How 2011 defined the changing face of leadership

The year 2011 can be summed up in what Wael Ghonim said –“It’s a mistake of every one of them in power who doesn’t want to let go for it”.

2011 was a tumultuous year. It was difficult to imagine an octogenarian lead the thought process of the common Indian man towards socio-political reforms or a 30 something Google employee to bring the downfall of the longstanding Egyptian regime and the upsurge of a revolution against torture, corruption, unemployment and injustice or the fall of Gaddafi and his rule following the footprints of a similar civil resistance in Tunisia for the creation of a democratic country.

The protagonist of the year was the common man and this can also be seen in the curious yet significant coincidence of the world’s population crossing the 7 billion mark. It was definitely the emergence of the common man. The need of the common man taking charge and the need to CHANGE!!

2011 created a path towards change and 2012 may well be a milestone in changing the way “leadership” works. Leadership that takes charge, leadership that is holistic and leadership that is inspiring.

Along the years the word leadership has changed. There was a time when the topic “Leaders were born not made” was a favourite in GD’s and interviews. It always generated the same results as a “Who came first-The Chicken or the Egg?”!

However NOW, especially post the 2011-with the emergence of the man on the street as the protagonist, the picture is of leadership taking the charge when required. Leadership in 2012 will be a paradigm shift from the previous leadership assumptions. It’s about rising to the occasion and taking charge and action when the need arises. Leadership is about doing what is correct taking the challenges and plunging into a sea of possible risks and maybe emerging “NOT SUCCESSFUL” with your head held high, taking responsibility of actions and learning with every interaction. It’s strange that even while crossing the 7 billion mark, we look out for leaders in every sphere. Leaders that we are in awe off, leaders that inspire us!!

2012 will give birth to a paradigm shift in the leadership thought process. Leadership is not about being in power, it’s about utilizing that power effectively. It’s about respecting the power and the accountability that comes with it. It’s about having conviction on the values and principles one stands for and not imposing it on others.

The new age leader personifies the following- a Wael Ghonim does not lose appeal even though he claims he knows nothing about economics in a forum like IMF yet conveying to all what economy and growth really meant to the common man in Egypt. A “Anna Hazare” does not compel supporters to feel for the cause instead he walks the talk and makes individuals feel “ I Am Anna”!The common man does not need to bear the brunt of a brutal bureaucratic regime for living a life of dignity, justice and self respect.

The 2012 leadership milestone can be summed up by a conversation that happened between me and a very senior colleague…”Leadership is not about power alone…It is about the usage of that power. If you really want to understand a leader, don’t give him money, appreciation or recognition alone. Give him power and that will be his test of fire”!!

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