What It Takes To Develop The Leader In You

Of all the places I could have found examples, the TV show ‘Survivor’ displayed some good anecdotes of how an ordinary person can become a leader under the right circumstances and when left with no choice. Over the period of a few weeks, I saw a nervous, timid and docile contestant become a passionate and inspiring leader to the rest of his team. It demolished my perspective that leaders have to be born and not made. The task of bringing out the leader in you is precisely what leadership programs aim to do. In this article we will look at some common areas that they focus on.

Leadership Training Programs   are designed to identify, assess and harness the skills and talents of an employee in order to not only bring out the best in them but to be the catalyst in paving the way for future leaders as well.

  •  Self-Confidence – This is primarily what companies want to tap into. If a candidate has zero to low self-esteem, building that up to a point where he or she can be equipped to do more things can be very challenging and require a longer curve of training and investment. A healthy self-confidence or self-esteem is a great foundation to build upon other skills that anyone can rely upon.
  •  Emotional Intelligence – Another leadership skill that organizations are very interested in developing is ‘Emotional Intelligence’, a soft skill that is worth its weight in gold in the corporate arena. The ability to sense the pulse of oneself and the team that one is working with is a tremendous skill to have in working closely with people in the workplace environment. ‘One Simple Concept that will infuse your Leadership with Success’  is an article to help you let the leader in you emerge.
  •  Role Model – Any team is only as good as its own leader. Companies look to examine the character, values and ethic of a person to assess any possible leadership potential. A leader who can think right, lead right and serve right, can always be counted upon to be the right influence and inspiration for his or her team. While leadership style is often emphasized over anything else today, the intangible force of being a good leader over a charismatic one far outweighs any style aspect.

For more information on Leadership Training Programs, please refer to the following links:

What to look for in Future Leaders  

Essential Differences Between Leaders and Managers

What Should Leadership Training Focus On? 

Exemplification of Leadership

Sachin Tendulkar – The Epitome of Self-Leadership

While the world bids adieu to one of the greatest stars of world cricket, it is hard to stay away from the emotion of it all. I grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar. I enjoyed watching him play. However, to us, he represented something more than a talented cricketer- he represented ‘hope’. When he was at the crease, anything was possible – a valuable leadership lesson. A leader needs to make his team believe, that no matter what the odds, every challenge is an opportunity. A leader needs to be able to shift limiting mindsets.

A friend of mine who had watched Sachin at a cricket camp when recovering from a ‘tennis elbow’ injury, remarked at how focused he was in doing the exercises that the physiotherapist had recommended. He would perform the same exercise for hours on end just to ensure he recovered faster. At that time the doctors were unclear if he could recover from this severe injury. However, Sachin did not focus on the opinion of the doctors but focused on his ‘knowing’ that he would recover. His undying courage and positive belief  turned his ‘knowing’ into reality.

Sachin constantly strived for excellence as was seen by the hours of practice and his ability to never resting on his past laurels – a leadership lesson that Sachin has effectively taught us. This unique capability is something that I constantly talk about in our sessions on effective leadership skills training

As I watched his final innings it was not his stroke-play that caught my attention (although it was as good as ever), it was a moment at the end of the first day of his 200th test match. He was not out at the end of the day and as he was returning to the pavilion, he paused and waited for his batting partner (a much more junior cricketer) and walked back with him. Although, the whole world had its eyes on him, he showed respect for his fellow cricketer – a strong character trait of Sachin Tendulkar, the sportsman. Sachin Tendulkar’s heartfelt final speech in which he paid his respects to his family, friends, supporters and well-wishers showed how much he valued the people ‘behind the scenes’ who enabled his success. His message to his teammates was about valuing the opportunity of playing for the country and respecting the game.

As he paid his respects to the cricket pitch and walked back leaving his footprints in the sands of time, his messages to the world are an age-old formula that form the essentials of leadership skills and self-leadership that we, at MMM Training Solutions , believe in – Respect your fellow-men, strive for excellence and always, always – ‘believe’.

Courage – A Leadership Essential

‘I’ve had my ups and downs,’ he says. ‘My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection.  A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics and a mindset to master the most epic of splits.’Jean-Claude Van Damme

Volvo released a commercial ‘The Epic Split’  on Nov 14th, 2013, in which Jean Claude does an amazing feat – does a split between two Volvo trucks. The commercial brings out the precision of the Volvo trucks with perfect clarity. But to me, as an Executive Coach, what was even more fascinating is the feat done by Jean Claude.

As I studied about his life, the two values that he embraced from age 11 were Consistency and Courage. At the age of 11, his father took Jean Claude for martial arts lessons because he was physically weak. At the age of 15, Van Damme started his competitive karate career in Belgium. From 1976-1980, Van Damme compiled a record of 44 victories and 4 defeats in matches.The application and dedication to the sport has contributed significantly to an enviable Hollywood film career for him.

Jean-Claude  has struggled with substance abuse and mental illness for a significant period in his life. He had reached a point when he had strong suicidal tendencies. 1997 was a turning point in his life when started to pull things back to normalcy in his life.

As I read about Jean Claude’s life, I was impressed with the way he kept his singular focus on martial arts through his difficult times. This focus gave him the ability to deal with the other circumstances.

As leaders, do you have a purpose, which gives you direction in your life? “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” Rudder is the smallest part of a ship without which a ship is directionless. It takes courage to have a purpose and even more courage to hold on to this purpose through challenging times by consistently altering our mindsets. May we have more leaders like Jean-Claude!

Thought Leadership

 

Gautama Buddha, SriSri Ravishankar, BabaRamdev, JKrishnamurti, Paramahansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Osho Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba, Srila Prabhupada of ISCKON fame – What common thread binds all of these big names – yes they are all spiritual gurus revered and followed by millions all over the world. Apart from this they have another amazing quality – their power to influence the thoughts of their followers – these are spiritual gurus whose kingdom far outreaches the geographical influence of any king or government stretching as they do from one corner of the world to the other. Their followers hail from diverse backgrounds – the common man, artists, politicians, world leaders, homemakers, children, drug addicts, the conscientious working man – the spectrum is really all encompassing.

As early as the 1920’s saw J Krishnamurti urging people to “reject authority particularly one that instructs you on thought”. The promise of freedom from thought instructing authority had thousands eating out of his hand!

These pied pipers of spirituality recognized many years ago the power of establishing the value of a thought or an idea in the minds of their followers. Vedanta, meditation, yoga, kriya, karma and dharma were tied together with the firm thread of “Thought Leadership”. Spiritual Gurus come and go, much like the flavor of the day, they remain in the minds of people for a while – what lives on is their power to influence the thoughts of their followers.

So what is “Thought Leadership”? It is the ability to sell an idea to a group of people – one does not necessarily have to have power, position or authority to display thought leadership. And the changes may not be initiated at the organizational level. The changes can be small scale at the team or group level. Thought leaders can demonstrate using a prototype or use logic and evidence to persuade people.

To be a thought leader a person must be the king of content – the stronger the content the lesser the effort to sell the idea – content, evidence and demonstrated usage will speak for itself. The credibility of their idea is the key to its acceptability. Thought Leadership is radically different from traditional top down leadership.

Let’s compare this to a journey – Traditional leaders define the destination, lay down the road map and sell tickets to reach there as well. Thought leaders on the other hand merely sell the tickets for the journey and allow people to get there on their own or with the help of facilitators, coaches and managers. They just promote a better way to get to the destination.

Thought Leadership ends when the target group accepts the idea. This is where the thought leader becomes a manager and starts to manage the implementation of the idea either on his own or with the help of other managers.

Thought Leadership requires a youthful rebellion and tremendous courage, bravery and conviction to charter new paths. Once a part of an organization’s culture Thought Leadership can add to the sustainability in the long term perspective. Folks go out there and break the mould..yet again!

Leadership – Sticking To Your Guns

Walt Disney needs no introduction. The famous founder of Mickey Mouse and co-founder of Walt Disney Productions was an influential thinker during his time. As a young boy, he developed a love and passion for drawing. The journey never stopped even after the setting up of the Walt Disney amusement park, where all his characters still enchant audience – young and old alike – even to this day.

Walt Disney was a man with high Emotional Intelligence – his strong leadership qualities were very pragmatic because of his understanding of the people around him. He believed that you should never stop dreaming, as it leads to the formation of new ideas and gives you a sense of purpose and direction. Though he suffered huge setbacks in his life, he had the courage to keep going on.

His story of struggle and success teaches us an important leadership lesson – leaders need to have the tenacity to chase a dream or goal. This is what will make a true leader stand apart. This person should be the motivating factor to urge his team on towards the finishing line. The leader should encourage others to make their dreams a reality.

“The key to happiness is having dreams. The key to success is making your dreams come true.” ~Anonymous

Leadership is About Effective Handling of Change

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

Change is an inevitable part of life. But it is not easy to either change or to deal with change. There are two important factors for effective change: First, our perception of the situation and second, our attitude to embrace rather than resist the change. In short, change should first happen inside each one of us.

Let me narrate an interesting story…

It was Pete Gray’s dream to play baseball in the Yankee Stadium one day. At the age of twelve he was an excellent right-handed pony baseball player and represented his school in the game. And then one fateful day his dreams came crashing down…….

While doing chores on the family’s Pennsylvania farm, Pete slipped and fell off his father’s pickup truck. This completely crushed his right arm without which it was virtually impossible to play baseball. Anyone else would have given up their dreams but not young Pete!

The Adidas ad says, “Impossible is Nothing” – a slogan that Pete entirely embraced. He taught himself to bat, bowl and field with his left hand. His speed, strong throwing arm, and excellent athletic ability allowed Pete to perform this miracle quickly enough to be a solid, dependable outfielder.

Against all odds, by the 1944 season, the one-armed outfielder had a batting score of 333, stole 63 bases, and won the League’s Most Valuable Player award. Baseball fans were astounded!!!

One year later, in 1945, the one-armed outfielder, Pete, achieved his boyhood dream when his team, the Browns, played against the Yankees. The Browns defeated the Yankees, and Pete played a major role in his team’s victory.

As Robert E. Quinn rightly said, “One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”

Perhaps that is why Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see.”

The Leader Who Bought the Ferrari He Wanted

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.
Warren G. Bennis

Am I a leader? Am I a good leader? Am I an excellent leader? This question should be asked many times everyday by a person who is in a position of influence as leaders are not born but they are made. It is a conscious choice and an intentional journey.

Everyday we are confronted with decisions like – “I am so tired and I would like to sleep for an extra 10 minutes.” But this would mean that you will be late for the meeting that you had scheduled with your team.

Your internal dialogue continues…… “The team knows that I was with the client till midnight so they will understand. However, this is not something I will or should tolerate from anyone else. So I better get up now and leave for work at the earliest.” This is an example of making an intentional decision; an example of being proactive rather than reactive.

This situation sounds simple but has long lasting implications. An excellent leader is predictable, reliable and consistent. These simple, everyday decisions made with the intention of performing the action that is for the highest good of all are what makes an excellent leader.

It is the constant soul searching and scrutiny of your actions that will put you on a path of continuous improvement. So, in my opinion, what makes an excellent leader different from a leader or a good leader is his/her ability to take three actions: One examining your actions, the second is increasing the difficulty of the yardstick you are comparing your actions to and the third is taking immediate corrective action.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
William A. Ward

Integrity – The Stronghold of Successful Living

As a Soft Skills Trainer and Executive Coach, I believe that training would be starkly incomplete without touching upon the importance of Integrity in one’s life. It is the foremost value essential to success in all that we undertake. The essence of integrity is beautifully summed up in the quote by Don Galer, “Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do.” All of us at some point in life would have come across individuals with unswerving integrity, from whom we feel inspired to act according to the code of ethics and conduct. Peter Scotese once said, and I quote, “Integrity is not a 90% thing, not a 95% thing; either you have it or you don’t.” It is better to be known doing right, rather than be known for having done something wrong. Always remember that you judge and rate yourselves by what you are capable of doing and achieving; but the world judges you by what you have already done. So it is a lot better to live an honest life with integrity. For starters, it would be useful to follow a thumb rule: the test of real character lies in what you would do if you would never be found out. Success comes more easily to the person who treads upon the path of righteousness and goodness. It gives a sense of peace and spreads good-will all around. It needs to be inculcated very consciously into one’s life. Whenever you are at crossroads and in doubt about how to proceed in a particular situation, think about the following 3 questions: 1. What do you say? 2. What do you do? 3. What do you say you do? If the answer to these 3 questions are all the same, then you are one giant step closer to the success you are aspiring to achieve.

Success Is Failure Turned Inside Out

Winston Churchill was to have quoted,

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”

This attitude is an important characteristic to possess if we aim at success in all that we do.

At the workplace it may sometimes seem impossible to keep your chin up through all the stress, pressure and the effort to balance life and work. It is an accepted fact that on some days at work, you may not be able to be as productive as you would like to be. The causes can be many. But the point here is that you should not be put off by failure. When the clouds of doubt cloud your vision, do not succumb to it. Instead keep endeavouring.

Always learn to derive enjoyment while on your path towards success, since it is equally important to make the journey an enriching one. After all, life is a culmination of experiences from which we teach the next generation on how they may live their life in a balanced manner.

Always be motivated to think and act positively. After a while you will find that being positive and motivated comes naturally. During our Soft Skills Training sessions in Motivational Training, participants learn to deal with setbacks and strive forward with a positive mental attitude.

This then is the very essence of success – the more we keep persisting despite setbacks and failures, the more chances we have at succeeding. Remember what Thomas Alva Edison said,

“I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work”

Are Leaders Born Or Made?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Leadership is an inherent ability that empowers the individual to lead and inspire others. The question that has been surrounding leadership is – are leaders born or made?

My firm belief is that there lies an inherent trait within every individual – a latent fire which when fanned, has the capacity to burn bright. It is definitely at the hour of need that a leader emerges. History is bountiful with stories of great individuals who have rose despite their circumstances and made sweeping changes. We now remember them with pride and reverence. M.K. Gandhi, APJ Abdul Kalam, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa are a few of my favourites, but there are many more who have stood firm and led others through the right path to achieve what they believed in. It is through these exemplary individuals that we reconfirm the fact that the impossible can be made possible. It is a re-emphasis to the fact that anything can be achieved with a willing mind.

The best thing for all who are wondering how to emulate these people are concerned is through practicing leadership qualities in all that we do. In the Leadership Training conducted by MMM Training Solutions, we focus on one of the first steps towards achieving this – teaching participants to take accountability of theiractions. This is one amongst a number of leadership traits that maketh a great leader.

If there is a threat to survival, our basic instinct directs us to save ourselves. And we do this by any means possible. The same sense of urgency must be present in all that we do – we must endeavour to give our best efforts into what requires our attention. Ofcourse, they would be days when you feel tired. Take rest if you must, but return with increased vigor and focused determination to work on your task.

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”

Recall instances in your life where you have led – either by example or by effort. These may be smaller or larger instances. These instances may have created a tiny ripple, or they may have brought about a sea tide of change. Whatever be the case, relive the instance in your mind. Recall how you reacted in the situation. You may be surprised at the manner in which you chose to act in that instance. Savour the moment, and resolve to live with the same ideals hereafter.

Whether leaders are born or made, the quality needs to be nurtured in order for it to reach maximum potential.