Every once in a while we read about CEOs or senior functionaries of organisations or political leaders who have had to let go of their positions because of one or the other controversy.Once such an exit happens, the person, irrespective of other professional capabilities, is rarely back into a key position in any respectable organisation.
Over the years, having worked in a number of organisations at various levels and having worked with some very good superiors, there are just one or two superiors, leaders at my workplace, who could be mentioned as examples of outstanding leadership qualities and whom one would remember forever as benchmarks in leadership.
I am pretty sure that many of my colleagues who worked under these special leaders might also feel the same. These were leaders, who not just drove the businesses in the right direction, but were also people at whom one couldn’t point a finger about their value systems.They commanded the highest respect from everyone in the organisation and outside and that respect continues for life.
It is not a coincidence that these select leaders are also the ones who made the maximum impact in laying a strong foundation for the organisation, both in terms of business direction as well as organisational culture.
What made these leaders different from the rest? What does one need to do to garner such respect?
These leaders had strong qualities on two clear fronts – (a) Management Acumen, the ability to get things done and (b) Value System, the pursuit of strong ethical and moral standards to set an example to others.
The key elements of both these aspects are as follows.
- Strategic Thought: The leader’s understanding of the purpose of the work on hand is best displayed by the vision the leader spells out. The eventual strategy to deliver the task on hand would be one where more people contribute, but the team, peers and superiors definitely look up to someone who has clarity of thought about the purpose and the direction to be taken.
- Knowledge: The leader has a good understanding of the domain space, as well as, about all the factors in the environment and within the organisation, that could affect the team’s or organisation’s progress. Every discussion will invariably include a discussion on the environmental factors.
- Methodical execution: The leader’s ability to keep the focus on the execution plan through meticulous planning, periodic reviews & mid course corrections keeps the entire team’s focus on the task on hand.
- Customer centricity: The leader sets the example in customer centricity by ensuring every product, process and system in the organisation invariably gives the best response to the customer.
- Constructive support: The leader is not just the Boss; he or she is the first executive responsible for delivery. It is imperative for the leader to be the mentor and guide to the team members in ensuring quality execution.
- Accessibility & Confidentiality: An open door style, where anyone can have access to the leader and have a confidential conversation, gives every team member the confidence in the leader and a sense of security in the team and the organisation.
- Truth: Is the leader strong enough to face the truth and share it with all concerned? Every time a person tries to hush up the truth or skirt around it or refuses to accept it, he or she drops a few notches in the eyes of others.
- Fair play: Fairness of every act, whether towards a team member, other colleagues, customers, competitors or stakeholders builds up the respect quotient for the leader.
- Respect for Individuals: A leader respects every individual per se and upholds human dignity, without discriminating on account of quality of work, looks, gender, race, religion etc.
- Adherence to and promotion of Organisational Values: The leader sets in motion the value system for the team and shows full compliance to every guideline set out by the organisation.
Every year thousands of new people enter the workforce with career dreams in one or the other discipline. The dreams can be made into reality only by one’s own efforts; and the effort must be to become a leader in the desired space.
To become a leader, it is important to win the respect of one and all; and for that, this combination of management acumen and values is extremely critical.
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