Leadership is a much talked about and desired trait that is seemingly becoming necessary to excel in all areas of life.It is quite different from management, even though managers need leadership skills and leaders need managerial skills. If a manager has to ensure that the team is moving up the ladder, a leader keeps in mind that the ladder is aligned to the right wall. However, a right perception about leadership and a right kind of inculcation of leadership skills is the need of the hour. It is commonly observed that ‘how to acquire leadership skills’ has become a beaten topic but how to become a true leader who is remembered through the scale of time and who leaves a positive mark on others, is still less explored. For this, let us first understand leadership from a different and ethical perspective.
# Stick to ethical standards
The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a football field, in an army, or in an office.For instance, if I choose to be honest, I will still be honest even if the whole world behaves dis-honestly. It is because I have chosen this virtue because I like it; I had never chosen the virtue because others wanted me to. So then, why should I abandon it just because others are not following it?! Therefore, a leader is self- driven, when it comes to setting and following standards.
# Translate vision into reality
A leader establishes direction by developing a vision. Management consists of implementing the vision and strategy provided by leaders, coordinating and staffing the organization, and handling day-to-day problems.
Also, no doubt that a leader has to bea visionary. But he also has the capacity to translate vision into reality, without which the visions do not have a real meaning. The vision that a leader has created is the greatest driving force for him to propel in any sort of situation. There is absolutely nothingthat can hold back a leader from achieving his goals. Or rather, it is one who has this capacity, actually a leader.
# Influence with humility
Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. A leader is in a position where he has a large area of influence on the people who are down the line. Therefore, leaders are people who, by their actions, influence a group of people to move toward a common or shared goal. His each and every action is being followed. It is said: “Others do as they see us doing” or “Values or ethics are not taught, they are caught”. With this awareness, comes great responsibility and with this responsibility comes great humility.
# Relational leadership Vs.Positional leadership
Also, a leader is respected by people from their heart. As it has been already said, leadership is not a designation in the hierarchy but a position in the hearts of others. People follow a leader because they want to and not just because they have to. This is what we know as ‘relational leadership’ in contrary to the orthodox ‘positional leadership’. When the heart accepts, the mind opens and then it takes very little of a leader’s time and energy to mobilize its team to achieve a goal. Such leaders become immortal in the history and the minds of all people.
# Facilitative Leadership Vs. Authoritative leadership
These are another 2 types of leadership skills. In the case of facilitative leadership, a leader helps the team explore their full potential and also the best way out to deal with a situation, rather than spoon feeding them with the solution of what should be done and what should not be done. A leader who facilitates always remembers that there might be better ways of doing things and believes his team to bring up that solution. This gives room for innovation. Of course, time limits and productivity are not kept at stake but there cannot be a better way of ensuring highest quality and maximum productivity than making the team the 1st stakeholder of the task and its success.
# Courageous and seeker of the Truth
“In moments of crisis, the leaders emerge”
To become a true leader, one has to be independent in his thinking and doing. If one follows what the world is thinking and doing, one cannot be a leader and is certainly a follower of the trend in the world. Thus, to be a true leader, one needs to be innovative and a free thinker. He must be courageous to pave his own path, take charge pf situation under crisis and go against the stream for the right cause. But what is the right cause? There may be different definitions of right and wrong in the same scenario, depending on an individual’s perception. So, the be truly righteous, one has to be aligned to the ever-right philosophy, which is the ‘truth’.
# Understanding oneself
A leader demonstrates extraordinary skills in dealing with situations, which requires of him, use of his full potential. But one can use his full potential only when one is aware of it. Hence, a leader is the one who understands his strengths and limitations and stands out in the crowd based on his skills. A leader is aware about the self and knows how to motivate himself. He knows his powers and also when to use them and how to use them.
Moreover, a leader is also aware of his limitations. Just as when one is aware of the pothole on road, one can be more cautious to avoid it and continue his journey without being affected by it, until it is mended. Similarly, knowing one’s weakness allows a leader to avoid falling in it and gradually working on it in order to overcome it.
# Understanding others
“You are going to change your people but do you know them and do you love them?”– Mother Teresa
You can’t solve what you don’t know! A leader does not necessarily have to be a Mr. Know It All but has to certainly know or understand the people he is leading. The best way to understand your team member is to, at one time or another, be in their footsteps and remember what it is like! There’s a saying that says “To be a good leader is to be a good follower”. That’s because we can only truly understand what they are experiencing if we ourselves have experienced it! Of course, we don’t need to have lived every single experience that they did, but we need to have enough experience to be able to generalize their emotional state.
In addition to it, a leader recognizes the specialty of people around and creates opportunities for them to leverage it. A leader must know what a person in his team can do and what he cannot do. If a person is given a task which he cannot accomplish by himself, the task is bound to meet failure. So, to assign the right task to the right person, is a leader’s responsibility. Also, to enable each person in the team to develop and ensure that all skill sets in the team and in each person is met, is also a leader’s responsibility. In order to be able to do so, a leader has to first understand each team player.
# Approachable, but with High Self Esteem
In the time of need, it is always a leader who is looked up to as he is always approachable. If we feel that people approach us only when they are in need and are thus being mean to us or using us for their benefit, it is because of a lower self- esteem. Useful things are often to be used. Whereas, things that are not brought in use are usually the discarded or useless ones. So, to be able to help others in the times of their need or to be useful for others doesn’t lower our self- esteem, rather is a mark of greater versatility and flexibility, honor and respect. It is only when we don’t value this side of ours, others demean us.
Another reason to feel dis-respected in such a case is our expectations. One who expects respect or support from others, cannot really stand by his own and hence, cannot be a true leader.
# Selfless & Service Motive
A leader is there to serve everyone and never feels burdened in doing so, neither expects anything in return. Service of all, is a natural and effortless way of dealing for a leader. It is by this virtue, humility cultivates in a person and he becomes worthy of respect.
Moreover, a good leader always shares successes i.e. he takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit as he is not hunting after short term appreciation but cementing long term relationships and sustenance as a leader. This can be developed by making a room in the hearts of the team players by being selfless, involving them at every step and standing with them in facing all that comes their way.
# Clarity & Transparency leading to Compassion, Trust& Accountability
True leader ensures clarity of communication and transparency of intentions. It is not necessary to disclose all the confidential matters to everyone, but at least let the team understand clearly what and why it has to be done at their end and in that manner. When the mission and goals of the team are clearly and transparently communicated to the team players and there is no hidden agenda in the execution, the leader wins the trust of the team. This also develops a sense of joint responsibility for the progress of a project or growth of an organization. In this way, strategically, a leader makes his project theirs! And just like him, they won’t accept failures.
More so, the clarity of mind of the leader leads to openness in behaviour with others. This further leads to compassionate listening to the verbal and non-verbal expressions of the team members, subordinates or clients without judgment or condemnation of any sort. And when we are talking about communication, a leader doesn’t forget to invite open suggestions and constructive feedback from the floor so that everyone involved gets to share their thoughts and opinions- this further enhances the accountability and responsibility of the team members.
# Small is big- Value everything!
Leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. Neither it is about how much have you done. It is more about how much more impact you could create with the small things you did. Leadership isn’t so much about the big things, big events, big moments and big recognitions. It is all about consistently recognizing the ‘small’ things because over time the small things become the big things, events, moments.
Moreover, a good leader never fails to recognize the small achievements of the team players and spares out time to connect with them personally and express genuine appreciation. This personal touch, maybe for a short while, creates a big impact on the minds of others and could be the pace maker for the accelerating the progress of the team.
The smallest but the most important step in this regard would be to be a leader of the self at the first place. That is, to be able to go to the root of all programming or right and wrong, truth and false, to do or not to do or what to do, the home to all the perceptions, the inventory of all the ethics and the manufacturing unit of all the feelings of ego and self-esteem, courage, compassion, trust, accountability, etc. There one can find out under the layers of one’s own personality, that ‘Who I really am?’. It is to connect with one’s true self, which doesn’t hold on to any label of leader or superior and gives us a basic understanding of the root of all behaviours. Rajyoga Meditation is a tool that joins all these dots and helps us make sense of our own needs, feelings, attitudes, personality and our own actions. Appreciating the fact that we are all units of an organization, the society, or the ecosystem, once we are able to decode ourselves by keeping aside the hat of a leader, we are ready to connect to others at a human level. And this strikes the common chord, preparing a leader to be all set to understand his team, give them space, get involved in the errors and successes and know how to deal with their hearts and minds.