THE HINDU BUSINESS LINE
Dr. Otazo on the topic of leadership,
which was featured in
“Author, Author” column.
1) Who is a leader?
A leader is someone who inspires others to get more done than
what the leader can accomplish on his or her own. With the
involvement of followers,
leaders can get do more than what they can do on their own. .
Leaders get more done by mobilizing other people who are working
towards the same
goal(s) in similar or different areas. A leader may be formal or
informal. The key is getting others motivated and committed to
taking action toward a goal.
Leaders may, or may not, have the title. It is the fact that
others follow that makes them leaders.
2) What to do if the job is good but the leader isn't?
Determine what isn't working with this leader. What is it about
the leader that needs to be improved? If you like the job you
need to help the leader, even coaching him or her, to enable
them to improve. In coaching, however, you need to be specific
and positive in the way you talk about the needs.
So, for instance, you might indicate that project meetings need
more focus because the participants need to how they're doing
against goals or deadlines and what needs to be done by whom.
There is a need the leader can fill. You can even make up a
"cheat sheet" to help a leader be more effective. Since your
leader is very important to your job satisfaction it's worth
your time to help him or her out.
There is a gain/pain ratio however. If the gain exceeds the
pain in your job then it's worth working on the leader. If the
pain is greater than the gain you can try some things and still
may need to look for another job in your company or elsewhere.
3) How far should the team leader protect his flock from the
management's half-baked ideas that can at times be demoralizing?
If you're given half-baked ideas that take your team's valuable
time yet don't ever get used you will lose credibility with your
team. There could be a valid reason for the request and then
you have to determine what's happening and how it will work
out. You may need to do more of the work than you'd like so you
can shield the team from what doesn't make sense.
You want to make sure there is a reason why something has to be
done. A team leader can be supportive of his or her boss yet
needs to determine the reason for the request to put the request
in context. Sometimes you have to find out more about what needs
to happen with the request. It's okay to discuss and barter
with your management about what they want to happen. You then
have the opportunity to work it out with your flock and get
their ideas which will also get their buy-in.
4) When the ship is sinking (metaphorically) should the leader
stay on till the last of his/her team members leaves for a
That's not the leader's job if it a move to close down. A
leader needs to let his or her team know what's happening and
counsel each all of the team members about their situation. A
leader can counsel employees but is not the long-term coach for
each of them as they seek other jobs. Ideally, the company will
hire a transition coach through an outplacement company or a
local headhunter. There are some great ones in Chennai.
The irony, is that when a leader leaves someone on the team can
step up to the job and work with the team if only for a while.
5) Can someone be a good leader but a bad family member?
They can be a good work leader but neglect their family or be
morally uncaring about their family's welfare since they are so
focused on the work situation. It is hard for many leaders to
spend the time with family when the work situation is so
Having said that, good parents often make good leaders. The
skills are not dissimilar. You need to: listen well, give each
team member time and attention, help them to discover their own
talents and abilities and use the effectively without telling
them what to do; support them emotionally as well as by
providing the physical environment and doing little things that
show each of them is valued.