Critically evaluate each practice mentioned here and choose those that resonate with you. Then start practicing them till they become habits.
Before you adopt these practices, especially for appearing ‘warm,’ pose an introspective question to yourself: what is your intention behind adopting these practices? Is it to manipulate people to serve your selfish interests, or is it to serve them?
If it is to manipulate them, then sooner or later, your selfish motive will be uncovered, and the backlash will be severe. You will lose your credibility. Once it is lost, it isn’t easy to earn it back.
Have I Become an ‘Admired’ Leader?
Let us pose a question that may be niggling you: how will you know you have transformed into an admired leader? Request your employees to score you on two questions:
Do you feel good in my presence?
When you face a problem do you feel confident about confiding in me?
If the answer to both these questions is yes, you can certify yourself as an ‘admired leader’.
During his childhood, Nelson Mandela was greatly influenced by Jongintaba, the tribal king who brought him up. In his court, people sat around in a circle and spoke. Only after all had spoken, the king would speak. The message that young Nelson took from observing this ritual was that a leader’s job is not to dictate people and tell them what they should do but to collaborate with them to form a consensus.
Years later, when Mandela had meetings in his home, people would huddle around his dining table or sometimes in his driveway in a circle. Some of his more aggressive colleagues would prompt him to speed things up, but Mandela would merely listen. Finally, when he spoke, he first summarized everyone’s ideas and then shared his own—-in a manner that people did not feel imposed upon them.
‘It is wise,’ he said, ‘to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.’ In short, the trick of leadership is allowing yourself to be led too. This idea, he had imbibed when as a child he would herd cattle. ‘You know,’ he would say, ‘you can lead them from behind.’
The same will be true for you too. As an admired leader, allow yourself to be led because the best leaders lead from behind. But your responsibility does not end here. You have to make sure that your legacy endures. For that, you have to adopt a trusteeship mindset, as enunciated by Lee Kuan Yew, popularly referred to by his initials LKY, the first prime minister of Singapore and who transformed it into a flourishing First-World country: leaders must have the sense of trusteeship, that they are only temporarily in charge of the destiny of their people and that their duty is not only to discharge this trust but also to pass it on to equally trustworthy and competent hands.
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