Leadership today has become a very multi meaning term. Professionals from various disciplines have defined ‘Leadership’ in different ways. Paradigm shifts in the cultures of organisations and the consistent parallel and horizontal development of companies have raised the need to look at leadership in a new angle.
A strong company is the one that has leaders spread all across the company, not just at the top. The business world today needs both good leaders and good managers. However, because of the rapid change occurring in the industry today, a company needs far more leaders, not more managers.
Time after time again, businesses put the wrong person in charge. Unintentionally, they reward a "don't rock the boat" mentality. Conformity and status quo are the first steps leading down the staircase of a business disaster. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience.
As correctly quoted by Ray Croc “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves”. Effective leadership arises out of groups, organisations and communities that have built trust, and learned to collaborate and make decisions and solve problems constructively.
Let’s view a few examples. The Tata Group one of India's oldest, largest and most respected business conglomerates started in the 1870s & having businesses spread over seven business sectors, comprise of 91 companies with operations in six continents. It employs some 220,000 people and collectively has a shareholder base of over two million world over. Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the group remained cohesive, congenial, and mercifully alive—a fact that speaks not just to luck but to an unparalleled feat in leadership, a ‘Leadership of Trust’ as they love to address themselves. This ‘leadership of trust’, the years they call a ‘Century of Trust’, was set on five core values: integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility. These values, which have been part of the Group's beliefs and convictions from its earliest days, continue to guide and drive the business decisions of Tata companies even today.
True leadership is about taking people to a place they wouldn't go to by themselves. Good leaders don't merely supervise; they create a sense of purpose and direction for those they lead.
Organizations can only build great leaders in an environment that nurtures and supports that development. If they don’t have such an environment, they need to change their culture to create one. But organizations cannot change their culture without good leadership.
Thus, the ‘leader today’ requires to stick to certain must do’s in order to be effective, successful and sustaining in this ever changing corporate governance. These essentials can be listed as:-
01. Being there.
02. Always remember, Communication is the key.
03. Instilling optimism while staying grounded to reality.
04. Tell the hard truths.
05. Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.
06. Master conflict. Deal with anger in small doses and engage dissidents.
07. Take care of yourself: Maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.
08. Reinforce the team message constantly.
09. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.
10. Have the courage to take big risks, and more.
11. Foster a spirit of tenacious creativity. Never give up—there’s always another move.
Author: Prof. Susen Varghese