Personal Development Mentor, Parenting Coach, Career Counselor, Ethical Guide

Leadership Traits

Leadership Traits

This is much Spoken and written about subject. The 14 leadership traits are well known and well accepted. Here I will attempt to give these oft repeated words my own interpretation which will help you understand the contours of the desired conduct of a good leader. The art is basically to get the best out of a group of men/ resources in a given set of circumstances and get the led to do something you want done happily!

Leaders have, by virtue of their position and the weight of authority, the responsibility to reward good performance, identify and promote talent as also hold back benefits or punish the errant. In order to be able to motivate your team you should not disappoint some deserving candidate in favour of your blue eyed boy. Similarly personal grudge/ irritation has no place in equal dealing of all your subordinates. You must be just!

A leader is required to lead the team and in the journey towards the goal of proficiency, profits and success of a given venture many a forks appear. The leader has to make up his mind to follow a particular path on which future will depend. Correct reading of situation, in depth knowledge, keen perception and an uncluttered mind helps to make correct decision.

One is answerable to the hierarchy to deliver on the responsibility placed on your shoulders. On the other side your subordinates will have faith on your displayed sense of dependability—- all the promises you keep and certainty of your behaviour, true to what say or are supposed to do for overall good.

YOU HAVE TO have own initiative which comes from having the courage to make a move without prior approval based on the requirements of the moment. It also means identifying a new direction and venture and bid for it by forceful projection. It is very important to have a broader perspective or context clear and also have careful consideration of the pros and cons. The self belief that you are doing good for the organisation and the guts to face failure will help you act on your instincts which you must trust.

THE NEXT TRAIT which is most important is focus to be decisive in a moment of crisis. Your followers will be more confident of your leadership and will put their shoulder to the wheel wholeheartedly provided you are clear, firm and decisive. This trait is a byproduct of your knowledge, self-confidence and ability to stand by your convictions in face of criticism.

TACT IS LIKE a lubricant which helps you glide through life smoothly. It should be clear that tact does not mean outright lies! There are numerous conflict situations—between human beings, between different branches of an organisation, and between a commercial entity and the regulators. One has to deal with differing opinions, which tend to be very hardened and obdurate, with a fair sense of tact and patience. Conflict resolution is an art of give and take when normal interests are involved. But when the morality, legality or a sense of justice tips the scales you may have to take a hard stand to the detriment of one party. How you convey it matters a lot!

THIS IS ONE trait which is drawn upon both by your superiors and subordinates alike. You must be of unquestionable integrity and not succumb to temptation of personal benefit or advantage at the cost of your organisation or fellow travellers. Cheating the govt by underpaying taxes or fraudulently benefitting your relatives or indirect benefactors may be lucrative in the short run or may even continue undetected for a long time but it will surely catch up with you sooner or later. Easier to maintain highest levels of integrity than to live in fear of being discovered of fraud, dishonesty or a crime. Ask Chanda Kochhar!!!

AS THEY SAY you must be fit enough to stay the course! The endurance here means both physical and mental. You will have to lead by example and generate an awe inspiring confidence in the minds of your subordinates in your capability to endure hardships along the way and overcome all hurdles to ensure success. You should be able to work long hours without fatigue or frequently falling sick. You should be psychological tough to stay committed to the chosen option/ path and also mentally tough to deal effectively with deceit, disappointment, defeat etc and rise again.

THIS IS PHYSICAL effect which helps you to establish authority easily. You must not be ostentatious or outrightly flamboyant but style has its charm. This aspect could be extended to how you conduct your affairs including your mannerism and dealing with others. A certain level of panache is called for to showcase the masterclass, intellectual prowess and a personality of character commanding respect.

TO GAIN LONGTERM respect in the eyes of your subordinates and implicit trust of your superiors, one must be totally dedicated to the organisation he is working for and look after the people’s interests foremost. This attitude invariably leads you into unselfishness. Here it is not to say that that you don’t look after your own interests but don’t play with the trust posed in you. Actually in plain words the leader should be prepared to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of the led and not the other way around!

PHYSICAL COURAGE IS required in specific jobs/ certain situations and is a must to have and to display to motivate your subordinates. More important part actually is the moral courage which is to standby your convictions in the face of any threat, danger, ridicule or pecuniary loss. You may hide your lack of it from others but ultimately you have to face yourself in the mirror!

THIS IS ONE thing where there should be no compromise at all. The awe inspiring superiority of a leader’s knowledge is a sure shot assurance of the loyalty of the subordinates provided you don’t lack in other inter personal traits. You should always strive to know more than your subordinates and must be aware of their job content as also the intent and responsibilities of your superiors. The first part will help you task and pace your team accurately and the second part will guide you to take correct decision at conflict points. As they say in the Army — One Up and Two Down !!!

THIS TRAIT IS very infectious and keep the team rejuvenated the whole time. Eagerness to do new things, follow up on the progress of ongoing works and inventing new schemes for attaining one goal after the other is very motivating and keeps everyone busy fruitfully. The sense of tremendous achievement which you get afterwards is very satisfying and long lasting.

LOYALTY IS TALKED about in three planes— to your superiors, to your peers and to your subordinates. Heart of the matter is loyalty to the organisation you work for till it is not in conflict with laws of the land. Ultimate loyalty is to the country and its laws —- most of us don’t face this dilemma hence the first part suffices.

LEADERSHIP IS A STEEL frame of beliefs and displayed structure on which whole organisations are built. This does not mean only the top man but respectively all leaders at various levels below him.

THE REPUTATION AND the value that it commands is built over a long time of toil, application of mind and overcoming lot of personal obstacles. For a leader this should be more precious than the pay cheque. It should be cherished, cultivated and nourished in your soul.

IT IS VERY difficult to achieve but can be lost in a moment of indiscretion — Ask Rajat Pandit!
FINALLY I AM reminded of saying of a Chinese philosopher that if you love your soldiers like your own sons they will follow you anywhere! SO SIMPLE YET SO DIFFICULT TO PRACTICE — BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE!!!

Author : Maj Gen Balraj Mehta