Leaders and Leadership
It is a fact that many people complain of bad leadership, but hardly anyone talks of good leadership these days. Does this imply that only bad leadership is discussed ad infinitum, because this is not what is expected of leaders; whereas good leadership is ‘expected’? Another important fact to be considered is that the impact of bad leadership is evident quickly, whereas good leadership takes a while to be sensed. The reason, I believe, is because bad leadership strangles the very essence of what makes us human – our vastly developed rational as well as emotional side. Bad leadership de-motivates people from giving their best. People working under bad leadership are just content to do the least that is expected of them and that too just to keep them gainfully employed with the company, in case no other options are available. This means that they come to work each morning with only one basic thought in their minds, and that is to keep their job, get their salary on the due date, so that they can pay off their bills. They are not coming to work with the thought of contributing something unique to the work that they do; contributing something that is based entirely on their unique education, experience, beliefs, values, and skills; contributing something that could change for the better the product or service that they provide and the company provides.
Does this mean that given good leadership these people could give much better performances? The answer to this question is a resounding ‘Yes’. Further, better performances by these individuals/ teams would most definitely lead to improved results for the company, which would be a major plus for any manager/ leader and the company. Why then do we not have people who aspire to be better leaders; leaders who can provide better leadership, since we know that good leadership would encourage good individual/ team performances leading to better results. It may be because we believe in the myth that leaders are born and thus resign ourselves to being what we are born with, as far as leadership is concerned. This was the accepted norm in the initial days of leadership studies. It is now believed that while there are some people who can be classified as born leaders; most others can rise to become great leaders through learning in the classroom through from formal education or training; from other people who they consider to be good leaders; from experiences - their own as well as those of the people around them; mistakes - own, as well as of others around. In short leadership can be developed in any one who is a learner and is keen on becoming a good leader because in the final analysis leadership development is all about self development in terms of learning about our own self in terms of skills, talents, beliefs, shortcomings, passions, and what fires our imagination.
What exactly is leader? Basically, a leader is someone who leads someone. In business settings it could be a supervisor/ manager. In these settings the supervisor/ manager is required to provide the leadership so that the aim of the company can be achieved. However, it should be understood that leadership is much more than either a position or a title. It is also more than having the formal authority/ power over the employees. Leadership is all about having the ‘capacity to influence people’, with an aim of achieving a common goal. Thus leadership is all about the leader, leading, followership, and the goal or context.
MIgratory Birds - Every one is a Leader, Sometime
As an aside, I had gone to the Sukhna lake in Chandigarh to witness the arrival of the migratory birds from the Northern latitudes. These birds came in a V-formation. Most of us have seen these formations spanning across the sky during the winter months. Research indicates that these birds follow this formation for two basic reasons – one, to conserve energy and second, to facilitate communications and keeping visual track of each other. The first point needs elaboration – energy is conserved by the members flying behind the leader and ahead of the two birds at the ends of the V. The leader expends more energy to overcome the wind drag; the followers fly in the upwash of the leader’s wake and expend much less energy than the leader. They are just expected to follow the leader, a task that is less demanding than that of the leader, since the leader is responsible to navigate for the flock, i.e. decide on the direction to be flown. Once the leader tires, it falls back and another bird comes up and takes its position, and responsibility. So, we can see that there is no designated leader and everyone gets an opportunity to lead and also takes turns to assume the responsibility of the leader.
Example of the Migratory Birds
All Human Beings too get Opportunities to Lead
Humans too follow the example of the migratory birds in their lives – sometimes at work; sometimes off work – in the family; society; social gatherings or in a crisis situation. Everyone, like the migratory birds gets opportunities to lead in life, and also assume the leadership responsibility. Here it is important to understand that most people are/ will be required to lead and provide leadership, at some point(s) in their lives. A leader and the associated leadership that is provided is thus not about a few people who are formally associated with a supervisory/ managerial role. Every one can be/ is a leader and needs to be ready to rise up to the occasion when so demanded and then go on to fulfill the responsibilities of being a good leader.
Jatinder Joshi (author) from Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada on August 10, 2021:
Thank you @FlourishAnyway for your comment. Yes, each one of us can lead in a situation where we know best; it could be in formal or informal settings.
FlourishAnyway from USA on August 09, 2021:
Interesting points. Many of us can lead in our own ways