Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Office-Office : Leadership

Even as I hear some virtual sniggers, I am not going to be discouraged. Leadership is the one thing everyone expects in a potential hire knowing fully well that they don’t have what it takes. Yet, it is the singular most popular catch phrase used by recruiters to lure unsuspecting candidates to run of the mill jobs. Add the ‘L’ word and everything turns rosy with the added illusion of a palanquin with four beefed up guys carrying your not-so-deserving self. Of course those illusions are dismissed the day you see your desk and talk to your ‘team mates’. No knowledge transfer or transition, no proper job scope, no separate bathroom, no views from the desk (well, it’s a cubicle really) and an unending trail of e-mess waiting for your attention. That, is pretty much enough to get the leader out of anyone.

(Image Courtesy: Dilbert.com)

So, are you a leader? (of course, you are! I just asked the question again to see if you were paying attention to the post.) I have known four types of leaders in my professional experience.

a) The Superstar: This leader likes to believe the world revolves around him/her and they can’t think beyond “I”. This type hates the word “We” and chances are he/she will crush the rise of any other ‘leader’ or quit trying. More megalomaniac and less leader, the way into his good books is through ego massage. Think life size corporate standees, the company logo replaced with his initials/ signature, movie style presentations where he is the only speaker, and of course ‘unprecendented’ media coverage (even if you paid for it).

b) I am my team: Literally. This leader cannot work without his team. He mentally segregates his team into two – The professional assistants and the personal assistants. Everything from his chai to his business plan is outsourced. So what does he do himself, you ask? Well, he keeps his junta suitably enthusiastic without realizing they are actually working for him and not for the company. What rubbish! You cannot fool all of the people all of the time! That is why he always poaches his people by making them offers they cannot refuse (doubling of salaries for starters). Danny Ocean is living proof.

c) I like ‘leader’ in my designation, whether I am one or not: This is fast becoming the new norm thanks to social networking. Everyone wants to be friends with a leader, not a loser. And so, the distinction is clear – you either have ‘leader’ in your designation or you don’t. Isn’t that fooling people? Of course. But then who’s looking for reality? Would you really want to be friends with a leader if you knew what they were doing in reality?

d) The invisible leader: If you haven’t seen one yet, then you have something to look forward to. You never see this leader, only his work. You hear about his magnanimity with praise and his restraint with criticism. You see the respect and gratitude that his team has for him. Nah! It’s too good to be true. Yeah, because it takes efforts to do real work and motivate people the right way. If such a leader was everywhere, everyone would be a top performer. Even the office boy.

I have heard of other leaders too like the leader who promptly falls ill when a presentation is due in 30 minutes; or the leader who is constantly trying to jump ship when his shoddiness at work stands to be exposed; or the leader who simply prefers travelling to satisfy his wanderlust burning company money; or even the leader who prefers working from the connectivity–free zone.

So is being a leader a bad thing? Nah. How else can you get people to notice you?