“Who as per you is the greatest leader in the last few decades?”
I have lost the count of the number of times I have asked this question with my audience in various seminars. It is intriguing to listen to names like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa etc. almost always. Why not, even when you do a random search on Google or few other websites, these are the names that show up.
On one hand, it points at the incomprehensible legacy left behind by these leaders but on the other hand, it invites us to think about the vacuum that has not been filled by anyone for long. (We lost some of these leaders almost 3-4 decades ago.) A recent survey at World Economic Forum also reveals that 86% of respondents think that there is a leadership crisis in the world today. A point certainly of a concern to many of us.
Another question which I ask during my seminar and workshops is “Are Leaders made or are they born?” This could be a tough one.
What I have come to believe is irrespective of whether leaders are made or born, every great leader is trained.
Here are the top attributes that new age leaders must focus on to maximize their leadership impact:
1) Leadership & Self-Awareness
Most people wish to be led by great leaders who show the path towards greatness. The truth is you don’t have to wait for the path, you can make the path and be the path of greatness.
You must be the leader you wish you had. ~ Simon Sinek
If you examine, when it comes to unleashing your greatness in leadership there are TWO things that outshine everything. Self-awareness and Self-Acceptance. Every great leader achieves this by constantly introspecting the beliefs, values, and principles that govern his/her life purpose and mission. By gaining self-awareness, you emerge as an exemplary leader and by self- acceptance you not only access your power but can also empower, enable and inspire people to perform their best.
Question To Introspect:
- What do you prefer, to be shown the path or to be the path?
- Do you spend time to build self-awareness?
- How often do you validate your beliefs, values, and principles?
- What is your strategy to align your beliefs, values and principles to your mission?
2) Leadership Is Maximizing Influence
It is fascinating to hear and difficult to believe how with no presence of technology, thousands of people came to listen to Martin Luther King’s famous speech and thousands of people participated in Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March. The people who came were not only moved & inspired by their leaders but were also willing to sacrifice their lives!
Leadership is one’s ability to maximize the influence not just by using technology but strengthening one’s ability to move the teams and inspire them with emotions towards the greater good and a common vision. It requires you to lead with courage while experiencing uncertainty. You can accomplish this by being congruent and by leading from the front. The great measure to know if you have maximized your influence is to see if your team is willing to go an extra mile. Not because they fear you but because they value your leadership.
Many a times organizations complain about the poor performance of their teams and spend thousands of dollars on training them without any results. What most organizations fail to understand is even before judging the team’s performance, they must measure the leadership influence. You might find the solution to poor performance there.
Question to Introspect:
- Is your team willing to go the extra mile?
- Do you take time to connect to your team?
- Do you measure and maximize your influence?
3) Focus on Collaboration & Creation
A leader is as good as the culture he creates. Leaders build culture and culture creates results.
One of the poorest forms of culture is when you see performance being driven by constant comparison and unhealthy competition. This creates insecurities and fear and such insecurities only creates poor performance. Most leaders focus all their energy on the comparison and unhealthy competition within the team under the tag of inspiration. Such inspiration only leads to a dis-empowering and dysfunctional culture. A culture where there is blame, a little trust, and least collaboration. When you focus all your energy on creating & collaborating and not drain your energy in comparison or competition, you maximize impact, increase productivity and cultivate performance-driven culture.
Those who focus on creating & collaborating are usually the one who is at the pinnacle.
Question to Introspect:
- Do you have a dysfunctional culture of low trust and high blame?
- Does your team focus on collaboration?
- Does the culture raise insecurities or promotes creation?
4) Technological Advancement but Human Involvement
Once I was on a flight and I met a senior leader of a big IT multinational. During the conversation, I inquired about the global changes in the business and in leadership in the last decade. To my surprise for almost about 45 minutes, he spoke all about technology advancements and nothing about human involvement in the business. While most technology advancements are minimizing human interactions, new age leadership role involves you to build a balance between technological advancements and human involvement.
The fact is, leaders must focus on empowering people and maximizing their potential and people must focus on technology enablement. Striking this balance becomes a key ingredient for modern-day leadership success. The easiest way to know what kind of problem is stopping your organization’s growth is to monitor the focus during the leadership meetings.
Question to Introspect:
- Do you strike a balance between human potential & technology enablement?
- What do you focus on in leadership conversations? Technology Enablement or Human Potential?
Leadership is not just a role or a title; it is a journey of higher responsibility to bring about greater change. It is a path of everyday transformation. A path less traveled. It demands courage, consistency, and commitment. It is the legacy that you build that remains even when you are gone.
Today more than ever we need great leaders! The question is are you willing to take the road less traveled? Are you willing to LEAD?
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