The Science and Art of Leadership

Today’s young are entering into an economy characterised by competition. The globalised work environment is doing away with the past practices of career progression. Time and tenure no longer define your growth. Essentially, your creative performance determines how far and how fast you can grow in life.

It’s a challenge. It’s an opportunity. Perform or perish is the new mantra. Innovate or perish is the newest mantra. Former president APJ Abdul Kalam in one of his lectures on leadership observed that yesterday ; seniority signified status, but today creativity drives the status.

American historian James MacGregor Burns, an authority on Leadership Studies once wrote, “Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomenon on earth”. The world continues to debate – Are good leaders born or can they be made? Aspire to be a leader. You need not be a grey haired individual to assume leadership. Leadership is an art, master it. It’s a science, learn it.

Dr Abdul Kalam, son of a small boat owner from far end of the country, reaching what was possibly the supreme most position any Indian can ever reach, is a classic example of the fact that today’s world offers limitless opportunities to excel in life. Excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude. An attitude defined by passion or hunger for success.

Abdul Kalam himself said, “Great leaders must have passion to realise their missions and be able to travel in the unexplored path. They also must know to manage success and failure and demonstrate the courage to take decisions”.

Many of us harp over a problem and waste our time. More you persist on the problem; more you get frustrated, undermining your efficiency. Never allow a problem to lead you. Instead, leaders look for solutions to problems with an innovative mindset.

Philosophers interpreted the world in many ways, but the important thing is to change it. Always have the vision to change the course of history rather than be a part of it. Kalam as a child was amused to see birds flying high in the sky. But, this amusement later made him the father of India’s rocket science.

Quite frequently, we come across people who raise doubts about our ability to achieve. But, Suhel Seth in his book ‘Mantras for Success: India’s Greatest CEOs Tell You to Win’ observes, “The one quality that most great CEOs possess is the ability to insulate and isolate. They insulate themselves from a skeptical world and isolate themselves from the chatter of the world. ”

Studies and documented experiences of successful people suggest certain basic attributes of a good leader. A peep into this world of wisdom will help you to evolve as a leader in your lifetime. Youngsters have to acquire knowledge in an integrated way for using multiple disciplines.

The world is increasingly turning to be interdisciplinary. Biology converges with Technology to usher in Bio-Technology. Similarly, Biology converges with Information Science to create Bio-Informatics. Nano Technology is a combination of several sciences.

Indians are often considered to be outstanding individually, but, they fail to demonstrate similar levels of performance as a team. But, one of the doyens of Indian industry, Adi Burjorji Godrej in an interview to Forbes India said, “There are limits to what any individual can do. Leadership is all about teamwork.”
Leadership is identifying trend ahead of others.

Maintain a high emotional quotient. Come out of herd mentality. Your decisions do not have to be popular always. But, you should have the conviction to defend your decision and carry it forward. Indecisiveness makes you fail.

Leadership demands a lot of planning. Set out your objective clearly and work backwards to chase it. A closed mind is a recipe for disaster. You may not accept every idea put forth to you. But, be open to ideas. Upanishads said, let the noble thoughts come to us from every side.

The intellectual arrogance that you alone are the repository of great ideas will lead you into a quagmire. Constantly improve yourself to be relevant in the competitive world. These are only some attributes. There is a lot more to explore in the world of leadership.

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