Everyday Leaders


Last month, my father-in-law retired after 34 years of service at Central Railways & I was fortunate to attend his farewell function. To give some more context, he was also a post-holder in the NRMU (National Railway Mazdoor Union) because of which he had to constantly lead people under him; communicate & negotiate with the higher authorities & also take care that the processes of a traditional public sector organization are followed & upheld. That’s tremendous pressure!

At the farewell function, I saw genuine gratitude, I saw people (women and men) getting emotional while speaking about him (some actually cried while speaking on the mic). What I saw at the farewell function inspired me because making an impact through a business or making an impact in a small organization is easy but making an impact in an organization like Railways is a different ball game altogether. People like my father-in-law are everyday leaders who should be recognized & acknowledged for not staying inside the comfort zone of a secure government job but coming out of that zone & making a difference to people’s lives.

Meanwhile, I have written a book Strength Ecology & having immersed in this thinking for a long time, I can’t help thinking from the book’s perspective. So coming back to the point, what exactly inspired me & my inferences about what made my father-in-law a true leader (I have recognized his qualities as strengths from my book & put the terms in brackets []):

He had umpteen chances of resorting to unfair means & accepting black money but he didn’t. He always did what was right. This strength makes all the difference. [INCORRUPTIBLE]

He has seen a lot of struggle in life but he has risen above all that & is still extremely humble. I have hardly seen him talking about the past; in fact he is always interested in learning new things, making interesting conversations & gaining knowledge which could be applied in real life. He has always acted & believed that actions speak louder than words. [DOER]

In his farewell speech, he shared what he had followed throughout his career: be productive every day irrespective of your pay so that you feel satisfied at the end of the day. He had injected so much passion in his job which is evidently proven by the fact that he derived satisfaction from the process of getting tasks done & not necessarily the result. [ACCOMPLISHER]

He has an amazing ability to gauge an individual’s personality & interact accordingly with the individual. This makes him powerful since he can tackle all types of people. Even in the family, he commands respect as the head of the family when he is among the elders, but he can be equally cool with kids & young people. [PEOPLE ASSESSOR]

In most of the speeches people made for him, it was clear that he went out of the way to help people. He guided many young people (from lower middle class) to get jobs in Railways. He played an instrumental role in rehabilitating alcoholics. He is always ready to support people in whatever way he can. [NURTURER]

Great leaders inspire trust. My father-in-law spoke of what he believed in as a post-holder which reminded me of Simon Sinek’s enlightening talk about leaders. My father-in-law said he wanted to take every one along like a family. He wanted to explore win-win situations; instead of taking someone’s side, he wanted to bring everyone on a common ground while negotiations. [BLENDER]

We respect some people in the family for the mere reason that they are elder to us but I respect this man for his journey, for the fact that he is self-made & he has never looked back but always ahead & taken people along with him. And, I am sure he is not going to stop even though he has retired formally from his job.

Real leaders never retire.


Characteristics of Creative People

Creativity is the process by which innovative but situationally appropriate ideas are thought of & expressed.

Though ‘Creativity‘ is a relative term, anything innovative or different cannot be called ‘creative’. The idea has to be novel & applicable to the context.

As per author K. Aswathappa in the book of Organizational Behavior, the typical characteristics or traits of creative people are as follows:

  1. Preference to long-term goals over short-term goals; readiness to sacrifice immediate gains for the sake of long-term advantage.
  2. Very energetic & enthusiastic; infectious amount of energy when it comes to what they are passionate about or highly committed to.
  3. Grudge against the status quo; highly driven to initiate a change where required.
  4. High amount of perseverance, sincerity & commitment towards what they believe in.
  5. Hobbies & specialized interests; a quest to gain more knowledge in the hobbies or interests they pursue.
  6. A strong belief that ‘Procrastination is not a waste of time‘.
  7. Inventive thinking style – a natural corollary of Creativity.
  8. High intelligence; knowledgeable & imaginative.

It is not just today that organizations are seeking highly creative people, the need for creative minds goes back thousands of years ago. For an organization to flourish, it is important that the creative individuals in the organization get a conducive environment to grow & apply their creativity.

So the next time, an employee suggests something brilliant like a mysterious bolt from the blue, you know that his creative streak needs to be nurtured.

How to Build Confidence

Some tips to help you build confidence; these are tried & tested!

  1. Learn something new every day. Subscribe to news related to your field, attend workshops or seminars & try to apply whatever you learn.
  2. Take your interests a step forward. For example, if you love listening to music, try enrolling for formal music lessons. If you are developing interest in Ruby programming language, try coding in it, instead of just reading about it.
  3. Do not overestimate yourself. Plan your routine as per your capacity. Set realistic goals for yourself.
  4. Reward yourself when you accomplish a task. It is good to relish success even if it is a small one.
  5. Develop your personality. Groom yourself to feel better. Present yourself in a neat & smart way.
  6. Enhance your skills. Train yourself in various capacities to make yourself unique.
  7. Be approachable & interactive. It is a good habit to talk to people. Find a common ground & strike a conversation. Exchange contact details; you never know when the person might be of use to you or vice-versa.
  8. Learn to accept failures just like you accept success. It is all about what to learn from your experiences & not just the outcomes.
  9. Be prepared to face all situations. Give your 100% in every situation, irrespective of the result. Pat yourself for your efforts.
  10. Smile. It will not cost you much!