The Essence of Organizational Leadership. By Mohammed Akmal Pasha


Organizational leadership is the social context of single-handedness; and the traits required thereby are not commercially marketed, rather are granted by Nature. Though leadership skills may be cultivated, nurtured and then materialized; still they may lack the touch of natural giftedness. As some are born great, some become great and some are that greatness is thrust upon them. In the first two instances, luck and personal effort though remain substantial, but the germs of greatness are certainly grounded beforehand by Nature. In the third instance, greatness fails in the long run if not in the short one.
Leadership requires competence, perseverance, persuasiveness, emotional stamina and a lot of common sense; and to demonstrate one needs an opportunity; explored or found. As to Tagore, “those who ‘wish’ wait that gates open and those who ‘will’ find gates open”. In organizational context, once obtained, leadership has to be impersonal, and every move has to be vectored toward the best interest of the organization. It entails two senses, first in the capacity that organization being ‘separate business entity’; organizational interest has to be kept segregated from that of the leader’s personal one. Second, organization being ‘no-separate business entity’ in that the leader thinks in the capacity of a brain of the body of the organization, embedded very much in it; unbiased, selfless, altruistic and yet functional.
Now let’s try to analyze what constitutes organizational leadership, and what is it practically all about. In contemporary times, organizational heads have manifested a great deal of leadership acumen. The top ten described as ‘Super CEOs’ in Newsweek (20-06-2005), with diverse and averse backgrounds have displayed sky-kissing results in terms of enhancing stakeholders’ worth. They have given watchwords as well. Thomas Middelhoff, CEO of Karstadt-Quelle a German downtrodden company, raised it from scratch to colossal Euro 13 billion and reckons that American business leaders lack ‘courage’, so he is courageous. Masatoshi Kumagai CEO of GMO Internet is a high school drop out. In 2004 he generated an operating profit to the tune of $ 26 million, up 33 % from 2003. Hiroshi Naya, a senior analyst at Tokyo’s Ichiyoshi Research Institute even expected a 66 % rise in 2005. Masatoshi gives his strategy ‘I target one thing and think through and through’ and asserts ‘only one out of six Japanese businesses have their own websites, I want to help them all’, so he is focused with a tinge of charity. Judith Regan books $120 million revenue per year for her company ReganBooks, and she believes in bringing ‘rapid changes’ so an innovative thinker. Pierre Omidyar, built an online auction house eBay and aspires to devote rest of his life to make sure that $ 10 billion fortune goes to helping poor, ‘discover their power to make good things happen’, again entrepreneur inclined toward charity. Hwang Chang Gyu is a peculiar case, he reveres Genghis Khan, the famous nomadic Mongolian warrior who used superior speed of mobility to conquer Asia in the 13th century. His prophesy has graduated into Hwang’s Law, “semiconductors’ capacity will double every 12 months or even faster”, loving Genghis Khan so a proactive and progressive business leader.
Our debate will starve of examples if we skip Bill Gates. Bill inherited ‘ambition, intelligence and competitive spirit’ from his ancestors. Today Microsoft controls more than 80-85 % of PC software industry. Let’s awe ourselves by the money he has. Bill earns US $ 250 every second that`s about US $20 Million per day and US $7.8 Billion a year. He can donate US $15 to everyone on earth but still be left with US $ 5 Million for his pocket money. If Bill Gates was a country, he would be the 37th richest country on earth. If we assume that he will live for another 35 years, he has to spend US $ 6.78 Million per day to finish all his money. So Bill is ambitious, intelligent and imbued with a competitive spirit.
If we recede a few decades back, historically, Andrew Carnegie was a son of poor Scottish immigrants; he got a job and but was soon fired in 1847. His mother worked on a grocery shop and also mended shoes in order to make two ends meet. The family then borrowed 20 pounds and settled in America. As a voracious reader, Andrew Carnegie became a self-educated one and climbed from the banality of a messenger boy in a telegraph office to the post of superintendent at Western Division of the Pennsylvania Rail Road. He finally made his fortune in steel, introduced the Bessemer steel making at his plant in 1875; which then became Carnegie Steel Company, a leader in the steel industry. In 1901 he sold business for $ 400 million and became the richest man in the world. By 1919 at his death, he had given away $ 350 million to provide 2,500 free public libraries through out the world. So his traits are knowledge, innovativeness and charity.
Thomas J. Watson Jr. became CEO of IBM in 1956. The company then had 72,500 employees and earned a gross income of $ 892 million per year. The time when he left in 1971, IBM employed 270,000 employees and earned gross annual revenue of massive $ 8.3 billion. The biggest motivation to him was, ‘fear and pride’.
In south Asian context, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (J.R.D.) Tata needs no introduction. With a few other corporate leaders gave development plan ‘Bombay Plan’ in 1944 which government of India recently realized to be aptest. He established a foundation that became International Institute for Population Studies in 1956 which garnered him UN Population Award in 1992, the year he won Indian highest award Bharat Ratna. So he was a corporate and social planner and entrepreneur. Azim Hasham Premji led as chairman Wipro Corporation and had a Rs. 35 billion empire in 2002, later on this media-shy chap was greeted by the media as the second richest person of the world. His seven tips of success; have courage to think big, never compromise on fundamental values, build up self confidence as being forward looking, have best people around you be they better than you, have obsessive commitment to quality, play to win and lastly leave the rest to the Force beyond. So Azim was progressive, quality-conscious, corporate-fundamentalist, committed, winner and faithful.
In the passing, we touch upon some other organizational gurus. Henry Ford used to proclaim, ‘It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste time’. Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer, in their study ‘From Chaos to Coherence’ found that compassion and building teamwork will be two of the most important characteristics business leaders will need for success a decade from now. Further, self-security will be a hallmark of the leaders and exceptional organizations of the future giving a high ratio of coherence.
The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, in its ‘The Leader of the Future’ (c) 1996 asserted, ‘leaders grow; they are not made’, further ‘leadership is not magnetic personalityâ€"it is building of a personality beyond its normal limitations’. Like Goethe, ‘accept people what they are, treat them what they wanted to become’. In other words a ‘good’ leader inspires others with confidence in him; whereas a ‘great’ leader inspires them with confidence in themselves. In a similar sense, leadership is getting someone to do what they don`t want to do, but to achieve what they want to achieve. As Richard M. Nixon laid down a general principle, ‘people are persuaded by reason, but moved by emotion; [the leader] must both persuade them and move them’.
We see various leadership traits, we also know that all leaders categorically face challenges like trade barriers, government regulations, political environment, technology, perverse BoD, lobbying, litigation, unfavorable market conditions and the like; but they marvel at the end of the day rather many at noon. So what boils down as an essence can be, an organizational leader at first place like a fertile seed has inborn germs for leadership; the traits perceptibly codified and potentially subject to stimulating indicator, a notion though slightly controversial but only perhaps in the hands of non-leaders’ breed. Leaders are invariably innovative, progressive, problem solvers, persuaders, visionary, vibrant and relentless. To conclude, as Reader’s Digest explaining ‘what makes a genius’ in its issue on Mind Power gave three traits; capacity, commitment and concentration, let’s add to it Azim Hasham Premji’s seven secrets of success; change the proportions of their magnitude and intensity; re-establish their interrelationships all in a pot of ‘luck’ and pray haply an organizational leader churns out---within ourselves.

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