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Pakistan is passing through the most difficult stage of its existence, and as I see in my lifetime, which is quite long. It is about the floods which are still ravaging most part of the country. It is also about people who have made a few showpiece bags for photoshoot at flood sites and are all over the social media. It is about people who have put up fake collection stalls for flood affectees, with the clear intention of embezzling it. It is about visits of various leaders whose protocol makes flood victims lives more miserable. It is about insensitive reporters who are out to destroy the self-respect of flood victims, or whatever is left of it. It is about the exorbitant cost of fuel, and utilities about which nothing concrete i. It is about selective justice that spares some and catches some. It is about law and order where the number of vehicles stolen/snatched in the federal capital, Islamabad, exceeded even the number of mobile phones snatched during last one week. It is about the luxury trips of several leaders of PDM abroad, and Hajj/Umrah at public expense. It is an old question if Hajj/Umrah performed with money stolen/ looted/ embezzled/ gathered through bribes will find acceptance with the Almighty Allah? It is about the most incapable foreign minister in the history of the country, even worse than the previous one. It is about the nexus of powers-to-be which constantly works against its own people. A lot more could be said, and we know it.
At the corporate level, things are not very different. There is immense pressure for performance knowing fully about the market scenario. Many entrepreneurs are quite fond of philanthropic activities because it feels good, it saves taxes, and it probably reserves a seat in Jannah. Charity never begins at home; it starts and ends couple of hundred kilometers away. Is it management? Is it leadership?
Leadership is about people, of people, and for people. There would be no leader if there were no people; it is such a simple statement of fact. Like there will no manager without a team, no matter what title is given to him. But it happens so often that the subjects, the team, the ruled are completely ignored. Political, religious, social leaders, and media personalities believe that there are too many people around and therefore they will always have an endless supply of followers; no need to worry. Corporate managers also have similar thinking; they also believe that if one goes out the door, probably ten will be waiting to come in. There is a critical difference between corporate leadership and all other kinds; the corporate leader’s performance is dependent on people’s performance. Corporate leaders, therefore, must act differently.
People matter because people make things happen. They achieve great feats, bring extraordinary results, and ensure success.
The easiest route to establishing leadership is becoming autocratic dictator. The dictator leader refuses to listen to reason. He sees himself as the wisest, smartest, most capable, and most effective person in the corporate, and he thinks he does not need to listen to anyone for suggestion or contribution. The corporate world is therefore littered with self-proclaimed autocratic leaders.
The recommended style is ‘Level Five’ leadership. It is based in humility, taking people along, listening to them, and making them part of decision-making process. It is about giving importance to people, learning from them, and developing them for higher performance now and for various future roles in the future. We look at these features one by one.
Humility is a virtue which breaks huge barriers, it turns people to your side, makes communication easy, builds bonds, and develops team spirit. Humility must be genuine, from the heart, not the made-up kind which is just a façade. If it is not genuine, it will be caught sooner or later.
Taking people along is working through the team, giving them opportunity, tools, and space to perform. This is how great teams come into being and this is how great results are achieved.
Listening is as important a virtue as humility. Much has been written about this also. The most direct comment says that Allah has given us two ears and one tongue; means we should listen twice as much as we speak.
Participative decision making brings commitment, ownership, and transparency. It develops people and makes them confident.
People are important in corporate leadership. Most jobs are now skilled, knowledge-based, and need individual attention. No leader can work without people. People must be given the importance which they rightfully deserve.
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