Breeding a Leader

Date:   Wednesday , December 28, 2005

If everything is acquired by birth what’s the fun in living? Will there be anything called learning? Leadership qualities can be acquired on terra firma and I strongly feel it is about making the organization more attractive through vision and decision.

Leadership is the ability to make decisions, review information, the ability to look at the big picture, not getting too overwhelmed by details and possessing compelling communication skills.

In the present fast paced world a good leader will make quick effective decisions with minimum error. Of course experience and intuition counts. Ability to sift through the information flood from all around and pick out key criteria for decision making separates the crème de la crème leaders from the rest.

Attributes are ingredients, which create styles, and leadership styles are unique to each person. Often the leadership style is the extension of one’s personality. A trait that a leader must demonstrate is empathy, which can be understood by the extrapolation of our personal challenges akin to other’s personal challenges.

It is during the downslide that one’s leadership styles come into sharp focus. It is during such low times that trust has to be won in totality for the person at the helm to be in control. Open and frank communication is the modus operandi to achieve this status. It is important to identify people who will stay long-term in the company and build trust among them during these downturns. Telling what is not to be done is vital. However constant grumbling at meetings are to be avoided and your bad day must not be subjected on the employees. Realistic expectations and mutual accountability is critical.

Bad and good times are transient. Change is constant and leaders have to constantly change which requires a firm focus on the organization goals and objectives. Usually focus is associated with astute unwavering preoccupation with a vision. However focus to change does the trick. The first step is to get the expectations right and formulating a conservative and controlled way of operation. Having the right people dotted among the ranks helps permeate change within the organization during transformation processes. A smart leader finds the right individuals and does not concentrate them but diffuses them among the organization.

Just as there are changes for the company, transformation is going on within the world market too. In the present outsourcing era a leader should have unique skills of managing teams across time, space and culture. Knowing what works best in two different markets separately and combined calls for cutting edge knowledge and a constant eye on the demand and supply trend. Dealing with customers in varied markets is like treading a tight rope. It all boils down to human relations, with the two defining words being love and respect. For example, to integrate the offshore and the U.S. teams requires crystal clear communication channels, which emphasize timeliness and a dedicated team at the interface. A key challenge is to make the technical team in India aware of the psyche of the faceless customers in the U.S.

I feel in finality that leaders are people who make an impact in an organization right from the day they join the team. Recognizing each person you meet in a day as unique and learning from them will contribute to your leadership qualities. Retaining your identity is a must but ultimately your leadership style is a fusion of yours and others.

Arshad Matin
President and COO, BindView