Captivating Traits of Great Leaders

Captivating Traits of Great LeadersWhat is Leadership? There seems to be something about great leadership that appeals to us, inspires us and draws us in. Sometimes it is charisma but more often it is something that is not superficial but intangible and yet so externally apparent. Across the centuries, the world has seen the rise and fall of leaders. Even notorious leaders like Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin had leadership qualities that they chose to abuse and use to their advantage instead of for the good of their people. This of course doesn’t make the leadership qualities in them intrinsically evil. They were used toward an evil purpose. Leadership traits like ‘courage’ and ‘determination’ are neutral because they can be exercised for morally good pursuits but also be abused in the pursuit of morally wrong endeavors. Traits like ‘truthfulness’ and ‘honesty’ are intrinsically good attributes that many leaders do possess.

In general most leadership skills, provided they are exercised within a legitimately good framework, bear good results. Leaders intuitively understand the responsibility they bear on their shoulders and feel a sense of duty toward those they are obligated to lead or serve. It may seem like an oxymoron to use the word ‘serve’ in the context of leadership but businesses today are beginning to understand the indomitable value of those leaders who make it their primary concern to serve those who follow them. This is leadership by example.

The most obvious avenue for leaders to shine is in relational areas. This would seem rather obvious to some but it can easily be overlooked in an age when social barriers are erected through media and technology in the name of getting connected. Leaders show people vision, trust, responsibility, honesty and conviction by their mere actions and words. That it must be genuine would be a no-brainer I would suppose. And yet in the most intuitive way, people sense these leadership skills and are captivated by them. Companies today understand the power of these incredible traits and constantly try to incorporate them into their Leadership Training Programs

The Difference between Leadership Training and Leadership Development

I read an article recently that said, according to the ASTD (American Society for Training & Development), the US spends over $170 billion dollars on leadership curriculums, specifically focusing on Leadership Training. However, the article went on to say, that the investment never really pays off in the real sense of actually creating leaders. These ‘leaders-to-be’ start off with great gusto and grandiose ambitions but quickly burn out when the going gets tough. I couldn’t help but smile sympathetically, not at the financial payoff (or lack thereof) of the program but the sheer misunderstanding of a fundamental concept – leaders are not trained, they are developed.

The first question that tends to come up now is if this is really a matter of semantics. Are we just playing word games? Are we just being equivocal about the way we use terms? The honest truth in response to the above-mentioned questions is “NO”. There are foundational differences between Leadership Training and Leadership Development. And it is these differences that we’re going to focus on in this blog:

  • Training is objective while Development is subjective

Training generally tends to adhere to a preconceived set of ideas, rules and systems that were created based on past experiences and administered within controlled environments. Development on the other hand is custom-made for the individual based on his or her individual traits in preparation for future and possibly unforeseeable circumstances.

  • Training is ‘system oriented’ while Development is ‘people oriented’

Training tends to focus on methodology, system and manuals. It generally adheres to fixed standards and operates within a rigid framework of repetitive efficiency. Development on the other hand focuses on the people involved and works with the aspects of individual character and personality to develop maximum potential.

  • Training aims to ‘indoctrinate’ while Development looks to ‘educate’

Training generally looks to the immediate application of specific methodologies. It is transactional in nature and focuses on maintaining a certain performance trajectory. Development however focuses more on the future adaptation of the individual being developed and looks to educating the employee for maximum efficiency through potential.

Modern Leadership Training Programs however have discovered the subtleties between training and development and try to bridge the gap with a more comprehensive approach to grooming an employee with leadership potential.

Leadership Is All About Handling Adversities

Life is full of problems but what really matters is how we react to those problems. We have various options – to become hard and miserable or react positively to the various situations that life throws at us. Then, “What is leadership?” Leadership is all about handling life’s difficulties with courage and forbearance. Business leadership is being able to handle organisational problems with the right attitude.

“Giving people self confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do because then they will act.” – Jack Welch

Recently I read a thought-provoking story about a young woman who learnt a revolutionary lesson from a simple demonstration from her father. She was once complaining to her father that her life was full of problems and that she did not know how to handle them. Her father, who was a chef, listened to her patiently. He did not say a word to her but took her to the kitchen. There he took out some eggs, some potatoes and some coffee beans. He immersed them in separate bowls of boiling water. After a short while he asked her to touch all the three ingredients and share her observations. She noticed that the potatoes had become really soft, the eggs had become hard and the coffee had a rich aroma to it!

The potato, eggs and coffee beans had all faced the same problem– that of the boiling water. However, each one responded to the adversity differently. The potato went in hard but came out soft and weak, the egg was frail when it went in and emerged from the water harder than before. However, the ground coffee beans were different! After they were exposed to the boiling water, they created something positive about the experience – fresh, delicious coffee!

“Which one are you?”, asked the chef. ”Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

A leader should be like a coffee seed. When he faces problems he should see this as an opportunity to transform.

In life problems are only 10%, 90% is about how you handle these problems. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, one should be able to develop leadership skills that enable one to adapt to uncertainties. Leadership qualities that help one to make predictable the unpredictable are critical in the 21st century.

Leadership training programs that help to develop the blind area and the unknown areas of the Johari Window are the programs that one should attend. It enables one to develop the untapped potential that helps to traverse unchartered territory.

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

The Paradigm of Indian Leadership

The land of colors, exotic silk sarees, wild tigers, incense sticks, curry spices, magnificent temples and bustling traffic. There is no other place on earth like it – India. This country has produced some of the world’s greatest talents in leading fields – sports, politics, business, etc. For all the wealth of intellect and leadership available in this nation of over a billion people, one would think that leadership training programs were just a formality in it’s corporate landscape. But surprisingly this is not the case.

The Paradigm of Indian Leadership

A recent poll showed that the gap between the skilled/expertise group and upcoming qualified graduates from every field was increasing dramatically. The next generation, despite passing from their respective fields in flying colors and as state toppers, were ill-equipped to step into the daunting world of leadership in India. Numerous culprits are to blame for this – the educational system, which mostly does not encourage independent thinking, the socio-economic status that tends to pre-determine one’s success potential and the lack of attention to emotional intelligence that one is raised with from early on in their homes. These circumstances tend to cripple otherwise talented individuals with potential from possibly thriving in the arena of executive leadership.


Corporations today have tapped into this glaring deficiency and have taken the initiative to start up leadership programs that focus on reversing the very circumstantial factors that limit these individuals. The Indian talent pool is brimming with confidence and screaming to be tapped into. These programs focus on training candidates to think on their feet and out of the box, to take risks by being bold and encouraging them to break out of the introverted and passive trappings of culture. Our Emotional Intelligence training and soft skills training is done with the     intent purpose of producing the next wave of leaders that this incredible country so desperately needs.


Below are some related blogs on Leadership:


What To Look For In Future Leaders

Leadership never operates in a vacuum. There are always leaders and then there are always leaders in the making. Companies operate and rely heavily on the wisdom, experience and tenacity that leaders bring to the table. And it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that this trend must continue for the greater good of the company and all its employees. But spotting a candidate that is ‘leadership material’ and than investing and grooming him or her for such a role is easier said than done. This is primarily what Leadership Training are for – to train and equip managers in their respective departments with the right tools to help identify, assess and groom candidates that have the potential to be leaders in order to fill the void that their predecessors will someday leave. So what does this process look like? Here are three key questions that managers must ask themselves before they begin:

What To Look For In Future Leaders

• Does the candidate have the essential competencies to be a leader? In other words, does he have what it takes? It is important that this potential candidate have not only the qualifications or knowledge but also the fundamental understanding of key concepts, facts and dynamics as they exist within the business.

• Does the candidate have the commitment to be a leader? While it may be true that they have great ambition or desire to be a leader, are they prepared to put in the hard work, perseverance and durability to not only survive through tough times but in fact thrive in it? Leaders need to have the ability to ‘weather the storm’ when the going gets tough. This is a foundational aspect of leadership skills training.

• Lastly does the candidate have the character to not only be a good leader but even a better leader? Do they have the principles and values necessary to help them lead their team or company with honesty and integrity? And will this character stay consistent during times of stress or challenge? Character is ultimately the foundation upon which the leader must stand. This is crucial to organizational leadership.

Leadership Programs are constantly in the process of fine-tuning individuals with the skills necessary to identify and develop talent. For more info on how this is done, please refer to the following article:What It Takes To Be A Successful Business Leader

Leadership – Asking the Tough Questions

Leadership – Asking the tough questions

Being a leadership coach I often have the privilege to be in the presence of future leaders. There is one question that I ask in every session, “Who is the leader that you emulate?” I get answers like, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and disappointingly………… Hitler. It happens session after session.


Regardless of how consistently it happens, it still saddens me to think that mankind can see something remarkable in a human like Hitler. It takes me a while to re-center myself but after I do, I ask a simple question, “Are you aware of how Hitler died?” There is a pregnant silence after which they say, “Suicide.”


Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon


After this awareness is created, the participants always reconsider their stance that Hitler is a leader to be emulated. I heave a sigh of relief; there is hope for mankind ………..


Being a leader is about asking the tough questions – it is not about providing the answers but it is about the asking the questions that stimulate thinking. It is about knowing that your opinions go through continuous change as you enhance your awareness and learning through your journey in life.


A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there. – David R. Gergen


Leadership Traits of The Legendary Leader William Wallace

Leadership is one of the most admirable traits in the long history of mankind. Almost every nation and era has seen the rise (and sometimes fall) of great leaders; men and women who changed history for the better, who made a dent in the universe, who irreversibly had a lasting impact on all mankind. In the great nation of Scotland, lived the 11th century legend of William Wallace, who though being an ordinary landowner at one time went on to become one of the leading persons in the revolutionary Wars of Scotland. Wallace’s remarkable tenure in the War was portrayed magnificently by Mel Gibson in the 1995 Academy Award winning movie, ‘Braveheart’. Although a historical depiction, the movie is full of enduring illustrations in leadership skills. For our purposes however, we will look at one of my most favourite scenes that exemplifies this.

Before an intimidating array of English forces, stand the Scottish army, weary, low-spirited and reluctant to fight the English for fear of loss and death. Wallace rides from atop the hill, blue war paint streaked across his face, with his eye on the English forces on the horizon. He faces the battered Scots and begins talking to them. Several features of his leadership skills emerge from this breathtaking dialogue which leadership can incorporate even today:

“If this is your army, why do you go?”

Wallace asks the forces what their purpose is amidst their identity as an army. This is a crucial first step in helping people see the bigger picture – who are they? What are they here for? What drives them? Before focusing on the objective at hand, he gets to the heart of their personhood. Leaders must first learn to get to the hearts of the people they lead.

“I see my countrymen as an army…here in defiance against tyranny”

To the bickering and skepticism of the Scots, Wallace reminds them of the significance of why they are really here. People, including employees within a company, can easily be intimidated or skeptical of the task ahead of them. It is then when leaders must remind them to stand strong, face down the challenges that stare them in the face and stand for something bigger than their fears. It is when the odds are against them that true leaders find the strength within themselves to lift everyone else up.

“They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Wallace reminds the Scots of what is on the line here – not their comforts, happiness or even their lives but their legacy, their destiny, their freedom. Leaders must always be ready to remind their followers of those things that are bigger than them or their challenges. There is more at stake than just a job, a paycheque or profits. There is integrity, effort and excellence. And when the day is long gone and the problems are far behind, one can rest in the fact that they gave it their all, for the greater good.

Leadership Training Program focus on developing such intangible qualities that help their managers and leaders, not only achieve their goals and targets, but strive to empower everyone around them to reach greater heights as well. Here is an article on 10 qualities of superior leaders: 10 Qualities of Superior Leaders   

For more information on Leadership Training Programs refer to this article : Is Intuition an Important Leadership Trait?



What It Takes To Be A Successful Business Leader?

What It Takes To Be A Successful Business Leader?
I have always enjoyed watching epic war movies. Whether they were movies based on ancient history like ‘The Legend of Troy’ or more recent ones like ‘Saving Private Ryan’, I’ve always thought it captivating how the commanding general made decisions of great consequence under the intense pressure of a grueling war. To me, it seemed occasionally, that these men who were at the front lines of a raging war, with lives being lost all around them, were the epitome of the quintessential leader. I’ve often pondered over how I myself might function in a situation like that. Would I take the risks that leader took? Would I put my men in harm’s way for the greater good? How far would I go and at what cost, to accomplish the ultimate objective at hand? The questions are many and I can only speculate. But I speculate in awe of such leadership skills.

The stresses and strains of our modern urban life however carry a different sort of burden. Leaders are still needed today. Most of us still make decisions that cost incredible amounts of time, energy and people. And in our current corporate culture, those are invaluable assets that need to be utilized efficiently. Regardless of the nature of leadership required, there are certain leadership skills that leaders tend to have, that set them apart from the regular folk. Lets look at a few of these:

  • True leaders are trailblazers. They seldom take the conventional safe route and often prefer the road-less traveled. They make their own path, one that ordinary people have stayed away from. Risk taking is an important leadership trait because beneath the surface it reveals many other things about the leader – courage and unconventionality.
  • Leaders are not pressurized by negativity or criticism. Often even in a modern corporate environment, there are always skeptics and pessimists who will often tend to see the glass as half empty. The negative and discouraging words that they spew can be disillusioning. Other times, situations can just look plain bleak and difficult. But leaders are not moved by such odds. Instead a driven leader will often perceive an obstacle as fuel to drive him or her further to overcome the hurdle.
  • Leaders lead by example. They understand intuitively that the ‘buck stops with them’ and if they don’t take responsibility and step in, no one will. Leaders will put their own necks on the line in an effort to inspire others. When leaders are willing to be on the front lines, his or her team line up supportively.

Companies today understand the importance of Leadership Training Program and developing good quality leadership in every rank and department of their company. They understand the significance of people needing a model or a standard to look up to. And understandably they’re willing to invest in the making of such leaders: How top companies breed stars?

For more information on Leadership Training Programs,  refer to this article: Leadership Training and Development – What is it about?

Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

Simple Solutions to Complex ProblemsThere’s a story I heard, it may be apocryphal, but even if it is, it serves my purpose in introducing my thought.

A huge U.S corporate giant built a new high rise headquarters. A month or so after the headquarters was fully occupied, the employees began to complain about the slowness of the elevators. Soon, the complaints were so rife that the management spoke to the architects of the building for a solution. The architects were asked if the elevators can be made to move faster or the size of elevators be increased. The architects were quick to respond saying it is possible to increase the size of elevators but it would involve months of work demolishing, extending and reconstructing around the elevators shafts. The noise and commotion surrounding such a task would be highly disruptive to all the employees.

The story goes on to say that the corporation did nothing to the elevator shafts. Instead, full length mirrors on every floor were placed beside the elevator doors and on the inside-walls of the elevators. The employees spent an extra few moments grooming themselves and looking at one another in the mirrors and the complaints faded.

My point is, almost every problem (not all) has a simple solution to it.  I concede that there are a few things that are not simple. For example rescuing people in a building that is engulfed in fire. It involves a lot of coordination, resources, courage and competency of a big team of rescue-workers. But fire-fighting is not a daily affair, or is it? Our day-to-day problems that we face at work or at home are, in reality, simple. Many a time we look for complex solutions when simple ones would be easy to find, easy to implement and appropriate to the problem. Here are few things I suggest that should help you in becoming better problem solvers.

  • The problem should be described in not more than 25 to 30 words
  • Ask simple questions – who, why, what, where, when, how
  • Expect simple answers
  • The solutions should be described in not more than 25 to 30 words and in 30 seconds or less.
  • If your solution is way too complex, please ask yourself if there is a simpler way.
  • Check if you made any unnecessary assumptions about the problem and allow lateral thinking to give you simple answers


Most problems can be solved if we use simple logical thinking. Our mind has the ability to search for simple answers to seemingly complex problems. Instead of getting lost in the details and complexity of the issue, let us stay focused on the most important part – the solution.

“You don’t drown by falling in water; you drown by staying in there” – Edwin Louis Cole