Do you have it in you to be a great Leader?

By Raj Reddy, Associate Vice President, Infosys BPO

With 18 years rich experience, Raj has been instrumental in conceptualization, design and implementation of Talent strategies, not only during growth phase, but also during recession times to build higher productivity people processes through Corporate & Regional leadership roles. Raj has led complex Organizational Change Management programs spanning across geographies and diverse business portfolios. Raj’s passion lies in integrating Business with HR through building optimized Organizational pyramids, High Productivity and utilization programs, Building flexible Career Architectures/competency models and Skill optimization frameworks in high growth complex organizations. Has extensive experience across all HR processes i.e., Business Development, Workforce planning, Recruitment, Talent Retention, Organizational Development, Total Rewards and Compensation, Competency design, Succession planning, Talent branding, Regulatory Compliance and Employee relations.

During my career stint of 20 years, there have been a number of times when I have been a part of discussions/debates on the definition of “Leader”, Questions that always got debated were: what are the typical qualities of a leader? What differentiates a leader from others?  What does one need to look for in the organizational context?

Basic Ingredients of Leadership include the ability to have a vision and drive the same passionately with trust and integrity. A leader must also be curious to learn new things and fearlessly implement the same. Excellence in implementation coupled with willingness to take new responsibilities, ability to motivate and win the trust of its workforce is of utmost importance. Personal traits such as Confidence, Adaptability and Flexibility along-with a spirited balanced life that aims towards continuous learning is also important. In a nutshell, a leader is a an endless list of qualities. Having said that, some of the key traits according to me can be described as below-

Leaders don’t Blame Circumstances:
A leader needs to take responsibility for his/her own behaviour, without blaming circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for his behaviour. One needs to choose the response to any situation and any person.

Leaders Visualize the Future:
A leader needs to visualize the future that he wants to achieve. A leader will have a clear vision of where he wants to go and what he wants to accomplish. This comes from vast experiential knowledge in dealing with uncertainty and ability to connect the dots of today to build a Context for future..

Leaders are led by Principles:
A leader needs to live a disciplined life. He leads life according to deeply held beliefs, principles, or fundamental truths. He has to focus on highly important things such as building relationships, future oriented planning, exercising, and preparation – all those things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom do them, may be because they are not urgent.

Leaders believe in Abundance:
A leader should have an abundance mentality and belief that there is plenty for everybody. A leader does not believe that one person’s success requires another person’s failure. A leader looks for synergetic solutions to problems that benefit all parties.  He listens with the strong intent to fully, deeply understand the other person both emotionally and intellectually. It is like diagnosing before prescription.

Leaders value differences in People:
A leader believes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He values differences between people and try to build upon those differences.

Leaders look for third alternative:
When presented with two conflicting alternatives, they seek third, more creative response. To sum up, a leader always looks for better than the best. Leader seeks continuous improvement, innovation, and refinement and believes in continuous learning.

In order to create a unidirectional collective momentum, it is very important for us to focus our thoughts towards the Mission (Why do we exist), Values (what we believe in), Vision (what we want to be), strategy (what is the game plan to attain vision), Business Score Card (focus and implementation), Strategic actions (what we need to do), Personal objectives (what I need to do).

By systematically working through these fundamental concepts, we will be able to transform ourselves into great leaders of tomorrow. I would like to discuss more on leadership further in next article. In the mean time, I would welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences to bring in this great transformation not only in our thoughts but in actions.

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