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“Leadership is different from management”
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“Leadership is different from management”

Ishan Agarwal picWith leaders across the globe under scrutiny on the public stage  Ishan Agarwal, 20, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kolkata in India, takes a look at the qualities that define inspired and effective leadership.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves”- Lao-Tzu.

Leadership does not have to come with a bang, announcing itself and proclaiming to bring about change and reform.

In fact, leadership is that quality within all of us (more in some and less in others) that silently, almost with surgical precision, inspires and motivates others; almost everyone, and in all situations.

There is not, and cannot be, any one quality or set of qualities that will make one an effective leader. Different situations require different types of leadership.

However, almost all leaders must have a high level of emotional intelligence, which comprises self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Cognitive skills and big picture thinking are equally important. A leader needs to have vision, not merely sight.

Leadership is different from management. Almost all corporate organisations today are over managed, but under-led. In fact, the need of the hour today is more freedom by less management and instead more inspirational leadership. No wonder Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper stated “You manage things: you lead people.”

To be an effective leader, one must be a planner, organiser, and must seek reports and delegate. One must have the ability not to seek control, but to let go, where others are delegated to control, and in turn become effective leaders themselves.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”,  it has been said. A leader inspires others to do so.

A leader must have the confidence to stand alone, the courage to take tough decisions and the compassion to listen to others.

True leaders are not born, but become one by the equality of their actions and the integrity of their thoughts.

Mahatma Gandhi said “if I have the belief that I can do it, I will surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

A leader must have the ability to, rather fondness to, ‘walk the lesser known path.’

The key qualities of an effective leader are that he or she should be inspiring, motivating, lead by example, be fair and unbiased, have empathy, be sensitive, responsible, alert and adaptive, be a life long learner and have integrity.

The potential leader should be an opportunist, adaptive, humble, a diplomat, strategist, alchemist, inventor, problem solver, dreamer, doer and above all, humanistic.

Leadership does not begin nor does it end with oneself. It is a continuous and ongoing process. Just like the flowing water of a river, leadership never stops or ceases. Succession planning is as important a part of leadership as leadership itself.

It has been said that the final test of a leader is to leave in others the conviction and the will to carry on.

A leader must not only be a good speaker, but also a keen and eager listener. It is true that a leader needs to communicate his or her thoughts. But to do so effectively, one must first be a keen listener, absorbing the best from the surrounding environment, and by taking everyone along.  Peter Drucker has stated, that ”leaders listen first, speak last.”

I also believe that dogmas and prejudices are merely a state-of-mind, and it is a leader’s duty not to succumb to them, but rather challenge and defy them whenever possible, so that we may break free from the stifling chains of blind convention, and bring forth a positive change in society.

Given a chance, I will never hesitate to challenge or question such prejudices, whatsoever they may be, as I believe that not doing so would only portray a weakness in my character, and inhibit both my own development, and that of society.

photo credit: Ahead Only via photopin (license)
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About me: I am presently a student at the iconic Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree.

I intend majoring in Mathematics with electives in  Computer Science and Quantum Physics, and thereafter pursue either a MS or PhD degree.

I aspire to one day be able to use the superior power of quantum computing and mathematical analytics to transform lives and make the world a better, easier and friendlier place for everyone to live in.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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