Leadership is such a vast subject that it cannot be comprehended into one article. There are so many branches of leadership and so many aspects to talk about. Already many scholars have spoken about it and there are thousands of articles, books, etc. on the same for all to read apart from so much available online. So I am not going to make this one more in that lot to kill you with boredom.
Rather what I am going to share is my personal views and experiences of what I think are the two most important traits that every leader should have no matter what field they operate in and how I came across them.
Respect (आदर करना) and Serve (सेवा कर)…
Great leaders Respect everyone no matter who they are and have servant hearts that beats for both their colleagues & company. They treat everyone around the same way as they would like to be treated themselves.
But then this is something that comes naturally to them. Its an inherited trait and cannot be found in books or taught in schools and colleges. I had no clue while I was growing up on how silently and slowly my father, who by the way is my idol taught me this or should I say inculcated this in me. Well we both my sister and me were never allowed to address people in a harsh tone whether they were our house helps, people who brought us our basic necessities or for that matter anyone. Our Milkman was named as milk uncle (दूध चाचा), our household help as bhai (भाई)/ didi (दीदी), our mechanic uncle as “Khan Chacha (खान चचा)” and so on and so forth.
My dad has always believed in giving respect to people no matter their age, cast, creed, religion and certainly not by what they do for a living. I remember the times when anything broke down in our house in the government allotted quarters that we lived in those days and how on one call of my dad’s there were people at my house to get it fixed. I have never seen any delays even for the smallest of repair works at my place. My dad is a doctor (dentist) and has always been helpful to everyone who came at his door. The hospital only allowed people working with certain companies to be treated free (with free medicine facilities) but for the others it was always termed as OPD (Out Patient’s Department) and was chargeable. I have seen so many medical books of mine filled with medical prescriptions and medicine allotments in my name of problems that I never ever had. When I asked dad, he said it was not for me but for someone else. This is how my father is even today. Helping beyond his capacity and goes out to do that a lot. This is how much he respected people and they in-turn have loved him all this while and years. In my city if you get down at the station and ask for his name, you will definitely find someone who would know him. That is the respect (आदर करना) he has earned. I am not trying to brag about him but the reason of bringing this up is to make you understand how important giving respect to people is and what it does for you.
While growing up, I many a times asked him why he didn’t go to a private clinic or started a private practice when he was working? Why only when he retired? He had a simple answer always, “Money will come and go but Respect will stay with you forever. Its easy to make money but very difficult to earn respect.” Respect for him is the utmost important thing in life. Respecting time is something that came to him naturally. He said and I quote, “Time will not wait for anyone and what you do today will become yesterday tomorrow and the future is not known. So what we can control is only today and lets make it to be a great yesterday. Give people the time they deserve every time, irrespective of what you feel and see the magic happen.” At that time I failed to understand his words, but Today I do and it has such a deep meaning. Respect cannot be bought, its earned.
The other trait I have picked up from him is Serve (सेवा कर). His serving quality is so beyond words. He helped people always and still today supports that cause. 50% of his patients are treated Free as a service to his profession. He only takes money for his treatment from people who can afford or are well to do. Whether be anyone from our big family (my dad’s 4 brothers and 4 sisters and so is my mom’s side, just to give you a slight hint of the family members and we already are in the 4th generation now) to anyone who came unto him, his priority was to get them out of the pain they were in when they came to him. Earning money from there always came last.
My dad has been my best friend since I was in my 4th standard and we shared every single thing with each other. As a reason of this I was exposed to him in a big way and I think that is one reason how I have been able to inculcate these traits in myself, although I am not a master and not even close to how my father is. If I could just be even 50% of my father, I would feel that my life’s successful. While growing up in school and college, I always implemented his teachings. I respected everyone and tried as much as I can to serve. In fact during my MBA days at Indira campus, pune, these traits actually helped me make many friends. From the college security guys, to my classmates to the teachers, etc. There was a mutual respect always. My letters from parents and others used to get hand delivered (those times email and mobile phones were something that we were still not accustomed to using) to me by the ‘security kaka” as I used to lovingly call him. That smile in the morning from him did say a lot and it did brighten my day. My teachers and counselors including the college patrons are still some of the closest friends of mine that I have and cherish the memories that I have made in those days.
I can go on and on about my life and the memories I have created but as I said I don’t want to make this boring for you all to read. I only shared the above aspects for you to understand where I was coming from and what made me believe that these are the two most important traits for a leader to have.
Respect Everyone and have a Servant heart (सबका सम्मान करो और एक सेवक का दिल रखो…)
We all know how important it is to Respect people and everyone around us. The way we respect people is how they would respect us back. So if you want the respect then you will have to give the same respect back. Its not rocket science but simple logic. Also it is very important to Respect Time as the clock is ticking every second. With every passing moment the present is becoming the past and what we do in this present will define our future as well as impact our past. Time doesn’t wait for anyone so the more we respect it the better it is for us. Respect for time is something that can be crucial on how people look up to you as a leader. A leader with no respect for time seldom achieves anything and neither is respected by his people. There are many examples in the world for such leaders who have always respected time. Respect is something that does not need a definition or much explanation as we all know a lot about it for almost all our lives. But having a servant heart is something that I would like to talk more in detail as not many of us know this and how is it connected to leadership. So here it goes…
Serve Leadership (दास नेतृत्व)
I will break the word into letters and explain each letter more in detail which in a way will explain the model.
See the future. Create a vision; envisage where you want to go and share with your people. Be passionate and use sense of direction to motivate and drive your people with work that has a purpose. View problems as opportunities; look forward and plan for the future. At the same time do attend to the daily activities. Handling everyday tasks will help execute the main aim and goals. Delegation of work to staff/colleagues is important so that you can focus on mapping out goals. Leaders job is to make time today to ensure that there is a tomorrow. Customer first and all the main key elements to be kept in mind to ensure success. Serve others, cultivate creativity and practice stewardship by being accountable for the people entrusted to you.
Engage and develop others. To get people along-with you, you need to connect with them emotionally. Enable them to develop and hone their talents and capabilities When people are happy at their jobs the productivity increases. Always keep searching for good people. Develop people through training, education and mentoring.
Reinvent continuously. Work to boost your skills and expertise. Learning is an ongoing process and it should never stop. Learn a new thing everyday and that would help expand your horizon and the knowledge base. A leaders quest for self improvement sets a good example in-front of his colleagues and subordinates but always work towards corporate Re-invention. It’s a much broader term. It includes slowly making your systems more efficient and re-shaping the structure. Some leaders become slaves to their age old systems and do not re-invest with the new systems and times rather than becoming in-charge of them or improve them.
Value your results in relationships. Strive to achieve your professional goals and enhance the bond with the team. Since 5 fingers are not equal similarly every individual comes with different traits and needs to be accordingly handled based on the traits they possess for an optimum utilization of their talent which will help in the reaching the ultimate goal faster. The more closer they work to their traits, they would be that more sincere and respond positively.
Embody the value you promulgate. People look up to their leaders, trust them & follow them so if the leader does not walk the talk, the team will also not work on them.
That for me friends is Servant Leadership (दास नेतृत्व). Every aspect of it is important and needs to be looked at as a complete set to be successful at it.
So now you see how important these two aspects are when you are a leader in any field of life. Again to reiterate this is only my way of looking at this subject and is based on my experiences. I have been fortunate to have grown up looking at my dad as my idol, rubbed shoulders with some of the stalwarts during my school & college days and last but not the least worked with some of the best leaders during my career. It’s been a dream run so far and I am only looking at the future with an open mind to learn something new from each day that passes by with the utmost RESPECT for the TIME and PEOPLE around me and with all the willingness to SERVE.
Credits for my learning: My Dad, My teachers (My faculty, Mrs. Madhuri Sathe, Mr. Chetan Wakalkar & Ms. Tarita Shankar), my leaders (Mr. Pawan Kalra, Mr. PN Dhoot, Mr. Tushar Lowalekar, Mr. Kumar Animesh, Dr. Bharde & Mr. Karthik Ramachandran), St. Xavier’s Bokaro, Indira Group of Institutes, Pune & my city where this all started Bokaro Steel City.