In this world of stiff competition, we often tend to judge people by their performances. More so, in the corporate world where results matter more than anything else, one tends to draw a cyclical template on project outcomes, quarter-on-quarter results and transaction-based outputs in identifying the key performers. While there are external factors that also influence one's performance, the key differentiators are the individual’s hard work and attitude to win against all odds.
Someone who has been a consistent performer, has her / his own cycle of learning, and will go through the experience on the road that is less travelled. The next question is “Does only performance guarantee the emergence of a new leader?” While some tend to agree to this, the real answer could be slightly broader than what we see. That is when “Potential” gets a space along with “Performance” and “Journey” along with “Outcomes”.
The journey to great outcomes
Jonathan Edwards from Great Britain is an Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European champion and holds the world record for Triple Jump. We all remember his famous consecutive jumps where he crossed 18 meters for the first time and broke back-to-back records. However, not many would know that he stood at the 23rd place in the same event at Seoul Olympics in 1988, 35th place at Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and then a Silver medal at Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Jonathan finally won the Gold medal at Sydney Olympics in 2000. His journey would have started much before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Rahul Dravid, an Indian cricketer, once said, “I batted 604 times for India, didn't cross 50 runs 410 times out of those innings. I failed a lot more times than I succeeded”. When you look back at his cricketing career, he played 164 Tests and 344 ODI matches in international cricket by amassing 24K international runs and was adjudged as the most dependable batsman that India has ever produced.
The above two sporting examples give you enough indication that the ultimate performance is not a one off incident but a sustained effort and journey to get to the final destination.
A sustained approach to leadership development
Leadership development in a corporate world is no different. It is a continuous process of coaching and mentoring across aspects of business relevance. While it is a given that one should have the know-how of the domain they are working in and the financial aspects of profit and loss, but the finer elements of leadership is something that have to be developed and nurtured on a continuous basis. Effective communication, stakeholder management, interpersonal skills, collaborative working, conflict resolution and trustworthiness are some of the critical traits in any leadership developmental process. In an environment of great diversity, one has to observe experience and learn the nuances of leadership qualities over a sustained period of time.
Recognizing the power of potential
A great leader or a coach is someone who can build a team, not just based on an individual’s past performances but also on the qualities and the potential that one brings to the team. The leader should have the ability to always look forward with intermittent course corrections and transparent feedback mechanisms. The culture that is built in the team goes a long way in defining the path to achieve a common goal set for the business and the team.