So You Think You're NOT a Leader!!!

Wrong! Well, unless you have some really serious proof that you are not, I don't believe you. My disbelief may feel a bit strange to you, but it should not: whether or not you believe it, you are a leader in your own right.

Let me ask you this: do you have a parent, guardian or, a benefactor in your life who has been a counselor/guide/mentor for you? If the answer is yes, and my incorrigible optimism makes me confident that you will say yes, you were already being trained to be a leader. How you chose to use that overt or implied training is entirely up to you, but trust me, you were being groomed to be a leader. Still doubting yourself? OK, here's my submission to you;

  • Forgive – A parent will Forgive you – not only because he/she loves you but they know that forgiveness builds confidence. Lets say you acted on an impulse and managed to get everyone in your family annoyed, including your siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins. You know who is most likely to support you? You guessed it right, your parents!. The reason they support you is because they know by sheer experience that mistakes can and will be made and while jumping under someone's skin doesn't help correct the mistake, it can certainly damage their future confidence. Forgive first and follow up later is the motto universally followed by all mentors.

  • Shield / Praise – a parent will protect you from others. That act of protection by itself does not necessarily mean that you will not be reprimanded or told brutal facts on your face by the same parent. In fact, if you are protected even if you are repeatedly erring, then your parent is not developing your leadership skills, is rather, hurting your progress as a leader . I remember working as an Asia Pacific Sales Manager under a Sr. General Manager for a global company tasked with building a partnership network across 3 continents. The GM seemed to be a man of unreasonable expectations, over-demanding from me even when I was giving my very best to the organization. I was getting pissed with the situation and confided in a fellow manager about unfair expectations which were now upsetting me. His answer was a bit of eye-opener for me: he told me that the same GM had mentioned on several occasions to this and other key managers that he was very impressed and pleased with the extra hours I had been putting in to meet his targets. You can't imagine the pleasant (bordering on shocking) feeling I felt on hearing this, thinking; oh! so the GM does know and understand that I'm working extra hard every day.

  • Selfless – You would have noticed that a true Leader seems to only think of whats good for the organization and for everyone in the organization. Have you ever observed your parents on how they always think of others in the household, never thinking about themselves first? In fact, not thinking about themselves at all, many a times indeed, most of the times.

Not surprisingly, when you see such leaders at top, you will almost always find that the teams respond with commitment and dedication, sooner or later. Yes, the reciprocation may not always be quick but when people realize that they are getting selfless help/appreciation/support, they respond and respond with a positive vigor – just try to recall, how your parents may have helped you/guided you at a time of your need. Even though at that moment it didn't appear as if it was any thing out of the ordinary, you realized later, that theirs was truly a selfless act.

Such realization always grows your respect for that person, adding to the esteem you already had for them. I remember as a school boy asking my parents money to participate in a rather expensive school field trip. I was very upset when my mom suggested that I skip that trip and wait for next opportunity: though many years later it dawned on me that she didn't want me to know that as a middle class family we were on a tight budget. Anyways, as a young kid, I was upset. Much to my surprise and total delight, however, my parents gave me the money the day after. Its only many years later she mentioned to me very casually that money for my field trip had come at a cost of her not buying a much needed winter coat. Can you imagine my utter surprise, absolute respect and, the resounding impact this revelation had on me?

To sum up, while there are many qualities a leader must have and it can be safely said that not every leader will have every single quality, three very effective qualities form the core for every leader. Take the following pulse check to see if you too have these 3 qualities in you:

  • Forgiveness
  • Protectiveness / Praise (to Praise and Protect could be a modern leader's motto)
  • Selflessness

If you are nodding your head, then I'd suggest that you start rethinking about your perception of yourself, and understand that You are a indeed a well trained Leader!

Note: This blog post is dedicated to my Mother, Kamal Sethi, who passed away suddenly this past Sunday. At her funeral, I was perhaps not too surprised that the prayer hall was standing room only, but what surprised me was that almost everyone present there waited patiently to talk to me till much later even though the funeral ceremony was over much earlier. A phrase I heard repeatedly was: how selfless a lady, my mom was and how dearly she will be missed. Thank you mom for grooming your children.

Suggestion – If you have not hugged someone you love or, not told then that you love them, Do It Now. Thank You.