For the past couple of months, there has been an increasing assault on the leadership of established companies as well as start-ups that have become reasonable sized brands.

Flipkart, Snapdeal, Ola, have been receiving one kind of assault.

Shopclues, TVF, Stayzilla have been on the receiving end for different reasons apart from sustainability.

A week back, Uber was repeatedly squashed and possibly it was the ‘most trending’ on the news couple of weeks back.

Friendly and not so friendly opinion mongers have been on the rampage all over the social media about these companies.

I also have been one of these freewheeling opinion mongers in the past.

Whenever some company has fired some people, which somehow seems to be the norm nowadays, I have been fairly critical of the leadership in my mind. I have always viewed letting go people as a failure of leadership.

However, nowadays I am slightly less critical, and the reason is pretty simple.

I have become wiser by getting knocked out in the first round of my startup journey.

It illustrates a very simple point to me.

Preaching is different. Practice is different.

Looking back, I have been in environments of owner driven leadership and professional leadership. Fortunately for me, the people at these environments, taught me the nuances of ‘Where does the buck stop?’. When the going got tough, they stepped in, put themselves at the forefront and wriggled us out of the tough situation, and they did it repeatedly.

I have seen them going to the inner core of their selves, stay immune to the noise and chaos around them, keep their heads still and up, put in the necessary effort and bring the best in them and everyone around them.

They listen to their voice.

Right or wrong, they did what was needed and accepted the responsibility of their outcomes.

So before jumping on the bandwagon to give my insight about  “Ten things X should do,” I am reminded of the famous ‘The Man in the Arena’ speech by President Theodore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”,  and I hold myself back.

I have come to realize that anyone at the top in any profession (Startup, Enterprises, Team Sport, Individual Sport) go through some emotions that they share with none.

If you have not been in a situation, where there was no one to look up, it is impossible to understand the vagaries of being at the very top. It is easy to comment critically, but I can assure you that the story would be different when the baton is in your hand.

It is a price leadership demands, and good leaders willingly pay that price with poise.

Each of the names that are being reviewed incessantly managed to bring in something where none existed, and I think irrespective of their future success, I will always remember them for their bold attempts.

I have begun to realize that if I cannot help, I should stay quiet and with hold my judgement.

Everyone makes mistakes and I think they need the time and space to recover.

I trust them to bounce back and emerge stronger from this necessary trials. For the men and women in the arena, I think they have an understanding of ‘This too shall pass’.

Even otherwise, I think I respect them for attempting to change the status quo.

I do not know if you agree that it is lonely at the top, but having seen through the pain behind the smiles of the leaders that I have worked with, I have no doubt in my mind, that it is damned lonely at the top!

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)