Two Acid Tests For True Leaders: Do You Measure Up?!

Two Acid Tests For True Leaders: Do You Measure Up?

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Last week, a newly appointed National Manager for Sales and Field Support with a client servicing team with 4 Zonal Managers reporting to him & 40 Regional Managers under the zonal managers, asked me a very pertinent question; “As a newly appointed manager, how should I establish my leadership within my team?”

He had already been inducted into the team for over six months, came from the same industry, with leadership background, proven track record, had thought that he had been doing everything right during the first six months, but his team was not truly accepting all his commands. They were doing things which were convenient for them to do, while ignoring commands which put them out of their comfort zones.

Obviously, he had realised that his leadership was not yet firmly established within his team. And therefore his question was understandable; viz. “As a newly appointed manager, how should I establish my leadership within my team?”
My answer to him was extempore:

1) STAGE-1: ESTABLISH YOUR COMMAND & CONTROL SYSTEM: 

At the outset, any new entrant into an organisation, even despite his proven track record of leadership, needs to establish very clearly in the eyes of his team members and the team members down below them, that he is the boss.

He can do so by first setting up the key objectives to be achieved by the team in the immediate, short, medium and long-term, in relation to the mission and the vision of the organisation. He also needs to reiterate alignment by all the members with the core-values of the organisation. He needs to establish very clearly in the minds of his entire team that he will accept no violation of any of the core-values of the organisation, regardless of the high performance of the team members.

He then needs to convert the key objectives to be achieved into yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily GOALS for each of the team members including himself, along with the KPIs, KEY TASKS & timelines, and the MIS reports that need to be filed by the team members. Needless to say that all these must be in alignment with the company’s present practices.

He then needs to show to the team that he’s a taskmaster who is absolutely focused on quality of execution, with strong review system mechanisms. This is where he will get to establish clearly in the minds of his team members that he is a strictler for command and control system. During this phase he can even exercise a mild degree of ruthlessness with people who are not in alignment with the team objectives. If need be, he can invoke fear in the minds of non-compliant team members.

2) STAGE-2: ESTABLISH TRUST BY EXHIBITING THAT YOU ARE A HUMAN & THAT YOU CARE: 

During the first stage which may last 3 to 6 months, you may appear a little high-handed to many team members, and even inhuman to a few others.

It is now time to establish that you are a human too and that you truly care for your team members.

To establish this in the minds of your team, you must take up every opportunity to help a team member in distress. For example, if someone is not able to achieve his targets under the team repeatedly, you can go and help him fulfil his targets. If there are situations outside of his work areas that need attention, you can help the team member by going out of the way helping him in such areas, of course with caution.

By doing this repeatedly with a few team members, you will not only win over their “Blind Trust“, but also the admiration from other team members. The team will now be able to relate to you and connect with you more openly. Many will now see you as a tough taskmaster who is also very humane. And start developing trust for you.

3) STAGE-3: MOULDING THEM IN TO LEADERS: 

After first establishing your command and control, and then winning over their blind trust, you can now start identifying a few potential leaders and start moulding them into leadership roles under you.

For this, you need to start empowering them, but before that you need to fine-tune or create structure, policies, SOPs, FAQs and systems to be followed by the teams.

There was a huge pause from my side after this; and I observed that all this while, the National Manager, the other functional heads in the team equivalent to his level, the CEO and the CIO of the company were listening to me with rapt attention. Some of them were even taking notes.

This was simply because this kind of an answer that I gave was not necessarily from the management textbooks. This was not what they had expected, but found very convincing. It opened up their minds!

A lot has been said about leadership. Volumes and volumes of books have been written about this. So many training programs, seminars and conferences have been conducted on the subject of leadership. Obviously, there are many “must have/s” in a list of leadership qualities.

However, at MasterClass™ we have devised just TWO acid tests to determine if you are truly a leader or not:

1) Do you have many ‘blind followers’?

2) Have you ‘created’ strong leaders under you?

As you will see, many other traits of leadership; viz, the leader must lead by example, leader must be selfless, leader must be honest, leader must be visionary, and so on, will pale by comparison with these two acid tests for Leadership! And most of the “Must have” traits are likely to be already covered in the process of leaders having “Blind Followers”.  How can you be called a leader if you don’t have many blind followers? Do you have followers at all? Or are they following you because of your title or your chair? What happens once you no longer have a title or a chair, are they likely to unfollow you? In that case you’re not a true leader of men!  

Secondly, how can you be called a true leader, unless you have really ‘created’ strong leaders under you? Majority of the companies & organisations in the world are suffering from this disease. Most leaders don’t let strong leaders develop under their wings. Their own insecurities are responsible for such a state of affairs. They think that if I develop strong leaders under me, someday one such leader may take away my position, title and chair. And therefore most of them breed mediocrity, rather than greatness. Forgetting that when companies, organisations, industries, societies, countries and the world spots people capable of ‘creating’ great leaders under themselves, so many more opportunities always open up before such quality of leaders. It is the leaders that you have created under you that lift you up to be seen and recognised by the world.

After my meeting, the CEO of the company who came to see me off at the driveway told me that this was one of the most fascinating lessons in leadership that he had learnt today. And he further told me that while I was speaking and explaining the basic tenets of leadership, several faces of leaders under whom he had worked & learnt from, were appearing before his eyes, and therefore he could connect so very well with the lessons in ‘true leadership‘ learnt today.

So, let me close this with these two Acid Tests for yourself, if you think you are a true leader:
1) Do you have many ‘blind followers’?

2) Have you ‘created’ strong leaders under you?
Please be totally honest with your answers, you might find a few surprises waiting there. And once you understand this, a new life with bigger possibilities awaits you!

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(ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Mr. Ambrish Chheda, is the Chairman & Managing Director of MasterClass Training & Consulting LLP, a Strategic Execution Consulting firm. He had decided early on that after the age of 50 years, he wants to dedicate his life to his country, India. For this purpose, he left his lucrative corporate career and founded MasterClass Training & Consulting LLP, a STRATEGIC EXECUTION CONSULTING FIRM. The MISSION of MasterClass is ‘Nation Building’, by helping tens of thousands of companies to Scale Up to the Next Level by developing ‘Strategic Execution Focus’, and thereby contributing to the Indian Economy.  

Today, over 1,000 companies from various sectors are using the revolutionary MasterClass™ Methodology, for developing their Strategy, Planning, Implementation & Performance Management Processes to Scale Up these companies to the Next Level of Success through ‘Strategic Execution Focus’ in a Simplified manner. This results in ‘transformational growth‘ rather than just ‘incremental growth’. 

MasterClass™ was the proud recipient of “NATIONAL AWARD for Excellence in Training and Development 2016: Best Mentoring Program“, presented by the WORLD HRD CONGRESS, WORLD EDUCATION CONGRESS & ASIAN CONFEDERATION OF BUSINESSES. 
www.themasterclass.in)

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