The higher one climbs in an organisation, the more multi-directional and multi-dimensional are the demands made on him. The want of awareness on the part of top executives of the need to acquire a multi-faceted personality is the dominant reason why, despite the vast corpus of knowledge on every conceivable aspect of leadership, they fail to deliver as per expectations. Indeed, ideally, the ability of a leader to present a distinct motivating facet to each of his associates determines the success of the enterprise.

Rasa Leela

Interestingly, that is the concept embedded in the Rasa Leela in which Lord Krishna divides into as many versions of himself as there are

gopis

participating in it so that each of them has a Krishna suited to her temperament cavorting with her! In a sense, and not entirely facetiously, each leader should develop the same kind of capacity to strike a rapport with each of those working with and for him.

To be able to do so, he should be people-centric with an abundance of human qualities. It should be remembered that leadership does not achieve results in a dry-as-dust environment. Motivation as a means of inspiring people to rise to the occasion has a lot to do with playing on the emotions in the right mix and in the right manner.

The point can be illustrated with the help of concrete situations in the quotidian experience of, say, a CEO. For being effective and worthy of his position, he has to command the respect and trust of a bewilderingly extended spectrum of stake-holders, beginning, in concentric circles, as it were, from the people in his own organisation at the centre to customers, bankers, financiers, investors, wholesalers, retailers, vendors, politicians, bureaucrats, media persons, competitors, domestic and foreign negotiating teams, and so on.

Even within his own organisation, he has to get the best out of a variety of disciplines and branches such as engineering, manufacturing, marketing, finance and accounts, personnel, R&D, law, project management

et al

. He has to deal with them not only officially and functionally, but often socially and informally, to draw them into his fold and forge a win-win partnership.

Different ball-game

It goes without saying that the skills, styles and approaches to meet situations arising from interactions with such disparate groups cannot be identical; he cannot win friends and influence people by bulldozing, as if he alone counts.

For example, to prevail within the organisation, it will be necessary for the CEO to develop a spirit of empathy with each head of department, in respect of the issues and problems raised by him in ways that would seem specially tailored to his needs.

Courting and conquering customers is an entirely different ball-game altogether, calling for efforts that will make them feel all-important. The strokes by which a banker or investor can be won over should likewise be suited to his distinctive psychological makeup.

Converting a finance or legal person to one's point of view becomes easier by getting under his skin, anticipating and answering his doubts and fears.

In sum, the leader can be compared to the conductor of an orchestra who directs his baton to individual players and yet blends the different instruments into yielding music at its most melodious. Just as the conductor knows the full range of notes making up the music, the leader too should know all the intricacies of the tasks under his charge.

B. S. RAGHAVAN

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 13, 2006)
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