Stretching the Belief

Leadership is taking up the challenge and when you are done, to be able to say that you took on challenges and did not cruise, says Suresh Raina.

Leadership is taking up the challenge and when you are done, to be able to say that you took on challenges and did not cruise, says Suresh Raina

Whether, as a leader you are maximizing your growth potential or not will be determined by how comfortable or stretched you feel in your current role. People act and work differently based on their culture, thinking, upbringing, personality, competency, and of course genes etc. At the same time education and practice continue to have an impact on intellect.

Myth: IQ for an individual is fixed. Most experts now agree that genes require inputs from environment to develop IQ properly.

As a leader, how do you handle failure? Do you enjoy a challenge, does it drive you or does it pull you down? Does it instil a fear of failure? Do you think you are failing or do you view it as a learning opportunity? Your perspective on handling a challenge will determine both the outcome of the task as well as your own personal development as a leader. If you are not stretching yourself, should you expect to grow?

Unfortunately that is not how society views failure. And this varies according to one’s country, culture and organization. This in fact starts from the primary school itself. We can either encourage our kids to accept challenges and embrace failure or alternately, propagate the safe confines of succeeding at all costs. This is why people who start the smartest may not necessarily end the smartest. Psychology plays a big role in making a person what s/ he desires to be. Everywhere - in classrooms, careers, and relationships- people want to look smart. They want to succeed at all costs. They dislike losing and fear failure. Organizations and society perpetuate this thinking.

Whether an organization encourages failure or not is what will primarily determine if you will be able to foster a culture of innovation in the organization and in your team. Considering that 95 per cent of new ideas generally fail, the moot question is will the organizational appreciate or avoid this?

Passion to stretch is the tenet of growth. It may appear that failure springs up as a direct result of one’s competence and you start thinking negative, even to the extent of giving up. A leader however, ought to be viewing it only as a small setback and an opportunity to learn and improve. S/he would gear up to cope up with the fresh demand. Like in sports, playing with better players is a step towards winning, even if you lose in the beginning. When you play with better players, better companies, better opponents, you learn and develop.

Risk and effort are linked for people who eventually grow in their life. The love of challenge, resilience and growth helps you to stay positive. It makes the difference between giving up vs. desire to learn; where you are not caught up with success, but more with developing yourself; where failure is not about rejection, rather about being smart, it is more about building yourself.

Success is more about learning than proving to the world that you are smart. Children do not worry about humiliation because of failure. For a child, simple acts that we take for granted as adults such as walking and talking are enormous but s/he is not deterred by failure, and goes on to eventually master both skills. Why does it have to change for an adult?

We view CEO’s as demigods, as perfect leaders, always making the right decisions, never falling. The need is to change this mindset to accept the failures of a CEO in pursuit of a long term objective. A leader is surrounded with people who protect him/ her. Or should s/ he keep trying to be qualified for the job because a safer alternative would be to stay focused on the quarterly profits and demonstrate success in the short term.

Leadership is taking up the challenge and when you are done, to be able to say that you took on challenges and did not cruise, sometimes stretching so far that one can actually accomplish the impossible. The recent success stories of Flipkart, Makemytrip or Indigo Airline are good examples of stretching the brief.