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Home / Chandigarh / Random forays: Our world needs true leaders today

Random forays: Our world needs true leaders today

Why is humanity unable to produce inspirational and impactful leaders in this era of widespread knowledge and high learning?

chandigarh Updated: Aug 01, 2020 22:48 IST
Vivek Atray
Vivek Atray
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Leaders like Nelson Mandela and even Barack Obama would perhaps have at least been able to inspire some of the populace to think rightly in order for individuals to give off their best for the larger good.
Leaders like Nelson Mandela and even Barack Obama would perhaps have at least been able to inspire some of the populace to think rightly in order for individuals to give off their best for the larger good.(BLOOMBERG NEWS)

The world needs true leaders more than ever before. The happenings of our world do not, by and large, inspire in us any confidence about the current crop of individuals who lead their countries. We live in such connected times that it is easy to know what goes on in the back alleys of Manila or the corridors of power in Venezuela. There is no excuse for shoddy leadership, no place to hide.

Why is humanity unable to produce inspirational and impactful leaders in this era of widespread knowledge and high learning? Why, despite all the mind-boggling progress that the world has made in artificial intelligence and high technology, have we not been able to propel the best of men and women to positions of eminence and power?

The recently popular social media post about women leaders who have successfully contained the pandemic in their lands, starkly in contrast to a group of male heads of government who have utterly failed to do so, actually gives us a clue. Women clearly possess minds and hearts which are more empathetic and emotionally refined than do men. Whether such qualities have actually translated into concrete results on the ground as a result of leadership which cares, is a moot point. But it is evident that leaders of nations need to be extra special human beings, which is unfortunately not the case in most countries.

All the portals of learning that society can offer, online or on campus, cannot combine to impart the skills of leadership that are actually needed by achievers. Which university for instance offers a course titled “Qualities of the Head and Heart”? It is virtually impossible to inculcate such invaluable nuances into the mindset of any person simply by educating him or her.

Contrastingly, the general thought process of society has a major role to play in this process. When divisiveness and self-centredness become the global norm, it is impossible to produce balanced leaders. Leaders like Nelson Mandela and even Barack Obama would perhaps have at least been able to inspire some of the populace to think rightly in order for individuals to give off their best for the larger good.

Empathy. level headedness, presence of mind, creative thinking, poise and unstinted inspiration are not injectable tonics which a youngster can gulp down. Families, schools and neighbourhoods must play a large role in infusing such delicate sensibilities into growing youngsters.

A society gets the leadership it deserves, after all. Why are we not preparing our youngsters to become visionary, large hearted, compassionate grown ups of the future? The whole emphasis of our educational system seems to be that individual success matters, and everything else can go out of the window. And how many right-thinking youths want to enter the rough and tumble of politics? Only the rare ones, for sure.

Even seemingly sane men often become wonky when political power is thrust upon them. Groucho Marx said, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies!” Many a promising leader starts appearing like a much deflated version of himself once he is in the hot seat. The grounding which potential leaders must possess and the training which they must undergo have to necessarily be firm and rigorous.

In India, bureaucracy, industry and academia have suffered too, on account of often not being led by inspirational human beings with a sense of rectitude and probity. An ability to lead from the front and to stay calm in a crisis are sorely missing too.

Perhaps the solution lies in actually incorporating subjects of leadership in school curricula. When leadership becomes our priority, then we will encourage the flowering of superior leadership qualities in our young ones. Role models are needed too. Theoretical imparting of knowledge about leadership will not achieve any perceptible results. Outstanding individuals from all walks of life need to be invited to walk into schools and address the citizens of tomorrow as mentors.

As I pause to gaze out of the window into the still azure skies, I sense hope. Humanity loves a challenge. Out of the mire, will surely rise, some real heroes.

vivek.atray@gmail.com

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