Essence of Leadership

Each one of us needs team skills & leadership at many places and many instances at work, at home, in neighborhood, in clubs, in any extracurricular or social activities. There is a lot of buzz about leadership these days. As employees we need leadership and team skills, as managers we need to lead and manage team constructively but not coercively. As higher management again we or rather they need to show exemplary leadership to take the individuals as well as the organization forward.

What a leader should be

Jim Collins Stanford University researcher and author of the bestselling book 'Good to Great' suggests that a Great Leader is he, who exhibits Level 5 characteristics of leadership. The highest level in a hierarchy of leadership capabilities. Leaders at the other four levels in the hierarchy can produce high levels of success but not enough to elevate organizations from mediocrity to sustained excellence

* Level 1: Highly capable Individual

* Level 2: Contributing team member

* Level 3: Competent manager

* Level 4: Effective leader

* Level 5: Greatest form of leaderwhich is a study in dualityModest and Wilful; Shy and Fearlessis a great leader with quintessential qualities. Personal Humility & Professional Will

* Level 5 Leaders demonstrate a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful about themselves. Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.

These Level 5 leaders when asked for their success they always say that they had been lucky to have seen enduring success through the years. Essentially they are very much aware of the fact that there are so many variables which are responsible for their success, i.e. it is not only because of their capability that their successes have come.

Level 5 leaders when asked about failures they take the responsibility because chances are people will start finger pointing those leaders even for the fault of the other people, but the Level 5 people provide psychological closure to the finger pointing. They also manifest greater knowledge by accepting that they should have preempted the caliber vis--vis the task and the roadblocks in achieving the success.

Opportunity of True Leadership in Difficult Times

True leadership gets tested in difficult times. Having seen the Financial & Economic downturn there is obvious pressures on corporations to stay afloat and survive the crisis, is there no way other than employee retrenchment to cut costs?

In fact, there are several ways of cutting costs which can not only improve employee morale but also make the corporations come out of the crisis much stronger.

In 1982, when 18 major US steel companies recorded a combined loss of $3.2 billion, two steel companies in California Nucor Corporation and Chaparral Steel recorded profits. The secret behind their success was that they had done what the Japanese would have done. First, their top management cut down their salaries by 50 per cent, then the administrative officials responsible for the production division cut down their salaries by 35 to 40 per cent, and only then was the income of the hourly staff cut down by 20 to 25 per cent. Not a single employee was retrenched. That the entire organization had jointly tightened their belt and seen the crisis through as a cohesive team should be obvious to anyone.

As Richard Bach once wrote, Every problem has a gift in its hands. The current crisis, albeit the worst of its kind since India became independent, can still be converted into an opportunity by true leaders who are ready to lead by example like the captain of a ship that is in troubled water like it is treated by great companies like Nucor, Chaparral etc. All it needs is the willingness of top management to first tighten their belts before they start asking others to do so.

Essence of what a leader should be

There is a poem €œIF€ by Rudyard Kipling, which defines what is an essence of leader:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

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