4/10/08

A Good Leader

A book written by Jim Collins titled Good to Great” is a survey of fortune 500 companies. The purpose of survey was to find out how a company turned itself from good to great. These companies started in an inverse situation, but in the long run they proved black horse. The book provides some insights which can be pertinent to our contemporary political (so called) leaders. The core elements required for this transition, let’s say from no-good to good in Nepalese context, are Level Five Leader, First Who then What, Good Decision Making Mechanism, and Sense of Discipline.
The Level Five Leader is an individual who is very humble on a personal level, but who possesses a great deal of drive and desire to succeed, where success is not personal, but defined by creating something great that will outlast for the generations. Coherently, we also need a leader with a strong determination, will and commitment to do what is necessary to drive our country on the new direction of peace and development. The author advocates that “Level Five Leaders can be made because many people, probably, have the core abilities and attitude necessary to attain that status.
The author dictates subsequently, during the transformation rather than concern themselves first with the what - direction, strategy they have to be ensured that we have the right people on the bus before anything else. By having a strong team, they can avoid pitfall of depending completely on one leader. As the author stated,Great companies are those that have a very solid foundation, and dont depend on the brilliance of any one person. We need to give good people good opportunities, rather than the biggest problems. Fixing problems makes you good, but taking advantage of the right opportunities can make you great.
The author quotes,” One of the key factors in the success of the great companies was a series of good decisions. The good decisions flowed from the fact that they all made a consistent and thorough effort to confront reality, internalizing the facts relevant to their market.” In the similar vein, our political system should pave a way to the economic growth of country instead of personally poking their nose in all corners of the decision making. Its often better to ask questions rather than dispense answers. Encourage healthy debate. It has to be real debate, not a show put on to make people feel included as Maoist pretend. It should also not just be argument for the sake of argument - reach a conclusion and move on. When things go wrong, investigate to avoid repeating the mistake, instead of assigning blame as ‘The Three Big’ do. If people are too worried about protecting themselves, it becomes difficult to honestly analyze and learn from failures. The author continue,” Create mechanisms, that allow people to communicate problems instantly and without repercussions, and in a way that cannot be ignored. By maintaining this vision, and keeping their ear to the ground, it wont be necessary to motivate people - theyll be motivated of their own accord.”
Other essential factors to success are the spirit of leadership and a sense of discipline. They are both necessary - without the drive to try new things, and some degree of independence, a system becomes a rigid, stifling hierarchy. Without some sense of discipline, system begins to break down. “The best leaders have both latitude for individual action, as well as a culture of disciplined behavior” Collins said. Its useless trying to create rules to force the wrong people to behave correctly - it simply wont work. Instead, we need to educate people and develop an innate sense of self-discipline that doesnt come from above. There is a big difference between having a tyrant that enforces a culture of discipline by fear, and finding people who naturally adhere to a disciplined approach. The former will disintegrate when the leader moves on; the latter creates a lasting system.

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