Transformational leadership

What Kites Teach Us About Leadership

January is the month of harvest festivals, which is celebrated with different names across India. We have Sankranti celebrated in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, and Lohri in North India. It also marks the beginning of the Indian spring season.
One of the common practices is the kite-flying tradition across India during these festivals. I am reminded of last year; when Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, and CEO was photographed celebrating Sankranti by flying kites with children in New Delhi. The memory triggers me to ponder about the lessons that the tradition of kite flying holds for leaders at all levels and domains.
Leadership Lessons from Kite Flying
The sight of colourful kites flying in the skies brings back the child in us. There is a childlike curiosity and thrill that one experiences to this day when we fly a kite. On closer look, you’ll also discover the wealth of leadership lessons this simple sport can offer us besides curiosity which is one of the foundation skills for every leader. Let me share some more skills that we can learn.
1. Leadership needs collaboration
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock. While kite flying may not need so many people like an orchestra would need, but surely it needs someone to hold the firki for you which will dispense the manza (thread) while you focus on flying the kite.
Once your kite is in the sky you will feel the thrill of success but for you to continue to build on your success you will need people to cheer you up. This cheer will give you enthusiasm to go higher and higher.
When you get tired and thirsty you will need someone to provide you with fuel to keep going. With this collaboration you will not only go higher but enjoy the journey of joy and happiness of reaching new heights.
2. Leadership needs right atmosphere and support system
Your kite can take flight only under the right circumstances. The wind should be steady. If it’s too less, you’ll be wasting your time and effort trying to force the kite to take off from the ground. If the wind is too much, the strings cannot withstand it and snap it in no time.
The location where you fly a kite also matters. It should be at a certain height to help you get started. There should not be too many power lines as it will entangle your plans even before it takes off. On similar lines in business you will need to identify the right market or timing for your startup or business.
3. Great leaders aim high to achieve more
If you observe any kite flying festival like during Sankranti here in India, you notice that some kites are way above the rest. They’re strung by the ones who dance to the beat of their own drum. These are the visionaries who aim high and implement their strategy with a sharp focus. As a business leader, you will need to aim higher to achieve more significant results.
4. Effective leadership is about embracing challenges
If you notice a kite needs an opposing force for it to take flight. True leaders are not afraid of challenges. They embrace them and find opportunities in them. If you notice in the current pandemic, some people have embraced the change and taken flight even in these challenging times. Leadership is about standing against all opposition forces and taking them in your stride to fly higher and achieve your goals. German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche rightly said, “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” Challenges offer the opportunity for leaders like you and me to become stronger and resilient under the winds of adversity.
5. Good leadership is about fair play
Like the business world, kite flying is highly competitive. You will see people trying to bring one another down by cutting their strings. But they waste a lot of energy and time in this short-sighted approach. Competition is passe’ and collaboration is in vogue. Good leadership is about playing fair and letting others flourish as well. There is enough place under the sun for everyone to fly high and reach their goals. Good leadership is about ethics, values, and integrity.
Final Thoughts
The superstar in kite-flying is not the kite, but you.
The kite is simply a manifestation of our leadership and how we can triumph against all odds and turn our lofty dreams into concrete reality. As a leader, you have to use your superpowers to identify the right circumstances for your business to grow and acknowledge and learn from your failures too. On that wise note, the Crossover Leadership Journeys team wishes you a Happy Sankrathi, Pongal, Bihu, and Lohri! Here’s wishing you leadership wisdom, and may you fly higher this year with the fruitful rewards of your labour.

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