When were good leaders in good number?

If good things were to be in good number, that would go against the rule of nature! This could be surprising to most; but is real!

If we turn any page of history, we would discover that there were always calls for better leaders, as the ones present in societies or companies were not good enough or in good enough number. I can’t remember any time ever since I gained consciousness, when intelligentsia was not giving call for good leadership cadre to prevent crisis; but that hardly arrived, yet we have all survived.

Further, concerted efforts and coaching to create leaders have only multiplied over years, so is clamor and cry for better ones!

So, where are we missing the point?

Why good leaders are always in short supply!

  1. Illusion around definition of a good leader –
    Pick up any article or book, you would find that good leader is not supposed to be less than a god! Some would advocate 5 qualities and others may advance need of 19 attributes!!
    Why can’t there be an agreement on a simple and single sentence to define good leadership – may be this one:
    Inspiring Change in self and stakeholders to secure performance better than the rest”
  2. Euphoria around development programs –
    Take few leadership courses, learn competency matrix, get 360 degree feedback and pick leadership buzz words, and you would be stamped as leader – that seems to be a popular perception in most companies and societies!
    Leadership development programs are all about “What you are” and “What you should be”; but with most important link missing “What would take you there”! So, it is natural that people don’t get there!!
  3. Means have become Models
    Power, position, money, media, technology, tools….the “Means” have taken over “Morals” and have become popular “Models” today. Most have forgotten that leadership can’t be borrowed or bought from outside; but has to be built from inside.
  4. Mistaken identity –
    Most company or country bosses live in illusion that they are good leaders; they are actually not. Many managers of big companies with healthy bottom lines are mistaken as leaders and even visionaries (of universe), especially by media and masses!
    I know of couple of global companies with good product range and great dividend paying records. That has made their shareholders happy and general belief developed that their leadership is great. Is that something to do with quality of leadership or product range commanding a premium in market places? A closer look reveals that if leadership was to be good, these companies would have scaled unprecedented heights by now!
  5. Performance in pulses –
    This is the most perennial problem! It comes from the fact that majority of people in leadership position imbibe some qualities of a leader; but not the most. Some are say passionate about business strategy; but lack people skills. Many have good communication skills; but lack courage and fail to manage conflicts. It is precisely for this reason that a leader, who looks good today does not survive tomorrow; who fares well in one situation fail in another.
    Rise of most of leaders is prompted by performance in pulses! It is rare that people go on top due to performance as a whole!!
    There are 2 rules, which really rule over minds of people:
    1. When going is good, we take things as grated and that is when we start to go down!
    2. We fall prey to –ive tendencies or traits much faster than +ives!
  6. Aversion for certain but crucial areas –
    There are areas that are very critical to society, which deserving people just desist to join. Politics is one of such areas! Politics brings power and the two together becomes poison, which kills the goodness!!
    In these areas, there is always famine of fair leaders.

Is the scenario grim?

No; at least I for one don’t believe that. Good leaders in poor number seem to be a normal phenomenon.

There would always be demand for better leaders and bashing of current ones! In a way, it is healthy!! It keeps the bad ones under check!!!

Whistle blowing is an important part of our lives and that’s where authors and activists come from!

Reversing the trend and tendency

If we want to arrest natural trends and tendencies, we have to go off the track! Let us do at least following:

  • Make definition of a leader simple and put “sincerity” above all qualities.
  • Create focus and force behind “what would take you there”.
  • What should matter to all us are “Performance as a whole, not in part” and “Goodness as an obvious, not as an option”!

By just doing these three things, we would render one great service to self and society – keep wrong or bad ones under check. This may also unlock possibility for nature to redefine its rule to “Good ones do exist in good number”.


12 responses to “When were good leaders in good number?”

  1. Rudra Avatar

    I think the reason why ‘we’ (:D) are not in a good number is that many people just don’t want to take-up the challenge. They prefer a laid-back life, love to follow others, very easily become fans of anybody and everybody… they love clapping for others and they enjoy that!!

    “Leaders don’t clap for others gratuitously, they make others clap for them!!” – Rudra 😀

    And even if somebody, by all his efforts and luck, becomes a leader, he falls prey to the –ive tendencies and succumbs like never before.

    I think it’s all in their mentality… “if an engine is there to take us to our destination, being the relaxed compartments behind, why should we worry”.

    The day everyone starts thinking like an ‘engine’, good ones will exist in good number!!

    1. Murli Avatar

      Thanks for your views! But, these have left me wondering why a classical miss?

      Your views fall in 2 categories – “what we are” and “what we should be (in this case, be an engine)”. Don’t you think that most people know these; yet they don’t become what you are proposing? The post clearly brings out that we always miss on “what would take you there”! Keys are what can make us a good or efficient engine or whatever we want to call it but it cannot be anything less than goodness as a whole!!

      1. Rudra Avatar

        Yes exactly! What I tried to outline is that why many people can’t or don’t end-up in becoming a great leader. What is their frame of mind… what do they think… how they approach their life…

        Of-course your post tries to sketch the methods following which one could become a good leader… my response was just an extension to your thoughts as why good ones do not exist in good number… :O

        1. Murli Avatar

          I highly appreciate your views and I do learn a lot from the comments! I can’t thank you enough for your interest!!

  2. Murli Lohia Avatar
    Murli Lohia

    Transferred from LinkedIn

    Nitin LokhandeCOO at Educate To Automate (ETA)

    On 10/24/13 12:36 AM, Nitin Lokhande wrote:
    Lohia Sahab,

    I think your quote “Inspiring Change in self and stakeholders to secure performance better than the rest” well articulated, as leader at every level needs to demonstrate this throughout, looking into dynamic situations/conditions which he has to face and drive the team along.

    Performance measurement parameters especially when we define for good is vital in this whole scenario …

    Nitin Lokhande
    email: nitin.lokhande@educatetoautomate.com
    website: http://www.educatetoautomate.com

    1. Murli Avatar

      Very well orchestrated by you indeed! I can’t thank you enough for supplementing your views!!

  3. Roshan Pais Avatar
    Roshan Pais


    Was the term ‘Leader’ in existence before the inception of a political system?

    1. Murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your query!
      I am not sure when term leader came into being. My own comprehension is that humans, like any other living being, seek safety. In very early years of human race, people did use to move in groups and tend to rely on one person to lead a group. That’s what you can see in history. So, the concept Leader came into existence much before a formal political system.
      Don’t you also think so?

      1. Roshan Pais Avatar
        Roshan Pais

        I would think that the concept of a Leader is as old as life itself. Studies show that the humble Fungus lead the way for life to move from the seas onto land; just by virtue of possessing certain characteristics that allowed other species to follow. The species that followed the fungus onto land, could not have done so if they were not similar to the fungus itself in some way or if they did not have some symbiotic relationship. They say that a god is an image of the devotee. Similarly a leader is an image of the follower. If a scientist were to move back in time and study life moving from the seas to the land, he /she would have to study only the fungus. The same would be true for the study of the first god-devotee relationship and first few leader-follower dynamics. Those were natural processes. But today, plants have jumped some steps of evolution in labs through hybridization and genetic engineering. There are innumerable gods and even more variety of devotees; some devotees have been promoted to the status of gods. And the same is true in the elevation of individuals in organizations to leadership positions. Their ‘followers’ did not chose to follow them and so they do not see a reflection of themselves in the leader, nor do they find symbiotic relationships with them. Self-serving, economic or political power-centers hand over ‘Leadership’ to those who suit the purposes of the powers that be. This scenario has led to fragmented work-groups with no real leaders. Leadership is prevalent at various levels and great leadership is a reflection of the alignment of leadership at various levels. Only then will a greater leader emerge. Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest leaders and many significant successes can be attributed to the great degree of alignment with other leaders of the freedom movement, who on their part considered themselves to be Mahatma Gandhi’s followers and also had their own distinct brand of followers.

        I believe that the number of leaders out there is in the same proportion as it was many years ago. But the lack of alignment renders them invisible.

        1. Murli Avatar

          You have orchestrated your thoughts very well! My compliments to you!!

          I appreciate your analogy. It is true if you want to see leaders, you would be able to and if you want to see followers, you would find many. Question that we need to answer is if there are true leaders, why would they lack capability to align and remain invisible? Good is not good enough, unless it is shared so that everyone can experience it.

          I am grateful for your interest!

          1. Roshan Pais Avatar
            Roshan Pais


            I hope my thoughts below are in the right direction.

            I understand that the greatest leaders are the ones who are the most potent in the one-one-one or one-to-many Leader-Follower interactions. Such Leaders have the characteristic of remaining true to their inner calling irrespective of the size of the crowd following them. Mahatma Gandhi did not set out to gather a crowd. His personality and actions (directed internally, not externally) struck a chord with people seeking dignity in life without having to extinguish the lives of others. I think the people galvanized themselves around him, rather than the other way around. In my opinion, the restriction (in an organizational perspective) of the freedom for individuals to chose why and whom to follow results in the true leaders being restricted to a team-following rather than a true following. I understand that some organizations like IBM have a policy and procedure of putting together teams that allows people to chose (to some extent) whom they will work with.

            If we define a leader as someone who gets people together to achieve his vision or fulfill a broader vision of a common good, without bothering or having the opportunity to check a reciprocal vision from the followers, then it necessarily implies that the leader has to focus on reaching out and convincing and holding the followers together. A lot of energy is lost in this endeavor and its an emotional drain on the leader and the followers.

            And as i mentioned above, then there are those who are made leaders i.e. the Leaders with the task and objective that aligns with the greater goals and objectives of an organization. These, i don’t consider as true leaders, simply because they try to be leaders. If one tries to be a leader, one tends to be a manager.

            The real leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Sai Baba and (to an extent, even politicians like) Abe Lincoln didnt worry about the size of the crowd behind them. They were leaders who were one with their followers because each follower was an image of the leader. A live example of this is Anna Hazare who is still known as a Gandhian and Anna does not try to convince anyone of his beliefs or the propriety his methods. Each of them left it up to individuals to make the choice to follow them or not.

            To me, a CEO of a company could be a leader ONLY if I felt that he /she was a reflection of me, my dreams and aspirations in some way AND if i was convinced that he /she would stay the course long after my own capacity was overwhelmed by circumstances or my own weakness.

            I guess what i’m getting to is that there are no leaders in organizations unless the organization took shape around the leader every bit as much as the leader built the organization…..Reciprocity is a fundamental requisite of effective and visible leadership. Example….Steve Jobs.

          2. Murli Avatar

            I am impressed with your thoughts! You have orchestrated these very well!!

            Very true; true leaders do not think about size of crowd or number of followers. Real leaders do not even create followers; they create contemporaries! Leadership means not commanding or triggering emotions of people; but inspiring them to work for the intended goals. That is what those named by you above did. That is how people around a leader start reflecting common vision, ideas or aspirations!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *