We live and work in the age of machines and artificial intelligence. With automation leading the narrative at the workplace, it is important for companies to not get too caught up in it and retain the core aspects of organizational fabric, namely leadership. Some say leaders are born not trained while others believe that there are enough frameworks and systems out there to make leaders out of people. I believe it’s a mix of both. One has to have certain ingrained qualities or leadership which can be further developed through training and mentoring.
In this blog, I will specifically talk about aspects of leadership that cannot be acquired by training and are more intrinsic qualities.
Empathy is technically defined as the ability to identify and understand and contextualize someone else’s situation, feelings and response. In the organizational context it simply means putting oneself in the other person’s shoes, be it customer, stakeholder or employee. In fact, Design Thinking, which is making its way into various disciplines of organizations, relies primarily on empathy to design stakeholder-centric experiences. In the parlance of leadership, having the ability to see from the eyes of employees and customers becomes the key differentiator. Empathy enables healthy two-way conversations, brings people on a common plane and helps them connect better as individuals. It also helps leaders build and propagate a culture that’s inclusive, collaborative and people-centric. I believe that empathy can be taught only to a certain extent and is mostly an underlying quality. On the other hand, I also believe that all human beings are equipped with an ability to demonstrate and practice empathy; it is just a matter of choice.
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.
There is a certain quality about great leaders that sets them apart from the flock. I love the quote, “ I take decisions and then make them right.” The workplace is a dynamic ecosystem and things change every minute. Even the best-laid plans can go awry on a given day. Leaders need the courage to face adversities and take important decisions in the face of crisis. Courage should not be mistaken for foolhardiness. It is about making calculated decisions in the midst of tough situations and knowing that there is a very limited control over the outcomes. I feel that courage comes from within and training can only enhance its application to situations.
A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit. Arnold H. Glasow.
This quote perfectly describes what it’s like to be a leader. If you are looking at leadership as a means to enjoy the limelight, then, unfortunately, the reality is completely different. The one lesson leaders need to imbibe is that leadership is not about the self at all. The job is really about committing to an organizational vision and enabling people to realize that vision. Once you set the leadership journey your success lies in the success of your people and the organization itself. From taking massive pay cuts to giving up on precious family time to standing up for the employees in tough times, great leaders have time again put the interests of employees and customers above their own. Again, my personal opinion is that selflessness doesn’t magically appear the day you are promoted to a leadership position. It is something innate and only be nurtured further.
Have any inputs or anecdotes to share? Please leave a comment.