Everyone is a leader. ‘Catch them young!’ Yes! Catch them young and mould them and let them bloom and grow in the best possible way. India needs leaders. Our nation needs leaders, leaders unique in their own way, leaders filled with compassion and love, disciplined and just, hard-working and helpful, humble and intelligent — having the courage to commit and stand by commitments, global-minded and culturally sensitive, critical thinkers and visionaries — it takes a lot to stand apart and lead.
The qualities that made Gandhi a good leader were also his charisma, deliberateness, patience and commitment to non-violence. Gandhi was critical of the injustice of the caste system, and he worked to eliminate the concept of untouchable caste. Honesty, commitment and confidence are characteristics of a great leader.
At this point I would like to share what I learnt about being a good leader in my leadership workshop at Poynter’s Institute of Media Studies in Florida. Leadership is like a power grid, just like those high tension wires and towers that energize our daily lives. The power grid of leadership fuels responsibilities and ambitions. It’s a little complicated. I didn’t invent it. They were first identified by social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven back in the 1950’s, but they are absolutely relevant in today’s world scenario.
They are the Legitimate, Expert, Coercive, Reward and Referent powers which actually mould you as leaders. I shall make it simpler for you to understand this power grid of leadership.
The little stripes that you carry over your shoulder are the legitimate power, where you are in a position to boss over people and force your opinion and mind on them. But if you tap on this too much it will backfire as people can read you through and only recognize you because of your ‘Stripes’ the position you are in. Remember they are not saluting the person inside that uniform.
The Expert power is your ‘Smarts’ — this comes from deep experience, specialized training, or awards. It could be an innate talent in solving problems of others. Your expertise causes others to turn to you for ideas, resources, and often outright direction. Your guidance is accepted without a question.
Knowledge in fact is the power to lead. You need to be wise. Wise people know that the evil twin of ‘Expert’ is ‘know it all’ they don’t try to say I can do it all alone. They aren’t afraid to say ‘I don’t know. What do you think?’ they go out of their way to understand a situation, rationalize and then take a decision.
Dr Lucy Gabriel Chattopadhyay is an international broadcaster at the World Service of AIR Delhi, and a visiting faculty at several universities, tuning voices and coaching young minds on leadership, journalism and communication.