What and how can an individual define leadership ?
One word answer for leadership is ownership The moment we say ownership, we take ownership for the planning, execution, and result, not just for managing the entire stakeholder’s expectations and aspirations. So, it becomes a huge responsibility, and it is also position dependent whether individually a software engineer or SVP. The behavior doesn’t change, but the scope will change.
Based on many studies, people say that emotional intelligence is the most critical trade for a leader. So, I would say yes, it is one of the essential trades you will be using if I feel connected or that ownership. So, the whole idea is that the behavior that owns the action and the results are not looking for excuses when something goes wrong. So, is this kind of an essential behavior you see in the leadership? So, the way you define LEADERSHIP is when things come to that person, the person says, okay, I need to handle it rather than giving excuses like escalating the duty to someone and looking back to see who can do it.
The best example with which one can understand is the health of your child. You may bring him a lot of experts, doctors, and various other support structures, but who is the person responsible at the end of the day? That’s the way I look at leadership. So, there is a good number of thoughts and people’s perceptions. It is all about attaching leadership to something where you have many people listening to you, a lot of people that follow you, and I heard many people talk about leadership as all about having followers.
If you don’t have a following or followers, you don’t have a leader. So is Leadership All About Followers?
It’s a great perception. Essentially people don’t follow people. People follow a powerful vision, a robust future. When people follow the freedom fighters like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and many more, it is not about the individual there. It is about that fantastic future that is free India. The same is true. That is why most of the time, an influential leader always advocates a powerful vision. It is the vision that derives from the people. I want to be there; I want to be part of that big beautiful future that I am subscribing for, and that’s what brings in people, and that’s what brings in the followers.
I may be charismatic. I may be an excellent orator. Then people will listen to you and walk away, then why should people follow you. What is the future to which you are guiding me or leading me? That is the most important thing about the leader. The leader is following. If you want to be a leader, you FUNDAMENTALLY follow that grand vision and be a believer.
I believe in the power of entrepreneurship, the power of a leadership program in an organization, where youngsters will groom into senior leaders, ability to create a state where people want to be. In simple words, as you see a problem, you can find a solution to the problem. You see an opportunity, and you can use that opportunity to solve that particular problem and see that happening. When you see that happening, and then you can make others see that happening. So there is a desirable state where we don’t have to struggle or have a pattern.
The individual leader can see something which is not very clear to everyone and make others know that way. That is where if you have a problem and creating a vision for a solution is easy. Suppose everything is fine, now how are you going to motivate people and go to your future stake. It becomes a challenge very fast as people become complacent very fast, including the leader themself. Now comes the question of how do you carry people forward when there are no problems. That is where crucial leadership comes into play. Because as a leader, one has to see and believe that there is a better way or stage we must stare into, and that is when you see that the moment we can show that the other people followers who also start seeing that and believing that.
What are the leadership skills?
We can say that leadership is the ability to see something which is not very clear. It is all about setting up the vision; it’s all about owning it, not outsourcing the vision to anyone else; that’s some of the things we talk about leadership skills. What all can be added to it.
When people talk about leadership skills, the skills come at the fourth level. Firstly, it starts with the belief that there is an opportunity to behave like a leader. Second, after belief comes to the attitude driven by a set of behaviors (Third), and only then do the skills come into play. For example, if I don’t believe that I can play a leadership role, my attitude towards the problem or a solution will differ. I don’t care. I am not usually the one that handles it. It is what I am telling myself, what will be my behavior? Because it’s not my job, I will not approach it with a solution mindset or a growth mindset because I am not building my skills. So there is no point in building a skill when the other three levels are missing.
So fundamentally, what we have to do ourselves as a leader is. First of all, I believe that I can play a leadership role whatever the stage of my life, whatever the hierarchy where I am at my organization. Another fundamental confusion that comes here is “Leadership means only it has to start from a certain point” no, anybody at any level can behave like a leader because it is a BEHAVIOUR, it is an ATTITUDE, and it is a BELIEF. The moment we have the belief, the moment we have the attitude and approach, the moment we have the behavior. Then automatically, we start working on the skill. Skills may be described as your ability to understand things, increase in creativity, listening skills, coaching skills so that you can coach other people around you. There is no hierarchy for a coach. You can coach anybody, depending on your capability.
What is coaching?
You are essentially aligning the individual to a future better state where they want to go. So, these are some of the fundamental skills of a leader. So, the whole point is that an individual also has to find those areas that you have to work on and where you will need external support. So, whatever will be the most effective thing that helps the situation, you find that most effective thing, and you bring that.
What is the leadership training an individual should be doing?
The easiest starting point is building your golden circle. Simon Sinek proposed this theory says “Starts with why then comes How and then comes What.” The biggest problem is most of these so-called leadership training skills are that they directly start with what. If I don’t understand the why, why I want to be a leader, and then how I want to be a leader, then comes the what.
I first start with my image as James Clear has written in Atomic Habits that “it is the self-image which needs to be first fixed.” If I don’t see myself playing that role in my mindset, nothing else will happen. Even if I have the skill, I will not apply the talent in the proper perspective in the right context. So, the first thing we need to do when we do leadership coaching is first to help the person create his self-image and ask why you want to, what is that, how do you see yourself?
I know it is a cliched question of an interview but “How do you see yourself after five years?” What is that, where are you going with your career, with yourself, what is that leadership role you want to play, what is the vision you like to have or realize as an individual. The moment that comes in, then how you want to do that.
The way I do the coaching is I encourage my participants or coaches to come up with a list of the tasks, such as what are your areas of concern because that is why they are talking to me. The moment we find the concern and the moment we can address it with a list of tasks. It will help you bring out all your inner conversation and obstacles. A Task list helps individuals execute all those things that have been waiting for a long time. Then when I bring in the delegation first, critically, what I am saying is all the people start with the same problem.
What is the difference between Leadership Coaching and Coaching?
The difference is, when you are doing leadership coaching, you are essentially creating a coach. Because as a leader, you are responsible for your team; you’re supposed to be the coach for your team so that they start to perform better; otherwise, how will I grow as a leader. It is not about changing people. It is about developing people the moment we start developing people. So when you say, “I am responsible for their growth,” then you are essentially playing the role of a coach.
How typically a leadership coaching structure works? As my approach consists of an all-week intervention, as you said, this is not an overnight transformation, we are talking about behavioral transformation, and it happens when habits get installed, which takes 8 to 12 weeks minimum. So habits are easy to install, and some are hard. Therefore some habits take time to install, and some take less time than others.
Every week we are looking at a task, habits, expected behavior, changes in the individual, and if it is happening or not, what is stopping it. The whole process is identifying these obstacles and breaking them or tweaking them. So, those habits get installed. You are challenging yourself to take a step for the initial win.
What is the common mistake made by the leader who can go against them?
The common mistake or one of the biggest barriers to be a leader is assuming that they are indispensable. If I train my team(with an agile mind) if my team starts performing better, what will I do if I dedicate the work to them? What we need to remember is as leaders, we are like stuff holding. They are provided at the time of construction of the building. What happens after the construction is over, the stuff holding moves to another under-construction building. So, thinking that I am part of the building is one of the biggest problems for a leader, then you are stuck there. A leader is a person supporting the team supporting the project so that they can do it themselves. Then you slowly withdraw and take on additional responsibility for a new project, etc.
The daily involvement in a project should come down. That is one of the fundamental indicators that you are not behaving like a leader if that’s not happening.
As a leadership coach, what quality do you see in entrepreneurs who have to focus more?
One of the best and most exciting concepts for leadership behavior is entrepreneurship because that is where you have nobody there. Whereas in organizational concepts, there is somebody above you around you. Most of the time, an entrepreneur is a very lonely guy. He is only propelled by the desire to add value and vision. You don’t have a large team; you have to do many things there is no excuse.
It is the ultimate ownership demonstration. That is where when you coach entrepreneurs, that is a different ball game, and you have to be much more empathetic with them, and you can do that only if you have been an entrepreneur yourself. The only issues might be the administrative blockages might be there or the structuring. Maybe some set of beliefs due which they are not able to see something they should see at. Motivation is an issue for an entrepreneur because, for an employee, the motivation is their paycheck. The paycheck for the entrepreneur is their vision and the drive towards their goal.
Are all the leadership coaches following each other?
There are two areas where we need as many as possible: leadership coaching. The other is entrepreneur coaching because we have a serious depth of both these character leaders and entrepreneurs. So I am not worried about individual capability.
End of the day, who is the first beneficiary in coaching is the coach himself the moment we start seeing the things are working or the things are not working. If he can correct himself and bring continuous improvement and a continuous learning process very soon, you will have a fantastic coach.
These coaches who are entering these fields are senior enough. They have seen enough life as a coach, at least 15 to 20 years of corporate life. So they want to take a break from the hot seat, and then they want to become a coach, and it is fantastic.