10. Mark of a true leader
When we want to do great things, often our individual power is not sufficient. We learnt that we need the support and co-operation of many other people, especially teamwork. To get things done through people requires leadership qualities.
A leader is a person who is able to set direction for a group of people, and guide them towards that goal. There are mainly two types of people – leaders and followers. Decide at the outset whether you intend to become a leader in your chosen field, or remain a follower. The choice will make a huge difference in your life.
It is no disgrace to be a follower. On the other hand, there is no grace in remaining a follower. Most great leaders began in the capacity of followers. They became great leaders because they were intelligent followers. An intelligent follower has many advantages, among them the opportunity to learn from his leader.
There are different kinds of leaders in any field of action, be it political leaders, business leaders, spiritual leaders and so on
There are two forms of political leadership.
- Leadership by consent of, and for the welfare of the others
- Leadership by force for leader‘s own welfare, without the consent of others
A true leader doesn’t give orders from above and behind, but leads the team by placing himself in the frontline. People may follow the forced leadership temporarily, but they will not do so willingly. History is filled with evidences that leadership by force cannot endure. The downfall and disappearance of dictators such as Hitler is significant. It means that people will not follow forced leadership indefinitely. We might find such types of leaders, among other fields such as business and religion, who have been dethroned.
Leadership-by-consent of and for the welfare the followers is the only form which can endure! This form of leadership embraces the below attributes of leadership. The person, who makes these the basis of his leadership, will find abundant opportunity to lead in any walk of life.
Major attributes required for success in leadership are the below:
- Courage: Some may misunderstand this attribute to be carelessness or running into problems foolishly. Courage comes with clarity about one’s field of action. No follower wishes to be led by a person who lacks self-confidence and clarity in his field of action.
That something in me which never derives me tells me: You have to stand against the whole world, although you may have to stand alone. You have to stare at the world in the face, although the world may look at you with bloodshot eyes. Do not fear. Trust that ‘little thing’ which resides in your heart. It says, forsake friends, wife and all, but testify to that which you have lived and for which you have to die.” -Gandhiji
2. Sense of fairness and justice: A person, who listens only to one side of the arguments and takes sides, will be despised by all. He has to act fairly and give both sides an opportunity of being heard.
3. Ability to take quick and wise decisions: A man who wavers in his decisions, shows that he is not sure of himself. He cannot lead others successfully.
4. Planning: A leader who cannot plan and moves by guessing will end up like an aircraft without flight plan. An aircraft manoeuvres several times, in several directions and altitudes to avoid unsafe weather. But it will have a plan of where to land by taking assistance from the air-traffic controllers situated on the ground.
5. Humbleness: Successful leaders are willing, when occasion demands, to perform any sort of work which they would ask another person to perform. They accept good advices and constructive criticisms. They are humble to admit mistakes and willing to take corrective actions.
6. Wholeheartedness: A leader puts his heart into everything he does and shows one hundred percent involvement. He shows willingness to do more than the followers: A man who works for fewer hours, but expects his followers to work for longer hours, cannot succeed.
7. Truthfulness: A person who is not loyal to the men, either above or below him, cannot gain the confidence and support of followers.
8. Empathy: He understands follower’s strengths and weaknesses and what tasks to be delegated to them.
9. Responsibility: He understands that with great power comes great responsibility. He does not try to escape from his own responsibility. A successful leader assumes responsibility even for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers. If one of his followers makes a mistake, and proves to be incompetent, a leader acknowledges that it is he who has failed.
10. Cooperation: A successful leader applies the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce his followers to do the same.
11. ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’. If a leader is very closely mingling and playing jokes with the followers, they won’t respect his orders. Even though his heart is very soft, he should display and use firmness when orders were ignored.
12. A leader should have even minded-ness. Even if beaten down in failures and troubles, he should not put down his followers to shame but instead motivate them.
13. It is important to make only those promises that can be delivered. While communicating, saying ‘Yes’ is always easy. But sometimes one has to say ‘No’ as well. We have to make the other person understand the situation and willing to participate in finding together a solution. If the solution was not possible that can be other person’s psychological preparation for accepting a ‘no’ without making a scene.
14. A leader should not get influenced by addictions such as intoxication, gambling, hunting and so on. He has to live a good life by cultivating habits such as regular exercise, diet control, association of good people, and so on. A leader who cannot lead his own life, cannot lead others.
15. If a leader naively trusts everyone, there is a possibility of getting cheated by crooks. On the other hand if he is suspicious of everyone, good natured people feel insulted and stay away from him. Hence a leader should appear to trust everyone, but be skeptical and cautious.
16. When a leader puts followers in important positions, he should consider only merit and not factors such as relationships, friendship, caste and so on. If unworthy people are promoted by leader, they will certainly fail him one day, and bring disgrace to him through their actions.
17. Below are few types of deals that every leader must know.
- Win-Win or No Deal: If two people can’t reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial, there is no deal. In Win-Win, both people win. Agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying to both parties.
- Win-Lose: ‘ If I win, you lose’. These type of people are prone to use position, power and personality to get what they want at any cost.
- Lose-Win: ‘I lose, but you win’. These type of people are quick to please and appease, and seek pleasure from popularity or acceptance.
- Lose-Lose: Both people lose. When two Win-Lose people get together — that is, when two determined, stubborn, ego-driven individuals interact – – the result will be Lose-Lose.
The best option is to create Win-Win or ‘No deal’ situations. With Win-Lose, or Lose – Win, one person appears to get what he wants for the moment, but the results will negatively impact the relationship between those two people going forward.
When we have ‘No deal’ as an option in our mind, it liberates us from needing to manipulate people and push our own agenda. We can be open and understand the underlying issues from the other’s point of view.
18. Be pro-active instead of being reactive. Be in charge and take responsibilities of your choices.
Reactive = “He makes me upset and always wastes my time.”
Proactive or Responsive = “I control my own feelings and I am in charge of my time.”
Reactive people take a passive stance and believe that the world is happening to them. Proactive people, however, recognize that they have responsibility – or response-ability (The ability to choose how to respond in a given situation).
Major causes of failure in leadership:
- Failure to follow the golden rule of reciprocity – This principle says that we should treat others in the same way we ourselves would like to be treated.
- Fear of competition from followers – The leader who fears that one of his followers may grab his position is practically sure to realize that fear sooner or later. The able leader trains followers and delegates appropriate tasks. Only in this way a leader can multiply himself and prepare himself to be at many places, and give attention to many things at one time.
- Selfishness – The leader, who claims all the credit for the work of his followers, is sure to be met by resentment. A true leader claims no honours. He gives credit to his followers, because he knows that most men will work harder for recognition and satisfaction than they will for monetary benefits alone.
- Intemperance – Followers do not respect an intemperate leader who has no control over his emotions. Moreover, intemperance in any of its various forms destroys the endurance and the vitality of all who indulge in it. A successful leader understands the weaknesses and problems of his followers and improves them by suggestions.
- Emphasis of title or authority – The competent leader requires no title to gain the respect of his followers. The man who makes too much over his title generally has little else to emphasize. The doors to the home or office of the real leader are open to all who wish to enter, either for help or to oppose, and his working quarters are free from formality or grandeur.
These are among the more common of the causes of failure in leadership. Any one of these faults is sufficient to induce failure. Study the list carefully if you aspire to leadership, and make sure that you are free of these faults. True leaders don’t set out to be a leader in the first place. But when they strive towards a purpose, they involuntarily find themselves becoming a great leader.