Hello everybody and welcome to this third edition of the ‘Mashaal’, the Leadership Development program for Healthcare Professionals.
We have divided this program in three parts: Today Sujata and I will be discussing ‘Leading Self’, and the next session will be ‘Leading Others’ which can also be called leading teams. The third session is planned as a workshop where we will meet in person.
I received my share of forwards on my mobile today and I liked this one: ‘Google Khoje, Yahoo Khoje, Aur Khoje Bing/ Kahat Kabira Sun Bhai Sadho, You Gotta Search Within’.
We are going to discuss Leadership. It is common and natural for us to imitate a good leader. In every organization you will find that juniors tend to copy mannerisms, style and the way of conversations of a leader. This learning is superficial. If we wish to go deeper, and understand how good leaders lead, the journey begins within, by examining mind set. Leader’s mindset and ours. That’s the way we begin our journey of leadership.
Leaders Among Us
The first thing we understand about the leaders is that they have ‘mastered the context.’ Let me explain this to you. Baba Amte created Anandwan when he realized that leprosy patients were not receiving medical treatment and were ostracized by the society. When he stumbled upon a leprosy patient who was lying by the roadside, he was shocked, and the creation of Anandwan can be traced to his listening to his inner voice. That is one of the steps in mastering the context. Listen to your inner voice.
Dr Bavaskar invented the treatment for scorpion-bite cases and saved lives of several persons. The context was that several persons, young and old were dying of scorpion bites and there was no cure. Scorpion bite meant a certain death. That was the context. He could have done his Government job without researching and without finding a cure, but that was not to be. He chose to work on the problem because his conscience dictated it.
Dr Anita Awchat established Muktangan, the drug de-addiction centre which is renowned for its unique treatment. She was asked by a friend to treat her son, a drug addict, and insisted that Dr Anita must treat him. Dr Anita specialized in another branch of medicine however she could not turn down the request of her friend. She accepted the challenge posed to her. Thus, began outstanding work and establishment of an institution, Muktangan.
And here is one more case of listening to inner voice which followed developing a vision. “Dr Vatvani and his wife Dr Smitha were dining at a restaurant when they noticed a skinny and disheveled young boy sitting on the road. As psychiatrists, they could make out he was schizophrenic. They treated him and united him with his father. The experience informed them that there were not many nursing homes for the mentally ill patients, so they established one. So far, they have treated seven thousand persons with mental illness, mainly schizophrenia, and united them with their families. Dr Bharat Vatvani received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2018 for his stupendous work.
Dr Anand Nadkarni has been doing great work in the field of mental health. He is not only a psychiatrist but also an author, poet, speaker, script writer, playwright. How does a person venture in many areas? That is something we will also discuss today.
Lessons for Us
In all these cases, developing a vision followed listening to the inner voice.
In retrospect, all these read as fairy tales. But in practice, we know, that they had to liaise with the Government authorities, raise funds, seek help, create rules for their organizations and generally influence the surroundings. This is also an important part of the context. Influencing plays a major role in leadership, because leaders are driven by their passion to create something. There is a lot to learn for everybody in managing context.
There is one important aspect which we must not lose sight of. It is best expressed by Gloria Anderson who said, “You can’t make being a leader your principal goal, any more than you can make being happy your goal. In both cases, it has to be the result, not the cause.”
The message is clear – we focus on our journey. Our journey which our inner voice dictates and passion fuels. Leadership is the outcome.
Let us watch this video of Mohd Asif Iqbal.
Asif as you know, is a blind man. The messages which came from many people who met him were ‘You are blind, and you are good for nothing! You are a burden to the Society.’ This was at the school and while playing with friends. Then Asif’s uncle took him to the US where he studied. It was not easy for him to move to an unfamiliar culture and language at the age of eleven. He failed in his first test but was encouraged by his teachers. Eventually he passed with flying colours. On returning to India, he found that he could not appear for IIM entrance test because there were no arrangements for disabled persons! He moved the High Court and obtained a directive, since then disabled students have been studying in management colleges.
Asif ran short marathons of ten Kms. It is difficult for blind persons to run without holding a guide’s hand but he runs only on voice guidance now. He preparing for a full marathon. You have already seen that he worked with Nandan Nilenkani and has met President Abdul Kalam, and has done splendid work to spread awareness for inclusion of differently abled persons in the Society. Mohd Asif has discovered his mission in life – to work for inclusion of differently abled persons.
Let us pick up some lessons:
First, the Gloria Anderson quote – “You can’t make being a leader your principal goal, any more than you can make being happy your goal. In both cases, it has to be the result, not the cause.”
Second, Note his transition from defeatist mindset to a positive, winner’s optimist mindset. This was the result of his mentoring by his teachers and his American aunt. Mentors do wonders! Eventually he realized that he is different but not inferior.
Third, the courage to fight the world. Asif fights IIMs and wins, it opens vistas for differently abled students in IITs and IIMs. Asif runs mini-Marathons and is preparing for the full Marathon. And he is a techie who worked on Aadhar project. He is testing the limits of his abilities.
And lastly, Asif’s leadership and finding his mission in life, is the result of hard work, courageous decisions and awakening of his inner voice that he is different but not inferior. All this happens to leaders as their life unfolds. If we wish to leave a mark on the sands of time, this seems to be the formula.
Warren Bennis says, “What do you want? The majority of us go through life, often very successfully, without ever asking, much less answering, this most basic question.” He is obviously referring to scores of people who sleep-walk through life. ‘The most basic answer, of course, is that you want to express yourself fully ….. How can you best express you?” And he proceeds to mention four tests.
Four Tests How Best To Express Yourself
The first test is knowing what you want, knowing your abilities and capacities, and recognizing the difference between the two.
The second test is knowing what drives you, knowing what gives you satisfaction, and knowing the difference between the two.
The third test is knowing your values and priorities of your organization are, and measuring the difference between the two. Being in sync with your organization is almost as important as being in sync with yourself.
The fourth test is – having measured the differences between your want and what you are able to do, and between what drives you and what satisfies you, and between what your values are and what the organization’s values are – are you able and willing to overcome these differences?
As life unfolds, we have to ask these questions repeatedly to ourselves and find answers. It is never an answer which will fit all our stages of life.
It is possible that some of us may conclude that well, Asif benefited because of his American aunt and teachers. And we can find similar unique circumstances for development of leadership of anyone for that matter.
We have to appreciate that all of us are products of genes, times, society, culture at home, schooling, teachers, mentors. Life is full of accidents of fate and fortune. In the industry leadership trainers often begin with psychological tests or personality tests. It is common to use MBTI. It is good for helping us understand ourselves. I feel that it is only the first step in our becoming a leader.
As we have seen we have to invest in ourselves for becoming a leader. I like Warren Bennis’ statement that ‘Becoming a Leader is Becoming Yourself.’
Bennis says that leaders are made not born and made more by themselves than by any external means. This is a profound statement. We have seen its evidence today in the life of Asif.
The next statement Bennis makes is ‘No leader sets out to be a leader per se, but rather to express himself freely and fully.’ At this point I would like to revert to Dr Anand Nadkarni who, as I said earlier, and you can watch his innumerable videos, is a Psychiatrist, author, playwright, script writer, poet. And his Guru (and mine too) Dr Anil Awchat is an accomplished author, poet, sculptor, painter, flautist, origami – there is hardly any person who can match his origami skills, and on top of all this he was also a social activist.
Bennis talked about self-expression to become a leader – How do they achieve all this? Among the answers is this answer I consider the most important. They speak a different language. They do not speak the Language of Complaint; they speak the Language of Commitment. They do not speak the Big Assumptions that Hold Us; they speak the Language of Assumptions We Hold. And they are also great listeners, empathetic listeners.
So, you may do MBTI for self-discovery, but if you do not change your language, you may not succeed to your full potential. I will recommend a book – ‘Non-Violent Communications by Marshall Rosenberg’ – to all those who wish to begin straight away with practical guidelines.
Friends, I am aware that everybody here is keen to start the journey. I have two points to make before I close my presentation – First, please ponder over why we say ‘leading a good life’. Is use of the verb ‘to lead’ here accidental or intentional? And Second, not a point but a story. Here it is and it’s a true story:
When the Dandi Satyagraha was planned by Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru wrote him a long letter explaining how it was futile and how it will not move the British an inch from their stand. Mahatma read the letter and sent a terse telegram: ‘Karke Dekho.’ Just that – Karke Dekho. On the eve of the Satyagraha, the British arrested Motilal Nehru and put him in the jail. So Motilal Nehru sent a telegram to Mahatma Gandhi “Karne se Pahle Dekh Liya!’ Message is ‘Just do it’ and get going on your journey.
My Best wishes to all attending Mashaal, and I wish them well in their journey of leadership.
(Summary of my presentation at Mashaal 3.0, a Leadership Program for the Healthcare Professionals)
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” **** “Aroehan: Creating Dream Villages in Mokhada by 2025: “No Malnutrition Deaths, No Child ‘Out of School’, Reduction in migration by 50%.”