There are many successful leaders today and the way outside world looks at success is defined in terms of level or position in the organisation, power they wield and money that the leader earns. But how many of them actually lead? Agreed, that they might have grown faster than others, might have got the organisation more business or have great execution skills. But in the end are they just glorified managers who are at very high level in the organisation or are they those who people follow voluntarily and are inspired to achieve much more than they can.
When you look at Gandhiji, you will see a leader who has inspired and led people to achieve greatness. Going against the British Raj along with some followers who have been forced to do it or were given a carrot or stick to do it, he might have got a city freed or maybe even a State. But to really free India, he needed more. He needed people to be inspired and feel that this is their freedom and not for somebody else. That it was people’s choice to follow him and not him asking them to.
In today’s corporate environment, you will find lots of leaders who have risen to the top of these corporates. These are leaders who have put in their efforts, they have capabilities and they are successful in what they do. But they also make others follow them either by using carrots/sticks like promotion, salary hikes or other means. These leaders are successful but will never achieve greatness. Because for their followers to run, these leaders need to keep running themselves since it is their capabilities which are keeping the ship afloat. The followers are never allowed or need to use theirs and hence will never get better at it.
To these leaders, I just want to say: Stop Running…and Start Leading!!! Empower your followers – let them find their own solutions, let them take decisions; As Max De Pree says in his book “Leadership is an art!!” – a true leader respects his followers, walks the talk, creates a participative environment and builds trust.
To the followers there is only one thing: you have a choice to follow or not!! you always have a choice.
About the author: Rajat is a leadership coach and works with leaders in realising their potential. He runs a boutique coaching firm Coach-To-Transformation. He is an IIT and INSEAD alum and was leading IT Strategy for Accenture, India in his last avatar.