Lessons to lead better

Being a leader is seen as a challenging position. With the opportunity to lead, there is also the responsibility to connect, build and resolve. There is a story about Nelson Mandela and the lessons he learnt from his father. You may have heard, read same before also. Mr. Mandela’s father was a tribal chief. During the childhood days, Mr. Mandela used to accompany his father to the meetings held in the tribes. His father being the chief was the supervisor of such gatherings. There were few things that were followed in the meeting proceedings

  • Everyone sat in a circle, including the tribal chief.
  • Mr. Mandela’s father was the last one to speak, when everyone in the circle has spoken.
  • The only intervention used by the chief during someone else’s speech was to clarify his understanding.

The basic rules of the gathering tell much for us to comprehend on our way to take up the leading baton.

Sitting in circle brings everyone at same level, signaling that every voice, every opinion holds same value. There is no hierarchy when it comes to idea sharing. Each idea is equally considerable and valuable. There is no flow of directions from one side to other. It is more of cohesive and constructive energy flow.

Usually, we see that the leading chair in the meeting starts speaking. This sets the tone of meeting. People either take the side or make up their mind to oppose the idea. In such cases the leader speaks from a pre-decided mindset. He loses the chance to get any new insight from the gathering of the meeting. Listening to other’s opinion before saying yours adds advantages. You get to know everyone else’s position. When there is no preceding done from the chair, people give their own genuine ideas, thoughts rather than trying to adjust to the chair’s opinion. The leader can adjust the rhetoric and tone of his opinions depending on the mood of the gathering.

It is advisable to ask questions to understand a person’s point clearly, rather than assuming what he means. Repeat your understanding to ensure that there is no gap in perceiving the thoughts of other person. Human mind is a meaning making machine. Same words can be read differently by different minds. So, it is good to ensure that all minds are on same understanding before arguing for good or bad.

Though all three points are nothing new, they are heard, said or taught at many places. However, they are tough to grasp.

  • Keeping yourself equal to everyone requires you to set the ego/sense of power aside. The zeal of being seen as powerful needs to be replaced by humility. We all struggle and strive to reach the position and hence it is challenging to leave the chair, even for a meeting and symbolically.
  • Listening to each person before speaking requires lot of patience. It is tough, no very tough to keep quiet when your mind starts coming up with ideas and counterpoints to the speaker. The urge to prove the said opinion wrong is tough to control.
  • We fear asking questions. More so if we are seen as the leader. What if everyone else understood the point and I am the only one to ask.  At times we may end us trusting our judgement more than clarifying. We assume we understood the point.

Great things need greater efforts. Reaching the top is seen as easier than carrying out the responsibilities of top position. May be the actual training starts when you are there at the top.

It is a continuous process till you master the skill gradually. Keep introspecting and keep imbibing till you slip lesser and lesser.

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