E-Canteen Fundas: How to distinguish between a true blue leader and someone who is all fluff and puff 

To measure leadership, look at real and tangible outcomes achieved around you. Mere activity, promise or intention that does not produce results is not an achievement
Pick them right | (Pic: Edexlive)
Pick them right | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘I have to write an essay about good leadership,’ said Rahul. ‘But how do I identify a good leader?’
‘Assess by popularity,’ said Rinku. ‘The leaders that come to mind immediately should be the good ones, right?’
‘Good question to think about,’ said Rakesh. ‘Are leaders who are more visible good? Visibility can come through promoting oneself, can come from making dramatic, populist and sensational statements. But being popular may not be the same thing as being a good or a great leader. We all remember Hitler and Stalin as well as we remember Gandhi or Mandela, right?’
‘That’s true,’ said Rinku. ‘So, what indicates good leadership?’
‘You tell me,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Let’s try and figure this out.’
‘Someone charismatic and energetic,’ said Rahul. ‘Somehow full of action, ideas and who promises great futures. Someone decisive and firm. Someone who inspires and who I am proud of.’
‘That’s a start,’ said Rakesh. ‘And…’ 
‘I think a good leader is someone who addresses real issues of his team,’ said Rinku. ‘Someone who makes it a more harmonious place, grows and empowers the team, makes the team stronger and prepares it for better futures. Most importantly, everyone in the team grows and gets a fair, equal and just deal.’
‘That’s a lot of stuff,’ said Rakesh. ‘But if I need one measure to judge a leader, what would that be?’
‘I feel that the one measure of a leader should not be the promises they make, but real achievements,’ said Rakesh. ‘We all joke about how our political leaders visit during election time with promises of employment, free stuff, removal of corruption, equal opportunity to all, and how they soon forget about their promises. The best measure is to compare their promises to real achievements. No excuses. No blame. Actual, simple delivery.’
‘But a good leader is also about action, no bhaiyya?’  said Rahul. ‘Every day I open the newspaper I see many schemes being advertised by various governments. Some of them sound like great schemes. Would that not count as an achievement?’
‘Not really,’ said Rakesh. ‘You must differentiate between activity and achievement. We have seen hundreds of schemes launched and thousands of foundation stones laid, with no real outcome. Do not judge leaders by the grandness of intentions. Look for clear, tangible outcomes that benefit the team in some small way at least. Like they say, the smallest deed is better than the grandest intention. Small outcomes are better than lots of pointless activity.’

‘How can we find out about real outcomes, bhaiyya?’ said Rinku. ‘They advertise only their schemes and activities. Not outcomes.’
‘True,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘When leaders promise free stuff and launch a populist scheme there is normally a lot of activity. What you must look for is impact. If they launch a clean city programme, your city must be clean. If they promise better education, schools should report better results. If they promise better health, people should have easy access to healthcare. It has to show. Sometimes populist schemes that fetch votes do more harm than good. A good leader will educate you on real achievement on progress while a lesser leader will obfuscate the real issue. In fact, talking of visibility and real achievement, a good leader need not even be visible as the results of their work show in people’s lives.’
‘That’s actually interesting,’ said Rahul. ‘That leaders can be invisible and still achieve good results.’
‘Yes, for them the hero is the team, not themselves,’ said Rakesh. ‘In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins explains the idea of Level 5 leaders, people who take their teams from good to great. That could help you assess leaders too. Level 5 leaders do not launch dramatic change-inducing programmes nor are they larger-than-life people, promoting themselves. They are humble, modest, mild-mannered, self-effacing and understated. They work diligently, carry everyone along, set up successors for their team’s success and produce sustained results. Their greatness shows in the outcome, in the improved conditions of the team as a whole, not in promoting themselves. Look for such leaders.’
 ‘I will not fall for mere visibility, grand intentions and promises anymore,’ said Rinku. ‘I’ll look for proof of real outcomes. Thanks, bhaiyya.’
Pro Tip: To measure leadership, look at real and tangible outcomes achieved around you. Mere activity, promise or intention that does not produce results is not an achievement.

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