5 Timeless Qualities of True Leaders

Before leadership be effective, it has to be true. And the truth of leadership is essentially human. If we have to raise the bar of leadership, we need to first cultivate truer leadership at the core.

In his article “Why The World Needs Truer Leaders (And How to Be One)”, Umair Haque defines eudaimonic leadership as,

leaders who expand human potential to its very highest, so everyone can live a life that matters

In the same post, he offers 5 timeless qualities of true leadership. I recommend that you read the entire series that Umair is writing at Medium.

Here is a sketch note version of qualities of truer leadership.

BONUS:

Shut up and Sit Down” is an excellent post by Joshua Rothman at The New Yorker which talks about our dangerous obsession with leadership and how leadership industry rules.

In the conclusion, he writes,

When we’re swept up in the romance of leadership, we admire leaders who radiate authenticity and authority; we respect and enjoy our “real” leaders. At other times, though, we want leaders who see themselves objectively, who resist the pull of their own charisma, who doubt the story they’ve been rewarded for telling. “If a man who thinks he is a king is mad,” Jacques Lacan wrote, “a king who thinks he is a king is no less so.” A sense of perspective may be among the most critical leadership qualities.

True leadership stems from the heart, yet most leaders (and many we see in political arena today) operate with an outdated view of leadership. When leaders have to show that they are powerful, they are not.

Here is a quick sketch of Jacques Lacan’s quote:

The Place to Improve the World

“The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then to work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value.”

– Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Food For Thought – April 2012

From a number of GREAT bloggers and authors I read, here are a few snippets of thought provoking insights – straight from my feed reader. Note: Important take-aways marked in bold+italics.

Michael Wade on “What Managers Can Learn from Novelists

Recognize that life is not a novel. At least, not in most cases. The most powerful characters in life are the quiet heroes who support families, meet obligations, hone skills, and fulfill civic duties. The same is true in the workplace. Your most important employees are not the charismatic home run hitters. They are your base hitters who, although devoid of drama, win ball games.”

Nicholas Bate suggests, “Spend Time With The Best

The best will remind you that nothing’s guaranteed but more is predictable when you take responsibility for you career rather than leaving it to your CEO, take responsibility for you life rather than leaving it to a smooth-talking politician and start reading every day. Hang out with the best. Listen to the best. Read the best.

Wally Bock knows “Where Greatness Lives

Like great companies, great business teams are excited about the work they do. Foster excitement in the work. Revel in it.”

Dan Pink shares “50 Centuries of Work = 5 Important Lessons”. One of them below:

“Choose a career for the intrinsic rewards, not the financial ones.

Chris Guillebeau thinks, “It’s Not the Process, It’s Not the End Result, It’s the Act of Making Things

No matter what, you’ll encounter setbacks and experience disappointments. But when you encounter them, your response is to keep creating. Use the setbacks for greater good. Write your 1,000 words, paint your painting, build your business, lead your team—whatever you do. Focus on the act of making things. The act of creation is where joy and effort intersect.

Late Dr. C. K. Prahalad’s Business Wisdom

Gift of thoughts is the best gift we can receive. After my talk at Ahmedabad Management Association recently, I was gifted with a book titled “Purely Prahalad – Business Wisdom from Late Dr. C. K. Prahalad’s thoughts”. This book is compiled and edited by AMA’s team.

It is a brilliant collection of useful gems. Here are 5 thoughts from the global thinker that I learned the most from:

– – – – –

Continuous Change

I am not interested in “charismatic leader” approach to innovation. Companies need continuous changes – not just episodic breakthroughs.

Don’t Wait Too Long

Finding the motivation to affect change is very difficult when the existing business model seem to be working well. But the question to ask is, “Will their zone of comfort force them to wait too long before they make a transition?”

Next v/s Best

Best practices lead to agreement on mediocrity. I do not have much interest in best practices. Because all of us benchmark each other, we gravitate towards mediocrity in a hurry. What we really need is to ask what is the next practice, so that we can become the benchmark companies, benchmark institutions around the world.

Creating an ‘Unlearning’ Organization

Creating a ‘learning organization’ is only half the solution. Just as important is creating an ‘unlearning organization’. To create the future, a company must unlearn at least some of its past. We’re all familiar with ‘learning curve’, but what about the ‘forgetting curve’ – the rate at which a company can unlearn those habits that hinder future success?

Helping Others

If you are honest about helping others rather than showing how smart you are, things are very easy.

Great Quotes: It is not the critic who counts – Theodore Roosevelt

You are not doing much if you are not being criticized, it is said. As you set out to start your week, remember the following quote from Theodore Roosevelt. It is awe-inspiring.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

So let the critics do their job while you get busy in :

  • Getting things done.
  • Embracing the change.
  • Stirring the pot and thinking.
  • Ruthlessly re-prioritizing.
  • Raising the bar.
  • Getting better by learning
  • Enjoying what you are doing.
  • Being the best of what you can be.
  • Thinking possibilities.
  • Living each moment to its best.

Remember, it is not the critic who counts. Have a great week ahead!

Great Quote – Comfort Zone and Complacency

This wonderful quote comes straight from Guerrilla Consulting Blog – where Mike McLaughlin refers to this quote by Harry Beckwith

“…comfort nudges us dangerously close to complacency, and nothing good comes from that. It kills businesses, dulls lives, and encourages nothing better than ordinary. Our greatest blessings come from people who refused to be complacent, whether it was Beethoven or the Beatles.”

Too much of comfort is not a good sign – and managers/leaders needs to constantly introspect, ask difficult questions to self and be on the edge. I have seen many people in my career span who are averse to trying something new – because it requires them to move out of their comfort zone.

I was reading an article (not sure where!) on Intrapreneurship and I loved the term coined by author – “From Comfort Zone to Courage Zone”. Journey from comfort to courage may turn out to be adventurous and even uncomfortable initially – but it is worth giving a try! Because that is where all the growth lies.

Update 07/26: Great and timely quotes on Confidence Building in today’s Times Of India daily in Sacred Space. Here they go –

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started. – Marcus Garvey