Mak­ing of a leader


Ra­jesh Pan­dit, CBRE As­set Ser­vices & Global Work­place Solutions, high­lights a few traits of suc­cess­ful lead­er­ship.

A study, con­ducted by Dr Jack Zenger and Dr Joe Folk­man, con­cluded “…poor lead­ers lost money; good lead­ers made profit; and ex­tra­or­di­nary lead­ers more than dou­bled the com­pany’s prof­its in com­par­i­son to the other 90%.” 1 Ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship can bring about sig­nif­i­cant progress for both em­ploy­ees and the com­pany. But the question is how does a leader trace the path to be­come an ex­cep­tional one?

The need for good lead­er­ship in to­day’s dynamic cor­po­rate era is an im­per­a­tive. We all look up to lead­ers at some point in our lives. I am not stat­ing this from a busi­ness view­point alone, but in all as­pects. But why do we need lead­ers? What have they got that has made them worth fol­low­ing? What are the unique traits that dis­tin­guishes them from the oth­ers?

‘Lead­ers are born’ has been proven a myth sev­eral times. In the con­stant re­sult-ori­ented work­place we work in, com­pa­nies are so pre­oc­cu­pied with chasing tar­gets that they for­get to in­vest in groom­ing and build­ing good lead­ers. How­ever, it is a proven fact that suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies ex­cel at build­ing great lead­ers who help achieve greater re­sults.

So what is lead­er­ship? Ac­cord­ing to the idea of trans­for­ma­tional lead­er­ship, an ef­fec­tive leader is a per­son

2 who does the fol­low­ing: cre­ates an in­spir­ing vi­sion of the fu­ture, mo­ti­vates and in­spires peo­ple to en­gage with that vi­sion.

What makes a good leader? Lead­ers do not wait for other peo­ple to give them per­mis­sion—they just do it and take re­spon­si­bil­ity. They make peo­ple feel they are at the cen­tre of things, not on the pe­riph­ery. A good leader makes his or her team feel that they con­trib­ute to the suc­cess of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

But, it is no easy task to be­come a leader. The path to lead­er­ship re­quires find­ing one’s own way—and the di­rec­tion one takes dif­fers from one per­son to an­other. How­ever, there are a few key traits we can fo­cus on:

go­ing be­yond mi­cro­manag­ing

Creat­ing a healthy work­ing en­vi­ron­ment is heav­ily de­pen­dent on build­ing an at­mos­phere of mu­tual trust be­tween the man­ager and the em­ploy­ees. Man­agers should del­e­gate and over­see from a dis­tance. Mi­cro­manag­ing tends to be in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing. Be­ing treated as some­one in­ca­pable and un­trust­wor­thy can af­fect or­ga­ni­za­tional cul­ture as well as em­ployee morale. This could also make them rely too much on man­agers. It lim­its a per­son’s po­ten­tial and takes away his or her think­ing hat and abil­ity to per­form tasks in­de­pen­dently. Con­versely, it is best to of­fer peo­ple the au­ton­omy to do their jobs and al­low them to ex­pand their ca­pa­bil­i­ties and growth po­ten­tial. Em­ploy­ees should be em­pow­ered with the ca­pac­ity to own their de­ci­sions and take risks. Most im­por­tantly, they need man­agers to stand by them, not merely su­per­vise them.

By be­ing com­mit­ted to help­ing each per­son achieve his or her per­sonal goals, the leader sets the or­ga­ni­za­tion up for great­ness. Lead­ers are good lis­ten­ers—they lis­ten to ver­bal and non-ver­bal cues to un­der­stand the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pulse. This al­lows them to ad­dress prob­lems be­fore they be­come big is­sues.

As com­pared to man­agers, lead­ers in­vest in tasks and projects and demon­strate a high level of pas­sion for their work. They also take in­ter­est in the suc­cess of their fol­low­ers, en­abling them to reach their goals which may not nec­es­sar­ily be the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s goals.

Creat­ing a healthy work­ing en­vi­ron­ment is heav­ily de­pen­dent on build­ing an at­mos­phere of mu­tual trust be­tween the man­ager and the em­ploy­ees.

tak­ing risk and em­brac­ing fail­ure

In­fi­nite com­plex­ity, pos­si­bil­i­ties, and con­stant trans­for­ma­tion char­ac­ter­ize the 21st cen­tury. We are liv­ing in a VUCA en­vi­ron­ment in which or­ga­ni­za­tions need to adapt their strate­gies to achieve the de­sired busi­ness re­sults. The times de­mand the abil­ity to take risks, em­brace fail­ure, and move on. It re­quires vi­sion, col­lab­o­ra­tion, plan­ning, and prac­tice. But not ev­ery­one wants to be a leader. It re­quires be­ing de­ci­sive and a will­ing­ness to take chances. And yes, to ‘fail’ and also to ac­cept it, learn from it, and move on.

not just a face in the crowd

Crowds have no pur­pose and end up nowhere. It takes courage to stand out and be a true in­di­vid­ual. This is the cru­cial defin­ing trait of a leader: they do not fol­low the crowd. It is also the most dif­fi­cult one, but then that is why suc­cess is so elu­sive and rare. Not all tal­ent is equal. Lead­ers make de­ci­sions with con­vic­tion, which is in stark con­trast to most peo­ple who ei­ther seek con­sen­sus or avoid re­spon­si­bil­ity. For them, ideas and di­a­log turn into ac­tion that is cap­tured quickly and en­acted upon. They bring in ac­count­abil­ity that is both con­sis­tent and fo­cused.

be­come a be­liever

When faced with prob­lems and ob­sta­cles, the leader chooses to learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence and turn them into op­por­tu­ni­ties. Yes­ter­day’s de­feats do not dis­cour­age

them. A good leader needs to pave the way and keep his or her emo­tions in check, es­pe­cially in tough sit­u­a­tions. Re­gard­less of what is hap­pen­ing, it is im­por­tant for them to guide a team through chal­leng­ing times, boost their morale, and re­main pos­i­tive along the way. Team morale is heav­ily de­pen­dent on the leader’s attitude.

not fear­ing fear

So what is it that keeps us from pur­su­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, lead­ing oth­ers, tak­ing ac­tion, and do­ing what we re­ally want to do? One word: fear—fear of re­jec­tion, fear of peo­ple, fear of try­ing new things, fear of not be­ing per­fect, etc. There­fore, if you want to be an ex­cep­tional leader, learn to con­quer your fears.

An im­por­tant part of the lead­er­ship model is what lies on the other side of the cru­cible—the qual­i­ties that de­fine lead­ers and learn­ers. The one key as­set all our lead­ers share, whether young or old, is their adaptive ca­pac­ity. The abil­ity to process new ex­pe­ri­ences, find mean­ing in them, and in­te­grate them into one’s life, is the sig­na­ture skill of lead­ers and, in­deed, of any­one who finds ways to live fully.

While the world con­tin­ues to change, the fun­da­men­tal traits of lead­ers re­main con­stant. When lead­ers lead, great things are pos­si­ble. As Archimedes re­port­edly said, “Give me a lever long enough and I will move the earth.” A good lead­er­ship, ap­plied to your busi­ness, is the ul­ti­mate lever­age. ■

The abil­ity to process new ex­pe­ri­ences, find mean­ing in them, and in­te­grate them into one’s life, is the sig­na­ture skill of lead­ers.

01­ers-can-dou­ble-prof­its-re­search-shows/#4f7e­b0a36ca6 02 Lead­er­ship ex­pert James Mac­Gre­gor Burns in­tro­duced the con­cept of trans­for­ma­tional lead­er­ship in his 1978 book, Lead­er­ship

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