Transformational leadership


My last blog on career transition got a good response and I hope you will find his blog useful.
Let me start by sharing that at a very early age in my life I got inspired by the teachings and leadership qualities of Jesus Christ. The practices that I am going to share are based on his teachings. Some of you may find this unusual a Marwari following Jesus and writing a blog on his teachings. This unusual trend will continue as you will see some of my upcoming blogs on teachings of Mohammed Sahab or Guru Nanak and many more incarnations. So for now here are few leadership qualities leading to a memorable farewell.
Treat thy Neighbor the way you like to get treated : Most of us know this popular saying from the Bible but many leaders as they grow in hierarchy don’t treat the people especially below them in the same way as they expect them to get treated. They expect respect but don’t give respect especially when things are not going as per plan. They want to be treated fairly but they don’t treat others fairly especially when they have to make choices that may impact their interest. In last 6 years I have experienced series of instances where my support staff (mostly contractors) would make mistakes in trainer allocation, venue booking, incorrect training material, no training materials and so on. Now the way the leader treats the employees (especially contract support staff) in the heat of the moment defines the leadership quality. One needs to remember that nobody wakes up and comes to office with a plan to make mistakes. Mistakes do happen “to err is human”. The interesting part is the same leader who blows up and treats his staff so badly complains about his or her boss treating badly when they make mistakes. Even though our eyes are outside we should make them look inside and treat each one the way we would like to get treated. Same applies at home with your spouse and kids. When you don’t like the tea or coffee made exactly to your whims and fancies go and make it yourself but don’t show your upper hand as that will not fair well for your farewell.
Look at our own sins before pointing at the sins of others : There was a prostitute who was being stoned in front of a church by the villagers. Jesus stood in between the prostitute and the villagers and said that only those can throw stone who have never committed a sin in their life. You know what would have happened. There was nobody who had not committed a single sin and each one sheepishly went back leaving all the stones aside. Now bring this story to our personal and professional life. How many times we point fingers at others on things they are suppose to do or not suppose to do and you will realise that most of those sins are committed by us either in the past or possibility of committing in the future. So if a leader focuses on his own sins rather than pointing at others it will help bring ongoing transformation not only for himself but for all others around him leading to a memorable farewell.
There is a saying in Hindi “aksar hum hamare dukh se utne dukhi nahin hote hain jitna ki dusron ke sukh se’ meaning we are not as unhappy with our own unhappiness but more unhappy with happiness of others. There was a village with severe unemployment and drought. The richest man in form of Jesus came in to help and said that if the villagers can dig for 8 hours every day he will give them 1 dollar. The villagers were thrilled with joy and offered to work even 10 hours for same 1 dollar. This news spread in nearby villages and unemployed villagers came to Jesus and said they can also dig for 1 dollar. Jesus said yes but they said that they come from few miles away and have to leave before it gets dark so they can dig for 7 hours only. Being the generous lord Jesus agreed to still pay 1 dollar for 7 hours. After few weeks the first set of villagers started becoming unhappy about why should they dig for 10 hours when the second set of villagers were doing only 7 hours. The discussions about this discontent continued on coffee machine, lunch breaks and even in weekly meetings. So they reduced their hours from 10 hours to 8 hours. Jesus was observing this but did not say anything. The unhappiness continued on why should they work for 1 hour more than the other villagers for same 1 dollar. Finally they called for a AHM with Jesus and shared their concern. Jesus asked them to recall the time when they were unemployed and thrilled to get the job at 1 dollar for 8 hours and were wiling to work for 2 hours extra. Now just because someone is working for less hours you have let the unhappiness creep into your life. Leaders who stay focused on their own work (be happy with what they had signed up for) rather than becoming unhappy with what others are getting will have lots of time on solving problems of their teams, serve their customers better, be a loving spouse, a caring parent, a great friend, colleague and finally get a well deserved farewell.
I am there when you need me : Faith in Jesus brings his support to you whenever you need him. It is like a big brother or supportive father who is always there in the background to help you. As a leader if you are there with your team physically as much as possible but psychologically every moment when they are at work achieving the targets you have set for them then you are like Jesus in their lives. So at Wipro whenever we launched a new program or a new initiative I was there as a co-facilitator with my team. While in many of the programs I was not a subject matter expert but being with them gave them the required confidence. Most leaders think that they need not be hands on with the team on the dance floor once they reach a certain level but if you ask teams across domains, geography and technology they always feel inspired when their leaders can understand them deeply by being with them all through the journey.
Finally I would like to share a fundamentally disruptive thought based on my observation of many leaders who will never get the farewell that we have been talking about. These leaders treat their blood relations say their daughter for example so nicely but so badly to the same age daughter of someone else in office even though the blood group is same as their daughter. The question is why this distinction ? On the other hand the farewell leaders treat every person with same respect and care irrespective of the blood relation because to them blood is blood and never bloody for some and not bloody for others.
Hope the above thoughts on treating others the way we want to get treated, looking at our own sins, being happy with our happiness, being on the side with the team and treating all relations as blood relations will help you in making every place a great place to work and live. Your work colleagues will then not want to give you a farewell and your family will not want to give you the final farewell even though such leaders will be welcomed by every other organization and Jesus in heaven.
Looking forward to your thoughts, reflections on farewell leadership.

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