Sunday, August 12, 2007


“A manager always needs to be a good leader but the vice versa is not a pre requisite for a leader though”. Throughout our life times we have read & listened to this phrase a thousand times and we agreed to it. B-schools across the globe were into producing good, infact, great managers. It was always believed that a manager always possesses the leadership qualities because initial part of his job is always to get the work done through others. Also, there was a myth prevalent that leaders are born, but the question is that ‘is it true?’ Many debates have been held and we have a lot of reviews but no results. Irony, isn’t it?

Well, leaving the past reviews and not indulging in one more debate, I would like to draw your attention to this new buzz word- LEADERSHIP. A leader is always believed to be an influencer; the person who is like the sandpiper whose flute has the magic to lead all the mice. He is the one who has the capability to be the role model. As a manager has functions like planning, organizing, directing, controlling & coordinating to perform, a leader has just one function, i.e., to influence. Now, who can be a leader?

Just to make a distinction, I would like to give an example. You are in your campus/office and suddenly you get to know that in the next building of yours, two eminent people are coming in different auditoriums- Mr. Asaram ji Bapu & Mr. Xyz, COO of ABC CO. You have an option to go for one, who you think you will go for? You, and infact, 99% people of your age might go to attend the session of Mr. Xyz as you think you will gain some knowledge from him. But the irony is that if you compare the fan following of both, you will notice that Mr. Asaram ji Bapu has much larger, may be more than 10 times, fan following than Mr. Xyz.
This was the same point I wanted to draw your attention towards. Mr. Xyz is a manager; however, Mr. Asaram ji Bapu is a leader infact. He has the capability to draw a larger audience than Mr. Xyz. Now, we can mention as many leaders from different walks of life as you want, e.g., Amitabh Bachchan, Rajni Kant, Ratan Tata, Dhirubhai Ambani, George Bush, Osama Bin Laden, etc. We know that all these people have such a charisma that whatever they say, whatever they do, people follow. Now are there any pre requisites to be a leader?

The answer is both yes & no. Yes if you take a macro view of whatever I am going to mention below now and No if you take it specifically. So here are certain musts to be a great leader:
People Skills: No followers, no leader. Develop a liking for you in the hearts of the “junta”. No matter, be a heart-throb.
Voice: The best example is Amitabh Bachchan or for that matter, any of the movie star. Whatever they say becomes a dialog. Have a good tone.
Communication: Whether you have a great voice or not, if you are unable to send your message across, you can’t be a good leader. Learn to imbibe all the principles of communication.
Memory: Sharpen your memory. You must remember your followers to make your impact not just a one time exercise but continuously. It’s a process, remember it. Start remembering the faces, names, telephone numbers, and their last comments.
Appearance: It is not necessary that you must be tall like Amitabh Bachchan or powerful like Muhammad Ali to be a leader. But appearance means that you must display an image with which you want to get recognized. It includes your inner charisma too. Also, remember that you must be conscious about your cleanliness and hygiene.
Aggressiveness: “slow & steady wins the race”, “speed thrills, but kills” and similar phrases I would associate with losers. The person, who is not aggressive in his approach and is not fast, can’t be a good leader. By aggressiveness and speed, I do not mean that you should work in haste but do not waste time. Kill the snake as soon as you see its tail; don’t wait to see his head or you will be killed.

The list is not exhaustive. One can go on and on but these are the qualities one must have or develop to be a great leader. So now the question comes, if there is so much buzz about leadership, what about management? Is it a waste material to study? Are managers somewhat below the leaders?

Well, I have started writing with the answer only. Look at the first line of the article. And that is the answer. It’s not about who is above or who is below, it all about who can do what. I would say that it’s easy to be a leader than a manager as leadership is an integral part of management. As of today we have a dearth of leaders in India but might be with some insight we can produce great leaders within home.

So what are you waiting for guys, get up, the world is yours,

“Let’s make a dent in the universe.”

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