Learn to lead


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Learn to lead

In today's challenging times, learning to lead is one of the most important skills. Unnati Narang tells you three simple steps required to become a true leader

Leaders are not born, but made. In that sense, leadership is something one is honed into and not inherently blessed with. It comes with years of experience gained from working in teams, continuous self-analysis, understanding what one is good at and how those good qualities can shine through and rub into inspiring others. Such a model of charismatic leadership is not built in one night. It comes from perseverance and investment in the self.

Developing leadership skills is easier said than done. It is not a matter of two days of classroom training, or watching an inspiring leadershiprelated movie. It comes from practice, practice and practice. Leadership is an experience, or a culmination of learning through a set of experiences. Dhimant Parekh, founder, The Better India, completed his MBA (Strategy, Leadership and IT) from ISB Hyderabad in 2006. Sharing his learning experience, he says, "At ISB, the diversity is very varied. When you actually meet people from all ages and backgrounds, you quickly learn to adapt. In one year, you're thrown into diverse study groups; it just teaches you how to rally your team. When you are back at work with a fresh leadership perspective, you know how to find a common thread running through various ambitions, needs and mindsets. I worked for five years before joining ISB and could actually appreciate these complexities and possible clashes between your work objectives and the team objectives. In contrast, short-term training programmes are effective only for a short span of time."

So how should one go about developing leadership skills when it's largely about experiences? "Learn from observation," advises Mohammad Nibras PK, HR head and Qualitative Research head, LeadCap Knowledge Solutions and founding trustee, LeadCap Trust. "Some of the leadership lessons are best learnt from children. Look at children learning new things and it observe that they normally follow a pattern of imitation to start with.

They imitate the actions, language, emotions, etc of the people they come across on a daily basis; the initial level of following others' actions would continue till a point where they start discovering their own thought process, character and behaviour. Potential leaders can use the learning pattern of children to start their leadership journey by following the action manuals of other recognised leaders. The experiences of world leaders are easily available nowadays in the form of books, online, seminars, etc. Thus, to lead, first we need to follow the footsteps of other leaders and eventually discover our unique style of leadership in the journey."

Individuals and organisations alike can build leadership over a sustained period of time. Dinesh V Divekar, Bangalore-based management and behavioural training consultant explains, "Leadership training for a couple of days in isolation does not work. Organisations should embark on a Leadership Development Programme (LDP) instead, that lasts for a couple one-two years. Organisations should have a demarcating structure of the various stages of leadership. As the level increases, the requirements change and training contents should vary accordingly. Follow-up by senior managers should be built in."

To develop leadership skills, it is important to first recognise and understand what these leadership skills essentially consist of. "The term leadership has been very loosely used in varying contexts. Fundamentally, a leader is someone who leads, who influences others and inspires them. It could be a Steve Jobs known for inspiring innovation and creativity or a JRD Tata known for his strong vision.

Leaders empower others, they delegate work in a way that others shoulder responsibility and have the space to grow. The first step towards building leadership skills is to be open-minded, empathetic and to know your people to work with them. A leader should also know when to be a follower and learn from others," concludes Pratyush Pundir, partner, sales and operations at Four Forty Hertz Music LLP.

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