With Great Power ...

2018 has been definitely, definitely been a year. And not too often in a good way. In fact, most times in an un-good way. Whew.

Today, I want to talk about leading. On every single one of my first few résumés, there was a bullet point under the heading of "Skills", with a line that enthusiastically described my "leadership" capabilities. With examples. Plenty of examples.

My cousins used to say I was bossy, when we were children. I agree. I have a vague feeling that I still am. Now, however, it serves me very well. I am a boss. I'm THE boss, at Aeka. There was a time when this thought gave me a thrill. But when I look back over the last almost five (FIVE?!😱😩 where did all that time go?!) years, I have stated this out loud only in the toughest of situations, and just a handful of times. This seems worth reflecting on.

Leading, In My Experience:

Here's my take on leadership: It is hard. Often bewildering. Sometimes lonesome and alienating.

[Image Courtesy: Pixabay, Link: pixabay.com/illustrations/icon-leader-leadership-lead-boss-1623888/]

Being an abysmal follower does not make one a good leader. All that jazz about being your own boss? It is TOUGH, man. Not for the faint-hearted, I'd think.

A leader needs to walk their talk.

At a recent "motivational" speaking engagement, I said something that rang so true (at least for me) that I'm still stunned by how my li'l ol' brain managed to think up such a poetic, profound sentence.

I said this: an entrepreneur needs to burn.

We are a breed of people that burn ourselves to fuel our dreams, and those of our team. Akin to coal, powering the engines of action. Without this internal fire that transmutes into vision and energy, it would be difficult to inspire our team to work together to achieve our ambition.

Or something to that effect.

I like to imagine that even seasoned leaders find at least some days tough. In preparation for writing this blog, I looked up the meanings for the word "leading". Some of the results Google spewed at me are given below:
  • Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.
  • Be a route or means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction.
  • Be in charge or command of.
  • Have the advantage over competitors in a race or game.
synonyms: main, chief, major, prime, most significant, principal, foremost, key, supreme, paramount, dominant, superior, ruling, directing, guiding, controlling, essential, cardinal, central, focal; momentous, noteworthy, notable;

most powerful, most important, foremost, greatest, chief, outstanding, pre-eminent, richest, principal, dominant, most influential, most illustrious, paramount, top-tier, top-rank, of the first rank, first-rate

- Google, 2019
See? No pressure.😅

The Narrative:

Interestingly enough, it seems to me that the entrepreneurial ecosystem that we are currently attempting to create and foster, especially in the Kerala context, is based on the slightly simplistic formulae:

person + skill/personality training = leader

leader + theoretical training = entrepreneur 

[DISCLAIMER: This is my blog, these are my opinions. Thank you.]

While the above might hold true in some, or even (let's assume, for the sake of argument) many cases, if such training were to succeed and result in the sort of impact we envision, how does one teach budding entrepreneurs to lead, and lead sustainably? With kindness, foresight, and integrity? Responsibly?

I mean, we all know that one of the main reasons entrepreneurship is considered so vital to a nation's future is the potential it has for creating economic and developmental impact.

Another question I have is: are we focusing only on the glorious side of entrepreneurship and leadership? Guts and glory, is how it goes, right? Are we leaving out the gut-ty, gory sides of this very intense, potentially life-changing, taxing, tumultuous experience that is entrepreneurship?

In our quest to make and mould the next generation of unicorns, or Zuckerbergs, or Musks, will we end up throwing our young 'uns to the wolves?

How healthy is this narrative of entrepreneurial success we seem to be perpetuating? I wonder.



Looking for a pick-me-up? Here are some sites that have served me well at various points as resources for when we need a bit of inspiration:

Inc.com: 75 Inspiring Motivational Quotes on Leadership
(Note: I must admit it is the first two lines, before the quotes are even introduced that struck me the most: "Leadership is lonely. No matter how big your team, sometimes it's just you--which means you sometimes need to look inside yourself for motivation and inspiration."

Brainyquote - Leadership Quotes


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