E-Canteen Fundas: What has obeying got to do with leading? Everything! This is why...

As an ex-leader or as an ordinary member, fulfill your role fully and help the team perform to its best by giving your inputs
Remember, always | (Pic: Edexlive)
Remember, always | (Pic: Edexlive)

‘Where have you been Rinku?’ asked Rahul. ‘We’ve been waiting for you!’

‘Two of our sports captains, Reena and Parul, have been replaced as per our rotation policy,’ said Rinku. ‘I went to the farewell party.’

‘They were very senior, weren’t they?’ said Rahul. ‘I wonder how they’ll adjust to being led by a junior. It might create ego issues, don’t you think?’

‘Reena has adjusted to being part of the team very well while Parul’s struggling.’

‘I can understand what Parul might be going through,’ said Rahul. ‘I went through the same thing when I was replaced as captain of the basketball team. I found it difficult to be led by my junior. It was an indignity.’

‘How can we handle it, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘When someone has worked at a higher level, how can they obey others?’

‘As Greek philosopher, Aristotle says — he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander,’ said Rakesh. ‘Reena appears to have been a more secure and better leader than Parul — she knows how to obey, to follow.’

‘What has obeying got to do with leading?’ asked Rahul.

‘Leading is not about throwing your weight around or feeling like you’ve got a higher status than the others,’ said Rakesh. ‘Those are insecure behaviours that do not empower others. Leading is doing what is best for the team. A good leader always keeps the team’s needs ahead of her own and adjusts to her role.’

‘But what about our pride as a leader?’ asked Rahul.

‘It’s not about pride,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘It’s about the team. If the team’s not producing results, or has a rotation policy, the leader must accept and play her role to her best capacity — which includes following the new captain’s vision. Not be a disruptive force. Many cricket captains, including MS Dhoni who’s considered one of the finest captains, have been replaced, and they did a great job as members of the team. The ones who could not follow have had a negative effect on the team and have been removed. There are many cases of prime ministers of countries who chose simple lives and went back to leading productive lives as ordinary citizens. So there’s nothing to feel bad about when dropped as a skipper. It’s about the team, not you.’

‘What should we do with Parul then?’ asked Rinku. ‘What if she continues to sulk and create problems?’

‘It’s an energy issue,’ said Rakesh. ‘Parul’s feeling insecure. It helps if the new captain has a chat with her and makes her feel secure, valued and lets her know that her contribution can be very useful. If she continues to be a negative effect, then do what’s good for the team. All good teams have players who have led before, who focus on their roles and help the team with their experience and perspectives as an ex-leader.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rahul. ‘So, are you saying that a leader who knows how to follow is a better contributor to the team as opposed to someone who has not led previously?’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘It benefits the team to have people who have led before and who know how to follow. Simply because they know what a captain wants from his players — 100 per cent involvement and effort. Most leaders’ energies go into motivating team members to give their best. So, when a secure ex-leader becomes part of a team, she gives her 100 per cent, adjusts her role, thinks like the captain, gives inputs without sulking or interfering and does what the captain expects from her without being told. It reduces the captain’s burden and makes it easy for the captain to focus on other issues.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rahul. ‘So, we need a team full of secure ex-captains to get great performances as a team?’

‘In principle, yes,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘But since we cannot get a team full of ex-captains, it makes sense to have everyone ‘feel’ like a leader — including insecure ex-captains like Parul. A secure captain transfers ownership of the team to each and every member and makes them feel as responsible as the captain. That way everyone starts thinking like a captain and gives 100 per cent — even without the title.’

‘How to transfer ownership. bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku. ‘I’d like players on my team to take more ownership.’

‘Simple,’ said Rakesh. ‘Treat them like they ‘own’ the team too. That it’s their responsibility too. The more responsibility you give, the more ownership they take. Let them experience freedom to think, contribute, take decisions. Be there to help and guide, but don’t rush in to sort their issues. Don’t always provide answers but give pointers, ask questions. Let them do their bit for the team in ways that benefit the team. That way we help them grow as secure leaders and get better results as a team. But remember, only a secure leader lets others take ownership — and obeys a new leader.’

‘Interesting,’ said Rahul. ‘When everyone in the team thinks like a leader, like an owner, the team works to its potential.’

‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘Works everywhere — as citizens in the society, as team players, as family members. So, are you thinking like a leader in all your teams, taking ownership for what’s happening around you and helping out the leader?’

‘No, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku shaking her head. ‘But I’ll start today.’

Pro Tip: Think like a leader even when you are not the leader. As an ex-leader or as an ordinary member, fulfill your role fully and help the team perform to its best by giving your inputs and adjusting to what the team needs from you.

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