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Keep it Real!

A conversation with Dr. Sakshi Chanana at

the chai-ki-thadi, sparked by her probing question, "How has LEAP changed you so far?" has lingered in my thoughts. It made

me realize the profound impact it has had on my approach to leadership. As a design practitioner, I used to distinguish between 'talkers' and 'makers', often viewing leaders as the former. However, the module on "Authentic Leadership" by Aswani, taught me that leadership is about crafting relationships and team experiences with the same dedication I applied as a maker.

The module, coupled with discussions on Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones's HBR article "Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?", encouraged deep introspection about the essence of true leadership. It emphasized that leadership is more than a popularity contest; it's about genuinely making others feel valued and respected.

Besides being authentic, trustworthy, inspiring, and innovative; having high standards of personal ethics, resilience, persuasiveness, courage to take tough decisions, etc. – having a good sense of humor is also something I believe is overlooked yet, equally important. Having a good sense of humor that starts with being able to honestly and authentically laugh at oneself and to be able to then after use it selectively to be more human and approachable. I’ve seen that using humour judiciously can be powerful in defusing tension, relay confidence, and bridge gaps in status.

“Leadership, after all, is not a popularity contest” and in my agreement to this line I’d like to add – It is indeed about how a leader can make people feel about themselves. Leading with authenticity sounds most congruous, but what if a leader’s true self isn’t the best he/she can put forward? They may end-up creating inflexibility and a rigid environment if they only stick to their values. So, if leadership is more about how one makes people feel about themselves - wouldn’t adaptiveness coupled with authenticity help in becoming someone whom people would want to be led by?

This learning journey has been transformative, reshaping my understanding of leadership as a dynamic mix of adaptiveness and authenticity, crucial for creating a lasting impact.

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