Leaders create, managers comply

M Sadagopan *

In lighter vein it may seem to be, nevertheless, the following proves a point.

Have you observed in self (un)regulated queues like those at the boarding gates at airports, where, in the midst of an existing queue, a parallel one is led by a “thought leader” or two, perhaps not even with an intent to form one but just to squeeze through, given some space, and more following them to the point of the parallel one appearing to be the original queue? And sometimes, the original queue breaking and following the newly formed one?

The bottom-line is: A leader FORMS a queue while others, even while organised as managers, COMPLY by following! The leader of the parallel queue takes the ‘Big Apple’, and his followers from the original queue, fretting and fuming, take the leftover ‘Banana’. This is the ubiquitous phenomenon, from a mundane quotidian existence to the highest levels of creativity. Our Finance and Accounting workspace spreads annual reports as compliance mechanism. How many of us as reporters, use it, and how many, as users, view it, as a communication device? It calls for leadership while presenting it.

Creativity blooms out of insight, hindsight and foresight. It calls upon us to stop, think and reflect at regular intervals. In the call of the routine urgency that creates a false sense of importance, forcing us into the thick of thin things, majoring on the minor, there is no time to even think, and where does ‘reflection’ stand a chance? This is the reason why any system ‘outsources’ creativity.

All established systems are packs wrapped inside the box of pedestrian stuff. When someone oversteps and opens the box, it is construed as ‘opening the Pandora’s Box’, and all hell breaks loose! Creative thinkers fettered by regulatory capture, do not dare to open the box, but operate outside it. When creativity is ‘thinking outside the box’, it is clearly outside the system’s pack.

Creativity as a matter of principle eludes the system. Even the basics enshrined in a system, be it scholastic, official or home affairs, are valuables inside the closed system and not carried further – scholastic lessons to office, office take-homes to personal life, or homely experience to life at large. These are gotten in haste and forgotten at leisure!

I have come across several Engineering professionals at higher levels breaking their heads in solving for x and y, when given with a mischievous sense of humour,
x+y=10 and 2x+2y=20......!

And how many who are exposed to the greater nuances of algebra raise their eyebrow in stupefaction when I prove 1=2 in the following way:
(a+b) (a-b) =a2-b2, so, (a+a) (a-a) = a2-a2 so, (a+a) (a-a) = a(a-a), so,a+a =a, so, 2a = a, so, 2 = 1......!

The principles which the above flout, viz., the property of independence in the first case, and the rule of the indeterminate in the second, are gotten at classrooms, retained till exams and forgotten at work! It requires some outsourced out-of-the box thinking to help such souls refrain from buying the dummy ‘banana’ sold alongside the ‘big apple’.

How many, long after studying Economics, remember through their active work life, the principle behind indifference curves sloping left to right, convex to the origin? How many have thought about the utility of something they learnt as consumers surplus in Economics class, and dared to brood over a situation of “consumers deficit”?

A Finance Minister endowed with the skill to handle the dynamic complexities of multiple constituencies, applies the concept even without a bookish knowledge. Our education system grooms its products to find solutions to problems, from inside the book and the box, while for those endowed with intuition, vision and wisdom, the world outside is their book. It is no wonder, then, that education enables a man to make a living without common sense, and common sense enables a man to live without education.

This is where experience steps in, and fills up the mighty void between education and common sense, among the educated, in later years.

Lessons learnt on the run, through the school of hard knocks, are more powerful, and leave an indelible impression. But the point to ponder is that experience is a strange teacher – she gives the test first, and then the lessons – and her scars are equally indelible! And years down the line, you cannot live the lost years retrospectively, after correction, for, no one is rich enough to buy back his past!

The key, therefore, is to educate, ourselves from the given system, walking the extra mile, to minimise the bruises of experience. Let the present systems, which cannot take us along the path due to in-built constraints, light up the path and give us the space.

At the end of the day, our systems – schools and colleges, offices and homes-, at best, provide us seeds and saplings of Big Apples, but do not provide space for planting them. Let us create the orchards, out of (f) the system. Such of us will emerge as leaders with a vision, who can get managers with a mission.

* M Sadagopan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer, CFO (Chief Finance Officer), Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric Corporation Lt., is a Cost Accountant, Company Secretary and lawyer by profession, and a poet and lyricist, motivational speaker and social scientist
This is an excerpt from his book “CREATIVITY – THE BIG APPLE”
This article was posted on April 10, 2016.

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