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January 29, 2018

26 ways to success - L for Leadership - " Leadership is transforming vision into reality " article published in The Hans India on 22nd April 2016

Leadership is transforming vision into reality

Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The focus is on leading others and to make them do things voluntarily. Leaders are catalysts and change makers. They tend to challenge status quo and often act aggressively to make new things happen. Management is the art of doing things right and leadership is the art of doing the right things. Let us see four unusual leaders that India has seen,

1. Dashrath Manjhi also known as "Mountain Man" was a poor labourer in Gehlaur village, near Gaya, Bihar. Dashrath was an illiterate and eked out a living, the hard way. One day his wife slipped in a river and was badly injured. She died before she could be taken to the nearest hospital which was 55 kilometers away. The insurmountable stumbling block was a hillock that stood between the village and the nearest town.

Manjhi did not curse anyone nor did he slip into despondency and despair. Armed only with chisel and a fierce determination he attacked the hillock and carved out a path 360 feet long, 30 feet wide and 25 feet high through the hillock. And it took him 22 years of hard work to accomplish this momentous task! Through his sheer grit, determination and silent leadership Dashrath shortened the distance between his village and the nearest town from 55 km to 15 km.

Lesson to learn: Do not ask what the country has done for you; ask what you have done for the country. They also serve those who stand and stare.
2. Ramakant Archekar is the famous cricket coach from Mumbai, India. He shot into fame for coaching Sachin Tendulkar. Archrekar's playing career was not as distinguished as his coaching career. Infact he played only one first class match.
His leadership skills are worth mentioning as he coached Sachin Tendulkar, India’s most-capped player and world’s leading run-scorer, in both test and ODI cricket. Other notable cricketers who have been trained by him and who played for India include Vinod Kambli, Pravin Amre, Ajit Agarkar, Sanjay Bangar, Balwinder Sandhu and Chandrakanth Pandit.
Ramakant was famed for his singular focus and unique training style. He very often placed one rupee coins on the bails of the wickets and challenged the bowlers, that they can have the coins if they could clean bowl the batsmen. Similarly the batsmen were told that they could keep the coins if they remained not out. Mumbai cricketers’ fierce determination to succeed might have originated from these training methods. He praised Sachin only once that too after Sachin’s retirement. When queried for the reason, Ramakant responded “I don’t want to praise him as praise would go to a person’s head’.
Lesson to learn: It does not matter if you fail. We can live our dream through somebody else’s success. Only caution is to be dedicated and not push so hard that the other person crumbles, unable to bear the pressure.
3. Ela Bhatt is an Indian cooperative organizer and activist who founded the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). She was influenced by the fact that thousands of women factory workers worked elsewhere to supplement the family income, but there were state laws protecting only those who were solely industrial workers and not these self-employed women. So Ela Bhatt undertook to organize these self-employed women into a trade union and established the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA). SEWA's main goals are to organize women workers for full employment and self-reliance. SEWA aims to mainstream marginalized, poor women in the informal sector and lift them out of their poverty. By year 2014, SEWA had nearly 20 lakh members. The standards of living of its members have risen and their living conditions have improved.

Lesson to learn: Leadership is not necessarily for profiteering or for feathering one’s nest. Good leaders are genuinely bothered about the general welfare of the society and work selflessly to make living better for the downtrodden.

Anand Kumar of Super 30: In 2002, Anand Kumar, Bihar came up with the idea of Super 30, wherein, he would select 30 talented students from economically impoverished sections who could not afford IIT coaching, through word of mouth and develop their skills and prepare them to crack the IIT-JEE. Anand Kumar's Mother, Jayanti Devi, volunteered to cook for the students while Anand tutored them, and also provided study materials and lodging for a year totally free.

Even though many were skeptical of this idea Anand Kumar was steadfast in his conviction and ploughed a lone path. And the results were stunning. In the first year itself 18 out of 30 made it to IIT, undoubtedly the toughest entrance test in the world. The culmination for his momentous training method was in 2008 when all 30 out of 30 students made it to the IITs.

Lesson to learn: What drives great leaders is difficult to define. Anand Kumar refused many lucrative offers from corporate training institutes and has resisted huge sums to reveal his training methods.  Few like Anand Kumar show maturity beyond age and are a living example of good leadership which does have a snow balling effect. Students who have got benefited from Anand Kumar’s largesse would definitely help many others. Anand Kumar has ensured that his name would be etched in the minds of his students who received his wonderful training.

Traits to be a great leader,

1.      Total conviction: A leader has to be totally convinced that he is on the right path. In many cases the entire world might be against the leaders but he must to be true to his path and be a self-motivator. He needs to literally move mountains and Dashrath Manjhi exactly did that and was not deterred.  It took him 22 years to do so.

2.      Vision: Good leaders are great visionaries. They can visualize their dreams and work diligently to achieve them. Abdul Kalam had said “Dreams are what should make you stop sleeping”. The same single minded vision that made Arjuna the legendary archer shot at targets in total darkness. When there is vision from the mind there is no need for normal lighting!  

3.      Belief in the team: One of the Utopian belief is “there are some great teams in the world”. There are no great teams. All teams are average and a leader has to invest time and effort in developing and nurturing his team.

4.      Passion: Passion is what drives great leaders. Passion for making the world’s cheapest car made Ratan Tata get possessed. He succeeded and made the world leading automobile makers eat humble pie.

5.      Learn from mistakes: Leaders do make mistakes. But they don’t become sullen and withdrawn. They cheerfully learn from their mistakes and move on. Only fools repeat mistakes. Wise men learn and don’t repeat them.

6.      Get Inspiration from other people’s successes: Once Mark Zuckerberg was delivering a lecture at a US Business school. Most of the students were texting, Twittering or busy with their Facebook. None were taking notes except for two elderly men in the first row. And they were Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the richest men in the world. They were still curious and hungry to learn the success tips from the young Czar of the Social Media – Mark Zuckerberg. Never rest on laurels. A good leader is only as good as his last victory.

7.      Target setting: Set goals and follow through to see that they are achieved. Periodic revisiting of the objectives would refresh the mind and tune it to achieve the set goals.

8.      Willingness to learn and experiment: Great leaders are always willing to learn new things and to experiment. One can fall only if one tries. Walking a known path might be safe. But taking challenges and taking an unknown path can be exciting and yes one never knows. There might be a great leader in each one of us. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

9.      Being updated: The world is moving very fast and the latest in technology, skills and strategy has to be learned and learnt quickly. Great leaders are as adept as a flying black buck that can change its direction in full flight. Great leaders are incredibly good at adapting to changes in environment. Bill Gates had said ‘Great leadership is driving a car at 200 miles/hour in a zigzag road and setting broad blocks so that others can’t follow you”.

10.  Motivate others: Great leaders are great motivators. As discussed Ramakant Archekar was a great motivator. He knew that among the cash starved middle class Mumbaikars of the 70s, each rupee was a mannah from the heaven. He instilled the quality of valuing wickets among the young batsmen. This quality got ingrained and internalized so much that Mumbai batsmen are loathe getting out cheaply. 

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