There is an ongoing campaign by TOI (Times of India) called ‘Lead India’. I guess, the journalists at TOI are asked to come up with innovative ways to woo the audience to boost TOI’s sales and they are doing a good job. The present campaign is based on the slogan ‘DO’. I really like this slogan. But what I see is that they are ‘DO’ing a good job of increasing TOI readership and nothing more. Conducting debates, publishing nice speeches, and reporting SMS-based polls is not ACTING or DOING, but just TALKING. Here’s a piece on this by Ledzius at Desicritics.
What attracted my attention was the List that TOI published listing the qualities of leader. They are as follows according to the ranking (with votes for each).
1. Honesty (362)
2. Education (127)
3. Efficiency (112)
4. Vision (33)
5. Charisma (38)
6. Ability to listen and learn (65)
7. Ability to inspire, motivate (48)
Am I the only one who finds something really essential missing in here? Or do you feel the same? Leadership has been one of my favorite topics. I believe one of the most essential ingredients for a leader and which is completely missing from the above list is ‘the ability to take strong, bold and quick decisions and implement them with concrete action’. For some reason this was quite absent from the list gathered by the team at TOI. And this is not covered by any of the above listed qualities.
And one of the criteria listed by TOI looks so ludicrous- and that is education. Why is education a necessary qualification to be a leader? I am not sure about that. Does better education naturally translate into a better leader? Hmm… this seriously looks like a collection of qualities compiled from SMS-savvy folks who have recently graduated from colleges and schools. For those who are a bit experienced it goes without saying that education is not a criterion for leadership. Education has nothing to do with leadership- examples galore from human history suggest this again and again. The only reason it has found its way in is because of our journalists who are fascinated by lofty degrees (which they couldn’t achieve) and have a very high opinion of such educated folks. No wonder they keep writing about nonsensical achievements from ex-IIT, ex-IIM, ex-MS folks whose only achievement seems to be getting that degree itself.
And what is Charisma anyway? How does one hone this quality in oneself? Is it a quality one can work on? Charisma happens to be an attribute given to a person only in retrospection. Was Hitler really that charismatic since beginning? Many thought he was a loser. The same holds true for Abe Lincoln as well. Charisma is not something you can work on to grow it in yourself, but is seen as reflection by others when many other attributes are put together. A person turns charismatic when he has shown certain of these qualities in consistent manner for certain period of time and it is usually what others perceive of him. Sometimes, it can be also an attribute that a person exudes naturally (through birth or stature) without having worked towards it (Rajiv Gandhi, because he is son of Indira Gandhi; Sonia Gandhi, because she is wife of Rajiv Gandhi, Abhishek Bachchan because he is son of Amitabh Bachchan, etc). According to me, this is a redundant attribute and should not be included in the list.
How is efficiency a leadership quality? I am not sure who put this in there. Efficiency is a good quality of a worker, an engineer, a teacher. But is it an essential quality to make a leader? Efficiency is the ability to do lot of things in a short period of time. Should a leader be efficient? Or should he be having a team of followers who are efficient? It’s like saying a leader should be a GOOD person at heart. Is being good a necessary attribute of a leader? Don't we have enough examples of BAD leaders, aren't they leaders?
I do believe we need honest leaders in
The only reason ‘Honesty’ features here is because most Indians find this completely missing in most of Indian leaders and therefore it has become the most important criteria. I think the same applies to ‘Education’.
To get to the right kind of qualities one should ask “what is that extra quality that you want to see in a person by so that you are ready to follow him?”
I have compiled my own list of qualities a leader should have. These are from my personal experiences. According to me the list is as follows:
1. Ability to take strong, bold and quick decisions and follow them up with concrete action.
2. Ability to take responsibility for one’s actions- both successes and failures (especially the failures).
3. Lead by setting examples.
4. Ability to pull up resources, inspire people, gather momentum, and change opinions, to get things done. (This is not efficiency).
5. Ability to delegate responsibilities to the right people and empower them to take decisions.
6. Integrity – strength of character in face of all upheavals, downfalls and crises. Especially, the ability to stay the course when everyone else is ready to run and hide!
7. Ability to think big (Vision). A company or a nation is limited by the vision of its leaders. Bigger the vision of the leader, bigger the chances for that country to fulfill that vision!