The Leadership Gambit

I was impressed by this cartoon in "The NEW YORKER" magazine. It reads.

"You'll want to head two blocks south, then one east, then one north and two west, and then two more south and one more west..."

(If a Rook is asking Knight for direction, the answer will be in Knights own language. That's not leadership)

I am not sure if the cartoonist had deeper thought here, but in our day to day life in corporate world, I see a great reflection of this cartoon.

Often our past drives our current decisions about future.  We are biased by default.  I have seen people doing things like:

That doesn't work

Because of some failed effort to build something that looks similar (and could be even miniscule size) , the past failure haunts.  

I know everything

Just because I was a momentary hero in the past, doesn't mean I know everything, but when I have authority and then pretend "I know everything".  This leads to "The Emperor has no clothes" parable.   Everyone knows truth, but people do not speak up. as  boss is always right.

Truth be told,  no body knows everything. The greats like Linus torvalds, Bill gates, Steve Jobs and so on, they are are successful not because they "know" everything , but because they are able to put great team and drive the team to success. 

"Real leadership" is abstract, you can not measure it. It sees future and solves future problems.  We often confuse between "managing the present" with "past experience" with "Leadership".  It is not a title. It is the character.

That is nothing

When someone or some team under you is doing something amazing and there is no part from you, it doesn't mean you need to disown that and pretend "That is nothing".   It is a sin to be in leadership role and not appreciate your team(s) doing great work, just because you are not able to understand it.


One other bad practice is pretending to take feedback but always putting into trash bin.  When leadership role becomes a radio channel where employees become "forced listeners", you  never get what you want to achieve.  Leadership is not about making company run today, but to thrive all along and make everyone happen.  As times goes all good talent will find better places and dooms day is not too far.

Random decisions

Making random decisions and adding all the feel good reasons for it. It happens many times. There are companies suffering losses because the new CEO made "cost savings" by changing the long term contracting company to someone with heavy discounts.  For current quarter results, makes good, but  what one contractor employee was doing, it needs 3 or 4 people to work on it.    Market driven bias is not sustainable for the organization

I am the best

Pretending and claiming that "I am the best"  that could have happened to the company, is one of the bad practice of the leadership. I believe this symptom is prevalent more for the new middle management and not really CEO level mgmt. 


Nobody is perfect. we do not need to pretend to be one. Everyone is fallible, but how we accept  and make appropriate corrective decisions and being true to self and open to team, truly listing to customers, employees and share holders, and running the company in a way that helps every stake holder defines the true success of the company.  Leadership is not a quantifiable measure, it is more abstract and there is no easy course or book that makes one as a "Leader", its a hard earned elevation in the long term.  Momentary titles do not make one as "Leader".


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