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Leadership Matrices

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A corrupted image hides any truth

In today’s competitive business environment people often take the short route to success by sacrificing basic leadership matrices. This may work in the short term but what about the marathon? There, they find themselves marooned, shamed and humiliated in the eyes of the ones they lead and the world at large.

Corruption, nepotism and egoistic policies are the three biggest challenges leaders face. A fall from grace along any of these three is suicidal. The recent spate of scams in the Indian market place depict the rot in standards of leadership being provided to the nation be they in the field of politics, bureaucracy, defence or the corporate culture.

To discuss the first- mother of all leadership ills – Corruption. While adorning the highest possible leadership positions where the temptation is too high – people succumb to this great devil, get caught and undermine the faith of an entire generation in the leadership matrices to be followed. Leave aside the disgrace they bring to themselves, they undermine the organisation they lead and demoralise the very fabric they had vowed to defend and be custodians of. They deserve no mercy.

The next in the cardinal sin is nepotism as a leadership matrix. A large number of so called leaders lead through the power of the pen they yield. Suffice to say that they lead sad enterprises bereft of any team spirit and deliver mediocre results.

The worst sin of the leadership matrix is ego. Leaders operating out of this paradigm of life rather than the true values and systems they are appointed to promote create leaders who are corrupt and breed mediocrity through sycophancy.They may rise in careers for a short time but their fall from grace is the worst. Leaders operating out of  these premises of ego and nepotism finally become corrupt and corrupt the organisations they are supposed to lead. This corruption may not be financial alone but one that corrupts the work environment, breeds sycophancy and marginalises talent in the organisation. The net impact is a corruption of minds and emergence of environment managers who sing the bosses tunes over integrity and loyalty to the organisation.

Good leaders thus must guard against the ills of ego subverting their people and organisation. No amount of repeating the Chetwodian Motto is enough to ensure that you excel as a leader through character borne out of an egoless state in which the credits are of your people and failings are yours.

Only then can you be called true leaders.

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Contact is the Name of the Game

Yes you read it right it is contact and not contacts!

In leadership positions management often demands too much of our time. Managing processes, tools and possibilities is a tedious, thankless and time consuming work if not understood and delegated efficiently. We can manage every thing but people,which we lead and for that we normally run out of time.

When it comes to people the mantra is leading by example. Unfortunately in  bureaucratic public sector enterprises where jobs are secure and accountability is low the system revolves around managing the environment to survive at the cost of organisational efficiency. The challenge of leadership in such environment is far too intense as compared to businesses with quantifiable bottom lines.

In both however, the operative word in leadership styles is contact. Remember the “Jadu Ki Japhhi in Munnabhai” – that contact meant a world to the lowly janitor. But the contact we are referring to here is not as much about getting physical as about physically understanding the aspirations, hopes and fears of our team mates by keeping in touch. It breaks barriers if we get to know their names and the names of their children and spouses. If we take an extra step to interact personally, the team members understand us better and are more responsive to the needs of the leadership challenges we face. It is also the best means for getting first hand feedback.

However there is a catch here. The team is always smarter than the leader in identifying phoneys putting up a facade of contact. So it is best to have genuine contact, if you consider it vital to your leadership function, or let it be.

There are plenty of smart tools available today to help you manage the team data. One must use them to remember names but keep it simple by genuine concern – as differentiated from courting cheap popularity.

In the armed forces, this is the only mantra that helps you lead from the front without worrying whether the team is behind you or not. It works everywhere – as Vineet Nayar says, Employees First!