3 lessons on leadership

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Recently I was involved in organizing a couple of events and got the chance to observe practical leadership at close quarters. Here are 3 key takeaways that I thought was essential to share with a larger audience.

 1. Being in the fore front & leading by example

Having grown real weary of "leaders" who hide behind curtains and shy away from the limelight, it was refreshing to observe a leader actually being in the fore front and leading by example. He had put his own brand name/reputation out in the open with the freedom for anyone in the audience to ask him a Googly question and put him on the spot. Any heckler in the crowd could have posed uncomfortable questions, but a real leader is not afraid of facing tough questions in full public view. So the lesson here is that, the leader is the guy who really is out there on the ground, rather than the guy who sits at the ivory tower and watches the proceedings unfold. Wouldn't the movie 300 be boring if King Leonidas was just barking orders and the actual war fighting was done by his Spartan men?

2. Servant leadership

Post the event, a few of us were hanging around and the leader walked in and started picking up trash/waste that were lying around in the auditorium floor. We were all taken aback and instantly started doing what he was doing. This was a classic display of servant leadership where the intent was to "serve" and not to "dominate". This task could have been something that he could have been easily delegated but he rather chose to do it himself. What does it take for such a senior person to caste aside his ego or pride and do this in front of others? The sole reason for this is the philosophy of "servant leadership" where the intention is the well-being of the people and the community at large. This approach creates a culture of trust within the team, which is a hard to come by commodity these days.

3. Recognition of the team  at play

Post the event, we had a lunch meet with the volunteers of the event who were 18-22 year olds. This luncheon could have been easily side stepped by the leader, since it was a Saturday and that too on the eve of a major festival. Yet he made the effort and the time to interact with the team that put in the efforts to bring the event together. This was a classic case of the leader recognizing the efforts put in by team members and making the team feeling that they belonged to something special. Look closely at Maslow's needs hierarchy pyramid, where he states that the psychological need for most people is the need to be recognized for their efforts. A good leader understands this and provides that recognition. At the end of the day, it would not matter if you were earning a few thousands more but had a boss from hell who would not recognize your efforts.