I was sitting and chatting with one of my unit leaders today, and I was trying to understand what leadership really meant. She is focused, high on achievement orientation, knows what has to be done and puts in a lot of effort. The centre has begun to improve in performance after she took over 8 months ago. But then why was I discussing leadership with her?
I am picking up feedback from the ground that her team is scared of her, the doctors feel she tries to do everything herself. I found out that her new Ops manager has only been given part of her role responsibility even after 2 months. And hence my conversation on leadership with her.
Some questions I posed to her:
– is leadership about achievement alone?
– is leadership about being perfect?
– is leadership about getting the work down, even at the cost of doing it oneself?
– is leadership about making sure your team never fails ?
As we explored these questions, some interesting ideas emerged. Leadership is about letting your team make mistakes, but being there to ensure they don’t make the same mistake repeatedly. Leadership is about being the safety net when your team fails. Leadership is about trusting your team, and giving them the space to perform and grow, even the space to make mistakes. Leadership is about ensuring your team achieves, not that you achieve alone.
The other interesting aspect that emerged was that she was surprised by the feedback I was picking up. Do we as leaders have our ears to the ground? Do we listen to our employees as much as we listen to our customers ? I picked up signals when I interacted with her team that people would look at her before answering a question posed at them. Why did she not notice? Are leaders using all their senses to pick up signals ?
The last interesting concept that emerged was her own desire to be infallible. She was afraid to reach out and ask for help when in doubt. She was afraid to show that she did not know what to do. Like she did not want her team to fail, she was scared of failing herself. Is leadership about being vulnerable? Is leadership about being human?
I agree with you neeraj.
In my terms Leadership means you are always there for your team. Team should feel that anything they do, you are there not to scold but to guide and correct them.
Leader is that who is accepted as Father of the family.
I remember one incidence, in my previous assignment, where one of the attendant slapped my security gaurd for why he is asking for the pass and not allowing him to go in ward.
I came to know and immediately went to that attendant and said, don’t ever dare to touch my staff. If you have any issues, pls talk to me and let me know why you have problem in showing your pass. They are working in interest of your patient. Attendant understood and cooled diwn and till his patient was in the hospital, he never created any issue.
For me it was just a simple conversation, but I didn’t noticed what impact it was on my staff.
Next day morning, few staff came to meet me and told that whenever there is a fault from our side, you always scold and guide us, but this incident has proved that there is someone to protect us also. Sir we feel safe and feel that someone is there like my father to protect me in any circumstances.
I feel this is leadership, when your team is alligned with you without any fear and respect you.
Leader is successful when team thinks that if my boss has done something wrong or taken wrong decision, they have the courage to tell you, that sir pls once review your decision and then take the final call.
Tonnes of Harvard business review books written which has burnt a hole in my pocket , no space to keep the books and hours idling at daryaganj to the street book vendors at chembur and the succession wars at tatas and Infosys. The leadership debate never dies off. But what does that mean to one self in today’s times , do I follow McGregor x and y or the scientific principles of management or I read Amar Chitra Katha book taking me right from Abhimanyu to vijayanagara empire to fictional movie where actors are super leaders . ” Holding spaces for conversation” that is what is my learning for today as a leader and being true to yourself. I walking past a crossword store and saw a book launch ad ” BECOME” by Sameer Dua- 5 critical conversations for leaders today . He speaks about C.O.A.C.H – Care , observe , etc. But in today’s world the last one struck, the H me most as I conversed with Bob with Sameer who have been looking at leadership closely . Holding spaces for conversation. In the world of today that is the most important lever as knowledge workers dominate the economy and your phone chips might take you infinite speed before we reach a stage of bladerunners. And I started reading into generative leadership , that is what he spoke about. C was for care , o for observe. Holding spaces for conversation is in my head today. Is it important or is it kryptonite for people who want to become better leaders.
Wonderful insight Neeraj. The question about vulnerability is the most hard hitting. How do we bring expression of vulnerability in our behavior? Few things that I have noticed are-
. Ability to say “I have screwed up, sorry”
. Seeking feedback
. Asking “what do you think”
. Listening intently to something that is completely contrary to my thought
. Not agreeing yet commiting to a decision once agreed.
I would say that the organisations should be headed by people who are passionate about their job and are able to deliver while carrying everyone with them.unless there is a team work concept nothing can grow and develop.
Leadership is not all about achieving success individually but by bringing a change in the system, organisation,society and group of individuals. One should provide space for others to grow.This world is not created for only one person,it belongs to all of us.