Ever wonder why we have so few really good leaders, be it in business, social organisations or politics? Why is it that year after year, “ grooming / developing next level of leadership” remains one of the top most challenges for CEOs, globally?
Key in the word “Leadership Development” on google and it returns 80 million results. That’s a huge number of articles dedicated to one single topic. That’s the level of the vast body of knowledge & work we have collectively built over decades. Yet we struggle to develop good leaders.
Why is it so? It is because we have kept repeating the same mistake in our educational systems. We are “teaching” students to be someone or something. Same is the case of leadership development. We are trying to mould everyone into stereotypes of leadership styles, qualities and characteristics irrespective of the context of the business. Instead of developing abilities, we are spoon feeding theories and frameworks and models.
No wonder we have more and more leaders today who are unable to steer their organisation and people in the future and struggling to handle the disruptions. We haven’t prepared them. We have simply taught them from the past. We haven’t developed abilities to handle ambiguity, we haven’t developed the capability to deal with uncertainly. If we have to change the situation, we have to flip the model.
“Leadership cannot be taught…but it can be learned”
Because leadership is not a teaching, it’s not a theory or cannot be fully expressed by words. It has to be experienced, it has to be learned by observing, it has to be learned by being in the company of good leaders. It has to be learned by experiencing and experimenting. It is therefore has to be acquired and can’t not be simply taught.
Becoming a leader is not like any other learning. You can learn science, technology and business without any change in your consciousness. There is no need to change your consciousness, you can learn as you are. But leadership is a learning where the basic requirement is: First change your consciousness. Even before learning starts you have to be prepared for it.
“Becoming a Leader needs inner transformation”
The knowledge is vast and you can go on reading from one style of leadership to another, one quality of leadership to another. However, unless you turn it upside down the real leadership will remain elusive.
Let’s try to understand this through an example. One of the most sought after quality in every leader is her ability of taking decisions-that too right decisions irrespective of the situation. Do you think you can be a good decision maker by reading a lot about it? Knowing the process of decision making or reading about how the brain works? or by attending lots of different leadership development trainings and workshops?
Even if you have the experience; forced to take decisions, you are entrusted and given power to make a decision you may still not acquire the quality and might fail miserably.
You cannot be a good decision maker unless you manage your mind. Unless you overcome fear, unless you overcome negativity, unless you overcome self-doubt you cannot be a good decision maker. That’s inner transformation.
“If you want to be a good leader, try to become a good learner first”.
A mind filled with prejudices, biases, theories and own concepts of good and bad leadership is not capable of learning. To truly learn one has to unlearn first. Unlearning is the way of learning.
We are all filled too much. We know almost everything, too much knowledge we are already carrying on our head. We question everything, we doubt everything, we have a point of view on almost everything. We have to drop it, a clean slate is needed. Only then there is a possibility that we will learn something.
And the learning starts right now, here. You have everything within you, you have to be alert, be open to it. You have to be fully receptive, you have to absorb, you have to imbibe, you have to experience, you have to start living leadership, day in and day out.
It’s a new year opening up a new set of opportunities to everyone. An opportunity to make a new beginning. If would aspire to be a future leader, if you are an anointed leader, but struggling to inspire and create dedicated followers who would trust you and ready to do anything for you; you have to start learning….
Contemplate and think what does leadership really mean to you? Express your thinking through comments, share and let’s begin the journey of leadership “being”!!
Sandeep is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of In-Unison Pvt.LTD; a company engaged in business strategy, leadership & business transformation of different firms across diverse sectors, size & scale. He is an expert in leadership & organisational transformations having successfully completed many enterprise scale projects for multi-national companies and has consulted many firms in successful transition across business life-cycle stages. Sandeep holds a Bachelor in Banking & Finance from Osmania University and an MBA in Strategic Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.