This is a question that I am frequently asked by the students of the two business schools where I am a visiting faculty. Knowing about my decades of corporate experience, they assume that I carry nuggets of experience based wisdom that can grow leadership. I do not have the heart to tell them that my so called “experience wisdom” seldom if at all played a role in my leadership initiatives. In fact if truth be told, my leadership situation most of the times was akin to, “I have no idea where I am going”.
So how does one grow into great leadership?
Well for a start, one cannot think one’s way into great leadership. It really comes down to putting our feet on the ground, being a “Do- er” under all situations, never mind the nay-sayers and doomsday prophets. The essence really is “DOING”. We grow when we do things, as we tweak our path and approach intuitively.
Leadership is really about our impact on others. Many of us though confuse this with the great intentions that we hold. But intentions, which is all about us, has little or no alignment with impact, which is all about others. So how does one create this alignment? We do this by seeing our self through the eyes of those we serve. I like to see this as a kind of empathy working in reverse.
Literature is full of how empathy is an intrinsic part of great leadership. Which is all about what we need to do with getting into the other person’s shoes and looking at a situation from his / her perspective. But how often do we think of allowing the other person to get into our shoes and providing a fresh perspective from our vantage point?
Feedback from others who watch our ability ( or otherwise!) to impact others is really the fuel that can ignite our leadership transformation.
Ask the following questions of your team.
- What did I do that led to a positive impact?
- What did I do that negatively impacted the team’s initiative?
- What Could I do better to encourage the team to perform?
………. In Learning