I recently read the book ‘Leadership on the line’ by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky. It is an interesting book which takes a very practical view on Leadership and gives some simple yet powerful lessons on how one can become a better leader in today’s world.

Some of the lessons that I picked up are:

  1. People don’t resist change, they resist the loss brought about by change. If you can help them deal with the loss, you can help them deal with the change. In the last 3 years, as a General Manager, whenever I have tried to introduce a new system or process, I found that some employees perceive a sense of loss of authority or power, making them resist the change. Once they understand that the loss is not actually a loss, but something that actually empowers them, they accept the change more willingly.
  2. Once in a while, exceed your formal authority, only then will you push the envelope. It is good to get out of one’s comfort zone once in a while.
  3. Observe Mindfulness – get off the dance floor and go to the balcony. Make interventions, observe impact in real time [balcony] and then get back to the action [dance floor]. When you see from the balcony, you see yourself as well in action. We have undergone a huge transformation in our Sales organization in the last 2 years. This required me to constantly toggle between the balcony and the dance floor in terms of looking at the big picture, benchmarking with other organizations etc and then getting into the thick of action and ensuring flawless execution on the ground. Very often I would find myself spending too much time on one of the places – the balcony and the dance floor. I realized that one needs to constantly be aware of this and manage it well.
  4. Start where people are at, and not where you are. Over the last couple of years, I have been having a 15 minute one-on-one coffee session with my colleagues once a week to understand their perspective and where they come from. These sessions have been immensely beneficial in creating several engagement and capability building initiatives to enhance the morale and quality of talent in the organization.
  5. Have a diagnostic mindset with changing reality. Access to the right network is critical, seek diverse views. I have always found that involving people upstream rather than downstream significantly enhances their involvement and hence the quality of the output. It also throws diverse ideas on the table at an early stage and helps us look at the issue from multiple perspectives, and hence get to a better solution.

One of the biggest insights is that Leadership is not a jacket that you put on at work and take off post work. It is important to realize that exercising leadership is a way of giving meaning to your life by contributing to the lives of others. This realization put things in perspective and helps us shape the way we want to be so that we can give back to the people whom we work with.