Friday, October 29, 2010

A Good Leader

A Good Leader
Introduction: Who is a good leader? When we think of leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa we invoke the images of good leader in our minds. On the contrary when we think of leaders like Adolf Hitler, Stalin and Fidel Castro we invoke the image of bad leadership in our minds. Dearth of good leadership is pervasive today in all fields like politics, business, religion and sports. So let us come to our primary question, ‘who is a good leader?’ and when we think of good leader what kind of qualities and traits he or she displays. Let’s take a survey of it.

Vision that encompasses the good of all: A good leader has the ability to see beyond. In other words he or she is a person who has a vision but that vision is not for his own welfare but for the welfare of all. In other words he or she believes in Win-Win situation. It’s not a selfish vision that serves the purpose of self but it is a vision that encompasses the welfare of others as well. It is not a vision that says, ‘I win at the cost of your loss but a vision that says, ‘I win and help you also to win’. That’s the basic difference when it comes to distinguish between good and bad leadership. So to be a good leader, have a vision for the future. You don’t want to be complacent in the present situation that is restricting you. You want to move ahead, reach that place and help others to reach that place where you will find betterment and bliss. Barack Obama’s vision encompassed the good of all. ‘We need a change’ Here the words, ‘We’ are important, it shows a vision that the change is for the benefit of all.

Courage that treads on the unbeaten track: The second trait of good leadership is Courage. It’s the courage that embraces the challenge of taking the unbeaten path. “Two roads diverged in the woods, And, I took the less travelled by, and that has made all the difference” says, Robert Frost. A good leader knows that the beaten track won’t help him or her reach his ideal or vision. He got to choose the unbeaten track; he got to muster up enough courage to go against the current. He knows very well, “Only the dead fish swim with the current.” Even in the face of peer pressure, when things look gleam and dark, he or she keeps the faith to keep on keeping on the unbeaten track. In the world fraught with dishonesty, there was Abraham Lincoln who took the road of honesty, in the world fraught with callousness, there was Mother Teresa who took the road of Love and in the world fraught with suppression and violence there was Gandhi who took the road of Non- violence and Truth. To be a good leader, have the courage to embrace the unfamiliar, insecure and the unknown.

Inspiration that enthuses life: The third trait of good leadership is that he/she is a good motivator. He brings life in the face of death and gloom, he brings joy and merriment in the face of sorrow and despair, and he brings faith and hope in the face of hopelessness and despair. There are many people out there who are uninspired, hopeless and in despair. They need to be enthused with life! They need a good leader who will take the initiative to do that. Somebody said, “If you are not inspired, you have expired.” That’s very true for the word ‘inspiration’ means ‘breathing life into’ and expire means, ‘sucking life out of’. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of “The Power of Positive of Thinking” tells of an incident where in a seminar he met a president of a company who wanted to fire a certain employee. Dr. Peale suggested that instead of firing him why doesn’t he try to put fire in him. In other words he suggested him to encourage and motivate the employee and when the Director of the company followed the suggestion, the employee really started performing well. This example tells us that many times what people need is just inspiration that can motivate them to go on to the next level.

Communication that connects: The other thing in the list of being a good leader is effective communication skills. But here when we say communication, we are not just talking of certain formalities to be observed. We are talking about being a communicator who connects to people. A good leader is one who reaches out and touches people’s heart. He or she is a connector. He can build bridges where once there were gulfs, he can fill the vacuum of despair and despondency by sharing his love and life with people. When the leader communicates, people hear and hear do they, with respect and awe. People respect and are able to connect to a leader because not of what he or she speaks but they also know that the leader will stand true to his or her words. “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears; that I cannot hear what you are saying.” A good leader is what he or she says. He or she is man/woman of action.

Legacy that continues: Finally let us conclude our survey of good leadership qualities by this very important point that a good leader displays and without which the cycle of good leadership won’t be complete. A good leader leaves behind him or her good leaders to continue his legacy. Good leaders train and encourage the next level and the next generation of leaders. They don’t feel threatened by an upcoming young leader who may display better dynamism. Rather they would guide and encourage so that when it’s time for them to step aside, the show continues. So training the younger generation and encouraging leadership qualities in them is the other trait of good leadership. Many times we find an organization that is run superbly because of one dynamic leader but when it’s time for him or her to step down there is no one to take over. The next generation of leader has not been encouraged as a result, the new leader cannot keep up to the expectations that match the performance of the first leader and the organization starts taking a dip. It’s very vital to encourage and develop the next leaders to take over and that’s not an option but obligation.

Conclusion: So here we are, if a leader displays or even learns and inculcates the above mentioned qualities, he or she can prove to be an effective leader. Finally, let me end up by saying, that good leaders are not born but made. A person who was touring different cities happened to visit a particular city. He encountered an old man sitting at the gates of the city and he asked him, “Were any great leaders’ born in this city?” “Nope”, the man quipped, “only babies”. Friends, the moral of the story is that we can always work ourselves to be a good leader and don’t forget as Robin Sharma says that if you breathe and live, you are a leader and leadership starts by leading yourself first
Joy be all yours.