Category: Leadership

What it takes to be a Leader?

We all approach leadership from a unique standpoint – a combination of our own psychological make-up, intelligence training, and experience. Life has taught each one of us what it means to be a leader, and we probably caught our first glimpse of it as children. As we watched our parents, teachers, and coaches, we started to build our own concepts of being a leader, and with every new experience, that concept became more complex. In these experiences, we not only made notes of exemplary leadership styles but also noted things we wouldn’t do if we were in charge.

So, in a way, before any of us took on our first leadership roles, we started to think what it means to be a leader. And yet, as evidence by the conversation we had with seasoned leaders, few of us are prepared to lead. It is obvious that leadership is more of learning by doing act than anything still we have plethora of books stating latest and greatest ways to lead.

With all this information out there, why do so many leaders feel ill-prepared? In our conversation with a leader, he gave us his take on the institutional systems that typically funnel promising people into leadership roles. It is straightforward, if you perform your job well and show some hustle, eventually, you’ll move up the ranks. This is where it got a bit complicated for the leader as they keep on doing exactly what they’d be doing – and now direct reports must do leader’s earlier work and they now require the leader to inspire them and motivate them. Well, nobody taught the leader how to do that. Now, our leader had done all the traditional things that people do to prepare for leadership. They’d been to business school, for example, but still, they are caught off guard by the unique demands placed upon them as a leader. And, in this day-to-day task of it all, there is a requirement for some time for conscious reflection on the style of leadership.

Being a leader requires them to make difficult decisions like – being forced to choose amongst competing demands but what truly messes things up is the fact that people are the integral part of meeting the goals. Leaders often need to align their people with complex goals, deal with resistance, and try to gain a common ground from people with diverse interests.

In order to grow as a leader, you’ll need to focus your Leadership Skills in new directions, and this may be mentally and physically taxing for you. While you may get your first leadership position due to your positive working attitude or for your outgoing personality, you may want to develop your analytical side to be more successful in your next position. Well it goes without saying, “with great powers comes great responsibility”, a leader must strive to increase their competencies. This means, for example, you may want to balance the art of analyzing situations along with rallying the troops when the synergy is lagging.

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Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance

Leadership Coaching is a process that aims to help leaders meet the organizational needs. It is a personalised, collaborative relationship between the coach and the leader. A leader may be anyone from a team leader, supervisor, project manager to a business owner or a director. It includes anyone that is leading a group of people in an organization.

The process of leadership coaching, although intended to benefit organizational goals, helps personal growth of the leaders as well. It improves their interpersonal relationships, job satisfaction, happiness quotient and work-life balance. It is very important to differentiate between coaching and other processes like mentoring, technical training, counselling and training. The aims and approaches of these processes differ largely from Leadership Coaching.

As mentioned earlier Leadership coaching is a partnership between the leader and that coach where both parties agree upon the destination they want to reach and establish a plan with a timeline detailing how they would approach the process. The ideal outcome would be a sustained behavioural change in the leader that is beneficial to their personal life and most importantly their professional life.

There are two forms of Leadership Coaching, one being developmental coaching and the other being coaching to manage problems or risks. Developmental coaching is a foresight that improves leadership practice in an organization like emotional intelligence and work-life balance whereas coaching to manage problems or risks addresses the factors like stress that threaten the efficient functioning of the organization. A pertinent method of leadership coaching in today’s fast paced world of business is to incorporate both forms of coaching while making sure to first coach to manage problems and then move on to developmental coaching.

Process of Leadership Coaching

The process of Leadership Coaching must always follow some base principles. It must establish an environment that is safe but also challenging for the leader. The coach must facilitate the leader’s growth through effective collaboration. They must also guide the leader to practice self-awareness by monitoring events and how they affect the leader and the team.

The coach must encourage the leader to draw on past experiences in the workplace and treat them as learning experiences and make note of how they could improve on the previous practices. The most important principle is for the coach to always follow the practices that are in line with the recommendations given to the leader.

The sustained behavioural change in the leader that is brought about by Leadership Coaching results in many benefits to the organization as well as the leader’s personal growth. The leaders identify the areas where their communication can be improved and, also improve the quality of interactions with a diverse workforce. The leader can identify their strengths and weaknesses and are empowered to work on their weakness and best utilize their strengths.

This change leads to a significant improvement in performance. The leader gains new perspective through the coach and learn how to analyse the underlying problems of a situation and work towards the solutions more easily. Leadership coaching reduces narrow-minded thinking in the leaders and benefits innovative and free thinking.

Investing in Leadership Coaching leads to multiple benefits to the organization. It also adds value to the leaders’ personal growth and hence results in higher levels of satisfaction and commitment towards the organization. The skills that a leader learns through the coaching process can trickle down onto the lower levels of leadership in the organization and transform the organizational culture.

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Wisdom of Leadership Vision

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” -HELEN KELLER 

This quote by Helen Keller clearly distinguishes the difference between having a sight and having a vision. You do not need to have eyes to have a vision but imagination. Your vision is what makes you different, makes you dream, makes you work and ultimately makes you a leader.  

Leaders are called Leaders because they have a vision, a dream and a direction in which they want others to follow. No one would want to follow a leader without vision. When working in an organization, every employee lives in a world of shared beliefs, values, and goals which is the same as your organization’s leader. As a leader, one must be clear about what he believes and wants to accomplish in life.  

Leadership Vision can be defined as the magical lens of leadership. Through this lens, you can foresee the bigger picture of the future and help others see it and make it a reality. When you share this bigger picture with your team, they will feel that they are a part of something bigger, something better and something achievable.  

They start to adapt, adjust and align with your beliefs and vision and start working in the direction you want them to. The vision that has its roots in the past, addresses the future while dealing with the current reality, represents you and what you stand for. It not only inspires you but also the people around whose commitment you are demanding and with whom you are going to be the change you want to see. 

Simon Sinek once said, “Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly.” Leadership Vision is not just something to hang on a wall for motivation, but a goal on which every employee will work on, every single day. So, put on the lens of leadership vision and weave something that excites, inspires and captures every heart present in the room including you. Then you must be able to explain your vision and at the same time demand what you need and want. That would be a good starting point to be a great leader. 

But to make tens or even hundreds of people follow your leadership vision is not an easy task. First, you must be very sure of your thoughts, because if it doesn’t reflect in your attitude, no one’s going to buy it. Your vision should excite you and ignite the will that you never knew you had. Reflect on your ideas thoroughly and discuss it with the team. Take your time and build around the ideas a little more, in favor of the organization, employees and of course yourself.

Your leadership vision must: 

  • Reflect your beliefs, values, strengths, and commitment. 
  • Clearly states the organizational goals, purposes, direction, challenges, and benefits. 
  • Challenge people to stretch themselves to a new limit every day. 
  • Encourage to communicate their ideas and thoughts. 
  • Demand the commitment from the employees. 
  • Mirror the concept of together we grow. 
  • Be the reason behind organizational actions. 
  • Inspire care, loyalty, and teamwork spirit. 

Johny Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader”. Visioning requires leaders to convey the common goal to their employees so that they can passionately work towards their common goal. Strengthscape’s Jamavaar helps leaders to create a visual map of their leadership vision. Jamavaar, a living tapestry, is a business workshop that assists leaders to portray their complex ideas into words and images. Jamavaar works hand in hand with the leader to understand the minutest details of the past and the present to craft a clear future vision for the organization. 


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Most Popular Models in Leadership Development

Leadership is a trait that has been revered by men across the ages. It has led to the creation of individuals who are larger than the masses. It has also been quite a sought after quality and many people and organizations have wanted to develop their own. In the modern world leadership training and leadership development are terms that have been associated with various training and coaching institutions. This is because this has now become a field of study with a lot of research to back its discoveries and theories. Leadership training draws its content from these research works and drafts out the delivery with the trainees in mind.

There are various leadership models that have been identified by the scholars over the time and these models are related to the personality of various leaders, their environment, their circumstances and finally their impact on these circumstances in particular and history in general. Scholars and researchers have also differed in the exact number of models and their characteristics. For e.g. some believe that there are three distinct styles of leadership. These are authoritarian or autocratic, the participative (also called democratic) and the free reign model also known as Laissez-faire. As the name suggest the authoritarian style is based on the absolutely power of an individual whereas the participative style allows active participation of the followers. The third style of Laissez-faire is the most lenient with the leader only exerting some controls in the affairs. In leadership training the first and the third styles are the least desired.

Some other classifications are identified as Transactional leadership, Transformational leadership and Situational leadership. These are three important classifications which have further explained this idea. Transactional leadership comes into existence by virtue of a silent agreement that maintains status quo of a particular process at any organization. An e.g. of this is the agreement between an employer (the leader) and a employee (the follower) wherein the employee agrees to follow the leader by accepting to work under him. The Transformational leadership is different as it strives to change the position or status of an organization to something different or better. It seeks change and betterment. It is more proactive and has the ability to involve others in a task or motion. This is an important step in leadership development.

The situational leadership is a very respected and acclaimed identification of Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. They have stated that for a leader to be effective he has to oscillate between four distinct features and styles of leading his men depending upon the situation at that given point in time. Firstly, the leader may direct things to his followers without entertaining any ideas. Secondly, he may act as a coach and listen to ideas although take decisions independently. Thirdly, he supports the participation of his followers but keeps his guidance. And finally, the leader delegates responsibilities to individuals and allows them to make decisions. Situational leadership requires that the leader be vigilant and about the need of the hour and change his style according to the need. In terms of leadership development and management this is the most effective.

All these leadership models have been studied and researched so as to make the managers of the new age better prepared for what’s in store and how to handle them. If this information are available to any person it would be foolish not to utilize them to the best of one’s ability. After all, it would do nothing but help in leading a better professional life.

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How to Identify the Boss or Leader & Its Characteristics

All offices have managers and bosses, but very few of them have leaders to whom everyone can look up. Leadership training can bring about such a great change in your style of functioning that you no longer need to breathe down your subordinates necks to ensure they do the right thing – they do them perfectly by their own free will.

Importance of a good leader

The right form of leadership is what ensures a company’s long term development and growth. A leader impresses several positive ethics on employees that help them develop qualitatively, taking the organization to a whole new level of success. Since employees are the fuel on which a company runs, efficient employees mean better output. This is where leadership training is important to be able to harness the capabilities of the entire work team.

Leaders come across as friendly, dependable and approachable whereas bosses present a more conceited and selfish picture. When you are a leader, you grow, your company grows and your employees grow along with you. When you are a boss, you grow alone.

Character traits of a boss

Check if any of the traits mentioned below apply to you and you’ll know if you are a boss who needs leadership training to make the transition to being a leader.

  1. You enjoy wielding power, sometimes even unnecessarily
  2. You try to exploit people’s, even if it creates problems for them
  3. You like the sound of your own voice and are averse to listening
  4. You don’t bother to appreciate people for jobs well done
  5. You hog credit that is not truly yours
  6. You do not care about those who are not the brightest
  7. You are only bothered about things that you deem are important
  8. You do not spare time to discuss employee concerns
  9. You do not try to connect directly with individuals or figure out ways to motivate them

A leader speaks in terms of ‘we’ while a boss speaks in terms of ‘I’. Leadership training helps you look at the bigger picture, transcending the minutiae of power, credit and money. A boss can only wield power and authority but with the right form of leadership training, he can also learn to command his people’s love and respect.

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Signs Of An Insecure Leader

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Role Of A Mentor

The role of a mentor is different from that of an executive coach. While the coach sets you in the path of discovery, the mentor acts more like a guide, a sounding board, a role model, a skill developer and an advocate. The role of mentor in an organization can be that of a group mentor or individual mentor. In group mentoring, a group of employees benefit from the expertise and the experience of the mentor whereas in a one-one mentoring such as a leadership mentoring, the leader gains from the mentor’s expertise.

Whatever Be The Kind Of Mentoring The Role Of Mentor Is More Or Less The Same

1. Guide

In mentoring relationships, the mentor acts like a guide to the organization by identifying areas that need to be set as objectives for achievement. He/she sets targets, time frames and lists people responsible for task accomplishment. This may also mean rearranging of tasks or their methodologies and guidance for effective time management.

2. Role Model

In mentoring programs the mentor is more of role model than just a teacher. The mentor possesses skills, knowledge, experience and insight which the organization as a whole desires to adapt and follow. He/she is a person who influences people by their organizational knowledge and experience, communication skills and style, people management skills and techniques and values will make him/her an effective role model for the organization.

3. Sounding Board

The mentor acts a sounding board especially in a one-to-one mentoring where he/she gives ideas, plans and problem-solving. They also help the mentees understand the organizational culture and politics so that they can grow and achieve their highest potentials.

4. Skill Developer

As experts mentors are basically skill developers. In a mentoring relationship the mentors teach mentees or facilitate learning process in mentees.  Mentors also provide specific skill development that an organization may require for their employees, for instance, managerial skills.

5. Advocate

Apart from being a guide, a mentor sometimes advocates and supports top talent mentees which benefit both the organization and the mentees according to the scope of mentoring for that particular industry.

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Ernest Shackelton

Leadership is one attribute that has always been admired and revered in men as and when they have displayed it. As a subject this has been researched a lot and as a quality and character people have tried to instill it in themselves and others by different ways and means. But in every case the thing that has been most widely used to understand this topic are examples of people who have great leadership qualities and have used it to great effect. Any list of such persons would be incomplete without the mention of Sir Ernest Shackelton, arguably the greatest of them all.

Although bestowing such a high accolade to Sir Ernest might raise some eyebrows but a deep study of the life and times of this gentleman would be sufficient to erase any shadow of a doubt that anyone would have in this regard. In fact one particular voyage of 1914-16 called the Imperial Trans-Atlantic voyage is a prime example and source of study for most of the leadership gurus of the modern era. It was his impeccable leadership and decision making on this particular voyage that left a great mark of this gentleman on history.

The voyage was of course a failure as regards its original goal but how the 27 members survived the ordeal and the extremely adverse conditions for over two years under the able leadership of Sir Shackelton is the real reason why he is held in such high regards. Just a look at the advertisement that he published to hire manpower for this tedious journey provides ample evidence of the righteousness that the gentleman possessed and with which he conducted his affairs. The advertisement clearly mentioned the hazards of the journey and the meager monetary returns.

After setting out on the ship called ‘Endurance’ from the South Georgia Island but a month later in January 1915 they found themselves trapped in pack ice and drifted along with it for nine months. Later, they lost their ship and which was crushed by the ice and wind and this forced the crew on the floes where they spent another 6 months. When the ice floes began to crack that is when they shifted on to the life boats they had and were out in the sea and after battling the winds and tough weather of the southern ocean they landed at the uninhabited Elephant Island. All along Sir Shackelton displayed admirable leadership in maintaining the optimism of the men and their decorum. From the Elephant Island 6 members of the unit left for South Georgia Island which is at a distance of about 650 miles. It took them more than 16 days to reach there. And it was still four more months before the rest of the crew was rescued from the Elephant Island on the third attempt.

From this entire journey and its records various lessons in leadership and managements have been drawn by the experts. Some of them are as follows.

  • Careful selection- one of the most interesting process of Sir Ernest that can be put forth as an example to any and all budding leaders and managers of the modern era is his selection process. While selecting his team he did not only go by the knowledge and competence of the person but also the character and passion that he possessed. Shackelton’sleadership further brought out the best in the candidates who were selected.
  • Generating the trust of the crew by putting their safety first- This was perhaps the most endearing aspect of his greatleadership that when there was a grave crisis that they faced his decisions were based on the well being of his men even if this meant sacrificing a major goal of the entire expedition.
  • He lead by example which is the most admired and desired characteristic of any leader. He knew the importance of the old saying that actions persuaded more than words. So for e.g. when he had to order the men to travel lightly, he was the first to lighten down so much so that he even tossed his bad of gold coins to send the message across clearly to his men. He treated his men equally, all had to do all kinds of work including him.
  • All this was possible because of his flexibility in making decisions according to situations and circumstances. This helped in sustaining great optimism while facing various adversities on trips of danger and hardships. His life and ways are a lesson for any aspiring leader and manager in the contemporary world.

Considering all this and studying about it in detail one is very much convinced of the status that is bestowed upon Sir Ernest Shackelton. He was far ahead of his time as far as managing people and crisis is concerned. No wonder that today most people benefit a lot from his experiences and leadership.

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Myth About Leadership

Any great work, on the face of earth has never been accomplished without the proper guidance of a true leader. However, contrary to popular beliefs, it has been observed that the quality of leadership is not a matter of hereditary genes or academic qualifications. It is rather all about understanding the requirements of people and helping them to reach their goals. History abounds with examples of people who have risen above the common myths of leadership, by the virtue of their quality and capability.

people who have risen above the common myths of leadership

Myth 1- Leaders have charismatic and imposing personalities- People respect and follow leaders, who are honest and have attained a certain level of credibility among the masses, owing to their hard work. A good leader is always capable of understanding and influencing his people in the correct direction. A charming personality, definitely acts as an added advantage, but it is not one of the main signs of great leadership quality.
Myth 2- Leaders are egoistic. – A true leader is always a people’s man and there is no place for petty sentiments like jealousy or ego. Great leaders understand the importance of his position and always work for the betterment of his subordinates.
Myth 3-A person is often born with leadership skills.—Contrary to common belief, most great leaders in the history of mankind had a very humble upbringing. The quality of leadership is attained by proper training and by hands on learning experience in real life affairs. A responsible person, who shows a burning desire to perform under extreme pressure, eventually becomes a good leader in the long run.

Myth 4- A leader is defined by his designation. — This is perhaps one of the most popular myths about leadership. However it has been seen in numerous studies that in many cases subordinates hate their bosses. Merely being in charge does not make anyone a good leader. Only a person, who is blessed with the rare quality of identifying himself with the goal of his subordinates and his company, manages to become a good leader.

Leadership, in modern times is no longer all about honor, valor and duty. It is all about the willingness of a person to listen to his subordinates and uniting them together for a common purpose.

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Leadership Qualities

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