searchquotes.com

Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?

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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…?

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Photo-Credit: photographyblogger.net

Leadership and Failure

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October 15, 2011. It is 10pm in India. Indian cricket team has just won today’s ODI against England! Hurray! Dhoni scored a match-winning knock and was awarded “Man of the Match.” He rocks!

Don’t you feel strange? This very Indian team was written off only a month ago – obituaries were writ all over. I remember reading how the team has let the nation down and that Dhoni needs to review his captaincy, he needs rest!

A month ago, they had all failed, and their leader, Dhoni, failed miserably…

Strange is this word, failure. I have always found it even stranger when linked to the failure of a leader. We love to crucify our leaders when they fail. Analysis-paralysis is done to see what went wrong, and most often, the leader of the pack is packed!

Our corporate world is even more incriminating. It just doesn’t allow people to fail – there isn’t a room of acceptance or acknowledgement of failure. In case a leader fails, she is impeached brutally. We just don’t read the two words – leadership and failure – together.

I have always found this ironical. I my view, leaders must fail. They must learn to fail and sometimes, fail spectacularly. I know you may find it stupid for me to say so. Let me explain…

A leader is often considered above the followers. A person of higher skill, intelligence, authority, command and even a master of the trade. She shouldn’t fail – she has to succeed in everything she does – that’s why she is the leader and that’s why people follow her. She can’t fail…

Only, if that were true…

Leaders are very human – just like the rest of the humankind. They are not leading because they are BEST at everything their followers do and know; they lead for they are good with people, good with managing their talent and ambition. There is no guarantee that a great software engineer would become a great Project Leader too. And we would all agree, even the ones so called best-in-class fail to lead a team, unless and until they know how to manage people and make them deliver their best. Now, that has no bearing altogether on the leader’s expertise of the craft in question.

In my view, all leaders have a right to make mistakes, right to fail. They just need to have a will and skill to recover faster than other who failed, and document the learning immediately for others to learn from it. I remember reading somewhere, “One fails faster towards success.” Failure is a part of winning, and if leaders are the one who guide us towards success, they must be allowed to falter, to bite dust. More so, because every failure is a mere event and not a person called Leader. What matters is the lesson, the learning, the will to accept the failure and the resolve not to repeat the same mistake. Now, if failures aren’t tolerated at all, there won’t be any learning and improvement too. Won’t that be too dangerous a situation for the growth of the organizations, nations and humankind?

My fundamental belief is – failures make leaders appear a little more vulnerable, a little more human and much closer to their followers. We connect with people who are like us. We don’t want our leaders to be necessarily infallible; we want them to standby with us when we fail, and pull us out of our debacles. Now, if we could witness our leaders rising from their ashes, I believe, our resolve in them would increase manifold. Then, shouldn’t we allow our leaders to fail at times?

In modern day organizations, we keep hearing words like ‘risk-taking.’ We attach considerable merit to this phrase, and also call it a leadership quality. We encourage risk-taking and offer rewards for successful outcomes; praise the leaders for taking well-planned risks. Now, don’t we fail sometimes when we take risks? We do. But the same modern day organizations impeach the leaders without a second thought, when they fail. No wonder, average shelf life of a CEO in the USA is close to only 2 years! Why would any leader take risks then? And we all know, how slow the pace of growth would be, if leaders wouldn’t take risks!

Samuel I. Hayakawa once said, “Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, “I have failed three times,” and what happens when he says, “I am a failure.”” 

I allow myself to fail. I have failed on several occasions in my life, even failed spectacularly at times. And each time, learnt an invaluable lesson – of not repeating the reason of my failure. Each failure has made me stronger, better, enriched. It brought new learning, it made me braver. My failures opened the new doors too. I am a better leader by allowing myself the freedom to fail. Today, I allow my team-members their share of failures, their share of mistakes. I already see them doing the same with their teammates…it is absolutely infectious, a matter of culture, and translates into an inevitable quality of a leader – to try to do better, to fail, to learn from that failure, teach others how not to fail at the same thing twice, and to keep pushing the envelope.

Do you?

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Photo-credit: ashepherdsheart.blogspot.com

Written by RRGwrites

October 15, 2011 at 2:18 AM

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