Practise the four roles of leadership

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By 2018-01-23

By M Rishar M Saleem

Leadership is an important connotation which appears not only in Management Studies but also in the socio-economic milieu of a country.

One would come across terms like 'good leader', bad leadership qualities so on. However, with or without our knowledge, leadership has its own influence on human beings. From time to time, mankind was guided by exemplary leaders who shaped their lives to a higher pedestal. The influence of leadership is so intense that people look for it in their day-to-day lives. Hence, leadership could be termed as an integral aspect of life.

Successful leaders dwell on their leadership acumen in a manner that followers follow, without any resistance and reach success. Historically, studying these leadership practices many theories were put forward by many management thinkers and scholars. Stephen Richards Covey an American educator, author, businessman and keynote speaker has put forward the 'Four role' theory on leadership.

According to Stephen Covey, the first step is that a leader should be a pathfinder. He explains that a leader should walk the talk and should be the pathfinder.

Therefore, the primary role of a leader should be that of a pathfinder. He should have experienced what he is going to do. All great leaders have experienced in their lives whatever they say. E.g. Mahathma Gandhi preached about truth and non-violence and all his life he was glued to these two concepts 'truth' and 'non violence'. History has it that whatever he preached he always practised. When India was under colonial rule, the colonial rulers used the cane on people but Mahathma Gandhi never hit back and used his weapon - which was truth and non violence. He took all the whippings and his followers too did the same and discharged truth and non violence always. This was one aspect which made him a great leader because he practised what he preached.

The second aspect is also important as the first and many consider this as the most difficult part in leadership. This is known as 'alignment'. Leaders need to bring the team together; bring team members together in all aspects is a difficult task. In a team sport for instance many players come from different backgrounds, different faiths, race, regions and have different thought processes. Bringing this bunch of players and aligning them together is the most difficult task a leader faces. This is known as alignment and is the toughest job of a leader.

If alignment is not properly balanced, even a vehicle will not function properly. One would see it is facing forward but the other working mechanisms are not and the vehicle does not work effectively- the way one wants it to function. Similarly, a team must also be aligned to perform as a unit. If the team members are not aligned together, the success they desire will not come their way. The secret behind any successful team is that each member is aligned together as a single unit without imbalances and team cohesiveness is present. This is visible in successful teams who are on a winning streak and perform to optimum levelas a winning unit.

Captains who have aligned together the teams bring in the wining sap among team members and defeating such teams would be very difficult.

The third aspect is empowering. Empowering means making each team member to stand on their 'own feet' and make their own decision. A team trainer, manager or captain will not be able to be with the team members at each point of time. While in the game they have to face the knuckles in their own way and handle the situation they are faced with. Each player of the team has to take the decision at the moment according to the situation and this is possible if individual members are 'empowered'; whatever skills and knowledge is required, taking the correct decision and performing accordingly lies with an individual who is empowered. This is abstract and could be vested on each team member to be executed at the right time in an appropriate manner. Experience, skills and knowledge put together empowers team members. Team coaching empowers individual team member.

When leaders take on the leadership role of the team, each and every action of his/ her will have a great impact on the team and it is at this time that empowerment comes into the picture.

The fourth one is being a role model. Once as a team you are successful, you become a role model to other teams. Team members are modelled as experts, or are clear in various aspects. Then there will be many
followers.

A leader's role could be summarized as being a pathfinder - somebody who has walked the talk, says what he does and does what he says. Once you are a path finder and you have a team, a pathfinder's task is to bring the team into alignment and then make it possible to empower them and all three put together will make you and your team a model. These are the four roles of a successful leader. Any great leader in history is sure to have travelled these four paths.

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