By the virtue of the organizational hierarchy, I am no leader. By the virtue of who I realize myself to be, who I think is possible in me, through me, and is fluttering its wings to fly with me, is the leader in me.
But for me leadership is not contained in a book or a training program. It’s about things I learn while interacting with people, while talking to like-minded people and while reflecting on my interactions with people in solitude.
Trust me, I am full of all unnecessary gyaan and lecturing I throw at people to prove myself to be this great person who knows everything. But in my heart, every time I do that, I know I am not empowering the other person, just killing his or her enthusiasm for learning and growing.
Lecturing and giving gyaan is a trap. It makes me someone who is on an insecure trip and using the situation to better my self-image. It makes me someone who doesn’t care for other people’s growth.
I try my best not to follow in this trap just because the potential leader in me stays unrealized and unaccounted for most of the times.
Then I conducted another experiment recently. As an instructional designer, i need to provide clear picture to media developers of how I want a web/content page to appear on-screen. I had been sensing that they are the ones who know the technical tools and they have great unused imagination. So, for the last few projects, just to get their ideas out, I stopped giving them any direct ideas at all, rather began to ask them to make what they thought was best. Some of the results were really good but most of them were not really aligned to the business requirements. Many of the media developers felt lost even when I explained the meaning that needed to be conveyed through the visuals and asked them to imagine the real visuals.
The experiment gave me some stress, some conflicts, a lot of confusion and some great insight. And the insight is that leading or empowering people is to help them evolve one step at a time, hold their hands till they are ready to fly and then let go and help them let go to let them fly. It’s not about pushing people off a cliff thinking that they would fly in their self-expression when they have been schooled to express themselves only as followers or rebels to someone who they consider having more authority or power.
This evolutionary approach to leadership requires more hard work in understanding people and where they need hand-holding and willingness to provide it when required. But as long as I am willing to try this approach, it should be fine:-)
Another insight came from unexpected quarters. It came from my interaction with my visiting family. Leadership is about being firm without losing any compassion, love and most importantly, any KINDNESS for people. I realized it only today morning when I asked my brother and mom not to bitch about other family members with me and I did that without going into any angry spell or breaking my communication with them. Now, I have always been wary of my family’s trait to bitch about each other. Yes, I have no other name for it except bitching. Being a daughter, I had been taught to share my parents’ and brothers’ woes (read bitching).
Now, our relationships to our folks and our base family define in a lot of ways how we relate to rest of the the world. I had created this pattern of negative communication with my parents to get closer to them as a kid. That was my official job, always. Honestly, it gave me a lot of insights but it also messed me up. The only worlds I ever came to identify are the worlds that are dark and bad and full of problems. Be it my professional world or my relationship to my friends, to men, to marriage, my world only knew the darkest sides.
Worst of all, I had carried the same habits in my professional life. And no, I am not blaming my family. I bitched and heard the bitching to get closer to people. I realized I had a choice not to bitch, not to find spread negativity. But it just used to happen on its own, without me realizing when I began. I would realize it only when I was deeply into it.
But something else, this consciousness, this god, this gift to see myself and this gift to be happy kept me going, kept me on the track to find truth which for some reason I was convinced didn’t lie in the dark worlds full of bad people.
For quite some time now, I had trying to reconstruct my communication to my family in a way that I do not take the responsibility of listening to any bitching and still share the love and gave them the attention that I needed to give them. I had been largely unsuccessful at it for years now and I had continued my habits of bitching into my professional life.
Today morning, I managed to nip the bitching in the bud. I woke up and they started with their constant woe against other people in family. But I stopped in the beginning of the first sentence, took a stand and stayed firm while I told my brother and mom that everyone’s life had problems but bitching about it, about people involved only spreads negativity.
For a lot of people, this would count as my gross lack of obedience. For a lot of people, this is rebelliousness. As for me, I know we are all communicating and are at home together at this moment and no love is lost till now. And I know I may have to do this with other people as well.
I just hope my relationships and the people dynamics in my professional life transforms too. I just hope I learn to create a world of goodness, the world I believed in despite not knowing where it lay.
And I just hope, everyone I know grows to know love and happiness and leadership.