Sunday, December 2, 2018

Talk on inspirational Leadership - MDP for SCR on behalf of University of Hyderabad

I was invited to speak on 'Inspirational Leadership' by Prof. Jyothi of the School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad, to a group of 30 supervisors from South Central Railway. The University of Hyderabad is conducting a Management Development Program for South Central Railway at JNIBF which was previously JNIDB. It's a nice sprawling campus and when I was working in IDBI, I attended a few training programs as a trainee. This time I was on the other side. Here's the gist of the talk.

I started with trying to get some common understanding of leadership between all of us. e finally agreed it was about taking responsibility to get something done. Now this does not need us to be endowed with a position of authority nor even some super qualities at birth. We can as we are now, choose to take up more responsibility in every moment of our life because life presents us so many opportunities as we live. In ways, small and big, we can decide to respond. In fact one nice way they explain responsibility is by breaking it into response-ability - which mean your ability to respond to life. All it needs is a decision to respond.

However, leadership is made out to be something exotic and difficult which I believe is not. We are all leading in some way or another. We take responsibility for our lives, our families, our roles at work and so many other things, whether we like it or not.  The question then is how do we understand leadership a little better so we can do what we are already doing better.

One reason why I felt we don't take too many decisions or risks is that we are insecure. I told them that we are insecure as long as we are hiding something. Normally we try to hide the fact that we don't know things, and that we could go wrong. To be secure all we have to do is say 'I don't know' when we don't know things and we are in secure space. We can learn and we can help others learn. We all agreed that 'I don't know' is not a bad place to start.

I shared with them my concept of the Leadership Blackbox. Split into four quadrants the black box consists of "Why" are you leading (Purpose), "What" do you want to achieve (Goal), "How' will you do it (Process and Values) and "Who" are you leading (People). I told them that I felt if they for their 'why' correct, a lot of things would fall in place. We watched Simon Sinek's 'Start with why' to get the importance of why across.

I shared with them the evolution of leaders -
1) taking responsibility for excelling in own role
2) helping others and improving team's performance
3) taking additional responsibility when opportunity arises
4) leading team effectively and achieving results consistently
5) growing leaders from within the team

I also shared my hierarchy of how leaders evolve.
1) Personal leadership where we take full responsibility for our role and then expand it some more and achieve 10x results for the team. Examples of Dashrath Manjhi, famously known as the mountain man and several other everyday heroes were discussed.

2) Effective leadership where we move from being an individual and realise get the team to work together to achieve the team goal. Here one needs to set a vision, share a common purpose, bring the team together, convince them and make them work together. The team will achieve expected results and every one is happy to be part of the team.

3) Inspirational leadership or Level 5 leadership is the next level when the leader is inspired by a larger purpose and inspires the team to believe in it. This requires a deeper understanding of man management, a higher amount of security which automatically means allowing oneself to be vulnerable, getting the best out of everyone by investing in each and everyone, setting high expectations and enabling them to reach the same, trust and belief, using the window and mirror approach and all in all growing them by trusting them with responsibility, allowing them to make mistakes and correcting them.

We ended by promising to start practising leadership in small acts like learning how to acknowledge, appreciate, and asking for help. The greatest leaders put their ego aside. We discussed how leadership is about action, purpose, decisions and giving for a bigger cause than oneself. If we have to make a difference to people around us we must model that behavior and not simply talk about it.

The audience was very participative and showed keen interest at the end of the day. Rafi, Naseef and Murugan from the University of Hyderabad were helpful and the perfect hosts. Thanks Prof Jyothi for the opportunity to do my bit and share my understanding of leadership.

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