Kinds of leaders

When I think of successful companies, I often get intrigued, that is it the company or the leader
who is successful or not successful? We all can validate that there have been numerous instances
wherein the companies just at the brink of bankruptcy (E.g. Fannie Mae) suddenly become super
successful when visionary, passionate people (David Maxwell) take the lead. And then we are
also not short of vice-versa instances when flawless flourishing companies (Nokia, Kodak..)
suddenly become extinct and become a name of yesteryears.. Interestingly, there are small start-
up’s (KFC, Flip-cart, Apple) who had nothing more than passion, dreams, an instinctive idea or
any ingredient other than what can be classically categorized as material, become phenomenal
enterprises that become the cause of envy for many large corporations. Intriguing part is what
causes this juxtaposes?
Curious to find the answer to questions like to who is great, Fannie Mae or David Maxwell, Apple or
Steve Jobs, Fredrik Idestam and Leo Mechelin or Nokia, Colonel Harland David Sanders or KFC?
Deeply impressed with Jim Collins study of good to great companies, I realized that “Greatness is
not accidental; it is a matter of sheer Will, Humility and Discipline”
So this helped to solve at least one paradox that people or organizations do not become great
accidentally but with persistent efforts in a unified direction, Trust and Disciplined Approach. So
to have these attributes inculcated in an organization’s culture, the companies can become great
by having great leaders who lead and make their ordinary members as extraordinary team
members. This further pushed me to another level of thinking that does the success of the
organization depends upon one person? Does that also mean that instead of focusing only on
the right person for right job the priority should first be on the right leader at the right position in an
organization? This reminds me of an African Proverb, “An army of sheep led by a lion can
defeat an army of lions led by a sheep”
Now if leadership is all about person, then we need to explore more about the way nature works,
animals’ works, birds work or for that matter the insects like ants work? Beehives, Anthills,
Beavers work effortlessly, relentlessly, complaintlessly and with such precision that leave us
humans awe stuck!
We adopt several management techniques to get the work done. If one school of thought insists
on stick approach, another may suggest for carrot approach, still few may customize and
recommend to use both. In reality, in the long run, neither of them act as our ready reckoner. To
put the thoughts together, in current dynamic times, it is neither the Carrot, nor the Stick
approach but a Plant Approach, meaning changes which are self-generated and self-assessed that
bring the desired changes.
So today the need has shifted from ‘Effective Managers’ to ‘Transformational Leaders’. It is
neither positional nor transactional leadership that can help organizations to grow and prosper
but ‘Self Leadership’ and ‘Shared Leadership’ that can act as the secrets to build an organization
from good to great. This is what drew us to focus that what kind of Leaders do we want for our
We need leaders who are self aware and help their team members to be self aware too by helping
them to know and decide what they want from their lives and how would they like to work on
that path.
Leaders who inspire strong feelings of trust and cooperation from their team members. When
they are ready to do anything for their team members and this being an underlying feeling that
runs in the entire organization.
When they seek commitment from their team members by being their Accountability Partners in
their journey Promote Self and Shared Leadership which works at all levels and in all roles in an
Foster a culture of ethical autonomy, wherein team members are allowed to make bonafide
mistakes, learn from them and make transformational changes in them.
Empowering them to make meaningful and powerful choices that induce them to take action
from where they are and where they want to be.
Think and sow the seeds of progressive culture, because that is exactly what will ripen and
blossom in the years to come.
Let each member be endowed to choose and work towards who they are, what they do and who
they become.

Lao Tzu defines it well…

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim
fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves! “


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