#ToBeOrNotToBe : The Leadership Paradox

As I have trudged my HR journey through various swamps and mountains, I have had the opportunity to observe many leaders in action ( or inaction!). Some have been inspiring, others have been despicable. Some so self assured, others megalomaniacal. Some have been generous in sharing credit and appreciation, others only wanting it for themselves. Some have been most open to feedback, others absolutely closed to it.

I recall a peer who had grown with the organisation over a long career. Competent at his task, there was a huge challenge with his talent mindset. Not one who had the highest academic pedigree ( but had a high ego!), he struggled with hiring superior talent. Nor did the best talent want to work with him. The reports dare not decide anything without consulting this leader. So no one really developed beyond being their own little micromanagers. Succession planning for oneself was hence an anathema for this leader. And the blind spots were too blind for any surgical intervention. This is a classic paradox : traditional tenure loyalty but the biggest constraint for the organisation’s future.

Yet another person was a top pedigree fresh hire. Was hired by the CEO from his known network. However, was parachuted into a role far bigger and complex than he had ever hired. By itself, everyone does something more challenging than ever before sometime. However, the inability to emotionally connect with his reports became a challenge. Bright, ambitious, competitive, this leader was short on building connect with his direct reports, almost without exception. He would prefer spreadsheets and tactical long winded reviews to be the only conduit to his leadership. The results were again obvious: the team started disintegrating fast and down the line. This was another paradox: infusion of bright task leadership may actually lead to dissipation of talent!

Each leader has been a product of one’s circumstances. The role models they had. The managers they worked under. The context of their organisation’s evolution. But each one is a product of one’s own mindset, own beliefs and own inadequacies.

Do we recall such examples? Anyone who could be us?! What is our mindset? What is our belief? What is our opportunity to change? If someone wrote a story, could we be one of the two protagonists? Would be a hero possibly turning into a villain? How would our cookie crumble? As the Bard once wrote, “ to be or not to be” is indeed the question.

Prabir Jha #PrabirInsights

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