Well let me begin safely. The below is just my ramblings as a student of leadership. I know and respect the ‘person in the arena’.
Recently I came across the leadership candidates for the upcoming elections in the five states of India. I had just one observation. I will have the usual pre-amble of stating that I am not any kind of political exponent. One thing surprised me though. Except for UP, where the leadership between the present and the past is battling out in the families, every party’s CM candidate has a minimum age of greater than 65.
I do not how to interpret this . If politics is about serving people, then there is no stopping at any time and it may be necessary that if we have to gain the confidence of million plus people continuously, it might be necessary that a field work of more than twenty years has to be put and that is why it is possibly necessary to put candidates who has earned the trust of the voters through sweat, blood and tears.
It is also possible that the young leaders are not motivated by politics or get disillusioned easily or the stakes or so very high that no one even wants to get near it . What surprises me even more is that I go slightly one level down and I cannot even recognize a single name. There is no succession planning of any kind. It does look like everyone wants to hold on for eternity and in some cases they do not want their own children to grow up or when the baton is handed, it is only when they are incapacitated.
Whose responsibility is to do succession planning for a country ? The people will decide based on various aspects, but I see clear dearth of leadership in any parties. I see mostly people hanging about because they cannot be gainfully employ their team else-where. However, I think Nation Building and Leading is a different ball game and that is not my cup of tea, or for that matter, nothing is.
I turn my attention to corporate and it is no different there. The respect I had for Infosys dropped a large extent when NRN came back. So much for the famed leadership theories and grooming young leaders . I remember even a book was written about the grooming of leaders at Infosys. After all that, they could not trust an insider to run Infosys after the customary round robin cycle of founders as CEO was complete.
My personal regard for Sir Ratan Tata and more importantly the meritorious style of Tata Sons has come to the shambles with the recent reinstating of Sir Ratan Tata. How much of time in our young-middle age we used to admire the Tata Sons style of functioning!
While I admire the institution building they have done, I would have saluted them more, if they have chosen to don the role of ‘Charioteers’ for many ‘Arjuna’s’ in waiting. I think the country needs them for that, not to show they can do it again and again. We acknowledge them for that, grateful to them for that.
I may seem overly critical above and one half of my mind does say you have no idea on what they go through. May be it is not all that black and white ? There are possibly shades of grey which I possibly cannot fathom.
May be ‘ITS COMPLICATED’.
Despite being in a culture which advocates ‘let go’ I think it is really difficult to ‘let go’. I think it is natural for people who have built their institutions crumble right before their own eyes and that is why they probably rush to save it, unconsciously crushing the hopes, dreams of the ‘leaders in waiting’. We hear cries of ‘It’s OK to fail’ and when failure does happen, heads start rolling.
One of the leaders who I had admired in my organization had put this quote when he left his current leadership role to pursue something different
“A good general knows when to quit”
MS Dhoni demonstrated that couple of days back in style.
However when it comes to succession planning where does the buck stop in
- Family ?
- Institutions ?
- Enterprises ?
- Country ?
Am I being critical or short sighted here ?
Or, we really bad in Building Leaders in our individual spheres of life ?
Can we truly let go or do we even want to ?
I do not think I have an answer and this somehow continues to nag me.
I think I need to figure out the answer and stop this nagging thought inside me.
Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)