30 Nov 2012

5 Rules Every Leader Should Know

Article on - 5 Rules Every Leader Should Know

Leadership is a delicate skill that needs time to develop. An authentic leader prepares well over time, and understands the consequences of his or her actions.

Understanding the fluidity of leadership, and the importance of time affecting this skill would make you a more authentic leader.

In this article, let me share with you, five succinct rules that can help you in your leadership role.

1. There is no 'off' day

As a leader, you have to understand that you eat, live and breathe the concept of leadership. Once you assume this role, there is no ‘off’ day. When you are in a leadership appointment, you have to assume full responsibility for whatever happens in your private and public life.

The recent actions of a few top civil servants and an ex-member of parliament augments this point. Leadership is not a mask. You do not don it only when you are in the spotlight or uniform. You must be circumspect. Think of the consequences of your actions.

While en-route to Amsterdam, I met a medical doctor who was flying to Europe for a short vacation. He immediately assumed his role onboard the plane when a fellow traveller complained of severe chest pains.

You must be prepared to spring into action whenever, and wherever you are activated. Your command ability must become instinctive.


2. You don't become a leader overnight

In February, we welcomed a new NBA star from New York Knicks, called Jeremy Lin. He took the NBA world by storm with his ‘killer instincts’ in front of the basket.

Kobe Bryant commented on him after watching him score 38 points over the Los Angeles Lakers, “Players playing that well don't usually come out of nowhere. It seems like they come out of nowhere, but if you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning. It probably just went unnoticed."

Kobe was right. Lin had developed this killer instinct and honed his skills throughout his early career. He just was not noticed. But when opportunity meets preparation, you get success.

Similarly, leadership is a process that you learn to develop over time. Even if you were to hand the CEO appointment to the cleaning lady, it doesn’t mean that she can run the company well. However, if she had learned management skills by leading a team of fellow cleaners, she would be better qualified to be a manager.

3. Yesterday ended last night

Some people like to live on their past glories. When they assume a new role in a new organization, they try to replicate their previous performance directly onto the new organization.

Leadership is not mechanical. It is very fluid. What may work well in the previous workplace, may not work well in the current workplace. This is the unique and exciting thing about understanding your community and grass roots well.

There may be common behavior exhibited by the people in this current organization. But everyone is unique. Therefore you have to learn to seek new knowledge. Take the time to execute these actions. After all,
you do not learn to swim by merely reading.

4. Social media is a double-edged sword

In this current age, anyone can be a publisher. And the moment you publish something, you are liable for whatever you share.

It takes just a split second to type a comment in your Facebook page before someone responds with a ‘share’ or ‘comment’. If you were to post a ‘feeling’ just because you are frustrated on that moment in time,
be prepared for the backlash.

Putting up postings to describe your feelings or day is only a one-dimensional action. People can only infer why you posted it up. People cannot fully comprehend why you posted it up.

Use it well and you are a ‘Thought Leader’. Abuse it, and you become a loose canon. So think carefully about the consequence before you publish anything.

5. Make your presence felt

We are fortunate that we can use social media to communicate with our friends, followers and team. But true rapport takes time. You need to walk the ground and make your presence felt. It typically takes around six months for someone to genuinely feel comfortable around you.

Leaders understand the need for building their base around people who follow them and understand them. While an authentic leader may be charismatic at times, you do not need to be out-fitted with extra
charisma to influence people.

You just need to make your presence felt with true humility.


Mark Chew is the Founder and Principal Strategist of Giants Learning Technologies Pte. Ltd. He is the author of ‘Discover Your Leadership Style’.