Organizational Leadership: Learning from the Leaders

Atanu Ghosh, Shailesh J Mehta School of Management

 

Leadership is a complex process by which a person influences others to accomplish a mission, task, or objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. A person carries out this process by applying his leadership attributes which encompass belief, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and skills. Although the position of a manager, executive or supervisor, provides the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in the organization, this power does not make someone a leader...it simply makes him/her the boss. True leadership makes people want to achieve high goals and objectives, while, on the other hand, bosses tell people to accomplish a task or objective.

         It may be said that good leaders are made; not born. Anybody can become an effective leader provided he has the desire and willpower to become one. Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience, and some people do possess these qualities innately.

         As part of a course on Leadership & Vision, the SJMSOM hosts Leadership Lecture Series during January-February every year. The lectures offer a valuable opportunity to learn about this most complex subject of "Leadership" from many of the eminent personalities and leaders, who are invited to deliver talks. On this platform, many of the speakers have shared their experience of transforming their own organization and reshaping them to withstand the challenges of today's complex business and social environment.

         There is little doubt that vision plays a pivotal role in organizational performance. In his recent talk under the Leadership Lecture Series 2005 at the Shailesh J Mehta School of Management (SJMSOM) Dr J J Irani made a telling point: that the act of creating a vision should not just be a top management exercise. Every individual in the company should understand and be an integral part of the organization's vision. Only then the organization can work towards achieving it. Speaking figuratively, he pointed out that in an un-magnetized iron rod the atoms are all oriented randomly. When a current is passed through a coil around it, the atoms are magnetized and align in a single direction. Likewise a true leader should have the ability to align the thoughts of followers in a concerted manner.

          Dr J J Irani also elaborated on what he termed the ‘12 commandments’, which he had prescribed for himself when he took over as the Managing Director of M/s Tata Steel. Speaking on the challenge of effecting transformations, he compared an organization in crisis to a patient in ICU. If the organization wished to overcome the crisis, it should be prepared to go through very painful process of ‘major surgeries and blood transfusion’, in order to emerge out of ICU in health! Although metaphorical, the example underscores the simple truth that the process of organizational recovery cannot be a ‘painless’ one, and that it needed to be appreciated pragmatically..........more on next page