"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." Shakespeare. This quote best sums up the essence of this blog. Taking a step forward from the iconic quote of Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry, stay foolish” let us examine what it takes to never deter to be foolish in chasing a vision, but remain rational to strategize.
The road to success is never straight-forward. It demands continuous self-development and learning from mistakes and keeping up with others.
The life of a modern leader brings challenges of leading, motivating, innovating, developing, evaluating and communicating. None of those things can be done very well within a comfort zone. The end of your comfort zone is where your leadership begins.
The best leaders understand that every upgradation comes with stepping out of comfort zone, because for most things, transformation requires challenge. Smart leaders challenge everything,especially themselves. Sometimes it may seem foolish when leaders demonstrate daring to express willingness to let go of control and preconceived notions. However, restructuring, remodelling, reformation are all necessary for an organization to stay aligned in times of change. Innovative leaders doggedly challenge the “this is how we do it” mindset and keep aiming higher.
Brave leaders know that greatness is never achieved inside a small, familiar circle. Captains who lead beyond their comfort zone, take stands. They take responsibility and seize opportunities to make improvements. They often take apparently foolish risks to create change.
Leaders who allow their feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, or discomfort to get the better of them, are at risk of responding with a safeguarding armour. Then a leader closes him/herself off from options, limits their receptivity to new ideas, and blunts their interest for learning and taking risks, and their teams will follow their lead. Building, growing, and cultivating resources are among the most significant components for innovation and success. A high-performance team cannot thrive if the leader hides under defensive shield. The two pillars of a great team are creativity and productivity, and that cannot be nurtured without indulging into calculated foolishness.
Protected leadership tends to stay safe, or insensate to the effects of discomfort by hiding from change. Teams in this milieu falter, get bored, and go through work without clear goals or challenges. This calculated leadership raises an environment where only precision, and not excellence, is acceptable. This creates a culture where the team is afraid to fail and take risks. This work culture promotes limitations into achievement, which dissipates the joy out of work. One way to ditch this guarded approach is to allow the brain to think foolish and start a list of options, even though none of them might be good. Engage your team in brainstorming possibilities. It’s not imperative that the leader will have to have all of the answers. But it is important to try and take a step forward.
At the same time, the discerning abilities of the leadership should be focussed and wise. If you want to lead, inspire, or motivate someone, making them feel understood will help them to express how to lead them more effectively. The challenge is making someone share with you their deeper motivations. If someone doesn’t feel understood, they will not listen and will try to be heard until they feel understood, or until they give up on you. Not making people feel understood undermines your credibility to influence them.
The most important thing you manage isn’t people or projects, the most powerful tool of influence is you. To cache behind position, label, and image wanes impact and dilutes relationships. You don’t have to put your worst foot forward, but be wise not to give false impressions and create unrealistic expectations. Problems will control your mind if you don’t know how to proclaim yourself. Focus on ‘what to do’ and ‘how to be’. The difference lies in doing and being. Selecting ‘what to do’ is helpful to face persistent tasks or a nagging issue. Choosing ‘who to be’ is a long-term attitude.
Written by: Prof. Avirupa Bhaduri Media & Communication, ISB&M, Kolkata