Archive for December 20, 2009

Copenhagen-An apology for leadership

Termed alarmingly as humanity’s last chance to save planet earth, The Climate Conference turned out to be an opera of the ridiculous or more still, the circus of the invertebrates. What was cobbled up at the end of the fortnight long “Debates, discussions and deliberations” is an “accord” that reads more like a New Year eve wish list than a definitive document detailing concrete plan for action on the ground. The conference, mandated to find ways of slowing down global warming , spewed a few hundred tonnes of carbon gas on to the atmosphere to bring in the delegates, the heads of states and their retinue. The world would have been a little less warmer without this conference.

The failure at Copenhagen is a classic case study on the essentials of leadership and on the lack of it. The first and foremost attribute of leadership is the synchronisation of the thought, the word and the deed.  Transformational leaders the world over and across time spans have demonstrated this unique quality which essentially is the function of their inner core formed on the bedrock of sterling character and selflessness. They expressed what they honestly believed in and went on to achieve them with courage, will power and initiative. This “to be ” in what one believes in forms the essential foundation on which other leadership qualities are built.

Once the goal is set, they deploy various techniques to achieve them and this could vary from one leader to another depending of such factors as time, resources & other challenges. The methods “to do” are much an extension of  the style and function of the leadership and context in which it evolves. The Mahatma embarked on a salt satyagraha to break the British hegemony,  Lincoln embraced a civil war to abolish slavery and Adi Sankara set up monasteries  for the spiritual integration of the country. No two of them were alike but their actions gave expressions to their core beliefs and herein lay the common denominator. 

The third critical attribute of the leader is the vision to envisage the future and the foresight to anticipate pitfalls & an action plan to circumvent them. This capacity “to see” the immediate and the distant and the preparedness to face them marks apart the true leader from the rest in the crowd. In the business world, a Bill Gates could foresee the coming of the IT revolution and a Jack Welsh, the advant of globalization and both profited immensely through their preparedness.

And the forth one is the capacity to effectively communicate the goal, the mission, the methods and the processes so that all the stakeholders are on the same page. This function “to tell” assumes various forms, the most crucial being the leader’s actions themselves. The spinning of the Charkha  was an effective communication tool that Gandhiji so effectively deployed to tell the people to support the Swadeshi and become self-sufficient.

These four cornerstones of true leadership – To be, To do, To see and To tell should be itched in the DNA of any aspiring leader, be it in politics, business, religion or any other human enterprise and without these qualities, the so-called leadership is bound to fail.

Benchmark the leaders who assembled in Copenhegen on these parameters and now you know why it failed.

Yours

Narayanan

December 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm 2 comments


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