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.