Leadership 24/7

While everyone is going rah rah over President Obama’s visit and the close friendship, Mr. Modi and President Obama share, everyone also noticed the “Narendra Damodardas Modi” embroidered suit. It may have been a fashion statement, but it smacked of “megalomania” and it reminded everyone of a dictator “Hosni Mubarak”. Completely avoidable. Especially, this coming from Mr. Modi who has a masterful sense of timing and is so quick to gauge the pulse of the audience !!

I still have stars in my eyes as far as Mr. Modi is concerned and I still believe he will deliver on his promises and this incident hasn’t dented my belief in his love for our country. BUT, I would have been happier if he hadn’t donned that suit with his name running all over it as pinstripes. It’s an irksome, discordant note in an otherwise great song. Am sure soon we will forget it, as soon as the investments come in and people’s life takes a turn for the better, but Mr. Modi should not forget it. He has to introspect and think what made him do this and am sure he will do it. I can’t think of any other leader who has been ridiculed or thought of negatively as Mr. Modi since 2002 but he has a wellspring of positivity somewhere inside him and he has survived all that negativity and has actually managed to change the public sentiment across India and the world stage. It’s not a small matter. May his inspiration Swami Vivekananda keep him grounded and humble enough to listen to all the voices !!

By the way, the very same thing applies to every leader in any organization. As a leader, you are constantly under scrutiny, every action of yours, every word you speak is analysed, spoken of, protested against, or followed. It’s a leaders biggest responsibility – to live upto the image of his/her follower. If you don’t acknowledge a colleague’s email, it’s noted, if you don’t solve a problem, it’s noted, if you don’t paint the big picture, it’s noted, if you are caring, it’s noted, if you play fair, it’s noted …. Every gesture, every word you speak, the tone you use.. Every nuance is noted, noticed and filed away in your colleague’s head.

Leadership is a huge responsibility. Tom Rath says in his book “Strengths based leadership” the four things that followers look for in a leader are Trust, Hope, Stability and Compassion. A follower trusts a leader only when the leader has integrity, and walks the talk. Aberrations, however tiny, dent that trust. Pin up these four words and evaluate your actions everyday against these as measures – actions that dent trust, words that dont generate hope… Immediately take remedial action. The remedial action tells your followers that you care, and are compassionate. Leadership is a huge responsibility, not everyone has the gift, but the gift also has to be nurtured.

It’s fine to make mistakes, fall down because it tells your followers that you are human too and not infallible, but not making amends is criminal. So if you have the gift of leadership, accept it with humility and work on being trustworthy, generate hope, provide stability and loads of compassion. You are a leader 24/7.

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