Leadership in the 21st Century —Deliver or Perish!

"You might be the boss, but you will not be able to deliver, if your men do not trust you. One of the factors is to be transparent and honest with the men under one’s command."


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Leadership in the 21st Century —Deliver or Perish!

Most military minds still think that leadership was the product of ‘certain traits.’ Every human being has some leader like traits. One has to only recognise and polish them. Some others even define leadership by the ‘situational model’. This means that situation interacting with a volitional group throws up a leader. But these are all theoretical ‘wastes’ of time begone.

In the 21st Century parlance, Leader is the one who ‘delivers to deliver’, one ought to create trust of the kind one displays in god. Note what Alvin Toffler laments in his book ‘Third Wave’, “The failure of the modern leadership is not because of lack of qualities amongst leaders but the very breakdown of the institutions on which their power depended “

It simply meant that modelled on the principles of joint family system ethos, leadership was based on ‘Family trust and ties. This trust has been broken and man is pursuing his personal agendas. A modern leader’s job is to snare his men’s ambitions towards attaining a common goal. Therefore, one has to create trust in the men, whose ambitions the leader snares.

Leadership, today, is therefore of mutual trust, between the leader and the led. It is no more ‘Charge of the light Brigade’ which flowed from family ties. Unless subordinate trusts his leader, he would not risk his life to obey him. Trust building is the major job of a military leader. It is the trust deficit which undoes leaders. Have a glance at the Indian political scenario. Family firms of Indian politics are crumbling. Family ties are no more the Queen bee, around which others will assemble.

Same is true of military leadership. You might be the boss, but you will not be able to deliver, if your men do not trust you. One of the factors is to be transparent and honest with the men under one’s command. How does one create trust amongst his men? I leave this thought with you to ponder about with a following hint —- Your men are watching you!

Dove Sideman explains in his book, ‘How’ that an ‘information society’ also breeds a ‘Surveillance Society’. In other words, people are more curious, and they attentively watch. Subordinates look at their bosses with an incisive eye. But Surveillance is a two-way traffic. It is done from both ends —- i.e.—-top and bottom. This is also true of soldiers and military profession.

If they are watching you, earn their trust by gaining their respect not by legal authority but impartiality and competence. In short, be God to your men by protecting and sheltering them. In the days of Social media explosion, information cannot be controlled. It does tumble out.

And once it does, many reputations are slaughtered. The author of ‘How’, Dave Sideman, says: "It has been said that information is like a toddler. It goes everywhere, gets into everything, and you cannot always control it. " He bats for total transparency in the acts of all leaders, more particularly higher leadership.


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