What is Leadership? This is a much-discussed, debated (and to a certain extent abused) topic that has no definitive answer. There is no one size fits all approach to leadership; it is to a large extent contextual, situational and people dependent.
As an example, let’s take a look at two popular sports – Football and Cricket. Both are team sports, but the leadership role is played by different people.
In Football, team managers are perceived to be the most important people or leaders because they oversee the day to day running and functioning of the team. The manager decides the training, strategy for each game, who plays, tactical substitutions, player management, etc. As such, the accountability of team performance lies largely with them.
In Cricket, the buck stops with the captain. The coach is seen as part of the support staff that creates the right environment, structures, and processes for the players to flourish. The captain decides the players, on-field strategy, while also being involved in a large part of the off-field team-building tactics that earns them the respect of the players. The wins and losses all go against the captain, and hence the spotlight is much more on them.
However, a pertinent question to be asked here is – Should the responsibility of a team fall on the shoulders of one person? The answer lies somewhere in the middle of a simple Yes or No. One of the most important qualities of a leader is to bring the best out of those under them. This means not only maximizing their potential but also trusting them implicitly and giving them the freedom and flexibility to make decisions. On the flip side, it is also incumbent on team members to take ownership and accountability for their work and care about the outcomes as much as the leader would.
One of the less talked about aspects of leadership is how leaders create other leaders.
In my career, I have learned that time spent listening to and interacting with a leader is worth more than reading 100 books on leadership. When you hear them, you want to be like them! Thus, I have consciously made an effort to build a culture in HashedIn where leaders across teams spend time with new joiners, not only to guide them, but also listen and learn from them. Making them active partners in the vision and direction of the company not only gives them the feeling of being involved but also encourages them to think of the larger organizational goals and drive initiatives. They learn, we learn, the company grows!
There can never be enough good leaders in this world; it is a scarce commodity. Sustained success and growth in any team or organization is only possible when each and every member thinks and acts like a leader.