Monday, January 05, 2009

Where are the leaders, what is Leadership?

One of the hallmarks of good leadership, we were made to believe, is having a good foresight. By this measure, there is no doubt that we are having a drought of leadership. Look at the behaviour of the so called leaders of organisations in the last one year.

We heard statements like we are going to be growing at 20%, we are going to be making investments of 10,000 crores, we will be hiring 10,000 people in the coming fiscal year and so on. The same companies today are fighting to survive after laying off people in big numbers.

So what's wrong. Agreed that external senario cannot be always forseen. So going by that logic it is difficult to have predicted that the company would have to go through tough times. But then by the same i.e. external scenario cannot be predicted, even the rosy picture which was painted should not have been made. What was the basis of those ever increasing numbers? Was it wishful thinking of linearity of progression. Were they playing to the galleries of analysts? Were they consciously misleading their employees?

It would have been much more satsifying if leaders said - our business depends on these three factors - exchange rate, interest rate of the Federal Reserve. If a goes up then this is what we be doing, if a goes down this is the action we will be taking.

Leaders should shun from making this kind of external focused statements which are contingent on conditions prevailing such and such. Instead they should be saying that this year we are going to create these new products, we are going to develop these competencies, we are going to be taking risks on X, Y or Z investments, we are going to make.

If leaders cannot display leadership how wan they expect their staff to display leadership, after they are only following the leaders.

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