by Sandeep Dahiya (L&T-MHPS Boilers)
A lot has been written on the Topic over the years by lot of writers. Some of them were great leaders themselves and some of them authors who studied great leaders over the years and recorded common traits.
Recently during initiation of a department initiative, a book review was presented on the topic by our PD Sir. It was fascinating to hear a different theory on leadership. But, I am not going to write about that book. That review and interaction with colleagues thereafter made me think that, if I had to write about my idea about leadership, what it would be. So, I sat down and reflected, wrote about my ideas about leadership or a good leader.
In my view a good leader is made of some habits, actions and traits which they exhibit in situation where leadership is demanded. Some may have all of them, some may possess some of them and some may possess even some more.
Here are my views on what a great leader possess:
- Ability to align with a purpose greater than self
This is the most prominent and important one in my view. All great leaders who have ever existed in the world had this trait/ability. They had a purpose which was greater than self. They could even have placed themselves on the line when it came to make that purpose survive.
- Ability to build a team and motivate it to achieve a common goal
No leader has achieved anything of his own even if he/she was aligned with a purpose greater than self. So, the second most important aspect is to build a team and motivate it to achieve a common goal. It is easier said than done. In my view, identifying team members, building a team and keep them motivated towards a common goal is the hardest thing to do. You may have great members in your team but if they are not motivated and charged towards the common purpose, you can fail miserably. A leader has to lead by example to form and build teams. There are few important characteristics which a leader should exhibit/do to create great teams:
- Know his people. Become one of them. Identify with them. Learn their language. Connect with them at personal level. Play with them. Attend their social events.
- Don’t run from challenges. Take them head on. Your people are watching you. If you face challenges head on, they will respect you and trust you even if you fail.
- Stand for what you feel is right and always walk the talk.
- Go out of your comfort zone and people will follow you there. They will not only follow but will go out of their comfort zones.
- Believe in yourself. Act regardless of opinion of others if you know you are doing the right thing to achieve the common goal. People will buy in for sure.
- Ask tough questions and take tough decisions as very few ask tough questions as well as take tough decisions.
That was about creating great teams. There may be much more to it. But I have observed over the years, functioning of great teams with great leaders and could filter the above points where a leader has led by example and created great teams by using above mentioned points.
Let’s move on to some other important characteristics of leaders:
- Leaders can identify technical and adaptive challenges.
This is also one of the most important aspect where a great leader gets differentiated from an average leader. A great leader knows that which problem is a technical kind of problem and will get solved by a set rule approach and which problem is an adaptive challenge kind of problem, these problems have to be solved only by unconventional approach. A leader’s innovative thinking or making its team find creative solutions pitch in here. Great leaders are successful in solving adaptive challenges.
- Leaders act like a pressure cooker.
They let the pressure build till it reaches limit so as to expose people to stressful situations and make them better. Leaders should not absorb all the pressure, they should pass it on. But they should know when to come in and how much of it their team can handle. They expose their teams to stressful situations and only walk in if needed.
- Leaders see the whole picture.
This one is about having vision and connecting dots. Great leaders are visionary and they can see what others cannot. In fact they can visualize even if they are part of the team. They can disengage from the situation and can see it as an outsider from the top and then can again engage. Self-awareness and reflection are important to become a leader. Also a leader is able to paint his vision to all.
- Leaders always hear all the voices and give voice to sensible voices if needed for the common good.
Sometimes, sensible voices are lost in the noise. A leader is always surrounded by sensible voices and lot of noise. Great leaders know this and they can identify the sensible voices. They become greater when they give their voice to these sensible voices for common good and make them heard. Great leaders not only generate great ideas but they can identify great ideas and lend their voice to these ideas.
- Leaders are courageous.
They are not afraid of losing their position. In fact they create leaders. In situations where someone is better equipped than themselves, they let that person lead. It is very important for a leader to know when not to lead and when someone else is better than them to lead. Great leaders are always ready to make way for someone better than them.
Hope you all would have found something new and may be something old in a new bottle. But, we all must reflect and come out with our observation/idea of leadership, because there is no one idea or approach to leadership.