Our lives are constantly touched by leaders- directly or indirectly; they are altered, manipulated and directed by the aggression and subtlety that leaders bring along with them and their style of leadership then goes on to manifest and determine the flavor and texture of the group that is being influenced! This group could be your family, your work place or the society at large- a nation perhaps- whatever it is, make no mistake, it is the choices of the leaders that go on to dictate how you and I see the next Sunrise! Join me here as we take a quick walk through and try to decipher the Leadership Code- the very essence of Leadership which separates Good Leaders from Great ones’! So here we go!
I have written in my previous articles about the need and genesis of leadership per say- why and what of it- how humanity always seeks and needs Leaders’ – this piece is all about taking it a step ahead and understand that critical Leadership Code- The code that creates impact, sets new directions and leads to new pathways and destinations for a society or the people in the context and how this very code can be absolutely destructive and sub-serving when deployed by accidental leaders or when even the best intents are executed in the worst possible manner!
Given the nature of a blog, I will be intentionally keeping it short and sweet and urging you to add further, based on what you have experienced as a Leader (who leads) and perhaps as a Leader (who follows a Leader), frankly I don’t but the idea of Leaders creating Followers’ that is the last thing you ever want Leadership to be or a Leader to be!Whenever you see something like that- just move out of that confining and narrowing space, for it will come back at you hard and fast- it is not about if- it is always about when!
If you ask me, what is the Leadership Code and the essence of it; well it is everything that you would have seen playing out among Great Leaders (not Good Leaders)! I share with you a few of those secrets/ observations here, which I have either been an observer of or have come across through my years of engagement and reading with leaders- who have been leading their lives and of people around them – either in the small pockets of society or on the big centre stage of world politics and business! So here they are!
Create a powerful sustained narrative: One fundamental corner stone of Great Leadership is a continuing and compelling narrative- which reinforces the beliefs and values of those die-hard followers and more importantly creates those important spaces for the undecided to come in and join your bandwagon! It is critical that this narrative and it’s content is supported by subsequent actions and the narrative should within carry and hint at the actionable areas- else- people will see the bluff and in no time- all the struggle and effort taken to reach the space of Great Leadership will begin to crumble and in no time- the regression from Great to Good to Nothing will be set off!
Great Leaders and Great Leadership is Infectious: One common feature across the board- when it is about Great Leaders- is the fact that they are all highly contagious- infectious; sure enough we are in the times of a pandemic- but trust me- if you ever walked around or with these rare breed of leaders- their persona, charisma, way of life and leadership is all compulsively infectious and that is an unmistakable streak of some Great Leadership at play! This is where all the learning happens and this is the space where Followers are converted into the next line of Leaders! How well the rub off is what goes on to decide whether the next line of Leaders is Good or Great!
Great Leaders Simplify: Unlike Good Leaders who operate on different levels of secrecy (with regards to guarding their knowledge and special art and skills- with regards to leadership), Great Leaders- almost always are open, transparent and have this one unique unmistakable ability to simplify and de-clutter- on an ongoing basis- whether it is the content of their talk, a column that they write or a message that they want to send across- they are simple, clear, crisp and powerful! This build trust and clarity of thought and action across levels and cadres and the by goes on reinforce their Leadership and keeps it nourished, well oiled and potent at all times- with or without power!
Great Leaders embrace failures and risks: Great Leaders embrace risk and failure- what is crucial though is that, they almost always embrace calculated and measured risks and failures! Very rarely they play blind- when that happens- it is a turning point in the history of the world! Good Leaders (typically the corporate world is replete with this variety) almost always stay away and steer clear from risks (even calculated ones’) and almost always want to dabble with only things and work that gives them success (even if that is 1%), never will you see them dabble with something that has never been done, something that has a low chance of success and so on and so forth! Well there could be valid reasons for that, but this is what separates the Good from the Great! History of the world is never written by operating from the comforts of the known spaces- new beginnings always are created from spaces where the known perimeters end!
All Great Leaders, Listen: Don’t mistaken, I don’t suggest that other Leaders are deaf! This listening is different and very potent- this is the space of directed listening and intentional listening. This is what provides Great Leaders with depth of frame and context, when people engage with them- this is what helps them set focus and be able to see far ahead into the future than anyone else! Potent Listening is much beyond paying attention to what is being said, it is also about listening to the why of what is being said and how and what can be done about what is being said! As the old wise adage goes, The more you listen, the lesser you need to speak! The problem with humanity is that majority of us are only listening to the point or to the extent of what we want to hear and this where everything goes horribly wrong! This is why we end up living and experiencing lives and leaders which are sub-serving and myopic!
Great Leaders choose to win Wars over Battles: As Great Leaders know the value of embracing failures and risks, so do also know the value of winning some and loosing some, what makes them so potent and effective is their ability to know which to loose and which to win! This trait goes a long way to make Good Leaders move up to become Great Leaders and when there is an error of judgement in this space, needless to say Leadership legacies are created and destroyed in proportion to the damage incurred!
Great Leaders practice proactive Empathy: Great Leaders know the value of investing in others, that way they ensure that their ideas and plans are not only accepted but also improvised by the people who embrace them and for this to happen, they need to practise and display proactive empathy- the art and science of knowing what the other person feels, thinks and does by being who they are and every Great Leader know, unless this vital step is not completed, nothing of greatness can ever be achieved or lived by anyone!
Great Leaders live their Values: All Great Leaders live the values that they believe in and in a sense are the living embodiment of the values that hold close to their heart! Great Leaders stand for something that they believe in and something that is intrinsic and non-negotiable to them for any reasons and their whole approach, attitude and action is aligned to this. This is what helps Leaders create more potent leaders over Followers, as the Values and the benefits of embracing them becoming evident and worthwhile, in no time you have a whole mass of humanity aligning themselves to the very same Values and what you then have is the pinnacle of Great Leadership- where the whole society seems to resonate with the singularity of a cause and belief which stand strong and firm on the foundation of the Values that are being cherished!
Great Leaders speak less and act more: Although it may seem contradictory, this is a fact, every Great Leader that you cherish, no matter how much news byte they offer or not, the fact is they are always in the action and in the thick of the things more, much more than how much they speak and communicate! Great Leaders know, that for them to be successful and relevant, every word that is spoken needs to be backed up by action and that’s why they choose to speak less, but frequently and keep displaying actions of their earlier words which goes on to reinforce their commitment to the audience that they hold sway upon and that further provides the much required fuel to sustain and further develop their Leadership by amplifying their Followership base!
Great Leaders take efforts to reach out!: All Great Leaders know the power to forgive and forget! They know when it is okay to forgive and when it is okay to forget and when it is vital to do both! This is what helps build empathy and at the same time display generous attitude to one and all and make a clear, visible statement about them as a Leader and about their Leadership style and Value systems! All Great Leaders know the power of connecting people and bringing them together, because it is only when many believe and embrace what is being communicated that societal change happens and manifests and unless there is a comprehensive okay from across the sections of the society, even the most noblest of intents will end up being defeated and that’s why reaching out is so vital and critical, whether you lead a nation or lead an organisation, unless the last person is won over to your side, it is never done!
Great Leaders know when it is time to exit!: All Great leaders know, that what they are pursuing is an endless pursuit and cause which is firmly planted on few core ideas, beliefs and values and importantly that journey must continue even after they no longer are at the helm of the affairs. Hence all Great leaders invest and share what they can and must among those who they must all that is vital to ensure the continuity of the ideas and values of what is being pursued even while they are firmly in the saddle and even as they call the shots! This ability to share and empower others without any hesitation is perhaps one of the most important hallmarks of Great Leadership! Great Leaders plan their exit even as they start to build and work upon their ideas right from the beginning! Great Leaders know the value and merit of the second line and they always have that around- so that no matter what happens the idea and the belief always lives on and that is the very essence of any Great Leadership model or the hallmark of being a Great Leader- the ability to influence long after you are no longer physically available!
I am sure there could be many more facets that go on to create the aura and magic of Great Leaders and their equally Great Leadership, but I leave you here with these thoughts, for you to reflect and perhaps add further on what you thought were other vital elements that went on to make a Leadership that you came across Great! I have intentionally not put names to the “Great Leaders and Great Leadership or even tried to suggest examples of Good Leadership, simply because all of those observations are always contextual and why I see through the lens of my intellect may not always be the same for someone else and every truth is equally justified from the lens of its beholder!
I leave you here now, urging you to connect with the passive Leader within you and the active ones’ around you to embark upon the journey to experience Great Leadership by being a Great Leader! Remember everything related to Leadership always starts by Leading yourself first! Be the Leader you always sought! Begin the journey to seek your Greatness and the first step to that is, to define the Leader in you and the Leadership that you want to bring with you!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one! Until then stay wise and keep inspiring!