TODAY -

Leadership skills for 21st century: A perspective

Fr Paul Lelen Haokip *



It is easier to talk or write about leadership than enter into its praxis dimension. Leaders lead while managers manage. Roles and expectations of being a leader are diverse. So being equipped is the only dress necessary if a leader wants to lead (well). There seems to be more problems with trusted-upon-leadership than attained-leadership by merit and hard work.

The former could be assumed without much preparation (even unequipped) while the latter is competitive and abreast with multiple skills for leading human beings. Leading animals is a difficult job; you can imagine leading humans who are packed with multiple talents, experiences, expertise and dreams. An exigent job on the roll.

1. Have a Vision: A leadership is hundred percentage expected to define and communicate his/her Vision to colleagues. As a leader you should be able to paint a vivid picture of where you are heading yourself and taking your group. Take time to formulate your vision clearly, else you confuse others and the institute, organization you lead.

Instead of leading with a blur vision, it will be better idea to step down and show the chair of leadership to someone capable. A leader without clear vision is a starting point of confusion. Do not isolate your dream. Connect with your team will make you achieve your vision better and faster.

2. Communicate Effectively: You may have conceived the best Vision but if you are ineffective to communicate this Vision, your first step is equal to a plane that runs on the runway but not able to take off. Try to communicate clearly, concisely and tactfully without any hidden agenda of your selfish motive. The ability to communicate effectively is a crucial leadership skill.

Communication is not just listening attentively to others and responding appropriately to their concerns. It also includes sharing your valuable information, asking intelligent questions, soliciting input and new ideas, clarifying misunderstandings, and being clear about what you want.

Communication is not to impose your authority or create an air of superiority but to inspire and energize your team. This can lead to synergy that can act as needed fuel for better functioning of your company or institute.

3. Be More Strategic: Strategy is the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle. Strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim. It is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.

It is relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them. A leader should think at a higher level than just what needs to get done today. The future starts not next year, not next week, but now. So it deserves your utmost attention. It is not a wishful or once-a-while thinking but a regularly thinking about the bigger picture for your work. Keep your plans for a year, five Years Plan etc.

4. Get Good at Dealing with Conflict: As long as human beings exist, there will be some sort of conflict and mismatch. If you take these as setbacks, this thought-pattern will slow down your pace. But if your take these confusions as part of fusion for betterment, you are on the right track of being a leader.

The best managers excel at productively dealing with conflict. They work through it, resolve issues amicably, and get all parties moving forward. You can't leave out a party or section and go ahead. This model will hamper your growth and peace in your company or institute.

Internal harmony and cordial relationship are the two oars for work commitment and organization's growth. So when conflicts happen, recognize them and embrace them. Shying away from them or pretending as it they are not there is not a solution in any case.

5. Lead by Example: It pleases many leaders to give advice to others (especially subordinates). 'Command and Control' style of leadership is as good as a dead battery. But the best way to build credibility and gain the respect of your team is to set the right examples with our life. Demonstrate what you want people to follow.

If you demand a lot from your team, you should also be willing to set high standards for yourself as well. In fact, you should be willing to work harder and longer than them. Aligning your words and actions will help to build trust and make your team more willing to follow your example.

6. Empower Others: Always be open to change and be willing to share what you have. Do not think that by sharing your expertise and knowledge, you team members are going to be better than you and you run the risk of being defeated. No. In fact, great leaders have a sense of ownership over their work and believe that what they're doing is meaningful.

Create that sense of meaning in the minds and hearts of your team members by empowering them. Communicate clear goals and deadlines. Give them autonomy and authority in their field of work to accomplish their tasks. Challenge them with high expectations and encourage them to be creative and innovative at all times. Appreciate when they do well. Even if you are absent and disabled, your team members should be able to do as good as you have done or even better.

7. Reward and Response: Keep in mind that you are running this company or institute with the mighty help of your team mates. Do not fail to reward their good deeds. Small acts of acknowledgment will create miracles for happiness and satisfaction in the lives of team mates. Respond to their needs personal, health, family or social issues.

This response will create a feeling in your team that you are concern about their welfare inside this work place and outside too. Reward and Response philosophy increases the performance level of a team and creates a sense of belongingness. Team spirit is strengthened.

8. Interdisciplinary mindset: Water tight compartmentalisation and independence schools of thought are outdated. They are shown the back door long back. Now, the philosophy of complementarity and relationality are in the market for better functioning and growth. The Philosophy of complementarity, meeting of paths, ideologies, thought patterns, cultures, value system is the way, the truth and the style of today.

No discipline of function is so rich that it needs no enrichment from any other discipline, and not discipline is so poor that it cannot enrich any other. No organization, company, institute can survive on its own. One needs the other for growth. Interrelation and interdependence of one discipline with the other is a must for survival and growth of your organization.

9. Research and Development: No one steps out of the house prior to looking oneself at the mirror. No leaders should lead long unless you are able to see yourself and your organisation through research and development. Research will tell you your flaws and helps you improve your performance. Your strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats could be internal or external in nature.

Knowing your present (positive & negative) condition itself is a development. Invest in Research and Development if you and your organization want to survive in this fast changing market scenario.

10. Creating an organization: If your aim is to last long and leave a legacy, then you have to work hard for creating an organization that will survive through thick & thin, low & high tides of life. Leadership that is merely exercised through individual charisma or heroic action will not be a guarantee that the charm of your organization will carry on after you. So, set things in perspective towards creating an organization by taking into consideration all the stakeholders.

Conclusion: These are but just ten skills for being effective leaders. If you want to know more and be better than yesterday, you need to learn further, Build your dream a little today, a little tomorrow. You may be slow in your progress but never stop trying and never stop walking.

Leaders are not born but moulded and formed. Challenges are many but they are not impossible either. To lead is to bleed. To progress, you need hard work, long term thinking and collaborative network.

You can start these skills in your family, school, society. If they work, share with others. If they don't, try again with more inputs.


* Fr Paul Lelen Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is pursuing Master's in Pastoral Management, JDV, Pune. More details at www.paullelenhaokip.com/www.thejoyofbeingmyself.com
This article was webcasted on February 06 , 2018.



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