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The six traits of great leadership

Economic Times - Aug 4, 2012, 06.19AM IST

By Pradeep Chakravarthy

Research shows that a great leader exudes charisma, ensures inspirational and intellectual stimulation, pays individual attention to the people below him and does not manage by exception or adopt a laissez-faire leadership. Close your eyes and recall a time when you worked with a leader you rank among the best in your life. The chances are that you will think of them as leaders because they had charisma, inspirational and intellectual stimulation, individualised consideration, contingent rewards, and did not manage by exception or adopt a laissez-faire leadership. The work of Bernard M Bass and Bruce J Avolio of the Center for Leadership Studies at the School ofManagement in State University of New York Birmingham deserves special mention. The duo's seminal model on leadership factors-enlisted in their work Improving Organizational Effectiveness Through Transformational Leadership-has since been used by many researchers to either drill deeper or aim for a higher abstraction. This article summarises the evidence of a new set of studies done on the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire that Bass and Avolio created to measure the six factors that help describe a person's leadership style. Some key points, the definitions of the components of The Full Range Leadership Model the authors described are important. The definitions are: Charisma Provides followers with a clear sense of purpose that is energising, role model for ethical conduct and builds identification with the leader and his/her articulated views Intellectual stimulation Gets followers to question the tried and tested ways of solving problems and encourages them to question the methods they use to improve upon them Individual attention Focus on understanding the individualised needs of the followers and works continuously to get them to develop to their full potential Contingent reward Clarifies what is expected from followers and what they will get if they meet expected levels of performance Active management Focus on monitoring task execution for any problems that may arise and correcting those problems to maintain current performance levels Avoidant leadership Tends to react only after problems have become serious to take corrective action and often avoids making any decision at all. This has some sub factors. The authors found that the best leaders seemed to have a mix of both transactional and transformational leadership.

Delegation Is A Skill
Remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success: When you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights. Anonymous Of the many parameters designed to judge a good leader, delegation skills holds special significance considering that a successful organization is not a product of isolated, individual efforts but of a synergized team. Only a good leader can decode his talent base and accordingly strategize his approach to delegation. It is necessary that employees be gradually exposed to their concerned industry and given substantial time to absorb its culture. The approach to delegation is as important as delegation itself. Do not off-load or dump work on your employees, instead have a systematic process in place. Here is a basic four step approach to establish and sustain an effective delegation model. Direct: This is the most fundamental approach to train a new employee and allows you to retain control over the task. Directing is best suited and in fact, essential for new employees who are enthusiastic about executing tasks but need to be told what and how. Such new employees are often willing to go to any extent to prove themselves. However, their enthusiasm will fetch results only under the right guidance of a leader. Thus, at this stage, a leader should, thus, provide both coaching and mentoring to build a strong character for his employees.

Guide: The second approach to delegation is apt for employees who are in the process of training and learning. Such employees may have little experience but exhibit keenness to learn new things. At this stage, a leader should be open and encourage his employees to speak their minds. He must discuss and share various business ideas and opinions and give his people a chance to put fort their suggestions. This approach gives people substantial time to observe and assimilate the business culture and mould themselves accordingly.

Excite: Every team has at least one relatively senior but discouraged member who constantly cribs about the monotony and lack of growth. A smart leader will recognize this candidate well in time and take precautionary measures to avoid the negativity to spread to other team members. Moreover, if such an employee is skilled and experienced, it is not advisable to simply dismiss him. His concerns should be addressed by helping him redevelop interest in his profile, setting targets for him and on its achievement, rewarding him generously. A concerned leader will be patient and actively involved with such an employee. All such disgruntled and de-motivated employees need is empathy and excitement to rejuvenate their professional lives. Delegate: Once an employee starts displaying workplace maturity, it indicates that he is now ready to take on responsibilities and possesses significant business intelligence to make important decisions. It is now time to test him in the deep waters. Once the leader is confident of an employee, he must hand over control and execution of the work and support and counsel him, whenever necessary. However, this is to be applied to few, highly skilled employees. Once, you have achieved this, it is time to go back to the first approach to transform another employee into an inspiring leader.

An effective delegation process not only keeps the workforce productively engaged but also helps the organization flourish and grow by enabling it to make optimum use of its human resources.

Mukesh Ambani A Leader Who Loves Challenging Situations


Posted on August 25, 2010

The visionary: Mukesh Ambani

Dhirubhai Ambani has not only been a great leader but also an inspirational story for several youngsters hailing from small towns to make it big in their respective fields. Post his demise, the giant Reliance Empire was taken ahead by his two sons, Mukesh & Anil Ambani. Though both are extremely different in their approach, Reliance has spread its wings all over the world because of them. Mukesh Ambani, now the Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited, Indias largest private sector company, has set an excellent example of being a successful leader & carrying forward the legacy of the Ambani realm. His leadership abilities were recognized by eminent bodies in the industry by felicitations like Economic Times Business Leader 2006 & CNBC-TV18 India Business Leader Awards 2007. The secret to his success was the constant need to challenge existing situations. He created an open environment so that everybody in Reliance was on the same page to come over the feudal style of management & the disruptive style of management. A true leader always believes in investing the companys capital on good talent. As a learner, he preached K K Malhotra, who was with them for 15 years, as his guru & had imbibed most of his current leadership abilities & best practices from him. His initiative to build Indias largest & strongest communication network was known as Reliance Infocom Limited (now Reliance Communications Limited). His business interests expanded to Petrochemicals, Petroleum Refining and Marketing, Textiles, Retail and SEZs. And his latest venture in the organized retail sector with Reliance Retail by opening hundreds of stores across several states to serve diverse consumer needs and operate under various names such as Reliance Fresh, Reliance Mart and Reliance Digital. Leading the communications aspect at Reliance, he saw immense potential in the convergence of information and communication which is why they named it as Infocom. He focused extensively on building various competencies in Reliance that would make this organization & its His vision to have a chain of sectors within Reliance has strengthened his position in almost every initiative he has taken. Mukesh is known to be amongst the top ten richest men in India & had surpassed Bill Gates in 2007 to be the Worlds richest man.

It was his wish that opportunities in India should not be limited to the few so that every citizen is empowered to access new generation technology & skills. He envisaged a new India on the horizon new visionary, courageous and convincing models that are needed to progress Indian society. He always challenged the possibility to translate this vision into reality.

Top 5 leadership lessons from topmost Indian leaders


Posted on August 9, 2010 |

Soaring economic conditions, impeccable talent and availability of rich resources this is how Indias economic market looks at present. Going a few years back, who would have ever thought India as a country would have been considered in the league of todays most powerful &emerging markets. Well, a few individuals did carry that vision & are now recognized as Indias most influential leaders. Leadership is all about courage to dream big. These were the words of Narayan Murthy Indias most inspirational leader (Infosys) who believes in the true essence of motivating your team with real values, trust & confidence. On a similar note, what made individuals like Ratan Tata, Late Dhirubhai Ambani & Azim Premji pave their path to success & carve their names in the books of Indian history. Heres what an individual needs to imbibe from these personalities to articulate their leadership skills: Adaption & resilience to rise above obstacles Ratan Tata who was literally written off by some pundits a decade back saw India as a growing & changing house for major scope of improvement to rise above the feudal structure during his ancestors era. The Nano triumph was won over by him in spite of being shunned by his detractors many a times to complete this highly ambitious vanity project.

Team work Azim Premji, business tycoon & Wipro chairman, is a firm believer of building a strong network of corresponding skills thus housing an integral part of a cross cultural team. After all no individual will be able to face a challenging journey all by himself.

Entrepreneurial belief A good leader is born entrepreneurial in his approach towards achieving success in life. Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, chairman of half the Reliance Empire, believes in extracting the entrepreneurial spirit from all his people which he feels is possible when an organization shares a sense of oneness, passion & enthusiasm.

Opportunistic Every leader is expected to foresee opportunities worth exploring & Nandan Nilekani, co-founder Infosys Technologies, through his modest ways is perhaps the first to recognize the contribution people can make via education in his book Imagining India. His detailed thoughts & analysis on India as a state were thoroughly surveyed & makes an interesting read on Nilekanis take on dealing with obstacles thus seeing India as the incubator of talent.

Risks Every leader worth his/her salt cannot be known as a successful one if there isnt any risk involved in his approach. For that matter, Dhirubhai Ambani would have never accomplished anything if he hadnt begun with importing polyester yarn & exporting spices, building inventories, anticipating a price rise, and making profits through that which was good for growth. His move towards Reliance`s IPO (Initial Public Offering) in 1977 had convinced the people of Gujarat that being shareholders of his company will only bring returns to their investment.

Every leader plays an instrumental role in shaping the organizations fate with his vision & dynamism. The question is whether all organizations provide such environments where such leaders can be nurtured & motivated.

The Perfect Example of Leadership Narayan Murthy


Posted on November 13, 2009 |

I am a believer in the adage performance leads to recognition, recognition leads to respect and respect leads to power. In my own words, I have explained that performance is the key towards leadership.

Leadership is about raising the aspirations of followers and enthusing people with a desire to reach for the stars. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi created a vision for independence in India and raised the aspirations of our people. Leadership is about making people say, I will walk on water for you. It is about creating a worthy dream and helping people achieve it. Robert Kennedy , summed up leadership best when he said, Others see things as they are and wonder why; I see them as they are not and say why not? Adversity: A leader has to raise the confidence of followers. He should make them understand that tough times are part of life and that they will come out better at the end of it. He has to sustain their hope, and their energy levels to handle the difficult days. There is no better example of this than Winston Churchill. His courageous leadership as prime minister for Great Britain successfully led the British people from the brink of defeat during World War II. He raised his peoples hopes with the words, These are not dark days; these are great days the greatest days our country has ever lived. Never is strong leadership more needed than in a crisis. In the words of Seneca, the Greek philosopher, Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.

Values: The leader has to create hope. He has to create a plausible story about a better future for the organization: everyone should be able to see the rainbow and catch a part of it. This requires creating trust in people. And to create trust, the leader has to subscribe to a value system: a protocol for behaviour that enhances the confidence, commitment and enthusiasm of the people.

Compliance to a value system creates the environment for people to have high aspirations, self esteem, belief in fundamental values, confidence in the future and the enthusiasm necessary to take up apparently difficult tasks. Leaders have to walk the talk and demonstrate their commitment to a value system. As Mahatma Gandhi said, We must become the change we want to see in the world. Leaders have to prove their belief in sacrifice and hard work. Such behavior will enthuse the employees to make bigger sacrifices. It will help win the teams confidence, help leaders become credible, and help create trust in their ideas.

Enhancing trust: Trust and confidence can only exist where there is a premium on transparency. The leader has to create an environment where each person feels secure enough to be able to disclose his or her mistakes, and resolves to improve. Investors respect such organizations. Investors understand that the business will have good times and bad times. What they want you to do is to level with them at all times. They want you to disclose bad news on a proactive basis. At Infosys, our philosophy has always been, When in doubt, disclose.

Governance: Good corporate governance is about maximizing shareholder value on a sustainable basis while ensuring fairness to all stakeholders: customers, vendor-partners, investors, employees, government and society. A successful organization tides over many downturns. The best index of success is its longevity. This is predicated on adhering to the finest levels of corporate governance.

At Infosys, we have consistently adopted transparency and disclosure standards even before law mandated it. In 1995, Infosys suffered losses in the secondary market. Under Indian GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles), we were not required to make this information public. Nevertheless, we published this information in our annual report.