A series of recent personal experiences and musings have taught me the underlying strength and effectiveness of a true leader – the ability to ‘personalize’ his/ her leadership skills.
Musings on Krishna: The word Krishna means ‘all attractive’ – in other words He attracts all.
When He used to be a part of the ‘raas leela’ each of the Gopis thought that Krishna was dancing with her and nobody else and that He loved her the most!
The reason was simple – Krishna was and is personal with His devotees.
Learning 1: A true leader needs to be personal with his followers.
Hosting-the Taj way: I remember some months back, I was checking into the Taj at Baroda and as soon as my car entered the porch area, the security guard opened the door and welcomed me by saying ‘Good evening Mr Bharwani, welcome to the Taj’. I was elated to hear my own name and I kept on hearing it from the staff till I entered my room.
They simply personalized their offering (from my name to the food) to attract me, so much so I have very fond memories of my stay in that hotel and I have spoken about this to many of my friends. The result – I have become a loyal follower of this hotel.
Learning 2: The leader reciprocates in a way that makes the follower feel special.
Smiling with a saint: Recently, I got the opportunity to spend some introspective time with a saint in my building and we happened to see one of my neighbours pass by. For as long as I can remember, this lady never once smiled at anybody but that particular instance she smiled at the saint and I saw the saint smiling back. I was shocked. I revealed to him my astonishment and how I’d never seen her respond to anybody’s smile till that moment only to get another smile from him in response!
It then struck me that I have seen this saint meet many people from flamboyant billionaires to simple villagers and they all seemed so deeply connected with him. I’ve watched tears roll down their faces sometimes without a single word being spoken, triggered simply by a touch.
Learning 3: The leader connects with his people’s deepest feelings and needs, setting them free to express themselves fully.
Honest, soul-to-soul conversations and listening from the heart are indeed powerful tools to connect with the follower and as leaders see more of the follower, reciprocation becomes more meaningful and this attracts the follower to the leader all the more. There’s no better example for this than the Gopis, in the dead of the night, would leave their homes to meet their eternal lover Krishna, not worried one bit about the consequences at home.
To be a true leader therefore, one has to genuinely personalize one’s leadership endeavours. Only then will followers willingly take risks and put in that extra effort because they will genuinely believe that their leader gives them personal care.
By Deepak Bharwani