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Raising the leader in you

Grooming leaders is all about helping professionals achieve their full potential, says Pankaj Mullick.

education Updated: Jul 28, 2010 12:09 IST
Pankaj Mullick
Pankaj Mullick
Hindustan Times

Why become a leadership trainer and deal with some of the most egoistic, albeit charismatic, people in business? Why add value to someone’s professional life who will go on to earn big bucks but most likely will not credit you with having contributed (more than just conceptually) to decisions that intrinsically change an enterprise? These may be some of the questions you ask yourself as you watch ‘leaders’ walk in and out of your training sessions. And the thing that will drive you to take it up or to keep you going is more likely to be fulfillment of contributing to someone’s growth as a person and a leader – and yourself.

“I find that as I work with people … from different walks of lives, with a new perspective, all living to the best of their capabilities. It gives me enough data to study patterns of behaviour and explore how they are inter-related with another person’s. It is a brilliant opportunity to work at yourself as a human being through others. That is fulfilling,” says Vikram Badhwar, director, Syngrity Consultants, a Delhi-based learning organisation that uses body-emotive and music studies to impart inter- and intra-communication and leadership skills.

First of all, though, one must understand what leadership is. Simplistically put, it’s the process of getting things done through people. Looked at realistically though, that encompasses a wide range of things. For example, your people need to look up to you for you to be able to get anything done. That involves them seeing that you know what you are doing, where you are taking them, and that you have the ability and inclination to genuinely care for them. Understanding people’s aspirations, each person’s unique mix of talent, personality and weaknesses will also be part of your job. Most importantly, you should develop an innate sense of connecting these to business goals. It’s really no wonder then that even the best leaders seek help in filling any gaps in the complex mix that makes up a leader.

“Leadership is a journey not a destination and all the participants select what they need out of the training. I love the challenge of offering a repertoire that keeps all participants thinking and participative,” says Anuja Mehta, a leadership trainer with more than 12 years experience in the field. She recently switched over to a sales role to keep abreast of the world of business - a requirement for any trainer who wants to maintain credibility.

And credibility counts for a lot. Leadership trainers often deal with participants who are older and more experienced in their own fields. Thus, there can be resistance to ‘taking instruction’. Breaking through that resistance is crucial and another very fulfilling part of this job. “I love the part where the proverbial penny drops for the participant on a key issue. Being a trigger that can change someone’s perspective is a satisfying feeling,” says Sonali Masih-D’silva, an independent leadership coach based in Mumbai. She adds that one of the more challenging parts of this profession is “constructively getting across to negative participants who believe they have no control over their circumstances”.

One of the advantages of this career is that getting established is totally dependent on your innovativeness and ability to offer a new perspective in the most presentable manner. But the foundations have to be formed with great care.

Masih-D’silva says, “Begin by talking to someone who is established as a trainer. Discover your strengths and which leadership aspect you want to train on. Establish your uniqueness and how you will market your workshop. Build credibility through an appropriate management degree, certifications, or a considerable industry experience.” She adds that grabbing public speaking opportunities during conferences can get you noticed.

What’s it about?
Leadership training encompasses imparting a vast milieu of skills, from time management, motivating people, project management, empowerment, managing varying (and at times discordant functions), conflict management… Training can be imparted through classroom sessions and experiential workshops. New training modes are constantly being developed around the world. Organisations require leadership training for employees in middle-management and upwards

Clock Work
8 am: Exercise
8.30 am: Revise notes in car
9.30 am: Check training aids at venue
10 am: Begin session
12.30 pm: Lunch
1.30 pm: Restart session
4.00 pm: Break
5.30 pm: Seek feedback and end session
6.30 pm: Meet HR head of an MNC to pitch workshop
8 pm: Have dinner
9 pm: Study time

. Sincerity
. Sense of humour
. Great communication skills
. Ability to awe as well as inspire
. Amazing amount of patience, empathy and maturity
. Ability to connect with people from varied backgrounds

How do I get there?
After graduation, one can pick up a management degree, though that’s not necessarily the only route to this career. Social psychology, personnel management and MBAs in HR equip one with the basic theoretical knowledge. Mastering cognitive sciences and neuro-linguistic programming also help immensely

The Payoff
It is an industry where money can be very subjective. Young trainers earn as low as Rs 5,000 for a day and as much as Rs 15,000 a day, with little or no experience. After getting established, remuneration can be anywhere between Rs 15,000 to Rs 50,000 per day, or more. “International trainers who work for established training agencies can even demand even Rs 100,000 per participant for a two- to-three-day training programme,” says Sonali Masih-D’silva

Institutes & urls
. Indian Institute of Training and Development -
. Dale Carnegie India -
. Syngrity Consultants -
. American Society for Training & Development -
. FranklinCovey -
. Indian Institute of Learning and Development -

Pros & cons


Interacting with leaders from various industries


Contributing to people’s growth


Constant learning from a wide menu of knowledge


Travel across the country and even the world


Potential to develop a wide-reaching professional network


Big money if you have something unique to offer


Prospect of starting own company in about 10 years

Multidisciplinary experience counts

A seasoned trainer shares her perspective on what it takes to stay ahead in the challenging field of leadership training in today’s fast-paced world

Do you think leaders are born or made?
I do not believe people are born into leadership. We all at an individual level decide when it is time to commit ourselves to serving the people we will lead. Knowing that I can help these people develop competencies to become effective leaders and alter their behaviour to make a difference in the way they perceive a situation is very fulfilling. As I see it, we are born with talents, but acquire skills to enhance our potential.

How challenging is it keeping ahead in this field?
One needs to constantly upgrade one’s own certifications and knowledge so that one is always a step ahead. You need to keep innovating and come up with new ways and methods of training and facilitation. It is a dynamic process and we need to think as we move, and constantly innovate and keep abreast of the latest developments. Also, I feel every trainer must have multidisciplinary experience.

What has been the most challenging part of conducting leadership training?
Our strength lies not in what we are good at but what we like doing. So, I would not call it a challenge. However, there are times when we need to keep the interest of the entire group high, especially when we are subtly introducing a new concept. There are also times when we need to be ruthless, for example, about keeping the mobile phones off especially while conducting a programme for very senior employees.

What should one expect as advantages and drawbacks?
The exhilaration of being able to make a difference in someone’s life is very gratifying. One becomes a constant thinker. One needs to be completely dedicated to the profession of training. It does come with its ups and downs. It can be very exhausting to be mentally alert at all times. One needs to keep abreast of all changes and keep innovating

Any advice for people who want to get into this field?
Patience, empathy and a non-judgmental attitude will help one reap huge advantages.

Anuja Mehta Interviewed by Pankaj Mullick

First Published: Jul 20, 2010 11:53 IST