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Monday, May 9, 2011

Clarion Call for a new face of Leadership

As organizations are evolving into kinds of federations, networks, clusters, cross-functional teams, temporary systems etc., the “top-down-leadership” that once felt to be the best suited for the erstwhile pyramid structured organizations has become obsolete. The new leader must exhibit the courage to encourage healthy dissent and value those who say no to him. In the words of Warren Bennis the new leadership must –

  • Understand and practice the power of appreciation
  • Act as connoisseurs of talent
  • Keep reminding people of what is important
  • Generate and sustain trust
  • Metamorphose the leader and the led into intimate allies

Box: The Most Cherished Quality in a leader
Q: Do you have a favorite Bible Hero?
A:  Moses was the greatest legislator and the commander in chief of perhaps the first liberation army. He was a prophet, God’s representative to the people and the people’s representative to God. And he never had a good day in his life. Either the people were against him, or God was against him.
Q: So what could modern leaders learn from Moses’ example
A: Humility. Everyone needs it, but mainly leaders. Because they have power.

Noble Peace Prize winner - Elie Wiesel, in his interview to TIME Magazine.
February 6, 2006

The leadership must bring specialized knowledge to work places to develop HR policies and practices that influence organizational and individual performance. It should bring credibility to the organization by having an influential person at the top who could influence and make a positive impression on others. It must have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the business so that it could align the human resources with the business goals. That’s why leaders of corporates must simply “possess a deep knowledge of one or two disciplines as well as some knowledge of a number of other disciplines.

They are simply expected to “know a lot about something and something about a lot of things”. Then only leaders can enjoy the full benefit of synergy – the possession of a great deal of knowledge across a wide array of disciplines is sure to build a totality that is more than the some of the parts. They alone can provide “a critical evaluation of ideas and issues”. Such leaders, in the words of Alireza Jalali Farahani[1], “engage in the study of a number of disciplines in order to empower themselves to provide critical evaluation of ideas and issues and to shed light on new areas of knowledge by seeing invisible networks among different areas.”

A Typically Valley Individual

Source: Adapted from: Alireza Jalali Farahani, The Shifting Paradigm: Who is the Intellectual of the 21st Century?  International Education Journal, 2005, 6(4). 512-515.

Noam Chomsky – a distinguished professor of linguistics whose articulation in philosophy, intellectual history, international affairs and the US foreign policy have generated new paradigms in the respective fields – is a classic example of such interdisciplinary wizardry and today’s corporate leaders must emulate him if they want to be effective in their roles.

Leaders, should strive for developing true ‘empowerment’ across the organization based on a culture of ‘trust’ rather than ‘control’. They must develop learning organizations that leverage on both internal and external knowledge. They must encourage employees to challenge the status quo so that the organization can nurture continuous ‘creativity’.

Employees are to be viewed as a significant stakeholder group. Their views must be taken note of while designing HR systems, for it enhances their performance and commitment. Such collaboration is very critical for success in organizations where the contribution of professionals is pretty significant. Otherwise they may feel that their psychological contract with the organization is violated and this may lead to employee mobility[2].

More than anything else they must lead their role with a “sense of responsibility” for everything happening around them, for it alone keeps leadership-horizon “expanding”. The more the responsibility a leader takes upon himself, the more he expands and grows and that alone makes him a true leader and that is the only way to sustain organizational growth.
                                                                                                                     - GRK Murty  

[1]  Alireza Jalali Farahani, The Shifting Paradigm: Who is the Intellectual of the 21st Century?  International Education Journal, 2005, 6(4). 512-515.
[2] Simmons, J. A. and Iles, P. (2001) “Performance appraisal in knowledge based organizations: implications for management education”, International Journal of Management Education, 2:1, 3-18.


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