4 Attributes to Leadership

There is a frenzy about studying & following leaders and leadership styles in the last two decades, like never before! If we notice closely, there is one prominent thing which we will not fail to miss; “Technology” is the background link for majority of these leaders! Today we are seeing the best self made leaders from technology world. Not that there are no leaders from other industries, the fact is, tech czars have started to dwarf every other industry and suddenly the leadership rules are getting re-written each day!

First try to understand for yourself, if you want to become a leader or a follower. All the gyan available and all leadership lessons taught in the books, trainings and colleges are about how other successful personnel lead and how environment will behave in different conditions for you to chose. But, it is not about your leadership or style… To become a leader, one need to try their own course.Leadership is a personal attribute, which cannot be copied or followed. The only take away from the leadership lessons and writings is getting yourself motivated (externally) to make yourself another leader. If you want to follow certain leaders or leadership styles, you will become a follower for your life but not a leader. Which is one of the reasons why, there is only one face book, only one apple, only one microsoft, only one whatsapp and so on., These are all the successful 21 century companies that have transformed millions of people under the stewardship of exceptionally strong leaders.

We don’t follow others blindly, if we want to become successful leaders. I look at  the following 4 key take aways for people to transform themselves as leaders from all those leadership lessons I have attended or read through, in my corporate career.

  1. i Understand (the success stories of leaders on their guts, wisdom, culture, discipline, dedication, passion etc.,)
  2. i Motivate (self to induce a self driven passion)
  3. i Chose (a plan that is an un-conventional plan majority of the time with no support / no back ups etc.,) and
  4. i Execute (the plan in a precise manner to create your personal leadership style)

In all these four attributes, “i” has become prominent as leadership starts from one’s self first. Unless the person goes through these 4 stages of metamorphosis, they cannot become leaders, first to lead their selves to lead others!

1. i Understand

Understanding the successful leadership styles, often confuse the followers as they tend to ‘put them selves in the shoes of those successful leaders’ every time a story is read or listened! This happens with most of the human beings, as our brains are tuned to excite every time a great story is read or listened. At this excitement level, there are two conditions that follow… one, the person gets totally excited and moved to do something similar, by anointing him/her in the character and in the latter case, the person gets distracted  as he/she cannot meet these requirements of the characterisation and thus create an adverse affinity to reject the story. This rejection gets filled with loss of insecurity and to regain the mind’s false security back, one will try to fill that with negative energies like jealousy. Environment acts as a catalyst either to help motivating or getting the story rejected. Environment is of two types again. First one is the non-influential type, like the time, culture etc., and the secondary one can be influenced, like the team, strategies etc., Depending on the scenarios of environment, the understanding of the story gets influenced / rejected.   From the person, who sell the fruits across the street to the person who sits in the blue oval office, we find leaders in every category and every walk. It is all about the environment in which they excel their leadership skills.

Unfortunately, this practice of understanding will not lead us anywhere other than leaving us in the middle of a confused state. Let the successful leaders be themselves and think of yourself different. It is generally difficult to disassociate ourselves from the story, but we will never create our own style when we don’t disassociate from the rest! First you free yourself from everything and then it is easy to portrait yourself in a different patten altogether!

2. i Motivate

I am one among those people, who always think motivation should start from inside. It is an inherent character of a human being, but not that it get’s influenced by some thing outside. One will not get motivated just by reading successful stories or by listening. All the humans are selfish (I may correct the sentence as Most of the humans… just to avoid an argument but we all know what is the truth, whether we like it or not!) In the true spirits of a human being, motivation only comes from WIFM… What’s In it For Me. Even though we tend to disagree to this statement, the motivation should have a pivotal point to help some one to do things in an extra ordinary way! The stronger the pivot’s anchor is, the better the motivation will become.

Motivation could be a person who wants to leave smoking… or a person who wants to become a successful human being… it all depends on what is the pivotal point (anchor), that gets satisfied by this need. In the leadership styles, what I have seen is these extraordinary people, create strong pivotal points for themselves first! If we take the example of Mahatma Gandhi and how he got motivated to lead the nation behind him… In my personal view, the basic pivotal point for Mahatma is his society and its oppression. If this pivot is not strong, then probably he would not have returned from Africa to lead satyagraha or independence movement in India. Same principle applies to Nelson Mandela, in fighting against the apartheid. At a common person level, this motivation could come from their kith & kin or people whom they want to influence. Motivation is a dynamic character, that gets enhanced in an exponential direction, when it has an audience or takers, either internally or externally!

The great leaders in the society are the people who have strong pivots with the society, technology leaders having the pivots with un-quenched thirst to re-create a life away from life, business leaders having the pivots to create the wealth quotient… the list goes on with individual passions.

3. i Chose

Choosing the un-conventional path requires trusting their self first, that they will succeed. The mind will also work on a logic every time a decision is made to ‘Chose’. We talk about taking calculated risks to chose, how we want to move. Our minds, pretty well know that a road which is already traveled by many will not give “A GREATER SIGNIFICANCE or SATISFY LEADER’S EGO”, Instead, it will try to re-define the path which is less traveled but at the same time, with in the distance of a calculated risk. Once the decision is made and the path is chosen, the ego satisfies the person. Risk taking ability is another character from the mind is another feature which play a key role in ‘choosing’ path. In a split second, we find our mind gets so excited as the adrenalin is pumped up. In these cases, people take bigger and bigger risks to push the person’s mind beyond it’s thought process, depending on the intensity of adrenalin pumping. Steroids like substances create this artificial adrenalin rush but more than that, the natural phenomenon like risk taking ability create the same effect when the ego gets satisfied.

In the path to leadership, this phenomenon plays a vital role. If I want to do the things like every one does and move with the crowd, I become a follower. If I want to do things “my way” to differentiate me from the rest, and gives me that significance to satisfy my ego… that process keep me away from the followers list and make me stand unique. However, a leader’s ability to calculate the risk and it’s impact, will make him/her stand as a leader or a jerk, who do not want to see the realistic picture. The difference is a thin line and leader’s capability to chose this line and differentiate him/her from the rest gives the advantage.

4. i Execute

Execution requires preparation & planning. A blind execution without proper ground work and planning, fail the leaders. In this fourth attribute, how this execution differs from person to person. There is a unique style for every single leader. We cannot copy this…all we can do is to borrow few pages to improvise our own execution style. In this internet age, what was traditionally seen as a great execution, no longer stands relevant. Environment (both influential & non-influential) is playing a key role in execution style. When an execution is being planned, a leader will see multiple scenarios like, the best case, the worst case and the average case. Visualising the failure or impact, ahead of time often reduce the stress on human mind. Though, the mind do not like to see the negative side of the story, a leader’s attention to see the worst case ahead of others, before getting into the best case will differentiate the leader. Seeing into the future and creating a planning exercise will help addressing the failure modes and get oneself prepared.

A leader who think of all the necessary changes in their self, first need to satisfy these 4 attributes, to make them stand out from the rest. There are many more attributes, that may play a key role but an introspection into the above four might start helping the person to break the ground and move forward.


Rao is CEO & Co-founder of Kowni Technologies, with offices in Canada & India. Kowni is offering cloud based technology solutions for Real Estate & Facility Management industries. Kowni’s products help the REFM industry to meet global regulatory requirements, in managing properties & facilities across the globe, while helping the REFM operations improve their bottom line results. 


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