5 leadership lessons I Learned
May 15, 2020
Over the last couple of years, leadership has been seen from a dimension, which is much profound and more meaningful in nature. Leadership in theory, particularly when seen from a business school point of view is more focused on the do’s and don’ts of team management. However, I believe leadership is something more than this. I mean, we all read blogs, lessons and views from prominent leaders on this topic, who share their experiences and lessons for the broader benefit. I am sure, among the pool of readers, there may be a bunch of leaders too. So have we asked these questions to ourselves: how many of these thought leaders advice matches with our mindset? Or even how much of this advice we follow to generate the result we deserve?
I am sure, many or some of us just read it for the information sake. In my previous published blog on LinkedIn regarding knowledge management and corporate culture, I have mentioned how “there cannot be any substitute for knowledge” and hence, I link this piece with my previous blog. Why? Because when we just read anything for the information’s sake and don't nurture it further for generating knowledge, it’s of no use. It’s similar to not reading it.
Earlier, in 2014, I find myself in a transitional period between my professional career and an advance study on my subject of interest. In this process, time allowed me to sit back and reflect on my experiences both at industries and academia. I suppose, this was the best time for me to recuperate and align my focus towards knowing myself better.
I must say, this time turned out to be most effective in my career and has given me valuable learning’s, one of which is leadership. These may seem to be tiny perspectives however it does have grater impact on organisational behaviour. Out of many, I find five important points that I learned, observed and now want to share:
1. Self-awareness vs. Self-confidence: Well, we all know and talk about confidence and overconfidence. From childhood, we are taught to build and keep self-confidence in order to grow. However, I think, particularly in the corporate climate confidence has nothing to do with success unless it is backed with self-awareness. I have seen leaders who has tremendous confidence in them especially congregated from their qualifications and experiences however many a time they get things wrong at the end of the day. Why? It's the self-awareness that they lack. More than confidence, leaders need to be aware of themselves as well as their team and environment. The combination of these would only trigger not just growth but sustainable growth.
2. Work on the negatives: This is quite a challenging task at times. Working on negative signifies identifying the negative first. Leaders / managers (who are suppose to be leaders too) should always avoid fighting with the negatives; rather an inclusive effort to work around the negatives can produce overwhelming results. For example, fighting with the negatives (tangibles or intangibles) can imply an emotional tie-up of a leader with the situation, thereby ensuring an unproductive process to find solutions. Also, I would urge readers to also understand; this is not about good vs. bad!
3. Belief is imperative: This is quite self-explanatory. Leadership and belief is like the “demand-side economies of scale”. For example, in economics demand-side economies of scale refers to the effect where more usage of a product makes its more valuable in nature. Similarly, an increasing amount of true belief in leadership practices makes a leader much healthier, wealthier and wise.
4. Leaders must be followers: In today’s dynamic environment, some says leaders are born and some says leaders can be made. Without getting much into this debate, I believe, whatever the situation may be leaders must learn to be excellent followers. Then only true leadership would exist. For example, when a leader fails to follow his/her team and rather focuses on building an authoritative culture, he/she unconsciously sprays poison in their own environment. This can also postulate a sign of deploying vested and emotional interests to hinder overall objective. Every leader must follow and lead simultaneously to understand people/team better, which in a way helps to continuously learn and improve.
5. Ethics and compassion: This again is self-explanatory. Ethics and compassion goes hand in hand. In a corporate process, ethics sometimes get ignored involuntarily or voluntarily particularly when bosses or other external forces get in the way for some obvious reasons. It’s complicated, I know as your job is in his hand or you are restricted to alternatives. Nevertheless, that's one of the key aspect that leaders must learn. Again, it’s complicated!! But leadership is also about pragmatism.
Author: Surya Saha