Is it??

Let me begin with absolute humility to say that I am no expert on leadership. At best, a curious cat pawing at the big wooly ball of leadership rolling around, hoping to unravel some mystery. Feel free to rescue me, just in case I get all tangled up.

I have a passion for understanding human behavior and it’s potential. Luckily over the years, my work as a facilitator and a coach has given me a large playing field to observe human interactions and its impact on performance and productivity closely. Even though the word “LEADERSHIP” has been, one of the most discussed and written about words, it has not taken away my interest from it.

There are many kinds of leaders that surround us and we too may be one of the following….Political/Spiritual/Religious/ Business/ Defense services/Sports/ Creative/ Family and community to name a few. There are leaders by designation and leaders by heart. Today I want to explore the intrinsic characteristics of GREAT leadership.

It all does begins with some TALENT!! To put it more appropriately some exceptional talent, the kind that sets one human apart from the other. It could be a skill or it could be an element of attitude or both. A great skill with the right attitude is literally the founding stone of leadership. Mastery of any skill or even many is AWE worthy. It means many hours of concentrated effort in a particular direction till it becomes a part of one’s DNA. Visioning, playing a sport/ musical instrument, dancing, Oration, analytical thinking, planning, problem solving, punctuality…the list could go on.

The only issue with Mastery is that it has the likely potential to give birth to arrogance. Arrogance gets reflected in many ways…it goes beyond starry tantrums. Indifference to someone’s point of view, not listening to understand, inability to appreciate and acknowledge others effort, thinking your way is the right way, micromanaging, holding on to information/resources, lack of patience and so many more. Once we are good at something or know how to do something well it becomes extremely difficult to understand why someone else can’t get there at least 75% of the way if not 100%

That’s where Humility needs to step in. With the number of high achievers in every field and mastery at several skills being the new paradigm, it is imperative not to lose sight of this characteristic.

HUMILITY DEFEATS ARROGANCE!!! I am a positive person; I like to look at the brighter side of things. I do believe that people are intrinsically good, their experiences shape their behavior and sometimes the behavior may not be right. Very few people at top levels are shown the mirror of what they could not be doing right and hence it may be an awareness issue. We also know that awareness alone doesn’t create change. Change in behavior is a very systematic, consciously thought of process.

I am sure we can think of at-least two (dozen!!) people who can be more humble but that’s not my point. My point is to help you recognize humility in yourself. Let’s pick up the mirror and look at ourselves well:

  1. You seldom boast about your achievements or mastery and know how to respond well to a compliment when received.
  2. You appreciate and acknowledge effort/talent in others regularly. You actually look out for such moments.
  3. You listen very carefully to a point of view, especially if it’s different from yours. You respond to it after careful consideration and never dismiss people.
  4. It’s not difficult for you to apologize or say sorry.
  5. You consider all people to be equal to you, just doing different roles at their own time and space. Respect for others is an important part of your dictionary.
  6. You have service orientation asking “How can I serve my client/team/customer/leader/colleague/child/partner/community/stakeholder better?
  7. You feel centered and grounded and can catch yourself smiling often.
  8. You are the reason for someone feeling good about themselves and seldom the opposite.
  9. You practice patience especially with mistakes people make in your area of expertise.
  10. You personally invest in developing talent/mastery in others

Just in case you are not sure how well you have scored……humility can make you ask these questions to people that are a part of your current daily life. Go ahead and do a 360 for yourself!!

I am writing this article at the heel of a very important global summit that took place in my country of residence. I secretly feel that (Nelson Mandela & Dr.APJ Kalam were watching over them) the ‘practice of humility’ by both world leaders allowed for it to be a successful meet. But who am I to comment?? Just a curious cat…. doing what a cat’s gotta do!!

Sanah Singh Tomar (8-13/06/2018)

Originally published at