I would like to begin my blog by quoting Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Leadership is about empowering others and power expands the moment you share it.
Leadership in itself entrusts and talks about responsibilities. It's not responsibility someone else gave to you... it's a responsibility you chose to give yourself. The ability to influence is a wonderful tool that can be strengthened and refined but one should realize that the power lies in what degrees it matches the situation. When we understand where our power comes from, we can learn to use it more effectively and in the most appropriate way... thereby improving the breadth and scope of our influence.
Personally, I believe that effective leaders should read and be aware of currents trends and thoughts but one's actions should be personally unique. In other words, an effective leader synthesizes new information and chooses the path that best pairs with an individual's management style and organizational business needs. The whole idea of “Leadership” took on a new meaning since I attended the Asia 21 Young Leadership Summit in New Delhi two weeks back. The summit had in its proud attendance young leaders from the Asia-Pacific region who were making an impact in various industries. I also had the fortuitous opportunity to be selected for and attend Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in California that incorporated a visit to the White House for a panel discussion. The Summit was designed for emerging women leaders from all over the world to be mentored and participate in sessions on leadership. I also attended the India Today Leadership Conclave in March this year that revolved around leadership practices in the corporate space.
Sometime back, I read an article by Gautam Thapar in The Hindustan Times about coping with global uncertainties and what skill sets do Indian business leaders need to succeed. I could not help agree with the premise that there are very few bad businesses... it is always about just poor leadership and management. It was reminiscent of all my learnings this year and I am going to try to put forth what some of us defined at the Asia Society Summit.
The Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit is the pre-eminent gathering of Asia's most dynamic young leaders from every sector and every country in the Asia-Pacific region. The Summit brings together a core group of over 150 Asia 21 Young Leaders Fellows and delegates from Asia and the U.S that represent a wide range of fields and all under the age of 40. The Summit aims to prepare tomorrow's leaders for the challenges and responsibilities of global citizenship by bringing together delegates from across the region to generate creative, cross-sector approaches to leadership and problem solving; to build networks of trust across geographic boundaries; and to educate each other in the highest ideals of values-based leadership.
At the three-day invitation-only Summit, young leaders discussed best practices in leadership, dichotomies in the world that we live in, and what the coming generations should do to create new opportunities for partnerships, sustainability and cooperation. Leadership is about empowering others and power expands the moment you share it. These thoughts were of some of the fellow delegates at the summit that included Faraz Khan from Seed Ventures Pakistan, BJP general secretary Vani Tripathi and few others. Faraz Khan says "Leadership is when you lead beyond authority to make a cause successful and your team benefits more if not equal. Leadership is managing creativity with strengths". Learning from failures and the ability to stand up is also leadership. Shared traits on leadership: Is it lonely on the top for a leader. Leadership is about honesty and integrity. It is the power of imagination. Leadership is about vision and leading a change. It is about personal branding. It is energizing. It is about having antennas that can detect opportunities. These are some of the thoughts of people at my table.
The notion here is not to define Leadership but rather focus on the message that the youth of our country can derive from this and employ to create a social change which is the need of the hour. Gautam Thapar’s article clearly states that Economic Leadership determines Thought Leadership and it becomes imperative to examine how prepared Indian businesses are. According to him, one needs to identify the skill sets that leaders need to succeed. First, one should be prepared for discontinuous change. Second, one should focus on deliverables instead of micro managing. Third, we should leverage our advantage of having been brought up in the homeland of frugal manufacture. Fourth, we should hone the pioneer instinct that is the confidence to handle situations with no precedent. Add to this our ability to combine multiple knowledge bases and cultural experiences. Finally, we must learn humility because unless you are prepared to learn from every person and every experience as well as from every failure you cannot succeed! I realized the importance of ‘humility’ when I met Warren Buffet in California in October 2011. I can cite more examples like when I met LK Advani during the opening of National school of Drama in Madhya Pradesh or Smt Sheila Dikshit hosting the Asia Society dinner at her residence last week. Or Designer Roberto Cavalli during Milan Fashion Week, Indra Nooyi, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Susan Chambers Walmart, Pattie Sellers, Molly Ashby, Sherrie Rollins Westin... the list is endless.
I have just attended the HT leadership Summit that had both national and international speakers but Dr. Steven Levitt and William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, University of Chicago who spoke on Unconventional Thinking for an Unpredictable World was impressive. I am of the opinion that the introduction of an efficient leader into the management team is one of the best investments in an organization. Leaders are the individuals who visualize plans... plan the course of action and inspire the subordinates.
For me it simply means 'Pay it forward'.