Respected corporate personality and Harvard University Alumni Rohantha Athukorala who was the guest of honour at the Bank of Ceylon Toastmasters Club inauguration made an interesting revelation that real leadership in the world of business can be dangerous unless proper skills are honed down on those driving leadership.
The speaker who is a board Director at multiple government and private sector business entities whilst also serving the International public sector with hands on experience of leading cutting edge initiatives not only in the private sector but also for the country and South Asian region defined ‘real’ leadership as the behaviour that cuts away from the realm of responsibility and duties in a given job role and ventures out to do something not expected for the growth and development of the entity.
This is why ‘real leaders’ surfaces conflicts, challenges, long held beliefs to be changed that demands new ways of doing things that causes pain Athukorala pointed out. “This pain and feeling threatened is what leads to people taking aim at the person pushing for change,” he said adding “that makes real leadership dangerous.”
The speaker basing his argument on the latest research from Harvard University cited that even though the chorus of the world is that real leaders are required, the need of the hour, be it in the public or private sector is to accept the fact that real leadership is dangerous and it requires training to overcome.
He then explained the latest techniques that are being advocated to ensure the survival of top leaders in today’s competitive world. Firstly he said is the understanding of the political dynamics in an organization.
“Be it a small or large organisation, be it a private, public or NGO/INGO there is politics at play and this must be carefully understood so that you know how to be relevant politically before one drives in leadership,” Athukorala explained.
“Then, based on the pivot of relevancy politically, the second skill required is to identify who will be affected by the change you are to lead. The logic being when you are on overdrive, you do not have the time to think but, if you have identified the victims early you will know who can be your enemies,” he said.
The third, according to Athukorala is “to get your boss to be your anchor in the organization, if you are called to lead an initiative.” However he cautioned “Without an anchor you can be tossed around the waves so much you might be overboard in no time.”
The fourth skill used by modern leaders is that some team members are recruited specifically to fill in the blind spots of a leader, which is an interesting dimension that many do not identify.
Athukorala said in many instances real leaders get kicked out due to a blind spot they posses than for the ripples created due to change.
The final point emphasised by Athukorala was the real leaders must be physically fit for leadership. Meaning, working out daily on an arranged routine by a professional physio, whilst giving attention to a proper dietary plan. The speaker concluded that unless these new skills are mastered in today’s dynamic business world; Leadership can be dangerous personally and professionally.