Thursday, January 15, 2009

Contextual nature of Leadership

Leadership is always contextual. Some of examples that I noticed from the Indian context which help me understand this concept better. Giving publicly known examples helps as these are instances when the entire nation or perhaps the world witnessed the events.

Situation 1.0 : When the terrorists attacked Mumbaikars on 26/11
Leadership: Commissioners of Police took charge under the direction of CM
Leadership traits called for: Experience of head on fights with armed criminals, strategic minds, very quick decision making, courageous, dare devils

Situation 1.1: When the terrorists overpowered the police leaders,
Leadership: The next rung of security experts were called upon- That was leadership from NSG commando troop
Qualities sought: Expertise in heavy armed warfare on lines of military attacks, fearless dare devils, tireless, people who work under complete command and control structures

Situation 1.2: When the nation started raising alarm over the abysmal performance of the then Home Minister- Shivraj Patil
Leadership: Replaced by P Chidambaram
Qualities sought: Past experience, proven track record, good public image, always a Man of Action under crisis and very high responsibility on a sustained level.

Situation 2.0: Satyam debacle
Leadership: Board replaced by new leadership comprising of Kiran Karnik, Deepak Parekh, C Achutanand
Qualities: Impeccable track record, great public image, experience of leading under crisis, Solid Finance knowhow

In each of the above cases, leadership of a certain nature was expected from the context. We can't substitute any of the above leaders with a situation different from what they were assigned to. All these individuals stand for certain qualities and these qualities are demands of the situation at hand.

Yet interestingly certain qualities run through all of them:
  • Courage
  • People of action
  • Sharp thinking minds
  • Positive attitude
  • Great work ethics
  • Past track record
  • Karmayogis- people whose lives revolve around their work or who are identified by the work they do

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