The fact that India has a dearth of leadership at all levels of the ladder is well known. And it is not only on the political landscape where this absence is felt. Barring a few natural leaders who dot the firmament, there are hardly any who inspire. And this phenomenon has been felt for decades now. Across all verticals—from governance to politics, corporate leadership to sports administration—it is clear that we as a nation do not have leaders who are required to steer things ahead.
Very few leaders know the ropes, pick up the gauntlet, and take the bull by the horns. It needs passion, courage, foresight, vision, positivity, balance, calmness, large-heartedness, empathy and emotional intelligence to be a leader of any sort.
At a recent session with faculty members of a leading college, I asked them whether they felt that they were ‘leaders’ or not. A couple of them were unsure so I had to urge them to consider themselves as leaders who should ideally be role models for their students and even for junior colleagues. Parents, older siblings, senior members of the family are all leaders in a way and their conduct really impacts the younger ones.
In a way, thus, we are all leaders and our lives influence each of those who look up to us. The way we react to adverse situations, whether in panic or with calmness, the manner in which we carry ourselves when successes come in a flurry, and the values we exhibit— all these aspects have a bearing upon the upbringing of our ‘followers’.
Outstanding corporate leaders and rare government officers with a dynamic streak exemplify the same qualities of innovation and steadfastness. School principals are often amazingly inspirational leaders. The customisation required by the environs that one finds oneself in does not matter as long as the basics are in place.
There are very few public figures who bring out the goose pimples in us these days. And those who have done so for years are now fading away. Time is finally catching up with them. Lata Mangeshkar celebrated her 87th birthday recently, Amitabh Bachchan will be 74 on October 11, and great personalities like Dr Abdul Kalam have already departed from the portals of this world.
Where are the new leaders of the society who can act as beacons of light to bring out the best in the youth of today? A few radiant examples are achievers like PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, young women who are Air Force fighter pilots and Indian CEOs of global conglomerates who are shining across the seas in other lands.
Brilliant and diligent administrators are missing in the sphere of governance as well as industry. Young professionals are trained to excel in their chosen field of endeavour, but when they are saddled with commanding roles a few years into their careers, they flounder. No one informs them of the need to develop their people skills and understand the bigger picture.
Even those in civil services are often found lacking in public dealing skills when they join and are unable to display the kind of temperament needed to head a department or a district some years down the line. Governance is not about processes alone, it is also about human beings and their conduct. Subordinates in an organisation have to be motivated to achieve the larger goals, and if their bosses are able to instil the right qualities in them, everybody benefits.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at Kozhikode, mentioned that while India exports software, a neighbouring country exports terror; he brought to the fore what the world already knew, but what needed to be said. By speaking to the nation in this manner he displayed the kind of leadership which needs to be seen at all levels in our country.
Inspiring leadership is the need of the hour in all verticals and horizontals across our nation. Those in the corridors of power as well as in the boardrooms of the business world need to inculcate and emanate qualities of head and heart that make the nation swell with pride. There is no other way forward.