Who is a leader? In my opinion, leader is someone who makes decisions for self, family, team or organization with clarity. There is no fear, greed, hatred or craving in these decisions.
If your perception is closer to reality than others and team realizes your abilities, they will trust you to stand on their shoulders to realize your vision, to make decisions on their behalf and be their leader. Remember whatever you see or sense is your body’s perception of the reality. As you grow as a leader, what you perceive and the reality get closer and closer.
Earliest time when I had a moment of perfect clarity was when I must have been 9, in (Malakpet Colony in the state capital of Telangana in) India. We had annual procession for immersing (in water) huge clay statues of the lord Ganesh. Our colony’s statue was put on a trailer which was attached to the tractor for driving to Hussain Sagar Lake for immersion. It was hugely popular for kids to go along with the statue. By the time I went there, the entire trailer and tractor were filled with elder kids, younger kids and the statue. I saw room on the triangular metal pieces connecting the tractor and trailer and I stood on the connector without knowing how dangerous it was.
It must have been a sharp turn, I slipped and fell on the road. The tractor was going at a fast pace and the big wheel was coming right at me. I still remember this moment, like it was yesterday. It was a moment of pure clarity. In a split second, I flipped and stood on the side of the road. Oof !!! The trailer whisked past me. There was a gentleman standing on the side of the road. He slapped me hard.
The question is not why this gentleman slapped me, but how do you develop pure clarity, when your life is not at stake? Inspired by my Vipassana (insight) meditation over last 11 years and based on 20 year experience of inspiring teams, I inculcated a 5 point leadership framework, which helps me progress on the path to great leadership. This path involves directing your consciousness to every part of your body, in addition to following the framework. I want to share that framework with you.
Broadly, purpose of every team is to achieve individual happiness and increase well being of others (team/customers/family). For customer well being, if you want to get on the path to great leadership, follow this 5 point framework for you and your team.
5-Step Leadership Framework
1. Be True
Be honest. You don’t have to share everything. But, in whatever you share, be true. Leadership is all about your team trusting you, at all times. To be a great leader, you must have the courage to look others in the eye and tell the truth. One day, one of my team members came 4 hours late to a crucial work and said he did not want to tell me why he was late. That was great. Lying always starts with an innocent lie. Call in sick, maybe. Whatever it is, stop. Culture of truth will go a long way in creating the well being for your team, organization and your customers.
2. Do not steal
Do not steal and do not let others steal from the organization or from each other. Give credit where credit is due. If you see someone stealing from the organization or others, take action. Let that person go. If you are not empowered, speak up. I have seen, a founder who realized significant theft happening in their warehouse, several years later and have come across researchers stealing and publishing someone else’s work as their own. Remember, thieves are not leaders. They are thieves.
3. No alcohol or drugs in the office
You don’t want a doctor who is drunk to do your bypass surgery. Same is the case for you and your team. If you believe, you don’t need presence or clarity to do your job, look for another job.
4. Embrace diversity
Because I lived, worked and gained perspectives in several states in US and India, I consider myself a better leader. Enforce diversity of gender, religion, color, sexual orientation and/or geography. Your customers are diverse and they will be served better by diverse perspectives for solving problems. Do not tolerate harassment because of their diversity.
5. Drive change
What you do is your legacy. Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see. You must drive the change you want to see. Your team should be evaluated on the changes they drove to make your customers’ life better.
Measure your progress
How do you know you are making progress on this path to great leadership?
Compassion and Empathy
Can you understand your customer’s, team member’s or a family member’s experience, perspective and feelings? Are you taking decisions with compassion and empathy towards folks who are impacted? Compassion and awareness of others’ needs, starts with awareness and compassion for self.
Gratitude and Humility
Are you content and grateful for what you have? Are you humble to seek advise and help from people you lead ? Can you go from “know it all” to “learn it all”?
Effort and Determination
For the well being of your organization and your customers, are you willing to do whatever it takes? Can you last 5 hours on the tennis court, if needed, win or loose? Can you persist on the face of failures?
Roger Federer hits a winner, he is happy. Novak Djokovic can’t reach the ball, he is unhappy. But the umpire, is neither happy nor unhappy, he just called the ball in. Can you think and act like the tennis umpire for your own wins and losses? Do you see areas to improve in your wins and positives in your losses ?
Get on the path to presence and clarity to become a great leader. Make sure to be true to yourself. Do not tolerate drugs, alcohol or harassment in your team. Build a culture of driving change. Measure your progress by empathy and compassion you feel towards self and those who are impacted by your decisions.
What one thing, do you like about this topic ? Can you recall a moment of leadership in your own life? Because I would love to know your experience, can you share below?