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June - 2011 - issue > Management
Successful Leadership Fundamentals in Global Economy
Dr. Satyam Priyadarshy
Friday, June 3, 2011

The world has definitely changed in the last two decades. Businesses are truly global and are increasingly driven by technology. Technology itself is emerging at a pace faster than most people can keep up with. However, the role of a leader has not changed in terms of business outcomes. The leader is still accountable for business growth and for increasing the value of assets in the business.

So, how does one become a successful leader with so much change happening at a fast pace around the business? I share with you my experience and the fundamentals that allowed me to be successful as a scientific, technology and business leader in emerging technology companies. I share this with the aim; that it can benefit those who are aspiring to build their leadership talent and career.

The first and foremost fundamental is to believe in your self. For example, if you want to be respected by others, one has to learn to respect self first. Any inferiority or superiority complex (ISC) will create self-doubt and affect your ability to think objectively. This is also the starting point of falling down in your own eyes and in the view of your peers and reports. One can build this confidence by believing in strong values that you inherited or acquired. For me personally, I strongly believe in honest communication. In the long term this attribute will be rewarding but in the short term it can cause stress and conflict with peers and other reports. The conflict mainly arises with people who are ignorant about what they talking about due to their own ISC. You as leader need to be able to filter such people and their reaction, so you can work with them using some of the fundamental techniques discussed below.

All the other fundamentals of success can be grouped under five major topics, abbreviated as KARMA. So, what is the KARMA? KARMA in any realm of life refers to unattached actions; a perfectionist approach without the entanglement of negativistic human tendencies. KARMA in the realm of leadership is described as:
* Knowledge
* Agility
* Resilience
* Mentoring
* Accolades

Knowledge is fundamental to a leader’s success. Knowing your-self is the first thing. Then, knowing that the human mind has infinite potential will allow you gain knowledge about any topic, business etc. As a leader one needs to train oneself to gain knowledge of the business, the technology and the organization. As one moves from industry to industry, or different functional groups within the organization, gaining knowledge of the area, the functions and the growth potential is needed to succeed in the new role. As a leader for a new organization, one cannot possibly know enough, or be in enough places, to understand everything happening inside and outside your organization. But one can actively collect information from fragmented data and then synthesize that into knowledge by leveraging the infinite potential of your mind. Similarly, the infinite potential permits you develop kaleidoscope thinking. Kaleidoscope thinking allows you to construct patterns from a broken data, and then manipulate them to form different set of patterns. A problem can have many solutions, and Kaleidoscope thinking can help one to see the solutions through different lenses and help resolve the problem, efficiently and effectively.

Agility in leadership in current uncertain times is important for the success. As a leader you need to be agile with yourself, your stakeholders, your environments and business strategy. Self-agility, your utmost desire to keep things moving in the right direction enables you to develop the leadership skills that you want and adapt the skills to the ever-changing environment. In my personal journey, this self-agility allowed me to be successful as a scientist, technologist and a business executive. The ability to learn new dimensions and leverage the knowledge from previous fields allowed me to successfully navigate new fields.

Resilience is vital to leadership success. We do have infinite potential through our mind, but we do not have endless stamina, ideas, and skills to deliver business success year after year. As a leader you need to have resilience, the ability to bounce back, cope, renew, and revitalize. The passion for excellence in leadership will take you so far, but if emotional and physical stamina reaches limits then you will burn out. A quote from Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change”, summarizes the need for resiliency for leaders to be successful in uncertain global economic times. This trait has empowered me to seek out new and challenging experiences throughout my life and career, and succeed despite unfavorable situations that came along the way.

Mentoring is another key aspect of successful leadership, being a mentee and a mentor is essential for leadership. A leader’s success comes from developing other future leaders during the course of their career. Mentoring other leaders through teachable moments provides them a new perspective to look at your ideas and values. The teachable moments generate positive energy in others and it encourages them to try new things and solve problems differently and take tough decisions. Many successful leaders provide teachable moments in the form of story telling that it is very effective. Not every leader could be a natural story teller, but as an agile leader and with sufficient knowledge of your past experience, it is possible to learn the art of story telling for the context in which you are interacting with other leaders. While mentoring other leaders, it is important to explain to them the mistakes you have done and your vulnerabilities, so they can consider you to be an effective role model for them. Being a Mentee is also an important aspect of building your leadership style. However, to be an effective Mentee you have to take a proactive role in reaching out to the Mentor or Mentors and use their time wisely and effectively. For Mentees to benefit from a Mentor-Mentee relationship, the Mentee has to take ownership of the relationship, and seek the knowledge about the good, the bad and ugly of the Mentor’s experience, and then learn to adapt those in their own settings. As a leader, giving to the community in the form of classroom teaching at local colleges and universities can provide new perspective into business problems, as you interact with curious minds during those classes.

Accolades for the team is an essential ingredient for the leader. You are not a leader, if you cannot praise or complement your team for your success. As a human being, no one can reach any career heights without the support and mentoring by others. The support and mentoring starts immediately after you are born on this earth. Mother being your first Guru. As you go through school, college, working at companies various people come in contact, with some you make long lasting relationships, personal and/or professional, and each of these contact points reshape your leadership skills and style. An appreciation for what these people have done for you, knowingly or unknowingly is a tribute to them. So, team is the group of people in your personal and professional life that makes you a successful leader.

Chankaya (350-283 B.C.) wrote that “Be content with what you have already got as wife, food and income. But don't ever be content with your knowledge, self-improvement and charity.” The traits of a successful leader.

In summary, KARMA matters for a successful leadership in this uncertain global economy.

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