From becoming a boss to being a leader
By the time you realize that your parents were right, you have kids who begin to think you are wrong. The journey of having a boss to becoming a boss is very similar.
Your first few bosses have a lasting impact on how you shape up as a professional, and you go through this metamorphosis without much realizations. I have been fortunate to work with some of the most level-headed, sharp and high-achievement orientation managers early on in my career.
With my very first assignment, it was a privilege and a delight to be mentored by a leader who had a flair for developing people. Apart from learning the tricks of the trade in functional aspects like HR & IR, one of the biggest learnings was understanding and developing a sense of emotional intelligence while managing people and delicate situations. However, the best thing to have happened to me was my manager giving me a clean slate to chart out my own plan for engaging the workforce. He wanted youthfulness and innovation to overtake processes and old patterns. This exposure gave me the opportunity to try new things, fail better and grow faster.
Post my first assignment, I was fortunate to work with organizations that exposed me to completely different kinds of bosses and leadership styles that helped me enhance different facets of my personality.
Having worked with CEOs over the past decade in both Global MNCs and startups, 2 things that have really stayed with me. One was their obsession with perfection and other was their hunger for value creation. These are also the 2 things that I always share with my team. As HR, what is the value creation that we can make to our stakeholders and customers and the organization and how do we do that with the highest level of perfection. These two principals have not just driven my professional but also my personal decision making.
You have to be really lucky to get tough bosses in your professional career, even though you may hate some of those times, but on hindsight, they will be your biggest stepping stones to success.
Today with over 2 decades of experience working with bosses and now being a boss, the 3 biggest elements that became a part of me that drives my belief as a leader are:
- Being a genuine leader is more important than being the popular one – Do what’s right for the team, even if they may not see the immediate gain/benefit from it. Often leaders fall in the trap of being liked and land up making a decision that makes them popular but may not help the team grow in the long run.
- Set sky as the limit – As a boss, a leader and as a mentor, it’s your ownership and responsibility to grow people and make them better individuals and professionals. As a leader, you need to link individual strengths, aspirations, and interests with organization goals and create a win-win. While you do that, you have to ensure you do not compromise on the quality and timelines but certainly push the team outside their comfort zone because that’s where the growth begins.
- Recognize and reward those who trust you and your vision – As you build a team, you will find some loyalists who buy into your vision and give their sweat and blood for the team and overall mission. Recognize such talent, nurture them, retain them and recognize them. Good talent is rare to find and it’s your job as a leader to create a highly effective team gunning for glory. After all, a leader is only as good as its team.
I can’t help but recall the story from mythology, where a lady asked a saint, ‘if mythology books can answer all our questions, why do we need a Guru’? The saint smiled and politely replied, my dear, ‘why don’t you ask that to the book’?
On World Boss’s Day, the one thing that all the bosses could do is probably assume the role of being a Guru. Be the source of encouragement, learning, and inspiration to our teams, just as our bosses have been to us. We are just the torch bearers that own the responsibility of setting the right example in front of our teams, who unconsciously might be learning from us what really a boss looks, acts and is like!