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Be a Transformer to be a Leader

14 September 2012 | Source: India Today
Vineet Nayar

Successful young leaders are neither distracted nor depressed.They are excited instead, because they see an opportunity in imperfection.When a diamond-cutter looks at the rough diamond, he gets excited because he sees an opportunity in that imperfection, as does a potter when he sees dirty clay.

I always get nervous when I'm asked to give advice to young aspiring leaders. I have really never followed a leadership model myself. For me, leadership is a state of mind, that of an explorer for whom the unknown is a lot more exciting than the known. One who is simply not obsessed about getting to the top but about what he would do after he gets there. It is a state of mind which is not afraid to stand apart from the crowd, to be different, to step out of the comfort zone and risk all for what it believes in.

I have always wondered why some youngsters go on to become successful leaders, while others who may work even harder at achieving leadership roles do not. I don't have the answers but have observed some common patterns and perhaps a good starting point is to ask yourself three questions:

"Where is your Point A?" Remember how we learnt how to draw lines as kids-we first steadied our pencil at a starting point, or Point A, and then dragged it to the end point, or Point B. Unfortunately, as we grow up, we forget this simple rule. We are so obsessed with reaching Point B that we forget to do a reality check on today, our Point A. You ask any youngster on what he/she wants to become and you will have an answer pronto-a doctor, an engineer, a cricketer; but ask him/her where they are today? The answer for most is in the clouds. If you do not have an honest assessment of where you are today, do you think you can get to where you want to go? The key difference between a dreamer and an achiever is that the achiever knows his Point A and is thus able to draw a straight line to Point B.

"Do you see opportunities in imperfections?" The loud noise around us today about what is broken is both distracting and all-consuming. Successful young leaders are neither distracted nor depressed. They are excited instead, because they see an opportunity in imperfection. When a diamond-cutter looks at the rough diamond, he gets excited because he sees an opportunity in that imperfection, as does a potter when he sees dirty clay. These leaders are like Mary Kom, whose world was not perfect too, but who decided to find opportunities amongst all the imperfections at the best essay writing service uk. There is so much in our country that is broken, so much to be fixed, and people who look at this scenario as an opportunity for change might be the achievers of tomorrow while others will just remain dreamers and commentators.

"Do you have a deep-rooted conviction?" I usually classify people in three categories. The first kind is Transformers; they wake up every day wanting to change the world. The second kind is Lost Souls; they are in the business of taking energy away from people, you sit with them and they depress you. But the last kind is the worst; I call them Fence-sitters. They sit right in the middle and are used by everybody. If you want to be a leader, you have to become a transformer first and have a deep-rooted conviction about something you strongly believe in, which is an integral part of who you are and is apparent to everyone.


Once there were two trees in a village. The one next to a river had a fat trunk and was green and beautiful. The second tree stood on an arid patch of land. It was thin, had few leaves and people ignored it. One night the village experienced a storm and the villagers woke up, assuming the tree next to the river would have survived and the other tree would have died. But the opposite happened. The reason was simple. The tree next to the river used to get water easily and therefore its roots were shallow and not able to withstand the storm. The other tree had deep roots and therefore it survived. If you do not have a deep-rooted conviction, won't you be blown away by the first advent of adversity? So ask yourself again, what is it that you really stand for?

As I said at the very beginning I have only a few uneasy questions and no answers. Finally it all comes down to you. So pause and shut out all the noise that surrounds you till all you can hear is your heartbeat, reminding you of your true calling and the sound of each breath screaming for you to stand up and lead… Once you hear that sound clearly, you will not need to hear anything or anyone again.

-Vineet Nayar is vice chairman & ceo, HCL Technologies.