A Good leader must understand others point of view

In this article our stress on the ‘leader’ is in context with an organization and not ‘political’. Here the leader can be CEO or a departmental head or a sectional head. Once a leader takes up a new assignment he must have foresight to understand his team members in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, their individual work in the organization and abilities to take on higher responsibilities.

A theory of leader effectiveness concentrates on contingencies as they influence the effectiveness of various leader behavior styles. Leaders can choose the degree to which they engage in four kinds of leader behavior:

* Instrumental Behavior: very similar to Initiating Structure, consisting of planning, organizing, controlling and coordination subordinates closely in their tasks;
* Supportive Behavior: very similar to Consideration, consisting of displaying concern for the interests, needs and well being of subordinates;
* Participative Behavior: characterized by sharing information and an emphasis on consultation with subordinates;
* Achievement Oriented Behavior: setting challenging goals, expecting subordinates to perform at the highest level, and continually seeking improvement in performance.

If a leader intends make changes he must take time to understand the existing work pattern and psychology of his team members and slowly induct the necessary changes taking his team members into confidence by convincing them the benefits the individuals and organization can derive by implementing those changes.

When Mr.K took over as the CEO of a small manufacturing firm, he was quite annoyed on the first day to find members of his office staff standing up when he entered the office. He was not happy with such sycophancy. Not realizing that for the past forty years, this was the standard ritual of respect followed by the organization. By seeing things only from his point of view, K had ended up judging his team rather harshly.

Mr.K declared that everyone should call him just K. And he insists on calling everyone by the first name. It’s the American way, he says, impressed by it no doubt. Suddenly Mr. P has become ‘P’ and A-ji , has become ‘A’ , and people have finally discovered that L-ji’s first name is ‘R’. Everybody in the firm has now concluded that Mr.K is a brash autocrat, young blood who does not respect elders. The leader’s intention was anything but disrespectful. Mr.K’s logic was that this is now the global trend and very democratic. He wanted to give out the message that everyone is equal in the round table of the team, irrespective of age or qualification or experience.

A noble thought indeed – but from whose point of view? For people who for over four decades have addressed each other formally either using the prefix ‘Mr.’ or the suffix ‘-ji’ turning American overnight is quite difficult. But Mr.K did not think of their discomfort when imposing the American way. He ended up earning the ire of his entire team. If only he had been sensitive to their point of view.

Of course, Mr.K can argue, why can’t his team see things from his point of view. Our refusal to see things from others point of view and our need to jump to conclusions by registering only our point of view, stems from laziness. We just don’t want to make the effort of taking a 360 degree view of the situation. It is so much easier to assume that we know best and our view is the right view.

But leadership is not a solitary venture — it is not about the self, it is about others. It is about influencing the other’s viewpoint; and that can only happen if one is willing to invest one’s energy into understanding where the other is coming from.

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