There is an old adage, “leaders are made, not born and they are made by hard work”. I happened to meet such a leader while my friend and I were paying visits to different Ganapathi Statues during Ganesh Chaturthi (an Indian festival). At one of the places, my friend introduced me to Mr. Gajanan Kale, MNS Navi Mumbai President. Looking past his political views and actions, Mr. Gajanan Kale is a humble and friendly human being. He also exudes great leadership qualities. We quickly got into a conversation where I happened to notice that he would use ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. This is what got me interested in finding more about this leader.
Mr. Gajanan Kale can definitely be termed as a good leader with well-defined leadership qualities. Below are some learning that I was able to list from my conversation with him
Don’t lose your spark
Exhibiting a positive attitude and work towards creating a relaxed atmosphere in the workplace is important if you want to have a motivated team. “Even something as simple as organizing a volleyball or a cricket tournament every month can make an incredible difference.”, says Mr. Kale. “People want to feel appreciated and valued. If you manage to give them the respect they want and deserve, they are likely to work harder when needed.”, he continues.
Even when things go south, say, team members have made a big mistake that has, among others, led to low team morale, leaders should always stay positive, reflect on what has gone wrong, and find ways to tackle the challenges one by one. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”, he adds.
Exhibiting confidence and arrogance or self-satisfaction are two different things. A leader has to be a source of inspiration for his people; someone those working for him look up to, not a person they would happily punch in the face.
Remember that all eyes are on you when you have a leadership role. If you don’t panic and remain poised and calm, especially when facing mishaps at work, chances are your team members will also adopt the same behavior. This will affect team morale and productivity in a very positive way. Moreover, you will notice that problems are solved more quickly too.
Take Failures in Strides
Failures will happen, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. That is okay. You just need to embrace failures, remain calm, and manage them efficiently. “Never show worry to your people, unless you want to have them binge-drinking, feeling down, and afraid”, Mr. Kale points out. Instead, successful leaders logically think through the situation, dig out the root cause of the issue they are dealing with, utilize the resources they have in their hands, and continue to lead. Life goes on.
Listen and Provide Feedback
No great leader with poor communication skills has even existed. It is crucial to establish an open door policy and encourage communication. Listening to what people have to say and asking for their feedback when you introduce an idea are great ways to build rapport in the workplace. However, it is also crucial to provide feedback yourself when people face a challenge. This will encourage them to grow and do better.
Being a good leader means that you can communicate ideas clearly with those around you and, at the same time, are able to interpret your team members, stakeholders, and everybody else around you without taking what they say personally. “To be able to give good directions to people, you must get a good grasp of the situation. You can’t do that without getting feedback from others”, Mr. Kale emphasizes.
Don’t be Afraid to Delegate
Wanting to do things by themselves is a common need among many seniors. A true leader, though, would know when to delegate and who to trust with what. It is impossible to promote a good team environment without showing confidence in team members’ abilities anyway. Good leaders recognize that exhibiting trust in team member’s skills can contribute to an increase in loyalty from their staff and higher workplace morale. Find, cultivate, and rely on those capable to make the company run smoothly even when you are not present. This is one of the greatest accomplishments of every leader.
Focus on Growing People Around You
Promoting an environment that encourages the development of the team’s skills will make work easier. You can learn a whole lot from those working with you or for you if you leave them enough room to grow. More than often, we see team members develop skills we do not have as leaders. We definitely welcome this. Do not hold yourself back from sharing your knowledge with your team. Give them the chance to be achievers. This is how great leaders earn loyalty and respect from those around them.
“Having a sense of humour, taking personal responsibility for failure, making decisions based on lessons learnt from past failures, and sticking to their commitments, and, of course, leading by example are key traits that distinguish a person holding a senior position in an organization from a true leader.”, Mr. Kale ends.
I could not agree more.