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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Is Modern Day Communication Destroying Potential Leaders?

There was a time when the King, Minister or the supreme leader gave a task or objective to a team leader, and then relied completely on him/her to not only pursue the objective with full determination and sincerity but also to take care of the surprises, opportunities and threats enroute for the best of the cause. So once the team and hence the team leader was out of earshot, he was totally independent and it was entirely up to him to prove himself save, a little bit of help from subordinates, if he was fortunate.

There were many instances when situations threw up leaders, at times totally unexpected ones, who seized the opportunity and proved their mettle. It was a kind of nature’s law, in line with the survival of the fittest, that the leaders got their chances and the ones with the leadership qualities outshone the others in demanding situations.

Cut to present day. There is but one leader. The head honcho. Everyone else does what the he desires. Delegation of responsibility has taken a different meaning altogether. Initiatives and decision-making are generally snubbed and where allowed are only under prior intimation and strict supervision. And all this is possible, to the delight of the ‘Boss’, only because of communications. Call it an obsession or the fear of failure but bosses all over the world are reluctant to allow their subordinates the option of developing themselves as leaders. Let us look at the ways the bosses (mis)use the communications available to them to suppress any leadership talent which might be just waiting to flourish.

Give me a call when you reach there Quite clearly the boss does not want to go there himself  but wants to be sure that no wrong decision is made. While he trusts his subordinate to see and report correctly, he does not trust him enough to allow him to take a decision. The cell phone makes it possible.

Why don’t you mail it to me The boss wants to be sure of what is happening. The subordinate’s word is not enough. He wants to see it himself. Maybe the dolt missed out something. The email makes it possible.

Why Don’t you just Google it The boss thinks that the subordinate’s experience and knowledge stands for nothing. If Google confirms what he says, maybe that would be the right decision. Google makes it possible.

Make sure he faxes a signed copy Once upon a time a word used to be enough, but now even if a subordinate is getting a signed copy himself, the boss still wants a signed copy faxed to him just so he can use the telephone number as evidence at a later date. Facsimile makes it possible.

Call my friend and ask him what he is doing The friend may be personal or professional but since it is possible, why not just ask him. He is a smart guy, and still surviving, must be doing something right. Yes sure, Vasco Da Gama would have probably discovered America again.

We are under heavy fire, what do you want us to do? Consider Normandy. Any dolt will know that when one is under fire, one should fire back. But in these days of telecommunications one is supposed to take permission to consider saving his own life. Modern communications make this possible.

We all keep talking of development of employees, but, the fact is that over a period of time the independence of the employees has been reducing. Bosses do not allow people to be independent. While it may be very good for a company and the boss, that all actions and decisions are taken in a controlled environment, for the subordinate, it is probably the worst thing that may happen, as far as his own development as a leader is concerned. He learns never to trust anyone. He learns that no one is OK. And he learns that, for his own good, he must never delegate responsibility to anyone. The worst outcome of this entire situation is the mentality, which sets in people’s mind, that one need not even be good enough to be a boss. The previous boss was a twit and so can I be.

It is high time people realized that communications are to be used for a purpose higher than just controlling subordinates. So many, would be, leaders are constrained to show their worth in a competitive world just because of the perception that a wrong decision is going to be fatal(?) for the company or the boss. Employees ought to be given a chance to show their true worth. The best ought to be allowed to come up rather than the sycophants. But if one does not allow the circumstances to decide the best one, the only way one can choose is based on who brought the best wine to the party. It is high time the managements of large business entities showed a way to the others by entrusting their faith in the manpower, by giving opportunity to people and developing what I feel are the leaders of the future.

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