My philosophy on leadership

“there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes…The innovator makes enemies of all those who prosper under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new”

___Nicolas Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513

Leaders are born, created or they are there by design or default. Whatever is the reason for them being there, it is his/her duty to lead his/her team, district, state, or nation without fear or favour and with no personal agenda; because, people have invested their confidence in the leader, and it is the leaders’ duty to perform what the people want him/her to. Only the absolute common weal should matter. Not once should the leader think, “what is it in for me?” The fact that he/she is able to serve in itself should be the reward.

A leader can be a product of his/her circumstances or a product of his/her imagination, that is he/she can be an incremental leader or a transformational leader. The former will not be able to think beyond his/her present circumstances. But the latter is without fetters. He/she can envision how things can turn out. The former is a maintainer and latter, a transformer. It is the Transformer Leader whom we need today in all aspects of governance. 3 qualities have to be ingrained in the same person for him/her to become a transformational leader. I call it the IIT of Transformational Leadership. Firstly, he/she has to have utmost integrity. Secondly he/she should be innovative or creative in their thinking, and thirdly, he/she should be able to subsume technology as part and parcel of their leadership style. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate persons with all three qualities in him/her. I firmly believe that only leadership embedded in integrity and selflessness, with the ability to innovate in the governance process, can take India to prosperity. Mr. Lee Kwan Yew is one such transformer leader I can think of.

If I were to expand the different alphabets of the word LEADERSHIP, I would do it this way:
L: Being a good Listener
E: Being ethical/empathetic
A: Having no personal agenda
D: Capable of giving a direction and instill discipline
E: Somebody who is an enabler
R: Somebody who takes responsibility during a crisis, and who shares the credit with his team during normal times
S: Somebody, by virtue of his/her qualities, continues to increase his/her sphere of influence
H: Somebody who is contented and happy all the time
I: Somebody who is highly inspirational, the way he/she lives and leads
P: Somebody who is passionate about life, work and everybody he/she touches

Having won the confidence of the people to lead, it is for the leader to contemplate on how best can he/she achieve what the people wanted. Towards achieving the framework for his performance, he/she should create a team of like-minded people, and brainstorm, deliberate etc. with his team/think tank or experts in different areas. He should be able to understand worldwide trends on the particular issue, be able cut, customize and paste best practices from across the world, so that no re-invention of the wheel happens. He/she should surround himself/herself with outstanding people who don’t are two hoots for money or the like, except the absolute common weal. Having heard the issue in a 360-degree angle, it is for the leader to take a decision. Once that decision is taken, there should not be a looking back, but concurrent analysis of how well it is going has to be done periodically. He/she has to completely trust his team and give them the width to perform.

It is important for the leader to do this, because down the line, in his /her team and at societal level, at the bottom of the pyramid as it where, people are looking for personal growth and improvement of their circumstances. At no point in time should the leader hurt anybody by his/her words, deeds, looks or action. Compassion and empathy are the keys. The leader has to think for them, as to how to transform their lives in a dramatic way, out of poverty into prosperity and happiness. Imagine the construction of a 5-Star hotel; once it is built, the persons who built them have no access to it. Imagine the construction of a road: once it is laid, the people who laid it even don’t have bicycles to ply, but we ply our mercs and Audis on them. Imagine the plight of our farmers: they give us 2-3 square meals a day, but themselves are in penury. As leaders we have to think for those who are at the bottom of the pyramid. They are the ones who are building this Nation and literally cross-subsidizing our happiness. The leader is a complete giver.

The only resource God has given equally to every human being, is time. The leader, by default should have time for everything and everybody. Thus, discipline becomes a key trait of the leader. He/she should wake up early, do at least a couple of hours of exercise, and wind up his/her official day by 6.00 pm, such that he has enough time to unwind with his/her family. These are of course, on routine days. Knowing the importance of time, the leader also will not knowingly waste the time of others.

We have to root out the three cankers that are eating into our vitals – Casteism, Communalism and Corruption, and eradicate the three diseases that are weakening our progress – Illiteracy, Ignorance and Insanitation. The root cause of all our cankers and diseases is, corruption. If we can somehow eradicate this menace, our country will progress rapidly. I for one believe that corruption can be completely annihilated, through proper politics, proper policies and proper leaders. The use of technology in this process will be vital to the success of our endeavors. Only people who are absolutely patriotic can undertake this leadership.

My mantra for Governance at the local level is “People should not see governance, rather they should be able to feel governance”, which can be achieved by reducing “Citizen-Government Office interaction” and increasing “Citizen-Government interaction”. The Internet should be the main interface between the Citizen and Government, such that Citizens can be helped to receive government services without incurring transaction costs. Governance at the higher level should be so transparent that nobody can complain.