Article

Identifying a true Leader

Identifying a true Leader

Just a few years back, I was visiting a village. I met a number of weavers that day but the weaver that stood out for me was the one who wasn’t even present there. When I entered her home, I found out that Shanti had gone somewhere for a while. My son Yogesh was with me. He urged me to move ahead as we had other things planned. However, I decided to wait because I had found a leader and I had to meet her.

To identify a leader, you don’t have to check their knowledge, personality or even their IQ for that matter. A leader leaves his presence wherever he goes. It wasn’t Shanti who showed me her leadership skills but the way she had kept her home. I had never seen a house as well managed as hers. Living in a city, people can’t manage to do it, even with the best resources. That’s how I knew she had the potential to be a leader and I could never lose the opportunity to nurture one.

I have always believed in the fact that leaders can be found anywhere. I have never judged people by the university they come from or the number of degrees they have earned. There can be engineers who are good at creative work and designers who are interested in social development, and everybody deserves a fair chance to explore and display their potential. Diversity is inherent to the functioning and development of any organization. It is what inculcates creativity in workspace and makes you stand out as an enterprise. More importantly, it gives you the best people to lead by example.

What are the things that help me identify a leader?

The most important thing that you need in a leader and that I saw in Shanti was the ability to multitask. She was working on the field, managing her house chores while being a doting mother to five kids and was still finding time to weave carpets. Only a person who can juggle between different kinds of work can be an efficient leader. Reason being, a person who doesn’t know the work of every person in the team can’t be expected to supervise them.

Adherence to the most vital work ethics is another essential criterion that a person should be judged upon for being a good leader. You can find the most multi-talented and charming people in the world but they would add no benefits if their work ethics are not in place. There are five core values of any company, namely, integrity, empathy, humility, simplicity, and shared wisdom. These are the values that I look for in people. Moreover, it is also important to consider their ability to inspire others with these values before offering them a leadership position.

It is no secret that communication skills are one of the most crucial aspects of leadership. In order to guide their teammates effectively, a leader has to be a good communicator. However, it is a common myth that only people with an outgoing and extroverted personality have good communication skills. In my years of experience, I have never relied upon a person to demonstrate his communication skills in front of me. I rather believe in extracting it from them. I put every person in a position that tests their communication skills and you would be surprised to know that some of the most introverted people have turned out to be one of the best communicators.

I have been lucky in life as a leader to have found people who have never disappointed me. Instead, they have proven me right at every point in time. Raised by a single mother, Shanti always knew the importance of being financially independent in life. Therefore, even after being married off at a tender age of 14, she had the zeal to learn the craft of weaving and use it for a better future. She had the audacity to leave the contractor that wasn’t paying her well and she had the acumen to find us and approach us for work at a time when we didn’t have a single loom in her village. If this isn’t leadership, I don’t know what is.

When I told people that Shanti will lead her village to prosperity, they took it as a joke. Years later, when Shanti opened our first center in Manpura and started inspiring more and more women in her village to start weaving, it wasn’t them but Shanti who was laughing. Today, she travels the world with us and has become a flag bearer of women leadership in the carpet weaving industry. She also inspired the ‘bunkar sakhi’ aka ‘the weaver’s friend’ concept in our organization. With more than 80% of our weavers being women, it is crucial to us that we find more women leaders. Therefore, this concept helps us in identifying women with managerial qualities.

Any person in a position of power bears the responsibility to identify such people and nurture them for the growth of not just the organization, but of the community as a whole. To know the needs of the community, it is pivotal that the leader stays in touch with the people on ground. The growing culture of managing people by sitting in air-conditioned rooms is leading to the widening gap between the objectives and the outcomes. Moreover, it is giving rise to a world full of closed hearts and restricted minds. Therefore, to obviate this catastrophe, we need people who can bring change in the system. The day this psyche of segmentation diminishes, I can certainly say the world will be at a better place, both culturally and economically.

About the Author

Nand Kishore Chaudhary, a globally acclaimed social entrepreneur, is the founder of Jaipur Rugs. His philosophy of totality, inclusion and for-profit solutions to society are widely discussed.