Being a Natural Leader
Evolving into a natural leader
Anything that brings forth a change for the good, whether it is something historically significant or simply a positive change at your everyday workplace, always involves a morale boosting, gut busting leader behind the whole thing. I could list out hundreds of examples.
The apartheid had Nelson Mandela, the civil rights activists had Luther King, and the Indian freedom fighters had Netaji. Politics, sports, and what not. You pick a successful event, a successful team, a well-made movie … they all have the boss… someone calling the shots, organizing things, preventing chaos, and making sure everyone works towards the same goal.
So far so good, but what ‘really’ makes a great leader?
Some say great leaders are born, but true leaders are made. They evolve with experience, of managing one successful unit after another, learning something unique about interpersonal relationships and team chemistry along the way. Natural charisma and responsibility do help of course, but these are simply traits that issue a huge advantage rather than actually complete the skill set required to be a proper motivator.
You see, leadership is all about encouragement and motivation, and not simply barking out orders and getting all sweaty faced and mad at your minions until they carry out your bidding. Instead of going through the usually trotted out run-of-the-mill attributes like commitment confidence etc, let’s look at good leadership in the form of anecdotes instead.
The right way of propaganda
Looking at our own history, freedom fighters all over the country during the colonial rule were united by some fine leaders. Right from Mahatma Gandhiji, Netaji Subash Chandra Bose to Subramanya Bharati, the country had people who could appeal to the people and invoke the fight inside each man. Their methods might have varied, but they were all alike in making sure their followers completely subscribed to these methods.
How did they get hundreds of thousands of people to believe in what they advocated, take up that cause and propagate it to the point of numerous revolts and unrest in the build up to Independence?
Well, sheer passion and belief, for starters. If you do not believe in the cause yourself, how are you going to persuade your followers to?
The men I mentioned felt so strongly about an independent India that they were able to successfully ‘appeal’ to the patriotism residing in the common man, and channel it in the right way, whether it was the ‘Ahimsa’ method subscribed to by Gandhi, or the ‘actions speak louder than words’ stance taken up by Netaji.
Targeting the right audience
Naturally, each of these leaders had their own demographic, and they would not have been a successful leader with any other set of people.
Could Netaji have found favour with Gandhi advocates?
No, Gandhi preached his ideals to a set of people who were inclined towards non violence, and only needed the final push. A good leader always makes sure the people he has in his team are assigned tasks they already have an inclination to do, and only need constant words of encouragement or assistance now and then. This is called good delegation, and signals a job ‘half well done’. A unit with each person handed out tasks they are not familiar with, or not pleased to be stuck with, is likely to end up a botched attempt. Identifying your team members’ strengths, and working those angles, is therefore crucial to a successful outcome.
Practice what you preach
Delegation is great, but good leaders are also capable of stepping up to the task themselves when the need arises. They are great at shepherding the unit together during times of crisis, and remain a confident go-to man for assistance. Take John Terry, for instance. Considered one of the greatest captains for club and country, Terry is a natural defensive leader on the football pitch. But at Chelsea, a cub notorious for sacking managers frequently, Terry’s greatest strength comes in his control of the dressing room. The younger players of Chelsea have likened him to a ‘father figure’, mentioning his impeccable control of the team during their manager-less spells, and making sure the instability doesn’t spill out onto the pitch affecting performances.
Sport is literally strewed with examples of fine man-managers, leaders that appeal to the psychology of a player in order to get the best out of them. Men like Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, winners of multiple honours, are well known for inspiring their teams to perform on a level greater than the sum of their parts, made possible only due to their amazing ability to manipulate the psyche of their players. Such impact is only possible through the unique combination of belief in their knowledge, and the attention to detail.
Jose Mourinho, for example, is well documented to have kept tabs on each and every one of his players, watched their every game, and forged a strong personal as well as professional bond with them. The camaraderie that he enjoys is so strong that several players have been known to quote that they ‘would follow him into battle’. A great leader truly inspires his men to walk into battle with him not just by appealing to their professional face, but also personally.
Always stay informed of the people you’re managing
This may involve doing some homework on each of the team members, and planning surprise incentives that will aid in developing a strong relationship. This includes team bonding sessions through social events, a chance to break the ice and build team chemistry.
At the end of the day, a leader is not just someone who checks in once a day to ensure that the project is proceeding with the expected momentum, but someone who is involved in the intricacies, constantly egging on the other members to achieve their potential, making sure everyone is batting for the same side, with the same goal in mind, eradicating the tiniest of disruptions in the team amicably and ultimately, making the decisive calls with the greater good in mind all the time.