What Does it Take to Lead?

Hushed Whispers and Gossip.

The past few days have been a terrible tearing between heart and mind. Members of my housing society are being wronged and are fully aware of the same. This has led to hushed whispers and naturally, gossip. But none want to confront the wrong doers -the committee members.

Let me be very upfront and honest here. Some may not be capable of donning the captain’s cap. But there are a few who are more than capable to lead the fight for a just cause. And don’t want to, for whatever reason, some being selfish – Why should I take the lead whilst others benefit from my actions and hard work? Or, I don’t have the time. Little realizing that the group looks up to them in such troubled times. Social responsibility is totally missing.

2 Categories of Leaders.

Okay, let’s take a look at what it takes to become a leader. There are largely 2 categories – Formal and Informal. The former due to designation/chair, etc and the latter largely owing to credibility, personal branding, et al. I firmly believe that the true power lies with informal leadership.

2 Attributes of a Leader.

What does it take to become a leader? I think it can be distilled to just two attributes – efficiency and integrity. Alas, the two often do not go hand in hand. Hence rare individuals who possess both characteristics are in high demand, both in corporates and society. I recall a personal experience as an employee in an owner driven company. The Finance Head, a long term loyal employee, was known to be highly efficient. However one of his assistants broke office principles and ethos by freelancing with a rival company. This fact was well known to the Financial Head, who chose to turn a blind eye, until the owner himself stumbled on this fact. When asked for my opinion by the owner, I bluntly attributed part of the blame, who with full knowledge, did not object to the fact of his colleague’s dual role – lack of integrity of the Financial Head.
Informal Leaders cannot be Made or Bought Overnight.

Credibility, personal branding, thought leadership all make for good informal leadership. Each of them is not easy to attain and calls for long hard work, over years and decades. Which then leads to followers – real and virtual? It is easier to attain virtual followers, who evaluate you only by your online presence. Of course, many such followers are today bought and hence the authenticity of the leader is put to question. Most of such followers are easily lost too. Retaining them is not an easy proposition. Come easy, go easy. But the true test I believe is from real world, flesh and blood followers.

The Challenge and Call of Leadership.

Having become a leader, the challenge is of retention. One small tiny pin prick can burst the entire full blown balloon. But more importantly, a Leader needs to respond positively to the call. When followers look up to the Leader for support and guidance, it is up to the Leader to take up the call, irrespective of the task and the pain. That’s what to me makes a true Leader.

I have spent my career in branding/communications and now am reinventing myself on the digital platform, beginning with content writing. Social Media too has my interest, however changing technology deters me. Loved reading but that has now taken a back seat as I find myself spending a lot of time on the net. Usually laid-back, but when given a challenge can be extremely determined and focussed.