Leader or Follower/Manager: Don’t wait for the crisis to decide.

A lot has changed, and a lot is changing as countries are coming to terms with a medical crisis converting into an economic crisis. Every organization has had to re-imagine, re-engineer and re-haul their work, workplace and workforce. Addressing supply chain disruptions, “on the go” challenges, ensuring business continuity while being empathetic to the workforce sentiments and their well-being are some of the areas that CEO’s and CHRO’s have been consistently focusing. Their actions have evoked emotions across their stakeholders. Some have been applauded and appreciated, some are being questioned on their response especially with regards to employee sentiment and business continuity. Taking this a notch further, new ranking from SJR, a corporate communications firm, compares the public perception of Leaders based on an analysis of several social media posts and articles, and compares how leaders were seen both immediately before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and in the six weeks afterward. Every single effort evaluated, scrutinized, judged and categorized by individuals across. 

I believe that times like these require unusual wisdom and while VUCA became the “new normal” but any disruption on our world (when I say world means work and business) will be the acid test for Leadership especially across the organizations where we are witnessing emergence of new business models, influx of new age workforce and so forth. Having said this and with three decades of my career focusing on “People and Business Strategy“, an individual’s response and his/her reaction is a clear demarcation between a Leader and a Follower. But to understand that you must become a CPE (Curiosity, Passion & Emotional) Expert.  

Curiosity Quotient (CQ): Curiosity killed the cat is a proverb that we have all learnt while growing up. But in today’s world, the thought has reversed completely. They need to be curious, hungry for knowledge, seeking answers, sharing knowledge have all become the base for one’s individuality. The boundary of utilizing your CQ in professional or personal life is immaterial. I firmly believe that curiosity has its existence. The key to curiosity is never to stop questioning. It is perhaps in my mind, the most powerful tool and one should be forthcoming to explore it. Look at Covid-19 as an example. When the disaster hit everyone, everyone seemed busy, frustrated, anxious and apprehensive with the setback. However, the curious ones started to think deeper and tried to find answers about why, what, how etc. Within our organization, the CQ’s not only started thinking profoundly and rationally but more importantly suggested creative solutions to address the situation. Psychologist Alan A. Baumeister says a scientist must be “sagacious” (attentive and intelligent) to benefit from an accident and curiosity helped us to define different paths during a crisis. A leader would engage minds and encourage them to be curious, deliberate and question the status quo. 

Passion Quotient (PQ): “Skills may be developed, passion is priceless“. Three decades of my career, I have always kept an eye open for passionate people who can be part of my team to drive transformation. Passion is pure energy, and you as an individual, can feel its power basis what drives you. Let me explain with an example. Namita, an employee in the editorial function, was extremely passionate about animals. She researched and found that there was no information available for pets, and while the market had huge potential. Being in the editorial team, she had enough and more as part of her regular work. But she followed her passion simultaneously, creating value for the reader and thereby the organization. Today, she is leading the team and expanding the reach. Through passion, she found her Purpose. I always share her example with my team and encourage them by saying “Do it with passion or don’t do it at all”—what better example of leading and following the passion. 

Emotional Quotient (EQ): Think of the time when you were giving your mathematics board exam. Everyone’s state could be described in 4 words – stressed, apprehensive, anxious and worried. While your intelligence quotient (IQ) could help you answer your exam paper, it was your EQ that helped you manage your emotions because you may have thought that getting upset now would not help. Your mental agility enabled you to connect the dots and thereby come out victorious. Hence as a leader, you need to be aware of how you feel in every situation and more importantly, how do you respond to it because your EQ is the “sine qua non” of Leadership. 

You may get promoted as a Manager, but it is your vision that will promote you as a Leader in the eyes of the people. Sundar Pichai in his speech while addressing the students of class 2020 mentioned, be curious, be hopeful, and you will make a change for the better. I sincerely believe that the future is bright and I am confident and hopeful.  

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