To me, the hubbub around the need to be and the way to be a leader is unfathomable. There are literatures and novels written by authors to teach the parameters and techniques to be a good leader. Not underplaying the efforts one puts in to teach and to learn leadership techniques, I would like to put forth my approach to be exemplary in every role that one takes up. Being the leader of your own life is the mantra and the rest follows.
Without much ado let’s talk about the need for you to be a leader. What do you mean by the word ‘leader” and why do you want to be one? The answers to these questions should cause you to peep inside and draw an introspection analysis report.
Being in a management role for sometime in a couple of companies, I always wondered if it was required of me to be a perfect human being to be a good leader? I also wondered how the leaders of top-notch companies lead their teams to achieve one single goal !
Then, I started observing people around me and what they did to motivate others. These were people I would look up to and would go that extra mile trying to get their appreciation. My assessment is not from the biographies of classic leaders like Mahatma Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. This computation is out of my own experience with some quintessential leaders who I had the privilege to be with, in my life.
Firstly, stop calling yourself a leader if you really want to be one. Please let the others decide, if you really are one.
The second step is to be a human being. You cannot be perfect as you are not God. So please don’t set out to do extraordinary things just to prove a point.
Next, please help the people around you to stand up by giving them the confidence to do so, instead of standing up for them all the time. Please don’t spoon feed them.
Then there is this well known phrase “Appreciate in public and reprimand in private”. Use the coaching approach and do away with feedback sessions, for team development.
Be extremely approachable and try to be a good friend, not because you want to be their leader but because you want to give them a shoulder when they need it and to pat on their back when they won the battle for you.
Please do not backbite or make fun of someone because you think they are different from the others. This would break their trust on you. Respect every individual and make everyone feel good for what they are.
Be open to ideas whether they are new or cliched. It’s important to get people thinking. If during their opening up with you about their perspective, you feel they are straying from the objective or goals, then lead them by asking small contextual questions. When you ask these questions, people tend to assess their ideas themselves and don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged by it being shot down. They would think more innovative.
Goal orientation is the most important part of the leadership role in any business. When you talk about why it is important to achieve the set goals and targets , in your briefings and meetings, feel it yourself. Do not tell, but ask the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’. Please don’t compel one to answer your questions. Get them to talk by asking friendly work related questions like “Would you please share with everyone, how you got Mr. X to meet his FCR last month? That was really impressive”.
Connect with your people and that’s the way you would sound genuine. Personalize your greetings and be sensitive to their needs. Nobody wants to follow a fake leader. Please do not underestimate other’s ability to read your moves and gestures.
There will also be times when you may have to take a tough decision to discard the rotten apple from your basket, as that one was irreparable. Remember it’s okay to take action against the incorrigible ones, else all your time and effort would be wasted in vain.
The above are not only tips to be a good leader but will also make one a good human being. Try to imbibe them into your culture, else so many changes in your personality may seem like a herculean task. This may be a little difficult but is achievable.
Bear in mind that leadership is not just a role but a complete transformation of the way you look at life. Lead yourself into being a better human being and it will pass over to the others in your vicinity. All the best !!!