Becoming a leader is a philosophy, an attitude. Robert Joss of Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business said “By leadership I mean taking complete responsibility for an organization’s well-being, growth and changing for better. Real leadership is not about prestige, power or status. It is about responsibility”. In the backdrop of ensuing World Social Work Day (21-3-2017) as a Life Member of National Association of Professional Social Work in India would like to share a story portraying what a true Leadership does mean to me. Here the story goes.
Scientists at the Rocket launching station at Thumba were in the habit of working for nearly 12 to 18 hours a day. There were about 70 scientists working on the project. All the scientists were really frustrated due to the pressure of work and demand of their boss but everyone was loyal to him and did not think of quitting the job.
One day, one scientist came to his boss and told him: Sir, I have promised to my children that I will take them to the exhibition going on in our township. So I want to leave the office today at 5.30 pm. His boss replied: O.K. you are permitted to leave the office early at 5.30 pm today.
The scientist started working. He continued his work after lunch. As usual he got involved to such an extent that he looked at his watch when he felt he was close to completion. The time was 8.30 pm and suddenly he remembered of the promise he had made to his children. He looked for his boss. He was not there. Deep within himself, he was feeling guilty for having disappointed his children. He reached home. Children were not there. His wife alone was sitting in the hall and reading magazines. The situation was explosive and any talk would boomerang on him. His wife asked him: would you like to have coffee or shall I straight way serve dinner if you are hungry. The man replied: If you would like to have coffee, I too will have but what about children?
Wife replied: You do not know your boss / manager came at 5.15 pm and has taken the children to the exhibition.
What had really happened was the boss who granted him permission was observing him working seriously at 5.00 pm. He thought to himself, this person will not leave the work, but if he has promised his children they should enjoy the visit to exhibition. So he took the lead in taking them to the exhibition.
The boss does not have to do this every time. But, once it is done, loyalty is established. That is why the scientists at Thumba continued to work under their boss even though the stress level was tremendous. By the way, can you hazard a guess as to who the Boss was? He was Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam who said a leader delegates not directs (Entrepreneurial Development, S. S. Khanka).
A Leader knows the importance of people in an organization and how a well defined team spirit is necessary to achieve the organizational mandates. In this context Andrew Carniege said
“Take my people and leave my factory, soon grass will grow on the floor. Take my factory and leave my people, soon we shall build a better factory”. Yet another quotation of L.F. Urwick seems to be very apt in this context who said, “Business houses are made or broken in the long-run not by markets or capital, patents or equipments, but by men”.
The secret is that the only way to motivate people is to communicate with them properly. It is one thing to dish out advice; it is another to lead by example and show exactly what you mean through your actions that Kalam established through his above action. It is the real art of inspiring, lessons learn in this way is invaluable. Robin Sharma in his book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, explained the situation so nicely. He wrote, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a great person than you ever dreamed yourself to be”. And so a leader that lives, lives not alone, not for itself and so the quality of their life ultimately comes down to the quality of their contribution. What a true leader does is he build open and honest relationships with communication, build a positive team and family spirit, encourage how to do more with less and how to become passionate and determined.
At the end of our course on Social Sector Leadership in 2015, offered by Philanthropy University an offshoot of the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley our Professor Amr Ai-Dabbagh, Founder of Philanthropy University who taught us the module Leadership: Ten Rules for Impact & Meaning wrote us a parting letter. It was immensely touching. He wrote, I am truly delighted to be writing this note to you to congratulate you on completing "Leadership - Rules for Impact and Meaning". For each and every one of you that has been on this journey with me, I hope that you have found the content of use to you that you've learned from your fellow learners. I write this wearing two hats - as the instructor of the course, I have been both humbled and impressed by the dedication, perseverance and hard work that you have exhibited. As Founder of Philanthropy U, Inc., the concept developer of Philanthropy University, I feel enormous excitement at the potential we have to build a better world by harnessing the energy, strength and leadership that you all endlessly represent. You have proven to be passionately engaged to contribute good for the world and with a genuine aim to accelerate your long-term impact and success. I've always believed in the rule of three and I would like to leave you with the below thoughts:
Principles: The three Principles are Giving, Earning and Sustaining - offer a balance that can be struck in all aspects of life - personal, professional, spiritual and more. Embrace these principles and use them as the lens to weigh out all you are dedicated to. Always refer back to them to achieve and maintain balance.
Values: The Five Values are Passion, Integrity, Honesty, Teamwork & Forward-thinking - define a border that should not be crossed or compromised. They underpin the road to leading for impact and meaning and are universal values that will contribute to a better world.
Use the rules that are taught for accelerating growth and achieving greater impact. Consider these rules holistically and integrate the lessons learned from each rule into your approach - the cohesion will deliver exceptional results!”
“We have become a true community of impact-driven leaders over the course and I look forward to having you all within the Philanthropy University family for years to come. We will continue to evolve based on the needs of our community for those in the service of a better world. I look forward to seeing you to working together to blaze a trail of true good around the world”, he concluded.
On the occasion of the World Social Work Day, this year the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) have focus attentions on issues like “Cooperation between Social Work Organizations and UN Agencies to Promote the SDGs” and “Social Work and Implementation of the SDGs: Challenges and Opportunities”. The attempt is to showcase the achievements of social work, increase its visibility and to highlight its synergies with social development with shared commitments to social justice, inclusive development and human rights.
We all are here for a special purpose and at some point of time we need to take the leap to get started and then you discover whether we are made for it. Let us ardently believe that our journey to this planet intended to a purpose, much bigger than we normally thought of. Change today change tomorrow.