Mr. Francis Sequeira, Working with Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust
Is Leadership just a show of some skill-sets ? There are some common areas between leadership and ‘guruship’. It is not enough a leader being a person of character and competence, who is unable to influence others similarly to bring out the best in others. All the expertise and experience of the leader will be useless unless exploited by others for specific purpose, to achieve specific targets within a specific timeframe.
A Leader is a Guru, who builds the character and competence of others and makes them confident to work wonders, bringing out their best. A great leader literally induces hope and confidence in others and technically guides them to make more out of little, for the common good of the society or service to mankind, as a result of which the leader is bound to make spiritual, psychological, social and financial gains.
Today leadership institutions are training make-believe leaders, having selfish motives - craving for higher grades and incessant increments, looking out for certificates from reputed institutions, who treat their juniors like remote-controlled puppets, dancing to their tunes, keeping them at their beck and call, on the painful threat of sacking them or demotions.
The corporate leaders are like vote-crazy politicians who are out for grabs, by playing with the feelings and emotions of the gullible people, who are burning in the emotional fire of fears, frustrations and fury, unable to make their two ends meet.
MLM (multi-level marketing) leaders and insurance agents play upon the fears and anxieties of the future, while generating desire for prosperity or security. This motivates some people having innate, insatiable desires or having obsessive day-dreams of becoming rich, infatuated with luxury and urge to travel around the world. Leadership can be looked upon as a steam engine, dragging dozens of coaches on the tracks to its destination. A good leader is considered to be one who is able to motivate the juniors to run a lot many extra miles beyond expectations and climb the high peaks of success. As you sow, so shall you reap. Leaders sow the seeds of success in the minds of their members, who show results.
The management wants their organisation to move ahead at full speed to overtake and surprise competitors; the organisation moves ahead fiercely while the runners get run out one by one, as we see in the reality TV shows, week after week. Ultimately an individual is just a cog-in-the-wheel. The one or two who survive the crazy competition are the winners. The basic common purpose of corporate leadership is making profits. The corporate generals are money-spinners who become crorepatis, while their juniors are pacified with pats, praises and peanuts. Similarly, the politicians become crorepatis, while the poor people struggle to survive inflation. Ultimately money talks and the leaders walk the talk. If our politicians were to be men of character and competencies, there would have very few potholes and no corruption.
I present below the seven “R”s which spell out inner factors of leadership, without which corporate leaders put on various masks of position, performance, power,
THE SEVEN ‘R’s OF LEADERSHIP
R1 Rational Thinking
Leadership hinges on taking right decisions at the right time which realistically lead to successful achievements. This calls for rational critical thinking. It is necessary to be creative, but building castles in the air makes no sense. Leaders have to face the harsh ground realities, challenge or change with time, to realise well-defined, envisioned goals. It is of no consequence envisioning the Moon. Dream goals become sour grapes, when people fail to realise their dreams. Leaders have to see the possibilities in the maze of impossibilities, find a way to success, which will make dreams come true to some or large extent. Under the influence of the mass media, many youth dream fantastic dreams, to pacify their excited egos and please their pampered pride, but are caught in the web of addictions, which success eludes them.
The human value is based on values. Rational thinking clears out irrational fears and brings out the guts to face worrying situations, full of uncertainties.
Rational thinking is the basis of all virtues and values. Great spiritual leaders of this world were great rational thinkers, based on the wisdom they gained through constant mind training to patiently think rationally under all circumstances. Hence, even during trying times, they stood the test of time by standing up for what is RIGHT and even died for the Truth. This commitment to virtue even during bad times, made them shining examples of virtue and aroused many others to follow in their footsteps, even if they had to suffer and die like them. Great leaders stick to their guns, especially when they are right. They stand for what is right and even die for what is right.
Today leaders stand for selfish gains and are willing to stoop to any lows-which is the root of corruption. Today money values have gained more weightage than human values, rules and regulations. Money is making all the difference in everyone’s private and professional life.
R2 Resourceful Resolute Will Power
Will power is actually self-motivation. A great dancer is not only a person who has learned the steps, but a person burning with a desire to become a dancer-with a passion for dancing. A great musician has a great passion for music. The will is charged by ideas reinforced by emotions-which defines one’s ego-ideal i.e. inner self-image of oneself (ambitions, attitudes, attributes, abilities, aims, aptitudes, achievements). Ambitions invigorates the mind to aim high and higher aims beckons the individual to have far-sight into the future and dream about the possibilities and impending opportunities to be seized JUST IN TIME. Opportunities come like comets and do not care for anyone. Those who seize them by doing the right things at the right time are the winners ! All the rest have to serve the winners and win their favours in order to derive the benefits flowing therefrom. These are the trained leaders who put all the masks of leadership, impress the bosses and intimidate their juniors, taking advantage of their grades, which they have got but gratifying the elated egos of their bosses. Their juniors try to cling to their jobs by shining their shoes and dancing to their tunes to get a GOOD remark from them in their annual appraisals.
The negative emotions shackle the feeble-minded, anxiety-ridden youth, who are bound to mediocrity. However, the positive emotions jack up hope in the minds of the leaders, who look ahead with a mind-set full of positive expectations and hence beget good ideas/hunches about how to make things happen, despite no-matter-what. Great leaders were charged with a strong will to achieve their cherished goals, which motivated others to do the same. Will is boosted by belief, especially self-belief. Belief leads to success-orientation, which in turn leads to possibility thinking which in turn leads to making right decisions at the right time, which in turn leads to doing the right things at the right time-which in turn leads to success in achieving cherished goals.
The school toppers are mostly those who have a passion for studies and a burning desire to succeed. The others go for classes to somehow get good percentages, so that they can find admission in reputed colleges. The average ones are not able to secure admissions in reputed colleges and have to go for career oriented training or pass privately.
Human will can be manipulated through enticements and by the generation of fears and anxieties. Uncertainties bog down and difficult situations put pressure on the will-power and many succumb to presence of the past and absence of mind in the present along with future worries. This leads to frustration, especially when others succeed in life, which in turns becomes a lava of fury in the unconscious mind. This manifests in the form of either suicidal tendencies (addictions) or criminal tendencies (fault-finding, labelling, abusing, put downs, domestic violence and even crime).
Are our corporate leaders burning with a desire to do something usefully great or are they just playing second fiddle to please their bosses and to ensure their jobs and promotions? Will manipulated by sops is only temporary and lacks passion. People who work only for money or gains, lack passion and work only because they have no other choice.
Leaders have the drive and they have a strong urge to drive.
The strong conviction of the leader boosts the morale of the juniors. Will charged with a strong purpose motivates everyone to strive to achieve. Work becomes worship when a person loves the job and finds joy in it. Many have resigned from their posts in big organisations and have joined small outfits, mainly because they found more joy in taking the lead rather than taking orders. They proved their worth by conscientiously doing the right things and the right time in the right way and were then elevated to higher positions. Both the bosses and the leaders found joy besides the concomitant monetary gains flowing therefrom.
Positive thinking is bound to generate positive, practical ideas. Human Will excited by positive ideas generates positive emotions. Leaders exciting their group members with positive ideas find surprising results they did not even expect from juniors. Leaders are necessary where there has to be innovation, constant change and spectacular results.
R3 Relationship building
Today relationship building is seen as a monetary function. Relations are built by throwing cash or promising a paradise. These are ‘pro-relationships’. It is possible to woo a prostitute only by showing the colour of money or promising a rose garden. Many personal and corporate relationships are hinged on the pleasure of gains and perks. Politicians struggle to establish relationships with people to bag their votes. Much depends on how strong is the relationship which will lead to victory during the polls.
Many make a mockery of relationship by playing with the feelings and emotions of the people as done by the poster politicians. These are the ‘con-relationships’ where crooks try to win the hearts of the people they want to cheat.
Relationship building is seen as a hand-shake, based on mutual gains and benefits. All relationships are based on gains, which may be monetary, physical or emotional.
Films and books have made relationship a song and dance drama along with some dog-fights. This mass media influence has prompted live-in relationships, based on ‘I love you’ principle, which in turn is based on binding factors, which define the relationship in thoughts, words and deeds, which satisfy the life-partners’ mind, body and soul. Relationship is a romance. Romance is a relationship based on a feeling of love and affection, but is many a times mistaken for a longing for sex or companionship. Romance is the art of being lovable and loving someone special. People who feel lonely seek romantic relationships to pacify their embarrassed egos, find some sexual excitement and bask in the temporary sense of joy. Leadership is a relationship which today is based on making gains for mutual good and also feeling the joy and excitement of success.
Similarly people who are in dire need of power and money seek relationships for making gains, by harnessing the skills and experience of people who know the tricks of the trade.
A great leader builds relationship to achieve certain purpose which may not bring any joy or happiness. Mother Theresa built relationships with her sisters, who were charged with the aim of serving the poor selflessly. Spiritual leaders built relationships with monks and followers who did not follow them for any worldly gains, but were even willing to suffer and die for being one with God Almighty.
Relationships based on gains are destined to fail. Relationships based on specific purpose stand the test of time.
Relationship based on personal charms and personality binders may last a little longer. Character cements the relationship with strong binders such as trust, integrity and values. Emotions also reinforce the relationships with excitement, passion, love and affection.
Leadership relation is based on admiration (of value based on talents and competencies and values based on honesty, empathy, praise and justice) in the minds of the group members. The juniors hold their leaders in high esteem and respect them. This extols the leader’s image all over.
R4 Role playing
One married one has to play the role of husband/wife, father/mother, instil confidence in their children and lead them toward success in their lives with hope and focus on their goal viz. higher education, self-esteem, character development and competencies required by modernised industry and hi-tech services. Leadership is a specific role which calls for soft skills and relevant, required special skills in one’s specific field. To ride a horse one has to be in the saddle with self-control. A teacher has to play the role of a wise person. A teacher cannot behave like a kid. A spiritual leader has to play the role of a pious person-whether make-believe or genuine. Role-playing builds the image of a leader in the eyes of the group members/followers. Leadership is not just for getting some work done. It is a very narrow-mind outlook of leadership. Leadership spans the entire life parameters of the leader and the juniors. Leader is not just a mukadam, or a gang-leader, trying to get some work done from the mates within a given timeframe. The election results have shown that leadership does not get crystallized in the minds of the people by making a show of character and competencies, which explains only one citizen candidate winning at Colaba, in the entire city, out of 227 wards. A leader has to win hearts and become an idol in the minds of the juniors, which takes time and proper, concerted efforts. It is wrong to believe that any leader can be trained overnight. It is like making a mockery of leadership.
People become parents once they are married and they face the harsh realities of life. Slowly their fears and anxieties give way to confidence and they are able to look after their children confidently. Immaturity hinders parenting. Some anxious parents tend to become over-protective, or abusive or submissive, which ruins the future of the children, directly or indirectly, as they imbibe their anxiety.
A leader must be a guru, guide and a gainsayer, instilling confidence, hope and possibility thinking, thus motivating the members to bring out their best and freeing their minds from their domestic dungeons of past anxieties.
Once a person is put in a leadership position, the person will try to rise to the occasion, depending up the maturity and confidence level. A person unable to stand on one’s own feet cannot lead others. One blind man cannot lead another.
Playing a leadership role calls for powerful positive thinking and confidence to stand tall in the crowd. The followers look up at their leader and are impressed, which motivates them to follow the leader, despite all the negativity in their minds, which is shackling them to mediocrity and passivity. This overcomes procrastination, excusivitis and to-do-tomorrow hang-ups. Leadership starts today itself by taking the first initiative toward the goal. There is no looking back, no second thoughts and no idle intentions. Action begins today itself and the time STARTS JUST NOW !!!
Action begins with a positive forethought which forms the Vision of the dream goals to be pursued indefatigably. The decision to dare do the needful to make dream come true, drags the leader to define a Mission, to realise what one is determined to achieve. These are the self-help, self-made, self-confident, self-propelled leaders with self-esteem.
R5 Realistic Vision
A blind man can walk even on the railway platforms. This is because of a vision, developed by the blind man only on feeling the surroundings. Similarly, the future is not clearly visible and one has to have a feel of the future, this is Vision.
The Moon vision of J.F.Kennedy, past US President, was not based on idle wishful thinking, but was based on practical technology available to make man walk on the Moon.
The vision of Late Shri Dhirubhai Ambani was not an idle day dream, but a solid vision with a concrete mission, viz. making high-quality yarn through the PTA (Therapthalic acid method) rather than the costlier DMT (dimethyl Trichloride method). This led to the establishment of Reliance Industries, which became a giant conglomerate.
A vision of future needs a proper analysis of the past, positive assessment of the present which gives the gut feel to look at the future with the hope for the best.
Vision seeks to look at the possibilities in the fog of impossibilities. Vision looks beyond the horizon of the present and the mirage of the future. When one looks at the future and finds the possibilities of achieving success, the leader gets self-motivated and motivates others accordingly. Vision is contagious and can infect others who come in touch with the influential visionary, who can impress others. MLM leaders belong to this category of excited leaders. They have seen the wealth in store for them in the near future and are able to convince others also about the same. In fact, the wealth flows in from the pockets of the others, who also stand to gain in the long run.
R6 Result-oriented Mission
It is rightly said desires are like winged horses, who do not have their feet on the ground. These dreams arouse Gen Y to go wild. Some strive to prove their worth through talents and skills. Some strive to prove their worth by starting small enterprises. Some strive to prove their worth through socialising. Dreams do not precipitate into a vision, as it happened in the mind of Shri Dhirubhai Ambani and many others. Dreams only excite emotions which fuel Gen Y to face the stiff competition with others and impress people especially their employers about their performance (doing certain routine jobs requiring some skills with smartness.
Many visionaries are not missionaries. What is the use if an artist has envisioned a beautiful painting but does not paint it. The masterpiece will never see the light of the day. A painter has developed the skills and competencies to paint his painting over the years. A composer immediately writes down a new chord which strikes in his or her mind. Then puts life, soul and flesh in it with the help of the song-writer, resulting in a new hit song. A clear vision of what one is out to achieve in life inspires one to find out ways and means to make things happen, which naturally calls for the relevant skills and competencies. Vision is knowing what to do and Mission is planning how to do it. It is only when the Vision got converted into a Mission, Neil Armstrong was able to walk on the Moon.
A missionary can be likened to a mountaineer, who challenges the peaks, notwithstanding all the dangers along the way. It requires lot of guts to face the reality and to achieve one’s goals. Leaders chart out a practical step-by-step plan to achieve targets, the sum of which realises the bigger goals, which in turn makes dreams come true. Success comes to those who challenge failures. Those who rise above the fear of losses make big gains. A few who challenge the impossibilities finally make the light bulb, as Thomas Edison did, after multiple failures. For the common man everything is impossible and hence cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Those who cannot see success are living in the darkness of the past and their dreams are night-dreams which do not see the light of the day.
Leaders are missionaries who will never rest till they succeed in their envisioned mission. There are a few corporate leaders of this ilk, the rest are trained hypocrites.
R7 Responsible Risk taking
One knows the cramps the first time one got behind the steering wheel to drive a car. It requires some guts to start driving a car. The confidence develops with some practice and finally one can confidently drive the car even in the most congested streets and highways.
When one walks on the road one is taking a calculated risk. When a driver is driving the driver is taking lot of calculated risks on the road. When you ride a bike there is always a risk looming large, because there are potholes on the road besides other rash drivers. We have to be very careful while travelling in the trains and even buses. There is always a risk of falling and suffering serious injuries. Risks surround us in every walks of our life in this world. There is a risk in eating, drinking and indulgences. What we eat can cause diabetes, heart ailments, liver and kidney problems, etc. The losers remain losers because they never take risks. The winners become winners because they are ready to take all the risks of losses and failures. Life is full of uncertainties so also the markets. A successful product selling like hot cakes today becomes junk as time passes by. New technologies change preferences and economic compulsions change technologies. Economic ups and downs are inevitable, nobody can stop the storms.
No one can throw caution to the winds when one is walking on ice or walking on a tightrope. Risk taking actually means avoiding the risks as far as possible. Taking risks while climbing a steep slope is taking every step with great caution in order to avoid slipping and falling down.
Sir Edmund Hillary would never have conquered Mount Everest without taking the risks of the dangers to life. Neil Armstrong would never have walked on the Moon had he not taken the risk of travelling into space, where there is no oxygen.
Alexander the Great took a great risk to become great by challenging the Kings in power during his times. Chhatrapati Shivaji took careful risks while challenging the might of the Mughals. Stock market adventurers have to take smart risks to avoid losing monies and become broke.
Entrepreneurs have to take smart risks to make gains inspite of all the uncertainties and avoid losses, which will make their organisation sick.
There is a thin line dividing risk taking and suicide. Jumping into the well is suicide. Risk taking actually means keeping a close watch on untoward likelihoods without giving up hope and still hoping for the best………………