“We must be silent before we can listen. We must listen before we can learn. We must learn before we can prepare. We must prepare before we can serve. We must serve before we can lead.” William Arthur Ward.
Leadership is a widely talked about subject internationally. It gives lots of energy, enthusiasm and inspiration to many readers. However, it is highly challenging to practice it. Anybody can talk about leadership from outside but to get into leadership role and walk the talk is easier said than done.
It is essential to build Indian youth as leaders as our nation needs leaders to ensure better quality of living, and to take the future generations forward.
There is an urgent need to build soft leaders in youth rather than ordinary leaders as India being a peace loving country that created great global leaders including Mahatma Gandhi who pioneered peace with an emphasis on truth and non-violence.
What is Soft Leadership?
Leadership basically depends on three aspects: how you communicate with others; how you make decisions; and how you take action. When you can execute these three activities effectively you become a successful leader. However, to evolve as a soft leader, you must communicate with an emphasis on soft skills; make decisions by blending your head, heart and gut; and take action keeping the ground realities and goals in your view without compromising people-orientation. There are 11 Cs that constitute soft leadership. They are: character, charisma, conscience, conviction, courage, communication, compassion, commitment, consistency, consideration and contribution. It is highly challenging for people to cultivate these 11 characteristics. However, if people possess more than 6 traits they get into the fold of soft leadership.
How to Excel as a Soft Leader?
When you want to excel as a soft leader there must NOT be “character gap”, “communication gap”, “commitment gap” and “courage gap”. When you stick to these four sutras you can excel as a soft leader. “Treat people the way you want to be treated” is the old adage. But as a soft leader, you must treat all people with respect especially people who are lower to you in rank and file. The soft leaders possess humility and a servant attitude. In Jim Collins parlance, they are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They help their people grow beyond what people dream of growing. That is the hallmark of soft leadership.
Gen Y and Success
Generation Y is highly ambitious but impatient. They are hard working, not smart working. In rare cases, they are smart working, not wise working. They want to touch the heights of success without emphasis on ethics and integrity. They must acquire the right means to achieve their success. Since Gen Y is in a hurry they may tend to make more mistakes apart from compromising integrity and ethics. They must learn that short-cuts will cut them short forever. If they want to stand in the race to stand out as soft leaders they must emphasize on ethics. Although it might take a little longer time, it is worth achieving success with integrity and ethics. It is a fact that people often look at negative things in leaders rather than positive things. As a leader you are always under the scanner. Hence, you must walk your talk properly with an eye on your ends with an emphasis on ethics, values and morals.
Be a Giver, not a Taker
According to Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success”, there are three types of people in the world – Givers, Takers and Matchers. Takers contribute less and expect more from others. In contrast, givers contribute with a great heart without expecting anything from others. Matchers fall in the middle of the road, they believe in proportional returns for their contribution. They hover in between givers and takers. Givers think of what is that I can do for others, takers think of what is in it for me and matchers think of what is to barter and mutually beneficial to us. Soft leaders are givers, hard leaders are takers and smart leaders are matchers.
Takers are plenty, they are at the bottom of the pyramid, matchers are at the middle of the pyramid and givers are at the top of the pyramid, they are very few in number. They are the people who make a difference to the world. Soft leaders belong to the top of the pyramid. They don’t mind who takes credit for their efforts and achievements. They are altruist with people-orientation a blend of personal humility and professional will. Their pockets may be empty but their hearts are rich. We need such kind of leaders who can walk their talk to contribute their best to make a difference to the world.
Here is the difference between takers and givers: Takers are often found to be selfish people while givers are often found to be selfless people. Takers are often whiners while givers are winners. Takers often blame the circumstances while givers look for opportunities to work with what they have to contribute. In the present world, takers are more but givers are less. That is why we have more followers and less leaders. And leaders are givers. There is a thrill in giving rather than taking from others. Everyone knows that we don’t take away wealth when we depart from this world. We leave this world either with good reputation or with bad reputation depending on our contribution. Remember, leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Mother Teresa stand out from others because they were givers. They sacrificed their lives for the welfare of others. That is why they are still remembered today. Do you like to be remembered like them? If so, you must adopt soft leadership where you respect all people with your personality, attitude and behavior and make others truly special.
Build Soft Leaders
Presently people appreciate partnership rather than traditional command-and-control leadership. They believe in the concept of “give respect and take respect”. There is a drastic change in the mindset of the people globally due to the rapid changes in the technologies. It is essential to explore soft leadership rather the traditional leadership styles which got outdated. Hence, build soft leaders in Indian youth who can emphasize on soft skills rather than hard skills; people-orientation rather than task-orientation; transformational leadership rather than transactional leadership; others-centered leadership rather than self-centered leadership; “what is that I can do for others” rather than “what is in it for me” to bring smiles and make a difference in the lives of others.
Remember the words of Winston Churchill “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”.
Prof. M.S. Rao
International Leadership Guru
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