The Memes 2018

Nurturing Leadership

“Today’s youth generation are digital natives whose formative years have been shaped by a sharing economy and more collaborative system. The workforce today is much more diverse and people want to express their personalities and styles more than in the past. The challenge therefore is to bring all these different kind of people together as a productive team which can only be done under the leadership of someone who embraces diversity, values humility, and fosters talent by caring and sharing”

- Himanshu, 36 years, Corporate professional, Delhi

In India the saying “jaisayugvaisa avatar” translated as “transform as needed by the times” captures the need of the hour for leaders and leadership models in today’s fast-changing world.

Indian mythology has long espoused the importance of recognizing the world for what it is, and adapting ones style accordingly. The leadership model followed by Ram, for example, was unique and very different from that of Krishna. While Ram followed rules both in letter and spirit, Krishna understood the intent behind rules and chose to break them when the situation demand a more flexible approach.

In today’s times, leadership requires a nuanced, context-specific approach. As India evolve into a period of abundance, after decades defined by scarcity and constraints, a fundamental rethinking of new models of leadership is needed.

In times past, where wars and conquests were fought on battlefields, leadership models were highly masculine in nature. Leaders distanced themselves from their people. One-way command-and-control communication was the norm. However wars of a purely physical nature are today increasingly rare. Mediums of communication have fundamentally changed and most importantly, we are living in times defined by surplus. The role of leaders now is not to battle and survive, but to make impact, change and grow.

In this era of surplus, new leaders and modes of leadership are shaping society, nations and organizations. Leaders inspire with words rather than fight with arms. Emotional acumen is the most critical leadership trait in organizations that are increasingly defined by diversity, technological prowess, and adaptability, as they negotiate a complex and uncertain external world. The ability to nurture, empathize, show sensitivity to change and evolve with times are the key defining traits of leaders in this new world order.

The new breeds of leaders across the globe are reflecting a new, more sensitive and nurturing ethos for our times. Though different as personalities, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Uber’s new leader Dara Khosrowshahi, Google’s CEO SundarPichai and Microsoft’s SatyaNadella are all cut from a similar cloth. They are, by all accounts, soft-spoken, humble, non-combative team players that are listeners-first. Cook is also an LGBTQ icon and Nadella is open about the challenges he has faced in his personal life, as a parent of two special needs children. Women in positions of power, from Germany’s Angela Merkel to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and the entertainment industry’s ShondaRhimes are demonstrating similar values – evidence of the gender neutral nature of nurturing leadership.

A new era of leadership is here. It suggests, perhaps, a shift away from the hyper-masculine template of the past, and ushers in a new narrative for leaders in the modern world.

As a leader, a lot of your job is to make other people successful. It’s less about trying to be successful (yourself), and more about making sure you have good people - your work is to remove barriers, remove roadblocks for them - so that they can be successful in what they do. So that’s how I’ve always thought about it. I also value teamwork … and I think it’s really important to build organizations where people really want to work together. Everything comes out of that. So, setting up collaborative cultures is a big thing I’ve been trying to focus on.
- Sundar Pichai, Google