In this series “Mystical Ingredient for a successful Leadership”, we have discussed many leadership qualities any common man can develop to emerge as a CEO of any corporate. This series is nothing but portrayal of all the mistakes I did in my corporate career combined with my observations of the qualities of many successful leaders in my consulting career & the few CEO coaching I do these days.
One of the greatest ingredients for successful leadership is “How one relates with the people around them?” which is the result of their paradigm about the people. This is the main topic of discussion in this article. I request my patrons to read this article not only with a perspective of developing their leadership skills but also with an aim to improve their relationship with their loved ones or any people with whom they interact. I am of the view that our behaviours in our adulthood are the result of our childhood conditioning. This is the findings of many gurus of human psychology such as William James, Sigmund Freud and many others. Here is an anecdote from my personal life to illustrate what I am referring.
“I grew up in a large family of 11 observing my father as a tyrant whose territory the people dare not to tread in. He was a terror to many people as that is the personality he possessed and got away with it successfully throughout his life. Unfortunately, for any male child the father is the first person through whom he understands the world and unconsciously role model them. Among the many good qualities which have become the foot print of my dad, by default I unconsciously took the aggressive behaviour as a feature in me. This aggressive behaviour did not work well with my loved ones and became an impediment for my growth in my professional career till the mentor arrived and corrected on time.”
This anecdote gives you an idea how our paradigms shape up our ability to deal with people and decide our destiny. Please remember, as we grow in our corporate ladder we need the enrolment and support of people to deliver results as we have less “doers” role as we climb up. I wish to present few paradigms about people which I consider of paramount importance for getting best out of people. Paradigms are the attitude one can choose with respect to any aspect of life; it is the philosophy of choice that we make and all our behaviours will manifest from this philosophy. I shall provide few anecdotes wherever appropriate by referring great leaders I had come across.
Paradigm-1: “Law of Universe”
This universe is designed as a “Spontaneous Organization” which does not require a “Manager to run”. Looks complex to start with? Our understanding is for successfully running anything we need to supervise and manage. If you look at anything in nature, be it the rain forest, day & night, seasons, planetary motions, formation & destruction of nebulae and so on, everything happens without any external controls. As we believe that everything needs to be controlled, we have created an entity called “GOD” and safely put the responsibility on Him. Please don’t take me wrong that I am atheist. In reality we find that the whole universe is designed as a self sustaining mechanism and it is impossible for someone to oversee and give decisions for tsunamis or earthquakes or seasons to happen. They are all governed by few laws and they are self-sustained in nature.
The message from this paradigm is “Everything in this universe are interlinked and interdependent” for existence. Thinking that one is superior than the other is foolishness as the spoke is as important in a bicycle as the hub and rim. It is important to develop a paradigm that the leader needs everyone to do their bit to make a successful outcome. In fact the Leader are the “Non-Doers” and “Doers” at the same time as he makes things happen without doing anything himself. As the leader is dependent on the people resource, respecting this law of universe makes them humble.
Paradigm-2: “People are creation of Good”
As Ishikawa in his book “Total Quality Control” has written that there are two paradigms about people as it is stemming from the religious beliefs. The western philosophy believes that “Human are creation of evil” and the eastern philosophy believes “People are Devine in human form” – two diametrically opposite paradigms. How this has got anything to do with our ability to manage people?
Most of the western management principles are stemming from the philosophy that “Human is a creation of evil” as it states that if you leave people alone without supervision they will involve in destructive activities. This paradigm is evident in the organizational structures and systems that were developed from the western countries which has “maker-checker” and inspection based. The Ford production system of the earliest automobile manufacturing believed in “Thinkers & Doers” – few intelligent people to think and create a process and rest of the dumb people to produce.
On the other hand, the Toyota Production system coming from the philosophy that “Human is a creation of good” and once they are aligned well with the vision of the company they don’t need any supervision. The concept of supervision based structure is very rare in a Japanese company. Most successful leaders have a very positive feeling about people working for them.
Paradigm-3: “Forming Opinions & Judgement”
I am the believer of Freudian theory that People manifest behaviour driven by their values. In a heterogeneous culture in India we have multi-various and diversified values. One of the negative characteristics of the leader is developing quick opinion and judgement about people. It is extremely difficult to remain in an unbiased manner without the influence of language, religion, caste and creed of our subordinates attracting and creating a comfort levels for us. There are many leaders who had succumbed to this weakness and created a poor image for themselves.
This characteristic of a leader divides people and starts developing different layers in the organization. I am of the view that every human being has equal opportunity to be a successful contributor if he/she is mentored and developed. If someone is not performing the leader must examine what way his/her leadership is the cause for the poor performance. Passing early judgement without examine the leadership style is a sin that is to be eliminated for creating a good climate.
Paradigm-4: “Hiring Heart & Head”
I grew up in Chennai in TVS culture as my formative career was spent with them for 17 years. Mr TS.Krishna, the chairman of Lucas-TVS in early 70’s is known for his Leadership who always believed that “TVS hires the heart and not the head of the people”. What does this really mean? It will become evident from his daily routines. As a chairman he need not have to clock in at 7.15 am when the company starts, but always he was found standing & greeting people in the main gate from 6.45am onwards. He knew all 3000 people’s name and their family history. This includes who is not well and what their off-springs are studying and so on.
His daily routine also includes eating breakfast in the canteen along with all workmen and walking through the shop floor every day and enquiring the well being of the workmen. TVS always believed that if their employee’s heart is happy then they will do their best to the organization. This gives focus for the leaders to give importance to the emotions of their people instead of believing that their head is only hired. It is coming from the paradigm that if we have genuine interest of the well being of the people they will form as an asset to our organization. I wish to share the following to reinforce my point:
“Shekhar Mane has joined our organization (SSA) as accounts assistant few years back. as an unassuming and soft spoken youngster. We employed him more as a account keeping person looking at his deceptive profile. Now over the last few years he has developed his stature to control our finance function significantly contributing to our performance. His growth in stature is a result of his efforts combined with our keenness to bring the giant sleeping in him. He is enjoying his career with our team as we respect the head and the heart together"
I am not concluding this episode as many more people paradigm is due to be shared with you.
This episode will continue next week.