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Being a leader

You must focus on developing qualities that can make a difference to people and nations alike, says Jitendra Nagpal

education Updated: Apr 28, 2010 09:23 IST
Jitendra Nagpal

No person was ever honoured for what he received. Honour has been the reward for what he gave. — Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the US

India is a vibrant nation with one of the largest youth populations in the world. Future leaders are expected to come from this group. But what is leadership? A simple definition tells us that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people towards achieving a common goal. A leader is a person in a group or society who possesses the right combination of personality and skills that make others want to follow his or her direction, and realise the aspirations of the leader. However, do understand that leadership involves much more. Let’s try and understand what a leader must do to be effective.

A leader must manage resources optimally. Leadership also involves communicating, inspiring and supervising.

Inspiration and perspiration count as essential qualities, as well. A successful leader will both inspire confidence and present a strong example of what the group should aim to be.

The qualities of a good leader are:
Lead by example and be humble: While leading, we encourage others to act in a certain way. If you wish your group’s members to be hard working and diligent, you must display those ideals first. However, in order to be respected enough to be accepted as a leader, one must discard one’s ego and exercise humility.

Appreciate your friends and peers: You cannot underestimate the importance of offering gratitude to those who are trying to do the right thing.
If a certain type of behaviour is appreciated, it finds reinforcement.

Have a clear and consistent vision: Often, as a leader, you will need to overcome resistance to change among your group. If people have been doing something for a long time, they have an instinctive aversion to change. Thus, to bring about change, your vision must be clear and consistent, and you must persevere.

Alternatives and visions: A good leader should try to be part of his team instead of acting superior. The first step in becoming a team player is listening. If you listen to people, they will definitely appreciate it. As you start to listen, you may find that your friends have good ideas that you can incorporate into your own vision. Even if they seem like unworkable ideas, it is still worth your while to value opinions.

Create a positive, comforting ambience: If you try to lead by creating a climate of fear, or competition, you will undoubtedly create problems. If you can lead while maintaining a positive attitude, your efforts will definitely bear fruit, sooner or later.

Admit your mistakes: There is no harm in admitting that you are wrong, or making a joke at your own expense. People will appreciate a leader who can admit his mistakes. Just be careful and don’t make a habit of committing mistakes.

Leaders play a critical role in crises. They are called upon to be stable when faced with the winds of turmoil.

Lastly, a good leader encourages his followers to tell him what he needs to know, instead of what he wants to hear.

The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at hthorizons@hindustantimes.com, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’