It is as much a cliched topic as much it is an intriguing one. Good leaders and ideal leadership have often been the subject of countless connotations and endless propositions. The notion of leadership, and by extension, that of leaders, has evolved as the decades have rolled by. There are some stark differences and yet some startling similarities in the manner a good leader was defined fifty years back and now. However, time creates more obsolescence than most other factors. Leadership, by any stretch of the imagination, isn’t an exception.
My Standard Eleven textbook defined management as ‘management is what a manager does’. As a naïve student, I could barely contain my laughter while I read this. It took some years for the fact to dawn upon me that this statement, though simplistic in its approach, made more sense than most other definitions. If we could extend this further and say leadership is what a leader does, we are in a terrible fix, for leadership is not done; it is demonstrated.
In an age characterized by specialization, ‘leading by example’ isn’t always the best option to vouch for. If there is a person in the team who can do a particular thing better than the leader himself, letting that person actually do it is critical. In other words, enabling assumes a bigger role than leading. Enabling creates greater utility; leading creates disparity. If the ultimate aim is to do it in the best possible way, why lead when you can simply enable? Good leaders do not essentially know everything under the sun- for they too have limitations of storage space up there! However, they very well know that knowing their resources is as pivotal, if not more, as knowing the work to be accomplished. ‘Being Jack of all trades’ is more of a criticism than a compliment in today’s era where making precise incisions is valued more than heavy-boxing your opponent out. Leading is thus passé, enabling is the in-thing.
If the leader wants to hog the Arclight every single time he leaves his home, he is setting himself up for far more trouble than he would have ever imagined. Leading is about creating new leaders; it is not about creating people who clap for you every time you successfully breathe. When leaders enable, they knowingly empower. Talent is just another attribute unless it is made workable. The millennial age does not require talented teams as much it requires working teams. The gradual conclusion thus is – the millennial age does not require leaders anymore – it requires enablers – the mavericks who are willing to delegate responsibly, and if need be, to play a multitude of passive backstage roles rather than the coveted glamorous lead-actor role!
‘Thou shalt enable more than thou shalt lead’ perhaps is the next yardstick of measuring how effective leader (or enabler?) you are!