To me, a team or an individual is as good as his or her boss, leader, mentor, CEO or whosoever he or she looks up to for guidance as “leadership is about doing the right things”. Every corporate entity in a position of power with a team or set of individuals working under them need to be ‘doing the right things’ or in other words, leading by example.
My doctrine of reference for any tricky situation that I find myself in, particularly in my corporate space, and sometimes on the personal front, is invariably the Bhagvad Gita. There are occasions when in a rush to meet deadlines, I have asked my colleagues and team members to bypass certain protocol and assume calculated risks. Whilst that might be justified in a crises situation, I find myself slightly mindful and conscientious about foregoing modus operandior code of behavior in the daily conduct of business and emphasise on the importance of rules and regulations to be strictly adhered to at all times.
You may say that that is rather convenient! Let me explain…
In chapter three of the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna,
“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”
Chapter 3, Verse 21
Thus, here, the Bhagvad Gita stresses on the importance of Karma or righteous duty. A leader can inspire his or her team by his or her exemplary action. The idea is to selflessly perform one’s job and not dwell on short-term gains.
Coming back to my initial point of making an exception in an emergency situation, I chose to do the right thing as time was of essence at that crucial juncture and any delay on our part would have seriously damaged our company’s reputation. The team needs to be explained this as lucidly as possible. They need to understand that whilst protection of the company’s name is our prime agenda, it is also important and advisable to follow guidelines and proper procedures whilst conducting our day to day tasks.
For example, I may not have waited for a document to be signed by my higher and further the highest authority and after seeking a verbal consent, I would have asked my team to go ahead and include the data in the final presentation, considering that a foreign dignitary was present to witness it at the time of my peculiar predicament. However, if my team member forwards a requisition document seeking information or data for preparing a paper or manual, I will have to follow the proper chain of conduct and wait for due approvals, even if it may take longer. The reason being that this is not a crises situation. I will explain to my subordinate the virtue of adhering to formal processes and do so myself, thereby setting a worthy example for them to emulate.
Simple dos and don’ts such as reporting to work on time or being pleasant to colleagues and co-workers from any and every level, camaraderie during meal times, composing short and specific emails or letters vis-à-vis lengthy and complicated ones, never by passing authority and always respecting the honour and status of the company are to be demonstrated by those at higher designations in order to present themselves in a light worthy of emulation and respect by those working under them.
“As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, similarly the learned may also act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.”
Chapter 3, Verse 25
These little acts of duty are to be performed not to win brownie points from immediate bosses but to lead a team by virtuous leadership and inspire and instill these qualities innately in their basic DNA. Eventually, the team will automatically adopt these in their everyday lives.
It is human nature to take short-cuts; to outshine competitors by means fair or unfair; to cheat a little when no one is watching; to bad mouth a rival tipped to be on the promotion shortlist; the list goes on…The leader or the influencer of the thought process of this corporate team needs to make the individual members of this team understand how craving for instant gratification or completing short-term goals will not lead to everlasting success and glory. For that, sustained hard work is mandatory with utmost sincerity and diligence.
“As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, similarly, the living entity is covered by different degrees of this lust.”
Chapter 3, Verse 38
A wise and able team leader can cast aside doubts assuaging workers and motivate them to shun short term gains and look at the holistic picture.