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Of Leaders & Leadership!


There have been a lot of discussion and opinions strewn about Leaders and Leadership with reference to the recently concluded LIST II elections in the various states of India, especially with reference to UTTAR PRADESH.

LEADER  is a post- facto determination OF A PERSON’S LEADERSHIP.  Anointment as a leader may legitimize his decisions and also empower him, but to exhibit LEADERSHIP, he should PERFORM & DELIVER. Otherwise, like Humayun in the string of the Great Mughals, would be treated as a mere HYPHEN which connected the other two Great Mughals, Babur and Akbar!

Let me expatiate on this point through the story of DAVID & GOLIATH.

Goliath was a Philistine champion. A person who prided on his skills in a one-to-one battle. He had a spear and sword to offend, a buckler, greaves and a helmet to defend and  heckled at the Jewish forces to engage him in a duel. On the other side was the King Saul and his chief of his army Abner. So both Saul and Abner were LEADERS! But they did not want to engage, as they were too big to get into duels with single individuals and expose themselves to the vagaries of a battle. They, though were LEADERS were relying on their POSITIONAL ADVANTAGE to find a person who could win the combat, yet were not willing to engage themselves in the combat.

So SAUL & ABNER went around scouting for a suitably skilled person  to defeat GOLIATH. This was extent of the leadership by Saul. He used his KINGLY position to side-step facing a combat. He was also a trained warrior- at least after he became a King, he was trained. But ABNER was in that position as a WARRIOR only, so he should have stepped in and taken GOLIATH head on. Yet he skirted the combat and wanted somebody else to fight GOLIATH and get the Jews the victory. Their LEADERSHIP WAS CONFINED TO STRATEGY NOT ACTION!

Eventually DAVID was chosen to combat GOLIATH, I am sure DAVID must have demonstrated his skills as a slinger and Saul and Abner would have seen the advantage in sending DAVID, as  – if David’s skill worked- he would be able to finish off GOLIATH before DAVID came into the range of the spear or sword of Goliath. A good ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION. Saul and Abner were great ADMINISTRATORS, but exhibited poor  LEADERSHIP qualities. 

DAVID grabs the opportunity. DAVID slings GOLIATH to his death and cuts off the head of GOLIATH with Goliath’s own sword!

DAVID DID NOT RETIRE LEAVING THE VICTORY IN THE HANDS OF THE ADMINISTRATORS! He exhibited LEADERSHIP.The women, show to Saul who the REAL LEADER was: they sang, “Saul got his thousands and David his ten thousands!”

He had earlier refused to wear the coat-mail of Saul . David relied on his own USP – SLING AND SWING THE VERDICT. He did it. That was LEADERSHIP. But still Saul and Abner were the leaders of the Jewish group. They reduced themselves to figure heads!

SIMPLE, TO BE A LEADER YOU NEED A CROWD WHICH RECOGNIZES YOU AS THE LEADER. BUT TO EXHIBIT LEADERSHIP YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO DIE FOR THE CAUSE.

DAVID WAS WILLING TO DIE, BUT WON THE BATTLE WITH HIS SKILLS. That makes for LEADERSHIP.

Like what Benjamin Netanyahu said, “IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK, LOOKS LIKE A DUCK AND QUACKS LIKE A DUCK, WHAT DO YOU CALL IT? A DUCK. IF IT IS FITTED WITH A NUCLEAR HEAD THEN IT IS A NUCLEAR DUCK!”

So PERFORMANCE (which means FUNCTIONS) matter. Merely calling someone a LEADER is nothing but a feudal technique of management. One should exhibit LEADERSHIP TRAITS to be called a LEADER in a DEMOCRACY.

Let us get our fundamentals right!!

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